Friday, November 25, 2011

Super Committee Super Bad

I won't jump into the political ring often in my blog but I will from time to time.  I feel compelled now because it warrants not only my anger but that of every American.  I'm speaking of the failure of the super committee to enact cuts in the federal budget to keep automated cuts from being enacted.  Congress is paid to do a job.  They increasingly fail to do what is asked of them.  In this case they had to find cuts in the federal budget.  No easy task so the "Super Committee" was formed to take on the task.  All they did was fail.  They even admitted it.  Because of that $1.2 trillion dollars in automatic budget cuts will be enacted in 2013 whether good, bad or indifferent to the overall fiscal health of the country.   

I'm not opposed to our system of government at all.  But I am opposed to a system that allows those serving in the government to not do their job.  We see this every year as they threaten a government shut down when they can't come to an agreement on the annual budget and deadlines are pushed back with federal spending is put in limbo.  We again saw this with the super committee but without the ability to push back the deadline they failed. 

How can we accept this?  They said they failed yet they still work on?  If you or I, or even a group within a large corporation, are given a specific task and deadline and fail we could expect repercussions, serious ones at that that might include firing if we continue to do so.  You'll say congress can be voted out of office but waiting until elections only means they can continue to fail.  My bottom line is we shouldn't accept it.  They were given a job and failed.  There should be some way in which we can get rid of elected officials who continue to fail.  Our country pays for these inadequacies with no way of ensure congress is accountable.  I don't know how we continue this to go on.  Why this may have tipped me to speak out but the frustration has been growing for years.  I hope that at some point we can change the way business is done in congress but I don't see anyone championing massive overhauls in how business is done. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

War Movie Favorites

Veteran's Day was last week and first I'd like to thank all those who have served our country in the military.  I'd also like to use this time to point out my favorite war movies.  Defining what a "war movie" is can be tricky in itself since pretty much any movie invovling two opposing forces fighting would meet the definition.  For my purposes I'll define a war movie as a movie set in a war starting with World War I through the present time. 
Black Hawk Down - This is a great movie that I can watch any day of the week and twice on Sundays.  For me the movie presents an accurate representation of how I think the events would have looked.  I find the movie very believable and not over the top while it shows how our military can fail.  I think this movie should be in everyone's library.  I've also read the book multiple times and could read it cover to cover if time allowed.
Saving Private Ryan - Could easily be my #1.  Great portrayal of how battle would have looked in WWII and it wasn't pretty.  Great characters, visuals and action.  A friend of a my brother-in-law allowed me to see this in his home theater shortly after it's release and I was blown away.  I really enjoy being able to plan out the three hours to watch this movie and give it all my attention.  I'm never dissapointed. 
The Great Escape - Circa 1963 this movie had a great cast to include Steve McQueen, James Coburn, and James Garner among many, many others.  Based on actual events this movie shows a massive escape effort by allied prisoners from a German POW camp during WWII.  The acting really makes this movie though they also did a great job with the visuals and and sets.
The Devil's Brigade - This movie shows WWII Canadian special forces pressed to join up with American forces who aren't up to standards. The resulting tensions as they train for their mission make for a very entertaining movie. Yes they finally get to go kill the bad guys, Germans in this case, but it is the interaction of the two very different troops that make this fun to watch.           MASH - This movie is just as funny if not funier than the TV series it spawned.  With an "R" rating it was also able to ratchet up the raunchy humor I'd expect more from the military. While all done for the joke I believe most of the situations could definitely happen in this situation.         The Green Berets - John Wayne was near the end of his career when completing this movie but he did a great job portraying a Colonel taking over an outpost while battling a tough North Vietnamese enemy.  While not the most accurate depiction of combat life during the Vietnam war it still depicts many of the issues that would come to define our militarie's issues in the war.

The Dirty Dozen - Another great ensemble cast that led to great movie showing military members who were in jail chosen for a harrowing mission behind enemy lines.  Just one of the classics you have to love.

Good Morning Vietnam - Robin Williams was at the top of his game when he played an Airman brought in to DJ for the military during the Vietnam war.  Way too many funny lines in this movie to pick out just one, the movie also shows the multitude of issues soldiers had to face on a daily basis.

Full Metal Jacket - This movie rocks from the word go.  Subtle humor to the dramatic plot lines it shows the war from the skeptical viewpoint of "Private Joker".  Another movie everyone should own. 

Honorable mention:  Patton, They Were Soldiers, Tora! Tora! Tora!, Stalag 17, Platoon, Operation Petticoat, Battle of the Bulge

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I really, really don't like homework...

I really, really don't like homework.  After an 18 year absence from college I recently jumped back into the fray.  I'd love to say I was all gung ho but really I just caved to peer pressure.  Ugh.  Not to say it isn't a good thing.  I already have two years of college completed so I'm two years from a four year degree which should be helpful as I look at possibly retiring in a few years.  So it is a good thing...I think.

I really, really don't like homework.  I just finished my first six week session.  What the heck was I thinking.  I'm taking online courses so not only am I having to adjust to school once again I also have to experience it in a completely different way.  And it sure isn't what I remember.  I had to apologize multiple times to my teachers for not getting something uploaded correctly or missing an assignment that I couldn't find.  So navigating the web to find my assignments, ensuring I get everything uploaded, coordinating group assignments with classmates around the country and keeping up with homework was enough to make me ready to pull my hair out.  And the homework!  Nothing like getting up for work at 5:30 in the morning and returning at 5:30 in the evening knowing I had maybe two hours of work to complete.  That was my life Monday through Thursday.  Did I say i don't like homework? 

I really, really don't like homework.  I'm not saying the classes were bad, the web design and user interface were poor or that there was too much homework.  Just the opposite.  I'm just saying it was an adjustment - a big one and it wasn't easy.  I'll definitely be more ready come January when I take my next courses.  So no matter how frustrated I was I highly recommend returning to college for anyone in need of completing their degree.  Online courses in particular allow for many different options that I think would appeal to older students.  But if you've been out of college for some time and will be looking at online courses be ready for some adjustments.  And good luck.  Did I mention I really, really don't like homework?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Left Turn: Tony Stewart Stays Hot

Tony Stewart won his fourth race in the Chase to get within three points of Sprint Cup leader Carl Edwards.  Stewart now has four wins in eight races in the Cup's version of the playoffs after not having any wins in the regular season.  That is amazing.  Now Carl Edwards isn't a slouch.  He is in first place for a reason.  Edwards has five top five finishes in the Chase and hasn't finished worse than eleventh in any Chase race.  In fact he finished second to Tony Stewart yesterday at Texas.  Still that isn't four wins in eight races.

He also isn't the man called Smoke who is known for being outspoken but is backing up his words this time.  After winning last week at Martinsville he said Edwards "better be worried".  After winning yesterday he said  "Do not count us out, I can tell you that.  But I don't think we have to say anything. Our performance speaks for itself."  On whether he needs to tell Edwards again he stated "Oh, he knows.  Trust me."  Nothing over the top, just understated bravado and it came across great as I watched the video.  Check it out if you get a chance.

When all is said and done I'll probably be pulling for Edwards in what is now a two man race.  Third place Kevin Harvick is 30 points behind Tony Stewart and has little chance to make a run.  Stewart  already has two championships on his resume and I'd like to see someone new atop the leaderboard come season's end after watching Jimmie Johnson hog that position for the last five years.  Still I love what Tony brings to the table.  He isn't afraid to scrape paint or talk it up but there is nothing better than backing it up and giving us one of the better races for the championship that we've seen in some time.