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17 December 2008

Mail is Absurd

(Uh, if you're looking for references to Male is Absurd instead of Mail, then go to the previous series of articles on the male, called the Mating Growl)




***


I have received no more than one or two letters in my life that were worth the postage.
- Henry David Thoreau


The written word - you know, the actual written word - has become somewhat of a lost art. This time of year we tend to get a lot of holiday greetings by postal mail, and the anticipation of opening each letter returns, if ever so briefly.

We have friends that I shamefully say our only contact each passing year is the exchange of holiday cards. Some are sent out of obligation for some friends whose time has perhaps come and some are from the guilt for not doing more to stay in touch. And some are the beautiful punctuation of another year's worth of friendship, cooperation and love between people near and far.

And so with all due respect to Mr. Thoreau, we are proud to receive our fair share - and perhaps more than our fair share - of postage paid greetings each year.


Let's take a unique, opinionated (duh) and informative journey back to how it all happened shall we?

***

The US Postal service was born in 1775 under the decree of Mrs. Silence Dogood, er I mean Ben Franklin. Since then, they have ballooned into the 3rd largest employer in the United States (behind Wal-Mart and the Federal Government).

They employ the all of the females that live in Sacramento County California. Okay, not really, but they do employee about the equivalent: 685,000 folks. That's a bunch of knee-high blue postal socks.

The post office consumes over 120 million gallons of fuel per year in their nearly 220,000 vehicles that they operate. I bet they are a huge customer of those little Christmas tree shaped air fresheners too.

If the Postal Service were a private company, with their $75 Billion annual operating revenue, they would rank in the top 25 of the Fortune 500. Yep, at .42 cents at a time too...since they don't rely on tax dollars for their funding; only sales from postage, shipping boxes and collectible Elvis stamps.

They deliver more than 700 Million bills a day, er, I mean bills, letters, packages and cards per day. The Postal Service are the de facto experts in "pushing paper", literally and figuratively.

When was the last time you spent 10 minutes in a post office? Waiting in a featureless line to conduct a piece of postal business with a grumpy clerk at a featureless counter. I mean really, would it kill them to pump in some music? I feel like going postal just at the sheer inefficient grind of their antiquated customer service process.

One area they are most in excellent in though is their law enforcement division, or Postal Inspectors. They are some of the most creative, effective and eager cops I've ever had the pleasure to work with. And it was one of them in 1963 that created the idea for the ZIP code to ease the complexity of routing mail. For those keeping track, ZIP is actually an acronym that stands for "Zoning Improvement Plan". Don't you feel better now?

Ah, but I digress....

Another often under appreciated factoid of the postal service is their presence in our neighborhoods and their impact on our society. During the commission of delivering those 700 million mail pieces a day, they also, on average, save at least one person's life, at least one person's home ... or both. Every day. If you have ever lived near an retired person with a retired state-of-mind, then you also know that the mail's arrival via the postal carrier can be the highlight of their day.

This holiday season, the postal service is handling about 1 Billion less pieces of mail than typical holiday shipping seasons of 20 Billion pieces. Of course, they blame the economy. No, not their economy, but the world economy.

You see, like so many company's in this climate, they seek to blame their own inefficiencies, strategic missteps and failing sales on the big, burly, nebulous "world economy". Hey, why not? Everyone else is!

What will get missed of course in any public dialogue is the reality of the US Postal Service's own economic realities. Because of their unique position as a government sanctioned monopoly in what they do (called the PES, or Private Express Statutes that prevents others from competing at delivery mail and prohibits access to our mailboxes by other companies), they are permitted to continually raise postal rates to absorb the losses incurred from - among other things - our exodus to other more efficient forms of communication. (Holiday cards notwithstanding of course.)

Sure we send Holiday Cards by mail, and hopefully Thank You cards by mail too. But bill pay? Correspondence? Fuggetaboutit. We forward thinkers embrace the currently available technology and use email and the Internet and more customer-centric services like United Parcel Service (UPS), right? So is it fair that we also get penalized by paying more for a service that is falling further and further behind the times? How would like to pay a premium price for a Beta video tape? A cell phone without a camera or Internet? A desktop computer? Jeez.

Because of their monopolistic status, the US Postal Service is guided by what is called the Universal Service Obligation, or USO. Essentially, the USO is a broad document that serves as the government's tool to tell the post office what is required in exchange for protected, government agency status. It is therefore also the document that would dictate their change of direction to serve their government and their public differently, such as pursuing other funding mechanisms, restructuring their workforce or privatizing more of their operation.


Under increasing pressure from government leaders, economists and the public, the Postal Service has attempted to defend itself and the trillion dollar mailing industry.


The Postal Service said that the USO should continue to be broadly defined and there should be no changes to the postal monopoly.

But change they must and change they will. In December 2008, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) is expected to submit, under order of the Postal Act of 2006, their suggested list of changes to how the Postal Service operates.

In what can be seen as perhaps a preemptive move on their part, the Postal Service has also announced the first ever layoff of it's workforce: up to 40,000 people starting in 2009. Hmmm.

They are called changing times for a reason I suppose.

Better get those Holiday Cards and Thank You cards in the mail!


While you're at it, you better make sure you have your Daddios Daily Dose Free FEED too. Join the other faithful readers and be notified whenever there is new content posted here. Make sure you don't miss a word....click the link at the top right of the page!



15 December 2008

Pot Calling the Kettle ... Black?

From the world of sports comes this disturbing tale.

At Auburn University, home to the recently coach-less Tiger football team and home school of famous alumni like Bo Jackson (1992), Rowdy Gaines (1982), Richard Marcinko (Navy SEAL), Jimmy Buffet and Charles Barkley (who didn't graduate).

Coaching candidates for their storied football program consisted of the defensive coordinator of their Tiger team in 2004 that was #2 in the Nation (who is now coaching in Iowa) named Gene Chizik and an former quarterback named Turner Gill, who recently coached at Buffalo. At least 1/2 dozen other coaches - including some of the nation's top coaches - were interviewed too.

But it was Chizik who got the job. And predictably, some of the Auburn fan base was apparently miffed, perplexed and perhaps even enraged.

Yet for anyone in, well, the real world, we know that when more than 1 person interviews for a single job, that the result will be one applicant hired and, yes, the other applicants not hired. Startling, huh?

