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Wide White: October 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

The price of a job apparently $224,857, according to the White House.

Obama's team is touting the "progress" of their stimulus package. They've claimed that it has saved 1 million jobs "so far."

Numbers released today claim the actual total of jobs saved is 650,000. Even that number is questionable, but White House officials insist this confirms their estimates of 1 million because the 650,000 "do[es] not include much of the package's spending -- tax cuts, safety net spending and fiscal aid to strapped states, which injected tens of billions more into the economy and, in the case of the state aid, forestalled layoffs of state workers."

Okay, so they're guessing. At least they acknowledge it, though I find it odd that they mix tax cuts and fiscal aid (which requires increased taxes) as both being beneficial.

But the 650,000 jobs are confirmed, right?

The Associated Press has gone to town on this assertion. Among many other discrepancies, they've found:
East Central Technical College in Douglas, GA, claimed 280 jobs saved, though this was actually the number of students who benefited from a stimulus grant.

Teletech Government Solutions in Colorado got a $28.3 million contract with the FCC for creating a call center and reported 4,231 new jobs. 3,000 of those workers were actually only paid for five weeks or less.
How many more of these discrepancies exist?

Let's say for a minute that the White House's 3-year projection of "3.5 million jobs created or saved" stands. (And how do they measure "saved" jobs? I digress...)

The stimulus package cost us $787 billion.

3.5 million jobs at $787 billion is $224,857 per job.

The administration's current estimate of 1 million jobs at $787 billion is $787,000 per job.

The recently published numbers of 650,000 jobs at $787 billion is $1,210,769 per job.

You do the math - even on the administration's numbers - and tell me you think it makes sense.

(Thanks to Kevin for some of the material here.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Darwinism in action?

This is sad - probably more sad than the story tells given what she was apparently going after - but she did more or less bring it upon herself. Darwinism is cruel.
Woman Makes Fake 911 Call, Then Calls Again as Garage Door Crushes Her in Fatal Mishap

CALDWELL, Idaho — Police say an Idaho woman who made a false 911 call to lure paramedics out of their station made a real emergency call minutes later when she got trapped under the station's garage door.

Melissa R. Farris died Oct. 2 of injuries suffered when she was crushed by the closing garage door at the Canyon County station.

Farris, a former paramedic at the station, had been trying to crawl under the door after the ambulance left to respond to a nonexistent traffic accident she'd called in a few minutes earlier.

Caldwell Police Chief Chris Allgood says it may never be known why Farris was trying to gain access to the station

But according to a police report obtained by KBCI-TV, her sister told investigators that Farris may have been going after prescription medication stored in the station.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The art of the BCC

Some people love the blind carbon copy, better known by everyone as the BCC. They think it's great that you can send an email to 10 people but 8 people think it only went to 8 people.

Being the recipient of just about every type of BCC, I thought I'd compile a short list of BCC types.

1. The Slammer. You send a scathing email to someone - a coworker, a friend - and then BCC someone of more significant importance - a boss, a pastor - so they can follow up on your important tirade. Pat yourself on the back, Slammer, you have quietly sent your issue up the chain of command. This will get interesting when that coworker gets that same email forwarded to him from his boss later that day and realizes what you did.

2. The Secret Compliment. You send a compliment about a coworker to your coworker's boss and BCC that coworker. Or you send a compliment to your coworker and BCC their boss. Either way, you want to pay a compliment to someone while brown-nosing another. Good work.

3. The Wink. You send an email to a number of people who are important and BCC someone you want to include but who is less important than the rest of the recipients. For example, a Sr. Account Executive sends an executive account summary to a number of VPs and other executives (the word "executive" is used a lot). You are just a Junior Account Manager but that Sr. Account Executive knows you do all of the real work to make that account happy. So, he BCC's you on the account summary. It's his way of giving you that wink that says, "I think highly of you, son, and someday, you'll make it high enough to warrant a regular CC."

4. The Silent Informant. This is similar to The Secret Compliment and The Slammer in that you are BCC'ing your boss or some other superior. However, the purpose of this email is to keep him in the loop. You've been working with a headache of an account for the last 5 weeks and just had a significant development. In your reply all to the customer, you BCC your boss. It's your way of saying, "No worries, Boss, I've got this one. See me? This is me on it!" You're keeping him in the loop, but you're also working for an extra percent in that next raise.

