Happy New Year.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m not going to shed a tear that 2008 is one for the history books tonight. Been a rough year, any way you slice it. Enough said. It’s time to look forward, and not agonize over the immediate past.

To all the readers of this blog, may you have a happy and prosperous new year, filled with success, security, and sanity, in an insane world.

Godspeed…

500 Channels…and not a thing to watch.

I’m sitting here, ’round midnite, and there’s not a thing interesting on television to watch. Part of that has to do with the doldrums between Christmas and New Years – all the good specials have been aired, and broadcasters are loathe to waste good programming, when a majority of the public is on vacation. Unfortunately for me, we’re stuck here. With nothing to watch.

It occurs to me that it’s pretty amazing – the odds on that. While I like to think I’m a fairly discriminating viewer, I’m not THAT hard to please…I like SciFi, thrillers, whodunits, Westerns, spy flicks, comedies – you name it. Still I don’t see a lot that interests me, other than a couple of flicks I’ve seen umpteen times, and don’t care to see again.

So the question is – Why? Why can’t we have better quality programming, now that we live in a world with so many choices?

When I was a kid, we had three channels – ABC, NBC, and CBS. There was a communal aspect to television…without VCRs or DVRs, you were forced to watch it when it aired. All my peer group watched the same shows, and if you didn’t, you were (at least the next day) a social misfit. Then came Betas and VHS, followed by recordable DVDs and DVRs.

Still, that fails to answer the question, why is so much of what’s on so bad. I’d love to say that it’s really the bell-shaped curve – that there’s the same proportion of great-to-dreck as with anything else. I’m not buying it. I’d describe about 80% of what’s on as “crapalicious” at best, an insult to my intelligence at worst.

My theory? It’s easier to condition people to accept junk, than to work harder to make things better.

If that sounds cynical, then so be it. Most of television is just so much effluvia. We deserve better. Especially after midnight.

What’s important. And what’s not.

At this time of year, many of us get all wrapped up (read: “obsessed”) with the trappings of Christmas, especially the gifts – both giving and receiving. That’s all well and good, I suppose, but you might be surprised how little it takes to pull you back down to reality. Take, for instance, a health scare from someone you love.

Now I’m not going to get into specifics here, largely because the person in question values their privacy above just about all else, and wouldn’t want me trumpeting about their illness. So I won’t. I will say that something like this came as a real jolt, and if I didn’t have my priorities straight before, I certainly do now. Continue reading What’s important. And what’s not.

Resolutions.

I hate resolutions. You either want to do something or you don’t. I see no reason to wait for some arbitrary and capricious date to make some life-changing decision or to implement some behavior. However, as tradition and public opinion are decidedly against me, here are my resolutions:

  • I resolve to eat less and work out more.
  • I resolve to work smarter and not harder. 
  • I resolve to take as much pressure off my wife as possible. 
  • I will try to be  less sarcastic and more understanding.
  • I will try to be more efficient, and…
  • I resolve to stop making stupid lists, resolutions I likely won’t keep, and making resolutions just because it’s expected of me. 

Or not.

Billboard logic.

I was driving down the street here in Amarillo (Centrally Located Between Two Oceans!™) the other day, and spied a billboard for the U.S. Border Patrol. The board promised an exciting career in law enforcement keeping our borders safe for legal immigrants and travelers, and keeping the illegal aliens out.

Pause with me for a nanosecond, and let’s consider what they’re asking. Continue reading Billboard logic.

Merry ChristmaKwanzakaFestiMas?

Look. I’ve had enough. The politically correct crowd, the rabid atheists, and the secular progressives can all go hang themselves. Here’s the deal: Christmas is, by its very definition, a CHRISTIAN holiday. Period.

The word “Christmas” comes from “Christ Mass” – the sacrament of Holy Communion, said to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. No more. No less. In the intervening years since Christ walked the Earth, many traditions regarding this celbration have arisen. Some are appropriate. Some less so. (For those that insist that Christ would not approve of celebrating His birth at all, I wonder just how thrilled Jesus really is, to see the instrument of his torture and death celebrated as his own symbol. I mean, I get the “triumph over death” idea, but seriously…if you’d been put to as painful a death as could be imagined, I’m pretty sure you’d have at least an involuntary twitch every time you saw a cross. But, I digress…) Continue reading Merry ChristmaKwanzakaFestiMas?