But if you are Charles Barkley, then this process can't possibly be considered fair by any measure.

From ESPN: "Former Auburn and NBA star Charles Barkley ripped his alma mater on Monday, saying the only reason the Tigers did not hire Buffalo's Turner Gill as the school's new football coach is because Gill is black." Said Barkley: "I think race was the No. 1 factor."

Wow. Of course race is often and unfortunately the factor in a variety of decisions, but to suggest that they - Auburn's highly visible football program - would run off their previous coach for producing a losing season and then pass over what Barkley suggests is the best replacement candidate because of a non-competency trait like race is absurd. Absurd on many levels.

But absurdity and Barkley - and other of celebrity big mouths - are not strangers. He once commented that the Olympic sport of curling was too much like "dusting" and that "any woman can do it". In 1991, while still playing basketball and while engaged in verbal discourse with a fan, he spit on a little girl watching the game instead of spitting on the other fan, which he intended to do. He also frequently fought, physically, with other players and fans alike, which included fines and even an arrest for breaking a fan's nose.

He also denied that his gambling losses (reported to be over $10 million) are the result of an addiction, saying that gambling is not an addiction as long as he has the money to pay the debt, but abuse of drugs and alcohol are an addiction. That is until he got sued by one of Steve Wynn's casino in Las Vegas for $400,000 in unpaid losses. Then he acknowledged that perhaps gambling is a problem and he vowed to quit.

And so, because Barkley's mouth is bigger than his cerebral cortex, of course he continued with his commentary on Auburn's coaching choice.

"I'm just very disappointed," Barkley said. "I just thought Turner Gill would be the perfect choice for two reasons: He's a terrific coach and we needed to make a splash. I thought we had to do something spectacular to bring attention to the program. Clearly, if we'd hired a black coach, it would have created a buzz."

I'll wait while you re-read what Barkley said to put it in context.

Okay then.

So to summarize Barkley's inflammatory logic:

  1. Picking a white coach over a black coach is racist.
  2. Picking a black coach over a white coach is NOT racist but is "spectacular" and 'buzz-worthy'.

Charles needs to take a long, slow and purposeful drink of his own medicine, with a healthy dose of common sense, humility and race-relations 101 added for good measure.

In October 2008, 'Sir Charles' - as many call him - announced that he will be running for the office of Governor of Alabama in 2014. If there is ever a case to keep idiot's-out-of-office, perhaps Alabama voters should mark that date on their calendar.

Public figures all over America lose their jobs over lesser racist comments....so when we will see this standard applied to Charles Barkley?

TNT (the cable TV network that now employees Barkley as a commentator during the NBA season), are you paying attention?


11 December 2008

Honesty Pays, Part II

Close followers of the scattered musings of Daddio's Daily Dose will remember the story recently of Honesty Knight, the mental midget who lit up a joint front of the po-po. Her consequence for that choice will cost her time and money. And with a name like that, I assume it will also cost her in time away from her pole dancing too, but that is a story to explore for perhaps another day.

Today's story is also about honesty, choices and money, but the outcome is far, far different.

***

Murfreesboro Tennessee is about 30 miles southeast of Nashville, is home to about 100,000 people, two Cracker Barrel Restaurants and least a few trustworthy citizens that should make all of us proud.

Last week while visiting the 'loo' at the Cracker Barrel, 75 year-old Billie Watts discovered a purse left behind containing 97 $1000 dollar bills and a picture of a woman and a child, but no identification.

Deciding to not leave it at the counter, Mrs. Watts left the Cracker Barrel to confabulate about the discovery with her husband Malcolm. Upon arriving home, they called the Cracker Barrel back and left her telephone number for anyone who left an item in the ladies room. Minutes later, another elderly woman named Judith called and described the bag and its contents, including the picture.

Mrs. Watts met and returned the money to the now panicked purse owner. Judith offered Mrs. Watts $1000, but she refused. Judith went on to explain that the picture was of her daughter and granddaughter, who were both recently deceased. The money was all of her money and that she was headed to Florida to 'start over' with her surviving son.

Bravo Billie Watts, bravo.

Of course there are those that suggest that this is a made up story, that the money is actually drug money or that this was some scheme by Mrs. Watts to bilk the public out of sympathy. Perhaps. But I suspect Billie and Malcolm Watts know the score. And so does a grateful woman back on her way to Florida.

The Watts family could have used the $1000 reward money, not to mention the whole kitty. In fact, since the $97,000 was all in $1000 bills - and since $1000 bills haven't been printed since 1934 and circulated since the summer of 1969 - the actual value of that purse was more like between $242,500 and $1,358,000 on the collector market.

In their 58 years of marriage, Billie and Malcolm have been through alot. Billie admits to needing her teeth fixed. Her husband Malcolm has cancer, heart problems and both of them suffer from diabetes. For family gatherings, they host their 4 kids, 12 grand kids and 7 great grand kids into a modest, rented apartment. Just this week while researching this story, I discovered that one of their son-in-laws passed away too. Money doesn't heal pain, but it sure can help with the logistics of healing ifyouknowwhatImean.

But right is right. Said Mrs. Watts, "The money wasn't mine. I had no right to it. My mom and dad told me never to take anything that didn't belong to me."

In fact it was one of her grand children, not her, that encouraged her to eventually agree to speak to the media about her story.

I don't know what will be under the Watt's family Christmas tree this year, but if Billie and Malcolm Watts are around, their family will receive the best gift imaginable: a living example of a purposeful life full of character and integrity.

And that is truly the the gift that keeps on giving.

Judge not...oh well, nevermind



Howdy friends. Let's piece together a little common sense today shall we?

Judges are the designated arbiters of truth and justice; ergo, what is right and wrong. Senators? Eh, not so much.

Second, judges may or may not get paid what they are worth, just like you, me and the man on the moon. In any instance, judges who serve in the public sector should probably not expect to be paid what lawyers of equal experience make (not earn, but make) in the private sector. Agreed?

Next, the government bailout of every failing and suffering and mismanaged enterprise (except taxpaying family's that are struggling that is) is being funded by individual and corporate taxpayers like you and me. Like it or not, our tax money is fast filling the pockets of company's who could not fill them the good old fashioned way: with sales from paying customers.

