Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lairs, Thieves, and Politicians...

Unlike some others out there, I’m not going to pretend that I have all the answers to the upcoming critical vote on President Obama’s economic recovery plan. I read what some might consider an excessive quantity of political blogs and there is of course as many differing opinions as there are stars in the sky. I would say that most polibloggers I read, while admirably intelligent, have equal or less of a grasp on the impact that all the various packages being proposed might have on this nations economy. For me, all I can mentally digest is what I can observe so far. Here’s what I’ve collected in my notebook of late:

Some asshat who works for a bank that took taxpayer bailout money actually spent $1 million renovating his office, AND pushed through bonus payouts to his executive staff under the guise of, “If you don’t pay these people, they’ll leave for greener pastures…”. What a crock of shit. I DARE them to leave a job right now.

I’ve heard that Fed capital infusion of public works projects don’t work. They didn't work for the Japanese or the U.S. ‘New Deal’. Do you bail out banks, buy bad debt, bail out auto makers and greedy union fucks? Is the minority WHIP wishing failure on the president’s plan much like the Dem’s did with the troop surge plan? At some point, a call must be made. This reality is making for some sleepless nights under crisp new sheets in the private residence at the White House I’m sure.

The two best ideas I’ve heard thus far, either of which will more than likely never see the floor of either house, are $9000 individual tax stimulus and/or a prolonged tax holiday proposition. Yes, I like these ideas because they put money directly in MY FAMILY’S pocket. I kind of wonder why this would be a bad idea in anyone’s eyes. As for the $9000 check, sure some would immediately blow the cash on stupid shit, but not everyone, not this guy. To those who are unemployed, it would mean keeping their house/apartment for a few more months, payoff past due electric bills, etc… For those still employed like me it would mean paring down some debt to put ourselves in better position if for some reason I find myself out of work. A few months ago, I said I was totally cool with the bank bailouts despite the spoils going to those who created this disaster, but after hearing about failing companies giving out bonus payments I’m of the mind that from this point on that the tie goes to the citizen. Can’t decide who should get money? Give it back to the citizens. Let US decide who were going to give it too, how it’s saved or spent. To me, you receive a bonus when your company meets or exceeds predetermined financial objectives. When you don’t achieve these, you don’t get a bonus. It’s as simple as that. There have been times in my career when we got no bonus at all, and times when we got double the plan. That’s how it works.

For what ever plan gets passed this week or next, I hope that our law makers are smart enough to write in language that reserves the Fed’s right to review compensation packages of ALL employees and ensure that reasonable goal based bonus compensation is managed honestly. If you can’t sign up for that, don’t ask for the money.

As for the President, welcome to your dream job. I say rollout your plan and stand by it, GOP support or not. If you're so sure that your detractors have nothing worthy to add (as I said, I've not a clue that they do or not) than what's done is done, High risk, high reward my friend. I, for one, am hoping that whatever it incompasses it works.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Slow News Day...

- A historical day by any measure. I will remember this day like those who were alive for D-Day. It’s been a long journey and this is a proud moment for all Americans, the black community, all who lost their lives to the sin of slavery, segregation, and bigotry, and those who GAVE their lives for the struggle of equality. A great day indeed.

- I’m not so sure whether this is a secret or not, but my wife and I love the trashy VH1 shows particularly this season’s ‘Rock of Love Bus’ and ‘Tool Academy’. My wife with her glass of wine, me with my scotch laughing our asses off at those so hard up to have a moment of fame they’d participate in a show where you risk this phrase being uttered to you as you're eliminated: “… I’m sorry, but you’re just a tool. Hang up your coat and leave”, OR watch some clownish stripper fall flat on her face and break a breast implant during some ridiculously contrived hockey event all in pursuit of affection from Brett Michaels THE WORST rock singer of all time. Pure gold. Those who deny these shows either haven’t seen them, or lack the key sense of humor gene. This is how we're going to get through this recession folks. Last night, one of the chicks got busted talking to her boyfriend on her cell phone (they're not allowed to have cell phones, or a boyfriend presumably) goofing on Brett's hair extensions. To Brett's credit (and little of that I give the guy), he quipt at the triple D endowed contestant that they were, "...the best extensions money could buy" and she could now "get the (bleep) out of here."

