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Archive for September, 2008

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My thoughts on the 1st Debate

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Since I’m sure everyone else will do this, I might as well get it out of the way…

Overview
I thought this was one of the best presidential debates I’ve seen in my lifetime. No one cared about what was on who’s lapel, who had what kind of salad, or whether or not the farm animals were wearing lipstick. Here were two men discussing, in detail, their thoughts on the economy and foreign policy. They drew distinctions between each other without resorting to talking-point “gotcha” phrases, defended their positions, and even admitted to agreeing with each other in several cases. I didn’t necessarily learn anything substantive about either candidates positions, but it was an invaluable opportunity to compare not only what they said, but their demeanor, their thought processes, and the logic that brought them to their conclusions.

The Candidates
I was impressed by John McCain’s command of the subject matter. The man has been to just about every nation on earth, is familiar with the geography, the relevant world leaders, and can confidently offer insight into what he thinks is happening next. Here, in my opinion, is the kind of insight that only comes with McCain’s experience:

Now, on this issue of aiding Pakistan, if you’re going to aim a gun at somebody, George Shultz, our great secretary of state, told me once, you’d better be prepared to pull the trigger. I’m not prepared at this time to cut off aid to Pakistan. So I’m not prepared to threaten it, as Senator Obama apparently wants to do, as he has said that he would announce military strikes into Pakistan.

We’ve got to get the support of the people of Pakistan. He said that he would launch military strikes into Pakistan. Now, you don’t do that. You don’t say that out loud. If you have to do things, you have to do things, and you work with the Pakistani government.

I was also impressed by Barack Obama. He displays an ability to break problems down into component parts and reason through them that I, quite frankly, haven’t seen since Bill Clinton. He also made the argument that good judgement is more important than experience. Of course, both would be ideal, but neither candidate is mentioning that these days. Here’s my favorite Obama quote, referring to McCain’s suggestion that we pay for the financial bailout with a freeze on all non-essential spending:

The problem with a spending freeze is you’re using a hatchet where you need a scalpel. There are some programs that are very important that are under funded. I want to increase early childhood education and the notion that we should freeze that when there may be, for example, this Medicare subsidy doesn’t make sense.

The Winner?
As is usually the case, I don’t think I could pick a clear winner (other than the viewing public, of course, but that’s a cop out answer).

My Debate Summary
Basically, here’s what I felt while watching the debate:
[McCain speaks]
Me: Wow, that guy is so impressive. I hope he wins the election.
[Obama replies]
Me: Oh, man, he’s good too! I hope he wins the election.
[Repeat as above until debate is finished]
Me: I don’t agree 100% with either of them, but I think we’re in pretty good hands for the next four years…

Now, the Biden-Palin debate on Thursday – that could generate some fireworks…

Categories: Political Rantings | 2 Comments »

McCain Can’t Catch a Break

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Check out the sponsored links in this article about John McCain deciding to attend tonight’s debate in Mississippi:


Yellow teeth? poor credit? Wrinkle Cream? Yikes…when it rains, it pours, huh?

As long as I have your attention, a quick thought on the last couple of days: Everything I’ve read and heard about the current financial situation says to me that we need the federal government to step in and help. I thought George W. Bush’s speech the other night was one of the best of his presidency – accurate, non-partisan, simple enough that “Joe Main Street” could understand it without being condescending. The key line was this one:

The government is the one institution with the patience and resources to buy these assets at their current low prices and hold them until markets return to normal. And when that happens, money will flow back to the Treasury as these assets are sold. And we expect that much, if not all, of the tax dollars we invest will be paid back.

So while responsible citizens who pay their bills on time should not be burdened with bailing out wealthy bankers who made bad decisions, it also holds that responsible citizens who pay their bills on time should not be left unable to borrow money, keep their businesses open or send their kids to college because wealthy bankers made bad decisions.

Unfortunately, President Bush has spent more than 100% of his credibility and political capital at this point, so what he says about the bailout and the economy comes under almost automatic scrutiny and skepticism. Adding fuel to the fire is Congress, who appear more interested in posturing than in getting something done. The Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) of the mid-90s is an obvious template here (in that case, by the way, all of the tax dollars invested were paid back, plus a small profit), and yet the parties bicker amongst themselves while the world waits and banks continue to fail. In his statement today, John McCain said it best: “much of yesterday was spent fighting over who would get the credit for a deal and who would get the blame for failure.”

These folks are not doing themselves any favors. Again.

Categories: Money Talk, Political Rantings | 2 Comments »

Yankee Stadium’s Swan Song – Part 2

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

I realize I just posted about this a couple of days ago, but now that I’ve seen it, I feel the need to comment once again.

