Thursday, March 28, 2013

Suggestions For a Better Game

As the NCAA Tournament swings back into action tonight with the Sweet Sixteen, there has been a lot of talk about the quality of play so far--most of it negative.  "Not enough scoring", "terrible shooting" and "games are boring" are among the most common comments--and not just from those who watched the Badgers play.  Some leading talking heads like Jay Bilas, Doug Gottlieb and Seth Davis believe major rules changes are needed--like doing away with charge calls involving off-the-ball defenders or shortening the shot clock. 

I think just one rule change is needed.  The 3-point line needs to be moved back.  And I don't mean back another 9-inches like the NCAA moved it a couple of years ago.  I'm talking about going all the way out to the NBA distance--23-feet, 9-inches.  You can always tell the first time someone is on an NBA-marked court because they go out to that 3-point line and they get this look like "Holy crap, that's a long shot".  You make one from out there, you deserve the extra point.  Other than that change, better offense and increased scoring only require simple changes from those on the court itself: the refs, the coaches and the players.

First off, refs need to enforce the rules on physical contact--especially away from the ball.  Guys without the ball are getting mugged all over the floor.  Cuts on offense are hindered by holding and body checks.  Call that junk away from the ball and the offensive flow will improve immediately.  Contact on shooters has be called tighter as well.  After a shooter leaves the floor, there should be no contact--with the hands, arms or the body.  The way things are called now, so long as you don't hit a guy on his shooting arm, pretty much anything goes.  Protect the shooters better, and I bet shooting percentages will go up.

Secondly, coaches have got to loosen up.  When you have Bo Ryan and Tom Izzo going into games saying their main objective is to "limit their possessions" you know you're going to be in for a grind-fest.  Does that mean you shouldn't play any defense (like a Grinnell)? No.  But on offense, let your kids look to attack before the final 8-seconds on the shot clock.  I see at all levels now point guards that need to check the sideline for what play is being run--and every possession has to include a minimum number of passes.  Letting kids play would also help.  In last week's win over Butler, Marquette's Buzz Williams made 79-substitutions!  That is two players coming in and going out EVERY MINUTE of the game!  How is a kid supposed to get into an offensive rhythm if he's coming out every three minutes?

Finally, players have to develop better all around games.  I always say that there is a "dead zone" on the floor in today's game.  You hardly see any shots taken between 6 and 18-feet away from the hoop--and when you do, not that many are going in.  That is because players today have two offensive moves: drive to the hoop or jack a three.  That's why I want to move the 3-point line back--because then you wouldn't see so many guys willing to put it up from 19-feet.  And if Jay Bilas wants fewer charges, then he should be encouraging guys to pull up and shoot a six foot jumper, instead of running over defenders in the lane.

It's doubtful that we will see any of these changes anytime soon--especially since less-talented teams gain more advantage from the way the college game is played now.  And when you consider that just this week a coach that took his team to three Final Fours and had just won his conference title got fired, coaches won't be giving away any edge they can get any time soon.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Life Lived Too Publicly

We learned yesterday of the passing of perennial Oshkosh political candidate John Daggett.  It was a sad ending to a sad life lived far too much in the public eye. When we have discussions about the "failures" of the mental health system in the US, it's not so much the school shooters or serial killers that I think of, it is the people like John Daggett--who live slightly detached from reality--that come to mind. 

Daggett was infamous for educational and work experience claims that could not be verified--and when questioned about those claims he would usually lash out at the reporter.  Mr. Daggett also lived in a paranoid fear of the Oshkosh Police Department--engaging officers in struggles after his bizarre behavior warranted calls to 911.  On at least two occasions officers even had to tazer Daggett to get him to comply with their orders.  In those cases, Daggett (representing himself of course, with books checked out from the Oshkosh Public Library) had resisting arrest and disorderly conduct charges thrown out.  I remember one time, Judge William Carver even admonished the police for being too hard on Mr. Daggett. 

