Thursday, May 29, 2008

It's Been a Few Days

I know, I've kept you all in suspense with what's going on in the land of Steve. We've been busy with homebuying stuff. Work has also picked up. We've been setting the MDL and preparing for depos for the ITG. The job I was hired to do for 8 weeks has now surpassed 8 months. I'm not complaining.

The children finished school today; The Boy did all right, though his English scores dropped each quarter this year, which is disturbing. The Princess did very well on her final report card, which was nice to see, as she had been a bit of a pill.

Scott McClellan has written a book where he's decided to vilify his former boss. The White House is playing it off as a person dealing with personal issues and denying that any of the things occurred. This is to be expected, but, really, if stuff was said behind closed doors, how would any of us know? That's what makes this interesting for people who aren't me.

We need a Futon with frame and a Computer desk for the new house after we close. My wife has offered to dance a jig for extra funds. I'll make sure she has a hat to toss change in.

Monday, May 26, 2008

In Memorium

I spent 8 years in the Air Force. I am proud to have served. I followed my father, my grandfathers, and my great-grandfather, all of whom donned a uniform and swore to defend this country against all threats - foreign and domestic.

Today is a day to remember those who served. It's a day to put aside all differences, even differences in approach to the military or the use of the military, and pause for a moment before the big family barbeque, or before you go to that big furniture sale, or buy your new car for one dollar down to thank those who put their own wants aside to defend your liberty. It's a day to remember those who serve, those who served, those who fought, and those who died. This is a day to remember Americans.

There are hundreds of days to be petty, political, pontificating, or imprudent. There are scant few dedicated to putting aside all our differences and focus on what unites us all - the flag and those who defend it.

Thank you.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

There is another option

People. You don't have to vote for Bush - I mean, McCain - or the Democrat. You have options. You have the Libertarian Party. And the Libertarians have Bob Barr (republican congressman).

Perhaps it's time to let the big dogs know that we want something different.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

These are my kind of people

Not just figuratively.

I've mentioned before that one of the things that appeal to me about the Methodist Church is it's willingness to encourage people to think for themselves, to find their own conclusions. It comes as no surprise to me, then, that the Methodist Church would pass a resolution stating that "[t]he promotion of religion or any particular religion in the public schools is contrary to the First Amendment." What is surprising, though, is that at the conference where this resolution was passed, the Methodist Church actually passed THREE resolutions expressing support for evolutionary science.

I think part of why I identify so readily with the Methodist church is that they seem to get what I get. You can keep religious instruction/coercion out of school and still remain a spiritual, religious person. Just because the word of God is not preached in school does not mean that He does not enter through the hearts of those who believe in Him. The strength of one's faith should not rest in the presence or absence of that faith's instruction in a government building. If it is, then perhaps the change needs to occur in you first.

In other news, I moved into an office yesterday. I now have a view.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Heinous, simply heinous

Ok, I get it. People don't like Detroit. If you drive south from Detroit, you get to Canada. There's a lot of crime. Coleman Young was mayor. Kwame Kilpatrick is mayor. Unemployment is rampant. The auto industry is dying. It's lost population constantly for decades. It's got the Detroit Lions.

But in terms of *real* professional sports teams, there's some pretty good tradition there. Detroit is the home of Cobb, Greenberg, Kaline, Trammel, Whitaker, etc. It's where the Bad Boys reigned, and where team basketball is still on the map. It's Hockeytown. And during the Stanley Cup finals, Hockeytown is Octopi on the ice.

So the fact that the league would decide to throw a $10,000 fine on the team because Al Sobotka swings it over his head as he's taking it off the ice just screams wrong.

Now I'm upset.

Graduation Day

The Princess is graduating Kindergarten today.

We couldn't be more proud.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Homeward Bound

And we have a K.

We will not waive any express or implied warranties, including the implied warranty of fitness for a particular use.

The deal sounds all right - I think the seller is getting a slightly better deal than we are, but it's a nice house on a quiet street a block from the park/tennis courts/pool, so we're happy.

All things considered, we did well. It's got enough room for the family; we might be able to expand if need be (the garage is connected and we might be able to close that off and then build a second garage in the backyard).

We should be closing by the end of June; we'll start moving in that weekend and hopefully have the transition in sleeping quarters by Independence Day.

