Monday, February 27, 2006

Guest Rant: Dustin on the Olympics

From time to time I'll post the thoughts from a friend. Today we hear from Dustin about his thougts on an overhyped olympic "athlete."
I haven't watched much of the winter olympics, but I have seen enough media coverage to be absolutely disgusted by one of our athletes, skiier Bode Miller. You have probably heard by now Miller, the highly touted U.S. skiier and likely medal winner, flopped in the Olympics. In four events his results were 5th, 6th, DQ, and DNF, in which he simply quit.

But, it wasn't his performance that I am that at arms about. It is his attitude toward his performance that disgusts me. Most athletes, especially Olympic athletes, base their success on medals. Apparently, Miller does not. Paraphrasing his words, Miller basically said that he thought he performed well and his goal was to prepare to perform in each race and that Olympic success is not contingent upon winning medals. To me, that is unacceptable coming from an athlete who I think won a world championship, and pretty much spits in the faces of all the people who made sacrifices to help him get to where he is today.

The kicker of this whole situation happened Sunday morning, when a commercial of Miller came on in which he was stating this philosophy. At the end of the commerical a Nike Swoosh appeared in the lower right hand corner. Yes, you read correctly, a Nike Swoosh!

Apparently, this is the same company that created a statue for it's first athlete, Steve Prefontaine. Lest we remember, what Pre said? To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift. I am sure that Pre, and Bill Bowerman, for that matter, probably rolled over in there graves.

It's this type of attitude by Miller that only encourages growth of a culture of apathy and non-accountability in this country. Thankfully, not all of our athletes are that way.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Movie review: Eight Below

This movie is for the dogs. But that’s not a bad thing! Eight Below is based on the true story of a team of sled dogs left alone in the Antarctic winter due to extreme weather conditions keeping them from joining their human companions on a flight to warmer weather.

Among the human stars of this film are Paul Walker (The Fast and the Furious) and Jason Biggs (American Pie, Saving Silverman)… I have it on good word that no pies were harmed in the filming of this movie.

Aside from Biggs’ performance as the comic relief in a hypochondriac cartographer the human performances aren’t much to speak of. But when your male lead was once out acted by Vin Diesel the movie better have some stronger legs to stand on!
It does, thirty-two to be exact!

As the humans are about to set out exploring a remote mountain for meteorites we are introduced to the eight dogs and given a brief description of their personalities. This is as much verbal description as is needed for our eight real main characters.

Once the evacuation order comes down the movie diverges into two plots: the survival of the dogs; and the quest by the sled driver to rescue them. The latter plot was added exclusively for filler. As you find yourself rather unattached to this skibumb of a character who obviously has never owned a tie.

Meanwhile the dog’s plight for survival is gripping and emotional. Credits to Director Frank Marshall and the animal trainers for not only stellar performances by the animals. The descriptions of each dog become played out and you do find yourself naming the dogs on screen at a given time.

The pack dogs are left to their own devices, so they work together hunting birds, relying on each other for warmth and even fending off predators. This even sets up the one really good jump-out-of-your-seat scare in the movie.

Not all the dogs survive, but that’s worth a few tear jerking moments. Of course as a Disney film everything works out in the end… including a rather pointless romance between our hero and the sexy female pilot (Moon Bloodgood – and if pilots really looked like that I’d have a lot more frequent flyer miles!). The movie is entertaining without being too long. The Human characters were a bit Cliché bit the animals save the movie. I give this a 3.5/5 on the performance of the dogs alone!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Causing trouble on President’s day

Having a beard is a lot of fun. First off you get 3 extra minutes in the morning which I usually put toward sleep or getting out of the car and making sure the front door is locked. You can also claim to have a kinship with famous bearded people like Chuck Norris, Jesus and the bearded woman.

It really is worth the Al Qaeda jokes and superficial accusations.

But today is President’s day and that’s a great opportunity for trouble.

Several years ago I was attending a Cinco de Mayo (note this Mexican holiday has NOTHING to do with Mayonnaise) party at my favorite neighborhood pub. At one point Frenchie showed up wearing a sombrero, poncho, 2 bandoleers of bullets and a fake moustache. His excuse for the getup was “People pretend to be Irish on St. Patrick ’s Day I want to pretend to be Mexican on Cinco de Mayo!”

But today isn’t Cinco de Mayo, nor is it St. Patrick’s day it is President’ day, the conglomeration of Lincoln’s and Washington’s Birthdays (and according to some, all presidents, even William Henry Harrison who was only president for a month).

The idea for this came up when I was talking to Abby and she suggested I get some black poster board (which I have) and make a stovepipe hat. Then reshape my facial hair to look like Lincoln and come to work as our 16th president.

Hey, if everyone can pretend to be Irish on March 17, Mexican on May 5, why can’t I be Linconln on the third Monday of February?

However Sunday’s laziness kept me from accomplishing this, however I may be halfway to a Halloween costume.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

How to solve Social Security without raising taxes, cutting benefits or getting into a “risky scheme

The real problem with Social Security over the next thirty years is that there will be more people drawing benefits than are paying into the system. Well that’s the accounting problem; the real problem is congress borrowing money from the Social Security fund for other types of programs and essentially leaving IOU’s in it’s place. But even without such indisgcrissions in borrowing the problem would be that of demographics.

