Monday, October 27, 2008

Election Time = Hitler Comparissons

Is this really fair?

No...Hitler had a mustache.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Taking it to the Criminals

In 2007 Cincinnati, OH was ranked the 16th Most Dangerous City (with populations more than 75,000) in the United States. Looks like they are dedicated to improving. Arresting an 89 year old lady for not giving back a football?

So I guess the kids only had two options. Call the police, or burst into her house waiving around guns O.J. style. When I was a kid, my mom would have lectured me for letting the ball go into her yard and make me to do lawn work as reparation. I would have learned my lesson. I wonder what lesson the kids in this story learned. I'm just waiting to see the headline when one of the kids sues his dad for not letting him have desert, and wins!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Illustrations of Fundamentalism

Here is an interesting comparison.

This image of Mohammed caused riots and death threats.

This image of Jesus did not.

What does that tell you about the fundamentals of each faith?

This is The Ultimate Goal

Matthew 25:21 (New International Version)
21"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Who is Joe the Plumber?

So it didn't take long for us to learn all about Joe the Plumber. Just a few short days after he asked Obama about his tax plan, and after he became a topic of discussion during the third debate, it looks like we know all we need to know about him. For one, he is evidently unlicensed, and two he owes $1,200 in back taxes. Certainly not a role model for the conservative movement, right? No, he is the perfect example.

Well I guess I don't know how much I believe what local records show about Joe. In getting plans approved for my remodel, they were kicked back because they didn't show the stairwell. I understand how important that detail would be, except our plans were for a single story addition. Single story meaning one floor. I don't live in the Winchester Mystery House so I couldn't really understand the problem. I think you could see why I find the info suspect, but let's just say it's all true.

The problem I have, is that a private citizen asked a simple question and started a buzz. He got Obama to say he wanted to "share the wealth", which makes him look like a socialist. What a shocker, the Dems have been espousing that for some time, and now even a plumber can figure it out! Please read the sarcasm into that last statement. The Dems are so arrogant they they think they can hide who they are from the Joe the Plumbers of this world, and when they can't look out.

Obama is not even elected yet, and Joe the Plumber didn't even confront him all that much, but the media in their ever rabid support for Obama, have looked for whatever fodder they can to trash the guy. Even dare to question "The Mussiah" (spelled with U like in muslim) and feel the wrath. I am scared as to what might happen if he is elected and he has the FBI, Secret Service, and all the other guys with initials with guns and stuff at his disposal. Joe got trashed by the media, but he's still a free man.

But this whole thing strikes me kind of odd. They Dems are making a big deal over the fact that he doesn't have a license, and other plumbers have accused him of stealing their work, but isn't it the Dems who whole heartedly support amnesty for illegal aliens. Joe is at least a citizen (which might be more than we can say for Obama). I would rather have Joe the Plumber get the job than someone who is even a citizen, and why do union plumbers have a hard time competing. Is that because they charge more for the same services? It's not like they are more skilled, wade into deeper holes of sewage, or climb through tighter crawl spaces.

As far as the taxes go, if the guy guy is planning on buying a business, he probably has the money to pay for the taxes and it's just a simple oversight. It happens, but I doubt there will be any follow up when they get paid. But we could also assume that he is practicing civil disobedience by not paying, or he can't afford it. All more reasons why the left would want to appeal to him. He socially conscious and he's poor. Instead they are more than willing to alienate him and drag him through the mud whether it's because he is a threat to the "let government take care of me mentality".

We all know a Joe the Plumber. He gets up early, works hard at a job that at times can be demeaning, and makes sacrifices to provide for the family. He has principles he lives by and makes no excuses for it. This Joe the Plumber won't even say who he is going to vote for because it's between him and the button he pushes. He doesn't deserved to be trashed or ridiculed. He's not perfect which adds even more to the mystique of Joe. Joe deserves a bit more respect, regardless of his imperfections.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Introducing Joe the Plumber!!!

