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Wednesday, May 25, 2005


The NY Times announced it is lopping almost 200 jobs. I predict we may have seen the last of Maureen Dowd's regular column. I bet she may get a sweet offer to take early retirement and might accept it. And let's face it - she has been rudderless in her writing for a long time. All she does is rant against Bush and she has forgotten what she stands for.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Annual Advice Letter to Graduates

This is a copy of a letter I wrote to my nieces and nephew at their graduation. Since they claimed to enjoy my advice, I will publish this once a year around graduation time.

Dear Michele, Christine & Gabe:
Before I wrote this, I looked in a dictionary for the definition of the word “commencement”. The dictionary states commencement refers to “the act or process of bringing or being brought into existence; inauguration, inception, incipience, initiation, leadoff, birth, dawn, genesis, start”.Therefore, commencement suggests your lives are just beginning (and that is true in some respects). And by calling graduation ceremonies a “commencement”, our institutions of higher learning have sorta decreed you can’t really take that first step until they have conferred a degree on you. That’s somewhat presumptuous but I guess by promoting the necessity and value of a degree, the schools can make a buck too. And there is no law against that.

Essentially, I wish you two things: interesting people and interesting places. By that, I hope you find, see and keep both of those close to you for all your years. If you do that, you will lead rich, rewarding and fulfilling lives.

And try very hard to understand the primary goal in life is to get very old. I know you won’t agree with that statement right now but believe me you will one day. Put more simply, it is exhilarating to be both available and sufficiently lucid to give the eulogy at a friend’s funeral.

I know it is hard to resist the urge to follow the crowd. But do try to be your own person- so don’t routinely and rigidly adopt all of the latest fads and trends. Find music, books and other hobbies you enjoy and make time for them. Endeavor to be a leader to others. Christine, you are a born leader. And there is much evidence you were born with the ringleader gene. That’s the mischievous cousin of the leader gene. And that is a good thing- you love life and you show it.

Each of you should try to stand up for what you believe is right even:
When your opinion is unpopular·
When it’s not the easiest path to take and·
When you have not been right about anything in a very long time (cause the law of averages says everyone is right sooner or later).

You will be a part of many groups and organizations in the next 60-70 years. Don’t just go along for the ride. Give your best effort. Develop a reputation as an impact player. You can do that by making a strong personal impression and offering your support to the group’s goals (i.e unforgettable PARTAYS, improve annual sales, beat the Villa Gorillas every other year).

Never stop learning and never stop asking questions (there are almost no dumb questions). Set out to identify mentors and role models from whom you can learn valuable life and career lessons. A good mentor will be happy to freely give you career and life advice for years to come. Strive to be a role model yourself. Be generous to others with your time and knowledge. No one can leave much of true value in this world except those gifts you plant in the hearts and minds of those you leave behind.

Be open-minded and learn to think for yourself. Don’t be afraid to question the prevailing wisdom or latest news story. For example, a national news program recently ran a story that “the exercise done on Infomercials accounted for more than 50% of the total exercise done in America”. That “news” story first originated as a spoof in a satirical magazine. The news network picked it up as “real news”. I cringed and laughed when I heard it and wondered if any of you (had you worked on that program) would have thought to question the ridiculous premise. I believe each of you would have (Especially Gabe since he reads the magazine though until now he probably thought its “news” stories were legit).

Take very good care of yourself both physically and mentally. There is a time to party and a time to “not party”. Try to learn the difference way before you turn forty (so you can still run for President).You only get one chance in this world and life is much better when you are fit and ready to take advantage of all it offers. Make strenuous exercise a regular part of your routine and add a large helping of mental exercise and challenges to keep the mind in top shape. If you smoke, quit.

With regards to your career, as you know there is a secret to success. Unfortunately, it is a secret so I can’t share it with you. So, you will have to settle for my own priceless advice:

So what does that mean you ask? Just this. Be smart and work hard. Pick some marketable skills and develop those skills. Regularly polish, hone and improve those skills with practice and repetition. Enhance your skills with regular study and learning and MAYBE you will always have a job and make money. Ideally you will choose skills (as I said that are marketable) in jobs and professions where:·
You enjoy the work (i.e. barfly, world philosopher, expert recounter of Seinfeld episodes, social director for former dorm mates)·
It is in demand by employers and customers and·
You are good at it and like it.

It would be great if you could find a career that has all three of the above criteria, But you will survive and likely thrive even if you choose skills that only have two of the above criteria. And remember, there are no guarantees in life and life can be unfair. That’s just the way it is. Bitching about bad breaks won’t help. It will just make you very unpleasant to be around.

Be confident in your abilities and self-worth. Be persistent in pursuing what you want.Michele- with your focus and drive you could achieve anything you set your sights on. So set your sights high!Gabe, you could do anything. You just have to convince yourself you CAN do anything instead of finding reasons for why you can’t do something.