First of all, the Yankees are about the classiest organization in professional sports.  If this were the NBA, tonight’s festivities would have featured some hot young pop tart singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in a low-cut dress.  If it were the NFL, it would have been “sponsored,” with corporate logos all over the place, numerous commercial breaks and product placement ads, including ads spray-painted on the field.

The Yankees made it all about the stadium, the tradition, the team, and the fans.  There was history (the original pennant flag from the 1922 team), remembrances (actors walking the field in the uniforms of Babe Ruth, Joe Dimaggio, etc.), well-deserved honors (Yogi Berra standing alone at home plate, Bernie Williams announced last in his first trip back to the Stadium since he left the team, Babe Ruth’s elderly daughter throwing out the ceremonial first pitch), and a tribute to the fans.

Ah yes, the tribute to the fans.  Derek Jeter, captain of the Yankees, obviously playing hurt after being hit on the hand in last night’s final at-bat, went 0-5 today, but took a microphone at the end of the game, surrounded himself with his teammates and said (paraphrasing here): 

This stadium has a lot of pride, a lot of history and a lot of memories.  But the great thing about memories is you can take them with you.  The greatest thing about the Yankee organization is it’s fans.  And even though things are changing and next year will be different than this year, we’re counting on you to make the building across the street as special as this one was.

He’s a class act.  They’re all class acts.

During the game, I was inspired to go hunt down a few more pictures for my Yankee Stadium photo essay.  They include one of my grandfather and great uncle at the stadium from 1979, one of me from the same game, one of the scoreboard that day, “Welcome to the NEW Yankee Stadium,” and a heart-warming story about how my son, Avery, experienced the last game at the stadium tonight.  If you’re into heart-warming/sappy things, give it a click…

UPDATE: Here’s the video of the Captain’s farewell address:

Categories: Family Matters, New York, New York, Sports Talk | 2 Comments »

Apparently, I’ve Upgraded to WordPress 2.6.2

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Nothing should be different on your end.

Unfortunately (fortunately?) nothing seems to be different on my end.  I guess I should go off and read that “what’s changed” page now, huh?

Oh, how did it go, you ask?  Well, fine, I guess.  The backup process took the most time.  Then, there were a few stupid mistakes I made, like deleting the wp-config.php file when they told me not to (restored from backup in one click, thank you very much…).  Also, I uploaded the new wp-admin folder, and then accidentally deleted it again, so I had to re-upload it.  And then there was the fact that they told me to turn off my plugins before I started, which I forgot to do. 

None of the above seem to have impacted my installation (unless, of course, this post doesn’t work!).  So if you’re reading this, I’ve got two comments for WordPress:  1)  the application is remarkably stable, in that it survived a few stupid mistakes on my part, and 2) upgrading your blogging software at 12:30AM is not recommended…

Categories: Blogging about Blogs | 2 Comments »

Crossing the Bridge to Nowhere

Friday, September 19th, 2008

As you are no doubt aware, we have moved into that phase of the campaign where anything either candidate says is a “bald faced lie” and the “a new low in presidential campaigning.” I ignore most of these stories because they usually turn out to be just as untruthful (if not moreso) than the incident they’re describing, and both campaigns have figured out that no one ever gets eviscerated for lying about their opponent’s lying.

The one story that caught my eye, though, was the “Bridge to Nowhere” story. Each side has their talking point slogan (Democrats: “She was for it before she was against it,” Republicans: “I told Congress ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ on that Bridge to Nowhere’), and of course, each side is shocked…SHOCKED!! at how untruthful and negative the other side has become. But isn’t this an easy thing to check out? After all, we’re not talking about some abstract position on an issue that someone changed their mind about, we’re talking about the allocation of dollars from party to party and how/when it was spent. What a strange thing to lie about then, no?

Anyway, I checked it out. What follows is, in my humble opinion, an excellent case study in how politicians (on both sides of the aisle) lie.

Read the rest of this entry »

Categories: News and/or Media, Political Rantings | No Comments »

A Different Kind of Bailout

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Ladies & Gentleman, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber:

Andrew Lloyd Webber is offering free theatre tickets to bankers who have lost their jobs in the current financial meltdown.

Between now and October 15th, bank employees who visit the box offices of The Sound of Music and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be able to claim two free tickets for one of the shows on production of a P45 issued after September 1st, 2008.

Andrew Lloyd Webber said: “Both The Sound of Music and Joseph are feel good shows and I thought that free tickets might offer some respite, albeit for a couple of hours, for some of those people who have sadly lost their jobs in the current economic upheaval. All you have to do is present your P45 as proof at the box office and two free tickets are yours.”

The offer is subject to availability and terms and conditions apply.