5. The Who's On It? You receive an email with no recipient. Oh, you received it, but the email contains no one in the "To" or "CC" lines. You immediately wonder who else may have warranted the sender's attention. This could be a forward telling you that Obama is the anti-Christ because he failed to put his hand across his chest during the national anthem. It could be a Christmas letter from friends. It could be a notice that a company you work with is undergoing system maintenance next weekend. Regardless, you have no idea who else is on it. 80% of the time (most forwards and all system maintenance notices) you couldn't care less, but then there's that pesky 20% (the Christmas letter from that friend from elementary school...if he included me, who else in the world might be on it?) that keep you wondering.

There are certainly more, but I'll leave those for you to add in the comments.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Summer jobs

I had 4 summer jobs in high school and college.

1. Grocery store for 2 years in high school, first as a bagger and then as a cashier.

2. ShopKo (small department store) for 2 years in high school, first as a cashier and then receiving and stocking product.

3. AirPro (my dad's new manufacturing business) for 2 years in college as a shop rat, which meant painting, running for parts and materials, assembly, small welding, etc.

4. Yosemite National Park in California for 1 summer in college as a Seasonal Naturalist (I gave tours, presentations, hikes, etc.).

I could write lengthy blog posts on some of these experiences but I'll leave it at a picture from my second summer at AirPro in 2004.

In case this there's any doubt, I became the painter that summer.

I clearly had no concern about mismatched gloves or ratty t-shirts turned into do-rags.

Thanks Dad for sending this one over yesterday for a good laugh and a memory.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

RSS feeds

I'm amazed that anyone still reads blogs without RSS feeds. Clicking through your list of blogs each day (or week) takes up so much more time than going to one place, such as Google Reader, to read through the list of new posts.

It's the equivalent of checking a different website for each person who emails you to see if they've sent you an email yet.

With RSS feeds, you don't care as much when someone fails to post for 6 months (I'm talking about you, Pat!) because you aren't constantly checking that site. It just doesn't show up in your feed.

If you're like me and you follow blogs that cover politics, friends, humor, religion and other topics, you can categorize them. Sick of politics on a given day? Just mark all political posts as "read" and move on to the funny ones!

For those not using RSS feeds to read blogs, I'm really curious to know why you aren't?

If you're looking for a service to use, Google Reader has worked really well for me, my wife, and others I know.

If you have a favorite RSS feed reader, I'm interested to know what it is and why you like it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Personal blogging

As my wife starts her blog, I think back to when I started mine three and a half years ago.

I was adamant that it would NOT be a personal blog. It was all about politics and current events.

After all, I worked in politics at the time and followed others' blogs. Why not join in the fun?

And besides, personal blogs where people aired their dirty laundry and went on and on about their lives seemed so self-centered.

I ended my first post with the line, "Let me hear your thoughts." Three and a half years later, nobody has left any thoughts on that post. I suppose that should have been a sign, but I forged ahead.

Owen was the first blogger I ever read. I was Googling for information on a debate for the Republican US Senate primary in 2004 (nerd alert!) and came across his coverage of that debate. I've read him ever since and a year and a half later started my own blog.

But after a bad experience in politics, I got out of that line of work, got a "real" job, and kept up with current events but at a much less ravenous pace. I moved from Wisconsin to Minnesota and in doing so lost my base of political readers.

So, what to blog about? Why blog?

I think I got lost and pretty much have been ever since. The best blogs have a theme. Mine had a theme and suddenly that theme was gone. I've contemplated shutting it down many times as a result.

But I've also started to see the value in personal blogging. I'll never have as many readers again, but bringing the blog down to a more personal level has engaged people I know more. With politics, my audience consisted of people I didn't know (though I eventually met some through blogging), so the relationships in blog land didn't transfer once I logged off of my computer. And with my mom joining the fray a year and a half ago, it's given me a means of keeping up with family that I wouldn't otherwise have.

