Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Good Reason for a "Blog Holiday"

No post of substance today, because I'm going to see these guys tonight. A review will follow tomorrow.

(And yes, all of last week's unfinished posts will be completed in the next few days as well.)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tweet No Evil?

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been fined quite a bit of money during the time that he's owned the team, mostly for criticizing the officiating over the years. So the fact that he was fined again this weekend comes as no real surprise, but the way that it happened is unusual: The fine was levied as the result of a Twitter post:
Cuban used the Twitter online social network to complain after Friday night's game that Denver's J.R. Smith was not called for coming off the bench to taunt Antoine Wright after he missed a shot near the Nuggets bench.

Cuban said in another posting Sunday that he "can't say no one makes money from twitter now. the nba does."
Heh. It's funny (and completely understandable) that online mogul Cuban is using the latest technology to vent his proverbial spleen.

But that brings up a question: Should owners be getting fined for criticizing the officiating, no matter what form of communciation is used? If an official is called out by name, I can see a problem, because that could bring up security issues for said official. But why does free speech end at the door of a sports league? The officials have a huge responsibility, and their actions can affect the outcome of a game. If something is really wrong, I don't see a problem with talking about it in public. (If it happens too much, people will likely dismiss a coach or owner's actions as "crying wolf" anyway.)

Am I all wet here? Feel free to call me out in the comments; no fines will be levied.

UPDATE: On the other hand, I think most people would agree that it's a bad idea to use Twitter to criticize a job you haven't even gotten yet.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Festive Time

My college's annual jazz festival is this weekend, and it will pretty much "own" me until late Saturday night. I'll try to catch up on posting on Sunday, but I might just take the day off and do nothing.

And if you're in the area, come see us; check my MySpace (link on sidebar) for showtimes.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Heartwarming Story of the Week

This is my favorite story of the week so far: A little girl in Florida who lost her mother to breast cancer decided to set up a lemonade stand to help raise a little money for the hospital where her mother had been given such good care in her final days. But "a little money" turned into a lot as people got word of what she was doing, and some businesses pitched in as well, and when all was said and done, Victoria Petrucelly's stand raised $24,000 for M.D. Anderson Cancer Center of Orlando, where officials were understandably shocked at the large donation.

(While searching for this story online, I also ran across quite a few links to Alex's Lemonade Stand, a similar idea launched by a kid, but in this case, Alex herself had cancer, and the money went toward fighting the disease at the childhood level. Though Alex succumbed to cancer in 2004, her lemonade stand spawned a foundation that continues to this day.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

With This Blog, I Thee Wed

This would be a really cool story even if I had never heard of the parties in question. But since it happened to a blogger whose site is among my top three daily reads, it's even better.

I've been following the Althouse blog for quite some time, ever since the hostess, University of Wisconsin lawprof Ann Althouse, guest-blogged at Instapundit a number of years ago. Once she enabled comments, the site's readership soared, and the commentariat grew into a diverse, engaging community, many of whom I wouldn't mind meeting in person if the occasion ever arose. (Althouse has in fact held a few reader meet-ups in various places, and I'm always hoping that she might do one in Austin, where one of her sons lives.) Many people had expressed their crushes on the long-divorced Althouse, and some had even joked that they'd date her if given the chance, but as recently as last summer, she had expressed happiness in her solitude.

And while I've met in person and become friends with a few people whom I originally encountered on this blog, it's never been quite like this:
Let there be no doubt about it: A blogger — Althouse — is engaged to be married to a man who began his connection to her as a commenter on her blog. After 4+ years of writing at each other, we met in real life and found real love.
The lucky commenter goes by the handle of Meade, and he was one of those who had often joked that he'd woo Althouse one day; who knew that it would come true? (And he's a classy guy, too, taking the time to thank every commenter personally for congratulating the happy couple.)

This is a great moment in blogdom, and it flies in the face of the idea that people have become less connected because of the amount of time spent online; Althouse and Meade would likely never have met were it not for this technology. And though Althouse has hinted that she might not want a formal ceremony, I would certainly toss my hat into the ring as a potential bandleader if she changes her mind.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Greetings, Weary Fellow Travelers?

