Saturday, June 30, 2012

The 5 worst jobs I ever had

From "Would you like fries with that?" to "Looks like someone has a case of the Mondays.", everybody has that job that from the minute you start, until the minute that you punch the clock and race home, that you regret. I thought it would be a fun exercise to look back at the worst of the worst from my own experience.

5.) Paper Boy
     In hindsight, this was a very good character building job that I held for the better part of two years. I remember the very first week and the very last week the best. In week one it rained quite hard, prompting me to call in to the newspapers office, asking if I still had to deliver the papers. The nice lady at the newspaper said "uhhh.... yeah...". The last week of working for the mass media, I was training a replacement who was about 3 years younger then I was (which is a world of difference when you are 13). Not even half way through he was complaining about it being too hot and him being too tired and wanting his mommy. No, seriously, we had to stop so I could take him to our house and call his mom to pick him up. Never learned if he kept the route or not. To this day I weep a little for the general populous born after 1984.

4.) Tooth Brush Packer
     I actually had a lot of fun with this job, spending my last summer at home before college chatting it up with people quite satisfied with the eleven dollars an hour that the 3rd shift, 9pm to 5am, earned. The characters from tat experience could fill volumes of sociology texts, and dozens of frames in the Sunday comics. Some stark lessons learned as you realize that some people would rather sit on the floor of the restroom for three or four hours at a time rather then stand at a table stuffing toothbrushes into boxes.

3.) Fast Food Cashier
     My first real job. Filling out W-4's and send my coin to Uncle Sam! I started at the hourly rate of $5.25/hr and thought I had struck it rich. Half of my paycheck went into the bank and half of it went straight into the local comic book store. Leaving me with well over a thousand dollars of cash on hand when I left for college, only to blow it all at an even bigger comic book store once I was living on my own.

2.) Grocery Store Clerk
    Who hasn't worked at a grocery store that lived in Iowa? I mean seriously, these things are breeding pits for youth trying to take a step towards financial independence. I worked for the largest grocery chain in Iowa for almost all of college doing everything from cleaning up cans and bottles to ringing up lottery tickets. My days where numbered when the last summer I was working right before I was due to graduate, I applied for a management position, many people I worked with thought me a shoe-in for the opening. During the interview I was asked when my plans where for when I graduated in a few months. My response was a scoff and saying "Get the heck out of this place.", or something to that effect. Suffice to say I didn't get the job and left shortly there after.

1.) Data Entry Specialist
     Working for a large financial institution right out of college. I was fresh out of school and ready to take on the universe. I was marveled that I would have my own cubicle complete with a built in locker. By the end of the first day, I was bored out of my mind. After receiving no training and then having my job threatened the first week for not doing correctly whatever it was I was supposed to be doing, I eventually took it upon myself to learn what it was I was supposed to be doing. I walked up three floors to the department that reviewed all the work I was supposed to be doing, after a few hours of discussion I returned to my desk to have my boss waiting there to start yelling at me again for fraternizing with other departments. By the end of the first month I had discovered about 80% of my work could be done with a series of MS Word macros and a few clicks of the mouse rather then hours of tedious typing. I suddenly was doing over 50% of my eight man departments throughput. As a result I decided to dedicate about three hours a day to catching up on my Star Wars novels. It drove my boss insane! By three months getting up to stretch was received with a yelling and idle threats. By five months, I had shown several co-workers my minimal scripting abilities, making us do circles around other departments productivity. Around eight months I started learning that my fantastic motivator of a supervisor was up for a huge promotion. I quickly excused myself and found another job. About two years later the entire company closed it's Iowa location. So, the moral of the story is that I hate guys who name their kids Kinnick! Go Cyclones!