Great. Television. Period.

- On the flip side of the previously mentioned wankery, I happened to have caught the beginning episode of ‘Sober House’ which is the follow up to another rehab reality show featuring Dr. Drew, lauded addiction expert to the stars. I only watched a few episodes of the first show by chance and avoided it after. It’s just too sad for me to watch. I’ve known far too many people who have hit rock bottom and been EXACTLY like these sad individuals including family members. We lost an uncle to suicide as a result of a life of hardcore addiction and another who is determined to follow suite. The people on the show are made no more compelling because of their former celebrity. To me, they’re just addicts completely subservant to their vices. Some will never conquer their addiction. These individuals will likely die, and it will probably be sooner than later. Watching Steven Adler for even one minute you know the guy is one of those who's not going to make it. It’s gut wrenching to watch. I screamed at him in my head, “Dude, you play music. GO PLAY MUSIC!” at the same time knowing that he’s not in control any more. While only half paying attention to the rest of the show as I read in bed, I heard one of the former addicts who runs the program say to the doctor, “for many of these people, they will burn their last bridge here and have no one left that will be willing to help them”. And that sums it up exactly. Caring enough to get involved is sometimes not enough to help people like this and there is simply nothing that can be done. This is the pain that loved ones of addicts must bare. With addiction, there comes a time when the cord must be cut and the addicted must sail on their own. All you're left with is a prayer that they find a moment of clarity that compels them to seek help again, but until that happens keeping them at a safe distance is not only wise, but absolutely necessary. I don’t plan to watch this new series either. For no other reason than the freak show exploitive aspect hidden somewhere in the BS ultraistic façade it’s producers tout.

- Well, if the democrats taking back the White House isn’t a sure sign of the pending apocalypse, the fact that the Arizona Cardinals (heretofore refered to as “My brother’s crappy Cardinals”) are heading to the Super Bowl should dispel any doubt. My brother in law and his son are lifer Steelers fans, so it’ll be a good trash talking couple of weeks. Me, I’m going to root for my bro’s Cardinals. The Steelers have rings that are still shiny and new from their last trip and I love the underdog. Even my doofus brother deserves a Super Bowl win every hundred years, right?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How to raise children Part IIIVXCM...

Overheard this morning…

Wife: "Katie, please feed the dog."

Katie: "Why do I always have to do this stuff?"

Wife: "If you want to keep the dog, you have to do your part to take care of it"

Katie: “but daddy doesn’t do anything to take care of the dog…”

Wife: “Daddy goes to work to earn the money to pay for the food that you, me, and the dog eats”

Katie: “Well, you’ve got a point there…”

She gets smarter and smarter every day.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

All things were better back then Part VCMIII...

Man, this comic made me laugh...

Monday, January 05, 2009

Back to the grind...

Well, it was a holiday season of firsts for ol' Tony Alva. It was the first time I've taken two weeks off in a row the entirety of my work life (time off not related to periods of unemployment of course ‘cause let’s be real, you can’t really enjoy drinking beer, playing guitar, and generally doing nothing when you’ve got no revenue coming in the door right?). Without announcing it to anyone including my family or my three blog readers, I also decided to challenge myself to do what my friend Fred hasn’t been able to do in forever and that is go off the tech grid for the duration of my vacation. Like he’d tell you, it isn’t easy when you’re used to being wired in and are addicted to news and information of all varieties and sources. Of course, I’m not nearly as important to my employer as Fred is to his, but I did take my laptop home and was EXTREMELY tempted many times to get on and take care of the work piling up in my queue (okay, I mean to check my feed reader, troll blogs, Facebook, AND stay caught up with work), but I was successfully in my efforts for the most part.

