Sometimes LOLCatz makes me want to slap someone…

But sometimes, LOLCatz makes me laugh harder than most things I see on the Internet.  These pictures are of the second variety, and I’m hoping that posting them improves my mood.  lol.

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This cat knows what life is about.

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This was Daniel and I in the hotel room for the Anti-Spyware conference a couple years back.  We brought beer…no opener.  The door hinge worked really well, and my dentist is not so happy about that.  I’m sure he would have loved to have given me another crown.  :)

And one last one because I’m doing more HTML coding than I ever wanted to.
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If you’re not a geek, I suppose I could provide an explanation:

When you’re writing HTML code, and want to italicize some text, you use those bracketed pieces of code.  When the browser sees those, it knows that the text in between those tags should be italicized.  And now that I’ve made that picture not as funny by explaining it, I’ll let you get back to your day.  :)

Observations…

I could call this Bitter Observations, but I’m not really bitter about any of this…yet. Who is my little observation report aimed at?   I don’t know…perhaps someone who is on a similar path in life as I am; perhaps someone who has no idea what I’m going through, but might find this information helpful.  Basically, today I started thinking something along these lines: "I wish I’d…" I realized there were some things that I’d thought along these lines this week, and thought it would be interesting to get them all down.  So here they are.

  1. I wish I’d had more opportunity to hook up and drive with a trailer. – This past weekend, Gabe and I went to Fresno to pick up a bed for our spare bedroom that someone had given us. When I got to the U-Haul place (when the guy finally did our contract over the phone because he was home sick), we had a heck of a time hooking the trailer up to the car.  And I had a heck of a time driving it to and from Fresno. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience I’d had, but not really difficult.  I just wish I’d had more experience with that kind of thing.
  2. I wish I’d paid a LOT more attention in database classes. – Granted, my database instructors left a lot to be desired, but if I hadn’t been so focused on just getting through the things, I think I’d have a great deal more experience with databases.  To be sure, I got a decent grade in the classes, and that grade was with me having to overcome instructors who didn’t really even want to teach the class…or else just did a poor job.  Overall, though, I was trying to help Daniel this week to design his new database for his company.  It’s the inner and outer joins that I have problems with.  However, I’m going to need to learn this stuff because…
  3. I wish I’d paid a LOT more attention in database classes. – Later this week, my job tasked me with learning whatever I needed to in order to build a project tracking system so that customers could check their project’s status in our system without calling.  It’s a good project, and something that we should already have done.  But it’s been beyond me for a long time.  I think I understand much of what is going to have to go into a project of this nature, but need a little more strength in database design as well as PHP.
  4. I wish I had paid someone to do my taxes. – I was able to figure out my taxes on my Wednesday off, but it took around 4 hours to do so.  I think next year, I’m going to pay my in-laws’ accountant to do the taxes for us and Dow Images.
  5. I wish I’d had more opportunity to learn woodworking. – To be honest, I’m sure that was something that I DID have opportunity to do when I was younger.  I could have taken wood shop in junior high and high school.  Instead, I picked up music.  Music is interesting, and I’m not really regretting my clarinet-playing.  However, it’s not really practical, is it?  It would be nice to be able to perform some of the simplest tasks when it comes to working with my hands with wood, metal, or what have you.  This week, my wife needed a contraption built for her to work on her ankle-strength called a wobbleboard.  I understand that the process was pretty simple.  I didn’t really see it that way.  I saw myself losing fingers when trying to cut the ball part in half.  I saw myself screwing up drilling the holes for the screws…etc.  So I had my wife ask her dad to do it.  I hate working with wood.

I could think of more, but I think I’ll end it here.  :)  All’s well that ends well, and I think all of these situations will end well, but it’ll make for a little more of a stressed existence. The Lord is sovereign, though, and I have every confidence that He will work all things according to the counsel of His own immutable will.

Shoulder-Tap sting operations? Good? Bad?

I’m of two minds about this subject.  Allow me to explain.  Today, I was reading this article in our local paper:

http://www.modbee.com/local/story/241750.html

Basically, the police employ underage people (mostly girls, it seems) to stand outside liquor stores and ask incoming patrons to buy beer for them.  The decoys are wired for sound and have a team of officers standing by to nab them if the patron agrees to buy alcohol for them.