"We pay, we play" worked in the school yard so shouldn't we have some say where and how are taxes are spent now? Think again Sport.

So how should we feel now that in the latest pimping of our tax money, some of our elected officials chose to - in addition to giving money to struggling car companies - they are planning on giving a bunch of judges raises too with the same allotment of taxpayer cash?

Its true. If (when) the $14 Billion auto bailout passes, our senate snuck in a provision to pay over 1200 federal judges nearly $5000 more apiece next year. Think we'll ever see that money again? What ever happened to an equity interest in these company's to insure that we will get value back from the money invested?

There are many disturbing irony's here. For starters, the money that was earmarked for one purpose is instead being used for another purpose. What would you do if you gave your kid $20 bucks to buy milk, eggs and bread and he instead bought beer and magazines? And what about that the misuse of our money is to pay judges of all people? In many cases, diversion of capital expenditures would be a criminal or civil violation, yes? Yet, try to get a court to hear that argument now, eh? Ha. Ironic indeed.

Federal judges, the recipients of said bailout funds, are appointed for life, their life. That means that they can not lose their job unless they die. How about you? How stable is your job right now? Your honor earns nearly $170,000 a year now. So that they can keep up with the federally mandated pay raises of Congressmen and women they will be given almost 3% more next year, just like your US Senate will. What? You don't have a federally mandated raise each year? Sucker.

The United States Constitution specifically provides that the compensation of federal judges "shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office," which means that no one can reduce their salary. In addition to their lifetime appointment, the intent is to keep their cases free from "popular passions and political influence". Obviously our founding fathers didn't anticipate the ramifications of a well-timed pay raise though huh?

"Desperate times deserve desperate measures" comes to mind when I think of using taxes collected by the government to bail out a industry needed to sustain our economy. Where does giving a dude a raise who is already guaranteed a paycheck for life fit into that model of desperation?!?


So who is the mouthpiece of this darling piece of legislative horse hockey? Why none other than Senate Majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada. The same Harry Reid that was caught red handed transferring land he owned in Nevada to a crooked friend, so Reid could in turn benefit from a $1.1 million dollar windfall profit without having to disclose it on those pesky federally mandated disclosure forms for senators. Unfortunately for Americans, Reid has not seen the inside of a courtroom yet for this misdeed and misuse of power. Fortunately for Reid though, any judge who would hear such a case just got a $5000 raise, courtesy of Reid. Hmmmm.

The Senate's Democratic Caucus said this about Reid: "It is hard to imagine a better model for leadership." I'd say that is proof that nobody can ever accuse our senate from having an active imagination. Of course, keep in mind that they all will get raises this year too.

Please keep these poor shysters elected citizens in your thoughts this holiday season whilst you wonder if the flailing economy will gobble up your non-federally mandated job too.

09 December 2008

Advertising is Absurd, Part 1

For 10 years, the makers of Airborne herbal supplement "The One Developed by a School Teacher!" (2nd grade teacher Victoria Knight-McDowell) claimed that it could be used daily to prevent colds and could even stop a cold if you already had one. People bought it, literally and figuratively; their sales climbed like a fever to over $100 Million per year.



Their claim was even 'authenticated' by an outside research facility. Sounds impressive eh? Dispensing medical claims by a teacher just wasn't enough it seems. Well it turns out that independent research facility was a company started specifically to support Airborne's claim and to provide the appearance of independence. It was comprised of two people. The leader of those two used a fake degree from Indiana University suggesting that he was, you know, something of a doctor, scientist and researcher that he was not. Oops.



Airborne later reworded its marketing and packaging to say the supplement "boosts your immune system." But the damage had been done; the public's trust had been violated.



Now there is a class action lawsuit. But of course.



Elise Donahue, the CEO of Airborne, unlike in it's previous 10 year campaign, claimed in a press tour that Airborne is not actually a cure for the common cold, but can only boost a healthy person's immune system. Still, they have removed the wording of a miracle cure from their packaging because, in the words of their noble leader: "We found it confused consumers ... Consumers are not really scientifically-minded enough to be able to understand a clinical study." Hmmm. Arrogance personified. Where's the harpoon?



And Airborne's culture built on fraud and deceit is now going to cost them over $23 million USD in a settlement. If you don't have a receipt to prove you actually bought any Airborne, you can sign an affidavit and you can receive a settlement ... in the form of more Airborne products! Don't worry, the lawyers will get real money, the 'victims' will get more of the dreck that didn't work the first time....the last of the great deals huh?



There are so many better ways for a company to make money and to generate goodwill among your customers than lying to them and selling them schlock. Amazing that some companies continue to try to pull the wool over our eyes at every opportunity.



So, what companies are doing it right?

Among my list of companies that are doing it mostly right are:

  • Disney World - they are masters at the customer experience and the more I learn about their inner workings, the more impressed I am.
  • Dooney & Bourke - their original products were made out of All-Weather Leather (they shrink the leather instead of stretching it) from cows that never saw a barbed wire fence. I wish they made more men's products.
  • Container Store - they take of their employees first. Because without happy employees, there can be no happy customers. What a concept!

There are others, but I shall refrain and perhaps dedicate a future post to those enterprises that do it right, or try like hell anyway.



08 December 2008

Oh Yeah, Honesty Will Pay


I've never been much of a FOF (Follower of Fiction). Never needed to be frankly. The real world is absurd enough, dramatic enough, colorful enough and dynamic enough to give me most of the entertainment I need.

Okay, enough of that.


Ms. Honesty Knight is from the great state of Indiana, city of Muncie, population of nearly 70,000 Hoosiers.

Last week at the prime age of 32 she found
herself the hapless passenger of a motorist who had run afoul of a local traffic ordinance. While Indiana's finest troopers were questioning the driver, it seems that Ms. Knight, yes, Ms. Honesty Knight desired to pass the time with a smoke.

Presumably not wanting to offend those present, she asked
the state troopers if she could spark one up. 'Sure' they said.

So she promptly pulled out a rolled marijuana joint and lit 'er up.

And so just like that, the traffic violation turned a little more comedic, and a little more, uh, consequential for Ms. Honesty.

There. Now don't you feel a little better about some of the not-so-great choices you've made in your life?

"It is always the best policy to tell the truth, unless of course you are an exceptionally good liar."
- Jerome K. Jerome


20 November 2008

Largess ... or Large-Ass?

