Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snowball Express with the Military families and the kids

My family and I just spent an incredible week experiencing one of the most meaningful Christmas events we have ever seen. We were in Anaheim, California with a group of volunteers helping a group of about 2000 Military families of fallen soldiers.

Snowball Express enjoys contributions such as Planes to fly the Widows and their children and parties at Disneyland and Universal Studios. We had the chance to meet some incredible people. We had dinner with some of the most courageous mothers I have ever seen before caring for their children that for some are experiencing their first Christmas of many without a father.

Every moment that we take for granted had increased meaning. Every dinner that opened with the color guard and national anthem, reminded you as you looked out over a room of mothers and children with hands on their heart as they sang proudly, this is a room full of heroic women carrying upon their shoulders the weight of free peoples everywhere. Everytime they sang I'll be home for Christmas, I looked at my family as they sang along. Every time the Chaplain gave a prayer of thanks, I saw the small children bow their heads alongside their mothers and thought about the true meaning of Christmas.

Everyone of us that has been blessed to live in this country should know that these mothers and children had a lot of laughter and Christmas gifts this week to make them feel special. Luke Walton of the Lakers showed up as did some generous entertainers. Many of whom gave their time quietly and without fanfare. My son had the chance to meet Gary Sinise and he couldn't have been a nicer guy. The mothers adored him. What a national treasure. My son also met Mike Thornton, a Medal of Honor winner. Later my young son turned to me and said, having a father is something that lasts forever.

This week may have been the best Christmas gift I've ever had. God bless us all.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I'm sending a post...

I'm sending a post to my blog and this is the first time that I've done that from dial2do. So I guess we'll see how it turns out. How many words that they'll include. What types of things will be put on there. If somebody from the NFL was to throw a pass make a touchdown. Nobody really knows.
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Friday, September 26, 2008

If Obama thinks McCain is a relic of the 60s, then I think its apprpriate that Obama fits in with the "We are the World" 80s.

This is one of the funnier videos I've seen in a while.

Falling Beams: The Flitcraft Parable

I was asked about the meaning of the name "Falling Beams Adjustment". I know its kind of wordy, but it refers to a story within a story by Dashiell Hammett in the Maltese Falcon. It was truncated by Humphrey Bogart in the movie, but in the book it played a prominent role. Sam Spade's dialogue is choppy and to the point, so it stands out when he stops to tell Brigid O'Shaughnessy what has come to be known as the Flitcraft parable.

To me it is a good example of some of the existential themes underlying early 20th century film Noir and a unique message about individualism in American story telling. Like the Cowboy, the Independent Detective is rugged and alone, fighting evil forces while following his inner code. He stubbornly clings to his freedom and independance, and reluctantly takes part in causes bigger than himself, only when he believes it is right.

I think the message in this parable is an apt metaphor for the post 9/11 world we live in. September 11 was a Black Swan event. It burst into our psyche so unexpected that many people reacted in strange and improbable ways. Eventually, many would claim that it was not unexpected, that it was inevitable, and once they made sense of it, they washed their hands and moved on.

This Parable closes with Spade showing fascination with the adjustments Flitcraft made in his life in an attempt to come to grips with life's mystery. Where one man might have reacted like the American buffalo grazing on an open plain, indifferent to another Buffalo falling at his side from a hunter's bullet, Flitcraft refused to return to his grazing, he made a choice to adjust, never explaining if his adjustment had made a difference. The meaning is left up to the reader.

The Flitcraft Parable

Spade sat down in the armchair beside the table and without any preliminary, without an introductory remark of any sort, began to tell the girl about a thing that had happened some years before in the Northwest. He talked in a steady matter-of-fact voice that was devoid of emphasis or pauses, though now and then he repeated a sentence slightly rearranged, as if it were important that each detail be related exactly as it had happened.

At the beginning Brigid O'Shaughnessy listened with only partial attentiveness, obviously more surprised by his telling the story than interested in it, her curiousity more engaged with his purpose in telling the story than with the story he told; but presently, as the story went on, it caught her more and more fully and she became still and receptive.

A man named Flitcraft had left his real-estate-office, in Tacoma, to go to luncheon one day and had never returned. He did not keep and engagement to play golfafter four that afternoon, though he had taken the initiative in making the engagement less than half and hour before he went out to luncheon. His wife and children never saw him again. His wife and he were supposed to be on the best of terms. He had two children, boys, one five an dthe other three. He owned his house in a Tacoma suburb, a new Packard, and the rest of the appurtenances of successful American living.