I'm back from my weekend in Austin, and I have to say that, out of all the innumerable times I've driven I-35 between here and Central Texas or vice versa, this may be one of the worst traffic jams I've ever experienced on that road.

It wasn't really too bad from Austin to Georgetown, where we had lunch, but after that, the traffic was pretty heavy. Anytime there was something resembling a construction zone (never mind that no actual construction was taking place on a Sunday), or sometimes for no reason at all, the traffic would slow to a crawl. But it didn't pick up much after that until just south of Eddy, and, while it remained clear through Waco up to the point north of town where the freeway narrows to four lanes, everything after that all the way up to the 35E/35W split north of Hillsboro was a complete nightmare--bumper to bumper, and nobody getting anywhere fast.

So what caused all this? There was one accident just past the Temple/Belton border (taking away the inside lane just a short distance from where the outside lane went away by design), and there was one case where the same law that I lamented last week came into play, but otherwise, it was all about volume--the freeway had more people on it than it was designed to hold.

Was it the end of so many people's spring break that was causing this? Did SXSW having ended the night before have any bearing? Probably a little bit of both. But this just reinforced my notion that 35 should be six lanes all the way from the DFW area to San Antonio; it's that busy, even if Gov. Perry's "Trans-Texas Corridor" is not likely to become a reality now. And while some of the recent projects have been designed to add capacity, there are others (most notably the stretch between Hillsboro and Abbott that seemed to take about 15 years to complete) that have simply been rebuilt with the same number of lanes.

So was anyone else out there on that same freeway yesterday? You're welcome to relate your tale--or any other spring break travel woes--in the comments below.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Travel Advisory

I'm going to Austin for the final weekend of my spring break. I'm actually not headed down there for the SXSW conference; rather, one of my friends wants some company en route to an interview down there, and that gives me the perfect opportunity to drop in on my sister and her family during that time (the nephews grow up so fast, ya know).

I'll be back on Sunday evening, and blogging (not to mention the busy-ness of returning to teaching) will commence shortly thereafter.

Friday, March 20, 2009

When I Got This Idea, a Little Light Bulb Turned Off in My Head

A few days ago, I lamented the upcoming loss of the Virgin Megastore chain. In that post, I noted that I had also bade farewell to Circuit City a while back. It's truly a sign of the times (perhaps like this one).

So I was out shopping last night near one of the former Circuit City locations, and I reminisced for a moment about what it looked like when the company was still open, adding its (figurative and literal) light to the retail landscape. It might have looked a bit like this:

So what's wrong with this picture? Well, for one thing, it wasn't taken when Circuit City was still in business; it was taken last night. So my question is, why would anyone want to waste that much electricity to light up a store that's closed down?

I don't consider myself a "greenie" or anything, but I also see no reason to waste energy pointlessly, like they're doing here. I can understand the idea of keeping on a few lights to discourage vandals and vagrants, but there's no reason to have all those spotlights on, not to mention all the signage of a brand that has ceased to exist as such.

This Circuit City isn't by any means the only offender of its type around here; most of the Bennigan's were completely lit up--to the point that anyone who had been in a cave for a few months might well mistake them for being open--for quite a few months after the chain closed, and there's a former Eckerd Drugs in my old neighborhood that still has most of its interior lights on, 24/7, even though it closed several years ago.

Somebody has to pay these bills, and they probably are getting paid, but the big question is still, why? Turn a few lights off, already.

I'll try to get a few more pictures of some of the more egregious offenders in this area and either add them to this post or start a new one. And if you know of any other "lit after their time" vacant buildings in the area, feel free to tip me off in the comments or even email me your own pictures.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Strong Case for Voter ID

I've meant to weigh in on the proposed voter ID law that's making its way through the Texas Legislature, but Michael Hopkovitz says it even better in a DMN op-ed this week, blasting holes in the three major objections put forth by opponents of the bill (many people don't have photo ID's, and it's a burden to get one; it's costly to get one, and there haven't been enough documented cases of voter fraud to necessitate this bill).

