Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"It just works"

"It just works" is the slogan of Apple's products. The Apple fanboys will go on and on about how the idevices are virus and crash free. Now, I can tell you that I own a windows desktop, an iPad, and an iPhone. Until I bought my iPad last February and my iPhone in December, I had never before owned an Apple product, nor had I used one (with the exception of a former significant other's machine). I had almost exclusively been a windows person. In fact, I had owned a windows machine (or three) since the days of Windows 3.0, when I bought an Intel 286 machine. We go way back.

So after a year of testing, how true is the claim? Not very. I use my iPad for note taking, and it occasionally needs a reboot. Some software compatibility issues require some tweaking, and there ARE viruses out there that affect Apple equipment. However, I have not had a virus on any machine that I have owned (including my Windows and Apple devices) in over ten years, mostly through some common sense web practices, despite not having any virus protection software running. (Spyware is a different story: but I eventually got a handle on that as well.)

With all of that said, the iPhone 4S is not my first smart phone, but it has been the best one I have had, and I have often wondered during the 2 months that I have had it how I ever got along without it. The iPad is great for taking notes during lectures (I use it to write directly on the Professor's Powerpoint slides. There is an app that allows you to highlight, write notes, and mark up the slides on your iPad, using only your finger, but that is a post for another day.

So yes, Apple products are good, but bot the evolutionary leap forward that so many claim it is. They and Windows devices, IMO, are on par with each other.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Defenseive gun use

One of the lies that is told by anti gun forces in this country is how guns are not used for lawful defense that often, and that your risk of being killed by that gun is higher than your chances of using that firearm in self defense. The flaw with this statement is that firearms are used in self defense millions of times each year without a shot being fired, uses which of course don't make it into any sort of statistics.

Here is one such case.
A man is in custody after Greene County deputies believe he and a companion broke in and ransacked a home...  A brother of the homeowner, who lives nearby, interrupted the burglary in progress and held the man at gunpoint until deputies arrived. 

Free College

At first glance, Ohio's Antioch College offer of free tuition for a four year degree sounds like quite a deal. After all, a four year degree from this 160 year old college is worth over $100,000. The problem is that it is a complete waste of four years of your time.
The reason that it is a waste of valuable years of your life is that the school teaches liberal arts. Liberal arts majors have unemployment rates that are higher than the national average. According to the CEO of the Harlem Education Activities Fund, graduates in more practical fields find that their skills are outdated within 5 to 10 years. Of course, that means that you have probably been working in your field for those five or ten years, and are current in your knowledge through your work experience.
 Not so with a liberal arts degree. It is outdated from the start. Of course, many will tell you that a degree is better than none, but higher education is supposed to be about creating self-sufficiency through job training so a person won't end up jobless, homeless, dependent upon relatives, or victimized for being in poverty. There is an industry to support here, though. The colleges of this country are peddling snake oil.
The public library's and bookstore's purpose is to increase one's knowledge, ethics, and intellect. If four years or more of a university education is spent on only increasing intellect and morality with no job training, the time that you have spent there has been wasted.
A liberal arts degree is a degree that you earn that has no purpose, other than to allow you to list a college diploma on your resume. This is operating on the assumption that any college degree is beneficial, no matter what the degree was for.
I have a liberal arts degree that I earned by accident while pursuing other academic endeavors. I don't even list it on my resume, nor is that degree hanging on my wall beside the other two. If any four year degree looks good to an employer, why not get a degree that has the added benefit of giving you a job skill in a field where you will actually get a job?
A four year degree at a state college in Florida (where I went to college) only cost me about about $11,000. For that kind of money, you are better off living at home and going to your local college to earn a degree in a field that is actually hiring.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Greedy harpies.

So I was at school today, and I overheard a conversation between two female grad students, and they were bragging to each other that they were having their school paid for by their ex-husbands, as a part of a "maintenance order." One then bragged to the other, "I told him to take the TV and the shotgun, because he had cheated on me. I told him if he didn't take the gun, I was going to kill him. I got to keep the house, the dog, and the money, and he still has to work two jobs to pay for my school." All of the other women in the area were in agreement.

I brought this up to my friends, and not one of the women  saw the double standard. If a man ever threatened a woman like that, he would have a domestic violence order on him, and probably be in jail the next day for domestic violence. He certainly wouldn't be a winner in the lottery.

I'm sorry ladies, but cheating in a marriage does not entitle anyone, man or woman, to free money for the rest of their lives. To claim so reduces women to the class of prostitutes with a payment plan. If women ever expect to be equal in the eyes of the law, they have to be willing to be treated equally in ALL areas of the law.

That is why I cannot believe that there is a popular country music song where the woman talks about all of the violent things she did to her man and his truck because he cheated on her. If this were a song where a man talk about destroying a woman's property, the outrage would be immediate.

Geek humor

My grad school class is filled with people who have a wide range of degrees: Pre-med, Chemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology, and Psychology degrees are common. So I got a laugh when one of the students, complaining that a professor was rather long winded and boring, said: "I could feel my telomeres getting shorter." Geek humor.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Interesting conversation

I had a conversation in a bar last night that I found to be interesting. I was sitting in a local beer joint having some wings and IPA with another grad student when the subject of guns came up. He told me that although he is from Illinois, he routinely carries a handgun for protection. That is interesting, I say, because Illinois remains the only state in the USA that does not allow this, and you need a permit to even own a gun, and permits to carry guns are non-existent. He told me that the only way he would get caught is if he had to use that gun to defend his life, and in that case, he would worry about the ramifications then.

Now understand that this particular grad school is not for slackers or troublemakers. The school won't even look at your application if your undergrad GPA is less than 3.3 and your criminal history is a blank slate. Not only that, without giving any of this guy's details away, he is a very upstanding guy, and his resume would certainly not place him in the category of 'troublemaker."