And then there was the endless litany of political candidacies.  In the span of 24 years, Daggett ran for Congress, Winnebago County Executive, Winnebago County Board, the Oshkosh Area Board of Education and the Oshkosh Common Council--often all at the same time.  Back when the League of Women Voters wanted serious questions asked at their debates, I would be a panelist--and there would be John Daggett in all of the three debates.  Usually, making no sense in his answers--leaving us to wonder why he was being allowed to embarass himself in the public eye time and again.  He also wanted to form a Police Brutality Committee--with himself as the chairman of course--to punish officers who gave him a hard time.

And in many of those races, it was only because of Daggett's candidacy that a primary election had to be held--meaning added expense to taxpayers in the form of printed ballots and manning all of the polling places for elections he had no chance of winning.  In this forum I would ask nearly every year "who is signing these nomination petitions--and who are the 800-people voting for this guy every year?"

Rather than clashing with police and running for public office, John Daggett should have been under treatment somewhere out of the public eye.  Yes, that would have given us a lot less to talk about over the years--but sometimes, that is a good thing.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How the Left Thinks

Rather than read crime novels or watch horror movies to give myself a good scare, I prefer to peruse the major liberal websites to gain some insight into what's going on in the minds of our "progressive leaders".  One of the scariest--I mean "best" sites--is  There, academics, politicos and self-appointed scientific experts espouse their views on everything from confiscation of firearms, the vilification of Paul Ryan, and the need to spend and tax MORE in Europe to "fix" their fiscal disaster.  But a series of recent articles really caught my attention: Defeating Useless Rich People.

In his series, Michael Lind of the New America Foundation, lays out his case for doing away with--or severely curtailing through regulation, flat out government takeover or taxation, what he describes as "Rentier industries".  For those not familiar with the term, it basically means any business or person who makes money by "pushing paper" rather than "pushing a broom".  And of course, Lind and his fellow theoretical economists are more than happy to determine who is who:

An Anti-Rentier movement would distinguish businesses that make profits by providing worthwhile goods or services in innovative ways from rentier interests that passively extract exorbitant tolls and fees from the economy without adding any value.

How do you like the use of the word "worthwhile" in that sentence?  Why am I guessing that the company that builds wind turbines nobody wants will be deemed "worthwhile" goods--while Oshkosh Truck and its huge military vehicles will likely be seen as "non-worthwhile".  The same will probably go for soy milk versus that coming from a cow.

In addition, Lind says we need government-set limits on profits and interest rates in the private sector:

Windfall real estate profits should be taxed away by property taxes or “land value” taxes. Severance taxes or superprofits taxes should be levied on energy and other resource windfalls determined by geography rather than human effort. Banks should be low-profit, publicly-regulated utilities and laws against usurious interest rates, struck down in the U.S. in the late twentieth century, should be restored. 

So when Costco wants to buy up all the land in our neighborhood to build a new store in Oshkosh--I'm supposed to turn down an offer that exceeds the value of the property--or better yet, just pay away all of that "windfall" to the government--since I didn't really "earn" that money?  And while I certainly hate payday lenders, nobody has a gun held to people's heads when they go in there.  Businesses with no customers don't stay open very long.

Plus, what would a "fair economy" be without more government dependence?

Instead of cutting Social Security and Medicare to force the elderly to buy more products from parasitic private-sector monopolies and oligopolies, the Anti-Rentier coalition would favor expanding Social Security and other public social insurance, while phasing out tax subsidies for private health insurance and private retirement products. 

In other words, trying to take care of yourself will now be punished--especially those that put money into 401(k)s or IRAs.

 In his Total Money Makeover program, Dave Ramsey talks about the "Pinnacle Moment"--when your retirement investments start making more than you do working--in effect, allowing you to "coast" into retirement.  In the Michael Lind "Total Economy Makeover", your only reward is to continue pedaling up that hill--because that is "being productive".

Monday, March 25, 2013

What If You Cut a Budget And Nobody Noticed?

One of the greatest fears of those involved in government when the Sequester went into effect wasn't so much that certain programs and services were going to be cut, it was that programs and services would be cut--and nobody would notice.  In a system where the only time questions are asked about funding (and sometimes not even then) is when something new is being added--having a line item in the budget is something to hold on to and cherish like it is your own child.  Because once it's in there, everybody forgets about it--and the administrators can just add their annual five or six percent to it and nobody says "boo".

