Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Oh, lordy.

I've only been passively following this whole SCHIP debate, but when I decided to take a look into it, one thing became glaringly obvious: it's a very small step away from socialized medicine.

Essentially SCHIP boils down to publicly subsidized insurance for families making less than ~$37K/year. It sounds great: get the kids insured, keep them healthy. Do it for the kids! The kids!

But underneath that rosy glow of altruism is another erosion of personal responsibility. When Amanda and I first began to discuss having a child, one of the most important issues we had to face was money. Could we afford to have a child? Not just labor & delivery, and not just food and education, but health-care, clothing, activities, transportation, child-care, and anything else that might arise.

I pored over our family finances, looked for ways that we could reduce our spending, turned back the A/C & heat, and started looking for ways to get more overtime, if necessary.

We took the decision to have a child very seriously, and saw it as a responsibility that we shared with noone else. We would be responsible for feeding the child. We would be responsible for clothing the child. And we would be responsible for footing the entire bill. Granted, I am very well insured through my company, and that was important. It made me take my job more seriously so as not to jeopardize my position.

SCHIP removes that responsibility. No longer will families have to wonder: "can we afford a child"? The state makes the simple answer of Yes! And worse: I pay for it.

And far worse, it puts us a step closer to the liberal dream of socialized medicine. We already had Medicaid, but apparently SCHIP is designed to help those families that fall between Medicaid maxima and whatever society now deems "middle class" (which at present apparently starts around $37,000).

Now, the viciously conservative side of me says that instead of helping the poor like this, we should ask the poor to help society by waiting until they can bloody-well afford to have children.

The more pragmatic side of me sees this as a liberal incursion into personal responsibility that will ultimately end in socialized medicine. See, right now it's just "insurance". The government can help you pay for your problems but won't interfere. Eventually I see programs like this expanding to either all children or low-income families as a whole. From there, I can see assistance becoming requirement, where instead of the government offering to pick up your co-pay, they call you and tell you it's time for your checkup, but don't worry: it's free!

So what, right? Free health-care is great! Yes, it is, but there's a reason why Brits and Canadians come to the US for medical assistance: they might have the guarantee of free health-care, but they have to wait months for a simple doctor's visit, and there's no incentive for qualified surgeons to stay in those countries (they can't earn what they're worth).

The far-reaching implication, as I see it, is the further erosion of the US economy. The United States has long been seen as a service-oriented economy, with most manufacturing going overseas. But what services can we offer the world that will remain in demand? Movies? Sure, but the one field we positively own is medicine. We have the best medical facilities in the world, along with the best doctors. We have some of the highest success rates, and are continually driving medicine forward.

If we succumb to socializing the environment, we will lose our position as a world leader in this most important service industry.

And if we continue rolling out expensive social programs, we remove the incentive for the wealthy to invest in our economy, AND if we keep mucking up Social Security (SCHIP is part of the Social Security Department), it's only going to get worse for future generations to untangle.

So fight SCHIP. Fight for personal freedoms, responsibilities, and rights. Fight for the dissolution of intrusive government agencies*, and against the incursions of the left.

*I've been proselytizing at work about what it would take to "fix" portions of our economy. Part of my plan (and it's far-reaching) would be to dissolve Social Security, the Department of Education, and the IRS; return all the money paid into Social Security to the workers, allowing (and encouraging) them to invest that money; and revert to a federal taxation architecture more in line with the Constitution, which expressly forbids direct taxation of the people and calls for the States to pay for the US government. Maybe I'll expand on this in another post, but it kind of depends on me being king for a while...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Skimming the Pool

I think I'm done with BioBitch. NBC's attempt to revive the Bionic Woman series is beyond stupid. It transcends abysmal. It makes my bottom hurt.

My performance review went well yesterday. I'm moving in the right direction, but our group is still not focussed like it should be. I have to find a way to ensure more cooperation and more cohesion.

I checked last night, and my time in the go-karts still stands as the 3rd fastest of the week, and the 5th fastest of the month. At least 2 of the faster times were in super karts, though, so I don't count them....

I'm getting more serious about getting a truck & trailer. There's a fellow in Chantilly, VA with a combo for sale at a price that can't be beat. Amanda and I might go up some day next week, test drive it, and maybe bring it back home.

Alastair is doing really well. He's really developing his vocabulary, usually springing at least one new word on me every day, and beginning to conjugate verbs (I see, I saw, I did see). We've been playing in the yard every day this week, and he loves being outside.

Hmm... I think that's all for now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

Zany Brainy Baby

This weekend was the third and final Richmond edition of the National Folk Music Festival. If you didn't go, shame on you.

We went, and we took World's Craziest Baby along for the ride.

We got off to a good crazy start on Saturday morning by playing on the jungle-gym at Lourdes, and then running around their field for about half an hour. For no good reason at all. We just all ran around like lunatics, periodically tackling the baby, who acted like he'd never had so much fun.