My question is this: Isn’t this some form of entrapment?  I mean, if those decoys hadn’t been out there, the patron likely wouldn’t have done anything illegal.  Sure, it’s possible that they are thinking, "Well, I *WAS* going to rob this liquor store, but since I’m buying alcohol for this nice lady who said she left her ID at home, I don’t have to anymore."  I don’t think it’s likely.  If they weren’t being entrapped, they likely would have bought their own alcohol, a pack of cigarettes and a porn mag.  While I don’t personally like smoking, and I don’t like porn being so readily available, I think that cops creating a situation where the law would otherwise not have been broken is a little messed up.

It looks like the desired results are being created, though.  Sales of alcohol to minors are down in this area. More people are afraid of buying alcohol for minors.  Theoretically, this has an impact on drunk driving, etc. which is possible, I suppose.  One has to ask whether the desired results could have been created using different methods.

One method I have heard, and I agree with, is to lower the legal drinking age from 21 to 18.  Most of the world has an 18 y.o. drinking age.  It’s sort of in line with the "not being a minor" thing.  In the US, an 18 year old can choose to smoke, star in a porno, and die for his or her country, but can’t have a beer while doing any of these things.  We’ll trust them with an M-16, but God forbid they enjoy one of life’s more simple pleasures.  Of course…if they’re in the UK or Germany, they can drink, I believe.  But if they’re unlucky enough to be stationed somewhere in the U.S., they’re screwed.

As for young people going crazy, I think part of the allure of having a kegger is the fact that it’s illegal.  Not all of it, to be sure.  But the type of people who are drinking just to get completely smashed are going to do that well into their thirties, I think.  I don’t think there’s this magical maturity barrier that you cross when you turn 21.

"Man, last week I was at this RAGING kegger.  We all got so drunk, we threw up within an hour of getting there.  And then we drank some more!!!  But this week, now that I’m 21, I just don’t want to do that stuff anymore."

Kind of arbitrary, really.  If you’re not mature by 18, you’re not going to be much better by 21, I don’t think.

And again…should the cops be asking people to break the law?  You could ask the same thing for these pedophile stings, but I think the situation is a little different.  I mean, you’re cruising for people who are pedophiles all the time…If you stood out in front of a daycare offering your 10 year old child to strangers for sex, THAT would be similar to these shoulder-tap stings.  Normally law-abiding citizens being randomly invited to break the law is quite different from creating a MySpace page and letting the pedophiles come to you.

I could be wrong, but I think the cops are sort of out of line here.  And believe me…I’m interested in not making the police’s job more difficult than it is.  This seems like entrapment, though.

In Other News: The Modesto Bee called Ron Paul "the only man who could have beaten [the Democrats] in November."  For a liberal rag, the Bee has printed a couple of really favorable articles about Mr. Paul, highlighting exactly why I’ll be writing his name in when November arrives.  The link to the article the Bee printed: http://www.modbee.com/1646/story/239664.html

Underworld prequel without Kate Beckinsale??

I just found out they’re working on an Underworld prequel, which I think is pretty cool. When you’re making a movie about a war between vampires and werewolves that has lasted for centuries, you HAVE to have some backstory involved. Heck, with a war that’s lasted centuries, you could make a TV Series; there would be so much story involved. Despite everything critics say, I love prequels.

However, I’m sad that Kate Beckinsale is not slated to be involved in this project. I don’t mind saying that a large part of the reason I liked the first two was because of her screen presence and beauty.

I’ll likely watch the new one, because I have come to really like the story, but I will lament the fact that Kate Beckinsale is not part of it.

I just saw Click last night, and really liked it. Anyone else see that flick? I teared up; was kind of surprised.

Heard something from a funny Irish comedian today…

Tommy Tiernan was on the Bob and Tom Show this morning, and he said something that made me laugh a great deal.

They were talking to him about whether he drank, given the Irish stereotype.  Then they asked him if there were any stereotypes of Americans over in Ireland.  (Like THAT question needed to be asked.  lol)  He said:

"Loud. Americans are known over in Ireland as very loud people. We think the reason is because America is such a vast country.  You stand so far apart because you have so much land, so you have to shout to be heard.  But you forget when you are in a country where everyone is so pressed together, you can lower your voice."

I love discussing the differences between cultures.  :)

Another character from the Hackmaster campaign…

I’m really starting to get excited about this campaign, which might be starting up this weekend.

Therin, here is a Dwarven Cleric of Thor.  He is seen with his trusty warhammer, which also happens to be his holy symbol.  Don’t cross him, people.  :)

therin

I don’t know if I mentioned this, but these portraits I’ve been posting are generated using the Hero Machine (ver. 2.5).  You can find it at:
http://www.ugo.com/channels/comics/heromachine2/heroMachine2.asp

Enjoy.  :)

New rant topic: Guns and the 2nd Amendment…

Since I’m in the Bay Area, which ALWAYS makes me feel like shooting someone, I am FED UP with the government’s desire to limit my 2nd Amendment rights.  Yes, I know what the 2nd Amendment says; do you?

