Friday, December 30, 2005

The Funeral was Today

Today was Nicole Elizabeth Sodemann's funeral. Here is the obituary, if anyone is interested. She was due to be born this week, but instead we have a funeral. She is now resting with her tiny casket on top of that of my grandmother's. If you knew my grandmother, you would know how amazingly appropriate this is.

This was very hard on everyone, but especially hard on my brother and his wife. Now the healing can begin. I thank all of you who responded to my prayer request.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Temperment Test

This one describes me pretty well, I think, though the graphic is just a tad off...

You Have a Melancholic Temperment

Introspective and reflective, you think about everything and anything.
You are a soft-hearted daydreamer. You long for your ideal life.
You love silence and solitude. Everyday life is usually too chaotic for you.

Given enough time alone, it's easy for you to find inner peace.
You tend to be spiritual, having found your own meaning of life.
Wise and patient, you can help people through difficult times.

At your worst, you brood and sulk. Your negative thoughts can trap you.
You are reserved and withdrawn. This makes it hard to connect to others.
You tend to over think small things, making decisions difficult.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Prayer Request

My brother Jon and his wife Karen were due to have their second child any time now. Today, Karen went to the doctor, and found out the child has died. She should be in surgery now as I write this. Please pray for them.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Useful Tools

Firefox - I have been using this browser almost exclusively lately (at least at home). I used to use Safari. While Safari is fast and clean and has some nice features, there are just certain things that don't work very well. Firefox has most of the same features, works better with certain web sites, and has cool extensions.

GMail - I love this e-mail system. Despite the paranoid concerns of some people, this is truly the way an e-mail system should work. Their system makes it trivial for me to keep all of my mail without clutter, organize that mail into important groupings, and search that mail. Moreover, the work flow that they have built in to their system is more natural than more traditional e-mail systems. This is really the right way to go.

Wizz RSS - This is one of these nice Firefox extensions I was talking about. It is an RSS reader, and it works very well with Firefox. Wizz RSS makes it very easy for me to keep up to date with the blogs and news sources that I like to read. The current version has a minor bug saving feeds to the server, but I have reported that and heard back from the developer. My guess would be that this will be fixed in the next release.

Performancing - This is another one of those nice Firefox extensions. I have to give thanks to richmanwisco for pointing out this tool on his site. I have found that this extension has a couple of quirks to it, and is missing some key features (like a spell checker, for instance). It is still pretty handy, though.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Pretty Peach

Pretty Peach
Originally uploaded by stuffle.
The best thing about having a dog is if they think that a treat is involved, they will let you dress them up in pretty much any stupid thing you can think of...

Killing for Convenience

This article does a good job pointing out one of the many problems we have in our society, where abortion on demand is not only the law of the land, but is also socially acceptable, and becoming more so every day. The fact of the matter is that abortion is an absolutely despicable practice in all cases. However, this practice becomes even more detestable when it is done merely for convenience.

An especially tragic group of these victims are children who have been diagnosed in utero as having Down syndrome. Compared to our slaughter of these innocents, Herods efforts to kill the infant Jesus were amateurish: Expectant women are now pressured into prenatal testing, including amniocentesis; then, if Down syndrome is detected, they are expected to get an abortion, which 90 percent of them do.

This is just sad and wrong. I know families who have children with Down syndrome, and not one of them would go back and choose the evil path of abortion. Last night, at the Christmas party at Roy's group home, I also met some parents and friends of people with various mental and physical disabilities. The fact of the matter is that all of these people have presented special challenges to others over the years, but they have also provided special blessings.

All of God's children are precious, and none deserve to be aborted just because they may be an inconvenience to us.

For me, it is the ticket prices...

It seems that the size of the movie theater audience has been shrinking the last few years. Several reasons are given for this:
  • High ticket costs
  • High concessions costs
  • More on screen ads
  • Poor audience behavior
  • Lower quality movies
For me, the problem is simple. It just plain costs too much for what you get. Tickets in this area are something like $8, so that is $16 for my wife and I to get in, plus $10 for the sodas and popcorn. So, $26 to see a movie that may or may not suck (and more likely than not, it will suck).

I would far rather add another $20 or so and go see a Milwaukee Wave game or a Brewers game. At least then I know the money will be well spent and I will actually enjoy myself. I can wait for the DVD release of the movie and watch it at home, when I want to, without some stupid punk-ass kids talking through the whole thing...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas, Roy!

Christmas Roy #1
Originally uploaded by stuffle.
This is Roy. Roy has lived in group homes for most of his life.

About 4 years ago, our pastor asked for volunteers to bring people to church who could not get there on their own. We volunteered. Roy has been going to church with us almost every Sunday since then.

Tonight, there was a Christmas party at Roy's group home for the residents and the people who help take care of them. We had a nice time talking with Roy, the other residents, and the other people who were there.

