Sunday, October 2, 2011

#SundaySnarkies Explained, Twitter, October 2, 2011

...and we're off. #SundaySnarkies

I’m so glad the forest I can see from my backyard can be turned into something so practical… like Chinese concrete forms. #SundaySnarkies
I live near some Weyerhauser land, and they have a tree farm nearby. It's actually a pretty interesting operation. Given all the attention old-growth forests have gotten, many tend not to think of trees as a renewable resource. However, Weyerhauser's tree farm is harvested very carefully, and it takes a lot of patience. Many of the currently harvestable trees go right past my house on their way to the nearest port; a port that was previuosly bypassed in favor of one further away. The story is really about what a boon Weyerhauser's decision was to the closer of the two ports. However, they mention how the end users will be using, and yes, China will use our NW-grown trees to create concrete forms. Frankly, I'd rather see them as forests from my deck, but I realize that's a little selfish.

I’m sure it’s not a conflict of interest for a city council to create a transportation district and then make themselves its board. Right? #SundaySnarkies
I thought I was imagining this when I first read it, but it's true. The local city council decided they needed a transportation district to create a funding source for local roads and infrastructure. So they created one. Then--and this is the part I find appalling on several levels--they appointed themselves to the district's board of directors. So maybe it's not a conflict of interest, but who's going to monitor their activity, where the funds go, and the accountability to the public?  This seems a little hinky to me.

So BOA decided to institute fees for debit card usage? I’m not sure what’s more surprising: the fee, or that BOA still has customers. #SundaySnarkies
Ah, the infamous Bank of America. We left BofA more than 15 years ago for one very simple reason: Fees. It's good to see they haven't changed their business practices in all this time, because it means we made the right decision to leave them.  It is simply amazing to me that BofA, like many other banks, have done everything they can in the past decade or so to get their customers to use ATM and debit cards. And now that so many people do, they're going to start charging a fee. You might recall that the original excuse many institutions gave for transitioning people was to reduce costs (in the form of the teller behind the thick plexiglass). It was going to mean lower or discontinued fees. How diabolical of them to wait this long to start charging for card usage. I bet most people have forgotten those old excuses by now.

I have no problem with anyone who wants to believe in heaven or hell, but to state as fact instead of opinion that one or the other is real? #SundaySnarkies
Seriously, I read an op ed in which a pastor tries to convince people that not believing in hell is a bad idea. His reasoning? "Hell is real and terrible." His proof: Several passages from the New Testatment. I don't have enough of a literary background to insert some smarmy quote here, but I took just enough Philosophy, and I'm just logical enough to have a problem with this. Maybe that's the issue I have with most faith-based concepts. For me it boils down to an organized group trying to get others to conform to their way of thinking... just because they think it's right. Here we have this pastor, stating as fact, that hell is real. I don't know, maybe he's been there, maybe his life has been a living hell, or maybe any other number of reasons are pushing him this direction. I do know I don't have to believe him.

Rainier park chief sold home for 3x its assessed value to monopoly climbing guide service. And it wasn’t a kickback. I don’t buy it. #SundaySnarkies
I admittedly did not read the full  Seattle Times report of the investigation into this transaction, but the appearance of impropriety is strong. The chief's kids were employed by the guide service. The contract with the park for climbing services got split three ways with the company in question getting 50% of the business and two other companies getting only 25% each. Then they pay a premium to the chief for his personal residence. You decide.

You’re under investigation for supporting terrorists, and your response is to try to strike an FBI agent with your car. Good plan, genius! #SundaySnarkies
It's probably a stereotype to think that everyone cavorting with terrorists and terrorist organizations is not real smart. I'll give that to you. But when you're under investigation by the FBI for various and sundry communications and activities, you're barred from air travel, and you're under regular surveillance, I would think acting cool as a cucumber would be an option to strongly consider. Not our hero. "Feeling like a caged animal", he tries to "crash his car into an FBI agent who was following him." Like I snarked, good plan, genius.

