Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Short Sleeves

Recently someone told me that short sleeve shirts are kind of lower class. I didn't know this. Really. No one before had ever told me.

I've been wearing short sleeve shirts a long while, too.

Now I will admit that I haven't bought any short sleeves in the last few years. I just cut the long sleeves off of my dress shirts and had them hemmed. Worked for me.

I wonder if living in a place where it gets in the high 90's and low 100's changes your opinion of short sleeves?

Of course there are those who would say that my short sleeve shirt wearing only serves to confirm their already long held opinion of my lower class status. They would say that I am the only one surprised by such revelation.

Then again I think "they" believe that just about all of us who live in "flyover country" are lower class. And I guess they believe that those of us here in Oklahoma are about as low as low class gets.

Well -- there you have it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Saturday, June 27, 2009, we attended a performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at The Lloyd Noble Arena on the campus of The University of Oklahoma.

This photo, taken by Judy's iPhone, shows the choir and orchestra all on stage but prior to the start of their performance. Someone else forgot to charge his iPhone.

According to the free program the choir began in 1847 which is pretty impressive. Also impressive is the voice of the choir's announcer, Lloyd Newell. He's served since 1990. You can immediately tell why he is the announcer.

The organist was equally impressive and I do love organ music. Of course the organ was one they haul around with them and not the one located at the Temple in Salt Lake City. I heard that once when I was there although it was only some kind of rehearsal. It was still quite impressive.

The arena usually is used for basketball games among other things. It holds about 12,000 people but the area behind the stage was unavailable for use for obvious reasons. So I'm guessing that it was maybe 2/3 full which would be 8,000 people. The Sunday paper reported there were 8,500 in attendance so my estimate was pretty good. The paper also reported this was the largest group yet on the tour.

The last time the choir was in Oklahoma was in 1969 when they performed in Tulsa.

The choir has 360 members according to the literature but I think there were maybe 250 or so in Norman. The orchestra was easily 40 or more additional performers. Everyone is a "non-paid volunteer." (I thought non-paid was unncessary if you said volunteer but that's what they said.) They said that all together there were 570 people on 11 buses and a whole bunch of trucks and 3 airplanes.

From Norman they were all heading to Denver for the final performance of this tour which began in Cincinnati.

The arena is not exactly comfortable but it was okay I suppose. Probably that is more of a reflection on me than on the facility.

The parking lot was easy to get into but hard to leave. I've noticed a lot of things are that way.

It was after 11 sometime when we finally made it home and it took us a good 2 hours to wind down.

We had a wonderful time.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Next Car I Will Buy

My 2003 LexusPhoto is my present 2003 Lexus.

I've been thinking about cars.

For one thing the news is full of stories about cars and car companies and bail outs and economic considerations. Then there is the news about the recent deaths of three celebrities that made me think about mortality.

And for another my 87 year old mother-in-law has decided to give her car away. She hasn't driven in more than a year. We discourage any notion that she should try to drive again given certain health considerations in addition to age.

My dad quit driving on the streets when he was 82 which was when he retired from his business work. My mother quit when she was 81. My favorite high school teacher was in her early 90's when she stopped driving but she might have waited a bit too long.

Soon I will be 61.

I figure that means I have a maximum of between 20 and 30 more years to drive myself around. Right now I drive quite a bit. And about once a month or more often sometimes I haul a pretty good load of horse feed. I've carried more than one thousand pounds a few times.

And sometimes I haul around a car full of people, too. Hopefully I will continue this pace for a while.

So sometime I'm going to have to buy another car or maybe several. I thought I should probably try to kind of plan when to buy so when I get the last one it it isn't just before I quit driving. No point in having a brand new car I can't drive. On the other hand if I hold on to one too long now then it gets too old and unreliable perhaps in the future when I am ill prepared to handle problems.

And there are economic considerations. It seems like this might be a good time to buy a car but it also seems unlikely for them to get cheaper over time. Unless we really do have significant deflation then it would be better to wait longer.

Do other people think of stuff like this? Or is it just me?

Plus my caregiving career makes me want to have a lot of stuff nicely organized and arranged so someone else doesn't have to bear that burden.

So after thinking about all that stuff for a while my head was spinning and I decided it was fruitless to worry about it.

But now that I had turned down this mental path, so to speak, I began thinking about what brand of car I might buy if I were to buy something.

Money-wise I should probably buy something from GM because I have a significant value of points to use. Surprisingly the points are still good, too. I know because about once a week I get a letter from them urging me to go buy something and use them. But really I didn't think all that much of GM before the government took them over and that fact has actually served to increase my lack of confidence in the company and the cars they make.