I particularly like how Hopkovitz calls shenanigans on the first objection:
[P]hoto IDs are often required for many things, including check cashing, air travel, credit card use, banking, hospital admittance, obtaining government services, driving a vehicle and even getting a monthly DART pass. Presumably, then, those who lack such IDs do not do any of these things. We are supposed to believe this applies to hundreds of thousands of Texas citizens, but that is simply not believable.
Indeed. Read the whole thing; he also does an equally good job of refuting the other two objections.

And I also feel the need to turn my pen (OK, keyboard) into a mighty sword against one more silly idea that's being tossed around in opposing this bill: The notion that a its passage will cost the Republican party support among Latino voters. I'm not sure which aspect of this is more shameful--that any ethnic group will always vote as a bloc (so much for the "diversity" that is treasured by so many), or that someone will support illegal activity so long as it's done by people of the same race as that person. Going off and spouting ideas like that could have the unanticipated side-effect of having people not take you very seriously.

What say you? The comment section has been pretty quiet over here as of late, so feel free to chime in.

All caught up: I've finally finished the past few days' worth of posts, so scroll down a bit to see what's been going on here lately.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Sign of the Times?

Seen recently in a practice wing of the music department of a local college (not mine):

It's supposed to say "Practice Room," but I guess some of those wacky college kids got creative on something besides their voices or instruments. (Others were similarly defaced, with the word "Poo" being a major theme.)

And while the economy may be forcing a lot of people to "act poor" these days, it's been a well-worn (if very much tongue-in-cheek) mantra among musicians for quite some time. Still, it's odd to see it portrayed in such graphic form.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

This Isn't About Revenue, But It's Not About Safety Either (At Least Our Safety)

Before I start my main rant today, I should mention the happy thing I read (which doesn't seem to have gotten a lot of publicity around here): A Lubbock legislator has filed a bill that would outlaw red-light cameras in Texas:
s College Station is expanding its red light camera program, a state representative is trying to stop it.

A Lubbock legislator has filed a bill that would end red-light cameras in Texas, and a local driver is offering help.

Lubbock did away with its red-light cameras last year when the citizen group that oversaw the cameras, determined the cameras hadn't made Lubbock's streets any safer.

At that time, the cameras also hadn't made Lubbock any money. A College Station man is supporting that Lubbock legislator; he says money is what the cameras are all about.

Jim Ash has been fighting College Station's red-light cameras in court, through a website, and with his G-P-S, since being issued a citation last fall. Now he may be taking his case all the way to the Texas capitol.

State Representative Carl Isett, of Lubbock has filed a bill to outlaw red-light cameras. "I immediately contacted him," said Jim Ash.

If the bill makes it through committee, "i'll go and testify to what I know about the red-light cameras here in College Station," said Ash.

Ash thinks he knows a lot, because he's been doing a little homework.

"This is about 2000 pages of documents," said Ash. Ash said he obtained the documents through a public records request. "I've reviewed every single line of it." Ash said the documents all relate to College Station's red-light cameras. "This stack of paperwork on my desk, 90% of this is about the money and protecting the income stream."

Its a conclusion Ash said he finds infuriating. "When they tell us its about safety and every document I have says its about revenue, it's wrong."
Agreed. (Click the "Red-Light Cameras" tag at the bottom of this post to read my thoughts on this subject.)

There are some good back-and-forth comments at Michael Silence's blog. I feel especially bad for commenter "billl," who got caught in a no-win situation:
turning left with the green arrow in tucson. pedestrian in cross walk taking his time. light turned and got my pic taken. couldn't run over -ped . screwed $300

But that's not my main traffic topic for today. This is: The fairly recent traffic law here in Texas that requires motorists approaching an emergency vehicle to either vacate the lane next to that vehicle or slow down to 20 MPH below the speed limit. (The story at the link says that the law went into effect in 2003, but it's only gotten a lot of publicity in the past few years.)