That is, until something like the Sequester comes along--and actual cuts (not reductions in the expected increase as Democrats like to call "cuts") must happen.  Then, a critical eye is cast upon a department budget and what is really not all that important is (or at least should be) the first thing to go.

And that is the case for air traffic control at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.  From what I can find in on-line records, ATC started in Oshkosh in the early 1960's, when the airport was serviced by regional air carrier service.  For 40-years, that traffic--and rudimentary technology--made manning the control tower a necessity.  But once Wittman was designated a general aviation airport--and modern technology allowed controllers to remotely work airfields from a centralized location--nobody ever questioned the need to continue ATC.  It was one of those things where "we've always done it--and that's why we keep doing it".  The FAA even "doubled down" on it by spending $7-million on construction of a new control tower about four years ago.

But then came the Federal budget crunch, and somebody finally had to take a look at whether manning the tower is actually necessary to keeping the airport safe.  And finally, someone said "No, it is not"--just like they did at 148 other airports around the country which for years (and likely decades) were just line items in a budget to which nobody paid the slightest attention.

This Two Cents would be completely different in tone if not for the reaction of the pilots who use Wittman Field.  So far, they have told us that losing ATC will only mean that they need to keep in contact with other fliers and keep a closer watch out for other aircraft.  There were no organized protests outside the terminal building.  No candlelight vigils around the tower itself.  No press conferences with speakers predicting planes falling out of the sky or death and carnage along the runways. You know, the kind of stuff we see all the time when any other government program or service might get less of an increase in funding than they were expecting to get in a new budget.

And if the Sequester cuts remain in effect for an extended period of time--with no effect on safety at the affected airports--it should require serious discussion and proof that it needs to resume before the money is automatically put back into those budgets.  Because isn't that the way spending plans should be put together anyway?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Debt Free Friday

I got something a little bit different in my email yesterday: an update on how a Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class did during their nine weeks in the classroom.  Paul Trebiatowski--who co-ordinates the program at the 20th Avenue YMCA every winter--tracked how attendees were doing coming into the class--and how they are doing upon completion.  And I must say, things are looking good!

So the group of 19-students at the Y managed to pay off 21% of their non-mortgage debt in just nine weeks.  And they managed to increase their individual savings by $322 A WEEK.  Plus, they whittled down their credit card accounts to just about one per person.  I congratulate all those who took part in this winter's classes--and I wish you the best of luck on your continued journey toward Financial Peace.

While the YMCA won't run another FPU class until next winter, you can learn how to take care of your money in a class now forming at St Raphael's Church in Oshkosh.  Their classes will start on April 11th.  You can find out more by clicking on this link:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Where Are the Food Police?

I've given it a week now but it appears the Food Police will not be coming to the aid of State Representative Dean Kaufert and his effort to limit how much junk food that food stamps recipients can buy with their Qwest cards.  I fully expected a flurry of emails and press releases from the same groups that "applauded" the new White House standards for school lunches that nearly starve high school athletes.  There was no response from the associations that pushed for bans on birthday snacks in schools.  Not a peep from all those folks who want cities to provide free space for "community gardens".  And we got nothing from organic groups that assault Monsanto and the other big companies for pushing genetically modified grains and processed food products. 

I'm also shocked by the silence of such people as Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York--who famously decided to unilaterally ban large soft drinks in the Big Apple.  Perhaps he is still trying to recover from the sting of being rejected by the courts who upheld consumers'--and businesses'--rights to purchase and sell the food products they want.  And where is MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski--who just published an entire book on the evils of corporate foodstuffs--where she calls soda "poison"?

So why the deafening silence from the people who are pushing for government control over what we eat and drink on a bill that calls for the government to limit what people can eat and drink?

Maybe it is because Dean Kaufert is a Republican.  Heaven forbid we have "bipartisanship" on an issue so dear to liberals.  Maybe its because Kaufert's bill doesn't include increased funding for the FoodShares program to offset the "higher cost of eating healthy".  (Although, I would just apply the same flawed logic that liberals use to justify mandatory health care coverage: If we increase demand for the product, that will make its price go down.)