Flying blind…

I recently (four days ago, to be exact) updated the software this blog runs on, to the latest and greatest version – i.e., WordPress v.2.7. The upgrade was surprisingly easy to do, and by all appearances, went off without a hitch. Um…ALMOST without a hitch. Seems that one of the things that got trashed along the way was the settings for my Google Analytics code. Whoops.

I usually check my GA stats on a daily basis, just to see what’s going on. Check more often, and it will drive you nuts. Less frequently, and you stand to miss a trend…or a problem.

It had been four days since I’d checked my GA account. Color me “surprised” to learn that I’d (according to GA) gone from a significant readership to ZERO hits for the last four days. That’s like going from 60 to zero in, oh, about 0.0 seconds.

Once I saw the stats, I knew something was wrong. I dialed up the New! Improved! control panel, and found that my GA settings were pooched. No code – no tracking. No tracking – no results. No results – unhappy blogger.

I’ve restored the tracking code, and all should be right in my world.

But I’ll keep checking. As Joe Bob Briggs (Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, Texas) says, “Without eternal vigilance, it can happen here.”

CSS Hell.

If, as Voltaire once opined, “God is a comedian, playing to an audience afraid to laugh,” then CSS (Cascading Style Sheets for you non-nerds in the audience) were written by Geeks as some kind of convoluted “you can’t get there from here” joke on the rest of us. I’m sure God finds it funny. I don’t. 

Back when the World (Wide Web) was young, all you needed to create websites was a copy of Notepad, a copy of Photoshop, and nerves of steel. Creating anything past the simlest of pages was a study in frustration. Editing or updating a page was worse. Torture. Client requests to “make all the body copy one point larger” could make the strongest web geek’s blood run cold. Make strong men cry. Turn weaker men to ashes. You get the picture. 

Then along came CSS. The promised land for web designers – style sheets, where you could divorce the data from the style elements. Create the pages once, then change one line of code in a style sheet and watch the changes ripple through the other pages, as if my magic. 

That was the promise. The reality is something else. Continue reading CSS Hell.

The following post is closed-captioned…

…for the thinking-impaired. 

DATELINE: WASHINGTON D.C.: Today the President [who is suddenly worried about his ‘legacy’] announced that the [lame duck] Administration has put together a plan to give GM and Chrysler a loan [throwing bad money after good] of 17 Billion Dollars [further devaluing our currency and likely triggering inflation on a scale not seen since Carter and the 1970’s] to help them avoid bankruptcy [which, paradoxically is the only thing that would save them from annihilation]. The plan calls for the companies to submit a turn-around plan [which won’t work without bankruptcy] by March 31st [long after Bush is gone, and it’s Obama’s problem], or they will have to give the money back [as if they’d have anything left, at the rate they’re bleeding red ink]. United Auto Workers head [bully] Ron Gettlefinger immediately stated that the Bush plan was unworkable, and had far too many restrictions [that might result in the UAW having to accept salary and benefit cuts]. Gettlefinger offered that they would immediately demand that the Obama Administration rewrite the plan to remove the offending restrictions [and thus keep Gettlefinger’s job safe, and force the Big Three to continue to dance to organized labor’s tune].

Here’s the truth, people. The Big Three will not be able to avoid bankruptcy, sooner or later. The union will not allow any kind of meaningful compromise. Gettlefinger doesn’t get it – times have changed. There’s a healthy automotive industry in the USA. Just not in Detroit – and it’s one his union has nothing to do with. The 800 pound gorilla in the room that nobody – Republican OR Democrat – wants to acknowledge is that the only way to save the Big Three is to kill the union. Without the union contracts, union pension plan and union health plan, they can survive. With them, there’s no way to make it work. Period. Continue reading The following post is closed-captioned…

Sellout!

I’m a conservative. I’ve been a conservative since waaaay before it was unfashionable and politically incorrect to be one. But when I say “conservative,” what I mean is that I adhere to the principles of smaller government and self-reliance – not the kind of “compassionate conservatism” and borderline soft Socialism that has been masquerading as conservatism lately.

And I’m mad as Hell this morning.

Tell you a little secret…I voted for George Bush four times – twice for Governor and twice for President. I thought – and still think – that he’s a good man, and the best candidate for the job. At no time, however, did I ever believe that he was a genuine conservative. Oh, sure, I acknowledge that he’s more conservative than Ann Richards, Al Gore, or John Kerry. But he’s far from a believer in the kind of conservatism I believe in.

Case in point, the automobile bailout decision. Continue reading Sellout!