Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Random Thoughts

As the Holiday Season approaches and I am proud to say, " Merry Christmas", I look forward to thinking about things that I am thankful for. There is the usual list of things like family, friends, health(which I normally have ), but there are other items that I kind of put the old double negative on. These are things that I could easily do without; things that if they disappeared, I would happy. One gift came early this year: Al Gore hung up his political ambition for at least four years, so now we can relegate him to The Larry King Show with all other the other has beens. And maybe now Tipper can get back to attending her weight watcher meetings regularly. But other things I would also like to see disappear.

The Trent Lott Story

And for that matter Trent Lott. Perhaps the worst Senate Majority leader in the history of the senate, Trent is the author and subject of one of the thinnest books of all time, "Trent Lott's Great Moments in Senate Leadership" . If the wrongheaded remarks are the reason he has to go, then go. It is my guess that Tom Daschle is encouraging him to keep the majority leadership job. After all, Daschle has beat him like a drum for the last 5 or 6 years, and would love to see him stay. Republicans, get a clue, it is still not too late, but the clock will strike twelve soon and you will be left with a pair of used, smelly slippers that will fit no one well.

Larry King

Larry once bragged he spends almost no time preparing questions and doing research about his guests, and then he goes out and proves it each night. Never one to really have a follow up question of any significance, Larry asks such soft questions that even he looks bored at the answers, with his suspenders providing the only support for this show. The quality of his guest list has declined to the point where basically of you were ever mentioned in People Magazine, you got a shot at locking in a hour.

Sports Announcers

It is TV, right? There is a picture; do I really need an annoucer, two color analysts, and a sideline reporter? I was watching a basketball game and the analyst remarked as a player jumped in the air with the ball and then threw the ball our of bounds, " He left his feet and didn't know that direction he was going in." I would beg to differ. He knew he was going up, hence the direction wasn't an issue. Maybe he didn't where to throw the ball, but the direction was not an issue. And the male and female bimbos on the sidelines, they have no nutritional value whatsoever. Please, less chatter, let the game speak for itself.

Delta Airlines

Since I live in Atlanta, I am stuck with these guys, and over my life I have flown over 3,000,000 miles with this company. To show their appreciation, they will now let you earn miles based on the fare paid, rather than miles flown. So let me get this straight; I fly on a published fare that they establish ( without my input by the way ), and then they get to determine how many miles are earned based on that fare. I am thereby punished for flying a fare that Delta publishes? I wonder if the bankruptcy court takes nominations.

Monday, December 02, 2002

Choices in Life

The Lovin' Spoonful once had a song - " Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?" about which girl to fall in love with. Forgetting the ultimate result of such a decision, the song dealt more with the choices and the critieria for making a decision, and the pressure that you place upon yourself to be sure you can live with the outcome. Reading the news today, we were faced with several difficult choices, almost as tough as those faced by John Sebastian, who penned the above ditty.

First choice, the Mechanics Union of United Airlines, who are the only major employee group not to grant concessions, or the management of United Airlines. Cauliflower or brussels sprouts? Liver or chicken gizzards? Chitlin or sweet breads? While all other unions have reduced their compensation, the mechanics held firm and gave nothing back. The airlines are pissing money away much faster than they can bring it in the top, and in the ulitmate show of self centered, me first, screw you I've got mine mentality the mechanics held tight, giving back nothing. What ever happened to the "we are in this together", teamwork, and the all for one for one for all spirit of cooperation when times are tough? Or, do you go with the management of United Airlines? Former clowns with the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus, an airline management team that is customer hostile, these are they guys that while paying themselves big bucks and professing love for the free market system, are now reduced to the same role as a Salvation Army volunteer. Standing on the corner looking for donations. Unable to put a product on the market that customers will pay a fair price for, United Airlines is running to the government asking for taxpayer assistance. Who do you choose? I have a suggestion. Lets go with management and a few conditions. United Airlines management has to agree to the following:

The salaries of the top 100 managers are reduced to minimum wage until the airline is profitable ( we want management dedicated to the turnaround).
No stock options can be cashed in for five years ( with a view to a long term, successful strategy )
Two frequent flyer customers are added to the board to represent customers, since airline management doesn't understand customers. ( Customers make the world go around.)
The top 100 managers have to buy a coach ticket and fly once a week ( on United, of course ) ( Live the life of a customer ).
The first person who says "hub and spoke" is summarily fired ( the worst idea ever invented for the frequent traveler. )
If the loan is not paid back, the top 100 managers are personally liable to refund the taxpayers money. ( No victims here, we want corporate responsibility, put their money where their mouths are.)