You may notice a fairly linear progression here, the good news is that I'm four years into a job that I love in the vast industry of Information Technology. I leave you with these words of wisdom; The secret of my success is to always have your hand on Alt-Tab and a really complicated looking spreadsheet handy.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Reading Recommendations

Request for any readers of this blog;

Many of you know me as an avid reader, and I'd like to knock out some election relevant books this summer. To this end I'm looking for some suggestions that may not appear on the best sellers list. I've read everything from Paul Krugman and Noam Chosky to Jeffrey Miron and even Mitt's Book. Liberal, Conservative, Libertarian, or Other are all welcome! I prefer more topical books rather then straight commentary like what a Sean Hannity or someone might put out.

You can take a look at my slightly out of date Book Reading Website and see the Non-Fiction Stack looking a bit sad. Thanks in advance!

P.S. I love Fiction too, currently reading Clash of Kings, and my to read stack on my bookshelf for Fiction is nice and full, but please let me know of any must reads for fiction as well. Thanks!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Look Back: Obama-Care

In anticipation of a Supreme court decision this week, I dug out an e-mail I sent to my local Congressman back when The America's Health Choices Act (a.k.a. Obama-Care) was being debated. The meat of the letter is below. My major concern was that the "savings" from this Bill not only didn't exist, but left the entire insurance industry with no choice but to convert to a single payer system. In my usual manner, it's littered with hyperlinks and references. Enjoy!


What is the Purpose of the Healthcare Reform Act?

"I happen to be a proponent of a single payer "Universal Healthcare system"
~State Senator Obama, 2003


"...But I don't think we'll be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately, there's going to be potentially some transition process. I can envision a decade out, 15 years out or 20 years out..."
~Senator Obama, 2007


"...At Least we (Government) can let Doctor's know, and your mom know that you know what, this isn't going to help. Maybe you're better off not having the surgery, but taking the pain killer"
~President Obama 7/25/09


What are the tools of the new legislation?

(a) Grandfathered Health Insurance Coverage Defined- Subject to the succeeding provisions of this section, for purposes of establishing acceptable coverage under this division, the term ‘grandfathered health insurance coverage’ means individual health insurance coverage that is offered and in force and effect before the first day of Y1 if the following conditions are met:Comments <http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/text#>Close Comments <http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/text#>Permalink <http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/text?version=ih&nid=t0:ih:253>

(1) LIMITATION ON NEW ENROLLMENT-Comments <http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/text#>Close Comments <http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/text#>Permalink <http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/text?version=ih&nid=t0:ih:254>

49 <http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/text#>

(A) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day of Y1.Comments <http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/text#>Close Comments <http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/text#>Permalink <http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/text?version=ih&nid=t0:ih:255>

(B) DEPENDENT COVERAGE PERMITTED- Subparagraph (A) shall not affect the subsequent enrollment of a dependent of an individual who is covered as of such first day.
-Section 102 (a) of HR3200 Health Care Reform Bill

That's it, Either you are on a plan before this new bill takes effect, or you are a dependent, otherwise you are NOT exempt from this program. There is no option in the bill to change plans with a new employer, your insurance term expires, etc.

The fundamental principal of insurance is that a larger number of people pool their resources together to spread out costs. The only way this bill can truly lower costs, as the President is constantly stating, is to have as many people of all classes and health included in this system. There is no logical way that this plan can only be imposed on the poor and disproportionately sick and not have to be heavily subsidized by taxpayer money. The Congressional Budget Office says this, and common sense says this.

http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/104xx/doc10464/hr3200.pdf \\note that net cost is lowered from Medicaid cuts and Revenue increases (taxation) and even then it's still hundreds of Billions

I don't see how this plan can do anything other then create a single payer system and then ration care to control costs.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Case for Mitt Romney – Part 1

     I am a libertarian at the core, and although I love what I’m seeing from Gary Johnson, I’m not sure the message I tried to send with my vote back in 2008 with Bob Barr was well received. At the countries current pace I see little light at the end of a tunnel due to the pile of cans that had been kicked all the way down to the end of the line. We don’t know what our taxes will be this time next year, we don’t have any plan to address our Education woes, and we are still spending far too much money into our overseas military operations. After reading up on Romney including his economic plan. I am believing that Mitt is the right guy for the country at this time. I want to create a narrative to try and persuade any undecided voters out there, I'll attempt to refrain from veering to an anti-Obama rant, but I promise nothing, enjoy!