Dad's last car was a Chrysler. I didn't like it and it had a bunch of problems which is probably why I didn't like it. Judy had a Chrysler, too, and really liked it but I thought it was too high maintenance. Besides there is that government intervention factor again.

I might consider Ford. They didn't take any bailout money yet anyway. And when my step-son bought his last pickup I thought the Ford dealership was one of the best I've ever experienced. I'd go to them in the blink of an eye. But I don't much care for Ford cars.

I've never much liked the German cars either. They seem too "harsh" somehow but I really haven't given them a look in a long while so that's an old prejudice and may be undeserved. And I don't like all the options you have to choose.

I had a couple of Nissans and an Infinity. Didn't much like them.

That Hyundai brand looks pretty good. Probably should check that brand. Especially that Genesis. Two problems though with dealers. One dealer has the absolute worst TV commercials and I would never buy from them just because of the commercials and I'm serious. The other dealer treated me very disrespectfully about a year ago and I don't think I would venture back there. But there are other dealers I suppose in other towns.

I've had great experience with Lexus, Toyota, and Honda. Really more than great -- spectacular -- would be more correct. My Lexus is the best car I've ever owned and the dealer has been also great except for how far I have to drive to get there. Hondas have been the most economical vehicles I've ever owned.

Now I'm exhausted from thinking about it and I certainly don't want to go shopping.

So much for car shopping.

Somtimes I drive myself crazy. (Is that a pun?)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mortality

Mortal - adjective - subject to death.

Ed McMahon - June 23, 2009 - age 86.
Farrah Fawcett - June 25, 2009 - age 62.
Michael Jackson - June 25, 2009 - age 50.

Some reporter was asked how she would describe the reaction of people in the crowd that had gathered in Time Square in New York City. She said people seemed more excited than sad but not excited that Jackson had died rather about his music and art.

I thought about how I felt then.

I felt relief more than anything else. All three seemed like sad stories to me that were just becoming ever sadder.

I didn't want to read in some future article about McMahon losing his home or see him trying to earn his way out of whatever new financial problem he'd encountered. And McMahon had always seemed happy to me and I really did not like seeing him in difficult circumstances at 86.

Fawcett seemed to be suffering to me. There was very little doubt the outcome of her struggle. Had she lived there would have been more suffering. Somehow her life even before cancer seemed sad to me. Certainly she was beautiful and talented and I suppose all the other good things people said but what I knew about her seemed so full of conflict and sorrow.

I thought Jackson's life was even sadder. Even I could recognize his great talent. But there was a loneliness and a painful sorrow that I thought was always there. In recent years he just seemed to me to be someone who no longer could manage his life.

So I felt relief that at least the struggles had ended for these three figures.

Coincidentally I've been reading about King Solomon in my daily Bible reading. He was also a man of immense ability and superlative accomplishment. Yet at the end of his life he broke faith with his God.

His public life did not begin that way. He writes about it in Ecclesiastes. In the end there is one thing that matters.

So when I read the account of his death I felt the same feeling of relief.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Lemonade Stand





Actually it is the last part of a "math camp" that my granddaughter attended. They were able to put to practical use what they learned about math in making the baked goods they were selling and then in pricing and selling and making change.

Pretty cool.

This is how I began my Saturday. If I had known how close Lori was I would have waited and taken her with me. But as it was I left the lemonade stand to return to Moore and pick Lori up at the hotel.

More about that later.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Message On White Board

The other day my granddaughter and her family took a little trip. Her parents planned it as a surprise for the children and swore me to secrecy.

So one day my daughter-in-law came down to meet my son at the office under some pretense or another. The kids suspected something but really didn't know what.

I think I had to leave before they did. When I arrived at the office the next morning I found this note on the white board.

I took a picture with my iPhone.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Truth Stranger Than Just About Anything

PETA wishes Obama hadn't swatted that fly

PETA is sending President Barack Obama a Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher, a device that allows users to trap a house fly and then release it outside.

"We support compassion even for the most curious, smallest and least sympathetic animals," PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich said Wednesday. "We believe that people, where they can be compassionate, should be, for all animals."


I bet PETA folks would have an absolute stroke if they saw us putting fly spray on the horses. If I get a chance I kill everyone of those big horse flies I can, too. I am not apologetic for it.

In case anyone else is wondering what a Katcha Bug catcher is I found a picture.

Honestly the picture doesn't help me much in trying to figure out how to use the thing. PETA offers it for sale here. It is $8.00. There is also a link to the humane mousetrap which is $11 for one or $20 for two. It is easier to figure out. It is a little small though for some of our rats.