Gun control has failed as a philosophy. Some folks just haven't accepted that, yet.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mother of the year

When you are a parent, you get used to saying no to questions like: "Dad, can I juggle chainsaws?" or "Mom, can I go skydiving?" or even "Dad, I know I'm only 14, but we are in love and want to get married." So what do you say to your ten year old when he wants a tattoo?
Not this mom. Maybe mother of the year is a bit premature, since we have about 49 more weeks of people doing stupid things left in the year, but she is probably going to be a finalist.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Two weeks into Physician Assistant school, and things are going well. We had a quiz today that was an essay form and had only one question: List everything that you know about neutrophils.

I think that I did well, and I recalled a lot more than I thought that I would. I am really happy that I decided to hang up being a medic. It is a chapter of my life that I don't regret, but as with all things, the time for that came to an end.

For now, I am studying on weeknights until 8 or 9, and several hours on Sunday. Friday nights and Saturdays are mine, at least for now. A year of this, a year of clinical internship, and my Master's will be complete.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Nice Try

There are many people who abuse 911 for various reasons. Some because they are whiney people with minor complaints that want to be seen now instead of in the morning, some because they want a free meal or to get high, some because they are simply stupid, and many because they are mentally ill.

There is a woman who falls into the latter category and is known throughout several states for faking seizures in order to get attention. This woman is well known by nearly every medic in the state of Florida who has more than a couple of years on the job. Chances are, if you are a paramedic in the state of Florida, you have or will run on this woman.

I have met paramedics all over Florida, Georgia, and even as far north as Maryland who have run on this woman. She has been seen on shows like Paramedics and Trauma: life in the ER. More than a few medics have given this woman Valium without realizing who she was. She is very good at faking.

So came the day that we ran on her at 2:30 in the A.M one early morning. Tired of running stupid calls, those of us who were there chipped in and paid her bus fare to Orlando, which was 20 miles away, put her on the bus, and patted ourselves on the back for ridding ourselves of the problem. (Come to think of it, this may explain why she has traveled so extensively.)

Two weeks later, I ran on her again. During the call, she handed me an envelope and told me that the Orlando firefighters had asked her to give it to me the next time she saw me. I opened the envelope, and in it was a note. It read simply:

Nice Try.

That, my readers, is a true story.

Friends gone

Her name was Angel. I met her when we were just 9 years old, and in the third grade. We were friends, off and on as addresses and life allowed, for over twenty years. She dated my best friend in high school, and I hers. There was many an evening spent during those underage years drinking beer and having fun, in the carefree way that we do as teens. Later, when I was married to my first wife, she was a frequent visitor at my home, and often spent the night on our couch.

I last saw her a week before her thirtieth birthday, just weeks after my divorce was final. She was a little sad that she was turning thirty and not yet married. I told her that I would call her, and that I would listen with a sympathetic ear. That was the last time we spoke, because Angel took her own life 12 days later. That was 13 years ago, and I still think about her from time to time.

Trevor and I used to skip school together. We once skipped and then came back to class bearing McDonald's hamburgers for the entire class, including the teacher. That was in the tenth grade. Later, we both reconnected when we became firefighters in neighboring fire districts. Missing a toe, he was promoted to Battalion Chief, and earned the nickname of "Chief Nine Toes." As a chief, he  watched out for and looked after my own son when he became a firefighter. He was a good man, a brave man, and a big man. He towered over others, yet was deathly afraid of small dogs and spiders. He retired less than two years ago.

Trevor, a friend of mine for 28 years, passed away last week of a heart attack at 43 years old. I will miss him. Firefighters often have their lives cut short, the job and its stresses shave years off your life.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Red light revenue generators

The city of Springfield, Missouri has deactivated their red light cameras, because they found that accidents increased when they were installed. A 10% increase in accidents, caused by automatic revenue generators.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I am a bit late posting my summary of 2011, but that is because I was busy moving 1200 miles to my new place. There were a lot of changes for me last year, and I had no advance warning of most of it.

The year began with an early January road trip with my son . We left from Florida, north through Georgia and Tennessee, into Virginia, and on to Washington, DC. We spent several days there, and then came south down the I-95 corridor. Good trip. Later that month, I beat my mortgage bank for lying in court and got a big payday.

February was the month when my wife informed me that she wanted a divorce. A week before my birthday.

In March, I took the GRE exam, and pretty much blew it out of the water.

In May, I graduated from one college, and in June beat the mortgage bank in foreclosure court and got a free house.

In July, I graduated from a second college, and applied to PA school. In September I interviewed for graduate school. In October, I was accepted, and in November I retired. December saw me move from Florida to Missouri, ending the year retired, divorced, and in Missouri, after beginning the year as a married firefighter from Florida. Big changes.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

History repeats

In 1940, the Republican party was in disarray. A confused mixture of internationalists, New Dealers, isolationists, and minimal government types, the Republican party had no real direction, no coherent philosophy, and no real platform.

FDR's approval rating hovered around 60%, and he was running for his third term. The Republicans figured that they would nominate Wendell Wilkie, a New Deal Republican who was little different from FDR in policy. Since they were so alike, the Wilkie campaign focused on trying to beat FDR in a personality contest. However, FDR had a compliant press, and no one was going to beat FDR in a personality contest.

There are many parallels to this year: The Republican party is in disarray, and they are appointing an Obama clone as his opponent (Romney). This will be a personality contest, which Obama may well win, to which I say: good. If I am going to have to face four more years of a tax and spend Keynesian in the Whitehouse, I would just assume that he has an unfriendly congress to deal with.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I love this song

and what guy hasn't experienced this particular situation- the one of being trapped in the friend zone?