Friday, October 30, 2009

Merry Christmas?

Most of you know that I'm not a big fan of "hallmark" holidays. I'm not really big on celebrations of any sort, but I usually give in to the wife's desire to celebrate for the kids. The one thing I don't do, though is Christmas/birthday gifts. Growing up I didn't get a lot of those gifts from my parents and we never really celebrated with a party. The problem is that Christmas has become so commercialized that it is hard to get away from the pressure of gifts. I mean, displays are already popping up all over the place and October hasn't even ended!

There is no end to the ways advertisers are willing to go in order to sell. Especially in this down economy, people are pushing Christmas earlier and earlier. It is just real annoying to see these type of things when Thanksgiving isn't even on the current calendar page! It just goes to show that our society is so much about money these days. The "celebration" is all about what you give/get not about the actual holiday itself.

Now some may argue that Christmas isn't really Jesus' birthday (most believe it is sometime in the fall). Regardless if it is or not, that is the day by general consensus that His birthday is celebrated. So we should celebrate the birth of the greatest person to live on the earth. I just don't think we need to that by buying gifts for each other. And really, do we need a reminder two months in advance?

Monday, August 24, 2009


Tomorrow is Hailey's (my oldest) first day of Kindergarten. It will be at Twin Creeks Elementary school which is a public elementary school that runs from K-5. The school is about a mile and a half from the house, just a little too far to walk. The school has its act together, having a back to school picnic and allowing families to get a tour of the facility and get familiar with the campus. The only real complaint I had about that night was that the Kindergarten teachers were nowhere in sight. Maybe we didn't look hard enough, but it would've been nice to see them.

As with every other business or institution, there is a shortfall in the funding to the school. Therefore all parents are encouraged to donate money. This school had a registration day where all families had to go to make sure all the paperwork was filled out correctly. They went "green" and e-mailed all the appropriate flyers and forms, most of which were for raising support. It actually wasn't as bad as I thought it might be, we got out of there spending less than $300. The only thing that was kind of weird to me was the $3 disaster preparedness donation. I had to ask what that was for. Turns out it was for food during a disaster. Apparently if there is an earthquake or fire or whatever and the kids have to remain on campus, they will get food and drink if you pay $3. I dutifully paid my $3, but it left me wondering. Do they have a list? How will they know to feed my daughter and not someone else? If you don't pay, do you just starve? Kinda strange, but at least I'm assured (I think) Hailey won't starve in case of a disaster.

Overall, I think that the school is doing a good job. The San Ramon School District has always been perceived as one of the better districts in the area. I've heard reports that this is more perception than reality, but so far I'm encouraged by Twin Creeks. They seem to have the kids' best interests in mind and are doing what they can to make it an enjoyable experience. I'll find out more tomorrow

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Hailey!

Today is my oldest daughter's fifth birthday. I can't believe how fast my kids are growing. Somedays I wish they were older so we wouldn't have to do so much for them, but they are really at a pretty fun age right now. Boy do I dread the teenage years. Maybe I can convince my wife to home-school and the girls would never have to meet teenage boys. Well...I'll just have to cross that bridge when it gets here. Anyway, Happy Birthday Hailey!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I have a bridge to sell you...

Pushy sales people are the worse. I understand that in this economy, you have to push products and make sales. This doesn't mean you have to badger the customer. Just try to be helpful. This is why I prefer shopping through the internet. Nobody is pushing you to do anything. All the options are there, but there is no person standing next to you telling you to add this warranty or that accessory. You can browse with no pressure to buy and compare to your heart's content.

I know people who like the interaction with sales people. There is something to be said about the "community" aspect of going to a store and interacting with those in your neighborhood. But if that is really what you want, join a club or go to church. There are plenty of opportunities to do that outside of the retail experience. I would be a lot happier if I didn't have to deal with sales people by talking to them.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Something Different

Since it has been over a month since I last blogged, I figured I should post something. It is a good thing that it has been so long, because that means there really isn't anything new to vent about. I must admit that I have a pretty good life. So no ranting about stupid people in line today or crazy drivers on the road. This will be a positive post.

Do you have kids? Remember when they were under the age of 5? Well, I have three under that age and they are a handful. I'm very thankful that my children are relatively well behaved. They hardly do anything "bad" and they don't eat much junk food or candy. They get along most of the time and are generally willing to play alone or with each other. The most important thing, however, is that my wife is willing to take care of them on a full-time basis. I know it isn't easy, and I'm grateful that she can do it.

Unfortunately in this day and age, that is more and more rare. Most families have both parents working, if they even have two parents, to support the lifestyle they live. Thankfully we have relatively inexpensive tastes in life, so we can afford to live on my salary alone. The City of Walnut Creek, my employer, has good benefits so my whole family is covered. Winnie doesn't have to work and can really invest in our kids as they grow. I think this is really important. Parents really need to be involved in their children's' lives and the best way to do that is spend time with them. I have to continually remind myself of this after coming home from work. I need to be a part of the process of caring for them and not just zone off in my own world.

