17 August 2011

Quote of the Week

“Anyone who has practiced what is good is ashamed to turn out badly. Manliness is teachable.” -Euripides, 423 BC

30 June 2011

Political Temperament

It’s campaign season again, GAAAAHHH! I used to be a follower of politics and in a way, still am. But it’s not about what’s best for the country anymore; it’s a game to most. It’s more like a Superbowl rally than any real content. If your team wins, then it’s great, throw a party and wear your team’s t-shirt. If your team loses, well don’t worry, you’ll get ‘em next time, and history shows you will in no more than 12 years. However once the excitement of the game has passed, most Americans lose interest and the people they elected get to do whatever they want with no regard to actually being held to the promises they made. Most forget what they said anyway, but boy could they get you pumped up with their speeches!

For those that aren’t fair-weather political followers, the constant bickering and complaining about the other side and the lack of any real results frustrates us into apathy and drives us off into our own little world, leaving only those who have less than patriotic interests at heart. We’ll turn on the TV or radio on occasion and get some “journalist’s” extremely biased view of the “facts” that will get our blood boiling and drive us off again.

Is it really so hard for the people in Washington, or those who want to be there, to speak clearly about their beliefs? Are they so afraid of driving off a potential vote that no one can stand up like a man and say that both sides are wrong and this is the way out, follow me!? Take Mitt Romney, the current Republican front runner. I’ve never liked him for various reasons, but figured I’d look at his site to see what platform he was running on. Under the Issues tab, all it had was a quote from him bashing Obama and canned rhetoric on what great principals America was founded and how we’re awesome (paraphrase). Not a word about how he could fix the economy if given the chance or how he would win the war. Really, that’s what it takes to get people to vote for you, pretty words and some inspiring pictures because if that’s the case I’m sad, very sad.

I’ve often thought about what I would do if I were king for a day or at the very least the ideal man I would vote for to do it for me:
• First thing we need it term limits, for everyone. It used to be that a stint in public office was a daunting chore and no one would want to more than a couple of terms. Nowadays elected officials sole job is to get reelected, doing as little actual work to better the country as possible for fear that it might upset that winning vote.
• Severe government budget cuts, starting with the government. Whenever cuts are proposed, it’s always said that the teachers and firemen will be the first to go. Really? What about your salary Mr. Senator? Let’s make some cuts there first. How about all of those little pet projects that nickel and dime the country into poverty? I realize that it may mean you don’t get as many donations for your reelection and that you may not be in office in a couple of years, but just think how you’ve helped the rest of us.
• Along those lines, shutting off the flow of monies to things like corn subsidies, unions, and other supposed standalone groups that have too much hold on the government. I’m not against organized labor when it comes to safety, fair wages, and the like, but under the table transactions and *wink*wink* *nod* deals don’t help anybody but the people at the top.
• Establishing a standard of conduct for government programs. If you get WIC, welfare, food stamps, unemployment, or other government funded programs you have to pass regular drug screenings and prove that you are attempting to better yourself and your country. We have become an entitlement nation. “I was born here so I should have X”. That’s not the way it works, or at least shouldn’t be. I think the programs I mentioned are great ones and there is a need for them but it should not be for those who feel they can live off of them and never have to produce anything in their lives.
• Less Federal Government involvement, period. From laws to taxes to spending. You should hardly ever know that the Fed even exists. Ideally the Federal Gov should only be involved in two things, national security and interstate commerce. That’s it! Now you could stretch the definitions of those to include things like the FCC, FDA, EPA, etc. But my tax dollars shouldn’t be spent on saving companies and funding idiotic research.
• Slim down the military. As an Air Force member this one’s hard for me to admit because it would mean losing my job potentially, but that’s how it should be. Before WWII there were very few career military people. It was your duty as a man to step up and defend your country when the time came but before and after you were just an average Joe. We built up for the Cold War and were on alert because of it but that’s been over for a while now and it’s time we trimmed the fat and removed the mindset of the career soldier from the military member.
• Along with that, become more isolationist in our military stance. Not completely isolated but America should not be the World’s police force. If there is not a clear and direct American benefit for us to be throwing million dollar missiles at or risking American lives, we should not be involved.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Essentially what I want is to be left alone. Leave my money alone, leave my property alone, leave my family alone. I’ll gladly serve my country and pay my reasonable taxes for the privilege of living in this great land, but allow my to pursue my happiness without Uncle Sam’s hands getting dirty in the process.

Now I would bet most so-called conservatives would agree with most of those principles, at least in public, however you’ll never hear a single one of them back a candidate who espouses them. All of the voices on the radio will tell you that they fully support these beliefs but we need to throw our support behind a big name, lest we throw it away. That’s crap. Someone once told me that if you vote for the lesser of two evils, all you will get is evil. It may just be my principles talking but isn’t it best to vote for the person who will do the best job, regardless of what letter is next to their name, and encourage your friends, coworkers, or listeners to do the same? Yes we may lose a few but I’d rather know that I voted according to my conscience than have an empty suit sitting in the oval office who will do nothing but disappoint for the next 4 to 8 years. Maybe I’m weird.

27 June 2011

Thinking Ration-ally

     I was recently lamenting a missed opportunity. I was at an estate sale and say a WWII rations booklet that still had some war ration stamps in it. I do have an empty one already and the price at the time seemed too much for something that’s technically useless. However when thinking on it, it is a unique piece of American history that hopefully no one will have to see again. Shoulda coulda.

