May 252010

Blogging is an egotistical activity, and it’s also more than a little masturbatory.

I have endeavored to always be honest with you and with myself about that.  I wrote a whole post on it once.  I like getting compliments on what I put up here.  I like looking at my logs and watching my daily numbers increase.  If I didn’t give a damn what you thought, I’d have a journal, not a blog.

All of that said, if it ever seems to you that I’m writing posts that are excessively and purposely designed just for you to respond and tell me how wonderful I am, particularly in the face of adversity, then please let me know.  I think that’s really pathetic, and I don’t want to do it even once, much less habitually.

All right, then.  That’s all I intend to say about my latest lapse into smoking polemic crack.  I don’t know why I picked the pipe up again, but I’m putting it down now.

Special thanks to Saintseester, who has a genuine gift for clarity and candor, for helping me put words to my thoughts—mostly 160 characters at a time on our mobile phones.

 Posted by at 9:22 pm
May 242010

One of our gubernatorial candidates, Ron Sparks, is making racket about starting an “education lottery” in Alabama.

We’ve had debates and votes on a state lottery before.  There are cases for each side.  The stereotypical narrative is that fire-and-brimstone preachers get little old ladies fired up about voting no.  Then, busloads of them descend upon the polls in the name of the Lord, and that’s how poor, stupid, religious, backward Alabama shoots its own foot off, time after time.

But hey, guess what?  This lifelong Alabamian opposes a state-run lottery as well, and not because God tells me to.

One reason is that for some small but significant percentage of the population, gambling is a real problem.  Now that doesn’t mean I don’t think it should happen, but I think the “who” is important.  Isn’t there something more than a little sticky about a government raising revenue with an activity it knows will harm some percentage of its citizens?  Hey, let’s just make our lottery tickets scratch-off beer bottle caps while we’re at it, OK?

The more important reason is the same old reason:  it’s more government growth.  We might as well save time and set fire to some large percentage of the money before it ever gets there.  Oh, there’ll be promises, and maybe even legislation to “protect” the money.  Who believes that?  (If you’re out of college and your hand’s up, you should be ashamed of yourself.)

Consistently, demonstrably good stewards of the people’s money might capture my sustained attention when they ask for more.  Somehow I don’t think that day is near.

 Posted by at 1:02 pm
May 232010

Something that still amazes me about my father is his easy rapport.  Dad is better at making someone like him in 30 seconds than anyone I’ve ever seen.  It’s like you’re out with him and your attention is elsewhere for just a moment, and when you look up again he’s laughing and gabbing with a guy in line like he’s known him 20 years.  I saw it most recently on our way out of Barber last month.

Dad spent most of his career in machine shops.  About the last two-thirds of that was as a manufacturer’s representative.  Essentially, he’d take plans for a part, assembly, or whatever from a company who’d say “we need 100,000 of these,” and show this shop or that the plans and say “can you make 100,000 of these?”

That’s basically a sales position, but there’s an extra strike against him in that relationship.  After all, he’s a professional middle man, is he not?  After the shop and the customer are matched up, what do they need him for?  Heh.  Dad usually did a pretty good job of demonstrating ongoing value and keeping a check in his pocket, and his interpersonal skills were a huge asset.

I got a pretty good dose of those skills myself.  I’ve sold for a living before, and  for that time in my life I never had a single dollar that didn’t come from me convincing someone that a car I had available was worth him/her swapping tens of thousands of dollars for.  A lot of that is rapport-building, because it all follows from there.

But I don’t have it like Dad has it.  Almost no one has it like Dad has it.  The older I get, and the more I experience, the more I realize that.

 Posted by at 5:38 pm
May 212010

Saw Melanie today at our seven-years-and-counting Vietnamese restaurant.  It may have been three whole months since I ate there, and it was a powerfully good bowl of pho.

An 11:15 arrival used to be early enough, but we had to wait today.  11 next time.  (Melanie said “or 12,” but that’s ridiculous.  I’m such a dainty little thing that I might pass out if I don’t take nourishment on a regular schedule.)  We got to hang out with Tracy, the director of children’s ministries at our church, and her son while we waited.

And now it’s a little splash of Old Crow and a Star Trek movie.  Productive but tiring week, and I embrace the weekend’s arrival.  I hope you have a good one.

 Posted by at 9:12 pm
May 202010
  • I’m looking forward to seeing “my Nashville crew” next month.  I went up for an old high school classmate’s birthday party last year, and now have lots of fun acquaintances with whom I keep up on Facebook.
  • Our esteemed president’s latest foreign policy triumph is for his administration to apologize to China—a country that operates a gulag—for Arizona’s illegal immigration law.  Yes, really.  “A bunch of left-wing undergraduates come to power,” indeed.
  • We have some fancy new grocery store that you can’t yet walk in for all the people.  Going to be quite some time before I find myself in there.  Besides, I really like Publix.
  • The 94th running of the Indianapolis 500 is just a bit more than a week away.  I’m pretty pumped, of course.  I’ve enjoyed Tony Kanaan’s tweets about happenings at the track.
  • Held a 2010 penny in my hand for the first time yesterday.  It looks like an arcade token.
  • I had my first Five Guys burger recently for lunch.  It was an honest and uncomplicated bacon cheeseburger (with American cheese, as God intended), which was appealing and refreshing.  I’m tired of overthought burgers at stuff-on-the-walls.  (Incidentally, you should figure two adults per small order of Five Guys fries.)
  • Loving that Snarlin’ Arlen Specter has drowned in his naked opportunism.  You’re fired, jackass.  Enjoy your involuntary retirement.
 Posted by at 10:10 am