Sunday, December 30, 2007

First Night, Last Night? Stupid

So it's time for my annual anti-New Years' rant.

This time I'm going to pick on a relatively new event called "First Night", which occurs on the nigth of December 31st.

I don't have a problem with the various events conducted on said night, but I do have a problem with the name. December 31st is not the "first night" of the year...since night begins at sundown, it is actually the "last night". The first night isn't until the night of January 1st, and everyone is pretty much finished with celebrating by then.

But I still have a problem with the whole concept of New Years'. As I have said many times, I don't see why people make such a big deal out it. It is just an arbitrary day when the number on the calendar changes. Nothing else changes. Life it still full of the same old crap. The same wars are still ongoing. A large part of the world's population is still in poverty or without adequate food. I don't know about anyone else but my life has gotten worse, financially at least, every year since the turn of the century. Between higher prices for gas and everything else, and some large medical bills, which will get larger during the coming year, my financial outlook is dismal. So BAH HUMBUG to New Years' !!!! Screw It!!!!!!!!!! What's there to celebrate? It's just another excuse to get drunk for most people. Maybe that's what I should so.

So Sayeth The Shack

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They Start Early In New Jersey

Apparently criminal activity starts at an early age in New Jersey. Read Below:


Police: Little kids take gifts out of home on Christmas Eve
by South Jersey News Online
Friday December 28, 2007, 4:05 PM

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) -- Local police said it was a classic holiday Grinch tale: A home broken into on Christmas Eve, and wrapped presents stolen off a kitchen table.
But police now say the Grinch was two little kids: a 9-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy.
South Brunswick police Detective Jim Ryan said Friday that the kids used a Blockbuster gift card to pick the lock on the back door of a home a block away.
They then took about $200 in wrapped presents that were located on a kitchen table, including Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers CDs.
The couple who lived in the home returned from some Christmas Eve shopping to find the house broken into, and the presents, intended for a niece, gone, Ryan said.
Eventually, one of the children's relatives, who also lived in the neighborhood, spoke with the couple and realized the gifts that had been taken matched some mysterious extra presents that the children appeared to received on Christmas.
The relative contacted the children's mother, who got the truth out of them on Wednesday, and then contacted police.
Ryan said he didn't immediately know why the young children would go to such lengths to get presents. He said charges weren't planned against the kids.
"A 9- and 5-year-old would never be on our suspect list. For a burglary? Maybe for taking a bike or something like that, but not for a burglary," Ryan said.
The names of the children were not released since they are underage.

So Sayeth The Shack

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Local Man Plays Cop

http://www.centredaily.com/news/local/story/294835.html

Kudos to this guy, who after his store was robbed at gunpoint, chased down the robber on foot and by vehicle, eventually getting the money back and bringing the robber back to the store were the cops were waiting.

The cops in this area are pretty much worthless at solving real crimes, but woe be unto anyone who goes 2 mph over the speed limit or doesn't come to a complete stop at a stop sign....in the middle of the night when there is no one else on the road...you will get a ticket in no time!

So Sayeth The Shack

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Reason For The Season

Commentary: You can't take Christ out of Christmas

Yes the Christians probably "stole" the holiday from the Pagans and Jesus probably wasn't born in the middle of winter, but...

It seems to me that the holiday is all about the spirit of loving and giving, and not spending, getting and mass consumption.

So from The Shack Family, have a safe, happy and joyous (fill in whatever it is celebrate at this time of year). And if you don't celebrate anything in particular, we hope that your life has nonetheless been touched by the spirit of love and giving.



So Sayeth The Shack

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You Just Can't Please These People

It's amazing that no matter what we do to try to produce cleaner energy, the environmentalists are never happy. Today's paper has an article about a proposed wind farm in part of Centre and Blair Counties, including some complaints from environmentalists.

"But environmentalists already have voiced concerns about what they say are the negative effects of fragmenting the forestland. Stan Kotala, president of the Juniata Valley Audubon Society, said Ice Mountain in Blair County, where part of the project would be built, is unique because it has a large expanse of unbroken forest. That interior forest is favored by some species including the bobcat, fisher and scarlet tanager, Kotala said. The county Planning Commission’s Natural Heritage Inventory designated the area a natural heritage area, he said.
“We just feel that it should be protected"

Ya know...we're not talking about a big strip mine or a coal-fired electric generating plant belching out sulfur, soot and whatever (personally I always liked the smell of burning coal.) We're talking about one of the cleanest and most renewable sources of power there is. BUT THEY'RE STILL NOT HAPPY! The windmills might kill some birds. Wow. I'd really rather have a few dead birds than a $1000 electric bill...or no electricity at all. I'm willing to bet that fewer animals will die or be displaced in the long run as the result of a wind farm than as the result of a strip mine or coal-fired power plant. Other people are afraid of noise. Again, I'll bet that a wind farm is quieter than a strip mine (with all the equipment and trucks coming and going) or a conventonal power plant.

Nothing is perfect, but I think wind power is a lot better than some other alternatives.


So Sayeth The Shack

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Here's Some Great Irony For Your

(From the internet; not original material)

As hunting season was approaching, I too noticed an increasingly large number of similar vehicles (big 4-wheel drive trucks) on the roads. Aside of having to sell several kidneys in order to afford to fill the gas tanks, I find the usual reason given for hunting rather amusing. Bare with me for a second:

Brand new 4x4 Truck: $60,000 plus
ATV(s): around $10,000 each (decked out for hunting, usually two or more on trailer)
Trailer to pull it all: $15,000 plus
Hunting Blind/Tree stand: $10,000 (top of the line)
Guns & Ammo: $10,000 (depending on # and type of rifles/bows)
Hunting Cloths: $2,000 (fleece lined, top of the line, multiple sets)

Total: Over $115,000
(prices are based on what I could look up quickly and what I saw at the Sportsmen's Outdoor Show in Harrisburg last year. I've never priced high quality guns and ammo. Actual total may be much higher.)

I parked next to a couple of guys at a restaurant last weekend, they had a setup similar to what I described above, though the truck they were driving had to be closer to the $75,000 price range - it had a high lift kit for the 4wd, brush guards and off-road lighting, and chicken lights all around the rockers and bed. (chicken lights are exorbitant numbers of running lights, usually reserved for big rigs.)

I was talking to the driver for a few minutes and finally ended up asking him why he liked to go hunting. His answer, "I can't afford to buy meat for my family."

So Sayeth The Shack

Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm Dying!

My wife recently brought home some information that says caffeine is a poison and that just a very small amount of it in pure form can kill you. WOW! With all the coffee and other stuff I've drank in my life, I should already be dead! Maybe I'm well on my way. The trouble with living a long life is that, like my mother, who is still alive (and has been drinking coffee AND smoking since she was a teenager), you run out of money, friends and things to do before you run out of life.

So Sayeth The Shack

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I'm Shrinking!

I guess I've arrived at that age where you start getting shorter. I remember many of my older relatives, especially on my mother's side of the family, getting shorter as they got older. Recently, several of my pants have suddenly and inexplicably become too long. So I must now be getting shorter also. Guess it's time to find a tailor!

So Sayeth The Shack

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

E-Mail Scam

I received the following e-mail recently.....

JJob offer

We have reviewed your resume at Monster.com and are eager to inform you that we are ready to offer you a vacant position of the "Financial Agent".NzQ wND

Nj liNj

We looked through your skills and became sure that you correspond to our requirements.MTc5 YjFm

The position of the "Financial Agent" will require from you a half-day activity.
Your work will consist in transferring money among our clients.