Now we get to have fun with HOA's, hiring maids, switching schools, buying a lawn mower, a bed for the Princess, and a new desk for the family lawyer. Can't wait!

Diving Headfirst Into the 21st Century

I got my iPod shuffle in the mail a couple days ago. It's my first foray into MP3 players. I bought it with blood - literally.

Anyway, as I was registering my iPod and getting it set up to play music, I had to sign a few terms and conditions. I read through them and noticed the following, which is one of those terms that you think should go without saying but still needs to be said:


I'm not sure how many people are going to try to operate a nuclear facility with an MP3 player, but I wouldn't put it past McGuyver.

The Polyphonic Spree - Light and Day

It's catchy, but I'm still not convinced this isn't a cult of some kind...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More Hate directed towards CSI Miami

I confess. I missed the first half of the season finale. This is not necessarily a negative, though it does make it more difficult to give a complete recap. Still, let's review a few of the things I did catch last night. This may be out of chronological order, but seeing as how nothing on CSI Miami makes real sense the way it plays out anyway, we should be all right.

I think I tuned in with Adam Rodriguez's character (The Jaw) using his handy dandy computer to lift a partial fingerprint off of a spent shell casing. Fortunately, only one person has ever handled this particular casing, and therefore they were able to get a good match in about 7 seconds on their magical computer fingerprint-matching database. It takes me longer than that to open a picture from my My Pictures folder and it's located on my computer. I need some good Miami PD funded computer software and hardware. Anyway, the guy the fingerprint belongs to is an ammunition salesperson, and he just happens to have inspected that particular casing in his inspections before the bullets are shipped overseas. This was revealed after he was searched in his place of business (a Terry patdown is probably unnecessary here).

While this is going on, Callie Duquesne, the Smirker, is busy inspecting some of the bullets they recovered from the crime scene. She pours the solution to clean the bullets and just starts cleaning the first one when the phone rings. In a very believable series of events, The Smirker puts down the bullet and then places the Q-tip on the Petri dish with the solvent and answers the phone. As she is on the phone, some unseen force of nature wills the Q-tip off of the petri dish and it rolls towards the bullet, striking the bullet. This is just enough force to send the bullet rolling along the table, which apparently is on a significant enough incline to get it to roll completely off the edge. Then, the bullet completes 1.75 rotations and lands PERFECTLY on its percussion cap with enough force to discharge the bullet, which then goes straight up into the fluorescent light, knocking the light down onto the table and setting the entire table on fire. It's like the perfect storm.

After the fire is put out, The Jaw asks the Smirker how many bullets there were (3) and how many were compromised (2) and then sets out to find the missing slug. Fortunately, the third slug was found underneath the table that had caught fire, cozied up next to one of the wheels (apparently it didn't discharge when it fell off the table or when it was presumably heated by the fire). Even more fortunately, they were able (after safely discharging the bullet in their bullet discharger) to determine that the bullet was filled with black powder, but with no stabilizer, and that it was made in 1969 in a Soviet Bloc country, which is illegal for someone to own/sell.

This realization then gives El Poseur reason to execute a search warrant at the ammunition dealer's place of business. Except, instead of Knock and Announce, El Poseur stands behind our suspect with his pistol drawn and bearing straight on the back of the guy's head (the front after he turns around to see the police in his office). Lo and behold, they find the handgun, and the suspect confesses. They take him out of the building and start on their way towards the police cars to drive him to the police station when - and this is completely possible - a driver in a Lexus drives by, sticks his right hand out of the passenger window, shoots ONE BULLET from at least 50 feet away and plugs the suspect square in the heart. This bullet is no ordinary bullet, though, it's a fused alloy shell. The great thing about the fused alloy shell is that it works two different ways. If it strikes something cold, such as a bullet-proof vest, it does not break apart, rather it stays together, piercing the kevlar. However, if it hits something warm, such as a person, the bullet's alloy will split apart, operating more like a shotgun blast and creating several exit wounds. Strangely enough, though, the heat from shooting the freaking bullet does not generate enough heat (even though heat was what led the bullet in the lab to go off into the light earlier in the show) to break apart the alloy. Apparently gunfire is something slightly less than 98.6 degrees, though the shells that landed on me in boot camp felt considerably warmer.

