Soul Candy

Posted on April 6, 2016. Filed under: Humor, Philosophy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I  simply love this place.  While it can be noisy at times, by and large there is usually a quiet corner where I can mellow out, sipping the sweet nectar from my life’s experiences.  Oft’ times, I follow Alice’s lead and pursue the White One down a rabbit hole where I can wonder at new sights, savor unusual concepts, and saunter down brightly lit exotic avenues — even yield to the invitation of a back-alley portico offering a slightly shadier ambiance. (more…)

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Myth: Vendor Overcharges To Government (Part 6)

Posted on May 24, 2013. Filed under: Journalism, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

10th in the series The Manipulators

Today’s proverbYou can’t fight city hall

Your words for the day:

  • scapegoat = one too helpless, often by reason of circumstance, to defend itself
  • witch hunt = the search for a scapegoat
  • not my job, man = the universal escape clause — unstated, but, inherent — in every assignment of responsibility

The Big Pee loves “ongoing coverage” of targeted scapegoats…   sort of a choreographed witch hunt.  Over the centuries, burnings, beheadings, public hangings, and executions by horses-going-off-in-four-directions-while-tethered-to-one’s-various-limbs have really filled the idle time of the masses.  All of that used to be free, but, in the spirit of capitalism, we now have to sit through silly and obnoxious ads from t.v. sponsors, subscribe to an internet service, or buy a newspaper to get our constitutional entitlement to blood and gore.  We are no longer unwitting witnesses to the grand processions of TIME and LIFE (Reality!   …not the magazines); we are now paying customers who are just here for the show.

Public officials are often targeted by The Big P (pronounced “pee”) when it is out to sell papers and such.  For that reason, I am surprised that our featured Jack-Haas missed his shot at Houston’s top executive, Mayor Annise Parker.  Ostensibly, all of the principals involved in those undocumented payouts of $19.2 million of taxpayer money are under her leadership.  And, since elections are only 2 years apart for that office, there has to be some interest by the public or the political opposition in such perception of top-level mismanagement.

Yes, Jack DID mention the mayor, or at least her office.  I paraphrase:  “According to the Mayor’s Press Secretary, that office is doing a separate review to be compared to the one being done by Dangerous Dave; and, the Mayor’s office will be diligent in working to recover any money owed the city, including litigation fees.”  In other words, the Mayor’s office is happy to join in the witch hunt for a cut of the booty.  Like a real Haas, Jack pursued no further, since that announcement from such a high office bolstered his tried-and-true theme, “Government…   victim!   Vendor…   villain!”

So, Mayor…  (Mayor-ess?  Your honor-ess?) Annise Parker, I was just wondering:

  1. Does the city’s accounting department perform a monthly closing of its books like real businesses?  Such as this would catch any variances or deviations at the time of occurrence and get them corrected for future invoicing and payments.  That’s what a real business would do.
  2. Does the city’s accounting department do a quarterly summary of its bookkeeping like real businesses do?  Ditto the benefit.
  3. Does the city’s accounting department do an annual report of all accounting functions detailing variances between documentation and money spent…   as real businesses do? 
  4. Real businesses have an outside auditor come in and verify their figures and on-going accounting practices — ANNUALLY.  Is Dangerous Dave, the self-serving bureaucrat who apparently gets motivated only once every 4 or 5 years, all you’ve got to rely on?
  5. Does the term “reconciling accounts” mean anything to the city’s bookkeepers and accountants?
  6. Does the city provide free coffee and donuts to all of its gold-bricking employees, who are being paid by the taxpayers to loiter?
  7. Are there any plans to have each city office submit requisitions for supplies to a central office where they are consolidated into a single order for maximum discount AND CONTROL?
  8. Are there any plans to have those who receive the materials actually document its receipt and identify it with the appropriate accounting numbers so it can be referenced when balancing the books…   and be available at the end of the year (or every 4 or 5 years) for Dangerous Dave the Auditor to review and criticize?
  9. The State of Texas has 266,874 square miles while the City of Houston has only 627 square miles.  With its thousands of offices statewide, Texas could easily run up 300,000 purchase transaction over a span of 4 years and 10 months (that of the Office Depot contract).  It is inconceivable that a piddling little 627 square mile bailiwick could rack up 1,100 purchases EVERY WEEK for 4-plus YEARS for miscellaneous office expendables (Dave’s figures, not mine) while taxpayer-subsidized supervisors notice absolutely nothing amiss.
  10. City employees have abused the spirit of the US Communities co-op purchasing contract by run-a-way impulse-ordering.  Will you be criticizing or rebuking those city employees who, instead of sharpening that dull pencil, opt instead to pick up the phone and order 1 box of mechanical pencils for ASAP delivery one thousand times a week?