That’s seventeen different kinds of awesome…

(Hat tip: Erik Hickman)

Categories: Money Talk, Random Acts of Blogging, Words about Music | No Comments »

Random Acts of Blogging – 9/16/08

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

A couple of quick hits to tie you over until I think of something witty & interesting to say:

1)  The Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator.  Sarah Palin’s kids are named Track, Trig, Bristol, Willow, and Piper.  See what your name would have been if Sarah Palin was your mother! For the record, mine would have been Pistol Tanker Palin.  Sounds like a war hero, no?

2)  Ladies and Gentlemen, a Menorah Christmas Tree ornament.  Now, I’ve seen everything.  Jezebel.com has a roundup of other interesting ornaments as well, including the deli sandwich, the Mayan temple, the King Tut, and of course, the Elvis.

(Hat tip: Willow Gross)

3)  In the midst of all this financial markets turmoil, Paul Krugman had the best line of the year written and ready to go in his New York Times OpEd piece.  Alas, the Federal Reserve’s unwillingness to save Lehman Brothers (almost) prevented him from using it:

When life hands you Lehman, make Lehman aid.

(Hat tip: Mike Starr)

 

Categories: Random Acts of Blogging | 2 Comments »

Goodbye, Old Friend…

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Tonight, I attended my final game at the current Yankee Stadium – 161st Street and River Ave in the Bronx, New York.  I’ve put together a photo album of some of my Yankee Stadium memories here.  I’ll probably add to it as I dig through my archives for more pictures.

I know it probably seems silly to most people to have an emotional attachment to a building, let alone a baseball stadium.  I guess the caption on the first photo sums up my feelings best:

THE CATHEDRAL OF BASEBALL

SO many memories…My grandfather was at the first game – saw Babe Ruth hit the first home run in the new stadium.  My father watched Joe and Mickey and Phil and Roger and all the rest.  I came here as a kid with my father (and, once, my grandfather) and watched Bucky and Willie and Reggie and Thurman and Bobby and all the rest.  My father and I have taken my sons to watch Derek and Mariano and Tino and Paulie and all the rest.

The history of a stadium, the history of a family…

You will be remembered, old friend. By the four generations of Greenbergs that shared family memories within your walls, and by the generations to come who will hear the stories, watch the videos and look at picture albums like the one above. May your successor generate memories as numerous and as plentiful. I look forward to visiting it with my children and my as-of-yet-unborn grandchildren.

We walked on the beach beside that old hotel
They’re tearing it down now
But it’s just as well
I haven’t shown you everything a man can do
So stay with me baby
I got plans for you

And so we embrace again
Behind the dunes
This beach is so cold
On winter afternoons
Ah, but holding you close is like holding the summer sun
I’m warm from the memory of days to come

This is the time to remember
‘Cause it will not last forever
These are the days
To hold on to
‘Cause we won’t
Although we’ll want to
This is the time
But time is gonna change
I know we’ve gotta move somehow
But I don’t want to lose you now

-Billy Joel

Categories: Family Matters, New York, New York, Sports Talk | 2 Comments »

Sunday, Bloody Sunday…

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

This might be a good time to review my work history:

1991 – graduate college and take a job with the company now known as Accenture.
2000 – begin a two-year stint as an Accenture consultant to Merrill Lynch.
2004 – leave Accenture and join the Lehman Brothers IT department
2006 – leave Lehman Brothers and join the Bank of America Global Markets Back Office IT group

Recognize any of those company names from the news over the past couple of days? To say the least, it’s been an incredible weekend. Things no one ever thought would happen have happened, and have happened in quick succession. For some perspective: Lehman Brothers survived the great depression, but couldn’t make it through the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2008. Explaining why that is true would take pages upon pages of blog posts, as well as a level of understanding that I don’t fully possess. Suffice to say it’s extremely complex, extremely depressing, and (much to the chagrin of the press and politicians in the days and weeks to come) not easily blamed on a given person or group of people.

I’ll leave the Bank of America / Merrill Lynch acquisition alone on the blog, since I’m prohibited from sharing anything I know about it that isn’t already in the press (which, to be honest, isn’t much at this point). But since Ken Lewis and John Thain said publicly this morning that the entire deal (from initial proposal to completion) took about 48 hours, I think I’m free to say this: all of us were shocked. Very few, if any, saw it coming. As an IT professional, that means there’s a whole lot of work ahead to figure out what it really means.

It’s time to roll with the punches, folks…

Categories: Money Talk | 1 Comment »

Tina Fey as Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live – 9/13/08

Monday, September 15th, 2008

We all knew it was coming. Saw it a mile away. Predictable as hell. And STILL, it’s fall-down-on-the-floor hysterical!

Categories: Political Rantings, Primetime TV | 1 Comment »

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