Monday, August 31, 2009

Yet Another Mile Stone

Did you see the picture above and think, " God! Stockwell's really gone over the edge now. He's posting pictures of his daughter who's in her 30s getting on a school bus"? Wrong. It's my grand daughter. It's her first day in kindergarten. I had the privilege of watching her get on the bus for the very first time. It's definitely a mile stone in the great Stockwell story. That's not to say I won't be there for the other 3 getting on the bus for their 1st day too. After all, it was actually my son who got on the bus first. Two years later, my daughter started her illustrious career in public education. The point is having grand children seems like you're going back in time. I actually have to stop myself from saying or doing things in front of my grand children's parents (my children & their spouses in case you're having trouble following this). Before I grant a request or correct a behavior I have to think, "Hey wait a minute, you're not supposed to be doing that. They're not your kids." Fortunately my children and their spouses are very patient with me and grandma. They're smart enough to know that parenting isn't something you just stop doing. It's there-as long as you live and no matter how old your kids are. They'll find that out for themselves all too soon!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Teddy Kennedy

In watching some of the coverage of Ted Kennedy's funeral and the speeches given at that time, I was amazed at how much I learned about him. I, of course, always knew that he was a man committed to making the country and world a better place for others but I didn't realize just how much he was devoted to his family. I found his son's speech about how his father held him up and said 'you can do it!' especially moving. He was in many ways a very great man. Yes, as we're reminded by our conservative brethren, he was flawed. Aren't we all? Who among you is that pure that you can judge? RIP, Teddy. Ya' done good.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Why Men Are Happier Than Women

I stole this from someone who stole it from someone else on the Internet. Hey, if it's on the web, it's fair game!

Why Men Are Happier:
Your last name stays put.
The garage is all yours.
Wedding plans take care of themselves.
Chocolate is just another snack.
You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park.
You can wear NO shirt to a water park.
Car mechanics tell you the truth.
The world is your urinal.
You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky.
You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.
Same work, more pay.
Wrinkles add character.
Wedding dress $2000. Tux rental-$100.
People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them.
The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected.
New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet.
One mood all the time.
Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
You know stuff about tanks.
A two week vacation requires only one suitcase.
You can open all your own jars.
You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.
If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend.
Your underwear is $4.95 for a three-pack.
Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.
You almost never have strap problems in public.
You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.
Everything on your face stays its original color.
The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.
You only have to shave your face and neck.
You can play with toys all your life.
One wallet and one pair of shoes all one color for all seasons.
You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look.
You can 'do' your nails with a pocket knife.
You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache.
You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Competition in A Free Market

How can anyone doubt the value of open competition in a free market? The biggest example of this is the huge influence of foreign cars in the domestic US market. It was because of foreign competition that US auto manufacturers realized they better start making better vehicles or it's curtains for them. Another example is the emergence of alternatives to cable TV. Because of the entrance into the market of AT&T UVerse and Verizon, Charter cable has been coming out with some very worthy multiyear packages. My final example is the battle between Home Depot and Lowe's. Was a time before Lowe's came to town when you walked into Home Depot and if you didn't know exactly what you wanted or where it was, you were out of luck. Just try finding someone to help you. Add to that the poor quality of their building materials, i.e. warped and cracked lumber, stuff strewn all over, etc. Then Lowe's arrived. Home Depot was faced with either going out of business or improving. Recently I went to Lowe's for flooring tile. It took a while to get someone to help us but when we finally did, we placed an order that was supposed to be transferred from one of their warehouses to the location we were at. They promised to call me the next day. No call so I called them. The lady I talked to acted like I was speaking Swahili. She hadn't a clue what I was talking about. to Home Depot I went. There was a person standing at the door greeting me and directing me to where I needed to go. Once there, I placed the order to be picked up the next day at their loading platform. Guess what? It was there waiting for me. It was even loaded into my truck for me. So good bye and good riddance Lowe's and hello Home Depot. Good old competition!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Reflections on A Family Vacation