Job scheme will comprise the following:Nm QxZD

1. You get a check by mail.ZTJ lZ

2. Than you cash itMjdj Zj

3. You transfer the money to our clientsOTg 4MDU

Your earning will be 8 % of the amount of each check.NzEy OTZ

Additionally we are going to effect you $ 1500 as your salary at the end of each month.OTUz Nm

Required skills to start this job:OW RiY

- Honesty, responsibility and promptness in operations;Ym MzNT

- Prior customer service experience is a good benefit;MTY0 Mzl

- Internet and e-mail skills; Experience in online work;NTM 3Zjk

- Good communications skillsZDI 0Mm

Njl iN

This job will allow you to:
Njli NjM

- Get additional free time; MG Fk

- Develop high selfrespect and esteem. MG Fk

- Get financial independence working only 3-5 hours per day; MGF kZ

General requirements:

- Prior customer service experience is a good benefit; Yj RjZ

- Willingness to take the responsibility to set up and achieve goals; YjR jZ

- Ability to create good administrative reporting; YmYz N2F

- Effective interaction with customers;Yz Zl

In addition we will be able to offer you $ 2500 as a monthly payment after completion of the trial period.Zm ViOW

In case you are interested in the position, please answer this message. We will get in touch with you within 2 working days.NDJi Nj


HAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Think you can trick The Shack, huh?

First of all, I don't have a resume on monster.com

Second of all, I have heard of these scams where you are supposed to deposit a check and then send the money somewhere else. The check ends up being fake and you are out the money plus whatever fines and fees your bank charges for depositing a fake check.

I find interesting the use of the word "scheme" in the original e-mail.

Too bad it isn't true. I could use the extra money.


So Sayeth The Shack



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Health Insurance Sucks


Why even bother having health insurance? The comic strip above pretty much sums it up. First the emergency room doctors at our local hospital don't accept the health insurance that most local residents have. Now, according to today's paper, the anesthesiologists may stop accepting payments from Highmark because of a disagreement. My son broke his leg earlier this year. It was not covered. So we still owe the hospital, and the doctors, a large sum of money that we cannot pay all at once. Now more things may not be covered. I have a large sum deducted from my paycheck to pay health insurance premiums. What good does it do me? When something happens, I still end up having to pay large amounts of money to the hospital, the doctors and the pharmacists. And I still have to keep paying the premiums. As far as I'm concerned, the insurance that we have, Highmark (no choice where I work), is a big, worthless scam. I think I'd be better off without it.

So Sayeth The Shack

Monday, November 26, 2007

We Haven't Learned Yet

I should say they haven't learned yet. It certainly wasn't me out there lined up at 4AM Friday morning ready to whip out my credit card.

According to a news story I heard while listening to the Sunday morning polka show on WALN from Allentown (sorry I can't pick up Big Moose on WOWQ where I live) spending on the day after Thanksgiving (not calling it "Black Friday" cuz I don't want to "offend" anyone) was up 8 percent over last year.

I don't know about anyone else, but I cannot advocate any increase in spending given the uncertainty of our economic situation. With the price of energy going who knows how high and the price of everything else following along, frivolous spending is just out of the question as far as I'm concerned. Fortunately the Shack Kids are old enough to understand that this will be one very lean Christmas coming up for our family. Because I'm just not willing to go along with the rest of the crowd and get even deeper into debt given the economic situation of not only our family but of the entire nation.

So Sayeth The Shack

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Rights Of Believers And Unbelievers

Christmas is fast approaching and many of the decorations are already up.

When I was a child I remember the Christmas tree in the town square with a manger scene underneath depicting the birth of Jesus. Nowadays such a display of religious belief, at least on public property, has been condemned, as have displays of the cross, the ten commandments and other religious items, by the non-christian minority in this country.

Excuse me, but isn't Jesus the whole reason behind Christmas and isn't the ten commandments what our whole system of laws based on? So it seems to me that there is nothing wrong with having a statue of Jesus as part of a Christmas display or having a display of the ten commandments at a courthouse. If it bothers someone, well they really don't have to look at it.

But here is what I really think about the whole situation. It really doesn't matter one way or the other. If you truly believe, it will not matter whether or not you see a cross or a statue of Jesus or a display of the ten commandments somewhere. Or a bible in your hotel room for that matter (yeah that's the latest thing....no more bibles in hotel rooms; guess you have to bring your own if you want one). Your faith is in your heart and it should not matter if you see any external symbols of it or not. Likewise if you do not believe, I don't think seeing a cross or a statue of Jesus or some other religious symbol will suddenly convert you. So the whole controversy is meaningless. If someone wants to display a manger or a cross, fine; I don't care. I mean, what about a statue of Budda, or maybe some pagan figure? They're all fine in my opinion, and it won't change what I believe or don't believe.

So Sayeth The Shack

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Don't Send Me The Bill!

War costs could total $1.6 trillion by 2009, panel estimates


The headline from CNN speaks for itself. So I wonder how many people would support this war if, though taxation, they were the only ones who had to pay for it while those who were against the war did not have to help pay for it.


So Sayeth The Shack

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Leno And Letterman Not So Great?

I find it odd that the late-night talk shows were the first to be sidelined by the writers strike. If these guys were really good comedians, seems like they could come up with their own material. Heck I could probably get up there and do it. (I'm a great comedian...just ask my kids...if they don't laugh at my dinner-table jokes I deduct money from their allowance).

As for the other shows, I am surprised that they don't have the whole season written ahead of time, so that everyone knows what will happen.



So Sayeth The Shack

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The Forgotten Holiday

I love Christmas music and decorations, even if I am not a regular churchgoer. If they want to decorate and put the music on as soon as the Halloween candy has been handed out, that's fine with me.

The trouble is, there is something that is getting lost in the shuffle here, namely, Thanksgiving. With all the emphasis on Christmas already in the first and second week of November, Thanksgiving has been more or less plowed under. Guess I should sell my stock in Butterball.


So Sayeth The Shack

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Things I Don't Get

OK I suppose I'm starting to get up in years, but there are some things and fads that I just don't get.....

BACKWARDS BASEBALL CAPS. The visor is supposed to be in the front to serve a purpose, but nearly everyone wears them backwards anymore. To me it makes them looks like hoodlums.

EARRINGS ON GUYS: Until I was about 20 or so, only girls wore earrings. Now most guys seem to wear them too. For what? To me it makes them look gay...even though I know that is not usually the case.

MOTORCYCLES: Why do they have to be so gosh-frickin' loud!? You can hear them coming (and going) for miles and they scare the frickin' crap out of me. And they usually travel in packs too which makes it even worse. There have been a few times that I have almost had a wreck because I was scared by the sound of a motorcycle. Why are they allowed to be so loud but if my car sounded like that I would get a citation or fail inspection?

FIREWORKS: (While we're on the subject of unneccesary noise..) What is the big deal with these? You've seen one you've seen them all and they just make a lot of useless racket. Used to be they were just on the 4th...now it's New Year's, baseball games, football games....weddings maybe? And some people just set them off for no reason at all...just to make noise. (Maybe I'll have some set off at my funeral!). They are a big waste of money too as far as I'm concerned. Might as well just take some money out of your wallet and set it on fire.

CELL PHONE AND MUSIC PLAYERS: Seems like everyone you see out and about, either walking or driving, has a cell phone attached to their ear or or a headset on. Can't anyone stand the sound of silence anymore? I like music as much as anyone but, especially as a parent, I value the sound of silence when I can get it, which isn't very often. Besides I can't imagine what they all have to talk about or who they have to talk about it to. (Guess I'm just a loser who doesn't have any friends).