In the beginning (the 1940’s) sixteen people paid into the system for every retiree. Then the Baby boomers came and all was good because there were plenty of warm bodies to get jobs and pay Social Security Tax. Then the Baby Boomers (or are they the Baby Boomers’ Babies) grew up. Got Jobs, got married and had less kids. Now if this were a Catholic blog I could condemn birth control here, but I’ll let you insert your own condom joke here.

Oh I can’t help myself…

why did the condom fly around the room?

Because it got pissed off!

Okay that’s out of my system.

So now that the birth rate has declined there are less people are available to draw taxes from for the impending large body of retiring baby boomers.

My solution:
My solution to the impending social security disaster will have two-fold effect. First, it saves the current system. Second it encourages personal saving so people are not dependant on the government in their golden years.

Ergo, when American citizens reach the retirement age of sixty-five we give them a choice: Retire at their own expense, keep working, or die!

Going back to the root of the problem: more people drawing from a smaller pool; we see that the obvious solution is to limit the number of people drawing from that pool. This way we can save the current system by killing those who would otherwise be leaching off of the system. Those who don’t want to die will save and invest for their own retirement, and most importantly nobody raises my taxes!!!

Eventually the system will correct itself when the demographics of the country allow for less retirees than workers. That, or everybody just takes personal responsibility for their own retirement and there is no need for Social Security. At which we can loose the farce that Social Security funds are somehow separate from the federal budget.

No, I don’t get back any of the money I’ve paid into the system, but the Pentagon has a $5000 toilet!

What I propose is not a novel idea. Ever seen Logan’s Run? I haven’t, but I hear it’s about euthanasia at the age of 30. I think there was a Star Trek episode on the subject as well, but Star Trek was pretty famous for ripping off everybody else’s ideas (exotic green women were obviously copied from the “Jolly Green Giant”).

In the end it will take creative thinking to solve this dire problem, and dire it is.

I’d also like to point out that sometimes thinking outside the box is a complete waste of time.

And that’s what I’ve done here!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Sweetest thing

What a title for Valentines Day, however this has nothing to do with my love life. However for some of you I’m sure you’ll find this a topic to fall in love with, for others, well just deal with it! This is my blog, damnit!

Just a quick aside, Microsoft Word does not recognize the word “damnit” It wants me to replace it with the suggestions: dam nit, admit, demit, dimwit or DeMint.

[insert dimwit joke here]

Back to the task at hand.

Sometime around the first of the year I changed my daily routine here at work. When I make my morning coffee, oh for all you Starbucks addicts out there I only ever drink the free stuff here at work. Why? Because I’d rather put money toward my mortgage than a $6 cup of coffee! Think about it you can get a six-pack of Miller Lite for that price! I’m not saying that one vice is better than the other, I’m just saying that if you’re going to pick a substance that helps you get through the day, run the numbers!

Did I get sidetracked again? Sorry. That’s the danger of stream-of-consciousness writing.

For the past couple months I’ve been making my coffee with Spelnda rather than using sugar in my coffee. According to Splenda is 600 time sweeter than sugar.

First off how do they determine that. Did someone eat one tablespoon of Splenda then just shovel in spoonfuls of sugar until something was as sweet as that first spoonful? After 600 spoons of sugar I think I’d just barf.

So today I went back to sugar… The Splenda container was almost out and sugar was easier to reach. Now I don’t know about 600 times sweeter but I always used less Splenda than Sugar in my coffee, and today that I’ve used sugar, I notice that this coffee tastes like... well, coffee!

Using Splenda did make my coffee more palatable, or at least sweeter, and I think that’s why I was finally able to make it to the bottom of the cup. Until the invention of this artificial sweetener I rarely made it past half way through my SDF-1 mug, but recently I’ve been drinking damn near to the bottom!

Now I’m sitting here trying to come up with the moral to this story and I’m beginning to think that this is the kind of story that doesn’t have a moral (Unlike stories that begin “So me and Dick Cheney were out hunting one day…”). I guess I’m just saying that Splenda really is sweeter than sugar, and when you can’t taste your coffee you drink more of it.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Being a badass is all relative.

I was thinking about what it means to be a badass lately. Does it have to do with your street creds? Are you really only a badass if you’ve held up a liquor store?

I say it’s all relative. You can be as bad as anyone else, in your respective field. Take Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers. An absolute badass as a strong safety, but I’m not about to let him do my taxes! I have my own badass accountant for that.

You can be the baddest street thug in the baddest part of town with the baddest rap, but unless you can turn 20% sales growth into a substantial stock price increase you're just a weenie in baggy pants in the board room.

Even I can be a badass...

Take Jury duty for instance, I'm an educated white guy who votes republican. I'm a Defense Attorney’s worst nightmare!

Yeah Mr. Lawyer what are you going to do about it?

Oh you say I should go home?

Okay, have a nice day!