Remember you are most fortunate to have been born in this country. Though not without its faults, it is the greatest country on Earth.

Always honor and respect the elderly though I know it is especially hard when they don’t wear their hearing aids. Always value and cherish your family even when they ask a bazillion questions about your latest escapade. Remember where you came from, respect traditions, and perhaps start your own traditions.

Stay informed about current events - it makes you a more interesting person and give you a big edge on your peers. Be faithful to your core values and beliefs, your religion, your lover and one day your spouse.

You will make mistakes. Most mistakes are minor and can be fixed. However, try to avoid the really big mistakes (i.e always wear your seat belt). Observe other people and try to learn (and maybe get a good laugh) from their big mistakes.

But you also have to take risks in life. Without risk, there is little reward. Just do your homework before you take those risks.

Set priorities and establish goals and objectives- it makes life a bit more interesting to look back and see how you did.

And try to recognize the difference between what is important and what is not.You each have what it takes to be very happy and very successful. Keep that in mind and let the fun begin. Just know I’ll be watching you. Love and all the best to each of you,

Sunday, May 15, 2005


I am starting a new weekly posting and will call these "Idiotorials". They will take issue with (mock) the inane idiotorials I read in various newspapers like my fav the Philly Inquirer. Is it possible idiotorials is in fact the correct name but was changed a long time ago to editorial? By some newspaper that was way too embarrassed to tell their kids they wrote idiotorials for a living.

Methinks my first idiotorial will deal with the Inky putting itself forth as an expert regarding the care and treatment of elephants in a zoo. In the 20th century, a common saying was "those that can't- teach". In this century, that should be changed to "those that can't - write idiotorials"... wait a minute that's what I am doing right now! So that make me an idiotorialist- I may have to revise this post.

Friday, May 13, 2005

This Weeks' Fuzzy Math (TWFM)

In the Washington Post this week, columnist Robert Samuelson lamented runaway and bi-partisan federal spending. His column was called Deficit Disorder. He gave several examples of government waste and one related to Amtrak. I thought it was a great example- he described the Amtrak annual subsidy this way.."it received $1.2 Billion for carrying about 25 million people". That is a government subsidy of $48 per rider. Can you believe that ? In effect, taxpayers are forking over an average of $48 to every person who steps onto an Amtrak train to cover the actual cost of their train ride over and above the cost of their ticket. That is insane - why don't we just shut down Amtrak, buy a bunch of cars (hybrids of course) and any traveler can use them to drive from station to station.. just park the car and leave the keys inside for the next mass transit loving traveler (oh and fill the gas tank or charge the battery whatever you do with a hybrid). Btw, this post ties in nicely to our Fuzzy Math post from two weeks ago which coincidentally also dealt with the vague cost versus benefits of Amtrak.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Highly Unoriginal Complaint

As my post's title points out, I am not about to say anything original as if I ever have. BUT and you knew that was coming (and perhaps I should ask this question first.."Is this blogsite owned and operated by Microsoft? ")

If it is, I am just joking about what I am about to say...Microsoft's software sucks!!!!!! Why should it take my laptop five minutes to boot up and start up every day. That is a ridiculous waste of my time!! Do you agree? Let's see there are probably 100 million humans using this software everyday and how much time per day does that five minutes represent to all of us? This software just sucks big time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

State Borrowing Blues

The AP reported that the state of New Jersey has climbed to number three among all 50 states when measured by total state debt. NJ has about $29 Billion in debt which equates to $2,900 per resident. In 1994, debt was $780 per resident.

So in eleven years, NJ debt has increased by 270% or 25% per year. NJ now trails only California and New York in total state debt and those states are far larger in terms of population. The AP story indicated NJ climbed over Massachusetts and Illinois (when compared to rankings from prior years) to reach this ignominious #3 ranking.

Have you noticed that, of the five states I mentioned, each is a "blue" state? That strikes me as siginficant. What are the odds of that - anyone help me out there? It's way too long ago that I took probability in college.

I am going to do some more reasearch and see if I can track down state debt for all 50 states (data above was from a Moody's Investors Services report acording to AP) and see if there is a patern of higher average debt per resident in the blue states.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Maybe All Time Worst Mayor

It's the 20th or 25th anniversary of the Move fire that killed 10-11 Move members. The fire erupted when the city of Philadelphia decided to bomb one its naughtier neighborhoods. I will never forget watching that fire on the kept getting bigger and brighter but every 15 minutes or so Mayor Goode would be quoted as saying "we have it under control".

I voted for Goode once but a thousand years from now I predict he could win a contest for the worst mayor of all time in the entire universe! And Philadelphia still re-elected him as mayor after the fire (I only voted for him before the fire).

