Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Where did the camping go???

If you're looking for my camping adventures in Arizona and elsewhere, look at my new blog 'A Troll In The Woods' at

I'll keep this blog for other topics of discussion and what else might be going on in my life...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Are you loving or being a bully?

On Facebook I have enough friends with different enough political views that I see for and against posts for most issues.  Unfortunately, almost all of the 'against' views seem to fall into the realm of snarky put-downs of the other side.  I have seen this behavior on the issues of gun control, abortion and same-sex marriage.  People who are for a cause seem to either put up supporting words, or put up links to pictures, videos or other posts which cut down the other side. 

Friends - this is bullying, that somebody would put up a snarky post making one side of the issue look foolish or stupid.  This seems especially bad to me from people putting up posts calling supporters of traditional marriage backward, homophobic and close-minded, if not stupid.  How ironic that somebody supporting a highly bullied group should resort to bullying! 

A definition I heard yesterday for bullying behavior was that it was intended to mock, belittle and destroy the self-worth of the victim.  If what you post supports one side of an issue - awesome!  If what you post attempts to destroy one side - boooo! 

Let us try to be loving and supporting.  There's enough snark on Fox News for the world, we don't need more in Facebook.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Government efficiency???

For those that don't know, I was laid off from Motorola about 3 years ago.  Because a large number of people were being laid off, the WARN Act was triggered, requiring a 60 day notice - I had to be paid for the 60 days but Motorola didn't need to have be work (a good deal if you can get it - money for nothing).  It was pretty clearly stated by an IL unemployment office representative that we should apply for unemployment benefits as soon as we were not working - and that being paid in any way by Motorola wasn't relevant to this, just whether we had to report to work.  (Basically, the 60 days was debited from my severance payment, so it wasn't really a salary payment).  In fact, this seemed so strange and people kept asking to verify in different ways that she actually seemed to get annoyed.

The following year, a number of people on an ex-Motorola mail group reported that IDES was asking for verification of not-working during the interval.  Apparently someone at Motorola messed up some report which lead to the (mistaken) assumption that all of the 500+ people laid off were indeed working during the 60 days.  They also tried to contact me, however the audit division did not receive information about my address update that the unemployment office had received, so they sent the notice to my old address, with directions not to forward or return the mail...  No response must mean that I agree with their decision, so they start trying to take back the money I received.  I don't learn about this until the IRS helpfully sent them our tax refund for this year....

A few absolutely fantastic examples of government efficiency here. 
  1. Two groups in the same agency can't share information about people, so that maybe letters get sent to the right address.  I really don't understand this - hopefully the nice lady on the phone didn't really know why the address might be wrong - and the same agency isn't wasting taxpayers money to maintain multiple datasets of the same information and then not keeping them synchronized...
  2. For no good reason, the state of Illinois doesn't want to have official mail forwarded, or be notified that the mail was not actually received.  I didn't think that it cost money to have mail returned (either that or we just have a really nice mailman here).
  3. No attempt is made to figure out why no response was received.
  4. No attempt is made to find the right address.  This really can't be too hard - Columbia House Music group has managed to track me through 3 moves and I really don't want them to keep sending me junk mail - Columbia house managed to track my wife through a name change and 4 moves - hoping to get a couple hundred dollars.  Heck - even the people who bought our house in Grayslake found my address on Google to forward some mail...
  5. Nobody at IDES noticed that hundreds of people seemed to have incorrect claim information, or that hundreds of people were appealing decisions...  At the very least, they could save some money by grouping all the January Motorola departees and clear the investigation at one shot, instead of having hundreds of state employees sit down and review things one-at-a-time...
I am a bit astounded at the laziness of this agency - they don't have the same motivation that a record club has to find my current address.  A business running the unemployment benefits under contract (for profit) would have kept this from happening, and probably would have found my new address (so they might recover funds more quickly)...

By the time this is over, they will likely have expended several times the decision amount in peoples time to investigate, correct and return my money to me...  Sorry in advance to the people of Illinois...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Our role in society

I haven't posted in a while, somewhat lacking time and things to share (family activities appear on Facebook...).  I came across this quote this morning, which struck me as applicable today - the solution to the problems of the world is found only in God's work, and God's work through us.