Choice two, John Kerry or Al Gore. Mr Kerry announced a committee that would explore his running for president, essentially lets do a few focus groups and see how much money we could raise. Gore, well, he is known commodity, sort of the Michael Jackson of politics. An odd duck prone to temper tantrums, trying to find the next hit slogan that will reinvigorate his likelihood of winning, blaming others for his shortcomings, writing books that don't sell, and blowing through money like there is no tomorrow. Although dying to be the center attention, but he would rather go on the Jerry Springer show than be on the Bill O"Reilly show; so much for profiles in courage. But at least his face isn't falling off. On the other hand, there is John Kerry. Massachusettes like the Kennedys. Hair like the Kennedys. Served in the armed forces unlike the Kennedys. A slow, deliberate, demeanor that gives the appearance of a well thought out answer. Unruffled, calm, analytical, camera ready, and best of all - he is not Al Gore. I don't know, still too close to call. To me he almost looks like Ed Muskie, for those of you that are old enough to remember the snow and the tears. He sure won't get the bald vote. We may have to postpone the decision here, but do we really need another New Englander?

If you have comments, please send them to :jswm2003@yahoo.com

Monday, November 25, 2002

I read a few of the recommended sites and postings today, and came to the conclusion that the person(s) who picks the featured sites has the same deep psychological problems as the people who write them. I feel as if I am watching professional victims at work. The small company that I work for, unfortunately, has dealings with the public at large. I have watched with some amusement how our ability to interact with our customers has changed. We now have to be so careful about what we say; to the point where blandness is now the rule of the day. I once gave a speech about management and leadership, using a few military examples only to be chewed out by someone who was offended by my use of the ""murderous baby killers" that serve in our armed forces. Quick on my feet, my next analogy was that parents are the ideal example of those that have authority and responsibility, and businesses frequently only bestow one characteristic to new managers making their job more difficult. I later found out at the break that I had offended someone that was raised in a foster home and had no parents. I read constantly we are not careful of the sensitivities of others. I was once a manager of about several hundred people and could count on the same few people to be offended on a regular basis. About once a month, one of them would drop by to explain the latest offense by a co worker, or management, or a customer, or a vendor. I fielded complaints that they were offended by:

The packages of spicy sausages sent to us by some our suppliers during the holidays, they shouldn't have to look at "dead animals"on the break room tables
The Christmas decorations had too many white lights and we should have more lights of color.
Friday should not be casual day, not all can afford blue jeans and other casual clothes.
Management should not award bonuses to those who performed above and beyond the job requirements, this was unfair to those who could not perform at that level.
Annual salary and performance reviews, it was not fair to be judgemental
We should not sponsor the Washington Redskins, it denigrated native americans.
Management, it is racist, sexist, prejudiced and bigoted
Co workers, they are racists, sexists, bigots and prejudiced

And I could go on. All of this has led me to believe we have developed a new person in our society whose new title is "professional victim." These are the folks that actively seek out chances to be offended. They look for the situations where they can express indignation, they want to suppress any individuality, and take the joy from any celebration. Their job is to promote "nothingness", no group can be happy unless 100% of the group is happy, if one person in a thousand is not happy, there is no reason for other 999 to be happy; we must remove anything that is offensive to even one person. Happiness cannot be transferred from person to person, only unhappiness and displeasure, sadness and loneliness. By taking this course of action we are slowly removing the traditions and icons that have made us a special people for hundreds of years. In its place will be a nothingness that offends no one, but means nothing.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

The Bachelor, The Victoria's Secret Show, and Ice Hockey

I normally do not watch much TV, a little news, ice hockey, and the occasional NASCAR race on Sunday. I watch no TV series, but there was so much hype about these two shows, I tuned in for a few minutes of "The Bachelor ", then flipped to Victoria's underwear show. My friends always say, well you must watch football, but I can't watch the NFL; it is essentially a string of commercials interrupted by the occasional play. I tried to watch the Atlanta Falcons a few Sundays ago, and the sequence went like this:

Three plays, a punt, a punt return, then
A commercial time out
With four seconds to go on the quarter, one play was run, then
A commercial time out
Two Plays, a punt, a punt return, then
A commercial timeout

Now that is a riveting sports event. But with regard to "The Bachelor", I must say I am speechless. H L Mencken once said, " no one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public", but this show truly represents the shallow end of the gene pool. If these two ladies are the finalists, we must have started with 25 Darwin Award candidates. The show is cotton candy, it melts before it is consumed, it is the food equivalent of empty calories. The only difference between this show and a test pattern is this show had sound.

I quickly went to the underwear show, and I have to admit, I don't get it. Yes, the women are beautiful, and the clothes are skimpy, but what is with the wings? It was antiseptically sexy. And besides, it is so hard to hold a TV with one hand, and that always worked with the catalogue. So, I moved on to ice hockey.

But even for the ice hockey guys, I have a complaint. Who made the decision that as a big play is made at the net, and the players are in a scrum, or crashing into the boards, or trying to recover from the rush to the net, we have to watch the goalie, ( who has a full face mask on anyway ) skate in ever decreasing concentric circles. Who said that was entertainment?

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

What Would Jesus Drive?

I read today that a religious group was going to contact automobile manufacturers, run some ads, and raise the question; what would Jesus drive it he were alive today? The group would like us to believe that Jesus would eschew SUVs and the like to save the environment. I would like to have a little more intellectual honesty and really look at the alternatives.