Long story short, they track down the guy who is selling these weapons and he gets locked up. He then sends a message via phone that he wants El Poseur taken care of "just let me know when it's done." El Poseur at this time is stepping off of a small jet (maybe a Lear jet?) at the airport with his sunglasses on. As he stands on the tarmac, he takes his glasses off; I'm not quite sure why he needed the shades on in the plane but not on the runway, but hey, he's the star, so he gets to get his way. Suddenly a gunshot rings out and EP falls, a bullet hole in his shades.

Is El Poseur dead? Of course not; we're not that lucky, but we won't know until the fall, when we learn who shot EP. (Perhaps it was Jonathon Torgo, who apparently got the text message on his phone that EP was taken care of. Oooh, plot twist!)

Rallying the Base

The Republicans as a party are in fairly dire straits. After losing control of Congress, they now look to lose the White House and potentially find themselves in a Veto-Proof minority on Capitol Hill.

They desperately need a hot button issue to wrap themselves around to rally the base. Fortunately for them, California exists.

For those who don't know, California's Supreme Court recently held that the state's Gay Marriage ban violates the state's Constitution. This is just the ammunition a high-speed, devoted Republican Congressman needs to be able to jump headfirst into the election cycle. In this case, it's Georgia Congressman Paul Broun, who has declared his intent to introduce an amendment banning Gay Marriage. The rationale? In Congressman Broun's opinion, "There is simply no basis for the suggestion that homosexual 'marriage' is a right protected by the United States Constitution." I first read about this proposal on The Moderate Voice here.

This is merely posturing. The Congressman knows that this proposition has virtually no chance of getting through a 2/3 majority Congress, and even if it did, 75% of the states would not agree to it. But, the goal is not to change the law. The goal, rather, is to get the issue out there for the Religious Right to get fired up about them damn libruls and hopefully go out and stop 'em before this country really goes to hell by treating people equally.

Dues That To Me One More Time

I just paid my annual bar dues today. That was a nice check going out. I swear I just did this some five months ago. So much for annual.

Time to go to work and earn that dues money back!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Duty, Breach, Causation, Damages

Those are the four elements of a negligence case. Each of these must be proven in an attempt recover on any claim for negligence. For example, a shopkeeper might have a leak on the roof and, even though he knows that it's dripping onto a puddle on the floor, he fails to even put up a sign. A few days (or hours) later, someone who does not see the puddle steps on it, slips, falls, and injures himself. The shopkeeper has a duty to keep the floors dry for customers. He failed to do so, thus breaching his duty. The customer slipped on the floor, suffering injuries.

Now, there are other claims that fall under inherently dangerous items - things that are going to be hazardous no matter how much care is used while handling them for their intended use. This would include items such as dynamite.

One family in New Jersey, has decided that Aluminum baseball bats qualify as well. An item that is dangerous, no matter how much care is being used while using them. They will file suit against the maker of the baseball bat, the store that sold the bat, and Little League Baseball for allowing the bat to be used in the game where their child was critically injured after being hit by a ball he pitched to a boy using the bat. The article is silent on whether the family is suing the batter. The crux of the argument is going to be that the game would be safer if the players used only wooden bats.

I understand the need to blame. I do. And I can only imagine what it must be like to deal with a child who has suffered such an unpredictable injury. They most certainly have my deepest sympathies and well wishes. But, I'm wondering how the family is going to get past summary judgment on this. I just don't see a causal connection. It was a freak accident, and there's absolutely no way (that I'm aware of) to show that their son would not have been injured had the batter been using a wooden bat (We're talking nanoseconds of difference in reaction time here for a batted ball to travel 60 someodd feet). This is a tragic accident, but at the end of the day, sometimes accidents just happen.

Late Spring Swelter

Texas is already getting hot. I don't care for hot. I've always felt it was easier to warm up than it is to cool off.

We've been looking at houses. Our lease is up in July and we're more or less ready to be done with apartment living. The good news is that we think we've found the right house - it's got everything we need and plenty of yard space for the pets - I mean children. Even The Boy liked the house, which is high praise.

