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The Ugly American
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
  I went back to high school last night and...
I actually learned a few things.

My reason for going to high school last night you ask? For my Mug!

Those that know me and know my family know who the Mug is and for those of you that don't...to bad! Just kidding, the Mug is my youngest daughter who ain't so young anymore. She's a junior this year and last night was college prep night for juniors.

There was a lot of useful information passed to us last night but one that sticks in my craw, so to speak, was one about two web sites. One legitimate and the other a rip off.

The federal government has a website called fafsa.ed.gov. FAFSA stands for FREE Application for Federal Student Aid. The key word there being FREE. Now, if you do a Google search for FAFSA you get a lot of hits. The very first one that comes up is the real web site. A little farther down is FAFSA.COM, the rip off site. These robbers and there really is no other word for them except maybe asshole, charge $79.99 to do what can be done for free.

I will give them credit for one thing and only one thing. At the top of the page is a very small disclaimer with a link to the real FAFSA web site. But right along with that disclaimer are notes all over the site that seem to try to scare you into using them for this package rather than try it on your own. They also have some CA congressman’s' quote that says something along the lines of how daunting a task this could be, especially if you have language difficulties. The problem with that line of BS is that the FAFSA.Ed.Gov site has bilingual forms!

The other piece of useful information that I had to about pry out of these admin types was that if your son or daughter takes more than one SAT, the results can be combined. What I mean is, let's say, my daughter, the Mug, takes her first SAT in June. And let's also say that she did very well in math, but blew the English portion of the test. Then, we set her up for another attempt and this time she tears up the English portion but chokes on the math. I was told that her SAT results will indicate her highest scores from both tests. Now, let's say she takes it a third time and she's having one of those days...you know those days teenagers have...who am I kidding, those days that we ALL have...and she tanks both sections. It doesn't matter. She gets to keep her best scores. I like that.

The reason that I said pry above was because I was asking the guidance counselor why my daughter should take these monster tests before she's completed her education. My reasoning was why waste $42 a pop when she can learn a little more and do better at a later time. One of these bonehead "educators" kept wanting to tell me that if my daughter was on free or reduced lunch she can take the test for free. I finally had to let her know that money wasn't the real issue, that my kid wasn't on free or reduced lunch and that no matter how much money I made or didn't make, flushing $42 down the toilet didn't appeal to me. I also made a comment about admin types in school making to much money as was evidenced by the principals’ car in the parking lot...what's that? What kind of car was it? Wouldn’t you like to drive a Lexus 400? Piece of cake. Go down to your local Lexus dealer and stroke a check for around $66,000 and you can drive one off the lot.

But anyway...that's my rant for today. I really thought that anyone that has a kid the same age as mine should know some of this stuff...
 
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
 
Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day or Yom Hashoah as the Jews call it. To honor this day, I'm going to publish a few more of my pistures from last years visit to Dachau.


This first picture is the main gate to Dachau. It says, "Work frees" or "Work will set you free" depending on what translation you use. It doesn't really matter because work never set these people free.














The next two pictures show a map of Dachau and a map of Germany showing the locations of all the other concentration camps. Pretty brutal when you think about it. These things were all over Europe, not just in Germany.

















I included the picture below so you can see how big this place really was. At it's busiest time it housed more than 30.000 people. It's big, but it's no where near big enough for 30.000 people.














The next picture is of one of the churches built on Dachau. The day before I went to Dachau I watched a movie called "Exorcist-The Beginning". What I got from the movie was that someone a while back had attempted to thwart evil by building something holy over top of something evil. What do I see the next day at one of the most evil places on the planet? A church built right on top of evil. Well, it didn't work in the movie and it didn't make Dachau feel any less evil by building at least 5 churches/synagogues on the sight either.


















The last one is the most evil picture I took that day. It's a picture taken inside the crematorium. There are a total of 4 ovens in that room. I had to go through the "shower" room to get there. The thing is, the shower room looked nice and peaceful. Painted all white or light blue, it was hard to tell, it was quiet and didn't look like the most evil room at the camp. The oven room looked to be the most evil room in the place. Thinking about it later on I realized that people that made it to the oven room had already experienced more horror than can be imagined. They were already at peace.













