Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Good Decision...

It would appear that leveler heads have prevailed. The new NASA chief has decided to send a shuttle mission up to fix the ailing Hubble Space Telescope. I know it’s expensive and risky, but this one piece of space junk has provided, and continues to provide, quantum leap views of our universe. It takes pictures plain and simply, and amazing pictures they are. One of the most trickiest dilemmas NASA and all scientists for that matter have in ensuring that their research continues to get funded is explaining their work to the non-academic and the scientifically challenged. Once the race part of the Apollo program was decided, NASA couldn’t make the important geology they were doing on the moon exciting enough to keep the public interested and the program funded.

The Hubble Space Telescope does not have that problem. One only needs to be shown some of it’s pictures and have an astronomer explain what they are looking at (essentially looking at the ancient past), and you’re convinced that HST is about the coolest damn thing since the invention of the toaster. It's a gigantic billboard for every other project that NASA has in the works.

So thanks Michael Griffin for righting this wrong.

For all those who will cry and whine about money being better spent elsewhere, blah, blah, blah... know this: If there is a comet or asteroid on a collision course with this big blue marble we live on, this telescope will be the first to actually SEE it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Another Islamic Success Story...

Yep, those Islamofacists sure know how to bring peace, harmony, and inclusive governess wherever they go. Hey, no worries though. I’ve been assured by leftwing doves that the Islamic governments of the Middle East have no imperial plans to overrun other countries and install Sharia law. Nope, the people of Nigeria have just been dying for the stability that it brings, and let’s not forget what a great job the Arab Islamists are doing in the Sudan where they’re more affectionately called Janjaweed. Boy, the Indonesian nations are just welcoming them with open arms too, they’re having a real blast down there. And now this. Let’s not forget Ethiopia too. The little girls getting circumcised by their dad’s is making for a life of opportunity for them. Let's just be glad that that doesn't go on here at home... OOPS!!! I spoke to soon, and right here in GA too. I understand it's your custom, so that makes it okay.

I’m sure if we just back off and see the error of our ways they’ll see that we only want peaceful relations. I’m sure they’re satisfied with their progress as it stands and will be more than happy to live in a world with us infidels. Besides, we’re far more worried about the latest wingnut Christian sect here at home who are setting roadside bombs and committing genocide all over the world.

Thank God, or Allah for the reasonableness of the Islamofascist society, there's just so much to revere…

QUICK UPDATE: Let it be known that I make a distinction between the few, but powerful zelots and peaceful followers of Islamic belief with this one exception: those "peaceful" followers who can't bring themselves to condemn the zealots for the harm they cause.

Sad Day...

Today I hand most of my staff their pink slips and bid them farewell. Some of these guys have worked for me for over six years. There are hard workers and not so hard workers amongst them, but they were always loyal and pulled up their boot straps when asked. It’s been an interesting ride managing this facility for the last six years. I will surely blog about it some more in the days to come as my last day approaches, but as this milestone arrives one of my personal most crowning accomplishments comes to bare: While the other four centers across the country experienced varying rates of turnover (warehouse staffs are notorious for high turnover) every one of my employees that I hired either stayed until today, or was promoted with my recommendation to another position within the company. How did I do it? Paid them a fair salary which included incentives, taught them how their role was vital to the company’s success, instilled in them ownership, and treated them with respect. If I had to offer someone a single piece of advice for running a successful operation it would be to make sure you hire good people, and just as important, keep them.

Unlike my last supervisory/management role when I was a much younger man, I was sucessful in finding a comfortable and manageable balance between work/personal relationship with these guys. I was discretionary when their wives got sick with cancer, when one went through a divorce, watched the younger ones get married, etc... At the same time, I knew when I had to be strict and protect the company’s interests. Together we buried a fellow employee, colleague, and good friend.

Together with these guys we created a world class distribution model for deploying wireless networks and saved our company more money than they will ever realize.

Now I have to hand them their severance packages and say goodbye. I am sad…

Monday, October 23, 2006

If you don't own this album or don't go out and buy it right away you're dumb, Part III...

