Thursday, May 26, 2011

Let's be sure we stay on the right'eous' side of this fight...


Wow...did our President step in it or what?

Granted, I'm not far-right radical enough to criticize everything coming from President Obama's mouth. I don't like his politics in a macro perspective, but I don't fall in line with the entertainer/demagogues of talk-radio and television that try to sell to us that the man is capable of absolutely nothing good.

I like to think that I would much rather err on the side of optimism than cynicism...but truth be told...I don't trust anyone in Washington. Is that contradictory?

Back to the President. Last week President Obama gave some disturbing sound bites about America's friend and ally, Israel. Naturally, the Limbaugh's of our pop cultured world ran with the golden nugget offered up by their great adversary. This initially resulted in two distinct things...oddly enough (eye roll). The against-at-all-cost bunched yelled loudly with an OMG can he be serious!  I knew he was a Muslim!

The defend-at-all-cost bunch started bobbing and weaving in an immediate rope-a-dope (alert-unintentional pun) defensive maneuver and immediately broke the glass on the emergency Conspiracy Theory case to help put out the fires.

Blah-blah-blah, yada-yada-yada  the professional spin-masters worked their magic on both sides of the spectrum...and most of America apathetically shook their heads in perplexity once again. Thanks but no thanks Rush and Keith...I got this one.

So what makes this latest issue different from the forty-thousand previous ones in just last week alone? Read your Bible brothers and sisters...matters of Israel are very important to you know Who. Israel is much more to the world than a few ever-changing lines on a map. Christians should know that. ALL Christians should know that Mr. President.

I'm not going into a lesson on the biblical importance of Israel today. The information is too easily available with a quick internet search. But the fate of Israel is far beyond the abilities of men to alter. God's hand is directly upon the Nation of Israel, and their fate was predestined in a promise of prophesy long before the events that unfolded last century.

Ronald Reagan was the last U.S. President to fully understand the importance of Israel in the bigger picture outside of politics.

“The safety and security of the United States and the safety and
security of Israel are all part of a larger cause: the cause of human
rights for every man, woman, and child on this Earth.”

-- Ronald Reagan, remarks at White House Briefing on United States foreign policy, March 15, 1988

Excuse me please...I'm a little chocked up at the moment...


Monday, May 23, 2011

But Buddha just seems so happy being fat...


There's been a lot of changes around the homestead...

Although I publicly vowed to put forth my best effort to lose weight after the birth of Baby C, my plan was a little side tracked by the holiday know, Christmas, New Years, Valentines Day, Day Light Saving Time, St. Patrick's Day, and of course, Easter. It's truly a killer stretch for all of us weight conscience people.

Then the moment of reckoning finally came (yep, I ran out of excuses), and I knew it was time to get serious about that promise. What also didn't help my case was an interwoven visit to the doctor during this time frame that came with a couple of eye-opening revelations. Once Mrs. Tony C got the news...Bob Dylan was added to my iTunes because The Times They Are a-Changin'.

Being forty-something and trying to lose weight is...I'm convinced...of the devil. As I stated in my early referenced blog post, I wasn't a big eater from the start. After a little self-analysis, Mrs. Tony C told me the sodas had to go (isn't that the way self-analysis works in your home?). Truth be told, I probably drank close to half of my caloric intake daily. Making matters worse was my poison of choice, the coup de grace of my dietary need for change, the comfort food of all comfort consumables for yours truly...Mt. Dew.

Say it isn't so!

But alas it be true. I was addicted to the stuff like a junky to the heroin spoon convinced I couldn't get through a day without at least few dozen ounces of that sweet nectar. Throw on top of that my daily intake of the Southern classic take on sweet, iced tea, and I was practically a walking sugar cane...or corn stalk...or wherever all that bad stuff comes from in sweet drinks.

So out of our frig went all the sweet stuff (and ice cream from the freezer...tear) and in marched fruits and vegetables I'd never heard tell of before...much less eaten. Mrs. Tony C has been full-speed ahead and, I must admit, looking incredibly good...curse her and her twenty-something year old metabolism. She goes on and on about a Zumba class she recently joined so much I feel like I'm getting residual cardio effects from all the banter. She's been encouraging me to go with her, but I'm not sure our home-owners or umbrella insurance policy covers any damages or injuries I might cause jumping around in a crowded room full of delicate, and much smaller, females...

I decided (see conditions of self-analysis above) to actually implement life-style changes and let the results come as they may over time. As tempting as the immediate results I've seen on others are, I'm steering clear of the diet fads...especially the latest craze over taking HCG, the female pregnancy hormone.