OUR OBSESSION WITH SPORTS AND CELEBRITIES: Our society holds professional athletes, musicians and actors/actresses in the highest regard...above our leaders, our teachers, engineers, medical professionals and religious leaders. We pay them more than anyone else. And then they get even more money to promote other products. An entire second industry is built up to closely track their every movement and mistake and to quickly inform the world of it. You know what? They can all jump off the end of the earth as far as I'm concerned. The world would be none the worse for it. In fact it would be better. All that money would be freed up to help solve some of our real problems like poverty and homelessness.

SPITTING: I am always seeing (mostly) guys spitting. This is especially true when watching a sporting event. What do they have in there to spit out? I don't spit....never really feel the urge to. There just isn't anything in there to spit out. Maybe I'm just weird or something.

ADULTS DRESSING UP FOR HALLOWEEN: When I was young, kids were kids and adults were adults. I never saw adults dress up in costumes for halloween and act like idiots. I think it's stupid. I think the whole thing is stupid, including the kids dressing up in costumes and collecting candy. And of course the vandalism that often occurs is uncalledfor also.

HOLLISTER: Except for being a town in California, I have no idea what this is. Yet I see people all the time wearing shirts or jackets that say "Hollister". Would someone please explain to me what and what the big deal is with Hollister?

"MARCH MADNESS"AND THE BRACKETS: I don't really care much for basketball and I really don't get the playoffs. It seems like every team is in the playoffs, so why even bother having the regular season? Plus everyone and their brother is running around with their brackets, trying to predict who the ultimate winner will be. Many people bet on them, and large amounts of work time is lost talking about the outcome of the latest round of games. I really don't care who is in the playoffs, or who wins. This goes for both the college and professional levels.

So Sayeth The Shack

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Too Many Choices

Today was election day so after work I took a hike a few blocks up the street to the local polling place and "did my civic duty". It can be a daunting task to study the views and qualifications of each candidate in an attempt to to make an informed decision...beyond what little information is contained in their TV ads. Considering the relatively low percentage of Americans who vote these days, I wonder what fraction of that percentage actually takes the time to critically examine the candidates to make an informed decision.

Even beyond the political arena, our country has become one of many choices, very few of them any good.

Consider the following comparisons between when I was kid and now....

I grew up in a rather small town and now live in a medium-size city.

When I was a kid, you were either Catholic or some type of Protestant. (Or according to my Dad you were either a Catholic or were going to hell). There were no Jews, Mormons, Unitarians, Muslims, Wiccans and so on. For that matter there were no atheists either...that I know of. Now there are all kinds of churches, and their "salesmen" go door-to-door to pitch their respective religion.

There were 2 grocery stores in our town. My mother only ever shopped at one. To this day I have never been in the other one, nor do I think has my mother (83 and still going, God bless her!). There were no convenience stores either. Department stores?....had to go to "the city" There are nearly 10 supermarkets where I live now...or maybe more..think I quit counting.

There was one bank in town . Where I live now there is a bank at almost every intersection. (So many banks, but I've got no money to put in any of them!)

We got 3 TV stations....or fewer, depending on the weather. Now many of us get over 100 stations; but how often is there something on worth watching? There were equally few radio stations...but at least they played music you could listen to; not rap-crap or whatever else is on the airwaves.

There was one restaurant in town. Where I live now, there are almost as many restaurants as there are banks. Funny; they all seem to be full with waiting lines. Guess no one eats at home anymore. Which makes me wonder; who shops at all the supermarkets and what are they buying?

Most people lived in the same house and worked for the same employer from when they started working til they retired (then they still lived in the same house until they died). They also stayed with the same spouse from marriage til death. And no one "lived together". In the 27 years since I began my career I have lived in 6 different places within a 30-mile radius. Four of these were in the past 8 years. But at least during that time I have stayed with the same employer and for the past 19 years and 2 months I have been married to the same wife (we never "lived together" either...my nickname "Shack" has nothing to do with the phrase "shacking up").

The whole time I lived there (18+ years) I only remember there being one mayor and one police chief. They were related to each other as well as to more that half the other people in town, including my mother's family. Maybe they are still there. Speaking of being related, one of my cousins married my 7-th grade teacher. Two of my great-aunts were teachers at the high school. Another cousin was the assistant high-school principal. In 4th-year Spanish class, there were 10 kids including myself, two cousins and my girlfriend (whose mother and my mother were best friends when they were in high school).

So things were easier back then, at least in terms of making choices. Are we better off with all the choices we have now? I'm not really so sure. Maybe if we took the time to carefully study things so that we can make an informed decision, like we should do before voting. But who has time for that? What do you think? Just pick whoever's TV ad you like better, or whoever's name you can remember the easiest and go with it! Maybe that's why this country is in so much trouble.



So Sayeth The Shack

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

This One's A "Duh"!

So one of the headlines in today's newspaper said "Fewer Poor Students At Penn State". On another page was the headline "Room, Board Costs to Rise". Gee, ya think they're related? And I'll bet I can find a story in the same section about gas prices being over 3 dollars a gallon (along with the latest excuse from the oil companies).

It doesn't take too many brains...not even a college education really...to figure out with the skyrocketing cost of college, poor people can't afford to go there. They can barely afford to go to work given the price of gas.

These are 2 of the factors that will bring about The Crash as described in my post from last week.


So Sayeth The Shack

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Thoughts On Daylight Saving Time

First of all a couple of questions. On Saturday night at the end of D.S.T., do the bars get to stay open an extra hour since at 2 A.M. it become 1 A.M. again? Has there ever been anyone stupid enough to turn their clock back to 1 A.M., then an hour later turn it back again, and so on, getting stuck in an endless loop until D.S.T. rolled around again in the spring? (I'm thinking blonde joke material here).

Now to be a little more serious. I don't care what anyone says, I really don't see how daylight time saves any energy. The number of hours of daylight and darkness don't change. So the energy not being used in the evening is instead being used in the morning to light and heat our homes before we go to work and school. My theory is that it is more of a political and economic thing. People that own stores and restaurants want more daylight at the end of the day so that customers are more likely to go out to eat or shopping after work. It's a good theory; after all, who wants to get home from work at 5 or 6...with it already dark, and then go out shopping or out to dinner? Not me...because I can't see well enough in the dark to drive!

I don't even know for sure when daylight time starts or ends anymore...since they've messed with it, again! I've heard that it ends this weekend, so I'll go along with it. But when, someday, I show up at work an hour late or an hour early, it's probably because I've missed the start or end of daylight time!


So Sayeth The Shack

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Beer-Can Economics

I came upon the following on the internet. I am unable to attribute it to anyone but thought is was worth passin on so here goes.....

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20."Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?' They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20,"declared the sixth man.
He pointed to the tenth man," but he got $10!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!"

"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

For those who understand, no explanation is needed. For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

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Global Warming Hits Pennsylvania?

According to an article in my local newspaper entitled "State Details Changes To Storm Response":

"The state's Road Weather Information System...continues to be a problem. Most of the sites are currently operable, but one along I-81 in Susquehanna County on Monday registered winds of 242 mph and temperatures in the 120s."

Wow! Guess that's what we have to look forward to in the future!