The thought that there are people on this planet that try to deny this ever happened just amazes me. These camps are scattered all over Europe. If you ever make it to Germany or Poland or one of the other countries where these concentration camps are located make sure you visit one. But don't do like I did...go on a crumby day. There were three of us on that trip that day. We were having a good time. It was sunny and warm. We were talking and having a nice time on the way there, but hardly a word was spoken on the way back....


They say those who forget history are bound to repeat it...please remember this day...the Holocaust does not need to ever be repeated.
 
Friday, April 21, 2006
  Something worth telling...
When I came home from work yesterday I was informed by my youngest that it was report card day. This has not been one of my favorite days lately, but yesterday it proved to be a little better.

It wasn't her best report card by a long shot, but it wasn't completely devastating either. We were sitting there, the two of us, going over it, when I asked her about a comment on the right side of the report card in line with one of her classes that said, "Does not work to her potential".

My daughter proceeded to tell me how her teacher wasn't fair in his grading. How she had taken a quiz and not missed any questions, but only received a 99 for a grade. She told me how this teacher just didn't want to give her a 100.

Then she looked me in the eye and said to me, "He's not GRADING to his potential!"

I lost it! I was laughing so hard. I finally got it under control and told her that was one of the best I'd ever heard and how I wished I had thought of it back in the day. Thinking on it a little longer though, a comment like that just would have gotten me an ass whippin'.

My kids are just too damned quick sometimes.
 
Thursday, April 20, 2006
  Got this in an e-mail today...
And I thought it was funny enough and worth pissing off a few people to put it up...


Subject: Mankind - Improved Edition


Mankind (Improved Edition):

Humans existed as members of small bands of nomadic hunter/gatherers. They lived on deer in the mountains during the summer & would go to the coast and live on fish and lobster in winter.

The 2 most important events in all of history were the invention of beer and the invention of the wheel. The wheel was invented to get man to the beer. These were the foundation of modern civilization and together were the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into 2 distinct subgroups:
Liberals and Conservatives.

Once beer was discovered it required grain and that was the beginning of agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented yet, so while our early human ancestors were sitting around waiting for them to be invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That's how villages were formed.

Some men spent their days tracking and killing animals to B-B-Q at night while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known as "the Conservative movement."

Other men who were weaker and less skilled at hunting learned to live off the conservatives by showing up for the nightly B-B-Q's and doing the sewing, fetching and hair dressing. This was the beginning of the Liberal movement. Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into women. The rest became known as "girliemen".

Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the domestication of cats, the invention of group therapy and group hugs and the concept of Democratic voting to decide how to divide the meat and beer that conservatives provided.

Over the years conservatives came to be symbolized by the largest, most powerful land animal on earth, the elephant. Liberals are symbolized by the jackass.

Modern liberals like imported beer (with lime added), but most prefer white wine or imported bottled water. They eat raw fish but like their beef well done. Sushi, tofu, and French food are standard liberal fare.

Another interesting revolutionary side note about liberals: most of their women have higher testosterone levels than their men. Most social workers, personal injury attorneys, journalists, dreamers in Hollywood and group therapists are liberals. Liberals invented the designated hitter rule because it wasn't "fair" to make the pitcher also bat.

Conservatives drink domestic beer. They eat red meat and still provide for their women. Conservatives are big-game hunters, rodeo cowboys, lumberjacks, construction workers, firemen, medical doctors, police officers, corporate executives, Marines, athletes and generally anyone who works productively. Conservatives who own companies hire other conservatives who want to work for a living.

Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to "govern" the producers and decide what to do with the production. Liberals believe Europeans are more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals remained in Europe when conservatives were coming to America. They crept in after the Wild West was tamed and created a business of trying to get MORE for nothing.

Here ends today's lesson in world history :

It should be noted that a Liberal may have a momentary urge to respond to the above before simply laughing and forwarding it. A Conservative will be so convinced of the absolute truth of this history that it will be forwarded immediately.
 