Really you just cannot make up stuff as good as this.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Discipleship

Have you ever heard someone say "I am a disciple of so and so?"

We all know what that means when we hear it even though we are willing to be pretty broad about our definition.

We mean someone that very closely agrees with and follows a particular belief system.

Sometimes it can be rather trivial or even in jest like "a disciple of garlic" or some similar thing. And in that case we know that the "disciple" doesn't mean that the particular thing applies to his entire life.

On the other hand when we talk of being a disciple of Jesus Christ we know that the person is in fact speaking about the entirety of his life: thought, deed, faith, everything.

Discipleship always involves learning or at least I cannot imagine otherwise. If you are not learning about your master then how can you really claim to be a disciple? Also I was thinking that this element of discipleship means that it is never "blind" allegiance. In fact the novice disciple is recognized as being the poorer disciple exactly because he or she knows less.

Discipleship always involves the recognition that the master is the master. At least in following Jesus the student never becomes the master.

Discipleship always involves actually following in action as well as knowledge. Just knowing something and doing nothing is certainly no better and probably much worse than not knowing at all.

Discipleship definitely involves being. One either is or isn't a disciple. There's no middle ground. You just can't be a little bit of a disciple. Nor is it correct to say someone is more of a disciple than someone else.

The one verse that always comes to mind when I think of discipleship is John 5:30:
I can do nothing on My own initiative As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Google Books and Other Digital Books

Back in 2004 Google launched the Book Search Project as it was known. Supposedly there are now some 10 Million books that have been scanned and made either wholly or in part available on line. I say "supposedly" because I have definitely not counted them.

Some authors and publishers were either not contacted or could not be contacted and so some scans were done without permission. So there was a lawsuit. Not that a lawsuit about something like this is a big surprise.

Then in 2008 a settlement was reached whereby Google would pay some $125 Million to various parties. There have been at least three federal investigations and I don't know where those stand.

It's been in the news recently, too. And at least one blogger I read posted about Google Books.

So I thought I should check it out.

I loved Edgar Rice Burroughs when I was a young reader. I think I read most of his works although not all by any means. I am not even certain how many books he wrote.

I clicked on one of the titles the search brought up. I honestly don't know if I've read it or not. I could read it online on my computer, download a PDF or a TXT file, buy it from a list of sellers, or find a library. Pretty good I thought.

So I clicked on the Amazon link to see if I could buy the book as a Kindle version.

Sure enough I could buy it for $.80. Actually that's pretty good, too, because if I wanted it on my Kindle and downloaded it from Google then I would have to convert the PDF and then copy over to my Kindle or use the TXT and copy over. Probably worth $.80 to do that.

But while I am looking at the page I see one of those "also bought" links to a "Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs" that contained 50 of his books. FIFTY! So I click and sure enough it is what it says and is priced at $4.79 for the Kindle. That's 50 books for $4.79 for the Kindle. That's amazing.

The publisher is MobileReference.com so I surf over to their site. They have a whole bunch of books that are ready to go for the Kindle.

I did not buy the Edgar Rice Burroughs book but I might. The reason I didn't buy it is I have more books I am reading right now than ever before in my entire life. I see so many titles I would like to read and it is so easy to get them.

If it were just easier and faster to read them now.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Productivity

Note: I found these images on the Internet somewhere a long while ago and have no idea where. So credit is due to someone but I'm sorry I do not know to whom it is owed.

When I began working for my dad at his business my first job was what I guess we would call a job cost clerk maybe.

The company at the time had more than 100 employees who were paid by the hour for work performed on various jobs. Each person had his own time card on which for each day he would record time worked by job. Jobs were assigned a number.

So at the end of a week the employee was supposed to add up his hours for each day and record that number at the bottom of the day column on the card. Then he summed the hours each job and recorded that value at the right hand total column for each job. The he summed the day hours across and summed the job hours down and the two numbers were supposed to agree as well as be equal to the number of hours worked that week. The foreman was supposed to sign off on each job.

That summing never did happen of course. My first job then was to take all those time cards and one by one to perform the summations. I had a Marchant calculator like the one in the image that I used to perform these calculations. Actually my first calculator was much older than the one in the image but I don't have a picture of it.

After I totaled and checked the time cards I had to calculate the value of the work by multiplying the hours worked by the employee's rate. That was both by job and total. Overtime had to be calculated separately. Then I calculated FICA which was the result of the wage by a constant factor. Next were things like federal and state withholding taxes, union dues, other deductions, and a net wage.

It took me most of an entire day to do that one task. Now there were other things I did during that time like help answer the phone and so on but mostly it took that long to "figure the time cards" as it was called.