I love this! It's amazing that Joe the Plumber didn't faint in the presence of "The Messiah". Oh, but whatever you do, don't actually try to ask any additional questions for clarification, as Obama will just cut you off! But I like how he shows him the way to think about it. He essentially says, "Just look how much better off you would have been with me as a president 15 years ago!" Except 15 years ago he was busy gallivanting around Chicago with Timothy McVeigh...oops I mean William Ayres. Sorry I get the two terrorist bombers confused. William Ayres was the one with the Johnny Cochrane type attorney who got him off on a technicality. McVeigh was actually punished for his crime.

We need more Joe the Plumbers in the world. People who are good at something and can run a business, create more jobs, and eventually foster more Joe the Plumbers who do the same thing. These are the guys and gals who need tax breaks not tax hikes! These are the guys who create more wealth by giving those guys starting out jobs. I trust Joe the Plumber to "spread the wealth" way better than the government.

And, if the cutting taxes for Joe helps him create more jobs, imagine if taxes were cut for those evil corporations who create even more jobs.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

And the winner is...

For the best in the world, the hands down winner has to be.....body language expert! I have heard time and time again why being a teaching is so great, because you get the entire summer off. Well look at the body language expert.

Once you have mastered interpreting body language, does it ever really change? It's not like there are think tanks trying to discover new ways of expressing oneself through body movements. It is what it is, so there doesn't appear to be any ongoing education required.

Also, if having the summer off is great, Imagine having 4 years off!! Body language experts never seem to be around until a presidential election, and even then they only seem to work the weeks following a debate. They are obviously getting paid well, because when they show up on TV, they are well dressed. It's not like they are wearing second hand store suits.

Considering my current employment situation or lack there of, I am strongly considering taking this new found time to study body language, and in 4 years hit the circuit. Just in typing this one sentence, I have more personality than all of the body language experts I have seen this year. I think I have tapped into something big here, I'll keep you informed.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sunset in Carlsbad

The Thinking Drummer roasting dogs at sunset.

Hummina Hummina HMDA (pronounced humda)

Just to continue a little more on the mortgage crisis, I think it is necessary to understand the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. In a nutshell, mortgage companies are required to report the age, ethnicity, gender, and race on the people they lend (or don't lend) money to. So groups can look at the reporting a see if there is a certain demographic that's not being represented. The report doesn't give credit information, and that's the problem.

Using the TV show House to illustrate, anyone who has every watched the show knows that a patient comes in with on obvious problem like drug abuse, and one doctor thinks that is the cause, but that would make boring TV. Over the course of the hour Dr. House digs further into the problem to find what REALLY is wrong with the patient. Dr. House has the credit score.

Is it possible that the African American or Hispanic communities have lower credit scores than whites? Yes it is, but it's not a matter of racism. In my 13 or so years in the credit and collections industry, one thing I have learned is that education seems to be the contributing factor. For the most part, the higher educated borrowers have better income and a better understanding credit and how it works. Thus they have fewer defaulted loans because they either have the ability to keep up to date or they set their priorities based on protecting their credit.

I don't have exact figures, but I know what has been the case for a long time, minority groups have had lower education levels than whites and women makes less money than men. Those group have more credit challenges, so of course they may be declined for loans at a greater rate than, say, a white male. There has been a history of discrimination, the effects still have yet to be overcome, but the decision to lend money is based on risk not race or gender. Banks want to make money, they make money off of good loans, they don't care of the race or gender of the borrower.

So take a group like ACORN who looks at the HMDA data and start accusing banks of denying African Americans for loans. The bank cannot defend itself because they can't hold up their credit scores. Instead, they loosen their standards and get backing from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to write riskier. This is where the Option Arms and stated income loans come into play in order to make sure more people could get a loan regardless of risk.

I have heard complaints about how deregulation got us here, but it is the misuse of the regulations in place and the overwhelming pressure for banks to fulfill the American Dream for everyone, whether they could afford it or not, that has caused this mess.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Gout and the Bailout

So $700 billion later do we really think anything is going to change? One thing government has proven is that they can't run a business, let alone government.