I understand why they did it--it makes it safer for the officers and whomever they might be helping/ticketing/etc. But as more people have become aware of the law, it's caused a nightmare for the "innocent bydrivers" on the road.

My trip to Waco this past weekend was a great example, as I ran into ridiculous traffic jams in the oddest of places. West, for example. The Central Texas town is known for things like Westfest and the Czech Stop--not a Dallas-like traffic jam on a Sunday afternoon. But that's what we had on my trip down on Sunday, and the reason only became apparent after several miles of brake lights: An officer had pulled over an 18-wheeler, and people in the right lane were either 1) slamming on their brakes to slow down to 20-below, or 2) trying to pull into the left lane, which caused people in that lane to also slam on their brakes (assuming they hadn't done so already as a copycat move when the people in the right lane did it). This was not what I would call a safe situation, all in the name of being able to issue a single traffic ticket.

But a few miles down the road, on the outskirts of Waco, the same exact thing happened again. Only this one was even more frustrating, because the officer in question didn't even have anyone pulled over; he was simply sitting on the right-hand shoulder with lights a-flashing, for absolutely no reason. This was not a safe situation either, and there seemed to be no explanation for it.

Don't get me wrong--I'm all about keeping our public safety officers out of harm's way; they do a dangerous and necessary job. But surely there's a way to keep them safe without endangering the rest of us. Many people seem to slam on their brakes in the presence of a law enforcement vehicle anyway, and this law just makes it worse.

I'm at a loss, though, for ideas as to exactly how to do this, but there has to be a way. Any suggestions? Feel free to leave a comment.

Erin go blog: Happy St. Patrick's Day to my fellow Irish laddies and lassies (and aren't we all a bit Irish today?). Did you remember to wear your green today? (Admittedly, this would be more fun if it were a school day, as the kids go to great lengths to attach something green to themselves to avoid the inevitable pinching.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

In My Opinion, Steve Is "Blowing" It on This One

I probably agree with Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow more often than not, and that includes the bulk of yesterday's column, where he laments the strong-arm tactics of a hotel workers' union that has helped draft an amendment that might well kill the proposed city-owned convention center hotel even if voters were to approve it in May.

But his opening paragraph just had me saying, "No, no, no!" It goes like this:
For some time, I've been thinking the pendulum needs to swing the other way on unions. Their decline has become bad for America.
I couldn't disagree more, Steve.

I've never exactly come out as a fan of unions on this blog (this post pretty much says it all for me, but type "unions" into the search bar at the top of the page and you can skim everything else I've written on the subject as well), but now I have another good reason. As I said a while back, I'm a big fan of doing what the current administration in Washington is not doing, which is growing the productive class, likely at the expense of the unproductive class (and its seamy subsidiary, the parasite class). What's going on in Washington at the moment, with bailouts, the Porkulus bill, etc., has truly defined this conflict for me.

So what's my beef with unions with regard to said conflict? It's simple: They tend to make the productive class a little less so. Between the autoworkers in Detroit who got paid not to work, the people who collect retirement benefits for a longer period of time than they actually spent working, and the people who are getting undeserved perks just for working for a specific amount of time--regardless of quality of work--people in unions may not even be allowed to be as productive as they might like because of union rules. (That's not to mention the union bosses, who have pretty much dropped out of the productive class and become as self-serving and bureaucratic as their counterparts in the federal government. And taking lavish trips on union members' dimes during a recession doesn't help, either.) And for me, it still goes back to that incident in high school, where the meat-wrapper guy at the grocery store griped up a storm because he had to spend 15 seconds scooping potato salad into a plastic tub for my dad and me because nobody else was working near the deli--all because his union contract said he didn't have to. I'm sorry, but any "perk" that involves not helping customers that you are ostensibly here to serve is not a perk that belongs in anyone's contract, union or not.

As for the rest of Blow's column, he rightfully takes the hotel workers' union to task for 1) potentially sabotaging not only this hotel, but also doing something that would dissuade other developers from doing business in Dallas, and 2) doing it in the heavy-handed way that makes so many people dislike unions in the first place. What's wrong with earning a contract to work somewhere on your own merits, as opposed to borderline extortion and thuggery?