“Do you remember
back in nineteen sixty-six?
Country Jesus, hillbilly blues,
that's where I learned my licks…”

As a 7th grader at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Elementary School in 1977, the inclement whether policy dictated that recess hour be held inside the classroom in the event of rain. The nuns and lay teaching staff would allow us students to bring in records from home to play on the classroom’s shitty all-in-one record player to keep our hormone raging bodies peacfully occupied. This was the setting for hearing for the first time many of the bands that I still listen to today. It is also where I first became an addict of rock-n-roll music. Most of the bands and records we listened to were borrowed from older brothers and sisters who were living out their super crush 70's highschool years. We’d drop the penny laden needle and listen to scratchy LP’s from Led Zeppelin, Eagles, Kiss, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, and Bad Company for the hour or so and get completely engrossed. Mostly, it was the girls who’d bring these gems in and us guys, wanting to look cool in their presence, would act like we had all of these records at home already and just forgot to bring them in that day. Nonetheless, thanks to these cool chicks at a Catholic elementary school in the late 70’s I got turned onto many classic records that stand tall to this day.

It was these same chicks whom I blamed for defying my dad and joining one of those "six albums for a penny" record clubs against his stern order not to even think about. When I decided to pull the trigger, I hid in my room with the little membership card that came inserted in the magazine fold and I carefully weighed my six “free” selections. After days of deliberations the smoke came out of the chimney and I mailed my postage paid card from the schools mailbox. Two of those chosen six were ZZ Top records, “Tres Hombres” and “Fandango!” Fandango! enjoyed heavy rotation during rainy day recess listening sessions and was an easy selection to make, an absolute must have.

I think it was recalling Billy Gibbons joining The Raconteurs at the MTV Video awards that prompted me to pull my copy of Fandango! out and give it a spin again recently. I must have listened to this record 20 times in the last ten days. It is one of those that lulls me into believing that somehow I knew what the hell I was talking about when I was in 7th grade, at least when it came to good music (my neice is in 7th grade and I cannot envision her ever listening to this record). This album kick so much serious ass it’s hard to begin to explain it all to someone who hasn't heard it. Most are more familiar with the later ZZ Top records along with their accompanying videos which enjoyed heavy rotation in the 80’s. Those singles and the records they came from are still pretty good, but MTV ruined them for me. My ZZ Top, before the big long beards and sexy chicks climbing on cars and such, was a band that invented Texas hillbilly punk and blues that made some ground breaking records. Don’t know what Texas hillbilly punk is? Check out the live “Mellow Down Easy” on side one. Nuff said. You can picture all the rednecks in the packed club pogo dancing and pumping their fists with their big belt buckles and ten gallon hats. I remember staring at the inner sleeve to this record imagining myself amongst the sell out crowd of 80,000 at Texas Stadium at the “First Annual Texas Sized Rompin’ Stompin’ Barn Dance and Bar B.Q.” back in 1976.

I must admit that I had a hard time selling ZZ Top to many of my friends once I moved to NY. They didn’t dislike it, but nobody ever got too jazzed about it, at least to the extent that I did. I do remember Milkyum going off to his year at University of Texas and coming back for Christmas break talking some serious ZZ Top shit. Hell, I wouldn’t doubt ZZ Top’s got a statue somewhere on campus. I remember discussing rich guitar tones utilizing a Mexican peso as a pick and all those awesome harmonics Gibbons got using one.

You know “Tush”, but I HIGHLY recommend the other eight tunes on this record. They are as solid today as they were back when the nun’s were shouting from behind their desks “Turn that racket down over there!”

“I heard it, I heard it, I heard it on the X…”

P.S. Oh yeah, If you don't own this album or don't go out and buy it right away you're dumb.

Jackson, Jackson, Bo Backson...

Bananna Fanna Fo Fackson, Fe Fi Fo Dackson... Jackson.

I thought this was a great photo too, so I posted it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jackson and his most lovely lady The Legal Diva at a friends wedding up in the Hudson Valley a couple of weeks past.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What He Said...

I've always liked P.J. O'Rourke and remember reading my first article written by him in Rolling Stone Magazine on my flight back from my summer studying fine art in the UK (saw lots of art and drank a lot of beer). The article was called "Terror of the Eurowennies" and after the summer I spent amongst a whole lot of Eurowennies, I was laughing out loud on the plane at how accurate I found P.J.'s charaterizations to be.

I now find myself laughing and crying at how right he is again with this. It's sad, but true.

Too Much Blood...