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Professor Lund examined this topic by changing some of the words in this Amendment.  He did not change the order, punctuation, or phrasing of the sentence; just the structure.  This was his conclusion:

Prof. Lund’s analysis seems to be developed at greatest length in “A Primer on the Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms“, (Virginia Institute for Public Policy, 2002). But in this document, at least, Lund offers essentially the same grammatical analysis as Freedman, though with a different rhetorical emphasis:

… the grammar of the Second Amendment emphasizes the indefiniteness of the relation between the introductory participial phrase and the main clause. If you parse the Amendment, it quickly becomes obvious that the first half of the sentence is an absolute phrase (or ablative absolute) that does not modify or limit any word in the main clause. The usual function of absolute phrases is to convey information about the circumstances surrounding the statement in the main clause, such as its cause. For example: “The teacher being ill, class was cancelled.”

Although Lund’s grammatical analysis is the same as Freedman’s, his conclusion is different:

The importance of this can be illustrated with a simple example. Suppose the Constitution provided:

A well educated Electorate, being necessary to self-governance in a free State, the right of the people to keep and read Books, shall not be infringed.

This provision, which is grammatically identical to the Second Amendment, obviously means the following: because a well educated electorate is necessary to the health of a free state, the right of the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed. The sentence does not say, imply, or even suggest that only registered voters have a right to books. Nor does the sentence say, imply, or even suggest that the right to books may be exercised only by state employees. Nor does the lack of identity between the electorate and the people create some kind of grammatical or linguistic tension within the sentence. It is perfectly reasonable for a constitution to give everyone a right to books as a means of fostering a well educated electorate. The goal might or might not be reached, and it could have been pursued by numerous other means. The creation of a general individual right, moreover, would certainly have other effects besides its impact on the electorate’s educational level. And lots of legitimate questions could be raised about the scope of the right to books. But none of this offers the slightest reason to be mystified by the basic meaning of the sentence.

Copied from http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/005229.html (The Language Log.  The right to gun ownership only has a superficial importance to the purpose for the existence of this blog…this person just writes about language.)

I’m thinking about doing a series on the Constitution of the United States, since it seems so few people out there know much about it.  They sure don’t vote like they do…

Public Schools are garbage, but will homeschooling be an option for long?

This week has seen a couple interesting articles and issues arise concerning the state of education. Most of you know that I am not a big fan of Public Schools…not by a long shot.  I’m not saying it’s impossible to get a good education from a public school; I am saying that the chances of getting a good education in a public school are slim.  I’d rather play the lottery, to be honest.  With public school curriculum required to contain a great deal of gay-friendly content, and the proliferation of self-esteem based content, I think kids would be better off teaching themselves, for crying out loud.  Being gay is NOT okay, and I don’t want kids to be told that it is.  It infringes upon my beliefs (and the truth as clearly presented in the Word of God).  People don’t send their child to school to have their self-esteem worked on…that’s not the job of the school, but more and more, I read about schools not being very concerned with the "right answer", and instead focusing on making sure the child feels special.  This is why our school system is churning out graduates who are incapable of taking on the real world.  The school system is more and more releasing people who are increasingly reliant upon the government for their living.  This is a self-serving system, and we would be best off without it.

An article in the Modesto Bee this week was very interesting, to say the least:
http://www.modbee.com/opinion/national/story/229405.html

With the government educating your children, you have no say in what they are being taught.  You sit there and trust that your government knows best about economics, civics, etc. but you don’t know.  Whoever is in power is able to ram whatever crap they want down your child’s throat.  Increasingly, schools are pushing a social agenda.  This paragraph from the above article really sort of pissed me off when I read it:

Gleason says SB 777 has resulted in California schools not being allowed to use the words "mommy" and "daddy" anymore. "Children will be taught that sexual orientation and gender are merely a matter of personal choice," says Gleason, "and they will be taught to find what is ‘right’ for them." The Web site for Gleason’s group argues SB 777 essentially makes it lawful for public schools to "indoctrinate" children as young as pre-kindergarten to accept as normal and morally acceptable homosexuality and "other sexually deviant lifestyles." In addition, says the group, the legislation represents a "complete reversal of 2,000 years of Christian moral teaching on human sexuality, family and marriage."