And this is a little known fact straight from my fact book- Governor Rendell owes a good deal of his own political fortune to Mayor Goode. Rendell followed Goode as mayor and Rendell had it awfully easy following Goode's bad act. All Rendell had to do was scarf down cheesesteaks (came naturally to him), do some belly flops while opening swimming pools and give the keys to the city to his anyone who asked including his many corporate and law firm buddies. Hell Rendell was even anointed as America's Mayor - and could not help but look good when compared to his predecessor. I wonder if Rendell ever thanked Goode for doing such a horrible job as mayor?

Fuzzy Math

Pennsylvania has a program it calls "growing greener" where it touts so-called "smart growth" programs and uses government funds to buy farms, etc to keep that land out of the hands of the dreaded real estate developers. Some of the program money is also used to clean up old environmentally challenged sites. Recently, the Philly Inquirer, devoted an editorial to convince voters to approve a new bond issue to fund what is called Growing Greener II. Here is part of the editorial ....."Voters will be asked: 'Do you favor authorizing the Commonwealth to borrow up to $625 million for the maintenance and protection of the environment, open space and farmland preservation, watershed protection, abandoned mine reclamation, acid mine drainage remediation and other environmental initiatives?' Given the depth of need in every category, voters should respond, "Yes."Recognizing that environmental cleanup and economic success go hand-in-hand, Gov. Rendell proposed an $800 million environmental investment in his 2004 budget address. After more than a year of jockeying, Rendell and the legislature finally compromised last month on the $625 million proposal, which includes no new taxes or fees. It has wide bipartisan support.".......

Here is what I think - unless the Inquirer has discovered a way to repeal the law of mathematics, this bond issue HAS TO INCLUDE NEW TAXES OR NEW FEES.

Let's face it, you can't just find $625 Million - someone is going to pay back the bond holders! The state must be either increasing fees and taxes or extending the current term of existing taxes and fees. This is the second time I saw this program touted as a form of taxpayer free money; the first was in an OPED piece by a state legislator named Ruth Harper. FYI- in reality this $625 Million bond issue costs $50 to every man, woman and child in Pennsylvania. Given my druthers, I'd prefer to keep my $50- how about you?

Lastly, programs like this are very similar to what the politicians have done with the social security program. Current politicians spend the money today to garner voter support and future generations of taxpayers get the bill.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Joke of the week

I misappropriated this joke from a new blog called (and it's OK to borrow a good joke). Anyway, the blogger claimed his ethnic background is Scotch/Irish and that meant he loves to drink and get drunk but does not want to pay for it.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Making Waves

My last post about the Coke Bottles got linked (due to my emailing my post to the proprietor) to a high profile blog called I have to say it was really cool where the topic got a lotta comments and some big-names are talking about the same topic (not all due to my post of course). See Wonkette's link to the above named blog and Michelle Malkin linked it too. And I do think I was the one that got it going over at Mudville. So, it was a beautiful day in the bloggerhood.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Coke Bottles

I read Bob Herbert's column in the NYT today. He interviewed a vet of the current Iraq war who claimed the soldiers in his unit routinely break coke bottles over the head of Iraqi pedestrians as the soldiers drive by in their Humvees.

I rarely read Herbert as I find he sounds like he is from the "cut and paste any old press release" school of journalism and tends to just phone it in but today I read his story. I am not naive enough to doubt abuses have occurred (as in any other war) but I am a little surprised and therefore have my doubts that real coke bottles are used in large numbers anywhere anymore. Can anyone out there tell me if coke bottles are actually available in sufficient quantities for the soldiers to regularly wield as weapons?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Fuzzy Math

I am going to try to make this a regular feature of my blog and I will call it Fuzzy Math in honor of one of my least favorite politicians, Al Bore.

The inaugural post is about Amtrak which is undergoing its annual budget battle. Some would like to cut and some would like to increase the budget. I don't have an opinion but all the pundits have been pitching in their two cents including Mark Schweiker, the former governor of Pennsylvania and current head of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Schweiker wrote an OPED piece in the Philly Inquirer in suport of Amtrak. One of his arguments was that Amtrak carries 12 million riders each year on its Boston-Washington DC corridor and the public certainly woud not want those riders in cars as it would further clog the roads.

Now, I like to analyze numbers so I did. Using Schweiker's own figure of 12 million, I estimated that averages to 33,000 riders per day. It's 440 miles from Boston to DC. SO.....DRUM ROLL PLEASE....that's a miniscule additional 75 cars per day per mile or 3 more cars per hour per mile.Therefore, the public would likely never even notice the added traffic if Amtrak closed.

Here is a summary of my calculation (12,000,000 riders per year / 365 days = 32,876 riders per day / 440 miles = 75 cars per mile / 24 hours = 3 added cars per hour per mile).