So Sayeth The Shack

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Prepare For The Crash

There is a crash coming. The economic and political course we are on cannot be sustained forever. Economically, there is increasing debt at all levels from personal to the federal government, as well as the trade deficit. The increasing cost of energy (which leads to the higher cost of most everything else), medical care and higher education are forcing people into ever more debt. More and more people are living tenuously from paycheck to paycheck, just one disaster away from ending up living in a cardboard box in the middle of a field. Politically we are making more and more enemies around the world by sticking our nose into other people's business and telling them what to do. Eventually it will come to an end and things will come crashing down around us. I do not know when it will happen; it may be sooner or it may be later, but it is best to begin to prepare for it now.

It will be an economic crash, to be sure. As bad as or worse than the one in 1929, for anyone old enough to remember. Most of us will end up unemployed and poor or even broke. But it will also be a crash of society, civility and government. Our society is simply not the same as it was eight decades ago. The acute shortages of basic necessities will pit people against each other and against the government. Imagine the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, but on a national or even global scale. The crash may come quietly, but odds are it will be triggered by either a large-scale natural disaster or another attack on our homeland. It will begin here in the U.S. but may spread worldwide.

So how does one prepare?

The first thing is to be prepared as you would for a natural disaster. have a supply of non-perishable food on hand that can last for weeks or months, along with a way to prepare it. Arm yourself with some good guns and ammunition. Keep some cash on hand as well. Beyond that, here are some other things you can do:

1) Get of debt and stay out. If you are in debt, do not add to it and work to get out. If you are not in debt, stay out of it. Do not buy anything beyond the necessities...food, basic clothing, basic shelter and basic transportation. The new car, computer or big-screen tv...forget it! Those items will be of no value once the crash happens. Even a college education may be of little or no value then. I feel that coming out of college and starting your life already in debt is a really bad idea.

2) Support local businesses. Buy your basic goods and services as close to home as possible. Not on the internet and not in another city. This saves energy and money, but more importantly, these local businesses....if they survive, may be all you have to rely on after the crash for things you need.

3) Forsake technology. Computers and the internet, cell phones, TV are all great, for now. But none of them may work after the crash. I already regret buying this computer a year ago. It just put me in more debt and could have probably done without. Should have just put up with the old piece of crap that crashed every time I used it. So don't bother spending money on upgrades or new items; they may end up being worthless.

4) Don't expect the government or insurance to help. These institutions may not even exist after the crash. And if they do...as we have already seen, they have their own agenda and don't give a hoot about the little guy.

5) MOST IMPORTANT: If you are one of the fortunate who have plenty after the crash, be willing to help those of your neighbors who do not. If you have nothing, do not rob or kill for food. That is what animals do...not humans. It is better to die hungry than to murder another man for his food.

Good luck


So Sayeth The Shack

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Are People Or Mussles More Important?

Apparently, part of the severe water shortage in the Atlanta area has to do with the weather; less than 50 percent of normal rainfall.

Another part has to with a species of mussel downstream that is being protected under the endangered species act. In order to protect the lives and habitat of these mussels (I'm not sure what a mussel is really...I know they're not talking about those big bulging things on my arms), the Army Corp of Engineers needs to let a certain amount of water out of the reservoir that supplies Atlanta's drinking water so that there is enough water downstream for the mussels, among other things. So residents of Atlanta may run out of drinking water because it would be a violation of the law for the engineers to keep the water in the reservoir and let the mussels die! So are the mussels really more important than people? Maybe we should become an endangered species too...after all we're dying left and right from natural disasters, wars, genocides, disease, etc. The obvious answer is that both are important, but in a case like this I would think that people must take precedence.

I've heard it said that water will be the next oil. Right now we are fighting wars over the dwindling oil supply. As the population of the world continues to increase and resources vanish, we will be fighting wars over water, among other things.

So Sayeth The Shack

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Our Government At Work....Or Not

This sounds like taxation without representation to me...What are we paying these guys for anyway???

From this week's Parade Magazine...

http://www.parade.com/articles/editions/2007/edition_10-21-2007/Intelligence_Report#governmentwatch


Do Senators Vote Anymore?

In one recent week, the Senate passed 153 bills—without voting on a single one. Instead, the measures were “hotlined,” or approved by what’s called “unanimous consent.” How it works: Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, and Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, agree to pass a bill. Then each Senator is called on a special hotline and asked if he or she objects. They may have as little as 15 minutes to respond—and if their staff misses the call, the bill sails on. While some of the hotlined bills just named post offices, others authorized hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending—$294 million over five years in one piece of legislation alone.

So Sayeth The Shack

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Friday, October 19, 2007

I Think They Deserved This One

Woman, 75, fined for smashing Comcast office with hammer

- The Associated Press

She was fined and got a suspended jail sentence, but Mona Shaw says she has no regrets about using a hammer to vent her frustration at a cable company.

"I stand by my actions even more so after getting all these telephone calls and hearing other people's complaints," she told The Associated Press in an interview Friday.

Shaw, 75, and her husband, Don, say they had an appointment in August for a Comcast technician to come to their Bristow home to install the company's heavily advertised Triple Play phone, Internet and cable service.

The Shaws say no one came all day, and the technician who showed up two days later left without finishing the setup. Two days after that, Comcast cut off all their service.

At the Comcast office in Manassas later that day, they waited for a manager for two hours before being told the manager had left for the day, the Shaws say.

Shaw, a churchgoing secretary of the local AARP branch, returned the next Monday - with a hammer.

Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable company, disputes Shaw's version of its customer service record and calls Shaw's hammer fit on Aug. 20 an "inappropriate situation."

"Nothing justifies this sort of dangerous behavior," Comcast spokeswoman Beth Bacha said.

Police arrested Shaw for disorderly conduct. She received a three-month suspended sentence, was fined $345 and and is barred from going near the Comcast offices for a year.

The Shaws did eventually get phone and television service - with Verizon and DirecTV.

She said many people have called her a hero. "But no, I'm just an old lady who got mad. I had a hissy fit," she said.

Yeah; I've been tempted to do this also!


So Sayeth The Shack

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Freedom Of Speech?

Jeez you can't even swear in your own house anymore! What is this world coming to??

http://www.centredaily.com/news/state/story/234786.html

So Sayeth The Shack

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Spoiled Brat Kids

Two news stories, one on CNN and the other in my local newspaper, aroused some thoughts over the past few days.

The story on CNN concerned parents bemoaning the high price of tickets to Hanna Montana. Now I don't really know what that is but there was a woman on there saying she had to pay much higher than the face value to get tickets for her kids because there were none available at face value. First of all, I see nothing wrong with scalping tickets to concerts, sporting events etc. I mean, if Exxon/Mobil or any other oil company can make billions of dollars a year selling us gasoline at jacked-up prices, why can't some other company or individual make a profit selling tickets at a high price if people are willing to pay for it? but that isn't what this post is about. Excuse me lady, but no one is forcing you to buy those tickets for your kids. There is such a thing as saying "no...I'm sorry; we can't afford it" or whatever. I have been fortunate enough to be able to get my kids...and occasionally myself... to a few concerts and sporting events. But there is a limit as to how much I will pay. Hundreds of dollars for tickets to a college football game? Hah! Forget about it!

The other item was about services employed by college students to clean their dorm rooms, frat rooms or apartments because they are too busy (lazy?) to do it themselves. These services, according to the article, are paid for not by the students, but by their parents! (Who are probably paying for at least part of their tuition, computers, even cars!) Wow! Talk about spoiled!