I would like to relate this to my experience with gout. A few years back I was diagnosed with chronic gout. My body has an inability to eliminate uric acid so it form crystals and settles into a joint (in my case it's usually the ankle). What's it like? The most extreme pain I have every felt. There is nothing you can do to stop it. A bed sheet, let alone and ice pack is too painful to put on it. The mere effect of the Earth's rotation causes immense discomfort. So you take enough ibuprofen to make your stomach bleed, prop your foot way up on a pillow and pray for no light breezes that would cause the slightest bit of pressure on the aching joint.

There is medicine that can help control the uric acid levels in the body. I take alopurinol to help with this. One pill a day and lots of water to avoid kidney stones and I am good! But it doesn't really solve the problem of my body not being able to get rid of uric acid on it's own, just like the $700 billion won't fix the problem.

There is some other reason for my gout. Ok, it could be hereditary, but neither mom nor dad ever had this problem and neither did their folks(beside it ruins the analogy). I think my grand father has had an attack or two in recent years, but he's 90 something and all sort of things are happening. I have a litany of other problems: overweight, high cholesterol, borderline high blood pressure, a diet made up mostly of includes soda, sugar, carbs and meat, and for most of my adult life very little exercise. Aha! Now I'm not Gregory House M.D. but I think I have found the problem.

Western medicine prescribes drugs to help with the cholesterol, the blood pressure, and the uric acid. This should help with the symptom without ever requiring me to change my lifestyle.

Now getting back to the bailout. Banks wrote risky loans, they now have portfolios which are worthless, and they are having trouble with liquidity. Does the $700 billion cure the problem. No, it doesn't even relieve the symptoms. If the current crisis were gout, the $700 billion is the ibuprofen I would take during an attack to help relieve pain, but it doesn't even help the symptoms. Sure we could add the oversight a regulations, and we could go on and take 3 pills a day to keep the symptoms in check, but it's not the cure.

As long as special interests group continue to push home ownership for everyone, this won't stop. We need to stop lending money to people who can't afford to pay it back. Stop pushing people into too much of a house. The blame does not just reside in the lenders. They get pressure from special interests group who shout some sort of "ism" if their group's demographic doesn't get a loan. Greed from real estate agents who pressure brokers to get someone qualified for a home they can't afford just so they can get the sale. Borrowers who agree to terms of loans they just cannot realistically pay back. We need to get off of our diet of soda and chips, and start exercising a bit to fix the problem, otherwise we will find ourselves with another flare up require another $700 billion ibuprofen. Cure the problem just don't alleviate the symptoms.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Jesus is My Friend

Suffering Joyfully

The other day I received a daily Bible Verse from Air1 Radio.

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance." Romans 5:3 NLT

Here is a little blitz into the last few years of my life to give you some context of where I am coming from. About 3 years ago, my mother and father-in-law separated, shortly there after my father was diagnosed with cancer and passed away after a short battle. Two months later we welcomed our daughter into our lives, and about 3 months after that I was laid off from my job(in the mortgage industry). Now through all of this was the underlying drama of the in-laws separation and the complete lunacy within the family that followed. Back to the job, I was able to find a job after a short period of time, still within the mortgage industry, and rode the waves of uncertainty, bankruptcies, mergers and more layoffs. Back to the mother in law, she was diagnosed with cancer, more family drama, and then my wife gets diagnosed with a cyst on her thyroid (don't know if it's cancer we would need to wait 6 months or a follow up). Practically in the same breath, I am given wonderful news that my wife is pregnant and then sadly, 3 months later learn that she miscarried. Back to the job scene, I had changed jobs to be closer to home and get out of the mortgage industry, only to find myself laid off once more (with no vacation time saved and very little severance), and just in time for my wife's follow up with the cyst, which has grown a bit and might as well be taken out (still don't know if it's cancer).

