Wednesday, April 29, 2009

All at once now....

Why does everything happen at the same time?

All those weeks when nothing was going on, and I was just going through the motions, and then bam! Three or four deadlines all fall in the same 72 hours. And since I'm procrastinator 85% of the time (it would be 90% but I'll put in the rest of my lazy later), suddenly I'm scrambling. Well, not really scrambling, but I am suddenly pressed for time. Exams. Registration. School loan stuff. Work projects. Medical exams. I'm even taking time off from the job to get stuff done. Now THAT is amazing.

And since I don't live in a hole, the world around me as well is missing out my comments and flashing past like a motorcycle jockey on 285. Don't get me wrong, but somebody needs to call a penalty for unnecessary roughness. Bad economy, war, job losses, and now possibly pandemic swine flu? Jeez, can we get a break for a few moments?

God, if you're listening. *cough* Lottery.

I'm just saying.

I've been busy studying so I haven't been updating this blog like I'm supposed to, but things keep rolling around in my mind (and since I'm on other things I'm not able to let them out) I'm gonna mention a few things during this brief respite and get back to my regular posting a little later.


- The banks still aren't lending money. But if we bailed them out because of the trouble making idiotic loans the first time, so why are we in such a rush that they get back to making those same idiotic loans?

- Obama's first 100 days. Yeah. Sounds kinda nice.

- Somebody call the Supreme Court and tell them just because we got a black president, they shouldn't gut the Voting Rights Act.

- Am I high, or did the Republicans just blame the Swine Flu on the Democrats?

- Did you know: The Falcons still have Mike Vick listed on the roster?

- If a company is too big to fail, maybe it's just too big.


- Why did my doctor change my blood pressure perscription to a dosage not covered by my health plan?

- This summer I'm redoing my yard. Steppes, baby for this sloped as trick.

- This summer I'm also getting back in the, on the track and getting my three miles a day back. Then I'm getting on past that!

- Which is why I didn't do the the March of Dimes 5K this year with Schmoopy....sowwy, I would still be running...

- Gym time not withstanding, I made biscuits the other day from scratch...and they were delicious.

- I just watched the Daily Show for the first time in weeks due to my schedule. Damn that show is funny.

- Bea Arthur's passing was bad. I watched Golden Girls, loved it. I had an idea for a movie idea that was perfect for her at 80. She will be missed.

- I suddenly have a need for a vanilla shake (but I ain't gonna).

Anyway, the second of my three finals is Friday night at 6pm, and I need to get on with the get on. And my health exam, complete with the "rubber glove test" is tomorrow at 9am. So I get it in the tailpipe twice this week...

Barkeep...something a little, er... "numbing"

Thursday, April 23, 2009

And now we come to the showdown..

My admittedly meager knowledge vs the diabolical mind of my property law professor. I'm writing this to unwind my mind for a moment. A mental deep breath between reps. My test is in about two and half hours and I'm in the law library writing and re-writing my notes to sear the information into my brain.

I spent last night going over old tests and identifying issues, so that I don't make the error of getting the overall question wrong and go off on a tangent. I've only got three hours - sounds like a lot of time, but it ain't - and I need to come out swinging.

At the review he said it was going to be either 3 or 4 questions. But three questions from this guy might involve 8 or 10 pages of answers. No notes or outlines. You just have to know.

I would be very nervous right about now.

Barkeep. Whatever makes you memorize stuff real real good.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The end of an era

This is a Sports Post.
Sometimes these are really fun to write. This one both was and wasn't. A celebration of an era, the moving on of a broadcasting giant.

John Madden has stepped down.

Coach Madden, whose name now means football to a whole generation of young video gamers and whose voice and mannerisms mean good football is about to be played...or at least talked about...has decided to retire from broadcasting.

It was my opinion for a long time that John Madden along with his former long time cohort and co-announcer Pat Summerall should have been the designated Super Bowl announcers. It did not matter who broadcast the game, that pair should have been in the booth. I floated this idea in 1995, but then, I guess floated is the wrong term since what I really did was talk about it one night at a bar somewhere in middle South Carolina. Not exactly the powers that be, so to speak.

Sidenote - I'll watch the last fifteen minutes of Replacements just hear John Madden and Pat Summerall banter.