Merry Chirstmas, Roy!

Ben Stein is Dead On

Thanks to Little Miss Chatterbox for posting a link to this article by Ben Stein. Ben Stein has always impressed me as being one of the few celebrities who does not have his head up his butt. This article shows why. Let's look at some of it.

Is there any evidence at all of Americans' rights being trampled upon by the application of the Patriot Act? Are we any less free? Are there detention camps anywhere? Are opponents of Bush afraid to express themselves?

The answers are, of course (in order): No, no, no, and yes. All claims that I have seen to the contrary have turned out to just be political posturing by Bush's opponents. While it is important to keep reasonable checks and balances in place to ensure that any administration is not corrupted by its power, that corruption has not occurred with this administration.

Where are all of the wild hurrahs that should have greeted the recent election in Iraq? It went off incredibly well, with all major groups participating, with a much smaller amount of violence than was expected. Iraq has gone from being the most unfree Arab country to the most free in a matter of months, thanks to the vision of George Bush and the heroism of America's fighting men and women. What has happened is beyond the hopes of even the greatest optimists. But where are the cheers? Why are Bush's opponents still bashing him over what is a clear success?

The answer to the last question is simple. They are doing it for political gain. They see how weak of a stomach we now have as a nation, and will take advantage of that for political gain. They will take what has been an outstanding success (as wars go, ugly and horrible as they are), and try their best to make it look like a failure, all for political gain. Highlighting any of the successes, especially one so obvious as this, just makes their job harder.

In any event, Bush's main goal has been to save the nation. He doesn't care about an imperium. He's a quiet, self-effacing guy. He wanted to save us from more 9/11's. Why doesn't he get some credit for that?

Amen to that, Mr. Stein. Good article...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Milwaukee Wave vs. PASL All Stars

Today, Lisa and I went to see the Milwaukee Wave take on the PASL All Star team. The game was a special "school day" game, so there were a lot of schools there on field trips, and not a lot of us "regular" fans. The wave won 9-2.

Since this was not a league game, the Wave rested a fair number of their top players, but it was still fun to watch. It is too bad that Soccer in general, and indoor soccer in particular, does not have any traction in this country. While regular soccer is a tad dull, the indoor variety is quite fast paced and fun to watch.

Anyhow, after the game, we went to Turner Hall for lunch. As we were finishing up, the Wave players where starting to show up for their after game festivities. It was pretty cool to go to a game, and then see the players out in the same establishment basically right afterwards, just being "regular Joe's".

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Toyota Could be #1

According to this article, Toyota is poised to become the number one auto maker in the world, surpassing that old dinosaur General Motors. I think the reasons for this are many:

  • American auto makers have been strapped with unreasonable labor unions who demand high wages and even more insane benefit packages for their employees. The cost of these wages and benefits often out weigh the actual value of the work these people do. In the end, this bloats costs, which moves money out of investment for future growth.
  • American auto makers are also strapped with insane pension payouts to former workers. This has the same crippling effect as the bloated wages and benefits.
  • American auto makers are completely unresponsive (at best) to changing trends. Just look at the Honda and Toyota responding to the market with their hybrid cars. Where is GM and Ford? They have a few offerings, but are certainly not in the forefront on this innovation. They would rather just keep building trucks and SUVs.
  • American auto makers have no sense of style, taste, or quality. They used to, but they have since lost it. Today, American cars tend to be ugly, inside and out, and often lack any sort of ergonomic design.
  • Supply chain issues, see comments. Richman brings up a good point about the supply chains. It is probably not as bad of an issue as the unions that are strangling all industries, but it is still an important issue, so I add it here.
If American auto makers want to stay competitive, it seems that they need to do a few basic things:
  • Reduce labor costs, including wages, benefits, and pension payouts.
  • Invest in new technologies so they are leading development instead of following.
  • actually pay attention to the market.
  • Stop designing ugly, cookie cutter cars that completely lack class and personality.
  • Focus on quality.
If they do all of that, then they might regain the number one spot. Otherwise, welcome Toyota to number 1, and it will only be a matter of time before GM loses the number 2 spot...

Name Change...

You might notice I changed the name of my blog. The original title was really just a take off of The World According to Garp. I got tired of that.

The current title takes my full nickname into account (that would be "stuffleheaded bastard", but it was quickly shorted to "stuffle"). That name came into being about 15 years ago when I was a cook in a restaurant.

We had the Point of Sales devices where the waitresses would punch in their orders and they would come back to the kitchen ticket printer. That was some pretty fancy crap 15 years ago. Now, it is ubiquitous. Waitresses could put in special instructions with the order.

One waitress, who was going on break, put in her own dinner order. She meant to put in "Now, you stubble headed bastard!" for special instructions, but put in "Now, you stuffle headed bastard". I came out to the bar area, asked quite loudly just what a "stuffle headed bastard" was, and the name stuck.