At this point, I still don't know what the theme of this blog is. I suppose that's why it's gone from 100+ hits a day to ~30. But I said from day one I didn't care how many people were reading; I was just flattered that anyone read at all.

And in the end, whether the blog is about politics, humor, family, etc., isn't it really all personal? It's you telling the world - or as many of them as bother to pay attention - what you think is funny, noteworthy, etc., and all of that sounds pretty personal to me.

The best new blog out there my wife's.

(That's my very biased opinion anyway.)

That's right, after a few years of prodding from me and others, she has ventured into blog land!

You can read all of the latest from Jamie at Why Start With Just One?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why do we always turn to the federal government?!?

I just can't figure out why the city of Burnsville needs to turn to a federal grant to fight crime in our own city, especially given the fact that we're dumping craploads of money into a failed performing arts center.
Burnsville Police Chief Bob Hawkins' excitement over having the city's Street Crimes Unit reinstated after a one-year absence is tempered by the fact Burnsville's crime rate is on the rise.

The two-officer unit primarily will focus on illegal drugs and the crimes typically associated with their sale and use. Statistics through August show criminal incidents involving narcotics are up 31 percent in Burnsville from a year ago.

Hawkins believes the loss of the Street Crimes Unit contributed to that increase. Budget cuts led to the department last summer eliminating the unit, which was formed in 2005.
Ok, bad that crime is on the rise, good that they're doing something about it, right?

But here's what irks me.
A $292,280 federal grant will keep the unit active through 2011.
Really? We have to turn to the federal government to keep our city police department fully staffed?!?

Apparently, things haven't been looking very good for us.
"What concerns me is that nationally the numbers for drug-related crimes are down," Hawkins said. "Minneapolis' numbers are the lowest they have ever had, yet ours are creeping up."

Overall, crime is up 8 percent in the city, including a 23 percent increase in juvenile arrests. Hawkins believes the bad economy has played a role in the rise in crime.
Mayor and city council, can we PLEASE start putting dollars into keeping our city safe rather than keeping our city entertained???

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama's Nobel prize

The news that Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize was at first shocking.

The deadline to file nominations for the prize was February 1st. He had served just 4 years - less than one full term - in the Senate and had been president for 12 days at the point of the deadline.

And of course, it's extremely doubtful that the nomination was filed right at the deadline, so it's very possible it was filed before he took office.

What has Obama accomplished for peace to earn such an award?

That was my first question. But I think it's the wrong question.

The right question is, "What does the award really mean?"

The truth is, I don't know how the committee defines who has most fought for peace.

One thing I do know: Jimmy Carter and Al Gore have won the award.

Let's be serious, if Jimmy Carter can win the award, can't anyone?

Those who arguably contributed to peace more than any other presidents include Franklin Roosevelt (WWII), John F Kennedy (space program) and Ronald Reagan (Cold War - "peace through strength"). They're nowhere to be found in the annals of Nobel Peace Prize winners.

And yet, a one-term president who was soundly defeated in 1980 for total ineffectiveness - and has contributed little since then beyond talking about what he thinks about peace - somehow has walked away with the prize.

The point is, the Nobel Peace Prize has no relevance unless you respect the institution that it is.

Frankly, I can't find a compelling reason to respect it.

Friday, October 02, 2009


We had our first ultrasound yesterday.

Yes, those are TWO heads...TWO babies!!

(There are better ultrasound pictures of the babies' profiles, feet, etc., but this was the best for seeing both babies at the same time.)

We only picked up one heartbeat in both appointments prior to the ultrasound.

The guy doing the ultrasound joked, "Maybe we'll find twins!" 60 seconds later a grin spread across his face and he asked, "How many hearts do you guys see beating?"

We laughed, we cried tears of joy, and we laughed and laughed and laughed some more.

We are absolutely ecstatic about it and can honestly say we are possibly more excited now than we were 4 months ago when we first found out we were pregnant!

For those wondering, they are in separate placentas and the babies couldn't be looking any better!

We don't know if they're identical or fraternal and we don't know the genders. We still don't think we want to find out ahead of time either.

Thanks to all of you for your thoughts, prayers, and encouragement. We need it far more than we know!