Or maybe it is because the restrictions that the Food Police believe are "so vital for the health of the country" are only being imposed on a certain group of people.  And a group of people more likely to vote for Democrats.  That's it--food stamp restrictions are "inherently unfair" because they create "food inequality" by "denying the poor access to the same 'luxury items' afforded to the 'rich'."  The only way to make things "fair for all Americans" would be to ban the purchase of junk food across the board--so the rich, the middle class and the poor all have to eat the same things.

In a related item, the Obama Administration decision to include super-caffienated energy drinks like Monster to its approved food stamps items has been met by overwhelming opposition by those same groups.  Or maybe not.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

An Impending Disaster

I'm trying to stay positive in planning for our Election Night coverage on April 2nd--but the looming mess that will be the Oshkosh Common Council race is already weighing on me.  I'm only half-joking when I tell folks here at the radio ranch that we should probably plan on starting our coverage at midnight and going until about 8:00 the next morning.

Oshkosh is notoriously slow for tabulating and posting election results (many an election night Bob Burnell and I have sat here waiting for those "last few precincts" to come in--while Appleton and Fond du Lac have had their final numbers up for hours already), and now we're going to throw in SIX write-in candidates--one of whom is guaranteed to win a spot on the Council?  That means every ballot will have to be hand-counted (because the machine can only scan that there has been a write-in, not which candidate was put on the line).  That process can only be done after the polls have closed and all of the absentee ballots have also been run through.  If it takes three hours to compile straight machine counts on a regular election night, how long are we looking at for that hand-count?

And I can already imagine the poor poll workers trying to decipher what people are writing on the ballots.  That black felt-tip pen they give you at the polls isn't exactly the best writing utensil.  And having had to read a lot of other people's handwriting over the years, it may be like trying to decipher ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics on some of those ballots.  And what happens if a voter puts down the first name of one candidate and the last name of another candidate?  Who gets that vote?  Time for a call down to the City Clerk!  And let's hope nobody loses count two-thirds of the way through a stack of a thousand ballots.  "Oops, I guess we have to start all over again."

I can already hear the phone calls to the NewsRoom that day.  "The poll workers didn't list so-and-so when I asked about the write-in candidates!"  Or, "Somebody had a handwritten list of candidates posted on the wall at such-and-such polling place.  You can't do that!"  And of course there will be "Hey, why didn't anyone tell me there were write-in candidates for City Council?"

And what happens when the numbers are finally tallied and all six of the write-in candidates are separated by just a few votes.  Get ready for a recount of the hand count!!  With every ballot having to be checked by six people, over and over and over again.

I would never tell you NOT to vote--so please do head to the polls on April 2nd.  Just do your homework ahead of time--know who the write-ins are (and how to spell their names correctly)--and practice perfect penmanship so the little old ladies at each site don't have to get out the magnifying glasses to count your ballot.

If we all do our part, we should be able to declare a winner by oh................Thursday, April 4th.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Republican Party v 2.0

So Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is out with a plan for a "new" version of the party.  It includes greater "outreach" efforts toward minorities, women and young voters--and changing the perception that it is the "party of the rich".  Some party members are probably relieved to hear that Priebus is recommending procedural changes--rather than dramatic dogmatic shifts in policy or platform.  The last thing we needed was a choice between Democrats and "Democrats Lite" from now on.

The full report came up two pages shy of 100--so to reach that nice round figure, can I suggest a couple more items?

Page 99--Get more conservatives involved in local politics.  I know Tip O'neill was a Democrat, but he was absolutely correct when he said "All politics is local".  Give people a reason to vote for conservatives EVERY election cycle.  If you favor small government and limited spending, who are your candidates this year for Oshkosh Common Council or School Board?  Or for the past couple of election cycles?  By forfeiting the real "grass roots level" of government to liberal, the GOP is only making it harder to win races higher up on the ballot.  Experience gained by seeking these smaller offices--and the recognition built by serving at that level--gives Democrats an advantage as politicians try to move up the totem pole.  It also creates a system of giving--as donors who support small time campaigns tend to move right along with "their man" or "their woman" to the next race.