Buying your kids everything and fulfilling their every desire is not going to make them better people. They will just expect everything to be given to them and done for them as they go through life, and that isn't the way things work. I don't consider myself the world's best parent but here is how things work in the Shack household: The kids are expected to keep their rooms "reasonably" neat and clean, and to help with keeping the rest of the house neat and clean as well. There is no cleaning service here. Every 2 weeks there is "cleaning day" when everyone has a certain job to do. They are also expected to do their own laundry. No laundry service here. Each day at dinnertime each of us (myself included) has a job that involves getting dinner on the able and/or cleaning up afterward. When groceries are brought in, the guys unload them from the car into the house and the gals put the stuff away. I don't know how my kids will turn out once they are out on their own, but hopefully this is teaching them to do some things for themselves rather than throwing away their hard-earned money paying someone else to do it.

So Sayeth The Shack

Sunday, October 14, 2007

More On Advertising

A while ago I wrote a post concerning advertising. One thing I did not include at that time was how some of us actually pay companies to do their advertising for them. One of the most common ways this happens is by wearing clothing with the company name or logo on it. Nike shoes are a good example. I also notice a lot of, mostly young people, wearing shirts that say "Hollister" or "Abercrombie & Fitch" on them. I guess it makes them look cool or something...so they think. Here's what they don't think about. First of all, they pay more for the shirt with the name on it than they would a plain shirt; now much more I do not know. Then, by wearing the shirt, they are providing free advertising for the company! So the company gets double the benefits and the purchaser and wearer of the shirt is paying a heck of a lot more than they would to wear a plain shirt.

So Sayeth The Shack

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Germophobia

In the past few years there has been a great increase in the number of products that supposedly kill germs. Of course Lysol has been around pretty much forever. Then came antibacterial soap. Then antibacterial hand creme (for when there is no water). Now there are antibacterial cleaning products....for your kitchen, bathroom, etc. Has anyone come out with antibacterial laundry soap yet? But this next one really got me....antibacterial glass cleaner! Do I really care if there are germs on my windows??

All of these products claim that they kill 99.X percent of germs. Sounds nice and clean and sanitary and what a good housekeeper should be using to protect themselves and their children from those awful scary germs. But is this really a good idea? If we wipe out nearly all the germs, our immune systems won't have anything to fight against, so they will weaken and lose their purpose. Then the leftover (100-99.X) percent of the germs that weren't killed will gang up on us and wipe us all out!! So let's go easy on those germs. Yeah they might make us sick now and then, but overall they are sort of our friends.

So Sayeth The Shack

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Legacy Of Columbus

This week we celebrate Columbus Day. We celebrate the bravery of a man and his crew who, centuries ago, sailed across the Atlantic to "discover" a new land and the people thereon. In recent years this day has become less of a celebration than it used to be. In fact, it has even become grounds for protest by those who feel that the arrival of Europeans on American soil resulted in the ultimate downfall of the people who already lived here. There is no doubt that the Native Americans, Indians, or whatever you choose to call them suffered greatly at the hands of the Europeans. They were subjugated, in some cases killed, and in most cases eventually driven from the land they had inhabited for who knows how long before 1492 and forced to live on "reservations" as second- or third-class citizens of the land they originally inhabited. All because they looked, behaved, lived and worshipped differently than the newly-arrived Europeans. They were "savages" and "pagans" in the eyes of the newcomers. They had to be "civilized" and "christianized". Even though many of them were peaceful, many died at the hands of the "invaders" or from new diseases brought by the "invaders" that they had no immunity from. So there is reason to look negatively upon Columbus and the other early European settlers of this country.
But that does not make them any less great. It took a great deal of bravery to leave one's home and sail for weeks across a sea to face a difficult and uncertain future in a new land. As far as their handling of the native people of America is concerned, they didn't know any better. They believed (as some people still do now) that they had to bring Christianty whereever they went. They believed that, because of how the natives lived, that they were inferior and possibly dangerous, so they had to be "controlled" or "civilized" The knew nothing of the diseases they carried to those who had no immunity to them.
So, looking back, yes, you can say that the entire situation was handed wrongly. But as Jesus said" forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do" One cannot go back in time and change things. So let us honor the bravery and greatness of Columbus and others like him, but at the same time, we should perhaps mourn the downfall of the societies and civilizations of the original inhabitants of this continent.

So Sayeth The Shack

Monday, October 01, 2007

Comcast And The Big Ten Network

First of all, I would like to thank my cable provider, D & E Communications, for quietly adding the Big Ten Network, along with several other stations, to their lineup without (at least so far) raising the rates.
But mostly, I would like to berate Comcast for running an ad that says "There are some fans that want to watch the extra games....the Big Ten Network offers. And there are countless others who don't want to pay the added costs....to watch programming they don't want". Come on, Comcast, you more than anyone should know that it doesn't work that way. No cable or satellite provider offers a la carte programming. We are all, no matter who our provider is, forced to subscribe to channels we don't want in order to get channels that we do want. If I want Channel B, I have to get Channel A and C along with it, even if I never watch them. I actually know people who refuse to subscribe to cable TV at all because they would have to pay for things they won't be watching. I don't even know how many channels I have available now, but I probably only ever watch half of them. Comcast, I'll bet you have a bunch of channels on your system that less than 50 percent of your subscribers watch with any regularity.
Why should the Big Ten Network be different? Not every subscriber will watch it any more than every subscriber watches the Soap Network or the Home Shopping Network. Yet they are on your system. So stop the arguing; stop depriving fans of their precious PSU sports, and put the channel in your lineup.

So Sayeth The Shack

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I-Pods Cause Crime??

Another headline in my local newspaper caught my attention recently. It read "I-pods tied to higher crime across the U.S." Wow...now we've gone from blaming crime on the devil to blaming it on the victims to blaming it on inanimate objects. Thank goodness I don't have an i-pod yet (or should I say I still don't have one!) When will we realize that the people responsible for crime are the actual criminals??

So Sayeth The Shack

China Bans Bra & Underwear Ads

http://www.centredaily.com/news/weird_news/story/221026.html

Maybe we should do this in this country too. Some of those ads are on the border of being R or even X-rated.


So Sayeth The Shack

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pedestrians Can Do No Wrong?

The recent convection of Anthony Torsell, a young man who, while heavily intoxicated, sped through town and mowed down two pedestrians, killing one and seriously injuring the other, sends some interesting messages. Yes, Mr. Torsell was extremely drunk; he should not have been behind a wheel. Yes, he was speeding. But one of the facts presented in the case was that the accident would not have happened if the pedestrians had not entered the intersection on a "don't walk" signal. So they, the victims, also contributed to the accident. We see this kind of thing all the time around here. Pedestrians walking across the street oblivious as to whether or not they have the right-of-way and whether or not there is traffic coming. Sometimes they walk right out in front of you and expect you to come to a screeching halt. When I was young (yes they had cars back then) I was taught to look both ways and wait for traffic to clear before crossing...even at a crosswalk. People are no longer taught this. They are taught that they can cross any street at any time and the traffic will stop for them, except perhaps for speeding drunks and the writer of this post, who more than once has been tempted to mow down someone who walked out in front of me as I drove down the street. The result of the trail may encourage more pedestrians to engage in this kind of dangerous behavior. It would be nice to be able to drive through town and expect everyone, including the pedestrians, to obey the traffic laws.