Flitcraft had inherited seventy thousand dollars from his father, and, with his sucess in real estate, was worth something in the neighbourhood of two hundred thousand dollars at the time he vanished. His affars were in order, though there were enough loose ends to indicate that he had not been setting them in order preparatory to vanishing. Adeal tha would have brought him an attractive profit, for instance, was to have been concluded the day after the one on which he diappeared. There was nothing to suggest that he had more than fifty or sixty dollars in his immediate posession at the time of his going. His habits for months past could be accounted for too thoughly to justify any suspicion of secret vices, or even of another woman in his life, though either was barely possible.

"He went like that," Spade said, "like a fist when you open your hand,"


"... Well, that was in 1922. In 1927 I was with one of the big detective agencies in Seattle. Mrs. Flitcraft came in and told us somebody had seen a man in Spokane who looked a lot like her husband. I went over there. It was Flitcraft, all right. He had been living in Spokane for a couple of years as Charles - that was his first name - Pierce. He had a automobile-business that was netting him twenty or twenty-five thousand a year, a wife, a baby son, owned his home in a Spokane suburb, and usually got away to play glof after four in the afternoon during the season."

Spade had not been told very definitely what to do when he found Flitcraft. They talked in Spade's room at the Davenport. Flitcraft had no feeling of guilt. He had left his first family well provided for, and what he had done seemed to him perfectly reasonable. The only thing that bothered him was a doubt that he could make that reasonableness clear to Spade. He had never told anybody his story before, and thus had not had to attempt to make its reasonableness explicit. He tried now.

"I got it all right," Spade told Brigid O'Shaughnessy, "but Mrs. Flitcraft never did. She thought it was silly. Maybe it was. Anyway it came out all right. She didn't want any scandal, and, after the trick he had played on her - the way she looked at it - she didn't want him. So they were divorced on the quiet and everything was swell all around.

"Here's what happened to him. Going to luch he passed an office-building that was being put up - just the skeleton. A beam or something fell eight or ten stories down and smacked the sidewalk alongside him. It brushed pretty close to him, but didn't touch him, though a piece of the sidewalk was chipped off and flew up and hit his cheek. It only took a piece of skin off, but he still had the scar when I saw him. He rubbed it with his finger - well, affectionately - when he told me about it. He was scared stiff of course, he said, but he was more shocked than really frightened. He felt like somebody had taken the lid off life and let him look at the works."

Flitcraft had been a good citizen and a good husband and father, not by any outer compulsion, but simply because he was a man most comfortable in step with his surroundings. He had been raised that way. The people he knew were like that. The life he knew was a clean orderly sane responsible affair. Now a falling beam had shown him that life was fundamentally none of these things. He, the good citizen-husband-father, could be wiped out between office and restaurant by the accident of a falling beam. He knew then that men died at haphazard like that, and lived only while blind chance spared them.

It was not, primarily, the injustice of it that disturbed him: he accepted that after the first shock. What disturbed him was the discovery that in sensibly ordering his affairs he had got out of step, and not in step, with life. He said he knew before he had gone twenty feet from the fallen beam that he would never know peace until he had adjusted himself to this new glimpse of life. By tht time he had eaten his luncheon he had found his means of adjustment. Life could be ended for him at random by a falling beam: he would change his life at random by simply going away. He loved his family, he said, as much as he supposed was usual, but he knew he was leaving them adequately provided for, and his love for them was not of the sort that would make absence painful.

He went to Seattle that afternoon," Spade said, "and from there by boat to San Francisco. For a couple of years he wandered around and then drifted back to the Northwest, and settled in Spokane and got married. His second wife didn't look like the first, but they were more alike than they were different. You know, the kind of women that play fair games of golf and bridge and like new salad-recipes. He wasn't sorry for what he had done. It seemed reasonable enough to him. Idon't think he even knew he had settled back naturally in the same groove he had jumped out of in Tacoma. But that the part of it I always liked. He adjusted himself to beams falling, and then no more of them fell, and he adjusted himself to them not falling."

Taken from Dashiell Hammett's 'The Maltese Falcon',(1930)
Chapter 7, entitled 'G In The Air',
pages 61-64

Two Economic Freight trains coming at us, Credit and Fuel

We have two economic freight trains that have been coming at us for years. How ever you want to argue the Dems or Republicans steered the titanic as it went down, the fact is the original course was set years ago by the Democrats to get EVERYBODY into a home with a mortgage. Nice sentiment, but welcome to the darkside of good intentions.