One-person-one-fare.

That's the rule in Canada after an appeals court declined to hear, and therefore let stand, a lower court ruling that forbid three Canadian airlines to charge obese persons for 2 separate seats.

In today's economic climate especially, how fortunate for those obese folks to be given such a generous gift as a second first class seat to go with their current one. One wonders, do they get a second meal too?

You heard it here before folks and it bears repeating: By giving everyone rights, pretty soon none of us have any rights.

In the United States, some airlines have a policy that looks something like this: “customers who are unable to lower the armrests (the definitive boundary between seats) and/or who compromise any portion of adjacent seating should proactively book the number of seats needed.” Hear that? That's the sound of a sensible policy knockin' at the door, ay.

Anyone who has done a fair amount of business travel as I have has likely been on the receiving end of the choices of many ill-equipped air travellers such as over sized carry-on bags, spilled drinks, smelly feet and yes, Dunlap Disease. That is where their body Dun-laps over the arm rest. What about the other passenger's rights to fly in comfort, have available seats and have an able bodied passenger stationed in the emergency exit row? What concessions should we expect?

How many milliseconds will it be before a slightly built person claims claustrophobia, or odor sensitivity, or a chest cold, or a racial bias against their neighboring passenger and thereby enacts the "one-person-one-fare policy" as a reason to be granted another seat? Bets anyone?

Was this the right choice, or have we just given up and started caving in to anybody with a claim of disparity and inconvenience? Have all incentives for one to achieve rank and privilege been obliterated by the constant desire to please all people all the time?

Team, make no mistake, this is a common sense issue not an obesity issue. The largest of the three airlines, Air Canada, could only show a financial burden worth about 1% of their revenue in order to implement the new policy. Doesn't sound like much? Well, try $82 million dollars worth of additional expense in order to implement this policy and subsidize the extra seats. Okay now, take a guess who is going to pay that $82,000,000 to insure the big fella in seat 4B (and 4A) has 2 seats? Right again...YOU and ME.

Yep, our largess is going to have to pay for their large ass.

19 November 2008

Don't Drink The Kool Aid

30 years ago today the Reverend Jim Jones snookered over 900 people to drink a fatal dose of cyanide laced cherry Flavor Aid in Guyana in South America. He called the exercise "revolutionary suicide". The rest of the world called it death by Guyana Punch.

Eerily, Guyana's motto is: "One people, one nation, one destiny".

Reverend Nut Case preached that "those who remained drugged with the opiate of religion had to be brought to enlightenment—socialism." While he's not far off on his religion statement, his brand of socialism of course proved to not be very family friendly. Like the zealots before him and since him, the Flavor Aid was a handy (and tasty) vehicle for him to have eternal power over his followers by drugging them into the afterlife. How arrogantly ironic.

"Drinking the Kool Aid" (the more popular flavored drink mix than the Flavor Aid used in this mass suicide) has crept into today's culture as a reference to "blindly following an authority even if it leads to serious harm or death." Though I would add that many charismatic 'leaders' try to influence their followers into harmful situations all the time, even if those situations don't lead to our immediate death.

You know, the auto makers, politicians, the slick salesman/woman, etc...

Have you ever been asked to drink the Kool Aid?

Or, are there any instances where you would drink the Kool Aid?

10 November 2008

Costly Bones




While most of the world closely watched the not-so-close US presidential race, who caught this news update?


"Bones are Fossett's, DNA testing shows"



Fossett refers to the millionaire daredevil Steve Fossett who took off in his private plane in the mountains of Nevada in September of 2007. On this day he was scouting a location to attempt a land speed record with a rocket car of some sort. He was never seen alive again.





In October of this year his plane was found and then earlier this month, 2 bones were found, scavenged by animals, that have been linked by DNA to Mr. Fossett. His death is now confirmed.



But there is more to to this story. In the days and weeks and months after Fossett's disappearance, a sizable effort was underway to locate the missing adventurer. And why not? He was an acclaimed dude, sportsman, friend and rich guy (with rich friends).



An organized search effort went on for nearly two months. The Civil Air Patrol (the civilian branch of the United States Air Force) searched 20,000 square miles in an effort to locate Fossett. The effort goes down as "the largest search and rescue effort ever conducted for a person within the U.S." The cost? Estimated at over $3 million dollars. Ironically, yet sometimes typically, the breakthrough initial discovery of crash debris was found - for free - by hikers who were in the area.




The Kennedy Honors



In July of 1999 John F. Kennedy Jr. attempted to fly his private plane along with his new bride, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and her sister Lauren to a wedding from New Jersey to Massachusetts.


The ground crews reportedly advised that he not attempt the flight due to weather and darkness, especially considering that the young Mr. Kennedy did not possess a IFR rating (Instrument Flight Rules) which would have been necessary - and helpful - in such inclement conditions (flying using instruments-only and under the control of the air traffic controllers).



Kennedy did not heed the warnings, nor did he file a flight plan. Once in the air, he quickly exceeded his training and therefore his ability to pilot his plane. Predictable result: he killed himself and his passengers in a violent, cold and wet death in the Atlantic Ocean when he lost control of his plane.



The Bessette family sued the bejeebers out of the Kennedy's for Carolyn's and Lauren's wrongful death after it was confirmed that the crash was 100% due to John-John's careless errors. They got paid out of court to go away.



Besides the Kennedy-sized cash settlement, how much do we suppose that search cost?



There were at least 197 other fatal plane crashes in 1999, but I doubt any of those earned the untethered services of the US Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force to come look for the missing occupants. Or had three burials at sea off the bow of the USS Briscoe, a Naval Destroyer, especially for civilians who never wore a uniform. Or had a presidential declaration for the nation's flags to be flown at half-staff to honor their passing. Holy Price Tag, Batman.



I know what some of you are thinking. Well, why not give the guy a national day of mourning and the services of the US armed forces ad nauseum? After all, his family has suffered right? And his dad did get assassinated, you know, while serving his country as President.



Perhaps, dear readers, perhaps. But not a very compelling case for John Jr. since his arrogant and negligent actions could be likened to homicide of his innocent passengers. Details, details. Sorry, but that is a tad different in the service-to-your-country category.