Monday, April 17, 2006
  This is probably a good reason gas prices are so high...
I was surfing the net, getting my daily feed of news from around the world when I spied this onDrudge.com. Exxon Chairman gets $400 million retirement package... The link takes you to ABC news.com where I read this: Exxon is giving Lee Raymond one of the most generous retirement packages in history, nearly $400 million, including pension, stock options and other perks, such as a $1 million consulting deal, two years of home security, personal security, a car and driver, and use of a corporate jet for professional purposes. The article says later on that's five times higher than what Chevrons' CEO makes, the next largest oil company.

Now, I did a little math and I came to a couple of conclusions. The biggest conclusion I can come up with is we're getting screwed here people!

According to Oil and gas.com EXXON sold 917 million barrels of liquid oil in 2005. At 20 gallons of gas to a barrel of oil that's around 18 billion gallons of gas for a year. Pretty impressive numbers. That's somewhere around $60 billion in sales at $3 a gallon!

I think what's the most screwed up about this whole thing is that we're not paying for the gas that the oil companies are buying today. We're buying the oil that they paid $40 a barrel for last year! The price goes up on Wall Street and it's immediately reflected in the price at the pump. The stuff the oil companies are buying today won't make it to the gas station for months!

Are you getting this??? They made almost two dollars a gallon profit! So, even if I really really screwed these numbers up, which I don't think I did. I mean, I probably screwed some numbers up here, but not that bad...let's just cut it in half. It's still around $1 a gallon! That's robbery! Think about it for a second. That's $20 a tank of profit for EXXON if you only have a 20 gallon gas tank! Think how screwed you are if you've got a car with a nice 26 or 30 gallon tank.

I understand that companies need to make a profit and I don't hold that against them but why does this guy need a $400,000,000 retirement package? Did you get that? Let me spell it out for you...FOUR HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS! He can't possibly spend it! Hell his kids kids can't spend it! Not only are they giving him that monster golden parachute, they're giving him a million dollar a year consulting gig! WTF!!!

The other thing I'm starting to notice is how the usually cheap gas stations, you know the ones, the WaWa or the Citgo or Luke Oil, the stations that are usually cheaper than the EXXONs' and Shells and other "name brand" gas stations, are starting to show prices close to or even with the big guys all the time. I was driving up the eastern shore of VA a few weeks back and EVERY gas station had the same price. Have you ever seen that before? I'm talking 150 miles worth of 4 lane backwoods type roads. The prices normally aren't too bad and they'll vary a penny or two. I mean, the eastern shore isn't on any list of people with to much money, but EVERY station had the same price.

When they first opened a WaWa between my house and work I was pretty happy about it. In NJ, WaWa is almost always the cheapest gas you can find. When they first opened up this WaWa here, they were always the lowest around. I even went inside one day and let them know that the station down the street was lower. They lowered their price even more. Not anymore!

On that ABC link above they quote Mr. Raymond from the hearings on the hill in 2004. "We're all in this together, everywhere in the world". I'm here to tell you, someone with $400,000,000 in his bank account doesn't have a clue about what the rest of us are in...everywhere in the world...
 
Thursday, April 13, 2006
  Told you I was a Libertarian.
I went to The advocates for self government web site. They say they have the shortest political quiz in the world. It's a total of 8 questions. I'd say that's pretty short.

After you complete the short 8 question test, it gives you a nifty little graph with a red dot on it.

Like this:

















You see that little red dot up top? That's where I fall on the political chart...straight up Libertarian. To bad it's the party that can't seem to get around the top two...
 
Monday, April 10, 2006
  One of the reasons I like golf as much as I do.
Did you watch the Masters’ over the weekend? Did you notice what I noticed?
After the cut on Friday, there were 46 golfers left in the Masters. Their ages ranged from 25 to 54. There was a 10 year difference in the ages of the two players in the final pairing. Fred Couples is 46 and Phil Mickelson is 36. Granted, the 36 year old won the tournament, but the old guys gave them a run for their money!

