Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Crazy Monday & Should We Want Obama to Fail?

Well, as alluded to in my last post, Monday wasn't much fun. My work laid off three people and reorganized their duties and the majority of the distribution was to my department. Its sad when you have to do what we did, but budget cuts had already been made and there wasn't much else to cut other than personnel. Some folks, honestly, weren't completely employed, so it made sense to reorganize those positions. But, of course, those who do the most are handed the tasking because its known that those tasks will get done. This is one of the truths in life, I'm afraid. If you do well, you get given more work. That's OK, my department's folks are all up to the challenge and they all took the news well.

I am convinced that a good portion of our economic woes are caused by the media. Even folks not in a bad position watch the nightly news and hear how "bad" it is and then they don't carry on as usual being afraid that something bad might happen to them. It rolls all through the economy as people stop spending. That's what caused ours...many physicians decided not to pay their membership dues and dues revenue dropped; educational product sales dropped and here we are...three more people living on the government via unemployment insurance. I'm not sure what is going to stop this vicious cycle. But I'm sure its not more giveaway programs. The ones already in place haven't worked and they didn't work back in FDR's day either. WWII is what saved us then but it appeared on the surface that the giveaway programs worked. As they say: "Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it." (Not sure where the quote is from.) I'm not advocating another World War, mind you, just illustrating that giveaway programs don't work for reversing an economic recession/depression.

On to my other topic...there has been a lot of talk this week about people saying they "Want Obama to fail" and a lot of backlash to that. I first read Meghan McCain's response. that of course she didn't want him to fail, he's our President. I tended to agree with her. Regardless of who our President is we should support him or her.

Then I saw the headline on CNN that said something like "Jindal defends people who want Obama to fail." My first thought was, "Oh no, not another Republican about to say stupid things...and I had such high hopes for him." It turns out that his point was that we don't want him to successfully install all these giveaway programs and other things that will cost us and our children trillions of dollars. Well, I agreed with that too.

So, I've come to the conclusion that there are two types of failure we're looking at here. The failure of the office and the failure of the policies. I have a big problem with letting the office fail. We should never let that happen and unless the President does something illegal, that we should always respect him or her and support them as the leader of our country, particularly in dealings with other countries. On the other hand, that doesn't mean we have to support or even like all (or even any) of the President's proposals. The President proposes, Congress disposes. I really oppose a lot of what President Obama is proposing because its just not smart. I am all for improving things, but not if that means that hard working people are asked to give up a substantial portion of their hard earned income and/or savings to give it to people who made stupid decisions or who are just plain lazy. What happened to personal responsibility?

In any event, I don't think that failed presidential policies = Obama failing as a president. I want him to succeed as our chief executive (he has made some reasonable moves with regard to foreign relations and organizing the government), but I want him to fail to get his policies passed (i.e. budget) the way it is now. Ideally, what I would like to see is that he really execute the bipartisanship that he promised prior to the election, but unfortunately I don't see him getting the rest of the Democratic party to go along with it. And to be fair, I don't think most of the Republicans will either. Whatever happened to statesmanship? I'm afraid its long gone in this town. So, I guess we're in for a long hard fight to try to prevent the worst from happening. And in the meantime, I'm doing everything I can think of to prepare to protect what I worked for from being conficated by the government and if that someday means I have to quit my job to lower our household income so we aren't considered "rich" than, so be it.

I'll write on cycling and music in my next post!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The week and Milano-San Remo

This week has been busy. St. Patrick's Day was eventful, as usual, at my office with many festivities. The Senior VP of our division is Irish so its been a tradition for some time to basically goof off that day with a breakfast and lunch (extended) along with an in-office party and Limerick contest. I always wonder what St. Patrick thinks of everyone celebrating his feast day by drunken revelries.

We were finally able to schedule a Committee meeting via phone with three of the board members after two weeks of trying. Got that done and produced the report. That means the board book is done.

Had a conference call with our partners in India on Thursday. I had to get up at 4am to make the call due to the time difference. Not too much earlier than usual, but it still seemed to take a lot out of me.

The AIG flap is almost amusing. Do you understand CONTRACTS people? While I would never have agreed to million dollar bonus/retention contracts, these contracts were in place previous to the company taking a dollar in taxpayer money. These are legal obligations. You might not like it, but the company did not have a choice in paying them or else they would be sued for breach of contract and rightfully so. I have to deal with contracts all the time and spend a lot of time negotiating various aspects of them and there have been times that I needed to insist that my contract partner follow the terms of the contract when they tried to do something else. I was very happy I had the contract or else my business would have incurred expenses or otherwise been disadvantaged had these not been in place. This is a key factor in doing business in the US and around the world. If the government suddenly sets the precedent of breaking contracts they decide they don't like then this makes a contractual agreement between businesses and people not very secure. This would be a bad thing. The other thing is, if you had agreed to work for x terms and then you weren't paid after the fact wouldn't you be upset? I know that I would. I definitely see lawsuits over this if contracts are broken. Finally, the tax law just violates the constitution in multiple ways. Once again Congress spends (or maybe wastes) time just doing political cover...this law when challenged WILL get thrown out by the Supreme this case I doubt the vote will even be close its so blatently unconstitutional. The media has gotten people all worked up over something that they aren't explaining well and Congress is reacting to the media and rather than doing something constructive going forward they are trying to punish individuals who are just getting the compensation that was agreed upon at the beginning of the contract terms. This is just so stupid. OK - end of soapbox.

