Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Gatekeepers

     Currently reading a book called the Gatekeepers. Interesting book. The author shadows an admissions officer from a highly selective college on the East Coast in an effort to demystify the process by how colleges select the students to admit to their schools.
     It poses a few questions for me. If I had a child, (which I don't) would I push him or her to pursue a college education? And if I did, would I try to push them to the big name Ivy League schools, or a second tier school, or would I be happy to just let the kid go to whatever school suits them, whether local or out of state?
      Does a big name on a college diploma really insure a better life? 
      Bear in mind, that I didn't go to college out of high school. It took six years of military service and six years of scuffling and shuffling before I was mature enough to go to college. And I went to CCAC, which I took to like a duck to water, though, I did my own version of academic advising, which I would not recommend. 
       And after graduating and getting my associate's, I still had no idea what I wanted to do. I decided to transfer to Robert Morris because, at the time, they transferred most of the credits on my transcript and in the late 90's were pretty cheap in terms of tuition. RMC back then was not nearly as selective as they are now. I probably couldn't get into 2018 Robert Morris with my 1997 transcript.
       Pitt wouldn't have transferred a quarter of my classes and CMU and Duquesne wouldn't have touched me, and I couldn't afford either of them at the time. But I could have done better had I not flown by the seat of my pants in terms of selecting a major and scheduling my classes. 
      But, water under the bridge.  I don't think I could be the helicopter parent who pushed their kid to apply to nothing but Ivy League schools. I would have been happy if they applied to and was accepted to Pitt or any other of the local schools. If he or she decided to save the old man a few bucks, and took their freshmen and sophomore classes at CCAC, and transferred to a four year school, I'd have been elated.
      I'm very much a believer in community colleges. I'm a product of one (CCAC Boyce Campus '95). I wouldn't need to live vicariously thru my kid, by making them go to a better school than i did, though I would lobby strenuously for them to at least apply to RMU. Being a legacy can't hurt.
      And if my hypothetical kid decided to do what I did, and decide to go to the military, I'd be okay with it, however, I'd advise them seriously to talk to some veterans about the good, bad, and ugly of military service and not just take a recruiter's word as Gospel.  I would just want my kid to be happy whatever path they take.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

D1 College Football is a joke.

     All this hubbub about who's supposed to be in the so-called 'College Football Playoff' is a joke. Until this 'playoff' has at least 8 or 16 teams in it, it ain't worth my getting all that excited about.
     Just pick Alabama and throw darts at a map for the other three schools. E$PN and the NCAA will make a ton of money regardless of who's in the field. And they make it seem like this four team playoff is the greatest thing since sliced baloney. 
     Never mind that the other three divisions of NCAA college football and the NAIA have had 16 and 32 team playoffs for decades. And don't give me the horse poop that the FBS (The legal beagle name for what used to be called Division 1A) can't have a larger playoff structure because they are concerned about the welfare of 'student-athletes'. Bullshit. NCAA has never given a crap about student athletes who play major college football.  Other than Army-Navy, major college football is a joke. Players who have no business in college other than to try and snag a shot at pro football bust their asses risking permanent injury making tons of money for their respective schools and don't get to share in the revenues they help produce. Much less come out of school with a degree. Which is the idea of college  in the first place. 
     I have an idea. Just call a spade a spade, get the top marquee schools in the so called Power 5 conferences: the Michigans, Ohio States, Alabamas, Penn States, USC's and so ons, have them secede from the NCAA and create their own ultra elite league where they have open rules regarding recruiting and paying players, they can set what academic standards they want, or not require their players to go to class at all.
      They can pull whatever shenanigans they want re: boosters paying players or giving them cars, access to hot women, letting players profit off their likenesses, make it the Wild Wild West. No rules.
       Dispense with the illusion that a lot of these guys are interested in earning a legitimate degree. Treat them as what they are. Hired guns used to make big money for these universities. At least, under my plan, they're legitimizing what's been going on in the shadows.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

My annual (more or less) Thanksgiving message.

     Ok, kids. Enjoy the food, family, and football. But save a spare thought for those who don't have the privilege of being home for the Holidays. Our MilPers on the grind in faraway places on the land, in and under the sea, or in the air, our public safety workers, cops, firefighters, paramedics, security types, and the poor schmucks who's employers make them work today in advance of the Black Friday pre-game lunacy later this evening.
     Do Uncle P a favor, wait until tomorrow to do the retail therapy thing. Give a thought to those who don't have a family, or food, or even football.
      Pray for those who don't have what you have, and remember that it doesn't take much for you to be in their shoes. If they have shoes. Better yet,  If you can, turn your prayers into action.     
      Thanksgiving is supposed to be about giving thanks for what God, (if you believe in him, her, it, or whatever form you imagine the Divine takes) gave you. The only thing we're guaranteed is the heartbeat that we're experiencing right now. The next may be our last. Every day is a gift from the Lord on high, and they all go by so fast. (H/t to Randy Stonehill.) 
       Aaaaanyway, sorry to drop a turd of reality into the punch bowl of optimism. But enjoy this day, have fun, celebrate friends and loved ones. But just remember, it ain't all about you. Carry on. 😀