My next step was to take a pad of "job cost tickets" and begin "taking off the cost." First I would sort the time cards alphabetically. Looking at the first time card I would find the first job number and label the top job cost ticket with that number. Then I'd write the employee's name on one line of the ticket as well as hours worked, rate, and extension. I repeated that for each job until the time card was finished and then I'd start over with the next time card. That took about another day.

Then I handed all those time cards and cost tickets to the fellow who ran the NCR posting machine.

We had two and they looked a lot like this image to the left except that ours were older I think.

It took that fellow who ran the posting machine two to three days plus to write those payroll checks and also post the cost tickets to the job cost file ledgers. There were Employee and Job ledgers respectively which were posted and maintained a total of sorts.

By union contracts we had to hand out payroll checks to employees on Friday a certain number of hours before quitting time. So those payroll checks had to be ready.

So that's what a small business accounting department was like in the early to middle 1960's.

I do believe that I could do the same work today with a personal computer and Quick Books in maybe a couple of hours and actually have more stuff finished. I've scribbled a few numbers trying to figure this out and I think there might be a 50 fold increase in productivity.

In thinking about this I began to dream about a system I might design today.

Probably for employee input portion I would use a smart phone an a custom application or perhaps one that already is available. I know that iPhone in particular has such an application that looks very good. That application would connect to some Internet available database and the data could be stored and accumulated real time. There would be several ways of generating the payroll checks and the various accounting systems could be updated real time as well.

I don't know what the increase in productivity might be but certainly very considerable over the 1960's and even considerable over a personal computer method.

Just something I was thinking about.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Song of Solomon in The Message

In my daily Bible reading I am using The Message by Eugene Peterson.

What a treat the Song of Solomon is in this version! I so enjoyed reading Peterson's paraphrase and it made me think about the Song of Solomon from entirely different perspectives.

I have to say that The Message version is even more sensual than I remembered.

I am now reading in the Proverbs and find my reading to be equally happy and beneficial. What a treasure is the Proverbs. I haven't read there in a while.

At the same time though I have this friend that sends me anti-Christian stuff all the time. She knows I am a believer. I am not sure why she sends it. I've known her a long time and she is not a cruel person. In fact she's a nice person.

I think she must think the stuff is just funny and is unable to understand that the material might hurt my feelings.

I thought about asking her to remove my name from her list or maybe even complaining about what she sends me.

But I decided that we've been friends too long. Besides I think she'd never understand since she isn't a believer herself.

I think my friend is not particularly anti-Christian. Mainly I think she thinks that Christians are conservative and she's liberal. I think she is more non-religious than anything else and more understands the world in political terms.

Now the stuff she sends comes from people who are anti-Christian in particular and anti-religion in general. Generally the material makes fun of Christians and Christian belief. As I understand it I think these people would be quite happy if Christians disappeared.

I think they would not really want to kill Christians but I think it wouldn't hurt their feelings if someone else did. More than anything else I think they want to discourage people from being Christian or at least openly admitting it. They think they are doing a good thing of course.

So I can kind of understand a bit that they would produce and disseminate content that is hurtful to Christians. But why my friend would do it I really don't much understand.

I wonder if the world would be a lot different if there were no Christians?

Or maybe I didn't say anything to my friend because I lost my temper the other day.

I shouldn't have but I did. I still feel badly about it. There had been about 20 preceding incidents where I could have lost my temper and I didn't.

Funny how you can do well 20 times and then the 21st time gets you.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

National Kindle and koffee Day

National Kindle & Koffee Day
June 6, 2009 10 am

This was first proposed by Kathy S on the Amazon Kindle Forum on May 21.

Pretty simple idea: if you owned a Kindle then show up at your local Starbucks (or other coffee shop if no Starbucks) on Saturday, June 6, 2009 at 10:00 am.

I've been reading the various Kindle forums since the recent comments by author, Alexie Sherman, about his disgust and loathing for the Kindle. I am interested in how rather diverse people come together over different things and form a community. And I've been an active member myself of several different virtual communities.

In some ways they are all alike, too. And those similarities, negative and positive, are much in evidence on the various Kindle boards.

But I found this idea of a National Kindle and Koffee Day to be particularly interesting.

For one thing it was conceived and proposed by a member of a board who was not associated with either Starbucks or Amazon. She simply owns and uses a Kindle and posts on the Amazon hosted boards.

For another is the national scope of the idea. It wasn't to be just a small, local area or even a state or a region but the entire United States. It could have been the entire world just as easily I suppose except that the Kindle really isn't the same outside the United States although there are some out in the wild.