Anyway, the journalistic Jack-Haas of the Houston Chronicle story missed all that stuff I have cited.  Why?  ‘cawz it was easier for him to meet his column quota by copying everything the important-sounding City Auditor told him and presenting all of that to a pre-conditioned, anti big-business, audience.  Taking the time to actually verify the basis of the “official” allegations would have been…   WORK.

And the General Public, that massive brain-dead jury pool so loved by litigators, receives its daily dose of anesthetics to numb that vaunted hallmark of humanity — those pesky reasoning abilities.

Next up:  A break from “The Manipulators”

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The Missing Bookend

Posted on March 18, 2012. Filed under: Humor, Memories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

What kid doesn’t want a horse?  How many kids actually get a horse?  It’s not like you can keep them in the house or apartment, ’cause paper training is — to borrow a term from the canine scene — a real bitch.  Forget newspapers.  Think snow shovel.  While the aroma of those scoopings may be several degrees “more pleasant” than that of traditional carnivorous pets, I’m betting that, for tedium, sheer quantity trumps malodorous every time.  There are probably other disadvantages to keeping a 16-hand ungulate tethered to your bed post, but, I forget what they are right now.

The virtual horsey, though, is a staple of childhood.  It gets staked out in that place where every child spends most of its time, that realm of fantasy called imagination.  No snow shovels required there.  Those guys neither eat nor (in the words of televisions’s detective Adrian Monk) un-eat.  All they do is carry the child’s imagination into one adventure after another without the baggage of troublesome chores.

From my childhood, I recall a set of bookends that were cast in metal into the shape of a saddled horse nibbling grass from around its front feet.  Not the best pose for riding into adventure, but, it was workable.  With index- and middle finger astraddle the saddle,  the free hand took that steed in a gallop into all sorts of action.  Yes, indeed, I did get that horse my child-side always wanted.

But there was a rift between fantasy and reality.  My valiant steed had but a single chore to do, and, that was to keep my parents’ books arranged neatly on the shelf.   Going out to play with me left that single chore undone, and, those books sorta got in a state of disarry.  When adventure time was done, I had to straighten those books and slip that bookend back into place so that order and neatness reigned again.  And, I wouldn’t get grounded.

Flash forward a couple of decades (eh, maybe more), and look back at that bookshelf in both a state of order and a state of disarray.  Two bookends equaled order and neatness; one bookend, however, had order near it, but, the farther out you went from it, apparent order became blurred in a heap.  And, I thought…

Life is what happens between two bookends, birth and death.  The longer I travel the road of LIFE, more and more “books” are left behind me.  At some point, the disarray of NOW sort of props up the books behind me so that I can see childhood, teens, military service, whatever, as clean-cut accounts of my journey.  But, the muck of the recent past and the uncertainty inherent in NOW lends an air of disorder to my present path, and, that breeds angst, frustration, hope, satisfaction…??   Hey!  That’s LIFE, isn’t it?  And, my life only has one bookend…

Now, where’s that bottle?  Got the glass.  Ah, there it is!  A red wine from Georgia (the country, not the state).  Pour it into the glass…  Okay!  A toast to that missing bookend:  “May your playtime last a long, long time.  Don’t take it personal, but, that chaotic bookshelf looks just fine without you.”

Next up:  Pismire

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Why Not Me?