But perhaps even more to the point: what made Kennedy's or Fossett's disappearance more worthy of such extraordinary search measures than say, the nearly 815,000 people who were reported missing in just 2007 that go nowher near such special attention?



Dannis O. Dutro is was a creepy, 61 year old white guy from Southern California. He was a criminal who molested kids. And when he was released from the hoosegow, he didn't register his whereabouts as required but instead he went house hunting...and then disappeared. For 2 months. He was last seen at the intersection of a road and a trail. He was found deceased by trail riders less than 3 miles away on that very trail from where he was last seen.


There was no news release when he disappeared, no significant (or even insignificant) search effort to speak of and certainly no presidential declaration. He was in the news only when the coroner identified human remains (that tends to be a sexy headline).


Does he deserve any less effort in searching for him than Kennedy or Fossett? By all accounts, Dutro was actually lost and/or missing whereas Fossett, and certainly Kennedy voluntarily put themselves at risk.



Missing, But Not Forgotten


May 25th, every May 25th, is National Missing Children's Day. It was started, unfortunately, 26 years ago by then-president Reagan after 6 year old Etan Patz was abducted in New York. He's never been found. Nor have the nearly 1000 other children who are still missing too.








Etan Patz became, literally, the poster child for missing children back in 1979. He was the first child to have their picture on the back of a milk carton and in New York, he is among it's most famous children. But for all the wrong reasons.



The enduring publicity around his case provided several positive effects. What became the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children was started, the child-on-the-back-of-the-milk-carton program, and of course the annual Missing Children's Day with all of the awareness, training and funding that the NCMEC gets to further its good works.


Sometimes, very bad things spawns several good things.


However, for all the attractive white kids that get abducted that the news covers, there are hundreds of shall we say, non-news worthy children that are seldom if ever covered in the news. No posters, no notices, no nothing.


And as we see when those kids grown up and go missing (Dutro v. Fossett and Kennedy), little changes.


Is there anything you can do to change that? What would you do if your family member were missing and they were not famous, pretty/handsome or white?








05 November 2008

Tourism is Absurd


"Ours has been the first, and doubtless to be the last, to visit this profitless locality."
- Lt. Joseph Ives, after visiting the Grand Canyon in 1861


Didn't they say the same thing about Las Vegas?



Grand Canyon National Park is a national and international treasure spanning over 1.2 million acres. First designated as a National Park in 1919, it attracts almost five (5) million visitors each year and the annual impact of their tourism is approximately $687 million dollars per year to the local economy. For a resource that mother nature gave us for free, I suspect there is a profit somewhere in that $687 million dollars dontchathink?

Uh, Lt. Ives, you seem to be a little off in your projection. Besides, what else are you gonna do with the Grand Canyon besides gawk and sell t-shirts?

Well, actually, there's this too:

In 2007 the Hualapai Indian tribe constructed a horseshoe shaped glass walkway extending out over the Grand Canyon.

Certainly not for the weak of heart. For nearly $70 bucks per person, $20 bucks per car and a 2 hour drive from Vegas you too can peer nearly 5000 below your feet too.

Would you do this?

Of course if you did, you wouldn't have a picture to prove it (unless you bought one from their photog's) since no personal items are allowed on the walkway, cameras included. I guess they don't want anything to drop on the glass floor and shatter it. Yikes.

Nearly 1 Billion people per year hit the roads, seas, airways and yes, glass walkways, each year in pursuit of little shot glasses that commemorate the biggest ball of twine, etc. And in doing so spend $3 Billion dollars per Day, or over $1 Trillion dollars per year. Wow. Makes you want to open up a lemonade stand outside of Six Flags huh?

Speaking of sustenance, did you know that in Thailand that they call Thai Food just "food"?

But I digress....

So, why do you vacation? To get away from something (work, house, life, etc.) or to go to something (Disney, exotic locale, etc.)?

****

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04 November 2008

Too Smart for Politics??

"Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber."
- Plato

You preserved your right to bitch voted didn't you?

Only 6 out of 10 Americans over age 18 voted in the last 2 national elections. That would be legal, registered-to-vote Americans to be clear.
We don't count illegal aliens, regardless from whence they came, as American voters here at D3.


Sometimes we get what we want when we vote and sometimes we get what is less scary than the alternative when we vote. But as a democracy, whom our forefathers and mothers died to create for us, we get to choose who leads us. Ain't it great?

For those that voted, what do you hope to achieve, especially if you voted for a candidate at the local, state or national level that was expected to lose?

And for those that didn't vote, what kept you from casting your ballot?

03 November 2008

Apathy is for the Apathetic

ap·a·thy [ap-uh-thee] –noun, plural -thies: lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.

So, what moves you?

We hear of folks that claim to care about their country, their faith, their team, their neighbors, their whatever, but when the bright lights of public recognition dim and the dark shadows of solitude emerge....how many people's flames are still a flickerin'?

"Character is what you do when nobody is watching"
- Anonymous

Man if I had a dollar every time I preached that to my kids, my students, my employees...

Voting is of course an easy and classic and yeah, measurable, way to validate one's public and private position on ( fill in the blank ) issue. Assuming of course one votes mindfully and doesn't just vote for who or what is popular.

Some issues take a bit more courage and depth of character to tackle though, eh? And while nobody I know is perfect, what a noble goal indeed.

"Moral courage and character go hand in hand... a man of real character is consistently courageous, being imbued with a basic integrity and a firm sense of principle."
- Martha Boaz


One might say they want to help the homeless, but when they are confronted with a homeless person, how many actually help versus how many look away?

As I mentioned in my diatribe against some of the Baptist Bigots the other day, the most self righteous among them boycotted the Disney Corporation because Disney allowed gay people into their business. As I said then, one might say they are against the Disney Corporation, but how many will still sneak a peek at the scores on SportsCenter or rent Cars or Wall-e on DVD?

** I actually support anyone's right to boycott, generally make arses of themselves, etc. of course. Their publicity seeking antics give me endless amounts of material from which to comment on!

One might say they are against illegal aliens, but when offered a low rate on computer repair, house cleaning, yard maintenance etc from an illegal alien, how many actually look away and hire them (cash only of course)?

One might say they are against the darkness, but how many will actually make an effort to turn on the light?

"There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion."
- Carl Jung

So, what moves you? And if you're not moved, then why not?