Still, I could have done without the puffball intro. Maybe Steve didn't really Blow it, but he sure diluted his message.

Road rant: I'm back from an enjoyable time in Waco, and tomorrow's post will concern a recent state traffic law that I really don't like. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Travel Advisory

I'm off to Waco today to visit one of my fraternity chapters (and it's nice to be on break when they're not, so as to get this done without having to miss any teaching). I may blog some more if there's free wi-fi in the hotel, but it may come in the form of catching up on old posts, so keep scrolling back to see if something "new" has popped up. I'll be back tomorrow sometime after the dinner hour.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

Last weekend, we said goodbye to Circuit City (OK, I bade it farewell here back in January), and now another music-themed retailer is going the way of the dodo: All locations of the Virgin Megastore are about to be liquidated. I agree with the point of the Consumerist writer that the following quote from this story announcing the closures is a little odd:
[T]he real estate firms that own the U.S. chain determined they could command higher rent from new tenants.
So they're going to close down something they already own, in a bad economy, and they expect to get even more money from someone else? Let's see how that works out...

I haven't been to a Virgin Megastore in a while (the most recent time was at the Times Square location during IAJE two years ago), but there was a time when I used to go to Grapevine Mills every month on alumni-meeting days (that was my walk-around-and kill-time spot before I was lured away by Southlake Town Square). The Grapevine store was cool in that it took up a center portion of the oval-shaped mall and was thus accessible from both sides. While the regular prices were quite high (on a par with Tower Records, which itself closed a few years ago), they had plenty of things on sale at any given time, and their listening stations, while not quite up to the level of the "sample anything in the store" system at Barnes and Noble, had plenty from which to choose. For a while, their jazz selection was really good, and I spent more than a little bit of time and money there. But as I said in the story about Tower's demise, it became far more common for me to discover something at Virgin and then either buy it used somewhere else or at Amazon (or iTunes in recent years), and I'm sure I'm not the only one whose habits changed in that manner.

I've said before that, no matter how many downloads I buy (and there's bound to be a lot in the future; my "save for later" list on eMusic is at around 170 titles!), there's still something nice about the tangible, physical CD (especially in terms of liner notes, which are crucial to jazz listeners), and likewise, there's still something nice about having a store to browse around in that holds all those tangible CDs. But Virgin will obviously not be that store, at least after this summer.

(I was going to close this post by saying that a trip to Grapevine Mills would be in the offing soon. But Wikipedia tells me that the Grapevine store already closed, a few months ago. D'oh.)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Welcome to "Spring" Break?

Classes let out for spring break today, but it sure doesn't feel like it:

Thankfully, the rain has all but stopped now, but we still have yet to see that mystical yellow glistening orb that I remember from days gone by (some would call that "Monday"), and I'm still waiting for the temperature to crawl out of the hole it fell into during that 40-degree drop on Tuesday night. Our spring break doesn't feel very "springy" yet. (But it least this isn't happening a week from now; thank goodness for small favors.)

It's Friday the 13th...but I didn't teach anyone named Jason today, nor did I cross paths with a dark-hued feline or anything of the sort. Do you have even the smallest degree of triskaidekaphobia, or do you take days like today in stride? (A month ago at this time, when I was at TMEA, the hotel where we stayed, being in a renovated 80-year-old building, skipped from the 12th to the 14th floor, if memory serves.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Mother of All Mash-Up Videos

One of the guys in evening combo tonight said something to the effect that people who make YouTube videos all the time have way too much time on their hands. But here's an example of someone putting that time to good use:

It's a whole bunch of otherwise unrelated videos mixed together to make a rather coherent song; I certainly salute the guy for his mad mixing skillz. (The artist goes by the name Kutiman, and his site is thru-you.com, where you can find several other cool mash-ups.)