Looking pregnant is bad enough. I'm just saying stranger things have happened.

To be continued as the year progresses...


Thursday, May 19, 2011

And now a break from tomfoolery for some serious stupidity...


So our federal government has once again reached the mandated debt ceiling that was the federal government.

Interesting...and irritating all at the same time.

Surprisingly, this threshold isn't a rare occurrence as one might think. As a matter of fact as a nation, we've been here over 70 times before this last one. During that time, Democrats have controlled both Houses and the While House, Republicans have controlled both Houses and the White House, and ever other mix in between the two scenarios.

In each case, up went the debt ceiling as if we were living in some utopian society where the GDP always grows at double digit rates and it never rains on Saturday.

So, why is it such a big issue all of a sudden? (must be Obama's fault)

Well, the answer to that $14 trillion question is because the debt itself is so huge relative to GDP. We're on the verge of that famous 90%-100% debt-to-GDP ratio where many believe a sovereign debt crisis is inevitable (see Greece and Ireland).

A vote that used to be treated as lackadaisical is now the subject of massive nervousness in Washington. Why now you say again? Because Americans are finally paying attention to the math and know if borrowing into bankruptcy is possible on a personal level...(i.e. your debt ceiling exceeds your ability to pay said debt) it's sure got to be possible on a national one too.

The time has come and gone to discuss and debate how we got to this point in our fiscal house. Such reflection may be important at some point in the future to ensure we don't repeat the mess we find ourselves in today, but right now we need bipartisan action on a major scale.

Sure massive cuts in our federal budget are going to hurt. Nobody denies rational person denies that fact. But so much is broken in our current system of federal spending that only by making deep cuts can real changes be made to fix the system. Necessary chances. We've got to get our fiscal house in order and radical changes through spending cuts is the only feasible, viable option.

Take a second and think about the ridiculous circumstances involving waste and abuse of tax dollars that you personally are aware of involving our federal and state governments (yes, states have a claim in this also as a distributing arm of some federal government programs). Let me give you only two of the many from my list:

Just this past week, I was talking to a friend about a situation he was personally familiar with involving government entitlements. A lady living near him was trying to sell her monthly food stamps to his wife below their face value. The mother of two receives $500 a month in food stamps, but was willing to accept half for the current and following two months ($1500 for $750). Seems she had taken her federal income tax return (based solely on federal entitlements) of a little over $5000 and, among other useless things, put a down payment on a big SUV at a local Buy Here, Pay Here auto dealer. When she missed a payment, they came and got the vehicle. Now she needed several hundred dollars to get the vehicle back, oh...and get her cell phone turned back on too.

Did I mention she doesn't work and lives with her mom? Didn't mean to leave that out. She doesn't work yet receives thousands of dollars in government hand outs from our tax dollars. Makes you wonder how her kids eat. My friend's wife didn't bite on the offer by the way.

This next one is a little more risky for me to share. I work for a DoD contractor, and we sell 'widgets' directly to a number of military bases worldwide. In all honesty, our company works very hard at providing excellent pricing not just out of good stewardship but also because we are in open competition with other DoD suppliers. The problem occurs when particular 'widgets' we could sell directly to a base are systematically divided up into block contracts for large conglomerate contractors (read- who pay lobbyist), who in turn bid the 'widgets' out to other subcontractors (including us) and then often award the bids to a contractor under a special government designator (i.e. female/minority owned company, disabled vet, etc.), who then in turn buys the 'widgets' from a guessed So something that could have been purchased by the end user at a distribution level price directly from us originally (as is often the case) is marked up not only once more by the block contractor, but again by the third different subcontractor involved as the procurement moves through the often lunatic workings of the military industrial complex on its way to the end user.

If only I were making this stuff up...

Only in an environment of unchecked funding can such absurdities exist and grow. As the debate continues to roar on about raising our national debt ceiling, take a moment and examine similar situations you personally know about like the two I've shared. Maybe one is as drastic as this situation reported just yesterday in news sources where a lottery winner of millions receives food stamps. Now multiple those cases several million times, and it's easy to see how we've gotten to where our country needs to borrow more than $14 trillion dollars just to pay the outstanding bills.

It all starts at home with anyone and everyone as crazy mad about this as I am picking up the phone or dropping a line to their elected representative, Republicans and/or Democrats, and demanding the political games stop now and necessary action be taken immediately. Yes Mr. Politician, the American public does realize there's an important election just next year. The real question is- do you?

Raise the debt ceiling to avoid a devastating default, this one last time, then balance the national budget and lock that in with a Constitutional Amendment...period.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Like Mick...I just can't get no satisfaction.