Page 100--Be patient.  American politics--like the weather--is cyclical.  Ask Democrats what they were thinking following the elections of 1984 or the old time GOP folks what it must have been like in 1964.  Those involved in the political process lose touch with the "regular voter" who isn't nearly as hardcore in their political beliefs.  Opinion--and voting patterns--swing wildly.  And often times, the actual person running--and their appeal--is more important that the message they convey.  So Republicans just need to wait for the political pendulum to swing back in their favor--along with a crop of new candidates not perceived as out of touch and wishy-washy on the issues.

Democrats have sown the seeds of their own downfall already.  Huge entitlement program expansions that will saddle the economic recovery and place further stress on individual budgets will provide strong talking points for Conservative candidates for years to come.  And since voters usually consider their wallets--and their job security--first when they head to the ballot box, staying on point about economic issues will score points in future elections.  Even the most hardcore Democrats like Bill Maher are starting to say "just how much are we going to ask people to pay?"

The GOP doesn't so much need to roll out "version 2.0" in the next couple of years--it just needs to recommit to being party "Number 1".

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Championship Experience

Later today we will find out the final attendance numbers for the WIAA Girls Basketball Tournament.  This was the first time the tourney was held outside of Madison--at the Resch Center in Green Bay.  I saw on Saturday morning that Deb Hauser--who oversees hoops for the WIAA--was talking about increased attendance over last year BEFORE the championship games on Saturday.

There are two likely reasons for that. One--given the walking distance from the Resch Center to the Bay Park Square Mall, all of those kids riding the fan buses to Madison likely actually went into the arena--instead of making a beeline for State Street as they had been doing for decades.  And two--it was a whole lot easier for fans to access this tournament than it was in the past.

Attendees of girls tournament took a not-so-crowded four-lane expressway into Green Bay--got off on a clearly-marked exit--and took a six-lane, two-way road to a large surface parking lot that could accommodate every single car within easy walking distance of the arena.  Cheapskates could also find free on-street parking for several surrounding blocks.  And once their game was done, those same fans got right back onto those high-capacity streets to head directly back to the expressway.  Those looking for a meal had several restaurants and sports bars within walking distance of the facility--or dozens more--with free parking--just minutes away by car.

Compare that to the experience attendees of the Boys State Tournament had the week before.  They had to deal with backups and bottlenecks on the over-filled Beltline Highway before deciding which of the six non-convenient exits to take to the Kohl Center.  That was followed by navigating the narrow, two lane, one-way streets in Madison to find all of the more-expensive parking ramps near the arena are already full--and nobody can tell you where to go to actually find a place to park.  The surrounding streets are also lined with cars belonging to UW students--leaving fans to walk for miles from other parking facilities where they had to pay by the hour.  And when those games were done, they got to enjoy sitting in traffic on the crowded one-ways to get back to the crowded Beltline in hopes of eventually getting home.

So let's hope that this weekend saw record attendance for the girls tourney--so that the WIAA makes that the long-term home of the event--and perhaps sees that boys fans deserve the same Championship Experience.

Friday, March 15, 2013

How NOT To Protest

The folks at Wisconsin Family Action may want to reconsider their approach to protesting events featuring "drag queens" from now on.  You likely heard from the anti-homosexual group on various media outlets--including WOSH--about how they were "offended" that a public institution like UW Fox Valley would present a show featuring gay men dressed up like women and pass it off as "educational fare" for students.

However, as is often the case in situations like this, WFA's high-profile opposition to the drag show did not result in the show being cancelled or people staying away in droves to avoid having their morality offended.  Instead, THE EXACT OPPOSITE happened--with MORE PEOPLE attending the event than if Family Action had just kept its mouth shut.

Until the press releases started arriving in reporters' email inboxes, the drag show had sold about 50-tickets.  A whole 50-people were going to "support" this "art form" by putting down good money to watch men pretend to be women.  But after we gave Family Action what they wanted--their 60-seconds in the spotlight--the show became a cause celebre--with none other than alternative press sex advice columnist Dan Savage (warning--link will likely offend you) stepping in to buy ALL of the remaining tickets to the show and giving them out for free.