31 October 2008

Beware of the Clown


Who'd you think I was talking about? (No not him ... or him either, this isn't a political post!).

It is Halloween you know so of course it's time to don our costumes and often conceal the inhibitions that go with them.

****

In my former life I used to do some work for a very popular consumer product company that produced television shows, movies and CD's about a, uh, larger than life character. This character was like crack cocaine to kids and they couldn't get enough (of the character, not the crack). Of course that spawned consumer goods of all types from lunch boxes to pajamas to stuffed dolls. Kids lost their freaking mind with this character. Think of the equivalent of a 'tween going ape over Hanna Montana when she first hit the scene.


Well, as is often the case in cynic-land (from whence I sire), along came the criminal element that hi-jacked container loads of these toys so they could sell them quickly at a 100% profit, counterfeit everything they could get their hands on as well as the even darker criminal element: pedophile adults who dressed as this character in order to lure children into, well, you get the idea. Another notable problem was the guy with Turret's Syndrome who would wear an adult costume and host birthday parties....at least until he started lashing out at the kids using vulgarities. Think about your favorite childhood character screaming at you to "bleepity-bleep off". It wasn't pretty.


Needless to say, with visions of John Wayne Gacy, my client didn't find any of this even the least bit funny and made it a point to not produce ANY adult sized costumes or apparel of said character.


And sadly, this was not my only client with this problem. So each year around Halloween, I found myself marshaling the forces to try to put a stop to the wide spread, black market sales and rental of adult sized character costumes. Who knew, right? I even had to testify as a Subject Matter Expert on this issue in my state's legislature if you can imagine that.

****

Dressing up in costumes to entertain kids is a time honored tradition dating back to 1800 BC. Yet somewhere along the line the practice has obviously taken a darker turn.

Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns and it affects an estimated 15% of the population. Are you one of them?

Back in 2005 the town of Sarasota Florida decided to honor its clown heritage by installing dozens and dozens of fiberglass clowns all over town. After all, Sarasota has been the home to the Ringling Brothers Circus for over 30 years, 15 major circus companies are based there and more circus people live there than anyplace in the world. Clowns on parade seem like a natural fit, yes?


The measure was vigorously protested. The voters said “Clowns give me the creeps,” and "How would you like to be driving around downtown and see your worst fear everywhere and super-sized?”

Obviously there are good clowns and evil clowns. And then then there are clowns that are evil clowns regardless of what costume they wear. The challenge is being able to tell the difference.

Y'all be careful out there trick-or-treating, ya hear?




30 October 2008

Shocking Campaign Development

Boy shocked after man powers up campaign
sign

Seems that a Mr. Shawn Turschak of the North Carolina Turschak's likes the McCain-Palin ticket. So much he posted a standard fare McCain-Palin campaign sign or two in his yard.

Also seems that a 9-year neighbor boy, son of one Andrew Noble likes the Obama-Biden ticket. The budding young Democrat and part-time misfit allegedly made it a habit to discreetly enter Mr. Turschak's property to, uh, re-allocate his McCain signs to points unknown and replace them with Obama signs. How annoyingly clever.

Mr. Turschak did not find such thefts funny so he electrified the replacement McCain signs in his yard. The next time a theft was attempted of the signs on Mr. Turschak's property, the attempted thief was met with 110 volts of "No-Not-This-Time".

Of course the way some people get worked up over these elections, the little dude is lucky he didn't get a round of buck shot in his behind.

With his hair on end, Mr. Noble's son went whimpering home to Daddy, who promptly marched down to Mr. Turschak's house for an explanation. I can hear it now "Why did you think it was okay to protect your signs on your private property from my unduly influenced and unsupervised pre-teen from committing what could have been his first felony at your expense?"

Nonetheless, the Po-Po was summoned and the modern day Hatfields and McCoys were separated. No charges are expected, according to the police.

At last report, Mr. Noble was teaching his son how to light a bag of flaming poo while Mr. Turschak was seeking a permit to tether an alligator to his McCain-Palin signs until Tuesday.

Anybody else looking forward to this election to be over?

Election is Fowl?

An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.
- George Eliot


Yippee! The election is drawing near! Do you have your election day outfit picked out yet? Have you called ahead to your election administrator to let them know you're coming? Have you thawed the beanie-weenies for the election night watching party at your house?

No? Well, phooey on you.

The election on Tuesday is the most important election in November of 2008! Despite the fact that it is the only national election in November of 2008, let's continue, shall we?

For starters, if you are looking for smack talk for or against one the candidates, keep looking. Lately I have been limiting my smack talk to Baptist Bigots.

Secondly, this will soon be over. The news, the blogosphere and the TV commercials will all return to exploits of Britney Spears privates, er, I mean private life.

And what we will be left with will be a sack of promises, a $10 Trillion federal debt - that's $33k per person folks - and a new administration tasked with actually doing what they told us they would do. Yeah, right.

The latest power grab is almost complete and new foxes will soon be knocking at the door of the hen house.

Do you have good locks on your chicken coop?


29 October 2008

Is there an "I" in Cry, Marion?

Good grief.

One doesn't have to look far to find yet another example of arrogance and selfishness on display in the news. And lucky for you, one doesn't have to look beyond Daddio's Daily Dose to have arrogance exposed.

In The Oprah Winfrey Show set to broadcast today, disgraced Olympic sprinter Marion Jones will spill her guts about 'how her memory of the Olympics is tarnished' because of her prior bad deeds. Poor baby.

Let's recap shall we?

  • Oct. 12, 1975 - born
  • early 1990's - High School state champion sprinter 4 years in a row, rumors of drug use begin, missed a required drug test to compete and was banned for 4 years. High profile attorney Johnnie Cochran got her suspension reversed.
  • 1997 - Graduated UNC-Chapel Hill, drug use allegations persist
  • 1998 - 1999 - 1st place in 100 meter World Championships
  • 2000 Summer Olympics - won 3 gold medals and 2 bronze, husband later testifies that she injected herself in the stomach with performance enhancing drugs
  • 2004 - Drug dealer gives her up and admits supplying her performance enhancing drugs, Jones denies it
  • 2006 - her urine and blood samples test positive for drugs
  • 2007 - Marion Jones finally admits to using drugs, lying to federal agents and to her role in a check counterfeiting scheme
  • 2008 - Marion Jones is ordered to return all of her medals she won since 1999. The relay teams she was on during those years also had to forfeit their medals and results. Marion Jones gets sent to the hoosegow (prison) for 6 months.