Then we went down to the festival, where we met Amanda's parents. Alastair danced to all the acts, ran around with me in the open areas, and tried to mimic some ladies who were clogging. He did quite an impressive job, and distracted about 20% of the audience from the act itself. An official photographer came over and snapped some pics (though I doubt we'll ever find them).

He was so active that he passed out in the backpack on the way out. His little head bobbed back and forth for about 4 blocks before we got him to the car, where he passed right back out. And even at home, he crashed for another solid 2 hours.

Then we went out in the yard and ran around some more!

Yesterday I went go-kart racing, and Amanda & Alastair came to watch. Amanda said he was very good at pointing me out, even with my helmet on. He spent a good amount of time "driving" the racing games, and after his afternoon nap, we went back to the Folk Music Festival.

He resumed his crazy dancing antics, ran up and down the hill with me, and acted like a total fruit-cake for about 2 hours. After we came home, we spent another 30 minutes running around in the front yard.

I've never seen so much energy in my life, but we kept up with him (we took turns), and plopped his butt in bed pretty much right after dinner.

I think he's only ever had this much fun at the Fair, and this time he didn't have to stand still for even a minute. God, what fun!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Linguistic Musings

It has often troubled me that words sometimes do not mean what they rightfully should. The best example of this, and the one that's bothered me more than any other, is "terrific". Consider:

terrible = horrible
terrify = horrify
terror = horror
terrific != horrific


Turns out, according to dictionary.com, terrific was added to the written English language in 1667 from "terrificus", which meant causing terror. This definition survived for about 140 years. In 1809 the word was given a second meaning: very great, large. I'm all right with that, as it dovetails with the slow evolutions of "enormous" / "enormity", but in 1888 a new usage emerged: excellent.

How did we go from horrible to excellent in 79 years?

I've touched on it, but how did "enormous" go from "very evil" to "very large"? Obviously the two words took the same evolutionary path, albeit in different centuries ("very large" emerged as early as the 1540's).

And, as with "terrific", the old definition is still valid, but often marked Archaic in modern dictionaries.

So what made me think of this? I was walking past the TV this morning when I found myself bored and unsurprised with the "continuing coverage" of the Cleveland shooter. I'm frankly sick to death of the media attention heaped upon these fruit-bats. Anyway, it got me thinking about the expression "going postal" and wondering how many times it took for USPS employees to carve out a little piece of lexicon all for themselves. Turns out (according to wikipedia) there were 40 instances of postal-worker violence from 1986 to 1997, and that the term first entered the language in 1993.

I graduated high school in 1993, and I clearly remember using the expression in high school, so I think it might have been coined in '91 or '92. Maybe it just wasn't used in print, or used frequently enough to get official recognition until 1993.

On a side-note, it's a clear example of the decline in American education when a guy can walk into a school with 2 guns and only manage to wound 4 people before killing himself. Sad, sad, sad.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Amanda is back! Alleluia!

But we had a great time. Here's the rundown:

Thursday: brought Alastair to work. We have helicopters, warplanes, anti-aircraft guns, and tanks on display around the facility. It's like a little-boy playground. While here, we rode the bus (endless fascination!), saw several firetrucks, visited the day-care where he spent 3 months of his life, watched & listened to the elk, and met all of my coworkers.

Friday: back to the State Fair. He'd had so much fun on Monday last week that I thought we'd do it again. This time Evelyn met us, and we watched racing pigs ("I see fast pigs!") & stunt-dogs, watched people ride the drop-zone ride, petted all of the baby animals, "drove" the tractors, and Evelyn & I shared a bag of fried Oreos (bizarre side-note: I got my fried goodies in a bag, which guaranteed messier-than-necessary hands, so I asked for a plate; the European dude behind the counter told me that I couldn't have a plate because they're for $5 items; I told him I'd given him $5 for the Oreos, and he just gave me this blank stare; eventually his coworker handed me a 2nd bag, as if that somehow made sense).

Saturday: Farm! We went to my mom's farm. Alastair got to pet the horses, ride a pony, drive a tractor, operate the fork-lift arm on the tractor, sit on an ATV, pet the bunny, and talk to the turkeys. Mom displayed her remarkable capacity for responsibility by not only allowing him to steer the tractor, but also to drive it on a public road. Granted, it was only about 60', but she got us out there and then started telling us how dangerous that part of the road is. Then she refused to wear her seat-belt to or from lunch, telling me some story about a woman who'd been trapped in her seat-belt for 8 days. Yeah? Well there's a reason why that was news, lady, and it's not because it happens every day.

Anyway, we had a really great time on the farm, and Alastair is still oohing and aahing over his tractor ride and the pony. He's positively beside himself over the goats and sheep at the fair, though.

Sunday: MINIs on a Ferry, II. My intention had always been to take Alastair for this, since he would get to ride on a big boat with lots of "Daddy cars". As it turned out, though, Ed & Leigh volunteered to take him for the whole day (and night!), and I didn't turn them down. It would have been tough on the little guy to have him in the car for over 3 hours without any real point to the drive, and without any place to let him run around.