As much as I support education, Mr. Superintendent, it seems like if you defy a directive given by your manager, that’s insubordination. #SundaySnarkies
Like all departments in the state, Education was given the directive by our governor to propose a budget with 10% cuts. The state's budget is in bad shape, and it seems like the thinking is you have to put everything on the table, make it all fair game for cuts, and start making some tough decisions. I'm not in favor of cutting education in any way, shape, or form. I think our state has seen too many cuts to education in the past few years. So while I can respect the sentiment behind not wanting to make more cuts, unless the Superintendent is being asked to do something illegal or that threatens his personal safety, I know how such a refusal would be viewed in the places I've worked. He's trying to say such cuts would be unconstitutional. Maybe that's equivalent to illegal, and he has a point, but I guess that'll be left to the courts to decide.

How is it the local paper’s online version is still running “headlines” from July 30? Isn’t that more like “oldlines” or “archives”? #SundaySnarkies
I know. It's online. If I don't like it, I don't have to read it. But it's one of the few sources of local print news, and I just have this expectation that since it is online, the stories on its website should be relatively current. I don't think that's asking too much now, is it?

Interesting that a local teachers’ strike is spun as losing “trust of students”, yet no students were polled for the article. #SundaySnarkies
This one was a bit of a stretch in the logic department for me. I understand the gist of what the op-ed piece was trying to say, but really? "Teachers lost trust of students, families by going on strike." I mean, really? Sure, there's something to be said for teachers role modeling following the rules, but isn't there something to be said, too, for standing up for what you believe in? For the processes and procedures involved in dealing with organized labor? I have a hard time with this one. The teachers in this case were fighting to keep class sizes small and to have some say in where and how they were transferred between schools. A strike was their right, and if that can't be respected, maybe those that disagree should try to dismantle the teachers' unions in the state. Good luck. 

I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the change in the seasons, maybe it's the approach of the holidays, but something got me to thinking about the human beings in our community trying to find shelter. I checked out a couple of homeless-oriented charities on, and these are the two I found.  If you're not a Washingtonian, and you want to donate to something more local to you, check out Charity Navigator and see what you can find. It's a great site.

Feel Good #SundaySnarkies 1: Here’s your chance to help homeless youth in NW Washington.

Feel Good #SundaySnarkies 2:  Or if you’d rather help homeless adults in King County, WA:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

#SundaySnarkies Explained, Twitter, September 18, 2011

...and we're off... with two cups of coffee and two Excedrin Migraine (in other words, a boatload of caffeine). #SundaySnarkies
Oh man! I woke up with a splitting headache. Literally! It felt like someone was cutting my skull in half, through the top, from ear-to-ear. Thinking it was a coffee headache (not getting my coffee before 9am gives me a caffeine headache, and we slept in until 9:30 today), I took two Excedrin Migraine. Holy Schniz! I won't be doing that again any time soon! I followed them with a chaser of two cups of java, and while the headache went away, light-headedness and a queasy feeling ensued.

When "making budget cuts" = "no state supervision for killers & rapists", then "making budget cuts" = "cutting into bone". #SundaySnarkies
My home state of Washington is facing yet more budget shortfalls. Of course, all the departments are looking for ways to cut up to 10%. The Department of Corrections says this would mean some dire consequences for how they are currently handling inmates as well as those on parole. As soon as they give up supervision of released convicted killers and rapists, I think we're cutting into essential services. In my past life as an HR type person, we called that "cutting into bone".

Congrats to #WA for being only state to close tourism office. In face of budget cuts, who needs sales tax $ from outside? #SundaySnarkies
Yes, the great state of Washington, in all its wisdom and far-sightedness (sarcasm intended), is closing its tourism office. One would hope that the private entities that want to take over the function would perform as well or better. After all, their own best interests are at stake. However, doesn't it seem odd that a state with a sales tax would stop trying to bring in a source of non-resident sales tax revenue?