The other freight train is what was once called an "Oil shortage" in the 70s. They don't even want to call it an "energy crisis" in the media for fear that Americans will want to solve it by increasing the supply of energy. But let's face it, you can call it an "oil shortage", but more generally it is an "energy shortage".

The media is trying to convince us it is a demand problem. We demand too much. Even Bush played along to a certain extent by using their phrase "addiction". Addiction means you consume in an irrational manner, greedily, lustfully, more than is necessary.

That's BS. The price doubled since the Dems took over and the rising prices are hurting the economy across the board, and driving has decreased somewhat, but if people were actually frivolous in their consumption, we would see a massive drop. But we don't.

It went unnoticed in the shadow of the $700 Billion dollar bailout of the financial industry, thanks to the "Give big houses to people with credit cards" policy, but the House passed a $25 Billion dollar bailout of Carmakers today.

The Democrats have been demonizing the internal combustion engine for years, they have cheered for high priced gas, they claim we are spoiled, because the Euro-peons pay twice what we do. Now high price fuel is here and Detroit is falling apart because those gas consuming mobiles cost money to operate. Try to sell a Truck with $5 gas.

So they wanted a house for everybody and an end to fossil fuel consuming machines. Who was it last year that admitted they wanted high gas , just not so quickly? Obama?

Well, here it is and Michigan is suffering. We are all suffering. Al Gore announced today we need to go strap ourselves to a Coal processor. So the tax payers have to pay $25 billion, which up until last week was a frickin lots of Doe, because Obama and his gang don't wan't to increase the supply of energy, they wan't to decrease demand.

And don't tell me they want people to consume as much energy as they are consuming now, just make it clean. Thats a load of crap. They want everyone to consume less of everything. As Obama has said, smaller footprint, smaller houses, smaller families, smaller jobs at smaller companies, but BIG government.

If you had any doubt,India is putting out a two cylinder car, the TATO NANO that will have Excellent MPG, low fuel emissions and here is the kicker, IT'S CHEAP! $2500.

The Eco-warriors will love it right? Everybody in the world holds hands and drives a low emission low fuel consumption vehicle. NOPE! The Eco-catastrophists are claiming this is the end of the world. Cheap cars, even if they are clean will cause people that don't now have cars to go out and get one.

Now we might have liberal treehuggers flying off to exotic eco locations in their Jetplane Holidays, but we can't have exotic people's in far away lands wanting to drive cars like us, now can we? The Guardian today tells of "Greenies" being more likely than most to burn more carbon in their Eco-Holidays than their common non-Green neighbors. In fact when asked, they claim they have earned their eco-credits by being such religious recyclers.

This is not about clean, its not about consume same, but cleaner, its irrational Luddite religiousity wrapped in the Liberal brain. We need to start calling this what it is, an Energy Shortage. The solution is more energy. If they want to play with windmill powered cars and stuff fine, but we can't fight an energy shortage with one arm tied behind our backs. We need to produce more energy, because those Billions of people over their that the Hippies are afraid will be driving soon, will be commuting, then filling up. That means less energy to go around. We need more energy.

Everybody now claims they knew the mortgage crisis was coming. So if everybody knew, I suppose it would have been a unanimous bill to pass a few years ago.

Well, We all know Fuel prices are going to go up. If not now, then in May when the Summer blends come around and people drive more, the price will go up, and we will have done nothing. The Drilling we talk about now, could at least be under way. And I still have yet to hear a muffled cogent response to Nuclear.

Instead of complaining about the train we missed, how about the one that is still coming at us. $25 Billion??? Does that not piss anybody off?

And to clinch the thing, Ahmedinijahd is walking around lower Manhatten, not far from ground zero, laughing at us and claiming the US is in the midst of collapse, and you know, it's hard to put up a decent argument against him. What do we tell him, "Umm, we are having a bit of a family fight, our liberal brothers are trying to destroy us by bringing back the New Deal, by recreating the great depression". If Hitler could have attacked us in 1930, it might have turned out different.

At this rate, No mortgage, No House, No Car, No Auto company Job, No Retirement fund,....maybe we can take one of those exotic eco-trips to see how people live close to nature,....make it a one way ticket.