Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Proof of Beagle Supremacy

As any beagle owner knows, beagles are the world's greatest escape artists.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Mitch Daniels Talks Common Sense

Excellent Op-Ed by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels about the coming disaster for high tax and spend states like New York, New Jersey and everybody's favorite basket case California.

Daniels has said he is not interested in a Presidential run, but Democrats would be wise to keep an eye on him and stop spending so much time going after Palin and Gingrich.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Question of the Day

Does anybody really think Doonesbury is funny or clever?

Gary Trudeau gave a very funny, memorable speech at Class Day the year I graduated, but I can honestly say I haven't the faintest idea why Doonesbury is popular or famous.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Trying to organize music for the wedding reception. I am blown away by the rates some of these wedding bands are asking for 4 hours of work.

I'm tempted to go the DJ route, but there is certainly something about live music that is more energetic and fun.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Priceless Moments

Scottish Lass and her mum are out at the beach with me and the beagles. She's in New York for a week to help with wedding planning, but they are taking a break to relax out here for a couple of days.

So we began talking about the service and the music we will have at the church. Now, two types of music that completely rock me to my core are hymns and bagpipes. There are a few hymns (e.g., "Eternal Father") that I simply cannot get through without tears welling up. That's because some of my most powerful musical memories are sitting in the enormous sanctuary of St. Thomas Church (where the ceremony will be) and listening to the earth-shattering organ and the high-floating voices of the Choir. I am certain that my love of harmony and counterpoint comes from those experiences. When the great organ moves the harmony under the melody, I am rocked to my core. When the choir sings the descant, I am frozen with joy.

So I was playing my favorite hymn, "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones," an old tune beautifully harmonized by Ralph Vaughn Williams, for Scottish Lass and she agreed that it was beautiful. I couldn't respond, because I already had tears in my eyes.

A few minutes later, SL's mum and I were looking at You Tube to go through potential tunes for our piper (a university friend of SL's dad) to pipe us out of the church. Even though it wasn't appropriate for our situation, she asked to look up "Highland Cathedral." Oddly, this is a tune that was written for bagpipes by two German musicians, but it has quickly become beloved in Scotland and has been proposed as a possible Scottish national anthem. That would be even more bizarre if it happened because it would mean that both the English and Scottish national anthems would have been composed by Germans. Then again, the Windsors are all Germans anyway, so maybe it makes sense.

Well, within about thirty seconds all three of us were looking at each other, unable to speak, with tears in our eyes. I can understand why mum was so choked up. Although they moved to Australia over twenty years ago, they are still deeply Scottish and the words to the tune must be heartbreaking:

There is a land far from this distant shore
Where heather grows and Highland eagles soar
There is a land that will live ever more
Deep in my Heart, my Bonnie Scotland

I don't think I will ever forget the moment.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Late Summer Humor

The Obama Administration is now blaming the GOP for the fact that their health care "plan" (if you can describe five separate and contradictory bills as a plan) is going down in flames. That's rich.

If you have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, a massive majority in the House and a President who, we are told, is massively popular, the idea that the minority party is blocking your bill is pretty hilarious.

The reason this has been a debacle is the same problem I have been pointing out here since Obama was elected (and before). He's never run anything. He has no plan and no strategy. He has outsourced bill writing and policy detail to Congress and, as a result, he doesn't even know what he is out on the trail selling. He has mistaken his personal popularity (which is pretty much gone now - he has the worst approval rating at this stage of any modern president) for political power. His single tactic, claiming he won and everybody should shut up, is not only ineffective, it makes him look small.

Despite the caricature of Reagan as some kind of idiotic oaf, Obama would do well to have a look at the way he organized his first year in office. You can disagree with his policies, but Reagan and his team showed up with a well-defined legislative plan and, more imptortanly, clear and concise points to make in the public debates. The White House was in control of both the message and the political process, presumably because Reagan had some actual executive experience as governor of California. Obama controls neither now.

What is depressing is that there are a number of steps that could be taken to improve our coverage and care that do not include creating an giant, expensive government health care program. Just try finding health insurance with high deductibles and limited or no coverage for regular office visits. For the young and healthy, this would be the most logical plan, but you can't get it due to our Byzantine insurance regulations. I know because I've tried to find it for me and my employees. The lack of such an option is a big reason why so many of the uninsured are uninsured by choice. I have several friends who would rather roll the dice than pay an absurd premium just to have $15 office visits when they don't need to see a doctor at all in most years.

If Obama were smart, he would go for the low-hanging fruit, claim (rightly) credit for reform and build to bigger things. But somehow he has conceived that everything he does must be massive, complete and executed in his first year. It's a strategy that is killing him and a primary reason why he is about to sink below 50% approval after having been in office for less than 8 months.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thanks, Les

Les Paul has died.

Here's a big thank you from the Misanthrope.