If you're from #CA and could buy #WA building lots at ten cents on the dollar, wouldn't you? #firesale #SundaySnarkies
Several years ago--maybe 20 by now--there was a lot of fear-mongering in Washington as wealthy Californians seemed to be arriving in droves, trading in their million dollar bungalows for large, airy, multi-acre estates. Many residents made a handsome return on their real estate investments, getting their full asking price in many cases, and well more than that in others. But here we are in the middle (end?) of a recession, and real estate doesn't seem to be doing all that well. Unless you're a California developer looking to buy up residential lots before the real estate market takes a (hopefully inevitable) upswing. Which is exactly what Union Community Partners of La Jolla, CA, appears to have done. They bought lots previously selling in the $100,000 range for ~$10,000, each. Where do I sign up for that kind of deal?

Twenty percent of Seattle city workers earned >$100K? How 'bout Seattle makes some pay cuts and donates to state coffers? #SundaySnarkies
Yes, you read that correctly. Seattle is paying one-fifth of its employees more than $100,000 a year. Maybe I don't know what goes on in city jobs, and maybe there's only 100 employees, but that just seems like a big percentage making a lot of money. I'm not saying the Washington State budget needs the infusion--I just used that as a possible alternative recipient--but if the city can afford to pay that many people in municipal jobs that much money, I have to wonder if they're using it the best way they can.

PS If Seattle is paying 20% of its workers > $100K, many of us may be in the wrong line of work. Monetarily speaking. #SundaySnarkies
Need I say more? Except... I wonder if they're hiring.

I support no pay for striking public workers but not *legally* preventing public workers from striking. We're #WA not #WI#SundaySnarkies
I learned this weekend that when certain public employees go on strike in Washington, they still collect salary. Not all union employees are as lucky. Many have to use personal days, vacation, or go unpaid for days they choose to strike. It doesn't exactly seem right that some get paid to strike while others don't, but hey, all the unions are free to negotiate for whatever benefits they can. I guess some unions are better at it than others. Regardless of the pay issue, though, I think if you're organized, you have representation, and your contract ends, you should be free to strike. And I don't think a judge should be able to order you back to work.  Otherwise, what's the benefit of striking? Where's the leverage?

On a related note, when you tell a group of educators that their class sizes are going to be 26 students, but then you bring them back to school and tell them their class sizes will be between 32 and 35? I think that's criminal.

"Apparently it's OK for Eyman's initiative to torpedo public vote, but sinister when lawmakers do [it]." - The Olympian #SundaySnarkies
Ah, yes. Our resident Tax Buster Extraordinaire, Tim Eyman. Everytime I see this man's name in print, it raises my ire. This quote from The Olympian's Editorials on Friday summarizes Eyman's latest efforts beautifully, capturing what I see as his lack of logic and extreme irony quite well.

#FFS, would someone just put Eyman out of my misery? Nothing drastic, just a gag order or something. #VoteNoOn1125 #SundaySnarkies
I really don't wish any ill will or harm towards Tim Eyman. I just wish he'd shut up and go away. Actually, I wish someone would ship him off to Idaho or Arizona where his brand of politics, rhetoric, and tax opposing lunacy would be better appreciated. As for my home state? I think we'd be better off without him.

Strauss-Kahn describes relationship as "inappropriate", "an error". Anyone tracking Understatement of the Year nominees? #SundaySnarkies
So he's high-profile, not just on a local, or a national scale, but on a global scale. Head of the International Monetary Fund? And he did what? Maybe in France a sexual peccadillo is an acceptable pasttime for politicians, but I would think some amount of discretion would still be warranted. An encounter with a hotel maid? Give me a break! And then to have the nerve to give an interview, in which he appears composed and scripted, and makes an understatement like, "was not only an inappropriate relationship, but more than that, it was a failing"... well, that's just laughable.