On to more interesting news - Mark Cavendish (Columbia) suprisingly won MSR today by a centimeter over Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo). It was pretty amazing. The speed that he came up on Haussler was astounding. But he is really lucky that the line wasn't just a foot further down the road. Just barely got him. He is an amazing rider and you've got to give him his due. I guess we'll be hearing his name a lot over then next 10 years or so. Its hard to believe he is so good at such a young age. One amusing thing was a statement HH made after the race in that he was unhappy because second place was just "first loser." I had to laugh out loud at that because my husband, Neil, has made that statement numerous times with regard to various races when I said "so and so" at least came in second...

Lance finished way down, but he was just planning a training race. At one point when Astana came to the front to do most of the work in chasing down the break, I thought he might have something planned, but apparently not. Just a hard training ride. Next week's race should be interesting. I'd be surprised if Astana didn't really try to win that one with the "all star" cast they are bringing to that race. Lance, Levi, Alberto, Andreas...all their heavy hitters. Should be interesting.

Tyler Farrar (Garmin) fell and as of right now its reported that he "might" have broken his collarbone, but it isn't confirmed yet. I hope he's OK, he's had such amazing form it would be a real shame if he loses out on all the northern classic races this year as he might really have a breakout year.

Finally, I am getting serious about increasing exercising and reducing calories. A milestone, not to be revealed, has been passed and its unacceptable. I went for a 40 min. brisk walk through the neighborhood today (too cold to cycle with my current cycling wardrobe). Its supposed to be warmer tomorrow so maybe I'll bike tomorrow afternoon.

This next week promises not to be much fun, especially Monday. Will write more sometime next week! Everyone have a good one!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Quiet Vacation

This week was fairly uneventful. I was on vacation this week. Nothing special planned and since I had a cold, just pretty much goofed off. Caught up some on reading back newspapers. Got some estimates for replacement of our side fence. Did get to ride my bike on Wednesday because the weather was so nice. But other than that, was just pretty boring.

I was glad to see the stock market went up some this week, but not holding my breath on the trend continuing just yet. Some signs the economy is recovering on its own. I'm sure the actions that the government has taken so far has only had a marginal effect, if any. The bank funds were probably the most effective to alleviating the credit crunch which isn't totally fixed yet.

I'm afraid I don't have any confidence that spending all of that money in the so called "recovery" bill will help at all. Its just a giant "earmark" by another name. Its obscene the way communities in each state are lining up for handouts. I just know that those of us who worked hard, saved, and spent our money wisely are the ones who will be asked to foot the bill for all the giveaway programs to those who didn't manage their finances in a responsible fashion. With them incentivizing sloth the way they are it will be a miracle if any of our children think that saving or getting an education to make a higher salary will be a good idea at least if they have any brains they won't. I can see that mediocrity will be the result of all of this equalizing. End of soapbox...

On that depressing note, I'll sign off for today. Try to have a good weekend!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

This and That...redux

Well, its been awhile again. I really need to blog more regularly. I'll try to do more frequent short ones instead of my usual long ramblings.

I did miss telling about the last Saint Saens' Organ Symphony we attended. There was a local one in February by the Baltimore Symphony at Strathmore Hall in Rockville, Maryland, a northern suburb of DC. We've heard it in that venue before and it has one of the best electronic organs we've heard, so we don't mind (too much) that its not a pipe organ. It was a very good performance and we did enjoy it. The next one's on the schedule are both in April a week apart. One in Dallas and one in Cincinnati. In addition, I have a board meeting to attend in Philadelphia in between those two concerts, so it should be an interesting week travelwise.

On to other news, Neil and I had a nice visit with the kids in Richmond. The weather was gorgeous and I got to sit on their deck in the sun for awhile. Neil helped out some with the kitchen renovation. Mostly gave advice and helped lift things, though he did do some sawing while Bryan was out of the room which made me nervous but apparently Bryan and he had discussed the cut so it was OK. They got the double oven in place. It is going to be a really nice area once they get it all done. Bryan has done a really nice job with the cabinetry. It has got be satisfying to be able to create something like that and know that you did it yourself rather than just buy something. His grandfather, my Dad, was good with woodworking and did carving a lot in his later years. My uncle was a carpenter who built houses (he and my Dad built the house that I grew up in) so I guess he comes by his talent honestly.

I HATE this cold. At least it finally seems to be getting a little better. I'm supposed to go to the dentist today for a regular cleaning, etc. I might even be able to breathe through my nose which would probably be helpful. Its the pits that I got this during the week that I took for vacation. I should ask for yesterday as a sick day instead of vacation since I wouldn't have gone into work if it wasn't a vacation anyway.

I am enjoying the leisure of being able to watch the Paris-Nice cycling race this week. I'm able to get the video in french, which I mute the sound and then get an audio stream in English from Eurosport. They don't quite match (the video is ahead of the audio), but it works out.

And finally, I'm not scheduled to cantor for Mass again until later this month, but then I do two weeks in a row. I can't believe its Lent already, it seems like it was just Christmas. Time just seems to fly these days. Trying to increase my spiritual reading and get back into the habit of visiting
Sacred Space. Its a great resource to assist in praying during the course of a busy day.

Well, this turned into another huge post...maybe if I post more often I can keep them short.

Later ya'll...