Thursday, June 29, 2006

Theories, lies, and bull

I recently ordered a copy of On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt. I have someone in my professional life that has taken bullshit to heights I have never before witnessed. The person is so delusional that I suspect that they don't even realize when they're lying any more. Over the years, this person has posited a number of 'theories' that have been self-dazzling, but also utter crap.

I recently ran across an old email that I sent to the person, where I ribbed them about their propensity for having a theory on everything. I nearly fell out of my chair when I happened upon the email with the quote:

This is the theory that Jack built.
This is the flaw that lay in the theory that Jack built.
This is the palpable verbal haze that hid the flaw that lay in...

Good times!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Patient Autonomy for Minors

OK. I realize that this may not be the most riveting topic for most of you, but I thought someone MIGHT be interested in reading the fruits of my labor. The following is a link to Patient Autonomy for Minors, submitted in parital fulfillment of the requirements for HLTC 629 at Granite State College.

Feel free to comment if you read it. I actually learned a great deal researching the paper.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Warren Buffet is ok by me!

Today, Warren Buffet announced that he will donate the bulk of his multi-billion dollar fortune to charity. In addition, he came out in support of a full reinstatement of the estate tax that the current administration has vowed to eliminate.

I had mixed feelings about the elimination of the estate tax. If you happen to accumulate millions (or billions) of dollars over the course of your life, you probably pay at least some tax on the money you are accumulating. Then, when you pass on and bequeath that money to someone else, it gets taxed again. It seemed somewhat unfair.

However, Warren Buffet's position on the issue reminded me of something. There are millions of people in this country who can barely afford to eat and keep a roof over their family's heads. People who are accumulating millions upon millions of dollars typically can afford to hire accountants and lawyers to assure that they pay as little as they can in taxes on their accumulations. After these people pass on, without the estate tax they get to leave their inequitably taxed booty to others.

If the initial estate tax repeal continues on schedule, as of 2011 estates of $1 million or more would be subject to taxation again. Even at 55%, that means that someone would still be inherriting $450,000 that they didn't have before. That's a lot of cabbage.

The rich can avoid having their estates taxed by doing just what Warren Buffet is doing, donating it to charity in a will. They can pick the charity that they'd like to support, or the government will use the money to support its own programs. Personally, I prefer Buffet's strategy. But, hey, even the current administration puts some money into social programs. It's a much better use of that excess wealth than encouraging the wealthy to indulge themselves while others wonder how they are going to heat their homes next winter.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

100th post. 40th pound.

This is my 100th post to this blog. Part of me wishes that I had something more earth shaking to post about, but I'll take what I can get.

I've been somewhat plateaued at the same weight since the end of April. In the last two weeks, I have successfully dropped below (and stayed below) the dreaded 200 mark. Most of my pants are size 16. While my current weight and size are not someplace I want to stay, they are SO much better than where I have been living for the last few years.

I have lost 40 pounds since January 2nd. I would like to lose another 30, and keep it all off. Hopefully, this will keep me from the cardiovascular diseases that killed off both my grandfathers before they were 50 (one before he was 30), and a grandmother before she was 70.

My own mother was on cholesterol and high blood pressure medicine before she died. Though she died of lung cancer, I am sure the other issues would have finished her before she hit 75, if not sooner. After she passed away I found evidence in her home that she had tried to quit smoking on several occasions. Even so, her family history of cardiovascular diseases, with decades of smoking, did not bode well for her longevity.

My own stumbling block with longevity will be that I have spent the majority of my life at least 20% overweight. Carrying all that excess around has been wearing out my bodily systems faster than I would like. I hope that it's not too late to slow the clock down. I really would like to live another 40 years or so. Heck, I think I may just be starting to get the hang of this whole living thing. ;)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Is it over yet?

OK. School was fun. But, I'm ready for it to be over. Trying to write a serious research paper while dealing with getting my background check, and still seeming to care at least a bit about my current job, are all adding up to massive stress for me.

I'll be spending the better part of this weekend finishing up the paper. I need to get it in the mail by Tuesday morning at the latest, I think. I've got it about half written. The page I worked on today was utter junk. I reread it after I printed it, just before leaving the office. I think 100 monkeys on typewriters would have come up something more coherent.

I stopped by Borders on the way home. I needed to get a decent style guide aimed specifically at writing research papers. My instructor expects us to follow APA or MLA guidelines. What a royal pain. As if trying to string coherent sentences together weren't enough of a challenge, I need to make sure that my footnotes and bibliography are properly formatted. Several of my sources are electronic. The last time I wrote a research paper, my most challenging bibliographic citation format was for a chapter out of an edited multi-author collection.

I initially had some grandiose idea that I could whip up an A paper with little effort, because that used to be my forte in college. Now, my brain just isn't wired that way any more, I guess. I think I'll be thrilled if I can yank a B- out of this effort. But, I'll be content with a C. Sad, no?