One of the first things you hear after 'congratulations' from people upon the arrival of  a new edition  to the family are the jabs about the oncoming sleep deprivation for mom and dad.. If you have know where I'm coming from on this too. With the last installment to the Tony C clan, I knew exactly what Mrs. Tony C and I were facing, and honestly, I dreaded dealing with a sleep deprived mom worse than a nocturnal baby.*

While my wife can generally be described in terms equivalent to Joshua Deets of Lonesome Dove fame (CHERFUL IN ALL WEATHERS, NEVER SHERKED A TASK. SPLENDID BEHAVIOUR), she takes on a completely different persona with the absence of seven or so uninterrupted hours of snoozing.

The Crazy Tomato was a bit challenging as a baby with a number of all night squalls. As she got to the toddler stage, the major strategy for long rest periods was to keep an ample supply of me's (her name for pacifiers) in her crib within reach. She would often pull out one and put in another...repeating the process through the entire inventory as if she were at a wine-tasting seminar. But hey, she wasn't mission accomplished in my book.

Our latest addition has been, to this point, dubiously surprising. As she quickly approaches the 6-month mark, she most always goes the distance through the night (thank you Jesus!). In fear of some karmic reprisal...I going to leave it at that for now.

So, all three girls have their own room in our home that is uniquely their own space. The teenager couldn't move downstairs fast enough, and after a few 'security precautions' on all the ground level windows, we gleefully obliged her request. She's happy if we just toss food down the steps occasionally and pretty much stay out of the way of her hopelessly dramatic life as a high school freshman. (eye roll)

The Crazy Tomato has her own room complete with labelling wall adornment...

As does the new addition I affectionately refer to as The Bulldog (drool related)...

All in all... a situation difficult to really complain about given the fact all the necessary ingredients are in place for complete and utter, Armageddon-style chaos.  However, and I really do hate to complain...please believe me... would it be too much to ask, considering the great lengths we've gone to make sure everyone has their own personalized space in our home...would it really be too much to ask that I actually get to sleep in my own the same bed as my spouse?

That is, of course, asides from lying longways across the bottom of the bed? Hey...just because I can doesn't mean I really want to....just saying.

* Disclaimer: Please understand and I fully acknowledge that Mrs. Tony C is the primary support, both day and night,  for all youngsters in our home. By primary, I mean 98 percent of the time or better.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

(Best of Tony C Today) The one with the cute little umbrella straw please...

I'm not a coffee drinker...

I'm not a coffee drinker. Never have been. But, I live with two females that love the stuff. We could debate if a 13 (soon to be 14) year old should be drinking coffee...but I won't go there. I accept the argument that a cup of coffee can't be any worse than a bottle of soda. Moving on...

So from time to time, I find myself at the local Starbucks, which might as well be eastern Slovenia for me. It's like a completely different world...a make-believe world where people speak a pseudo-foreign language and pretend to be high society...or hip...or something I'm apparently not. Now, I understand the Italian connection with the origin of many coffee drinks coming from Italy, and the implied chicness of the whole fiasco called Starbucks, but what I don't get is the absolutely ridiculous sounding process for ordering.

I'm not Italian-illiterate either. Besides the Learn A Language While You Drive cassette series I played for months before an Italy trip that fell apart the day prior to departure, the Sopranos were a weekly ritual at my house (God forgive me). I know Italian...well...some Italian. I know latte is Italian for milk, I know grande means large. What I don't understand is why a grande iced vanilla latte at Starbucks isn't a large cup of milk with vanilla flavor. What gives?

So, this morning I find myself alone in the drive-thru at Starbucks filled with anxiety. Since I love my wife more than any earthly thing, I'm doing this for her. For me... it's virgin territory. I refuse to order when we all go together, making my wife or the teenager do the honors...and..always making fun of the process. I want a frappa mocha latte venti or some other ridiculously sounding fictional concoction. But here I am...ready to order.

Speaker: Welcome to Starbucks. Would you like to try one of our fancy smancy new sandwiches?

I'm frozen. What did she say she wanted?

Tony C: Just a minute please.

Speaker: (Sarcastically) Take your time and order when you're ready.

Now, I'm sure the seven hundred and twenty cars behind me want just to take my time. I glance over the menu board looking for some type of trigger word...but it's all so...foreign.

Uh, uh mocha, latte, venti, frappachino, cappachino...before I even realized, I say...out loud into the speaker...

Tony C: Frappa mocha latte...uh

Speaker: (Again with the sarcasm) Excuse me sir?!