Back to the present. So I read this verse and the first reaction is of course uncontrollable laughter. Endurance!?!? When I think of endurance, I have visions of the insane torture of wind sprints, gassers and Alabamas at the end of football practice all with the intent of being able to play more football. I don't recall cheering when the coach would tell us to line up on the goal line with his whistle in his mouth, describing the pain that lay ahead of us, and sounding a lot like John McCain whenever he enunciated a syllable that made him inadvertently chirp his whistle. It also seems entirely unnatural now to rejoice about going through all of the junk over the last 3 years all for the purpose of being able to endure even more!

Now I have always prayed and thanked God for blessings of which I wasn't even aware and I have always found myself being more grateful for the blessings I was aware of after a trial. During the trial is an entirely different thing. Just recently I was sharing with my pastor my plight of being unemployed. I shared with him how stressed I had been and I complained about the line I had heard so many times "Are you enjoying your time off?" Oh yeah, loving it(sarcasm)! I would really enjoy it a lot more if I knew I had a job starting.

The more I think about the verse, the more I understand that I can't put conditions on my joy during my time of suffering. "God, I am not going to rejoice as you build up my endurance unless I know things are going to be easy at the end." There is also a bigger impact when you put this verse in context. Here is Romans 5:1-11:

1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God."

Wow! God is the ultimate personal trainer and it didn't cost me a dime. Being grateful is receiving a present and thanking the person before even opening it. It could be be a pair of socks or a fruit cake. I can't imagine holding off the thanks until you see what it is. "I would say thank you if it wasn't for the fact that I already have 12 pair of socks. What I really wanted was a new Ipod." I'm just a man. There ultimately is nothing special or redeeming about me. I am not Buddy Rich on the drums. I have no special powers or extraordinary intelligence. I screw up ALL the time. I grit my teeth. I don't eat all of my vegetables. I don't listen. As a manager you develop those who show they are worthy and have shown the potential to handle additional responsibility. As a parent, you pay extra attention to the good kid in hopes of turning the bad kids behavior around. So considering all of my wonderful traits I just described, I should be fired. Instead, God has taken me on, to develop my endurance and build my character.

It's not easy to just wipe away the stress (the last test I took I was 412 and doomed for some health ramifications). But I know that through His grace and with prayer, I can find joy during this time, right now. Not only have I had some extra time with the family that I normally wouldn't have, but I have had the wonderful experience of relying on God. If you are familiar with the "Footsteps in the Sand" poem, the author was not aware he was being carried until afterwards.

The difference is that I KNOW I am being carried NOW and I can enjoy the ride. My earthly father would always tease me about me wanting to be carried when I was a kid on our hikes through the Eastern Sierras. I have to admit that fatigue was not the only reason I like being carried, but I was being held safe in his arms. I loved total closeness of it all and knowing that I was going to be ok. Now that I am aware I am being carried by my Heavenly Father, that same feeling is intensified exponentially!! How could you not be joyful in his arms, knowing that he cares and won't put me down? It's easy to get hung up on the "what if's" of this world, but so much more liberating to accept the gifts we are given now.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Grand Opening

I am constantly reminded of the joke about a guy in a store and on the shelf are 3 brains. One belonged to a rocket scientist, the other a philosopher, and the third to a drummer. The drummer's brain is the most expensive because it was barely used. Ha ha, I love a good joke, but my intent is to devalue my brain by using it. In the process, maybe I can put a little dent in the Blue Book value of others' brains by getting them to think a bit as well.

I have absolutely no qualifications for why anyone should care what I think, but how is that different for anyone else who is willing to share their thoughts? Ok that is not entirely true. My biggest qualification is that I care. If I can shock someone, give them a different angle on a topic or simply get them to crack a smile I have accomplished something, and that is what I care about.

I know I am late to the blogging bandwagon, but I figure blogging is less intrusive to my fellow worship team members than an email to the distribution list. They don't HAVE to read this blog and therefore I assume no responsibility for annoying, disturbing, or offending. This will also add value back into my emails because now those emails should be about something whereas this blog will be about nothing (and everything). I will try to stay factual, but I am not a researcher, journalist, or scientist, so DO NOT use this blog a source of real information. Just thoughts.