Madden understood the game better than a whole lot of people still standing on the sidelines pretending to be gurus today. With a career winning percentage as a coach of .759 in a 10 year career (considering personnel turnover, that's just ridiculous) and a Super Bowl ring, he not only talked the talk, he walked the walk. Hell, he danced the walk. He retired from coaching at 42 to avoid the health problems coaching stress was bringing on and went into broadcasting.

And if he hadn't been the man he was, he would have made it to the Hall of Fame on those stats alone. As it was broadcasting made a great man greater.

He didn't originally intend to coach. When you think about, how many kids want to grow up to "coach" the Super Bowl champions? He originally was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles (known as just as "Philly" in the first gen Madden) and got hurt during training camp. He picked up the coaching bug during his rehab and after his knee didn't come back right, he took the express train going from helping coach a High School team to college assistant coach under the legendary Don Coryell to head coach of the Raiders by age 32.

To say he was accomplished considering this was his "doing the best with the hand he was dealt", is an understatement.

Then he went onto broadcasting, which is where most of us know him from. In my mind it was not really football season until I'd heard John Madden call a game. He brought a sometimes crazy, sometimes incoherent, usually entertaining and always amazingly insightful viewpoint to the game. John made you understand the players were men, who did things off the field. More than just behemoths and athletes, but guys who were just guys. And he called so many important NFL games it's scary, so many close ones my head hurts. He even made bad games good by explaining the intangibles when you otherwise would have turned away. You found out why this guy turned that way, or what might have been on the coaches mind when he made that play call you didn't get.

And most importantly, unlike a lot of announcers out there who played quarterback or receiver and now sit in the booth...Madden appreciated the work of linemen and made you appreciate them too. (In the interest of full disclosure, I was a lineman when I played football.)

The fact that to most guys under thirty, the day the game that carries his name comes out is practically a national holiday speaks for itself.

Mr. Madden, you sir will missed. Thank you.

Enjoy the your wine.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bad Friday

Ramblings Post #23
Sometimes things don't go as planned. Which has been happening an awful damn lot lately. I'm of the impression that something in the grand karma of the world has gone awry. Life is strange, and not always in the ha-ha funny sort of way. I'm starting to get a little tired of being introspective.

Last week was Good Friday, since then things have been less than cool.

On Sunday afternoon after Easter services, there was a horrific car accident in South Atlanta, where five people died on their way home from Church. I got a call at 1 AM from someone who rarely calls, which I didn't see until the morning as my phone is permanently on vibrate. It turns out that I knew the people that died. The whole family - the husband and wife I knew well.

It's only when someone leaves --- permanently --- that how many folks who knew them is actually visible, at least in my age group. The victim in this case was my age, a person who had many times invited me into his home, whom I'd drank with and hung out with and generally could have been me...had I been a bit more successful and been smart enough to marry one of those women who asked me. I knew his wife as well, and so the double barreled shock has been the topic of my Facebook circle all week.

It's moments like this where you ask yourself, have I done enough with my life? I've been having a lot of these self reflection moments lately.

Then I walk in this Friday and the first question I get is, "do you know what's happening?" I mean like before I even turn on my computer.

It turns out today was Bad Friday, as my company finally did what the rest of corporate America has been doing for months and months: making personnel reductions. People who had worked here for years got the axe, and folks who just started a few weeks ago are still here simply by virtue of the department they worked in. One of the military vets compared our reactions to battlefield survivors talking about who got hit.

We got the informal meeting with our department heads then we got the talk on a conference call from the CEO and for most of the day it's been a series of quiet conversations. That some managers had been distancing themselves from the normal camaraderie of the office suddenly became obvious in retrospect. Other little signs became evident when you looked back.

It's about to sure enough wreak havoc on the company basketball league.

Sitting on the inside looking out, it's a odd feeling. I'm happy that I'm still going to be able to continue with my plans. But the the girl downstairs I used to assist with her graduate homework and has the 5 year old who looks 12 ... or a long time co-worker who I was joking with yesterday about his having gone to Gem Sweater concert... it looks like some of the illusion of certainty about their future they had is gone.

And it doesn't feel all that great to still have mine.

Barkeep. Whatever you got.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Too Independent?