So in an effort to prevent people from being exposed to "entertainment" that may "offend them", Wisconsin Family Action only succeeded in exposing MORE people to it.  Did WFA expect the "upstanding people of the Fox Valley"  to turn out with pitchforks and torches to drive the drag queens out of town?  Did they think that the people attending the show would have to walk through throngs of protesters hurling epithets at them?  Did WFA want death threats sent to UW Fox officials to derail the show?  Was there any chance that Family Action supporters were going to sit in the audience and continually interrupt the show by yelling and chanting?  (Obviously this wasn't going to happen, because there is no Anti-Gay Entertainment Union that I know of to organize such efforts.)

Wisconsin Family Action would have been much better off to sit on their hands--allow the drag show to attract its pathetic handful of attendees--lose the University Student Fund a bunch of money and THEN denounce the event to anyone willing to listen.  In protesting as in comedy--timing is everything.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

How Helpless Are We?

As we continue to "find out what's in" the Affordable Care Act, even the most staunch supporters of the measure are finding more and more to dislike.  The latest concern is that the application form for federally subsidized health coverage will be "too hard" for people to fill out.

The printed copy of the application is a "whopping" 15-pages--while the on-line process includes an "excruciating" 21 questions.  It's difficulty rating matches that of filling out your income taxes--which is ironic, since the vast majority of those who will benefit from the ObamaCare vouchers will be among the 47-percent of Americans that pay NO FEDERAL INCOME TAXES. 

But folks like those at the advocacy group Families USA fear that having such an "arduous" application process will cause people to give up--leaving them still without health care coverage.  I'm sure Families USA would prefer that the application process be a single question:

 Would you like free health care?


Please circle your choice.

Of course, the form would have to be printed in 53 different languages because we can't expect someone to know English.  And it would probably be too "demanding" to require everyone to go to a government office or the mailbox to get one--so Health and Human Services should hire tens of thousands of people to comb the streets and to go door-to-door to make sure that not only does everyone get an application literally put into their hands, but that they also fill it out and return it to the proper agency--just like the Census Bureau had to do to make sure "everyone got counted" back in 2010.

Perhaps people like Families USA and all of the other bleeding hearts who believe that requiring the slightest bit of effort to receive entitlement benefits is "unfair"--as well as those who find answering 21 questions "too hard"--should consider the words of entrepreneur Ryan Blair:

"If it is important to you, you will find a way.  If not, you will find an excuse."

I guess a 21 question process will be the way we find out just how "important" Affordable Health Care is to everyone.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What Happens When Both Sides Are Right

Here's an interesting hypothesis to consider today: the budget stalemate in Washington is due to the fact that both sides are right.  I came up with this postulate after checking out an infographic on yesterday breaking down the percentage of taxes paid by income class. 

The graphic shows that since 1986 (just before George HW Bush promised "Read my lips, no new taxes) the top 10% of income earners have paid an ever increasing share of the TOTAL amount of income taxes collected by the federal government--less than 55% in '86 to the current level of nearly 71% in 2010.  During that same period, the percentage of taxes paid by the rest of us--the bottom 90% has shrunk from just over 45% in the mid-Eighties to less than 30% now.

Those figures would appear to give credence to Paul Ryan and the Conservatives arguments that the rich already pay enough in taxes.  Mitt Romney is also vindicated with affirmation of his 47% paying NO federal income tax.  But the same report gives ammunition to Liberals like President Obama and Harry Reid by pointing out that the percentage increase in taxes paid by the rich is due to much larger jumps in income for the top 10% than the rest of us--and that when you look at taxes paid as a whole (income, property and sales) the top 10 pay about 40-percent of their income--while the middle class pay about 35%.

Armed with numbers that support their particular budget stances, the two sides see no reason to back down from their respective positions.  They can go to their core bases or appear on Fox News or MSNBC, toss out their numbers and get the viewers at home nodding "yes" and agreeing with their stance.