Family vacations can be a dicey thing. There are the obvious benefits of being with the people you care about most for a prolonged period plus enjoying where ever you've all decided to go but there's also the possibility of family vacations turning into disasters. One of the things that ruins these kinds of arrangements is if there are one or more people who don't pitch in at critical moments to do the various things that need to get done. This is especially true if you're on a vacation where you and your party are responsible for preparing meals, cleaning up, feeding and looking after kids, doing laundry, etc. It's a lot like many people living in one household except it's for only a week. All that is necessary to make life difficult is to have one or two people not doing their part. Fortunately, that was not the case on our recently completed vacation. Everyone chipped in. Men didn't sit around watching TV expecting the women to prepare meals and clean up afterward. Women didn't sit around talking while expecting men to watch the kids or do what ever they expected them to do. If there was something to be done, whoever was closest or available did it. No one refused to change diapers, grill/cook, put away dishes, etc. To a great extent this is a reflection of the fact that the traditional roles of men and women in modern families have changed in a lot of ways today. Make no mistake about it, we have a long way to go. There are still a lot of men out there who will not change a diaper, wash a dish or prepare a meal. As for kids, they're not cute until they're about 10! Ridiculous, isn't it? But absolutely none of that was evident during our vacation. We all did what needed to be done. That was one reason why we all had such a good time.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Stumped! (or is it Clunked?)

Headline Google News: "Cash for Clunkers to End". Now I'm officially stumped. For weeks we've been hearing about how successful this program was. People were trading their old junks in on shiny new mostly American made cars, giving the environment a break and the economy a boost. More headlines about how Congress was sure to continue the program. Now it's dead. What gives? Does Congress know what it's doing? What a silly question! Added to all of this is that a very small portion of the so-called stimulus package has been spent thus theoretically not doing what it was intended to do; constant bickering over health reform; news reports on practically a daily basis regarding immoral or inappropriate behaviors. What a mess! As someone pointed out, Goldman Sachs seems to be the only entity to survive this whole thing in relatively good health. Maybe congress should just admit they don't really have a clue what they're doing and abandon any further efforts. They're getting no where in spite of Obama's constant urging, cajoling, compromising and nearly begging. Sad state of affairs. More on this later.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More on Vacations

This is an addendum to my last post. I forgot to mention another interesting observation about what people tend to do when not in their usual environment. The first was to establish a routine (which in my case I've already broken!). The other is even more obvious. People tend to stake our their own space for their 'stuff'. Wallets, keys, cell phones, glasses, iPods, and other sundry items are put by their owners in their 'space' and that's where they stay until everyone returns to where ever they came from at which time their 'stuff' goes back to its usual space. There are other things about how groups behave in unusual circumstances such as role playing but this after all is vacation so it's off to the beach-and keep your hands off my stuff!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Rule of Routine

I've always found it amazing that no matter what people are doing or where they are, they need to establish a routine. It must be a security thing because here we are, the second day of our family vacation in Rhode Island and already I and the others have a routine. Up early, have coffee, check emails, play with any of the grand children who might be up, eventually take 40 to 45 minute walk, have protein shake, go to beach, have lunch....and so it goes until I'm laying in bed reading my book. I'm sure that's going to be the routine the whole time we're here. Others have their own routine too-especially the kids for whom a routine is especially important. You don't just skip meals or naps with little ones. It doesn't mean you can't have fun. It just means your fun has been routinized. Well, I have to go. I have a schedule to keep!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