     That got me thinking, what if we did have to reinstitute rationing in America? Can you imagine the reaction from middle America getting told they CAN’T have something. Every spoiled daddy’s girl from New York to LA would unite in a collective whine so loud and piercing, credit card institutions the nation over would crumble from sheer agony. It would be the Twilight Bark of our age.

     Granted the recent decline in the economy has begun to wake people up to the possibility that their “needs” aren’t really necessities, but I doubt any significant number is at WWII or depression levels. It would be interesting to see people being told they would have to drive their 3 year old car a few more years, or that they couldn’t buy 1001 new toys for their kids because the materials were needed for the rationing. It would be interesting.

     Thankfully, due largely to influences by the Mrs., I think the Deering family would hardly notice. In fact, practices like cloth diapering and growing our own food has put us in a position to nearly be “off the grid” and self dependant. If only we had more land, and that windmill of course.

24 May 2011

Coop! There It Is!

I finished the coop last weekend.  It turned out really well I think.  We used pretty cheap materials so I don't think it will really stand the test of time but should last us a couple of years.  The cost breakdown comes to $2/2x4 (x11) and $6/sheet of plywood (x6).  Also had to buy thinks like wood screws, a new drill (yay me!), hinges and other things to finish.  We had the paint so that didn't cost.  Over all I really like how it came out, especially since I've never attempted anything like this before and didn't have any real plans besides what was in my head.

Xander's testing it out for the chickens.

12 May 2011

Backyard Chickens

First off, I should mention that I’m home enjoying some R&R for a couple more days. I’ll post more on that later. Anyway, Holly and I have got it in our minds to try and have some chickens. Friends of ours have some and that just encouraged us to go ahead with it and do it ourselves. So we’re going to buy 3 chickens from our “egg lady” that a full grown and ready to lay. And since we already have a run set up, I just need to build a coop for them. After looking online and in books for easy step-by-step instructions, I just decided to take what others had done and make my own design.
It’s simple and not pretty but it should meet our needs. If anyone has suggestions please let me know. I should be going to get materials in the next day or so and I’ll post again when things are up and running.

12 April 2011

I've Got a Secret

In my line of work I come across the occasional bit of privileged information, like where the Star Gate is buried, and if I told you… well you know.  However I’ve come across a particular secret that is so vital to our way of life, I feel compelled to share with you all regardless of the consequences.
What I’ve discovered is a Government sanctioned program that, if fully implemented, will save you money, help you lose weight, and greatly improve your diet.  When used as a recreational activity it can provide you with unique quality time with you family while enabling you to get outdoors.  Also, partaking will help protect the environment and promote diversity.  It can be used as a backup plan in these economically unstable times and this program supports personal spirituality as well.
So here is the vital secret (FOR YOUR EYES ONLY): Start a garden!
Governments have been promoting Victory Gardens since WWI in the US and elsewhere.  If you grow a majority of your own food, you will easily save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars a year, especially considering what it costs for organic produce.  Digging in your garden, watering, weeding, and walking it 30 minutes a day, a couple of times a week will burn more calories than most of the Oprah-recommended exercise routines not to mention save you that $50 a month in gym membership.  You’ll have fresh, organic, whole fruits, vegetables and herbs at your beckon call most of the year (and if you’re canning, even longer).
Gardening allows one to get outside in the sunshine (getting some vitamin D in the process) and enjoying the fresh air.  It can be a family affair with each person helping to the level their age, ability and know-how dictates.  By getting your veggies locally, you cut down on the need for consumption of fuel by the machines used to harvest it as well as the trucks that move it from far away to your doorstep.  When you choose what to plant you can diversify the types of varieties of food you eat (there are around 7500 different kinds of tomatoes for instance) which helps stave off pests and parasites that can threaten an entire species.
Knowing that you have a readily available supply of food, even if it’s in small quantities, out your backdoor or tucked away in cans in your pantry can give you a little bit of comfort when that paycheck doesn’t seem like it’s ever enough.  And, possibly the most important lesson I’ve learned, gardening gives a very real since of accomplishment out of life and an improved appreciation of how great God is and how awesome it is to watch His miracles at work.
So if you haven’t already, start a garden today, thank me later.  Even if you have nothing but a window sill that gets a little sun, do something.  For those with a yard of some sort I would actually recommend digging up a small section, 5x5 or even 3x3, something, and start growing dinner.  I think nearly everyone who puts the time in will be really impressed with the results, both in food and personal betterment.  For information on getting started look for a community garden in your area, or just poke around the Internet, it can be useful sometimes too.

07 March 2011

The Passing of a National Hero

I found out recently that a hero of mine passed away.  For anyone who’s ever watched an episode of Band of Brothers, you should have heard the name of Maj Richard "Dick" Winters.  After I first watched it I instantly respected the man (who usually himself gave personal accounts of events at the beginning of each episode) and all of the men and women who fought in WWII.  Since first watching the series I’ve watched it again at least a half dozen times (I now own a copy), bought and read the book by Steven Ambrose that inspired the series, as well as the accompanying book by Dick Winters himself.  I’m actually reading the Band of Brothers again while I’m deployed.  The words of Maj Winters’ men exalting his leadership and the words of Winters himself on the subject have shown me what leadership is and how I can learn to exude those qualities of the Greatest Generation.
I’ve never met the man but he has my respect and honor.  Never before or since had our nation faced such a threat as these men and they risked everything to defend it.  Rest in Peace Maj Winters.  Currahee”!

You can read Maj Winters’ Wikipedia page HERE and his obituary HERE.