No real worries though. The paper is 40% of our final grade. Another 40% is our quiz scores. Since my quiz average is a 92.5%, I can afford a less than stellar performance on the paper. I'll be a bit disappointed in myself if I get less than an 85%, but I think I'll get over it rather quickly. There is just too much going on in my life right now.

I am really looking forward to putting this class to bed next week. Hopefully, my background check will be cleared up by the 4th. I have some professional development work I want to get through before I start the new job. Plus, I really want some time to myself to clear my head. I've been with my current company for nearly six years. I learned a good deal there. Some of what I learned falls into the category of "What not to do". I also got sloppy and cocky while I was there. I need to unlearn a good deal of that. Its time to be the new kid on the block. The smallest fish in the pond. To get my game face on. And to remind myself that I am a sharp and capable professional.

That last bit may take weeks of meditation and post-hypnotic suggestion.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Good things come to those who wait

OK. So, I finally got my offer letter on Saturday. The packet that I had to fill out for my preliminary background check wasn't as arduous as I thought it would be. I managed to get it all mostly filled out over the weekend. I just needed to get my signature Notarized in a couple of places, and then I dropped it all in the mailbox today.

Today was also a good day in that, after many many months, I was able to resolve a long-term conflict between my external hard drive and my printer. I know that it seems silly, but because of the issue, and the low priority I placed on attacking it, I have not been able to print directly from my computer to my local printer since this past fall. (Yup. I felt like a real nimrod about the whole thing.)

Anyway, at issue was a USB conflict. If I had the drive plugged in, and my printer, my computer would endlessly reboot. Special, huh? The solution was to switch the drive over to Firewire. Sounds simple, right. And, yes, I thought of the solution back around the end of last year. I just haven't had the time to screw around with it.

What made me find the time to deal with it today? Easy: I had something else that I was supposed to be doing. I was supposed to be working on my final paper for school. Well, it wasn't a complete procrastination move. I needed to print a massive listing of notes, and I really didn't feel like playing around on my husband or son's computers to do it. Plus, I felt like a real yoyo for not fixing the issue months ago. And, well, ok, I WAS looking for a dodge on the paper.

In any event, I resolved the printer issue AND made good progress on my paper. Which reminds me ... I suppose I should get back to it. (grin)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Total irreverence

OK. I know that terrorist bombings are serious, and I am TRULY sadden by the loss of life that they cause. However, my brain is in a very demented place these days. I took the followng headline:

Shoe bomber kills 10 inside Iraq mosque

and transmuted it into:

Shoe bomber kills 10 soles in mall rack

I know. Don't quit may day job. Also, very tasteless. But, come on! "Shoe bomber?" How could I help be momentarily think of poor defenseless shoes being blown up?

I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

I feel like such a heel.

Is today the day?

Today has such potential. Today could be the day that I get my offer letter in the mail. Today could be the day that significant changes occur in my current company (I won't hold my breath on this one, but anything is possible).

Today is the day that I ended my weight-loss plateau, and broke the 200 lb barrier!

The lesson here is: every day has the potential to be a great day. A nice thought, eh?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Being paranoid

In theory, I could have gotten my offer letter today. But I didn't. So, in theory, it should show up tomorrow. The HR rep told me Friday that it would go out in Monday's mail. Then again, he called my house this afternoon before I got home, and said he would try me at the office, and then missed me at the office. He left voice mail there saying he'd speak to me in the morning.

What? Me? Worry? Yup!

Maybe it's nothing. Maybe he just wants to reassure me, or tell me that there was some minor hiccup that prevented the offer from going out in Monday's mail.

Then again, the Fates love to screw with me. It would be just like them to dangle a sweet carrot in front of my nose while preparing to hit me over the head with an eleven ton sledge hammer.

Maybe the HR folks started doing the background check on me and found an issue already. There's only one area that could possibly trip me up and that is an over abundance of debt. My credit rating is still quite good, and I have a lot less debt than I did two years ago. However, finances is an area that the government looks at when investigating you for background issues.

I do not anticipate a sound sleep tonight. :(

Monday, June 12, 2006

Worth the wait

For those of you who haven't been keeping up, I've been energetically searching for a new job. About a month ago I went on an interview with a research-oriented institution. Two weeks ago, I got a call saying that they would be making me an offer in the next few days. And, finally, on Friday afternoon, I got THE call. I should be receiving my official paperwork by Wednesday. I'll have a boatload of forms to fill out, since there is a preliminary background check that has to occur before I can start. Plus, this place has real benefits that you can sign up for prior to your first day on the job. I hope to be able to start the new job on 7/10. I won't turn in my notice at my current employer until I'm sure all the background checks have come back clean, since a coworker was offered a job at the same place and had it fall through when it turned out that there was a glitch in his background check.

I spent the better part of the weekend in caloric celebration, unfortunately. I have been weight plateaued for about a month now. I am sure this weekend's poor behavior did nothing good to end that situation. I hope to spring back into full-blown weigth-reducing behavior in the next day or two.

Another reason I am not in a hurry to start the new job is that I am drowing in my school commitments. I have one more test and a (huge/ugly/arduous) researched position paper to write in the next couple of weeks.