So Sayeth The Shack

Friday, September 21, 2007

Here's A Stupid Lawsuit

I was reading a magazine recently and saw one of those lawsuit settlement notices. You know what I mean? It says that if such and such has happened to you, you may be a member of the settlement class and entitled to some amount of compensation. The suit was against Herbalife and some of their distributors for allegedly violating a telecommunications act by contacting non-customers who had registered their phone numbers on the do-not-call list. OK maybe a law was broken and someone should be punished....but a million dollar lawsuit for making phone calls? I would have never thought of doing something like that. So really, the next time a telemarketer calls me, I'll just sue them!
What is even stupider is that one can get up to 75 dollars just by saying that you were contacted illegally by Herbalife or one of their distributors. How could it be verified? I cannot prove that I was called but they cannot prove that I wasn't. Sounds like an easy 75 bucks to me.

So Sayeth The Shack

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

We Are All Poorer For It

I work for a "media company" as they call it. Years ago, our income was derived from clients who paid us for information. Then came the internet and Wal-Mart. Both have resulted in huge changes.

With the internet, people expect information and other services without wait and without cost. You get on the internet and read the news, sports, weather and whatever, whenever you want, and you don't pay for it. (Actually you do and you'll see how in just a bit). So the company I work for has a web site (just like every other company) where people can obtain information at no cost. So if no one is "paying" for the information anymore, where does the money come from for my salary and that of my co-workers? Advertising, that's where. Advertising pays for your free news, your free sports, weather, etc. It pays for many of the web sites you visit, the TV shows you watch, the radio programs you listen to, and in part for the newspaper or magazine you read.

So what is advertising all about? My definition of advertising is a company paying money to get you to spend money you don't have on something you don't need. The purpose of advertising is to create a want, or even better, a perceived need for a product...to make us feel that we cannot live, or at least live well, without it. This works well with children, but even many adults are easily swayed by advertising. Why else would someone spend $500 on an I-phone, hundreds of dollars on a suit, tens of thousands on a car, etc. A large part of our economy is now dedicated to advertising and it's associated costs. A large percent of the cost of virtually every product you buy goes to advertising. So in reality, all of that "free" news, weather and stuff on the internet isn't really free. You pay for it every time you buy something. Even companies that are essentially monopolies spend money on advertising, which is ridiculous. Why should a company like Exxon, that sells like 90 percent of all gasoline and makes billions of dollars in profit doing it, need to advertise. Why should the electric company advertise; I can't get electricity elsewhere. Interestingly enough, technology makes it possible to avoid and ignore most advertising. Pop-up ads and spam e-mails, the bane of the internet just a few years ago, can be effectively blocked. VCR's and more recently TiVo and DVR's make it possible to fast-forward through ads on TV. So companies are spending more on advertising that people are seeing less of.

Now on to the "Wal-Mart effect" as I call it. "Always the lowest price " the ad says. Maybe so, but at what cost? The goods and services that are not "free", people want be sure they are getting the lowest price for, and are not necessarily concerned about quality (at least not until the product turns out to be defective). The result is fierce price competition (and more advertising) between the producers of goods and services. That is a good thing, right? To an extent yes. But too much of this is now driving down wages and benefits and sending many jobs overseas.

So the end result of advertising, the internet and WalMart in America is lower wages, poorer benefits and higher costs for all of us. I don't know about any of you, but I am no better off and am perhaps worse off than my parents, who had no internet and no WalMart.

So Sayeth The Shack

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Religion: A personal Matter

It is Sunday afternoon. Earlier today, many of us went to one church or another. Some of us did not go to church. In a couple of days is the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, whan a handful of people killed themselves and thousands of innocent people, supposedly in the name of "God".

Last month, I watched a documentary on CNN called "God's Warriors". It was a three-part show, with two hours each focusing on fundamentalism and fanaticism in each of the three major religions: Islam, Judaism and Christianity. It helped me to understand the sources of some of the conflict in the Middle East, but more so, it made me think how much a personal decision our religion must be.

Each of choose to either go to church or not, to believe in God or not. This is something that, at least here in the United States, cannot be forced upon us. I cannot force my beliefs, or lack thereof, upon my neighbors, co-workers, family, even my children. Sure, we drag our children to church when they are young and try to brainwash them with whatever version of religion our particular church teaches, but they eventually reach an age where they must decide for themselves what or if they believe. My 15-year-old son has recently stated that he does not believe in God or religion. So as a parent, should I force him to continue to go to church, or say: "I respect your lack of belief; it is up to you whether or not to attend church"?

On a larger scale, it is the fanatics and fundamentalists in each religion that are trying to force their beliefs upon the rest of the world, some by political means, some be violent means, and some by trying to "sell" their religion door-to-door. We most often think of Muslims when we say using violent means, but there have been violent Christians as well, such as those who have bombed abortion clinics or killed abortion doctors. Just recently a new Al Queda tape was issued in which Bin Laden said something like we won't kill you if you all convert to Islam. There are also Jews who are trying, by violent means, to force the Palestinians out of Israel. In the political arena there are plenty of right-wing Christian fanatics who are trying to steer the laws and leaders of our own country. And then there are the "sellers" of religion; those who go door-to-door like the Mormons and the Jehovas' Witnesses trying to sell their beliefs and recruit new members to their churches.

I may or may not believe in God and may or may not attend a church, but that is my own personal choice. It is not up to my government, my family or my neighbors. I have no business telling you that my religion or lack of it is better than yours. And it is certainly not up to me to hurt or kill someone in the name of "God"; for this "God" supposedly said "Thou shalt not kill". I am not aware of any exceptions to that.

Let us all remember the thousands of innocents who died 6 years ago at the hands of fanatic religions fundamentalists acting in the name of some "god".

So Sayeth The Shack

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Back Again, Or Still Here

Just a quick post for now to let you know that I am still alive and have not abandoned the blog. Have been enjoying the summer and doing some things with the ShackFamily. This year instead of a family vacation all together I decided to spend time with each family member separately. A few weeks ago my son LittleShack and I went whitewater rafting on the Youghiogheny River (hope I spelled that right). A couple of weeks from now my daughter ShackEtte and I will be going to New York for a Yankees game. A little over a week ago I took my wife ShackWife out to dinner for her birthday. (She is now older than me until my birthday which is later this month). She and I will also be going to a couple of shows during the course of the winter. I have also spent a lot of time tending to the garden which has yielded, despite the less than perfect weather, a good crop of various vegetables. I had no luck with lettuce (didn't grow at all) or beets (only one of a row), but everything else was plentiful. The peppers were especially abundant. Also harvested plenty of corn, tomatoes, carrots, onions and zucchini. By the way the secret to zucchini is planting two plants and keeping only one. Even then, you may still have more than you want or need. The freezer is stuffed full, thanks to the efforts of ShackWife. Still picking some tomatoes, peppers and the last of the corn, but since ShackWife is back to work for the school year, am trying to keep amounts down. The wife and kids headed back to school/work today, and I have a couple of days off to spend with just myself. Look for more posts in the near future as I have some thoughts to share.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Ownership

We don't really "own" anything. We come into this world with nothing. We can take nothing when we leave. We really only "borrow" things for the short amount of time that we are here.

So Sayeth The Shack

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Joke Time

Question: Why did Jesus take three days to rise from the dead?

Answer: Because he had a PENNDOT crew digging him up!!

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President Bush and General Rumsfeld are in a meeting. Rumsfeld tells Bush that three Brazilian soldiers have just died in Iraq. "Oh my God!!" says Bush, "three Brazilian solders!!! That's horrendous!!" He is visibly upset, holding his head in is hands and shaking it side to side. After a moment,Bush says "now tell me again; is a brazilian more than a billion?"


So Sayeth The Shack

Shut Down The Internet!

http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=41402


Apparently, "Sir" Elton John wants to shut down the internet "for about five years" because it is
"destroying good music and stopped people talking to each other".