I looked on the Masters web site, and checked out a few things. Since the Masters’ is one of the 4 majors and everyone that’s anyone in men’s’ professional golf usually plays in it, it’s probably a good place to check a stat like this one.

The top ten players at the finish of the Masters’ this year ranged in age from 30 to 46. The youngest player in the top ten was Tiger Woods. He’s thirty now and in some sports, he’d be at or past his prime by now. The oldest player was Fred Couples. He’s 46 now and he’d be past his prime in just about every other sport. Fred and Tiger actually tied yesterday. Both of them shot four under par for four rounds.

There have been 5 players over 40 that have won the Masters. The oldest to have won, Jack Nicklaus, has retired from professional golf. He was just a little over 46 when he won his 6th green jacket. But there are guys like Ben Crenshaw, who’s 54, that can still play this game pretty darn well! Ben was a contender after 36 holes this last weekend. Pretty impressive that a guy in his 50’s can keep up with guys in their 20’s, but it happens in pro golf all the time.

Watching that final pairing yesterday I noticed that the old guy and the younger guy both hit the ball about the same distance off the tee. I also noticed that distance wasn’t necessarily gauged by age as size. The smaller guys on the tour just can’t generate the club head speed needed to hit a ball 300 yards. The thing is, you don’t need to hit every ball as far as possible to play good golf. You need to hit the ball as straight as possible to play good golf. Well maybe, straight as possible isn’t the right way to put it. You need to hit your intended target in order to play good golf.

I once played a round of golf with an 83 year old man. He shot his age and whipped my arse! The old guy couldn’t hit the ball more than 200 yards, but he hit it straight down the middle EVERY time. It was actually a lot of fun to watch.

The only other sport I can think of that old guys like me can perform in is NASCAR. The old compete with the young in this sport as well. Of course, there are those of you out there that don’t consider either golf or car racing to be a sport. I disagree with you. I’m old…and I’m allowed. Careful, I just might whip you. You never know what us “old” guys can do if we set our mind to it!
 
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
  I am so tired of PC BS!
I want you to read the whole thing. I'm not picking on fat people here. I'm picking on people that bitch about the picture instead of thanking the hospital for the equipment.


I’ve been reading a lot of stories lately about obesity and how the rest of the world is picking on fat people. Poor babies!

Look, I understand that in some instances obesity can’t be helped. I also don’t believe that the majority of obese people fit into the category of “can’t be helped”. I just don’t get it. I mean, I’m not very active. I eat bullshit snack foods all the time, it’s called the munchies. I don’t exercise very much. Ok, I play golf, so I don’t really exercise at all. I even have an electric bicycle. Even with all these things going against me, I’m still only a few pounds overweight! How the hell do you get to the stage they call obese?

When I looked up obesity on Wikipedia it told me that this "disease" is very rare in wild animals and pretty common in domesticated animals. The reason? Domestic animals tend to be overfed and underexercised. In other words, if obesity is a problem, try eating less and exercising more. Sounds pretty simple to me.

A couple of weeks ago at BC I read an article about fat people having trouble getting hired. The way I read the article, the writer got on his tilt because his mother told him that fat people can’t get hired for good jobs. Of course, the discussion that followed brought up smoking and every other thing that employers should be using as hiring criteria, but really didn’t discuss the problem of hiring the obese and the associated costs.

Today I opened the editorial section of my paper, like I do every day and read a letter from someone whining because their feelings were hurt over a picture in the paper last week showing two therapists sitting in one oversized wheelchair. The person that wrote the article whined because it sent a negative message…what was the message you ask??? According to the letter to the editor, the message is that two normal sized people can fit in the same space as one fat person. Somehow the person that wrote that letter doesn’t realize that I don’t need a picture to figure out that two of me can fit where one of her can fit. I usually get the picture when he/she walks by my table at Quizno’s and blocks out the sun for a minute or two. Yeah, I know that was mean...and probably uncalled for, but I'm not happy about this and you shouldn't be either.