Posted on February 27, 2012. Filed under: General Interest, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

segueTo make a smooth, almost imperceptible transition from one state, situation, or subject to another,  (se-gway; mid 18th century, Italian/’Latin)

So, what do you think:  Going from whining about the Great Learned to actually sliding into a brief discussion about a specific word, and using “segue” as the opener?  Smooth, huh?

The first time I heard this word, it was pronounced as a single syllable, “seg.”  That articulation seemed to fit the dictionary definition nicely.  So, I kept that template in my mind as the proper enunciation.

Then came that two-wheeled scooter, the Segway.  Since I was happy that segue was a single syllable word, I did not connect that scooter with my neat-sounding smoothie.  Shortly after that, segue became popular in celebrity speech (it was “in” so it must have sounded refined), and now, carefully – even painfully – pronounced se-gway. My, how that grated on my nerves; from a smooth, single-syllable sigh to a harsh two-syllable thought-stopper that sounded like a donkey’s bray or a pig snort.  The dictionary pronunciation takes away from the simple symmetry of the meaning.

The dictionary credits Italian and Latin as the root for the word.  The Great Learned used the spelling from Language A, and called it Language B even though the B people pronounced that spelling differently.  Italians can pronounce their language any way they wish, and Latin is a dead language (Ancient Rome) so no one really gives a hoot how they pronounced it.  Over here, we do not pronounce “league” as lee-gway, “Teague” as tee-gway, or “fatigue” as fa-tee-gway.

Give it a try.  Segue as though you are sighing.  Let other, more refined persons SE-gway like a braying jack-ass or snorting pig.

Why not me?  Why not you?  As previously noted, there is no manual for how we conduct LIFE.  It is truly done “on the fly.”  The Great Learned do not have a lock on its protocol.  We can do it on our own terms, or the terms of others.  That choice belongs to each of us.  Always has, always will.  As for this very incidental side issue, I will single-syllable segue into the next topic.  (ASIDE:  The spell-checker in this authoritarian PC took exception to all my hyphenated words and suggested I do them in accepted format.  It was a pleasure to click ignore suggestion repeatedly.)

Next up:  Passion — A real pain

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Shticky Matters

Posted on February 21, 2012. Filed under: language | Tags: , , |

Naked and clueless — we all started that way.  Next time you see that authoritarian figure telling you how it should be, pop that little picture into your mind.  It might be better for your mental stability to age-regress the individual as well, since not all authoritarians are physically attractive.

Pick Up Sticks.  There is a children’s game called “Pick Up Sticks.”  It consists of a packet of 8″ long toothpick-like sticks that you stand vertically in a bundle, then you release it.  The sticks fall into a heap in various orientations.  The object of the game is to pick as many of the sticks as you can without disturbing a neighboring stick.  The more sticks you collect, the higher your score.

That’s kind of a metaphor of my point here.  In this game of LIFE, possible choices are heaped in a pile and we go about picking up what works for us, holding on to them sort of like crutches that ease our progress toward…  well, you know what is ahead.  Let’s call these acquired choices “shticks.”  We all got ’em, choices of various kinds that let us meet LIFE on our own terms — or someone else’s  terms if we’ve bought in to their shticks.

And that’s what happens when you show up unexpectedly sans clothing and instruction manual (see previous post).  Teachers, supervisors, advertisers, soul-savers, pharmaceutical companies, cosmologists, cosmetologists, astrologers, astronomers, and even that high-chair baby selling stocks, all are eager to fill me in on what that elusive manual says.  They don’t even bother to provide a bibliography of their sources.  Each condemns me if I do not accept his/her/its way of seeing things.  Every single one of them entered LIFE’s  lobby the same way we all did:  naked and clueless, sans instruction manual.   Soooooo…

What makes their shticks so much better than mine?  I say, “Nothing!”  In fact I think my shtick is better.  Anyway, it works for me, and, since so many of you out there are slightly out of step with me, my shtick is to recalibrate the way you see things, starting with the most basic level — WORDS.

Next up:  Words.  We Live by Them

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