First, it is quite possible he may not drive at all. The few times that I have seen Billy Graham, or Jerry Falwell, or Pat Robertson, they were in limousines. I would have to assume that Jesus is at least as good as these guys, so maybe a limo is the most likely vehicle.

Second, probably an E class Mercedes. Almost all the bishops and ministers of the big time churches drive Mercedes. I once met with a group of church bishops and after the meeting as I wandered to my car, I thought I had time warped to a Mercedes automobile dealership. Those TV preachers drive pretty fancy cars too.

Third, and if we want to get literal, I would guess he would drive a pickup truck, maybe even a four wheel drive truck. He was a young man, lived in a rural area, and was a carpenter. A pickup truck would be the ideal vehicle, heck, he could even stand in the truck bed the and preach. Four wheel drive would come in handy during those rainstorms, droughts and other episodes that are so famous. I guess the decal with the little boy relieving hinself wouldn't be appropriate though.

This group might want to be careful what it asks for.

Comments about this or other postings, write to jswm2003@yahoo.com

Monday, November 18, 2002

The Election

It has been almost two weeks since the election and I have delayed writing about it since I wanted to see how I really felt. While I was deliriously happy the morning after (almost like waking up in a strange bed and glancing over and discovering that your final selection as a partner wasn't nearly as bad as you thought it might be ), I must say the elation has been turning into the same old same old. In the end we elected politicians. The first thing they did was vote themselves a raise, although I yet to talk to anyone who believes they have earned one. Immediately Daschle started whining, assuming Trent Lott's role ( Mr Lott is an official member of the Olympic All Whining Team ), and most Republicans are desperately trying to look humble. The word mandate is allowed to slip out occassionally, but more as a test than a conviction.

I have listened to the pundits and experts; they were hesitant to predict the outcome just prior to the election, and they seem equally timid in telling why the election turned out as it did. The turnout was light, the democratic base wasn't energized, terrorism was the number one concern, the democrats lost the suburbs, and other analyses are so tepid that their new motto should be "dare to be tentative."

When the Republicans won in 1994, they forgot their principles, but remembered how to be snotty, acting like a school yard bully at every chance. But as I look at the current group, I am reminded of Jeff Foxworthy's " you might be a redneck if" So, for future politicians here is, "you might be a politician if ":

You are a good looking guy, but not good looking enough to be in Hollywood or host the local news.
You can speak well, ( subjects and verbs in correct tenses and all that ) but you are so boring, your spouse falls asleep while talking to you during dinner.
You have principles, and they guide you in every day life; well at least they give you a general direction, but you can quickly have amnesia about those principles as needed.
You were voted " best blow dry hairdo" at least once while in school
You can say the word "people " with conviction, and you can say it without spitting ( defined as releasing a slight mist with the first "P" of people ). Phrases like I will work for the people, this is a victory for the people, the American people have a right to know, must be delivered dryly.
You can smile under any circumstances, even if you were sitting on a cactus with the worst case of diarrhea in the world, your lips never touch.
You are attracted to TV cameras like a moth to light, the camera light goes on and you assume all the hovering qualities of a good, garden variety moth.
You never use a big word when a more diminutive one will do.

For Comments about this and other posting, write jswm2003@yahoo.com

Thursday, November 07, 2002

The Test

First time here, I shall have to see what this is like. Lets try something safe - sports. I live in Atlanta and love ice hockey. Unfortunately, I live in a city that has the only all female NHL team. Always careful not to hurt anyone, we don't check, we don't intimidate, we don't skate all that well; but we are probably the most popular team in hockey, since most teams on any given night can beat us and not break into a sweat. I love hockey because it is a blend of speed and power, but we have neither ( with the exception of Kovalchuk who has speed, but plays with the recklessness of the teenager that he is). The coach has a bad case of Tourette's syndrome as he cowers behind the bench. The severity of his tics seem directly proportional to the bad performance of his team, hence his face is contorted more than the fellow who consumes bad beer. The general manager always looks as of he has just finished consuming a meal that was more than he should have eaten - satisfied and on the verge of throwing up at the same time. Known for his witty repartee, he has remarked that," we are not where we want to be ", after starting 0-8-1, and that " we may to move some people around". I think I will nick name him "shiny" because of his brilliance.

I am also pretty keen on NASCAR. I attended the race a few weeks ago in Rockingham. I would estimate there were 65,000 people who attended the race, and if the sample around me was accurate, there were approximately 65,000 people, about 150,000 teeth, and at any one time about 40,000 people inhaling and exhaling. I guess it is not called the Winston Cup for nothing. But if you were a crown and bridge man, you would feel positively elated with the economic possibilities after walking through this crowd. No wonder America doesn't eat enough fruits and vegetables, I am not sure how most would masticate fruits and vegetables. White bread may even be a challenge. No wonder Skoal is considered a vegetable in some parts of the south.

For Comments on this and other postings, write jswm2003@yahoo.com