Said the head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF):

"Marion Jones will be remembered as one of the biggest frauds in sporting history."

Now, in late 2008, after all the damage she has caused to her international sport, her country, her team mates and her family, she arrogantly sums the experience up this way:

"I truly believe that the reason I made the awful mistake and a few thereafter was because I didn't love myself enough to tell the truth."

The 'few mistakes thereafter' I assume refer to the attempts along with her boyfriend and friends to defraud several banks of millions of dollars in an money laundering scheme after her net worth went in the tank. No big deal, right Marion?

Not a single mention of her responsibility to her team, her fans, her country or her sport. And looking at her history, one shouldn't be surprised. Yet she will get the pity treatment and get a venue to tell her horrid tales of her 6 months in federal prison. And all the while, her fans and her teammates that also lost their medals for being teamed with her, will get nada. Except another reminder that there really is no "I" in the word TEAM.

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I know some of you readers, including you career lurkers, have a direct or indirect hand in raising kids. How did you explain this former iconic athlete's fall from grace to your kids? Or is it safer to not try and emulate highly visible athletes in the first place?

Wanna be President??

"Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be President, but they don't want them to become politicians in the process."
- John F. Kennedy

Is this true?

When I was a kid, my parents and my teachers told me (and everyone else of course) that I could be President of the United States someday. A lofty goal to be sure because in civics class we learned how prestigious the office of President is and how powerful he (or she) is on the world's stage. Who wouldn't want that opportunity for their children?

As an adult, I have also dangled this carrot in front of Emily. You know the refrain: Do good in school, eat your veggies, polish my boots, respect your parents, do good by others and you too could be President of The United States!

But somewhere in there is the inconvenient truth of what it takes to actually be president. Sure, a command on the issues, a US citizenship, and a decent looking presence in a suit. But as the years go by we - yes we - have come to demand more from our elected officials.

  • They must be completely unscathed in their personal lives
  • They must possess the ability to collect zillions of dollars from wealthy supporters
  • They must be able to placate every faction of society in order to earn and maintain the popular vote
  • They must promise change - without consequence - even if there is no reasonable mechanism to create that change

Yet, by demanding these criteria, the proposed candidate gets further and further from actually representing us, the populace. Who among you is unscathed personally? Who has access to zillions of dollars? Who lives in an environment where you can say one thing and do another and be consequence-free?

And when these people are elected - that, again, end up being nothing like us - we turn on them because they are out of touch with our lives. Hmmmm.

Perhaps we should inspire our children to become illegal aliens instead?? Most of them have a very bright future in this country and it costs them next to nothing.

28 October 2008

Truth is Absurd

"It is always the best policy to speak the truth - unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar."
- Jerome K. Jerome, 1859 – 1927; English author


Here are some common lies:

Age - some age related lies are through the liars admission and some because they doctor an ID and dress 'older'. It starts young too. I recall a young girl named Stephanie who told me she was 5. Her grandmother shook her head and said that Stephanie was really 4. Stephanie vigorously disagreed and insisted that she was 5. I don't think any child that age could have believed anything more strongly than Stephanie did about her false age.


Work History - Note for hiring managers: "I worked for the State" in an increment of 7 or 10 years means your applicant was in prison. Got it?

Politics - Every candidate promises "change" (yeah, look it up, they all do). Few deliver plausible details, therefore few actually deliver change, ergo, all we get is another big fat goose egg of a promise and/or an outrageous tax bill for their efforts. Sound familiar?


Love & Money - When I was in my 20's my friend Trout and I agreed to be the designated drivers for his younger brother and his band of hooligans for the brother's bachelor party. I must confess, I have been to many, many bachelor parties, but that was the only one where I was a tee-totaller. And is was great.

Here is what we learned, out of the mouth of babes (no, not those babes, I mean the baby brother and his buddies):

Everything in life can be boiled down to either BANK or SPANK. Or for those slow on the uptake, they meant, Money or Sex. (Yow, can't wait to see what the Ad Crawler displays now!)

Now, before I go against my pledge for keeping it PG here at D3, I won't go into the depth's of the discussion we had that night, but suffice to say, we had a hard time trumping their assertion.

And because of motivation being what it is, many people will lie their ever lovin' asses off modify the truth in order to achieve said Bank or said Spank. It may be noted that one of the more hard core participants that night even went as far as to say that the only purpose of Bank was to get Spank in the first place, thereby removing Bank from life's equation and leaving only Spank as his life's primary purpose. I do wonder where that chap is sometimes...

Well, as we age most of us add a bit of perspective obviously. We mature, we love, we lose, we love again, we have kids ... and life takes on meaning that so far surpasses the Bank or Spank equation. Or does it?


"Talk is cheap, and lies are expensive."
- Green Day, Rock group, from "Walking Contradiction"



A notable companion piece to this post can be found in the earlier 6 part series entitled Mating Growl. Check it out. So sure, one can (and boy do they!) deceive to get their Bank or their Spank....but can they really afford the COST?

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a Bank or Spank lie?

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Hey lookie there! Daddio got philosophical. The Absurdity Tour is almost over (NOT)....so don't leave your seats just yet....




25 October 2008

Thinking is Murder


Did you know that if you or your lover use birth control that you are a murderer?

Yep, in the latest example of
Bible Banging zealot-ness run amok, it seems that in the heart of the bible belt, one Thomas White, the vice president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary told his students that "birth control is murder". What the ...?!?

No, not abortion, no not plunging a knife into the chest of an otherwise innocent person; but simply taking a birth control measures, like the Pill, is the "murder of a life"
.

Besides his obvious absence of medical (and, uh, pregnancy) know-how, this would typically be a laughable side bar. Except there's more.

In digging deeper, his bio says that he is "A systematic theologian by training with a focus on the doctrine of the church, he can relate to seminary students on many levels." How comfortable Baptists must feel that this dude is so far out in left field (or right field as the case may be) having had such a strong systemic background on the church's doctrine.