So, in honor of Anne unintentionally giving me my college nick-name about 15 years ago, I have changed the title of my blog to more accurately reflect that name... (that, and I was bored with the old one)

Monday, December 19, 2005

This "Problem" Will Take Care of Itself...

I am really sick and tired of all of these crybabies who want to over-regulate private businesses. This is the type of thing that should be left to the owners of the establishments to determine. When it comes to establishments like bars and restaurants, this is a customer service issue, and an employment issue, not a issue for government. Businesses that do a poor job catering to their customers (be they smokers or non-smokers), will tend not to do that well.

The upshot of leaving this a customer service issue is that there will be bars where smokers can go and feel comfortable, and there will be bars or restaurants that don't allow any smoking and do quite well with the non-smoking crowd, and there will be establishments that are somewhere in the middle.

OTOH, when crap like this is regulated by the government, there are always unintended negative consequences. For example:

However, a study by University College London suggests smoking bans in public places lead to children being exposed to higher levels of tobacco smoke at home.

This only makes sense when government goes so overboard with regulations that it leaves smokers no where to go other than to stay home.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmas Pagent

Today, the division 1 Sunday school classes put on their Christmas pageant at the 10:15 service. I teach the 3 year olds, and it was been interesting preparing for this. The 3 year olds just don't want to participate that much. I think partially they don't quite understand, and partially, they are just nervous being in front of everyone.

One of the 3 years olds (Cory) volunteered to be a cow in the manger. He did a really good job. I am very proud of him. The others did a good job too, though it took more than a little coaxing to get some of them to stand up in front of the church.

Afterwards, all of the kids went downstairs and had cookies and got small gifts from their teachers. I gave all of my kids a Christian activity book and a little stuffed bear with different Christian slogans or symbols on their shirts. I even got some gifts from a couple of them. It was a good time, but I am glad that it is over.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Ah, Vacation!

I am using up my vacation time for the year. That means, I don't go back to work until 12/28. I have turned off my pager, and disabled the checking of my work e-mail account from home. It is an amazingly wonderful feeling to totally disconnect from work for a while!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

One Less Dumbass...

How stupid does someone have to be to pretend to have a bomb while boarding a plane? I am glad to see that our air marshals are doing their jobs, and idiots like that are getting what they have coming to them.

Update: According to the latest news reports, the guy was bipolar and not taking his medication. Thus, my initial reaction that this was just some idiot thinking he was being funny was a tad off. Oops...

Damn Cold!!

It is 5:30 a.m. and I just got back from walking the dog. It is -2° F (-17° C) out there. brrrrrr

It has been like this for 3 days now. 2° F a couple of days ago, just a tad warmer yesterday. Now a tad colder today. I'm really getting sick of this shit...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Still Playing the Race Card

It looks like a lot of people are still playing the race card when it comes to Hurricane Katrina. Let's look at some more likely causes for the issues:
  • People Not Leaving - Plain and simple, not as many people when have been hurt by this had people actually left when told to. There are many reasons people did not leave (stupidity, poverty, poor planning, etc), but that does not change the fact that the biggest problem was all of the people who stayed when they should not.
  • Poverty - The fact is, a large portion of the people who did not evacuate simply did not have the means to do it on their own.
  • Corrupt Local and State Government - The corruption of government in that city and that state are legendary. That corruption lead to poor planning and wasted resources, which ultimately resulted in people who could not evacuate on their own having no decent way out of the city.
  • Over Reliance on Government - This is the key. The poverty stricken people in New Orleans relied on their government for everything. In the end, the extremely corrupt local and state governments let them down.
While FEMA's response what less than stellar, the fact of the matter is that the real pain was caused by the lack of response at the local and state level, and by a system of helping those in poverty that results in the poor relying on government for everything, rather than relying on friends, family, neighbors, and charity.

Of five black evacuees who testified, only one said he believed the sluggish response was the product of bad government planning for poor residents — not racism.

Well, at least one of the evacuees had it right...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

First Christmas Present

Ginger Bread Man
Originally uploaded by stuffle.
I teach the Sunday school class for three year olds. Today, one of my students (Caitlin) gave me a card that she made and this ornament that she also made (with a little help from her mom). I hung the card up in the class room, and brought the ornament home for our tree.

It is often the smallest things in life that mean the most.

Let it Snow...

Let it Snow...
Originally uploaded by stuffle.
It snowed here again last night. This was about the third nice snow of the year so far. This picture was taken about noon on Sunday by sticking the camera out of our back patio doors.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Nice "New" Uniforms...

The Brewers have decided to go with a retro look for their Sunday home games, and I like it. Of course, I love the pin stripes. As a Yankee fan, how could I not like pin stripes. Of course, the MB glove logo is just a nice reminder of when we used to have an actual baseball team. Things looked up last year. Hopefully they will continue going in that direction.