Internet Fodder Post #2
You ever see something on the internet while you're just browsing and have something to say about it, but realize that you don't have the vast forum that whoever you read has, so that you can put your word to the people's ear in such a like fashion? Well, I do. But I do have a forum, maybe not as vast or as neatly kept, and I'm going to spout off like the last person. Well, maybe not spout off, but at least say something....

A message board I frequent (for almost 8 years now) had a member ask the question recently: When is a woman "too independent"?

The resounding chorus of answers from the small but diverse group of board members was a answer that I think fits the times: When she feels the need to inform you that she's independent, then she's too independent. The abrasive attitude kills it every time.

There was some further debate, some more questions and the usual juvenile interplay that happens between people you've conversed with for years but have never met, but nothing was resolved. As usual. But it got me thinking...When is a woman "too independent"?

A few comments thought Beyonce had messed it up. I'm still trying to figure out how she went from "Cater to you" all the way to "Put a Ring on it" so fast. What got her knickers in a twist? Didn't she get married? Others thought it was it was another song "Independent" (google: Webby Independent) which put a bad taste in some other people's mouth. I didn't think that the particular song was all that popular...but I've been in school, I might have missed something. Some people went all the way back to TLC's "No Scrubs"... which I think set the stage..

In any case what they were all saying is the popular black media is and has portrayed the black woman as strong and independent for years, (see: Oprah, Whoopi, etc), so when did they hit a limit?

In my personal opinion, it was the minute the phrase "I don't need you" became not the end of an argument thrown out in exasperation, or the even more popular "I don't need this," but the beginning of heated discussion, almost like a warning. A fight takes two people, and that already has the overtones of someone prepared to leave.

Everybody likes to feel wanted, to feel needed...especially men for whom moments of attractiveness are oasis-like in there frequency. It's one thing to start a disagreement about things that can be fixed...cleanliness, punctuality, demonstration of care and concern...but to (and here's where I use that education) to declare from the outset that only the capriciousness of an individual nature is what's maintaining the relationship is starting with the heavy artillery, the nuclear bombs. There's no fight after that.

It's domestic abuse of the soul.

Men like to be needed. I loved being needed. And a good woman makes a man WANT to be better. Telling someone the problem in relationship is something they can't fix is know.

Now I like independent women. All the women in this blog: Schmoopy, Shade, Sporty, Serve, Spanky, Slim and even others mentioned in passing...all are independent. Heck, I think all of them make more than me. But none of them feels the need to announce their independence, or use it as a defense, or use it as weapon. They just are independent. I like to believe that when a woman needs me, me being a modern man, I hope it's not for tangible items I can provide but for emotional and spiritual support.

Or sex. (I'm still me)

So can a woman be "too independent"? Yeah...

Barkeep....I would like a mango, orange and banana smoothie.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Gimme two on GM to cover, and let the rest ride...

Ramblings Post #22
Capitalism is broken. But much like my car, when it breaks down I fix it, I don't park it in the garage and walk everywhere I need to go. Let me explain to you the idea of my morning commute. There are a lot of things wrong with the current system, but the current system is the same system that got us here. I shudder to think of the alternatives.

I stopped watching financial news when it turned into a Monty Python sketch. Let me explain.

If you ever really watched the financial news on CNBC, Bloomberg or Fox Business News or really anybody in the whole financial news sector, you'll notice that it's not about the actual occurrences at the business, or actual profits or anything silly like that. If you look and pay attention, it's really all about expectations and hopes and dreams. Just like gambling. No, really.

For example, at We Know What We're Doing, really any bank or industry in 2007, well at WKWWD Inc., last year they earned .37 per share and were doing real good. Well this year, they made .34 per share, but they were supposed to make .41 per share, so they're doing horribly.

Did you see that? Were you paying attention?

They just ran a Vegas Line on you. The touts, I mean financial experts, picked them to turn a profit this year of .41 cents per share, and they only made a profit of .34 cents per share. They turned a profit this year, just like last year! They almost made as much as last year! But just like your favorite team who won, but because they didn't ...cover the spread... you still lost. They don't make what the touts, I mean experts, expect and it's like they used the company funds to binge on cocaine and Thai hookers. Stock price drops, disproportionately and millions in value are lost on sheer expectations.

And this was in the good times!