The Case for Mitt Romney – Part 1: The Fixer
     Bain Capital, which was founded by Mitt Romney in 1984, makes investments in companies with the hopes of growing those companies to profitability. Once an investment has been made, Bain analyzes the company, restructuring management if necessary, cuts excessive spending and puts the company on a path for growth.  Although a handful of Bain Capital's investments have not succeeded, the bulk of the companies have grown to become some of America's most recognized business names, such as Staples, Dominoes, Sports Authority, Toys ‘R’ Us, and Warner Music, Pizza Hut, along with countless others. Mitt Romney's foresight and expertise was at the center of those successes. He knows what inhibits and what promotes these industries and can use that knowledge to apply practical protections while alleviating the cumbersome burden these companies are faced with.

     When he left Bain in ’99 (before companies like AmPad went bankrupt) he went to Utah to assist with organizing an event, The 2002 Winter Olympics. The Salt Lake City Games were rocked by a scandal. The top two officials in the Salt Lake Organizing Committee had to resign. The games were facing a $379 million deficit because sponsors were pulling out. Because they were short on money and many venues hadn't been built yet, politicians, business leaders and International Olympic Committee officials were suggesting the games be cancelled or moved to another location. And don't forget they had to adapt when the 9/11 attacks threatened the games all together. The games went off without any major hitchs, and In September of 2002, ESPN reported a $100 million dollar profit for the games. He even received Geppetto markings from the Washington Post when people attempted to downplay his contribution.

     Returning to Massachusetts a national hero, he entered public service with a gubernatorial victory and an R on his name in a state that has a 3 to 1 ration of registered Democrats to Republicans that he had been denied a senate seat in previously, but I digress.  Entering the State Capitol in '02, the State faced a deficit of somewhere in the 1 to 3 Billion dollar range (some dispute in real amount due to money flowing through the Federal Government, here's a fun little packet from UMass explaining the situation) But by the time he left, once again, he went from being in the red to the black, and in '06, the State touted a surplus of over half a billion (page 32). The books looked well enough that he tried unsuccessfully to pass a tax cut at the end of his term. What's that? You saw a commercial that told you differently? Was it this one? Also, When Mitt took over as Governor of Massachusetts, unemployment was 5.6%, when he left 4 years later, it was 4.7%. If that makes him 47th out of 50 then I say fine, since I don't really know what you can do to force unemployment much lower then 4.7% short of a CCC type program where 2.35% dig a ditch and the other 2.35% fill it back up.

     So I'm feeling a little bit better about November, Crossing my fingers that no major social agendas come up if the Republicans assume/resume majorities in the House and Senate. But, I think it will take years to get our fiscal house straightened out, and I think Mitt is the guy to do it.

Coming Soon, Part 2: The Romney Plan, has it Worked Before?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cub's June Review

I'm sitting here watching the Cubs get slaughtered by the Twins and I started thinking; what the heck, let's do another Cubs review;

Quick synopsis of the season, we stink, there I said it, we're 19-39 when I start this, will probably be 19-40 by the time I finish. So instead of trying to go through player by player and justify the few non 'F' grades I'd give out, lets do an awards style prezzy, enjoy!

Most Deserving to be pissed off at the rest of the team: Ryan Dempster - Take a look at the following two lines, one is a line for the Majors league leader in wins, R.A. Dickey, and the other is Dempster's, can you tell who is who?