We'll see how the bidding goes; we think we can get a little bit better than they've listed, though the listing is fair for the area. It'll be interesting to see how it all pans out.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Hidden Costs of the Iraq War

It's not just men and material. It's more than equipment, family time, bonding, child births, Christmas, or that. It's golf. (source: the Politico, from Yahoo)

That's right. The President no longer golfs, due to the Iraq War. He felt it in bad taste that he would go and play a game on the government dime while scores of thousands of American soldiers are fighting an insurgency/civil war of his creation. What a sacrifice.

Think of those poor Country Clubs who are losing out on the dues the President would have been paying to golf. But, we do need to maintain solidarity with the parents of those young men and women who have died for a war whose motive has changed over the years.

I'm curious, though. When is Jenna Bush or her new husband going to don a uniform and serve over there, or anywhere? How about George P. Bush? Maybe, just maybe, if some of these folks serve, then the President can feel just in working on his short game again.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Terrorism in Texas

That's what the FLDS letter discussed in this Religion Clause Blogspot post makes reference to. The letter that was reportedly hand delivered to President Bush at his daughter's wedding.

I somehow think that other than having the letter posted on their website (available on a link in the above link), that this is going to fall on deaf ears. And without going into too much analysis, due to time constraints, perhaps they're right to complain, but the inflammatory language is definitely not helpful to their cause.

Busy Busy Busy

Tomorrow's forecast appears to be busy. We've got a lot to get ready for in preparation for trial next Spring. Speaking of Spring, I'm going to be looking at houses tomorrow evening after work. We have a couple that we're pretty fond of; I just have to look at them to determine which ones look most promising, and which ones the Spouse will be most fond of (let's face it - her opinion is the one that matters most). That said; we have done a bit of preparation in anticipation of the purchase and have an idea of the area in which we want to live and the price range in which we want to look. This will make things go a bit more smoothly.

The kids have 3 weeks left of school, then they're done and we get to go to San Antonio for Sea World so that Photog can play. The kids might have some fun too, but this trip is all about the wide-eyed wonder that can only be truly appreciated by watching someone else experience it.

We're excited. And Anxious.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

I looked at my clock and realized it was just past midnight.

I'm tired as can be, but I can't sleep.

Things are starting to pick up steam in our lives; we're looking at houses to buy, though we're probably about 20k away from what we'd really like. I'm getting busier with trial prep for my firm, which is significant because I was initially hired to review records for 8 weeks to finish a settlement. Rumour has it I'll be moving into an office here shortly. The Boy is finishing third grade while the Princess is enjoying her last 3 weeks of Kindergarten. The Apple is anxious as can be to start school himself.

The Missus (Happy Mother's Day, dear) is thinking about getting herself a realtor's license so that she can get herself a promotion at work; which I encourage.

However, all of this going on at once is a bit of a blow to the system, and I think part of the insomnia right now is due to that. I'm not opposed to change; I just prefer it happen gradually, not unlike Continental Drift. Anyway, I need to get some rest here pretty soon, because the kids will be up in 5 hours, and the Wife gets to sleep in today.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Pot Heads

Kids are enterprising, when they want to be. When The Boy was three years old, he fashioned a makeshift ladder out of shelves and a sit 'n spin to be able to reach the top of the armoire upon which we put his toys in time-out.

Now combine the ingenuity of a child with the mental power of your average pothead. They want to smoke their pot, but apparently are bored with the puff puff pass approach to getting stoned. What could be better? I know! Let's use a bong! OK, now, what can we use for a bong? An empty Pepsi bottle? A flashlight casing? No, those things are too hard to come by. Instead, let's dig up a grave, steal a skull, and use that for a bong. Not surprisingly, the teens were charged, according to KPRC news in Houston.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Chase Vault

I'm not much for superstition, except when I'm being superstitious. But I do enjoy a good ghost story/unexplained mystery. And I think the story of the Chase Vault, definitely qualifies.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Moving On Up

So we're going to buy a house. We got pre-approved last Friday, and we spent the weekend shopping. There are a couple, three houses we like; one in this area - only about 2 miles from here, with a different school for the kids, but they'd keep the same daycare and pretty much the same daily routine. The other two are closer to the Woodlands, probably about 15 miles away, but with higher rated schools and younger homes.