Much of my time off was spent with family. There were a few days in which showers were not taken and the three of us did nothing but hang out in bed read and watch TV. One particularly good day was spent going through MANY shoeboxes of photos myself and the Mrs. have been collecting over the years. There is a plan to actually catalog and organize them or so I’ve been told. For me it was just a great excuse to take a look at them again and show the more interesting ones to my 6 year old daughter. I also found a gold mine of blogging and Facebook worthy photos that I’ll be scanning and posting in the coming weeks. It was a pretty chill couple of weeks with only the rarest bits of boredom. It was cool just to hang out with my girls and have no schedule at all. For those who have resisted going off the grid, all I can tell you is that it is worth the effort.

I got nothing really all that exciting for Christmas, although my father surprised me by actually going out and SHOPPING for my gift this year. Not only did he put forth the effort to shop, it was a thoughtful gift ta boot (a GPS navigation system). Unbeknownst to him, my iPhone pretty much covers that function for me, and since my wife carries an iPhone too thus negating the option of keeping the nav system in her car, I ultimately caved and returned it for store credit (another first for me, since I have NEVER returned any gift given to me previously). I am grateful for the effort nonetheless.

A buddy of mine got last minute tickets to the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl and five of us guys made our way downtown for tailgating and what we hoped would be a barnburner of a game on New Years Eve. Boy were we sadly mistaken. LSU rolled on Georgia Tech so badly that we bolted at half time to meet our ladies to ring in the New Year with them. As a matter of fact, it was a shitty two weeks of football on the Alva front. GT got crushed, Penn State got crushed, Alabama got crushed, and the Falcons got crushed by the crappy Cardinals costing me $30 to my not as good looking and much older brother Mathdude. They don’t hold much chance, but it would be cool to see his Cardinals ruin everybody else’s Super Bowl dreams as well. We’ll see. As for the last couple of college bowl games, who cares? That’s the funny thing about the college game for me: If it’s not one of the teams that I follow I could hardly care who’s playing for a Nat’l championship.

As if having to get up early, shower, shave, and drive into work after being off for two weeks isn’t bad enough I discovered after walking into the lobby of our building this morning that the restaurant that I eat lunch at everyday closed New Years Day. No, the food wasn’t good. That’s not why I ate there everyday. You see, I’ve been working on an Atkin’s diet and have been successful in dropping a decent amount of weight from my aging frame since undertaking the effort last February. I suspended the diet during the holidays knowing how hopeless it is to stay “sober” during Thanksgiving through New Years period, but fully planned on getting back on the wagon starting today. One of the things I’ve learned about dieting as a means of weight loss is that building GOOD habits are as paramount to success as breaking bad ones are. “Habit” being the operative word. One of the good habits I had developed was foregoing leaving the building for any of the local eateries during lunch and instead sticking to a short list of “in plan” items off the menu at the lobby restaurant. It really worked well since lunch was my biggest opportunity to give into temptation. Now I’ve got to find another place, and pretty much anything else is going to be a great deal less convenient than my lobby place. Still, I’ve got to come up with a plan and quick. I know I’ve given back at least five pounds over the holidays and want to get the gut contraction thing going again post haste.

It’s now 2009. I’m not sure if I’d claim to be optimistic at this early stage of the game (I suffer from serious seasonal blues. Certainly not the only one, but it’s one of the bigger factors in my leaving the Northeast for a warmer climate 18 years ago), but I do have an odd sense that better times are lying there beneath the rocks and snow just waiting for the spring melt to start. I didn’t make any silly resolutions, but I am committed to posting more often and staying on top of my tech comms (blog, e-mail, FB, etc…) better than I did in 2008.

So HAPPY NEW YEAR everybody! Let’s get through this week and celebrate hard on Friday.