Nothing would do my heart more good than to break into a speaker rant over why Starbucks had to stop selling the black and white's all I ever liked there! But I have loved ones waiting in the balance on me performing this simple task.

Text message! Thank you Jesus! She sent what she wanted in a text message! A few quick clicks...

Tony C: I'll take a iced vanilla latte venti please. Not a perfect delivery...wrong indefinite article grammatically...but hey...I'm a rookie.

Speaker: That will be $4.33. Thank you pull forward.

$4.33! For a cup of coffee! I'm I picking this up IN Italy? That's an entire #1 Value Breakfast Meal WITH a large iced tea at Mickie D's.

As I'm pulling forward, I notice the 'Coexist' bumper sticker on the BMW in front of me...nice...this is now the company I keep...very nice.

Monday, May 9, 2011

You can't teach an old dog new tricks...if he just refuses to play.

Okay...I'm not THAT old!

I consider myself quasi tech-savvy. Since the PC became commonplace in American homes, I've been through my fair share of desktops and laptops. Now that the smartphone has become the wave to catch in the geekster waterways, I'm on board there too...well...sort of.

Smartphones are a phenomenal piece of technology and really a misnomer. Instead of a phone that can do other things, they are essentially a portable computer that you can just happen to make calls on too. They're the Swiss Army Knife of multimedia tools. From a small box, you can watch TV, send messages a number of ways, browse the internet, and find an application program (app) for virtually everything to make life easier...and many you could certainly do without (i.e. that cursed Angry Birds app).

I first jumped in with a Blackberry several years ago and was quickly sold on how the mobile device made my work life easier. In my job, I deal with military bases literally all over the world, so somewhere someone is in their office at any given hour of my 24 hour day. Instead of checking my laptop several times a night when not at the office or waiting until the start of my next work day to address a plethora of accumulated issues, the smartphone allowed me to instantly respond to a customer's needs taking just a minute of my time. Almost immediately, I started receiving comments from customers in East Asia wondering if I ever slept! There was an issue with Mrs. Tony C at first, but she pretty much knew what she was signing up for from the start with me, and she also knew that the smartphone made my work day a lot less stressful...or at least a concentrated stress. You know...the kind that kills you.

I loved my Blackberry. Loved it. For over two years, I carried the exact same phone with virtually no problems. A small little box that just simply sneered at the once coup de grace of all communication device fantasies, Captain Kirk's communicator (duh), had made me master of my domain. I was king of the world (a la Leonardo DiCaprio/Titanic).

Apple just couldn't appreciate my euphoria.

Along comes the iPhone (said mockingly, I assure you). Every one's got to have an iPhone. iPhones are so cool. iPhones are so much better. An iPhone saved my brother's life. Well, I bravely resisted the spontaneity of standing in line for seven days to be the first to lay hands on an iPhone. Really, how much better could they be? I was king of the world and feeling unbeatable at my game. However, Mrs. Tony C was a much different story. She dumped the 'gotta have' Blackberry...excuse me...the fifth different Blackberry device she was using to join the sheep...I mean masses.

Boy is that phone a lot of fun.

Still, I stood firm to the technology at hand...I mean in hand...and kept on doing what I was doing. Don't fix something that isn't broken I was always told. My customers were happy, my boss was happy and I was completely comfortable not being on the leading edge. It all boiled down to me being, well, stubborn actually.

April 30, 2011 is the day my Blackberry died. I still get a little choked up about it and even keep the darkened shell in my desk drawer as a reminder of where I've been and how far I've come. Literally years (okay two) of mastering my domain...dead. What was I too do? That's where the antagonist of this story comes to play. No, not Steve Jobs. Not Mrs. Tony C, Keith S or even iPhone poster child Josh R. The culprit and controller of all things technical in my little world (at least at work) is our IT Department Head, and he said just four need DroidOkay. It should have been four words, but his English has definitely improved since coming here from China several years ago.

The die was casted. No, not an iPhone, but might just as well been. After a little research, I decided on a Droid Pro. At the very least I could keep my chubby little fingers busy still on a Qwerty keyboard. Has there been some adjustments? Absolutely. Aside from 'oops wrong move' erasures of emails and contacts, missing the heck out of BB messenger, and also now gone rolling over at 2 am to see the 'new message' red light blinking, I'm a lot more conscience about sticking my finger in my nose or ear and winding up with what's known in the geek arena as touch screen residue 

I'm sure there's an app that deals with that...but it probably cost an arm and leg...or at least a finger.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My prayer today for the National Day of Prayer...