Maybe Mick needs to update the lyrics to their 80's hit from the Undercover record with these details.

"Did you ever see 'Texas Chain Saw Massacre'? Horrible, wasn't it? You know people ask me: it is really true where you live in Texas, it is really true what they do around there, people? I say, "yeah everytime I drive through the crossroads I get scared there's a lunatic Bush hater runnning around burying her uterus.

I can feel it everywhere
Feel it up above
Feel the tension in the air
There is too much blood..."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Lazy Sunday...

Although my wife was still feeling a bit under the weather, Sunday we made the trip to the farm at the foot of the Georgia mountains along with our friends and their broods for some punkin' pickin', hay ride, and picnic action. It was a perfect fall day and it was one of those days that makes you feel good about being parents. Those without kids sometimes have a hard time wondering what the fuss is all about. Let me tell you: it's all about days like this...

The gang during the hay ride...

Pickin' punkin's...

How 'bout this one daddy?!

It doesn't get ANY better than this.

For fans of Sports Illustrated's Rick Reilly, here's one of his someone just sent me on the subject of being a dad. Dick Hoyt is an extraordinary man.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What The F...?!

It just boggles my mind that this kind of thing can happen by accident after all New York has experienced in the past five years, and to discover that the plane was piloted by a Yankee pitcher just leaves me scratching my head even harder. A while ago, the blogging pilot Misanthrope gave us a pretty good run down on small aircraft dangers and safety scenarios. Maybe he'll log on and offer his insight on this bazaar tragedy. My gut tells me it was risk taking and bravado, but what do I know.

UPDATE: Misanthrope has posted some preliminary thoughts over at his place. He’s a pragmatic guy, so he’s going to wait for further info before formulating an opinion on cause, but he does offer some commentary on past negative results of knee jerking to speculation and politicing.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Not a bang, but a wimper...

Some poliblogs are reporting that intelligence analysis of North Korea's alleged detonation of an underground nuke was that it was a dud. The linked article is pretty right on about how we ought to handling this, but I also think that if you match this recent test with the missile launches earlier this year, I have think that North Korea's overall capabilities are not very good. I think they lack funds so severely that they may not be able to pull off the Big One.

For this rare instance, Jackson's geopolitical thoughts might actually be right. The fact that Kim can't launch these things or make them work only means that our biggest worry is that he is capable of creating a environmental accident that will make Chernobyl look like a walk in the park.

Yea! Aw... Yea! Aw... Yea! Aw...

That's what kind of football weekend it was. First, Wake Forest dominates their game against ranked Clemson for more than three quarters and then, in the course of what seemed like a minute, ended up trailing. The Demon Deacons fought hard, but costly turnovers will get you everytime.

Then Army took the field against VMI. I commented that they had to win like they were supposed to in order to regain even a little respect after last weeks route at the hands of a woeful Rice. Well, the did that and then some. Army won 62-7. I haven't checked the details yet, but I'll bet that may just be a margin record for the Black Knights. Good scheduling Coach Ross (it was homecoming Saturday).

Up next, Terps vs GT. GT scored quick and easily before I could even take my first sip of high octane Coca-Cola. I was worried that my predictions of a UVA like route would come true when Josh Wilson took the ensuing kickoff back 105 yards for a neutralizing touch down. As if that wasn't enough of a kick in the head, after a Terps field goal, Calvin Johnson dropped the ball right in front of us and the Terps recovered resulting in another TD and BAM! the Terps have the lead 17-7 five minutes into the 2nd qtr. Touchdown for us, touchdown for them, yada, yada, yada, and the Terps retain the lead 23-21 5 minutes into the fourth qtr.

GT rallied to score and take the lead 27-23 with 10:10 remaining and I thought that it would end there, but damn if the turtles didn't play tough enough defense and get the ball back with enough time to take it down to GT's three yard line with four plays to get in. In the end, GT's defensive speed won out over the Terp BIG guys (UM's offense and defensive lines are HUGE) and GT sacked Sam Hollenbach twice as time ran out. Great game, would've been nice to win that one. GT will HAVE to generate more offense to beat Clemson next week. I want to go up for that game badly.

The Falcon's did NOT lose this weekend. Oh yeah, they didn't play either.

I got to watch the Dallas vs Phili game and oh the joy of watching the Cowboys get beat!