We're looking forward to owning again. It's rather tough to go from house to apartment, especially when you move from house to drug/gang/cockroach infested apartment.

But at least we're (relatively) convenient to the mall, medical care, Downtown and the Galleria, and pretty good dining.


Saturday, May 03, 2008

What a Load of Crap!

Apparently the NBA has decided to give the MVP award to Kobe Bryant. I've long considered the MVP award to be a bit asinine in a team sport, but most years you can look and see at least one person who was the key cog in the team's success.

But that person isn't Kobe Bryant.

There will be apologists; there always are. They will say "but look at what he's done!" Or, "He deserves it because he's the best not to win one," or something of that nature. Then there will be the people who look at it from a pseudo-technical aspect: "He's the best player on the team that was the best in the toughest division," or some such crap. It's all a load, and it's all just justification to let a me-first, screw those around me, I need to be the center of attention narcissist allow other people to pay attention to him for a little bit.

I remember the All Star Game in Philadelphia some 10 years back where Bryant was named MVP of the game and the crowd booed. Kobe was asked if it upset him at all, and he said yes. He thought that they should show him some respect because he did so well, and because he's from Philadelphia. It doesn't matter what, if anything, he gave them, it matters what he's owed. And that's the rub with him. It's about Kobe. It's not about winning (really), it's about being the focal point of the winning team. He'd rather lose and be the star than win as the Ed McMahon.

"But look at this year - he was a teammate and they did better!" You're right. He was a teammate, and they did do better. But that was after all other options were gone.

"But he didn't have good enough teammates before to win." This actually is an argument against Kobe winning the MVP. How can someone legitimately be considered the player most valuable to a team's success when he's the constant? It was the addition of role players such as Gasol and Fisher (whose calming presence and legitimate third option is more likely what triggered the team's success, and by extension makes him more legitimately the Most Valuable Player to his team's success) that made that team better, not Kobe Bryant. He had more success because of those pieces of the puzzle, not vice-versa.

Kobe is a good basketball player. He's not a good teammate because he's incapable of grasping the difference between being a good basketball player and being a great team player. Sure he showed the potential this year, but are baby steps really worthy of Most Valuable Player honors?

I think not.

Complete Separation of Powers

Look it up. The Constitution says nothing about oversight of the Vice President. We all know, that as a strict Constructionist would see it, that if it's not in the Constitution, then the Founding Fathers would not have intended it to apply. Therefore, we should presume that Vice President Cheney's lawyer is right when he says Congress has no authority over the vice president.

Come to think of it, this is great, because it means that the Vice President can get away with basically anything, and it's all legit. Who wants to be President and be subject to checks and balances when you can be vice president and be a pompous ass?

I just don't understand where in anyone's mind they can seriously consider the hypothesis that the understudy to the most powerful office in the United States is not subject to oversight from the other co-equal branch of government.

So now, we have a vice president who can claim executive privilege, who's not part of the Executive Branch, and who is not subject to oversight. And the one we have is Dick Cheney, who selected himself to be Vice President after a thorough search of all possible VPs out there in 2000. Perhaps he was right, because who else could concoct such tommyrot?

I actually first read about this at Vim and Vinegar's outstanding blog a few days ago, but reading the news today, it caught my eye again. Read her post for a more in-depth analysis of this.

Rude, Not Criminal

I try to tell my children not to point. It's tough, though, because I point. So I figure the best I can do is convince them to not point with their middle finger.

I may have to rethink my position, though, if they can be arrested for pointing. Perhaps the veteran's shirt ("If you run, you'll only die tired") had something to do with it, but, quite frankly, I read the article, admittedly not knowing the situation behind it (did he say "kapow," for example?), and think - how is this even close to a criminal act? This is thuggery on the part of Island Lake Village's trustees.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Morning preparation

I spent some time this morning trying to get the Apple dressed for school. I told him to put on shorts. "I don't want those brown shorts." I showed him another pair. "I don't want those brown shorts."
"What shorts do you want?"
He points.
"Which ones?" I don't see any shorts in the direction he's pointing.
"Those ones." He points again.
"The cat is not shorts."

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Congratulations to the Spring 2007 Texas Bar Passees

You can find your name here.

South Texas finished 4th in the state. Good Job.