Feel Good #SundaySnarkies 1: Should be required reading for every kid grade 7-12... and their parents.
Just go read it. It's about kids demonstrating a lack of decency, despite being shown one.

Feel Good #SundaySnarkies 2: Wanna help fight DV and support its victims? #Olympia, Nationally,
Kudos to SafePlace of Olympia for winning a $450,000 grant to support their work. If providing support to victims of domestic violence is something you want to support, please check them out. Not from Olympia, but you still want to help? Check out the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The earned three stars on, but they engage in nation-wide efforts, and they're worth a look.

Feel Good #SundaySnarkies 3: Positive thoughts & energies to the victims of The Reno Airshow catastrophe & their families. #momentofsilence
I don't know what to say here. This is a huge tragedy, and potentially it's a detriment to a well-meaning, long-running air race. I can only hope that those injured in this terrible accident recover quickly, and that those left behind have wonderful memories they can hold close in the wake of untimely loss.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

#SundaySnarkies Explained, Twitter, September 11, 2011

I've been doing #SundaySnarkies intermittently since October 31, 2010. I was reading the Sunday paper, and it seemed like I had a smart alec comment for almost every article I read. It probably had something to do with the contemporary scandal that was then rocking the RNC--something about Michael Steele approving expenditures to visit a strip club--or some other equally exasperating topic.

I'd been sharing my random thoughts on twitter almost a year by that point, and I had the sudden (maybe not-so) bright idea that maybe my twitter followers would want to hear my thoughts about the stories I was reading. Yes, narcissistic, I know. But it didn't stop me.

Today, I had another inspired idea. I thought, "I wonder how accessible some of my snarks are? How could I make them more accessible?" Accessible, as in, "more understandable". Like the euphemism?

So we'll see where this goes. I was pretty religious about Sunday Snarkies for a while. Maybe the desire to explain them will help me be more regular.

Enjoy my first installment of #SundaySnarkies Explained.

...and we're off. #SundaySnarkies
This is how I've decided to open my Snarkies sessions. It's intended to give my followers a warning that I'm about to spew about 10 tweets whose only relation to each other is that I saw something in the Sunday paper that inspired them.

During an emphasis patrol in my county, 69 DUIs were issued. Not 68. Not 70. 69. I love my county. #SundaySnarkies
I live in Thurston County, WA, and law enforcement ran a DUI emphasis patrol from August 19 to September 5. That's 17 days, if you do the math. It's not three weeks. It's not three business weeks. It's not a month. It's not half a month. It is SEVENTEEN days. They could have run the emphasis for three weeks or a month and gotten more than 69 DUIs. But they didn't. They stopped at 69 DUIs. Think someone overseeing the "emphasis patrol" has a twisted sense of humor?

I'm all for "rekindling national unity", but why do we need 911 as an excuse? #SundaySnarkies
I mean no disrespect to the families of the 911 terror acts. To the contrary, my heart goes out to the victims, their families, their friends; to the cities that bore the brunt of the attacks. Most of all, my heart goes out to New York City's Firefighters and Police Officers and all the aid personnel that helped save lives, or worse, gave their own lives.

What I find ironic about the headline I took this quote from is that implies we, as United Statesians, need some emotion-evoking event--one so etched in our collective psyche and so extreme--to give us a reason to behave as if we like each other and as if we all have a common reason to unify. It seems to say we all have a commonality that is somehow transcended by the monstrous acts that took place on September 11, 2000.

Why can't we treat each other the way we would like to be treated without hiding behind 911 as the excuse?

It takes a bomb going off at a US base to remind us there's still a war in Afghanistan? Meanwhile, GOP debate gets airtime? #SundaySnarkies
Yes, the headline literally reads, "Bomb at US base reminder of war raging in Afghanistan." And yes, we all got to suffer through a GOP debate last week. Which one do you think is more newsworthy?