So for all you parents, or future parents, out there, make sure to spend time with your kids. This time will not come again.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I've Fallen and I can't get up!

It's been awhile since my last post, life has kept me busy. Also, I haven't had anything truly annoying happen to me in awhile. I must admit my life is pretty good.

What prompted this post was a Facebook post by my cousin's husband's niece. She apparently fell down for no apparent reason this morning. Her fiance turned around and saw her sprawled on the ground and his FB post was "All I heard was a loud *THUD*...and I turned around...And you were sprawled out on the sidewalk...The only thing funnier would have been if there was a chalk outline...LOL" You would think his first instinct would be to check her well-being and then help her up. I'm sure that crossed his mind initially, but incident was probably just too funny to not laugh.

So why am I annoyed? Well, not because of what happened in the post, but the similarity to the whole government bailout thing. Millions of people are being affected by the economy tanking and especially hard hit are those who over extended themselves when buying a home whether using an ARM loan or assuming that their salary would catch up to the payments. Whatever the case, they've fallen and can't make the payments. So who do they turn to? The government.

Now my understanding of how the government "should" work is that it is there to help keep the country( town, city, county...etc) infrastructure running smoothly and to regulate the rules so everyone is playing on the same field. It is not the government's job to bail you out when you make a mistake or have a decision go south on you. Just because your company is failing or you can't make your home payment doesn't mean the government should bail you out. It all goes back to personal responsibility (as my blog readers know is my biggest pet peeve). You made a decision, you have to live with the consequences. Don't go clamouring for someone else to bail you out. You made the choice, live with it.

It boggles the mind to think that what our country needs is to put itself into more debt to help "relieve" the debt of those who made poor decisions. How does that help? Why is that a good idea? Most of those people who are getting the help knew what the potential consequences of their decisions were, they just didn't believe those would come into play. Now that it has, they are crying foul. They should have to suffer for their choice, made to feel the consequences of their actions. Otherwise, they'll just keep on doing it. And that doesn't help anyone.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hallmark holidays

Tomorrow is Valentine's day. I like to call it the original "Hallmark Holiday". According to wikipedia, "The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. The association estimates that, in the US, men spend in average twice as much money as women.[3]
Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards.[28] The mid-nineteenth century Valentine's Day trade was a harbinger of further commercialized holidays in the United States to follow.[29]"

What started out at some point to celebrate love has turned into a celebration of material wealth. Like almost all Hallmark Holidays, you are expected to give a card (at the very least) or some sort of gift (preferably one that is rather extravagant). If you don't receive anything, you are seen as a loser(usually women) and if you don't give anything, an unfeeling person (usually men). But since when did material gifts or even cards determine one's worth? And since when did you have to have one particular day to celebrate and express your love?

Anniversaries I get. Those are truly special days for those involved. Not everybody has that same special day, it is only good for those two people (generally). Valentine's Day is supposed to be for everyone. Now, if it was limited to couples it might make it a little bit more palatable. But it has digressed all the way to preschool. Hailey had a v-day party at school and she was required to pass out valentine cards (with optional candy which everyone had). What?!?!? She has no idea what a valentine is supposed to be. There was absolutely no meaning behind it. I understand that the teacher didn't want anyone to be left out and so made it a requirement, but what is the world coming to. This just shows the power of the almighty dollar and the pervasive nature of advertising. Even little kids are sucked into the "festivities".

Anyway, I have long since passed on participating in this day. I tried it once when Winnie and I were first dating. We had to wait in line at Old Spaghetti Factory for 1.5 hours before getting a table. After that, I vowed never again to go out on Valentine's day. There have been gifts and cards over the years, but that has gone by the wayside. I refuse to participate in these made up holidays. I love my wife, but I tell her that all through the year. I'll give her presents when I find something that I think she might like, but I won't do it because Hallmark tells me I'm supposed to.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Won't you be my Neighbor?

For those of you old enough to remember, this was the tag line for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. He was a friendly guy, trying to teach life lessons to kids. Being a neighbor meant following the "golden rule" of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." He wanted to be your neighbor, to be a friend, a person you could count on. Unfortunately, this type of neighbor seems to be in short supply.

As most of you know, I work for the City of Walnut Creek. I handle complaints on a daily basis about all sorts of things. Recently, there was a complaint about a neighbor building something in their backyard without a permit. As with most calls of this type, the person calling wanted to remain anonymous. They didn't want to be known as the "whistle blower". Of course, they also didn't want to talk to their neighbor. Inevitably these people want the "government" to handle the situation and don't want to be involved. Almost all of the complaints we get are from people who don't talk to one another.