Oh, but wait a minute. Perhaps they didn't really mean that he was that focused on the doctrine. Perhaps he was a tad cloudy that day during his own seminary training? One would think that even the Southern Baptists would want to step back from this bit of lunacy, right?


****

Southern Baptists have had their share of silliness through the years. Back in 1997, remember when they boycotted Disney's AND all of it's subsidiaries - ESPN, ABC, etc. - because they allowed gay people into Disneyland in Florida? How did that work out you ask? Well during the 8 years that the Southern Baptist's 'maintained their boycott, Disney's earnings nearly doubled. I guess even Southern Baptists can't live without Extreme Home Makeover and Sportscenter.

In the 'lesson' that he gave to his students, White mentioned his own guilt in family planning that while he was working on his career as a small minded bigot man of the cloth, he and his wife held off having kids by using birth control themselves. An important feature to his position I think is that he and his wife never did conceive and later adopted a child. For folks who typically have a football team worth of kids, not conceiving on their own couldn't possibly be the Lord's fault, so therefore his choice in making his wife take The Pill seems like a logical target. In trying to explain this guilt to his students, White says this:



"The reason that we did it was my own selfishness, I wanted kids, but I wanted kids -- not in God's timing, but in my timing."


Selfish timing? Because the world has sooo much extra room for kids that are born into unwanted environments, right? When a reporter sought to clarify his position, he eventually replied in a curt email that he was busy. No retraction, no attempt to clarify. Nothing. Just a 'leave me alone', 'I'm busy'.


To most free thinkers, his is a ridiculous premise. God has a timing for when we are supposed to have kids, and therefore to have sex? Talk about pressure! But this is not as ridiculous to some apparently.


****

The brainiacs over at Alas, a Blog have an article entitled The Bible Says That God is the Only Opener and Closer of the Womb, which is equal parts creepy, elitist and offensive.

One of the proponents of this peculiar position is a dude named Mohler. Wanna guess where he's from? Yep, the den of biblical oddity itself, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Perhaps he is a bunk office mate with the good Mr. White mentioned above? Here's Mohler's take on the birth control plague:

“If a couple sees children as an imposition, as something to be vaccinated against, like an illness, that betrays a deeply erroneous understanding of marriage and children. Children should be seen as good by default.”

Well it is not hard to figure out what the theologians are saying there now is it? For those of us that have ever tried to control a birth, these elitists presume that we think of children - or our children-to-be, as contagions (teenagers notwithstanding I presume). Since they can't possibly know what goes in your house or my house, perhaps that says more about them and their attitude on children? Hmmm.

Furthering their efforts to promote their total omniscience over all things, Rick and Jan Hess make their own case that God controls our health, not the other way around. Really. In their 1989 book, A Full Quiver: Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ, they argue that God, as the “Great Physician” and sole “Birth Controller,” he opens and closes the womb on a case-by-case basis. Women’s attempts to control their own bodies–the Lord’s temple–are a seizure of divine power. So, if we dare to control our own bodies, then we are improperly seizing God's power. Astonishing.

These are no doubt the same type of parents as those of 11 year old Madeline Neumann that earlier this year watched her increasingly suffer from nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness over several months without ever taking her to the doctor. Eventually family members intervened but
Madeline died a terrible death anyway (diabetic ketoacidosis). To render aid, these parents of three were only willing to pray for young Madeline and hadn't even taken her to a doctor in 8 years. In the end, they acquiesced that their daughter died because "apparently they didn't have enough faith". The "Great Physician" doesn't make house calls apparently and now Dale and Leilani Neumann are facing second-degree reckless homicide charges.

Holy Nut Job Batman.


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Unfit parents like above may be well suited to make an informed discussion about birth control before they find themselves on the receiving end of a 25 year year prison sentence for murdering their child. Duh.

Which is one of many reasons why pre-planning a birth - by not having one if you are not properly equipped, for instance - is a rational idea. Duh, again.

The Pill Popeth


After nearly 10 years of development The Pill aka Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill (COCP)was approved by the FDA in 1960. Within a year of its release, over 1/2 a million women took it and currently nearly 15 million American women and over 100 million women worldwide take The Pill.

The Pill has been proven to be 99% effective in preventing pregnancy and it also reduces several forms of cancer in regular users by nearly 50%. Me thinks The Pill-ith has doth caught-uth on.

Yet the right wing sees The Pill as a form of homicide? Let's look at their position a little closer.

The most common Pill in existence works in three stages (triphasic):

Phase 1 - The Pill inhibits ovulation

Phase 2 - The Pill prevents sperm penetration and survival (contraceptive)

Phase 3 - The Pill disrupts the growth of the endometrium so that it is not capable of nurturing an embryo

It is this last phase that has the fundamentalist's bloomers in a bundle. It seems that they believe that if a sperm and an egg are in the same place, that conception occurs. And therefore, disrupting that meeting is abortion and therefore The Pill is murder.

So, if a Southern Baptist Man and a Southern Baptist Women meet in a swingers bar, does that mean that they will automatically get married and become bigots?

If a red Chevy and a green Honda meet at an intersection, does that automatically mean they will ram into each other?

If a logical, fact based thought and an irrational, mythical based thought meet in the blogosphere, will the logical thought automatically trump the irrational one?

But I digress...

The problem is that while a woman is on the Pill during Phase 3, an egg and a sperm being in the same room is no closer to being pregnant than me being elected president just because I am in the same room as a polling booth.

Since The Pill makes the endometrium incapable for an egg and sperm to implant, fertilization does not occur so there is no conception in all but 1% of cases (in which The Pill becomes a non-issue since now there is a pregnancy). So why don't they acknowledge that medical fact instead of dramatizing falsehoods to our youth?

But then perhaps therein lies their perverse, double-dipping advantage in their logic: In the same breath, they can condemn those heretics which do not conform to their misinformed, elitist and chauvinistic doctrine while at the same time continue to cultivate the next generation of "systematic theologians".


"Hey, can you take the wheel for a second, I have to scratch my self in two places at once."
- Homer Simpson

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If you read this post to the end...thank you. If it lit a spark in you then you will want to read the don't miss series entitled "Save Thee or Sell Thee" available for free on the right panel under "Doozy's by Daddio". Of course, if you need more Daddio in your life (duh), make sure to grab your free RSS feed by clicking the "Feed Me" link to be updated whenever new content is posted.