Spring break is almost here, even if it's 40 degrees outside. I'll catch up on the rest of this week's posts soon.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Here's Another Kindred Spirit

A letter-writer in today's Dallas Morning News, Bobbie Keith, is playing my song:
Why should I be willing to pay for programs if our politicians are not? How can Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner owe $128,000 in taxes and still be in office? If the bailout is going to require a sacrifice on our parts, how come they are not willing to share the burden?
Amen. (I've blogged about these things a few times recently.) Keith also wonders how much some of these people earn, since taxes appear poised to go up quite a bit on people who make over $250,000 a year.

Remember, it's not "shared sacrifice" if it's only the average Joes who are doing the sacrificing.

Overly-syncopated clock: Did anyone else feel as messed up as I have the past two days because of the time change on Saturday night? As happy as I am that Daylight Wasting Time is over, but the change hit me harder than usual. (It also hit the first school where I teach today pretty hard, as someone forgot to reset the clock that puts the stoplight out front on "school time," causing all kinds of people to be late.)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Tourist Side of Abbey Road

Here's a funny video taken at the site of the famous crosswalk used on the cover of the Beatles' Abbey Road album:

The band who put out the video, Blame Ringo, calls it "A day in the life of Abbey Road" (nice double Beatles reference there). It's not surprising to see that the crosswalk is such a photo-op for tourists, but it's amazing to actually see how many people stop to get their pictures taken there. (And the time-lapse photography makes it appear that some of the people are a lot closer to getting run over than they really are; I guess the locals must be used to it by now.)

incidentally, Blame Ringo's music is pretty cool-sounding (I'm a sucker for anything that sounds like the Beatles), and I'll definitely be picking up their CD when my new allotment of eMusic downloads comes up later in the month. For an explanation of how they got their name, visit their website.

Hat tip: Althouse, where one of the commenters asks how many people would do (or have already done) this when visiting London, if given the chance. I would certainly do that, and I'd even do it barefoot à la Paul McCartney, weather permitting.

I know I've posted this before, but it's cool enough to link again: When Engineers Have Pets--the coolest mechanical dog toy ever.

I concert I'll definitely have to...miss: MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice, together (evidently, they loved them in Utah).

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Best Blog Post I've Read All Year

"My father asks for nothing." Blogger Sippican Cottage, a onetime regular at Althouse, posts a moving tribute to his father, a World War II veteran who left this mortal coil last weekend. He was a member of the "Greatest Generation," and there don't seem to be many like him anymore.

(Hat tip: Instapundit, and as Prof. Reynolds would say, read the whole thing.)

Friday, March 06, 2009

Commence Relaxation

For the first time since the last full weekend in January, I don't have any major events scheduled on a Saturday or Sunday. Needless to say, this break has been a long time coming. But I won't be a complete slug; I'll use this valuable time to catch up on a few important things:
  • Sleep

  • Tax preparation

  • Blog posts

  • Sleep

  • Practicing

  • Reading my favorite online writers, like Lileks

  • Arranging music

  • Sleep

  • Watching the TV shows I've recorded (I already stumbled onto some 24 spoilers the other day; d'oh)

  • Sleep
I'm really looking forward to this. And spring break is just a week away!

What's the longest you've gone without a free weekend lately? Respond in the comments.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Maybe It's My Lucky Blog Post

A little earlier, I was wondering how my readership stats managed to rise last week when I hardly finished any new content. But a quick look at the "referrals" section of my SiteMeter pointed to one post that seems to be driving all the traffic: This January post regarding the catchy music for the current Texas Lottery "Maybe It's Your Lucky Day" ad campaign.

So to all who have arrived via those links, welcome! This blog is all over the map, but my pet subjects are music, education, odd news, and, lately, the struggle between the productive class and the unproductive class (I'm very much for the former, as should be obvious from reading any post on the subject). I hope you'll come back and visit frequently.