You ok with that?  You ok with the government’s inept method of instructing your children on how sexual deviancy is really ok?  As young as kindergarten??? You also ok with them being more concerned with your child’s self-esteem than whether or not they can perform basic math, read legal documents, or have more skills that which flipping burgers requires?  I’m not ok with any of that.

I’m also not ok with the burden that is being placed on teachers in our system.  My wife teaches in the public school system, and what she tells me is happening is that teachers are having to start at the basics each year.  I don’t mean the three ‘R’s', people.  I mean teaching respect, discipline (self-discipline, not spanking), courtesy, etiquette, etc.  Wait a minute…shouldn’t parents be doing this?  Isn’t that THEIR job??  If children don’t know THOSE basics, there’s no way learning in a classroom can take place. We are placing more and more requirements on students these days.  I’ve been told that if a child doesn’t know how to read before starting Kindergarten, that child is officially behind.  What, are they teaching advanced rocket science in 3rd grade now? And yet with these additional restrictions, we’re still turning out people who can’t write coherently or spell to save their lives. (I could place some of the blame on spellcheck, but that’s another blog post.) Teaching in a public school has come to mean "glorified babysitting", because there’s not a lot of learning that goes on in the classroom. It’s all about crowd control anymore. Trying to force the children to listen to lessons is taking the place of actual teaching, and I’m not interested in sending kids into that environment.

In California, we have the Standards, which are admittedly a great thing.  A set of standards that a classroom should be required to teach each year…it’s a good idea.  But teachers aren’t teaching these things.  They’re teaching to a different set of standards: Standardized Tests.  You see, the funding a school receives, and the benchmark to see how well a teacher is doing is determined largely upon how well students do on these standardized tests.  So it’s in a teacher and administrator’s best interests to ensure that each student does well on these tests.  But what is in the student’s best interests?  Is Life a multiple choice test? Shouldn’t our children be required to know concepts so that they can apply them to the rest of their life?  Or should memorizing factoids in order to pass a test be the new norm?  Teachers are teaching to make sure their students pass these tests, and they are eschewing the Standards to do so.

So what do you do?  You can send your children to private schools, but that causes its own sort of problems.  Some Christian schools are not accredited, which means your children could be taught a substandard curriculum, with more emphasis on God than on what has really happened in history.  (There is a particular Social Studies curriculum I’m referring to here, but I’m not going to name it.  Get involved with your child’s learning, and maybe you’ll find out what I’m talking about.  If you do, supplement it with a healthy dose of reality, for your child’s sake.) Not to mention the fact that private schools don’t necessarily guarantee that the person teaching your child is a very good teacher, any more than public schools do. I’m not against teaching about God, of course.  I think Bible classes are very useful, but there is a place for learning about actual history, don’t you think?  Teaching that Christopher Columbus was a devout Christian who was displeased with what his men were doing and asked them to stop isn’t really helpful to that end. So if public schools are out, and private schools are out…what now?

For years, homeschooling your children has been an option.  But a recent ruling in Southern California has cast doubt upon whether this will be an option for long.  Check out this article:
http://www.latimes.com/news/la-me-homeschool6mar06,1,1647583.story?track=rss

(By the way, a great thesis statement on that article. "Parents who lack teaching credentials cannot educate their children at home, according to a state appellate court ruling that is sending waves of fear through California’s home schooling families.")

A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, said "What’s best for a child is to be taught by a credentialed teacher." If this were happening on a one-and-one basis, away from the influence of children whose parents couldn’t give two farts about their child’s education, and when the social indoctrination of the left is kept out of it, I couldn’t agree more.  Having a professional teacher (who did well in their course of study) tutor your children would be great.  That’s not what Public Schools are, though. That’s not what you get when you send your child to public schools.

Let’s hold up children who have had a decent homeschool education against public school graduates.  Let’s look at the relative success of the Charter School programs in the State of California. I can tell you right now that I agree with the father from Sacramento who said that if they are no longer able to homeschool their children in California, they’ll leave California.  Yeah, like many of us need more in the way of reasons to leave the Left Coast.  (Or, as my friend likes to say, the People’s Republic of California.)

Hey look! A guy in a kilt!!!

This was before the Royal Scots Dragoons and Clearwater Guards event at the Gallo Center in Modesto on Monday.  I HAD to wear my kilt for THAT!  lol

I wasn’t sure if I would, but I have come to LOVE the double-takes I get when wearing my kilt in downtown Modesto.  :)

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