Why is calling attention to the obvious politically incorrect? Why is saying things like, you should have to pay for two seats on the airplane if your ass takes up two seats a bad thing? I’ve noticed those wide-load wheelchairs at the airport too. You know what that means to me? It means that some poor sorry bastard (possibly me) is gonna get cheated out of half his seat on the plane because someone else needs two and a half seats. I’d bet that if they just showed a picture of that wheel chair without anyone in it none of us would have known that the thing was designed for someone with an ass two axe handles wide. Maybe they should have just put a really really big person in it instead. Then all the fat folks wouldn’t be offended by it. I’d think they’d be more offended by the normal sized wheel chair…saying things like…”Why do they make these chairs so small?” “Don’t they know that us “normal” sized people can’t fit in those child seats?”

Maybe it’s not the big seat that’s really offensive. Maybe it’s the little seats that are offensive. Think about it for a minute. If medical supply companies knew the size of Americans they’d naturally make bigger chairs to accommodate all the fat asses in this country.

The person whining in the paper asks, “Would you similarly insult a gay-lesbian group in a photo?” Maybe they were really trying too! Maybe the two therapists shown in the picture were lesbians? But they were skinny lesbians!

I’m here to say that from now on PC is forever BS! No more PC BS. EVER! We’re gonna call fat people fat, lazy people lazy, stupid people stupid. We’re gonna include religious whacko’s and secular shitheads' in this group too. When we do this there will be no return name calling…no playing the race card or the PC card anymore. The PC card has been removed from the deck and has been burned at the stake.

I usually try to be a nice guy. I’ve tried to learn that thing they call tact over the years. I’m getting better at it, but it still really kicks my ass sometimes. I mean, I’ve never made a comment to anyone in front of me at BK that ordered two Whoppers and a diet coke. I’ve never made a comment when I heard one woman ask another…does this make me look fat? I have made a comment if I’ve been asked myself (yes it hurt), but never to anyone I didn’t know. I yell through my car window at idiot drivers. Sometimes I even roll the window down. But, for the most part, I try to behave. It’s just that sometimes I get so tired of listening to anyone other than me whine that it just drives me crazy! I’m here to tell you, I have some comments to make too.
 
Monday, April 03, 2006
  Pretty bright guy...wonder what he thinks about DST.
I was getting my daily news fix and I read an article on the Dalai Lama. One line in particular caught my eye and made me want to write something.

The Dalai Lama said, "It is fascinating. In the West, you have bigger homes, yet smaller families; you have endless conveniences -- yet you never seem to have any time. You can travel anywhere in the world, yet you don't bother to cross the road to meet your neighbors,".

All to true for most of us. I have a pretty big home and only two kids. I wanted to make sure I had nothing to do with the population explosion.

Do any of us have as much time as we really want or need? I mean, come on, we just lost an hour the other day! And how come daylight savings time happens in the middle of the night in the middle of the weekend? Why not adjust the clocks at noon on Friday? I mean, it is DAYLIGHT saving time, so why do I feel like someone stole an hour from me Saturday night? I lived in AZ for 4 years, no Daylight Savings Time there. I never had to change the clocks, but I always had to readjust my TV viewing habits. The clocks didn't change, but all the times of all the programming changed twice a year.

I guess I have a problem with DST because it doesn't seem to make any difference to me. I get up early every day. I was up before the sun on Friday morning and I was up before the sun on Sunday morning too. I think if I had something to do that required daylight, I'd just adjust my schedule to make it happen during daylight! This is like changing the clock on someone who's always late. Instead, we're faking out everyone, making them think it's earlier than it really is!

The only good thing I can come up with after changing my clock is that my body thought it was earlier than it really was while I was watching the Soprano's last night...Paulie's gonna get wacked!!!!!
 
Not sure if I am THE ugly American, but I must be AN ugly American, because some Canadian told me so!!!

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Location: Virginia Beach, United States

20 year Navy vet, originally from NJ now living in Virginia Beach and yeah, Life Is Good!

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