Of TAKS and Taxes

Two otherwise unrelated items, connected only by pronunciation of a key word:
  • Welcome to Statewide Private Teacher Skip Day. After a way-too-busy weekend, I finally got to enjoy (?) a "fake Saturday" this morning; today--as you already know if you live in Texas--is the first of many parts of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, also known as the TAKS test. From where I sit, it means no chance to teach the schoolkids (as a band director friend of mine said, "there will be a stoppage of all learning" today), so I'm not due to be anywhere until the my college teaching starts in the mid-afternoon. One of my colleagues in the schools referred to today as "Statewide Private Teacher Skip Day," though we were later discussing that it differed from the celebrated Senior Skip Day in high school in that none of us owns a ranch where we could stage a barbeque like we did back then.

    I won't bore you with my thoughts on the TAKS test today, as I've written about it many times before (click the TAKS tag at the bottom of this post if you're interested in reading more). I'll just reiterate how happy I am that it's about to go away at the high school level (starting with 2010's freshman class, if I recall), which means that this Skip Day (and the ones to follow at the end of April) will be minimized. There also could be major changes afoot in how Texas schools are rated and held accountable (think three years' worth of test scores instead of just one), and there may even be a different kind of test to replace the TAKS for elementary and middle schoolers (though I'd love to see it go away for them as well, or at least moved to the beginning of the year to be the true "assessment" reflected in its name).

  • Oh no, Ron, not you too! I ranted quite a bit a while back about the ridiculously high number of Cabinet nominees who seem to have "forgotten" to pay their taxes; as I sit down to start my own taxes on this holiday morning, I am once again reminded that, if I did this myself, I'd be in prison rather than have some sort of cushy government job. But just when we thought this thing might finally be over, it ended up hitting close to home. The latest offender? Former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk:
    Ron Kirk's excess deductions for basketball tickets and failure to report speaking fees as income have cost him $10,000 in back taxes, a Senate committee disclosed Monday, in the latest IRS-related embarrassment for an Obama Cabinet pick.

    The problems are the first indication of potential trouble for Kirk's nomination to be U.S. trade representative, though White House officials and key senators called the errors minor and predicted the former Dallas mayor will be confirmed by the Senate.
    Yeah, of course they're "minor" if they happen to someone in government. If Joe Average does it, he still gets audited or even worse. Here's the most annoying quote from the Capitol Clueless Committee:
    "When you put anybody's tax filings under a microscope, people don't have to be dishonest," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "It's just hard to do all the right things. It certainly shouldn't disqualify him."
    Well, Senator, if it shouldn't disqualify him, then the penalties for everyone else should be diminished as well. Or here's another idea: Make the tax laws simpler. If these "great minds" that you simply have to have in government (I'm talking about you, Turbo Tax Timmy) can't even figure the laws out properly, how should anyone else be expected to do so?
I'll be catching up on old posts throughout the week, so thanks again for your patience. (And how ironic is it that SiteMeter shows my readership up for last week, even though I hardly had time to post anything new?)

Hey, kids--this spud's for you! The Amazon toy blog posts a great video of one of the original Mr. Potato Head commercials. I had totally forgotten about the fact that, at first, real potatoes were used to make him! Imagine going on vacation and leaving him out somewhere for a week or so...

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Past Several Days

I always feel kind of lame when I don't have time to finish a blog post, and even more so when that happens several days in a row (save for a very brief one yesterday morning). But I think my schedule of the past few days provides a good reason for this:

WEDNESDAY: Play gig downtown till 11:30 a.m., roll in around midnight. Teach the next morning starting at 8 a.m.
THURSDAY: Continue teaching till 7 p.m., attend Dave Brubeck concert in Denton (which was amazing and is the subject of one of the incomplete posts) till 11:15, roll in after midnight. Teach the next morning starting at 7:30 a.m.
FRIDAY: Teach all day till 4:30, pretty much come home and collapse.
YESTERDAY: Have a 9:15 a.m. call time in Frisco for a gig, rehearse all morning, not really time to go home in the afternoon, play gig all evening, hang with a friend till after midnight.
TODAY: Two back-to-back meetings after church in the Mid-Cities. Chill with a friend for dinner.

And here we are. I'll finish those posts soon enough, but it won't be tonight. Thanks for your patience.