I've been lobbying for months (albeit intermittently, and not real formally) that the death toll from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq be on the front page of every paper. It should be an opening line in the nightly news of every network that runs a nightly news.

Instead, we're treated to the debacle that is today's politics. Actual airtime is devoted to what is more steadily becoming a representation of plutocrats. And they get to tell us what they think. I find that a little bit sickening.

Apparently in our school district, if you stay off the NCLB Needs Improvement list, your pay gets cut. That's incentive. #SundaySnarkies
The connection here is admittedly obscure. NCLB is the No Child Left Behind Act; an enduring legacy of the intellectual giant, George W. (Pardon the sarcasm.) If your school gets put on the Needs Improvement list, the educators in that school get to jump through a lot of not-so-small government hoops to prove they are doing their jobs.

In the school district my kids have attended since kindergarten, our educators have done a sufficiently good job to keep all of our schools off the list (at least I couldn't find them on it). However, those same educators are now facing a salary cut. Granted, it's "only 1.3%", but come on, really? These are the people with whom we've entrusted the education of what should be or most precious resource--our children.  And how are we rewarding them? How are we incentivizing keeping our schools off the NCLB List? That's right... a salary cut.

"Ports Brace for More Action" headline very misleading. I thought it would be about a sex ring run by Longshoremen. Damn. #SundaySnarkies
Let's just blame this one on my #innerteen.

Wow. 66 out 147 #WA lawmakers have waived their pay increases. Only 81 (55%) to go. It's not the $. It's the symbolism. #SundaySnarkies
Our state budget is a mess. For various and countless reasons, it is what it is. But our legislators in Washington State have been making or agreeing to expenditure cuts all over the place, and some of our biggest hits have been absorbed by Washington State employees. I get the whole finding efficiencies thing and cutting costs through organizational optimization. I've performed enough of those kinds of activities myself to understand why businesses (and yes, I think government is a form of business) undertake them.

But when you're writing and passing the laws that are taking dollars out of pockets of the employees on whose shoulders you're standing, I just think you need to lead by example and take a pay cut yourself.

Just saw a McDonald's BOGO ad. Seriously? Is the food so bad they have to give it away now? #SundaySnarkies
Seriously. All over the web edition of my local paper. This is wrong on so many counts, I wasn't sure where to even start. I'll just leave this one as it is, accessible or not.

"Groper" described as "tall, gangly, and white". I'm shocked. #SundaySnarkies
There's some dude running around Yakima copping feels. Yes, he runs up behind women and grabs whatever body parts he can get his hands on. Before I even got to this line in the story, though, "tall, gangly, and white" is exactly the picture I had in my head. The only thing they left out was "greasy-haired". Call it stereotyping, but that's just the image I get of a guy that would do this.

I don't want to underestimate the seediness potential of other statures or ethnicities, however. I'm sure there are several members of other groups who have done the same thing. They're just not my go-to mental picture. Sorry.

And if you think that last tweet was weak, cut me some slack. I'm barely half-way through my second cup. #SundaySnarkies
I'm occasionally self-snarkie. I hope you appreciate the self-deprecation.

Feel Good #SundaySnarkies 1: If you're looking for a way to commemorate 911, try this link

Feel Good #SundaySnarkies 2: Poor habits sent Dad in for bypass. 911 video effects kept him 2 extra days. Consider AHA.…

I'll explain the last two together. Since I started Snarkies, I've always tried to end on a positive note. Sometimes there was a feel-good story I saw, an op-ed piece I thought was well-written, or a cause that I could tweet about. Then I saw the good that came of the tragic loss of Rachel Beckwith and her dream. Since then I started including two charities in my Sunday Snarkies. Yeah, you have to wade through my obscure, sometimes-immature, usually left-leaning Snarks, but if you hang around my tweet stream long enough you'll get a chance to do some good.