    We cannot pass our responsibility on to politicians, diplomats, economists, technicians, scientists, and secular ideologists. We ourselves are obliged to think about the problems of the form of responsible society and of our own contribution to its creation. Let us avoid the impression that this responsible society will be identical with Christian society. There has been, is, and will be no Christian society, just as there is no Christian state, Christian economy, or Christian civilization. The new earth and the new heaven which we expect in faith will not be the work of human hands, but a creation of God's mercy and justice. And these are essentially eschatological concepts. Christian civilization is an illusion, and every attempt to fight in its name against so-called un- Christian efforts--social and political ideas--is a self- deception and a grave danger to the church itself.
    ... J. L. Hromadka (1889-1969), The Church and Theology in
          Today's Troubled Times, Prague: Ecumenical Council of
          Churches in Czechoslovakia, 1956, p. 80-81
    See the book at
It bothers me that so many people seek to provide solutions that minimize God and minimize personal involvement.  Instead we need more people to seek and find God, and let God work through them.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy New(ish) Year!

I'm still alive, and still here - just a little late in posting something for the new year.  Its been busy...

Things are going pretty well - John had his first TaeKwonDo competition last week, I may be able to get some video up one of these days (requires time to import into the computer, and edit and such...).  Otherwise we're enjoying the weather - Phoenix is a great place in the winter, and pretty much makes up for the summer.  The heat of summer still isn't as bad as shoveling snow, as far as I'm concerned.

Not much else right now.  Hope things are well with y'all.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas confusion

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

I remember a point as a child where I heard 'Silent Night', and wondered in the third line - Why are they singing about a fat lady?  A woman so large that we have to look around her (and here child) to see the Holy Infant...  Even today, the phrasing in English doesn't really make a lot of sense (though it fits musically...), but at least I now can piece together that all is calm around the mother and child...

 Do you have funny memories of mis-understood Christmas lyrics? 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hi there - I'm still alive...

So, its been a while since I posted something.  I actually have a few thoughts that I'd like to post at some point, but feel that I put enough 'heavy' stuff up lately that I'd like to put up something light-hearted and funny.  The only problem is that I've been waiting for the kids to do something 'million-dollar funny' that I could write up (and then somebody will come and buy the story and make a movie and I'll get millions for it...), but obviously that hasn't happened...  Oh well, guess I'll just have to keep working a little longer, before the kids will be able to support me.

I did go camping with Kyle over this weekend - Friday night.  This was an orientation program that the local Boy Scout council puts on to help introduce aspects of cub-scouting to the boys.  While Kyle started last year, we couldn't make it to the overnight because of scheduling conflicts so we went this year.  (Kyle really wanted to go - this is one of the few opportunities to get the Archery and BB-gun belt-loop requirements satisfied, since these have to be performed by trained instructors...)  We did have a lot of fun, and got really tired.  We were able to setup before a dust storm moved through the area - I'm glad that I wasn't trying to setup the tent in the 30 mph+ wind gusts.  I had brought the 'good' tent stakes, and the tent didn't go anywhere - it didn't even really show any evidence of the wind blowing, unlike some other tents around us where the tent was basically being blown flat (the poles couldn't stand up to the wind).  I'm glad that we only had wind - there was a good layer of dust on everything in the tent, but we didn't have to deal with mud.

We were warned about active rattle-snakes in the area, and to stay off the rocks - after Kyle and some other boys had already been climbing on the rocks.  We didn't see or hear any snakes while we were there, so no real problems.  Happily the temperature is down into the 90's now, so it is comfortable enough to camp near Phoenix.

The best part, for Kyle, was the Archery - the boys learned to shoot a bow-and-arrow, how to hold the bow, nock an arrow, draw and release.  This is what he was asking about (when do we do Archery?) and what he wants to do more of.  Maybe after Baseball is done we'll look into archery until spring baseball starts up (in February....).

That's about it for now, its still just barely warm enough to think about getting in the pool (89 degrees right now, water is 86), so we might go do that.