ERA   G    CG   IP     H   R   ER   K   BB  WHIP
2.44    12  1      81.0  65  23  22   78  19    1.04
2.59    10  0      66.0  52  21  19   57  19    1.08

Not exactly a tie, but both very good, one is 9-1 and the other is 1-3. Runner Up: Matt Garza

Most in need for a trip back to Iowa: Carlos Marmol - He's at least gotten stuff over the plate the last couple outings, but for a looooong stretch there he was incapable of getting stuff even over the plate. Now he just hangs slides over the inside of the plate and is getting knocked around. Slight improvement over 11+ BB/9 Innings he's got going for him. Runner Up: Geovany Soto

Most deserving to go to the All Star Game: Bryan LaHair - It's tough enough for an unknown rookie to crack the bigs as a first baseman, but with a .980 OPS and only 3 errors in what has to be a highly scrutinized role has to be applauded. Runner Up: Ryan Dempster

Most Likely to go to the All Star Game: Starlin Castro - He's playing a little better then last year (F% is .968 over .961 from last year), but he was also the de facto pick last year. And let's face it, nobody is turning heads here. A decent inside infielder is a  lot harder to come by then a first baseman or even starting pitcher. Runner Up: Alfonso Soriano

Most Deserving of More Playing Time: Tony Campana - Sharing some time with Johnson and Mather in the outfield as his hitting seems to be a bit streaky, but I see no reason this guy shouldn't be a pinch runner for Soriano or anyone else in the 7th and then left in almost every day he doesn't start. Runner Up - Steve Clevenger

Biggest Surprise on the Team: Bryan LaHair - Hear me out, with an inconsistent Soriano as your protection, and with the desire to get a Pujouls or a Fielder, and a Rizzo sitting there at Iowa, the pressure on him was extreme. I accept the premise that no news is good news as far as the amount of attention this guy has gotten. Quietly on pace for 30+ Homers and a near .400 OBP and near 1.000 OPS. He needs to improve his RISP average, but who on this team doesn't? Runner Up: Joe Mather

Best Thing about Dave Sveum: Not complaining - He's having to through first or second year guys in several positions daily (i.e. Barney, Clevenger, Campana, Cardenas, Stewart, LaHair, Wood, etc.), given a very weak bullpen and an unproven rotation. the Club probably had $40 million to spend this off season and spent almost none of it save for DeJesus. Dealing with a team that every player is on the trading block and what can only be a high stress clubhouse. The expectations where low but not this low, and what do you hear in the way of complaints? Nothing, Most of the guys are running hard and playing good defense, aggressive on the bases and noting complaining a peep to the press. No screaming at the umps or breaking bats over knees. You can say removing Zambrano was a big part of that. But I think this staff has a good head on their shoulders and are not trying to kid themselves. A good environment to get a good look at these kids and hopefully find the first round of pieces to start rebuilding a competitive team on.

Next Month, a list of players from the current roster I'd like to see worked into the Long term plan. Don't worry, it's a short list.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Stimulated Stagnation

So here we are, 3 years since the official end of the '08 recession. The national economy still crawls along just strong enough to avoid a declaration of an emergency or a full blown depression. Europe's debt crisis still lingers as Greece come ever closer to a economic hurricane that is sure to result from its succession from the EU as it recreates a sovereign economic climate. The housing market troubles are still ever prevalent, as many areas across the nation still has homeowners trapped inside houses that are worth less then what is owed on them, creating a best case scenario that families are tied to their houses regardless of what employment woes they may face. Government jobs cuts that are used to stem the tied of expense caused by elongated unemployment benefits and welfare receipts, and a hangover from the financial crisis that has created such uncertainty in who can be trusted with our dollars.

My point is, what is the plan for addressing any of the countries current ails? For the next year? The next five years? Are the Bush tax cuts going to expire? The payroll tax breaks prolonged? How many more exemptions will be enacted to the Obama-care law? There is such a cloud of uncertainty it's truly scary. When Bush ran in 04, it was on a solid, though controversial, tactic in the Middle east, and he even introduced tort reform and social security reform as new ideas, granted his 2nd term was more or less a lame duck session until the financial crisis got people moving in Washington, but I digress.

Can someone please tell me the Obama plan for a second term? Education reform? Tax reform? More investment in Green Energy? Anything? It truly scares me because I think there is a very fair chance that he is going to win and will not be tethered to anything as far as what he promises before the election. Leaving the country to flounder along at it's current pace as the constitutionally questionable changed in healthcare and erratic tax policy continue to hinder us.