And if you do that now, it all sounds even worse. Each round of layoffs to protect a irrational share price and reduce an over leveraged core businesses only accelerate the market's decline. Now? Now they're worried about fiduciary responsibility? I mean when WKWWD Inc., lowers it's expectations to .22 cents per share, most folks don't realize THEY'RE STILL FORECASTING A PROFIT! But to the touts, it's as though predicted the end of the world. Maintaining isn't good enough, everybody has to always get better according to Wall Street, and that is breaking down. Spend fifteen minutes with the Journal and you'll see what I mean.

But reporting-wise in the past few months, however, it's become a race to see who can put out the bad news the quickest. After they failed to see the obvious patched over problems in the financial markets and institutions for the past five years, no one wants to be the news source that didn't ring the alarm. One can almost see the news anchors hopping in excitement as they wait for whatever catastrophe to roll off the wire. Unemployment is up! Foreclosures are still skyrocketing! Troubles in Europe! Mars needs women! China looks to repossess Taiwan! Credit markets have marked down the lima beans, but the chicken doesn't look fresh! We warned you! We warned you!

The whole thing has turned into a parody of a Python sketch that for years I've called "Drinking Chateau" but is better known as the Four Yorkshiremen. That sketch is hilarious. In it four men try their best to make their past situations sound insanely difficult to have made it though. And if you switch the channels, you can almost see the reporters smirking and going, let's see them at Competition Network Channel top this bad news!

And if it wasn't really happening to me and those around me, retirement plans withering and dying, homes destroyed, well watching the financial news would be funny too.

Our current market is built on two things: Trust and confidence. That's it. I wish there was more to it, but when a guy sends another guy he never met except via telephone a few million dollars because of a promise....that's trust and confidence. More than a few million jobs in the country are built on just that. And right now, as a lot of folks are finding out everyone isn't so trustworthy and a lot more are faking the funk, all the doom and gloom news isn't helping.

It's hard to stop being depressed if all you ever hear is depressing news. And depressing news is killing the confidence that runs the markets.

We need to get back to fundamentals. In the past few years, we've turned our lives into that of overgrown kids who expect the best and most for the least possible effort. And for a while we thought we'd figured it out. Only it turns out my mother was right:

"If it sounds to good to be true, too fantastic to be real, then that's probably the case."

And since we were all gonna get rich doing nothing...guess what? It seems kind of obvious looking back.

Barkeep. Whatever my friends want...within reason. Beer-wise. Let's not get silly.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

When we gonna get to the good part...

Ramblings Post #21
Law school is doing something to me that hasn't happened in a long time. It's challenging me to actually think. My job is down to rote, with the occasional burst of insanity, but as each set of facts is different, and each changes the interpretation, the mind has to function, not just respond. This is interesting.

Well, it almost that time. Again.

In just a few short weeks, my mind will have to honed to a razor edge so that my relatively lightweight knowledge of the law can be tested.

Unlike last year, where I waited until the end unbelieving of those who had come before me, I actually started my finals prep in early March (that week of spring break), before I realized my copious notes were virtually useless. At least I tried. I did what I could, working my notes over and distilling them down to the outline they suggest we use to organize things. My outlines were surprisingly short, and since I'm not that good (yet!) I knew I had a problem.

My note taking had to get better.

The short on credit hours but long on work research class is over, and I didn't make the cut for the oral presentation. The idea I'm starting to like this tickling over in my head, because while being elated to have more time to study, I'm a little disappointed I didn't get in. I guess the Law school bug is creeping in.

My Property prof is sharpening his pencils and preparing to unleash his beast. He's obtuse and sometimes hard to follow, but he's been teaching for decades and he knows his stuff inside and out. And enjoys a good pun, which comes in handy on the final.

My Contracts prof has one concern: Our future clients. And so to protect them against us, or rather to insure they get the best possible legal representation, he's going to run us through the wringer. Again. Great guy.

And my Criminal Law professor is trying to wean the emotion out of us requesting the strengths and weaknesses of both sides. He wants the answer to his test like a judges ruling, on point but dispassionate. I can see where he's coming from though.

And then, because checking Law Exams takes weeks...I'll see if I can get Constitutional Law underway before I even know my grades. Yay, me.

Looking at things now, I can see how some of my ways of thinking have adjusted, even in things not necessarily law related. My evaluation skills have improved, and I tend to ask more questions. Interesting. Let's see how this goes.

Barkeep.... a sparkling water. Yeah, I know it tastes funny, but a little