I wondered if anyone would show up at my Starbucks but I had not made up my mind about whether I would attend or not. I think that was Wednesday last week. The time didn't really work out quite right for me. Usually I am in Starbucks earlier than that.

But I happened to mention it while I was in Starbucks on Wednesday. Immediately a barista told me that she really wanted a Kindle and would look forward to Saturday when she could look at one herself. So that sealed the deal for me and I decided to be there.

I didn't want to be alone so I tried to get my brother and my son to join me. But they both had other stuff to do.

So I showed up about 9:30 am and got my coffee and one of those new-to-us breakfast sandwiches. Those sandwiches are really good by the way and the one I get with low fat cheese and turkey bacon is pretty low calories actually.

No one else with a Kindle showed up. I kept mine out in plain view so that if anyone else had come in with one they would surely have seen me. I was sitting right near the order station.

The barista did come over for her hands on demonstration and another fellow came over as well. The barista said she was going to get one for Christmas and the other person said he was going to think about getting one sooner.

I posted about it on a thread on the Amazon boards after I returned home. As of the time I am writing this there are 55 people who have submitted 84 posts on the thread.

I wonder how many people actually will end up buying a Kindle. I wonder what will happen to Kindle "community" users if a lot more Kindles are sold.

At any rate I find the entire thing fascinating.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Kindle Readers Elitist According to Author

I found this quote interesting in a recent article I was reading:
At a panel of authors speaking mainly to independent booksellers, Sherman Alexie, the National Book Award-winning author of “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” said he refused to allow his novels to be made available in digital form. He called the expensive reading devices “elitist” and declared that when he saw a woman sitting on the plane with a Kindle on his flight to New York, "I wanted to hit her."
The article was in the NY Times titled: Book Fair Buzz Is Not Contained Between 2 Covers by Motko Rich. Oh it was dated 5/31/2009, too.

I read my Kindle on an airplane once. There were two of us with Kindles on that same flight in fact. Never did occur to me that I should be afraid of people attacking me because they would think I am an elitist.

And the Kindle is a great thing to use to read on an airplane or in a waiting room or any number of other places where space is a premium.

Never ceases to amaze me what people actually say and think.

Believe I'll pass on that book or anything else by that author.

I don't quite understand the author's hysteria about the Kindle but I suppose anyone who would consider hitting someone reading on an airplane is not really a serious person.

This generated quite a discussion on the Amazon discussion forum.

UPDATE (after original post):
The author, Sherman Alexie, has a web site, shermanalexie.com and has posted a response about both the Kindle and the article and all the emails he received.

He seems like a decent guy with deeply felt concerns about the Kindle. I really don't understand his concerns but he did post on the Amazon discussion thread about his remarks and that earned him some points with nme.

Monday, June 1, 2009

I've Been Reading Again

Run for Your Life
by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Certainly not the best Patterson book I've read. Still I enjoyed it.
I liked the characters or most of them at least. I even found a little
sympathy for the villian. It is pretty simple. Big, good looking guy
is pushed over the edge and decides to teach as many as possible a lesson by
killing as many as possible. Michael Bennet, NYCPD detective, has to stop
the killer while dealing with his own grief as a relatively new widow and single
parent with a housefull of kids. Killer decides at last minute to kill
Michael. Wonder how it ends?

The 6th Target
by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Another of the women's murder club stories. I like them.
Lindsay has to solve a string of children kidnappings while breaking in a new
partner and dealing with other stuff including her romance with Joe. She
does in case anyone might wonder.

7th Heaven
by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro


Yet another women's murder club story. I liked this one better I think
that 6th Target but then again I read it most recently. Everyone of the
club gets into the act in this one except the reporter I guess. I thought
it was enjoyable. Several stories all happening at the same time.

Wicked Prey
by John Sandford

A team of thieves puts together a pretty decent plan to pull several high dollar
robberies in the midst of the Republican convention in Minneapolis - St.
Paul. Lucas has his hands full trying to figure it out and stop them. I really like Lucas Davenport and friends -- just very cool characters.

One interesting thing about this one is that the Kindle version originally was nearly the same price as the hardcover book. Because of that I joined a boycott which is rather more political than I really am.

But when the price declined to $9.99 I bought it for my Kindle.


True Detectives, A Novel
by Jonathan Kellerman
This one really dealt with two new characters although my old favorites, Alex
Delaware and Milo Sturgis, do show up. The pace was a little slow at
first and for a while I didn't think I was going to like the characters
much. But by the end I had decided I would read more about these 2
brothers. Not exactly up to Kellerman's normal book I think.