Almighty God, thank you for the blessing of prayer. The opportunity to directly talk to You, our Creator, our Heavenly Father. My prayer today is one of thanksgiving, but also one of need. We have made our world a mess, and my country continues to turn away from You. Please Father forgive us and give me the strength to reflect Your love and mercy in my daily life so others may come to know and honor You and receive pardon from the sin that surrounds us each day through your grace and mercy. Please lead and guide our country's leaders to bring this country back to the God fearing nation we once were so that You might receive the honor and glory for all that is done, and the United States can once again be a light of hope for a lost and dying world.

Be with President Obama as he leads our nation. May his convictions always reflect You, and may he always seek Your counsel in every decision he makes. Watch over his family and protect them. Be with his advisers and counsel as they mold the laws and policies that govern our nation and ultimately affect our world. My prayer is that each of them also look to You for courage and wisdom. Be with our Congressional leaders and our Justices on the Supreme Court. May every decision made be mindful of Your commandments as established in Your Holy Word.

I pray Father that you will protect our service men and women. Bless them Lord for having the courage to fight and serve so that we can go about living our lives in freedom. Be with the families of those who are deployed abroad. Comfort and protect them in Your loving way.

Thank you for loving me and saving my soul. I'm not and never will be worthy of such amazing love...but I will be thankful to You each and every day. Please forgive me when I fail you and give me clarity to better understand Your will for my life. Father, thank you for my country and the blessings of living in a nation where I can worship and honor You in freedom. I pray for my brothers and sisters that don't have the opportunities to gather freely in Your name and face persecution for their faith in You. Bless and comfort them as only You can Father.

There is a great need among Your people Father and many have requested to be remembered in prayer. Please touch and bless each one according to Your perfect will. You know the needs of each as You know the number of hairs on every head. I lift their request up to You and thank You for allowing me to do so. I love You Abba Father and pray these things in the Holy name of Your Son and my Savior, Jesus Christ.


Monday, May 2, 2011

You need to crack eggs for an omlet...not just be cracked holding an egg.

The King James Bible is 400 years old today...

Arguably the most influential book translation in the history of mankind, the Authorized King James Version was first published on May 2, 1611 by Robert Barker, the King's Printer, after an exhaustive seven year effort by 37 scholars of the day. By the way, all of those scholars were members of the Church of England...for what it's worth.

The King James Version had a rough beginning because after the good King James (eye roll) commissioned the Hampton Court Conference to undertake the translating task, work was delayed several months due to an outbreak of that nasty thing called the plague back in post-Middle Ages Europe.

The Puritans were not very happy...about the plague or the church at the time.

But, that's what kicked off the whole endeavor from the start. As Jimmy the First (James I) was travelling to London to officially stake claim to his new headgear, the crafty Puritans hit him up early with an official list of complaints called the Millenary Petition. Seems they weren't very thrilled with the direction of the Church of England at the time because it was too closely resembling that other church headed up in Rome. Henry VIII had made it perfectly clear during his reign half a century earlier that the throne in England was not under papal authority, so he went and started his own church...sorta. Roman Catholic Cardinal Thomas Wolsey had made Henry mad because he wouldn't let him divorce his first wife, Queen Catherine. How dare he? Also, the ruler just prior to Jimmy was Elizabeth #1, and she had basically just put a temporary bandage on the Protestant-Catholic open wound to get her through until she handed the baton to someone else.

So, those crazy Tudors had stirred up a religious cage-match just before James was coming to power, and he needed to calm things down between the Puritans (who denied being separatist from the Church of England), the Anglo-Catholics and all the other confused subjects in between. Hey...they carried pitchforks too you know.

So exactly what didn't the Puritans find to their liking to go crying to Jimmy about in the first place?

Knowing James was an avid debater and a little insecure in his own place between Heaven and throne(see Basilikon Doron), the Puritans jumped on board early with a list of complaints about the Church of England that included women administering baptism, bowing when the name of Jesus was spoken, the word Absolution, and reserved buggy spots near the entrance to the churches for all priest. Okay. I made that last one up, but they didn't like the title Priest either...for real.

Long story short, Jimmy tried to make everyone happy with the Hampton Court Conference, and he succeeded for the most part mainly because he convinced the translators to be completely accurate in their translating and to take...their...time. When all was said and done, most of England and Scotland mourned the death of James in 1625. Although, the Protestants and Catholics are still bitterly divided in Ireland after 400 years. Some things I guess just can't be fixed with time.

From all of this mass confusion, we have the Authorized King James Version of the Holy Bible. It's a darn good thing the Holy Spirit of God was directing the whole process from start to finish... darn good thing.