Plus, I want to spend some time doing some professional development reading so I won't feel like a complete out-of-touch idiot when I start the new job. My current employer has not provided ANY support in keeping up my (or any other employee's) technical skill set. From a business standpoint, this is a pretty stupid maneuver, considering that our core business is technology services. And, the core of a service business is people. How can you compete in the market place selling technology services if your technologists don't have current skills? Hrm... Maybe that's one of the reasons why the company is having a hard time in the market place?

Friday, June 09, 2006

U.S. bullying could shut down the U.N.

The biggest bully on the block strikes again!

The United States, by virtue of its economy and abiltiy to pay, contributes 22% of the overall United Nations budget. Our administration seems to feel that this means that the U.S. should have greater influence in the operation of the U.N. than others.

Currently, the United States is withholding the payment of its dues as a means of pushing its stance on management reforms within the body. This maneuver could force the U.N. to shutdown operations next month. See: Bolton's Threats Raise Fears of UN Shut-Down - Yahoo! News

While I feel that the U.N. has minimal effectiveness, it is an important forum for the nations of the world to discuss issues and try to make progress for the planet as a whole. One of the reasons that the U.N. isn't as effective as it could be is that the United States does not abide by U.N. resolutions that it doesn't agree with. And, since the United States is such a huge contributor to the funding of the body, the U.N. usually doesn't sanction the U.S. very harshly for not complying with its resolutions.

Do we really think that the world should conform to our notions of what's right? While I still believe that we have one of the best systems of government in the world, and a great deal to be proud of, our arrogance is shameful. We are a democracy, not an oligarchy or a dictatorship. How dare we insist that the rest of the world bow to our whims?

I am so proud.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Kudos for NH Republicans

Normally, I would have just added this type of information as a comment to the related posting, however, this is notable enough to merrit a distinct post. From the Union Leader:

"New Hampshire’s two Republican senators broke with their party yesterday to vote against a Bush-administration backed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, with Sen. Judd Gregg changing his position from a similar vote two years ago."

While I usually am none too happy with my Replican representatives to the U.S. Senate, I want to take this opportunity to applaud these gentlemen for not falling in line with the majority of their party on this issue. Admittedly, the reasoning behind virtually every Republican defection had little to do with a pro-gay marriage stance. For the most part, the dissenters feel that the issue is best handled by individual state legislatures.

All the same, I am happy to know that not all Republicans are lemmings.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A crew of bigots?

Every time I hear about the ongoing movement to ban gay marriage it makes my blood boil. I do not understand the reasoning behind the movement. While many, including the Vatican, have come out and stated that gay marriage is a threat to the traditional family, I am flummoxed by this position. How in the world is it a threat to the traditional family? Disallowing same sex partners the right to marry is not going to change the lifestyles of these couples. It is not like they are going to "switch teams" and go become members of a heterosexually centered "traditional family". Also, recognizing same sex couples as a legitimate basis for a family is not going to encourage more people to become gay. Give me a break! Folks, if you are gay, you are gay. It is the way you are wired.

Regarding the movement to ammend the constitution with language defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, Senator Edward M. Kennedy stated it best when he said, "The Republican leadership is asking us to spend time writing bigotry into the Constitution. ... A vote for it is a vote against civil unions, against domestic partnership, against all other efforts for states to treat gays and lesbians fairly under the law."

Senator Orin Hatch responded to Kennedy's statement with, "Does he really want to suggest that over half of the United States Senate is a crew of bigots?"

Orin, if the shoe fits, feel free to kick your narrow minded butt with it.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Greatest Nation on Earth?

I am in the process of writing an ethics paper on the role children should have in their own health care decisions. In the process of doing my research I learned about the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. This 1989 Declaration seeks to bind governments into the recognition of the rights of children. The Declaration was borne out of concern for the precarious status of children in so many countries, where children are forced into labor, soldiering, or prostitution.

Nearly every U.N. represented country has signed and ratified the declaration. One notable exception is the United States. The furor over ratification of the Declaration in this country are the perceived threats to the institution of the family and a threat to our national sovereignty. 192 countries believe in the value of this Declaration. However, the Bush administration must think that the United States is distinct from the rest of the civilized world:

"The Convention on the Rights of the Child may be a positive tool for promoting child welfare for those countries that have adopted it. But we believe the text goes too far when it asserts entitlements based on economic, social and cultural rights. ... The human rights-based approach ... poses significant problems as used in this text."

Yup, we don't need to worry about human rights.

Pretty soon, we may be thumbing our nose at yet another standard of human rights, The Geneva Conventions. The LA Times reported today that the U.S. Army Manual may "omit from new detainee policies a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that explicitly bans 'humiliating and degrading treatment' ..."

Let's not forget about the recent leak about the current administraion's complete lack of respect for due process when it comes to it's citizens' private phone converstations.

If this keeps up, we won't have to worry about stationing National Guardsmen on the borders to keep out illegal immigrants. No one will want to come here.