So it looks like the real question voters will need to consider for the foreseeable future is do we want fewer people paying more--or more people paying less? 

Monday, March 11, 2013

They're Old And They Don't Care

I return from our annual sojurn to my parent's place in Florida and the tours of the retirement communities with a new motto for those of Medicare age: "They're old and they don't care".

In some ways, this way of living is cute and fun.  Take for instance, watching a 90-something, little old lady dance the night away--okay, the early evening away--rocking out to every song played by a 50's and 60's cover band.  She's having fun, she's staying active, and she don't give a rat's behind if you think it looks goofy.

Sometimes that attitude can be annoying.  Like when one of them butts ahead of you in line at the gift shop.  Or when you've been waiting for five minutes at the counter in the bakery and when the worker asks "Who's next?" the older woman who walked in ten seconds ago just start yelling out her order.  Or when you're playing as a single on a very nice golf course and the two foursomes of younger guys on their buddies trip have let you play through but the foursome of oldsters who can barely walk from their carts to the greens REFUSE TO LET YOU PLAY THROUGH, EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE FOUR HOLES OPEN AHEAD OF THEM--and you keep rolling your drives right up behind them on every hole for TEN HOLES!!  And on a couple of holes you actually reach the back tee boxes before they get off the ladies!!!

And then there are times being oblivious to the rest of world is downright dangerous.  Like the retirement community residents who insist on driving in the very center of two lane roads--even when on-coming traffic is forced to veer into front yards to avoid collisions.  Or when they blow right through stops signs at intersections at five miles an hour in their personalized golf carts--forcing you to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting them with your rental car.  Or when the old fart in the supermarket literally forced my wife to run for her life when he started backing out of his parking spot without looking and continued to back out with her just inches from the back bumper yelling at him to stop and look (plus countless profanities).  Or when the old guy nearly ran over a shopper leaving the same store a few minutes later in the marked crosswalk.

(All of these experiences reminded me of one of my favorite episodes of "South Park" Gray Dawn where the residents of South Park try to take away the drivers licenses of all the old people following a rash of fatal crashes related to old drivers and the AARP sends in their army to place the city under seige).

After witnessing all of these incidents, my wife would always ask: "Why did they do that?"  and my reply would always be the same: "Because they are old and they don't care".  Ironically, it's the same answer I've been giving for years when asked about why there has been such opposition to plans to fix the solvency issues facing Medicare and Social Security.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Vacation Mode

Much is made every year about how Americans don't use all of their vacation time.  I would counter that we do actually take all of that time off--we just do it at work.

I'm off for the winter vacation to see my folks down in Florida tomorrow--but I will readily admit that I was in Vacation Mode a week ago.  It's not hard to look out the window and see snow for the umpteenth time this month and not think about being on the golf course instead--or on the rides at Disney--or even sitting on the lanai doing a crossword puzzle. 

Then you have the time wasted telling everyone about your upcoming trip.  "Sorry, Jim, I can't attend that meeting next week--I'm on vacation."  "Oh, were are you going?"  "Florida, we're going to........"

And then you have the websites with the 30-day extended forecasts--so you start checking out the weather for the days you are going to be there a month before you even leave.  And then you're checking the Weather Channel app every couple of hours to see if they have added rain to any of the days or if they have raised the high temperatures.  And then you start looking for places to eat when your on the road so you can try something different for a change.

Then you find reasons to get out of the office earlier to "take care of some things that need to be done before we leave".  You know, important stuff like getting new swim trunks or picking up Claratin D so that my ears aren't plugged up all week after the flight.

And of course, you don't return to full productivity the day after you get back.  You need to "ease yourself back into the routine."  Plus, you have to tell everybody why you are so tan--and about all of the cool, fun things you did, and show them all of the pictures you posted to Facebook, and how you are "responsible" for bringing some of that warmer weather back with you.  And don't forget about all of the "things you need to take care of now that you are back"--like getting cold medicine for the inevitable illness you get every time you travel or getting the mail that was put on hold all week.

So while we Americans may not take all of the "official" vacation time to which we are entitled--believe me, we are still taking all of that time "off".