(Un)Civil Disobedience

For the past week or so morning and evening news broadcasts have been showing videos of some of the town hall type meetings members of congress have been holding in their districts. The topic of course is health care reform. Between what you hear on the news, what people like Sarah Palin & Rush Limbaugh are saying, conflicting statements from members of congress like Nancy Pelosi, the president himself, members of his cabinet, etc. etc. it's no wonder that no one knows what's going on. Hence the town hall meetings. But what of the people attending? Sure, they're confused, worried and frightened. No one really has a clear idea as to what's on the table. So from the stand point of logic wouldn't that mean you'd show up with the intent of listening to what's being proposed and then framing reasonable questions as a follow up? So what's with the screaming, booing, fighting and generally disruptive unproductive behavior being exhibited around the country? What's wrong with these people? Have they lost all sense of reason? OK, fine, they're angry but that does not justify their behavior. This whole thing is deteriorating into a huge mess. To a great extent we have gas bags like Palin, Limbaugh and the usual suspects at Fox 'News' purposely distorting the issues. But we also need to call on the democrats to get their acts together, get on the same page, and clearly explain things. Go to Obama's web site and ask your questions. Let's see if they can pull this off.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Can It Be True???

Rumors, rumors, rumors. Like what's happening with the national health care discussion, rumors can distort things completely. Take for example the rumor that Imus is about to sign a deal with Fox's Cable Business News station to broadcast live every morning thereby giving us an alternative to GMA & Today for early morning TV viewing. Finally, a reason to watch a Fox station-if it's true. Keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cover Your Ears! They're Baaaaack!

As that great American Conservative, Ronald (genuflect when you say that) Reagan, used to see 'there they go again!'. I'm speaking of Sarah Palin who called Obama's health plan 'evil' and Rush Limbaugh who suggested he was remaking Nazi Germany. What a bunch? The part that really gets me is that there are a significant number of morons out there who actually believe what they're saying. Just recently there appeared in our local paper a letter to the editor that among other things called Obama a raving socialist. The guy who wrote that letter has written many others and has even gone to far as to leave letters in people's mailboxes so he's clearly deranged, but still, they're out there so watch yourself. Stay calm and move on!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Renew NOW!

More than likely you get a few magazine subscriptions, right? Well I get quite a few. Some are ordinary subscriptions while others are journals put out by organizations I belong to. Over the past few years I've noticed an annoying trend. I'm constantly getting notices giving me dire warnings of lapsed subscriptions unless I renew IMMEDIATELY! Just yesterday I got one from National Geographic. Here's the thing: almost all of these are not due for renewal for at least 4 to 6 months from now. For example my Nat Geo subscription is up in December. I received it on August 4th. What gives? For me it adds a lot to my pile of junk mail because I get a bunch of stuff. Here's the list:

The Week
National Geographic
Consumer Reports
Car & Driver
Mac World

Here's what I get as a result of belonging to an organization:
AARP monthly magazine
National Audubon Society monthly magazine
National Wildlife Federation monthly magazine

Every single one of these sends me renewal notices several months in advance of the actual expiration date. I can understand getting one about a month before but with computer technology being what it is, why do I have to get them every single month for several months and toward the actual expiration date I get them weekly. I think it's that they're hurting for money so they're getting people on board as soon as possible so they can tell their advertisers that they have X number of subscribers. Oh well. More junk mail.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy Birthday, Pete

Thirty six years ago today, at 8:27 P.M., August 3, 1973, Peter James Stockwell made his way into the world. He is the first child and only son of George & Sandy Stockwell. Congratulations, Pete. You've had an interesting 36 years and the really good news is that the best years of your life are in front of you so enjoy the day. It's all down hill from here!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Early to Bed, Early to Rise...

What were you doing at 6 A.M. this morning? Most of you were probably still sleeping; or maybe if you're an early riser you were waiting for the coffee to finish brewing while perusing the paper. Whatever it was, I'm pretty sure you weren't doing what I was. I was laying on the living room couch being tended to by my doctor (5.5 yr old Brooke) and nurse (almost 3 Courtney). The doctor was checking my lungs for fluid for which she would ultimately give me a shot. The nurse was using a pair of toy plastic tweezers to pull splinters out of various parts of my body. You'll be happy to know I made a full recovery thanks to the skills of my medical team. I hope Obama's health plan doesn't interfere with my current plan. I don't know what I'd do without them!