A game I was glad not to have seen was the Jets vs. Jacksonville. As I said: being a Jets fan, being an Army football fan, either way it's a tough life. Sorry Jackson, they'll get it together this next weekend for sure.

Georgia lost to Tenn. in a fourth qtr struggle as well.

Exciting week all in all. Can't wait for next Saturday to do it all over again!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst...

Georgia Tech takes on my Maryland Terrapins Saturday and it could be ugly. At this stage in Maryland’s weak showing this season, they must rely on the GT post upset choke factor to win this one. In the last couple of years, GT has let down fans by losing to the likes of Duke after pulling off major upsets. With the adjustments GT’s offensive coordinator Patrick Nix has made this year, mainly providing plays to take advantage of QB Reggie Ball’s quick feet, they have successfully nipped this problem in the bud I think. Reggie tucks and runs vs throwing hand grenades down field to get picked nowadays and for this reason, I’m no optimistic that the “Curse” will give the Terps any chance at all. GT knows it needs to come out strong against Maryland in order to stay tuned up for what will be their season defining game against a powerful Clemson Tigers team on the road next week. Nonetheless, I’ll be pulling for mine and Jackson’s almost alma mater to upset the ranked Yellow Jackets and make the remainder of GT’s season more exciting than it already is shaping up to be (the Miami homecoming game could be brutal. I predict no voice afterwards, many airplane bottles eviscerated, loss of any memory of the game, and a colossal hangover the next day. Hell, if it’s cold enough for a fire, I might even set my Breakfast Club coat on fire again).

Army’s got another home stand against VMI at Michie Stadium. VMI, a Div. 1AA school that also happens to be coach Ross’s alma mater. After last weekends utter disappointment I don’t know what to think. Coach Ross’s comments at the QB luncheon this week indicated that he thought the cadet’s suffered from a little over confidence and were counting the win before the game started, much like I did. He vowed to chew some ass during practice this week and get the Black Knights back on track emphasizing the fact that every win they get will be hard fought, there are NO easy ones. I think they’ll win this one, but they need to win big as their schedule gets real after this.

So, let’s see if an upset can bubble to the top and surprise me. For this one game, I’d revel in the sad faces of GT fans in my section as the Fridge and his team steal a victory from the clutches of a mighty GT defense.

Go Terps!!! Go Army!!!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Quote, Unquote...

"Offensively they run the wishbone, and they're doing pretty well with it... I'm happy to be competing against the wishbone because we spent a lot of time during the summer dealing with some things we thought we wanted to use against it"

-Army Football Headcoach Bobby Ross on Army's next opponent VMI-

Here's a freebee for you coach, how 'bout taking a whack at running the damn wishbone offense yourself. The numbers are proving that it's the way to go for an undersized squad like our beloved Army team. Wishbone or WB hybrids: Wake Forest 5-0 for the first time since 234 B.C., Air Force 2-1 missed beating Tenn. by a point, Navy 4-1 (lost by one point to Tulsa) clobbered UConn last week and will go to their fourth bowl game this year, etc, etc... It's time Mr. Ross. We love and respect you, but you've got to focus on what the cadet's strengths are and what they are capable of executing against the other hundred or so football factories that make up Div. IA football.

Anyway, give us a strong win Saturday coach and Destroy VMI!!!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Randy Rhoads 1953 - 1982

I found this tribute to THE greatest hard rock guitar player that ever lived out on YouTube somewhat by accident. Since I don't listen to the two Ozzy/Randy records all that often anymore, it's seeing and hearing stuff like this that inspires me to pull it off the shelf for a spin and makes me glad I followed that first tour all through the Northeast in the summer of 1980. I saw many, many shows and was blown away at each and every one. This guy commanded the guitar like no other including Eddie Van Halen. I remember all the specualtion right after his death, that he was looking to leave hard rock/heavy metal behind him and do something else, etc, etc... I think that was a bunch of bullshit. He might have done some chiller stuff for sure, but there's no way he'd have been able to stay away from playing that white Les Paul at full volume for very long. He was a true natural. YouTube's got some other rare bootleg stuff from shows at the NYC's Palladium where you can get a real taste of how Randy could outsize his twinkie little frame night after night by shredding the living shit out of that guitar of his. Man, the possibilities lost that day in March of 1982...