I agree. I think we should shut down the internet. But for other reasons. All the spam e-mail, scams, hoaxes, porn, identity theft, computer viruses , etc; it is nothing but trouble. Shut it down!

The only problem is you wouldn't be able to read my blog!!!!


So Sayeth The Shack

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Here's Why The Funk, Mr. Barone

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/070729/6barone.htm

In his article in the August 6th issue of U.S. News & World Report, Michael Barone asks why America is in such a funk, given that things seems to be going so well. Here are some reasons for pessimism:
Despite what Wall Street might have to say, the economy is not all that great. The majority of the money is in the hands of a minority of the people. The middle class is shrinking. Many Americans are deeply in debt and cannot see themselves getting out. Many are in debt right off the bat out of college due to student loans. Many will not be able to afford to retire when they reach the retirement age because they have not been able to contribute enough to their retirement accounts (something the previous generation did not have to worry about). Our economy is based largely on service industries and advertising (companies spending money to persuade people to spend money they don't have for something they don't need) and much less on manufacturing. Consequently our trade deficit is skyrocketing. This course is simply not sustainable and eventually everything will come crashing down, plunging the nation into a deep recession or even a depression.
We have in this decade been attacked on our own soil and are threatened with further attacks by the same enemy, an enemy that we have not been able to even find, much less to conquer. We are involved in a war that, like Vietnam, seems to have no end.
Our education system is failing. Many high-school and even college graduates are not as intelligent, well-educated or motivated as their counterparts in (or from) other countries. (Ever notice how many foreign doctors there are now?) Our health-care system is unaffordable to many, even with insurance. Our political system is a mockery, and our news media is more concerned with the affairs of celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears than with truly important matters.
America has reached its peak and is heading downhill. Our world prominence is being replaced by that of rising nations such as China and India.


So Sayeth The Shack

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Yeah, Right!

Baghdad bans gunfire for big soccer match

Yeah right....banning gunfire in Baghdad. That's like banning gunfire on the first day of deer season in Pennsylvania! Or banning speeding on a Nascar track!! I'm sure it will work well.


So Sayeth The Shack

Saturday, July 28, 2007

It's All About The Size

OK based on the title you might expect this post to be about a certain body part, but it isn't.

I'm talking about TV screens here!

In the past several years the size of TV screens has gone in 2 different directions. On one extreme we have the big screen gizmos that would take up my entire living room wall, and that I might actually be able to see without my glasses. On the other extreme we now have the ability to view movies or TV programs on relatively small computer monitors and even smaller cell phone and i-pod screens. Now maybe watching a show or a movie on my computer monitor would be OK, if it were the only alternative, but on a cell phone or i-pod? NO WAY! I really don't get the attraction of watching shows on those little gizmos. First of all, the screen is way too small and the sound is crummy. Second of all I prefer to watch TV in the comfort of my home on a screen that I can see, cuddled up on the sofa with the Shack-Wife and maybe consuming a bowl of ice-cream with hot fudge/peanut butter topping and whipped cream on top (my nightly snack). I might be an impatient person but I am not so impatient that I cannot wait to get home to watch something. Yes I do have a VCR and TiVo so I can watch what I want when I want to, but I would guess most people who have cell phones and i-pods also have that capability. So is there really a need for these tiny screen TV's? I don't think so. It is just another example of marketing to make people think they need something that they really don't.

Anyway I am afraid that I have purchased my last television set. I have had it for over 7 years. It is a modest size (36 inch diagonal) regular TV set from Sears. Nothing fancy. The problem is that they pretty much don't make "regular" TV sets anymore. Everything is big-screen, or high-definition, or plasma screen, or something else. I really don't know what is the difference between high-def, plasma or whatever. Except that they all cost a big bundle and I won't be able to afford any of them. So after this one goes kaput, I might end up watching TV on my computer monitor, or, God forbid, my cell phone (no I don't have an i-pod).


So Sayeth The Shack

This Is News?

At the place where I work there are several big-screen TV's mounted on the wall and tuned to various stations, including some of the all-news stations, mostly Fox News.

It seems most of the so-called "news" carried by Fox concerns Lindsay Lohan's DUI, Brittany Spears' "meltdowns" (whatever a meltdown is...is that we used to call a nervous breakdown?) and various other problems of other people who have way too much money and don't know what to do with it or how to behave. Every once in a while they throw in a car chase to break the boredom. I can't believe enough people are interested in that stuff for them to devote so much airtime to it.

So anyway I've come up with a new advertising motto for Fox News, based on what I have seen: "59 minutes an hour of totally worthless crap".


So Sayeth The Shack

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How Did They Do It?

Last year, for an entire road construction season, a road that I use daily was closed so that a center turning lane could be added. It took the whole year to add one lane to about a one mile length of road. (Most of the time it seemed like they weren't doing anything).

So I did some figuring, just recently. At the rate that project was completed, it would have taken 1244 years to build Interstate 80 across Pennsylvania!

So I'm wondering...given the above calculation, and how long it takes to complete ANY road project these days, how did they actually ever build the interstate? Guess they must have worked faster back then, or something. Or they just did such a shoddy job that it's no wonder it has to be rebuilt EVERY YEAR!


So Sayeth The Shack

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bush's Colon

So they didn't find any cancer in Bush's colon....

But he sure keeps pulling a lot of stupid ideas out of it!!!


So Sayeth The Shack

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Who Benefits From Minimum Wage Increase?

My daughter works at a local pizza place. A few weeks ago they put into effect new (higher) prices. Many other pizza places in the area did the same, as did, I am sure, most restaurants. Interestingly, these price increases coincide with the increase in minimum wage which took effect July 1. This makes me wonder...is anyone better off because of the minimum wage increase? I can tell you that I, for one, am not. My salary is not tied to the minimum wage so it does not change when the minimum wage does. The businesses are neither better nor worse off. They simply pass on the increased costs to the consumer. That is one thing I hate about capitalism. It is always the consumer who has to absorb increased costs. I cannot have my wages increased just because the prices I pay for things has gone up. So it is always me, the consumer, that gets screwed every time. The minimum-wage workers are probably no better off either. They get paid more, but they have to turn around and pay more for things that now cost more because of their own wage increase.

So does anyone really benefit? Wait! I think I know! Its the GOVERNMENT that benefits! They can collect more tax on the higher wages and also on the higher prices. They benefit both ways! Imagine that! the government enacting policy that benefits no one except themselves!

So Sayeth The Shack

Thursday, July 05, 2007

They Deserved To Die


From CNN:

CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP)
-- A neighbor apparently angry about fireworks at a noisy Fourth of July party shot three people to death early Thursday and wounded two others, police said.

Terrance Hough Jr., a 35-year-old off-duty firefighter, was arrested in connection with the shootings, police spokesman Lt. Thomas Stacho said.

No charges had been filed Thursday morning because police were still gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses, Stacho said. There was no phone listing for Hough's address.

Police had received a number of complaints in recent years about loud parties, fireworks and drag racing connected to the house where the victims were shot, Stacho said. Some complaint calls came from Hough's address, but no one called police about the party Thursday night.

The neighbors were throwing a party when two men and a woman, all in their 20s, were shot to death shortly after midnight, Stacho said. He said another man was shot in the elbow and a woman was wounded in the hand.


Shack Says: These people deserved to be shot. I've had neighbors like this...they don't give a flying fuck about anyone. You tell them they are disturbing you and they just do it more. If I had had a gun a few years ago some of my former neighbors would have been dead too. For the same reason.