What is up with that? Granted, I don't talk much to my neighbors on either side of me, but I will say hi to them when I see them. If there was an issue, I would go next door and talk to them. My neighbor on one side had an issue with my deck and wrote me a nice note. We ended up talking on the phone a couple of times and once or twice in person to resolve the issue. Neither of us wanted to cause any problems, but we had issues that needed to be worked out and we did it. Why can't the people in Walnut Creek do this? Can't we all just get along?

If these people would just talk to each other, I would have a lot less work to do. Most of these problems could easily be resolved with out the City getting involved. It is very frustrating to have to deal with these people. Ah well, I guess that's why I get paid the big bucks.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Personal responsibility

No one wants to take responsibility for their actions anymore. I guess I really shouldn't be surprised by this. After all, Adam did blame Eve when God asked him if he ate the fruit. And then Eve blamed the serpent. The only one who really took responsibility was Satan, if only by not denying he had done anything. But we in the United States have taken this to new levels. There are so many ways to get out of committing a crime that it is ridiculous.

Everyone wants someone or something else to blame. It was the way my parents raised me, the emotional tension of the moment made me do it, the voices told me to do it. Now, I will admit that some of these things are legitimate reasons for showing that one's mentality is not "normal", however, that shouldn't relieve one from being responsible. We all had something different in our upbringing. Everyone has been in emotionally stressful situations. That doesn't mean that you did not make a decision and follow through with it in committing a crime!

The biggest problem with personal responsibility, is not on the larger stage, but on the smaller one. We really need to instill this attribute in the youth. This ethic needs to occur early on so that it will stick. Once young people accept that they have a responsibility for their actions and continue to be aware and accepting of that premise, they will begin to make better choices. We as adults could benefit from this as well. Understanding that the choices you make carry responsibility with them will make you think twice before acting.

Reading the article about President Obama repealing the ban on funding to international groups that promote abortion really brought this personal responsibility thing into a clearer focus for me. Abortion is seen as a choice, a women's right to decide what to do with her body. The problem I have with that "right to decide" defense is that she already chose what to do when she had sex. People conveniently forget that a product of sex is pregnancy. This is natural. Now, pregnancy doesn't always occur when you have sex, but it is a potential consequence of your actions. So to just ignore that fact is to not accept the responsibility of your actions.

Personal responsibility would make this world a better place. Let's all try to learn that sometimes, it is our fault and we have to accept the consequences of our actions.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

American Legal System

I have a problem with the American legal system. Overall, I think this country has a good system, letting people get a fair shake. Unfortunately, it does not work as well as it could.

First off, there are way too many stupid lawsuits. Do you remember the one where the guy sued his dry cleaner for like $50 million for a pair of pants? I think everyone's time could have been spent in a much better fashion. The worst part about that whole story was that the plaintiff was a JUDGE! You would think he would know better. Talk about frivolous. Fortunately he didn't get any money.

Second, the juries are not doing their job. Remember the lady who sued McDonald's when she burned herself drinking hot coffee? She actually won a settlement. Now places are forced to put a disclaimer on their coffee cups saying that it is hot. WOW! How could a jury find McDonald's negligent for making coffee HOT???? You know she would've complained if the coffee was cold. Did you not understand that you were ordering HOT coffee? Nowadays I can maybe see that if she ordered ICE coffee, but back then, there was no such thing. But the sad part about the whole story is that the jury sided with her. Huh? I'm confused. It was like the time I was on a jury. Half the people wanted to vote for an acquittal because the guy seemed like a nice guy and they just didn't think he did it? What??? Does the evidence count? What about the testimony? In the end, he did get acquitted (the evidence didn't support the crime he was charged with) but you can't just go on a feeling or vote one way because you feel sorry for someone.

And this brings me to the final point, the system has too many ways to escape from personal responsibility. With temporary insanity, mental defect and whatever psycho babble you can come up with blaming your upbringing and parents and whatever else, there are too many ways we let people off for what they did. I have more to say about that subject, but I'll save it for another post.

So what do you think?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Why is it that we need so much box for so little product? This past holiday season, my kids got a bunch of stuff. Some was for Christmas, some was birthday presents, some was just stuff. Many of the gifts were packaged okay, a box for clothes or a card in an envelope. Then there were the toys. By the time I had unpacked a couple of the toys, my recycle bin was full. Do we really need all that cardboard to protect a product that is 1-inch by 1-inch?

Then there are the cereal boxes and bags of chips. You think you are getting a lot, but the box/bag is less than half full. What gives? Especially on a bag of chips. Not only do you waste all that packaging, your sleeve/arm ends up getting all messed up when you reach into the bag. And then when you want to put the bag away, you have to roll half the bag up! Talk about annoying.

Just Because

Hello all! This is my second attempt at a blog. The first attempt I never let anyone else know about and I only had one post, so it didn't really work. I wasn't sure what to do, but now I have a concept and hopefully it will work out.

This blog will be mostly about things that annoy me. I figure it would be just as good a place as any to vent. Feel free to agree or disagree with your comments, but let's keep it clean. Hopefully you can vent too and we can all feel much better.