That's it for today. Back to inane chatter about #homebrew and other random thoughts.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Random Thoughts on Bacon

This week I tried the idea of a "tweme"--a theme to tie together my Tweets. Unfortunately, the Twitter format lends itself well to my Random Thoughts, not all of which have something to do with bacon.

That being said, I enjoy the hell out of bacon. Thick cut, thin cut, peppered, hickory-smoked, maple-soaked, peppered, back, belly, Canadian, Italian--they're all good, and I would eat only bacon if it weren't for a nasty little compound called cholesterol.

As my bacon-twemed week winds to an end, I have to say it was kind of fun. I wonder what Random Twoughts I will tweam for next week's tweme.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Random Thoughts on Absentee Blogging

I think if you don't post frequently enough, it might not be worth having a blog.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Random Thoughts on Parents' Impact

I've been thinking a lot lately about how much impact parents have on their children. That led me to begin pondering the evolution of children's thoughts towards their parents. Bear in mind, I'm not subject matter expert, I just have Random Thoughts that I sometimes like to explore.

When I was young, after the dreams of being an astronaut had subsided, I wanted to be like my dad. A couple years ago, my brother and I were cleaning out our old bedroom and I ran across a poster we used to keep on our wall. On the back I had written, "When I grow up, I want to be a Gunnery Sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve and an electrician for the railroad." You may not find it surprising that my dad was an electrician for the railroad and a Gunnery Sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve. I must have been no more than eight or nine years old when I wrote that--or so my handwriting led me to believe--and my dad was everything to me.

Within a few short years, I had become a teenager. How my views had changed! From being exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up, to being the last person in the world I wanted to be like, my dad had somehow changed before my very eyes. Electrician was no longer good enough for me, and there was no way I was going to be an "enlisted man". I had my sights set on getting a college degree and being a Marine Corps officer so I could fly Harriers. I had no way of knowing then I would become neither of those things, nor that my dad's Marine Corps experiences would provide me with a very unrelated path in much later years.

By the time I reached college, I was even less interested in being like my dad. My teenage years had been tumultuous and stereotypically rebellion-filled. Most of that rebellion was aimed at my dad. No, as college began, I was beginning to see my mom in a different light. Maybe it was because I missed the nurturing and the relationship I'd never really recognized. Mom had been my Cub Scout Den Leader until Webelos. She'd been responsible for much of the transportation, feeding, caring, and general hubbub management during my young years. My mom had also immigrated to the US, and I began to relate more to her Latin culture and heritage as college progressed.

A couple years before graduating, I had my first child. Paying respects to Mom's culture, we tried to teach him Spanish as a baby. I became more involved in groups and clubs with Hispanic affinity. I celebrated my differences; differences that had always been downplayed or ignored in favor of assimilation and conformation. I began to appreciate more the richness and warmth that were inherent in my mom's relationship with me.

One might think from the timbre of this blog, that the thought evolution I'm heading towards is one where we migrate from one parent to the other. In reality, I'm exploring the depth to which we evolve into a combination of our parents (assuming we were fortunate enough to have a combination).

Speaking only for myself, I can identify many behaviors, traits, likes or dislikes that are directly attributable to both of my parents. I am devoted to my spouse and my kids on many, many levels--that's mom (not that dad isn't, it's just different). I become consumed with different subject matter at different times, and completely immerse myself in learning it--that's dad. I love a great flower garden--mom. I really enjoy my vegetable garden--dad. I love to fish--mom; hunt--dad. I love to cook--mom; fiddle with computers--dad. Leatherwork (, BBQ Sauce (, build--dad. Volunteer with Scouts, volunteer at school, read the Sunday paper--mom. Love food, travel, other cultures--both.

In many ways, I'd have to say the person I've become, what I do, activities I'm involved in--it's all attributable to my parents and the impact they've had on me. Some might say they are "Daddy's Boy" or "Momma's Boy", but me? I'm Mom and Dad's Son.