We didn't set the record this time: only 65 or so MINIs showed up. But we still had a lot of fun, and it was far better organized this year (not to mention the weather: 85 & sunny vs. 45, windy & rainy).

Monday: Not so great. I started the morning well enough by getting Alastair's ceiling fan mounted. It's not wired yet, but I wanted to make sure everything was there before doing the wiring. I've been putting this off for a solid 2 years. But that was pretty much where the fun ended (and it wasn't all that fun). Alastair was very good right up until lunch, which was about 45 minutes after I picked him up.

Thereafter we just got on each other's nerves. It was a sad end to a great weekend, but I think we were both just really tired. He did get his first trip down Riverside Dr, though, and didn't seem too bothered.

So I'm beyond delighted to have Amanda back, but I really had a (mostly) good time with my Little Man. He's a great guy, and a real trouper.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Boys' Night(s) Out

Amanda leaves tomorrow morning bright & early for Seattle (hi Susan!), and Alastair and I have the house to ourselves for 5 days!

Yes, I'm terrified, but that's beside the point...

We're going back to the State Fair on Friday, during the day, we'll probably take a jaunt to work or to my mom's farm on Thursday, and we're participating in a world-record attempt on Sunday (more on that later). Saturday morning there's a pickup soccer game at Lourdes, and Monday night will be dinner at Legend with my dad.

Action packed, indeed.

My one short stint of down-time will come Sunday night, when Alastair spends the night with Grammy & Pappy, but I envision lots of GT4 on the PlayStation at night, a bit of car-work during nap-times, and general mayhem for the rest of the time.

I'm on a short leash with work, though, with a bunch of projects all coming together (just like every Fall).

Sunday will be the highlight. Last November we packed 76 MINIs and Minis on a ferry from Jamestown to Surry. Amazingly, the ferry was just over half-filled with MINIs, and we can do better. We also had to deal with 45F temps, wind, and driving rain last year, so it was rescheduled a month earlier. The goal is 125 MINIs, followed by lunch at the Virginia Diner (yummy Southern cooking). Alastair's old enough now to appreciate both the ride on the ferry and the sheer number of MINIs, so I'm really looking forward to it.

It's going to be a long day, with the RCM crew heading out of Varina at 8:45am, and the ferry depositing us in Surry at 11:30. We probably won't get home until about 2:30 or 3pm, so hopefully he'll nap in the car. Hopefully.

We're gonna have a good time, though. I've been looking forward to this for a while.

No work 'til Tuesday! W00t!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Daddy fall down. Daddy fall down...stairs.

Eventful weekend!

Alastair and I started off Saturday morning with a trip to the playground. We took a soccer ball (you should see him dribble: it's amazing!) and played on the fire-truck jungle-gym. While we were there, we met a couple of gentlemen who are trying to start a Saturday morning pickup game. So on Saturdays, from 9 - 11am, I'm going to try to wrangle Amanda and Alastair over to the playground to watch & play some fun, relaxed soccer.

It'll give us something to do on those weekends that start slowly, and should help me get back into running. I'm thinking of running on Tuesdays & Thursdays, and playing soccer on Saturdays. That should be enough to prep me for any future 5K's.

Saturday afternoon I washed the cars. I'd never washed the CR-V before, or anything that requires a step-stool, so I learned a few things. But when I got started on the MINI, I went nuts. I washed. I waxed. I applied Rain-X. I applied Rain-X Anti-Fog to the inside of the windshield (doesn't work worth a crap). I dusted. I put tire-shine on the black plastic trim.

When it was all said & done, I'd spent about 5 hours outside, most of it in the sun without a shirt on, and only drinking about 1/2 a glass of water.

Later (shortly after dusk), Alastair wanted to go out and watch the bats. In my effort to take him downstairs to get my shoes, my heel shot off the 2nd step (of 5), and down we went. My back took most of the impact, making a really loud cracking sound, and it hurt to breathe. I was certain I'd cracked a rib, but more certain that I'd crushed Alastair's arm. His right arm had been wrapped around me when I started to fall.

I pulled him slightly away from me, looked him in the eye, and he started tearing up. I gingerly felt over his little arm, and it felt ok. Amanda took him from me to console him, and I lay there wondering if I'd broken anything. Ultimately I decided to get up, and nothing shifted strangely, so I got my shoes and we went looking for bats.

Even later that night, we ate a dinner that was undercooked (I inadvertently turned the oven off right before Amanda put it in), watched some TV, and I started to feel a little woozy. I went to bed feeling strangely hungry, but figured I simply hadn't eaten enough.

Sunday morning I woke up even more woozy, even slightly queasy. Amanda got the boy ready for church, and I went back to bed. 30 minutes later, I was praying to the porcelain god. I was weak and tired all day, had constant headaches, and only ate 2 pieces of toast, a bowl of soup, some applesauce and some jello.

Today I feel great. So was it food-poisoning? Exhaustion from too much time in the Sun? Dehydration? A concussion? All of the above?

Alastair spent all day yesterday telling me about it: "I fall down. Daddy fall down. Daddy fall down...stairs."