So Sayeth The Shack

Monday, July 02, 2007

Of Toll Booths, Interchanges and Landfills

These three are hot discussion topics around here lately so I will offer some of my views. The idea of tolls on I-80 is the most recent. I will start with that and work my way back to the landfill.

The Pennsylvania legislature has recently proposed to collect tolls on I-80 to raise funds for road repair and construction, and for mass transit. This is not a new proposal. The idea has been advanced at least a couple of times before, but it has never happened (yet). I am not against the idea, but I personally would not pay a penny to drive on that road. I am not as widely traveled as some people, but it is the worst road I have ever been on. Every summer, huge stretches, probably more than 50 percent of the distance across the state, are ripped up for construction. So you end up putzing along a less than one lane wide "road" for mile after mile after mile. And if there is a wreck or breakdown, forget it; you're stuck for hours. In the winter, when there is snow or ice, the Penndot idea seems to be to wait for the stuff to melt rather than plow or salt. And then of course you have these jackasses that don't seem to realize that when there is snow or ice on the road or the visibility is poor, it might be a good idea to slow down (or even get off) so you don't end up in or causing one of those famous 100-vehicle wrecks that backs up traffic halfway across the state. I would rather take Gorton Rd to Ohio, if it went that far. Now if you are lucky there is a week or two in the late fall and early spring, between winter and construction, that the road can almost be a joy to drive on, IF it isn't filled with bumps and potholes. Now the idea is to scatter some toll booths across the state. One at each border and a few others who knows where. These will be permanent traffic bottlenecks. All traffic will have to stop long enough to pay. Vehicles will back up. Then there will be wrecks as someone will
be barreling along, not realize the traffic is slowing or stopping, and smash into someone. This will make the road even more dangerous than it is now. Plus the towns near the toll collection sites will have an increase in traffic as vehicles temporarily exit to avoid the tolls. The only safe way to collect tolls, and it will be expensive , at least at first, is to put toll booths at each interchange, like the turnpike.

Now on to other matters. I feel that the proposed landfill near the border of Rush and Snow Show Township should be built, but ONLY IF the proposed I-80 interchange is built along with it. Rts 144,53, Gorton Rd and others are simply not built for the big trucks that would be going in and out of there. And the interchange does not have to be open to Gorton Rd. It could be for the landfill only, so long as the landfills owners pay for it and none of our tax dollars are used. The landfill could bring some good jobs to the area. As far as the land use is concerned, sure it's wooded now, but a generation or so ago it was mined and logged, so it definitely has a history of being other than woodland. And there used to be a landfill in Snow Shoe Township anyway. With new technology, this one would probably be cleaner than the old one.


So Sayeth The Shack

The Worst Run Business

If you or I were in business and we ran our business the way oil companies run theirs, we would soon be out of business.

Every year, in the spring and early summer, the price of gasoline rises. The oil companies say it is because people are driving more as the weather gets nicer and vacations get underway, so the supply goes down and the price goes up. Imagine that. It happens every year, yet every year they(the oil companies) seem to be caught off guard, so the price goes up.

Every year, in the fall and early winter, the price of heating oil goes up. The oil companies say it is because the weather is getting colder and people are using more heating oil. Wow. Imagine that. It gets colder in the winter. Happens every year. But again, the oil companies always seem to be unprepared, and the price goes up.

Over the past few weeks the price of gasoline dropped a bit. There was an "unexpected" rise in inventory of gasoline. Duh! You jack up the price high enough and at least some people...the ones with some common sense, cut back on their unnecessary usage. However, just this past Friday I read that crude went over $70/barrel because of a report that inventories were down. So I'll be that gas prices will soon be back over $3/gallon, if they aren't already, just in time for the holiday.

It seems that any other company could anticipate these seasonal fluctuations in demand and plan ahead for them so as not to anger their customers with sudden price changes. But not the oil companies. They don't care. They don't have too. The only thing keeping them in business is the lack of alternatives. In other words, they are the only show in town. They are a monopoly. And a monopoly can do whatever it wants. And it usually wants to screw the customer.


So Sayeth The Shack

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Teach Your Kids About Money

I am nearly 50 years old, have a college degree, have worked for the same company for 27 years in the field my degree is in. I am married and have two teenagers.

Sounds like I should be in reasonably decent shape financially, right?

WRONG!!!!!!!!!!

I am broke. I have spent every penny that I have ever had. I do not own a home or property; no savings, stocks, bonds or anything like that. Both of our cars are financed. Essentially I have nothing except for some clothes and shoddy old furniture. I am living paycheck to paycheck and many months not making it so actually my wife and daughter are chipping in to help meet expenses. I will likely not be able to put one cent toward my children's college education.

So what happened?

I could spread the blame around like saying my employer doesn't pay enough and other things, but truth is, most of the blame lies with me. I have always been a very impulsive person and have made many stupid decisions that caused my family to go backwards financially rather than forwards. I guess I do blame one party for my situation: my parents. Don't get me wrong; I love my parents and they are great, but they really did not teach me about money. And they were not in financial ruin. They did not go to college, but they both worked and there always seemed to be enough money. In fact it seems like they had more money then than I do now. They were not in debt (that I know of). They were able to pay for a large part of my college education so that I had no student loan debt upon graduation. We had what we needed and for the most part what we wanted. Of course they did not have some of the expenses that many people have these days: no cable bills, internet, cell phones or computers that always seem to need to be upgraded. (I think the cell phone and computer industry is all a big conspiracy to relieve us of our money).

So I would consider my parents financially successful. Not rich by any means, but certainly well able to provide. But they did not pass their know-how on to me. They did not teach me about saving for purchases versus buying on credit; waiting patiently until I had enough money rather than "whipping out the plastic"; they did not teach how do distinguish wants from needs and to act accordingly. And so instead of being a financial success, I consider myself a financial failure.

So what about my children? My oldest will be a senior in high school this coming school year. She has a job and is saving her money well as she looks forward to college. Her younger brother is more like me. He spends eveything he gets and so at any given time has virtually nothing.

So here is some advice for parents to teach their kids about money. (Do as I say and not as I have done!)

1: If possible, give them an allowance and set up a savings account for them. If you can join a credit union, do it at a credit union rather than a regular bank because they generally pay better interest. make the allowance contingent on doing certain chores around the house. If the chores are undone or not done up to standards, withhold part or all of the allowance.

2: encourage them to get a job; a part-time job in high school makes most kids more responsible and many actually do better with their schoolwork than those without jobs.

3: have them pay with some of their allowance or job money certain household expenses that pertain to them, such as cell phone bills or internet costs, and car insurance, gasoline and maintainance if they are driving.

4: if they need/want more money than they have, lend them some if you can, but charge them interest and be sure they pay you back; otherwise, withhold the allowance. Make sure to help them distinguish wants from needs when borrowing. If they can do without it, it is unadvisable to borrow for it. It is also a bad idea to borrow for something that will be outdated before they get done paying for it.

5: let them in on the famly budget and decision-making process. Have a "family budget meeting" once in a while so they can see how things work in real life.

Don' let your kids end up like me because it really sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


So Sayeth The Shack

Friday, June 01, 2007

Something To Be Thankful For

As one of the world's biggest cynics, I rarely feel thankful for anything, but I think I have finally found something...

With all the pollen that has been in the air for the past few weeks, I'm really thankful that I'm not allergic to the stuff. Otherwise I'd be miserable (or at least more miserable than I already otherwise would be).

So OK; THANK YOU FOR NOT GIVING ME ALLERGIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


So Sayeth The Shack