Friday, November 09, 2018

Veteran's Day 2018

     Veteran's Day is this Sunday. The 100th year anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended the War to end all Wars, at least until 1939.
      And of course, all the hubbub about veterans and how best to honor them. Among  the offerings of the obligatory veteran's discounts.
      I'm not really a big chaser of veteran's discounts. I don't feel that my tour of duty warrants them. If I saw combat, if I was injured and earned a Purple Heart, if I came home with PTSD or some other mental issue, that's one thing. But I came home pretty much the way I left. More than a few pounds heavier, a little bit more mature, a little irritated in retrospect that I didn't do more to make more of my time in.
      I didn't join the service because I wanted to uphold some great family tradition of military service. I joined because I had crap grades out of high school, I wasn't prepared in the least for college, and Homewood in 1980 was a place I desperately wanted to leave. Because my black ass might not be alive today had I decided to stick around. 
      Look on my DD214, not a helluva lot on there worth noting. A grand total of two decorations. Neither of them took any special effort to earn. More or less, just being in the right place at the right time and keeping my nose clean for four years.  And while I wear my ship's ball caps, and am proud to rep the veteran status, and while I appreciate that veteran's discounts exist. I'm not big on chasing them down.
      I'm not in great financial shape, but I don't want to be looked on as a charity case.
      I'm uncomfortable with people thanking me for my service. My service wasn't really all that much. I wasn't a Rambo or a war hero. I didn't come out with a chest full of medals. I didn't jump out of a perfectly good airplane. My Navy career isn't the stuff of Tom Clancy thrillers. I was a cook. I served chow. Pretty good chow, but cooks don't make it on to recruiting posters. Hollywood doesn't make movies about stewburners, at least not stewburners that aren't secretly Navy SEAL's. That celebrity treatment's for the SEAL's and the fighter jocks.
      That wasn't even my first choice of careers.  I ended up doing that because I bombed out of my first choice job and was willing to go to San Diego for six weeks to go to a school, damn near any school rather than go to the fleet as a deckape. I f'd up more than a few times, when I was in the service. But I succeeded in keeping my crow, getting my Good Boy medal and not going up to Captain's Mast. Big Whoop.  Thanks to all those who put on this country's uniform. Especially those who were just a face in the crowd, a cog in the machine. Who came home neither as a hero, nor as a mental case, or in a flag draped coffin.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Exercise Your Franchise...

This might piss a few folks off, but I personally don't care. If yinz don't like that I'm not foursquare voting for the 'Blue Wave', unfriend away. People who choose to shun me because I didn't vote the way they did, aren't really my friends, and therefore, not worth my time.

I'm not one of these voters, even in the age of Trump, who believes Democrats, good. Republicans, bad. I don't trust either party. To me, they are two sides of the same coin. There are sleazy Democrats as well as sleazy Republicans.  There are good Republicans as well as good Democrats. I hate that we live in a state that forces us to vote straight party in the primaries. I hate that we live in a state where the Republicrats make it so hard for a third party to get candidates on the ballot.
Especially considering that in Pittsburgh, Democrats hold a 9 to 1 edge in terms of voting strength. And we have had plenty of Democrats who've run this region into the ground. I have no problem voting across the aisle. My politics might lean to the left, but I  also hold some conservative positions. I hold some libertarian positions. I hold some positions that are downright draconian.  I want to vote for the person, not the party. Today will be no different. I'll vote for some Democrats as well as some Republicans. Mostly Democrats because they are the party on the outside and Trump's wackiness needs to be checked.  But I won't be surprised if the Democrats do a faceplant and end up as ineffective as the Republicans. Where there are third party candidates, I'll vote for them to throw up a middle finger to the Republicrats. Call me a skeptic and a cynic, but i believe in compromise and bi-partisanship.
I'm registered Democrat. But that's only so I can vote in the primaries, because Pennsylvania has this insane rule that requires it. But in the general election, I do not vote straight party. I go across the aisle.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

On Today's Shooting at Tree of Life.

     There is a reason why churches, synagogues, etc call their worship space a sanctuary. A sanctuary should be a place where people can worship God in whatever form they choose in spirit and in truth. A sanctuary should be a place where people can come to worship and have no fear that the violence of the outside world will intrude on their sacred space.
      But as had been seen in Charleston, SC when a sick individual gunned down nine people who were at worship, and at Tree of Life, today where at least 11 were gunned down while worshipping the God of peace, the outside world has made its way into the sacred space and defiled it, blasphemed it, and shed innocent blood.  
      The President put the blame on the synagogue for not having adequate protection (meaning armed guards?)
      Is this what we've come to? That we must worship God with armed guards to keep us safe?  Is that what is needed?
       I'm not sure what the answer is, but it's a sad day when we cannot even worship God without having armed guards to protect us.
      And if there was an armed guard in the space and the gunman came in, who would he go after first? Right, the armed guard. 
      And if something like this can happen in Squirrel Hill, one of Pittsburgh's safest and highest profile  communities, then no where is safe.
      May the souls of the departed rest in peace and may light perpetual shine upon them. And may the God of healing and peace provide those things to those who's lives were irreparably changed by today's incident.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

What would I do with $1.6 billion?

     I'm not into throwing my limited financial resources down a rathole like the lottery, but if I won $1.6 billion, after paying off debts, giving a bunch of it to my church, my Legion, downsizing into an apartment, giving to various charities, and such, I'd have a helluva time trying to figure out what to do with the rest of it.
      All the activities I mentioned would take a couple million or so. What could I do with the rest of it? I don't drive, so I wouldn't buy a car. I'd still continue to work, although I'd get a gig that I actually want to do instead of one that I have to do.
     I could put about half in the bank and live off the interest. I don't have kids, nor am I interested in siring any, so I can't leave it to them, although I'd give a nice bit to my friend's family, especially her little boy's college fund, for a full ride to any college he wanted, although I'd lean very hard on him to go to Robert Morris.
     Most of my family are dead or estranged more or less, although I have a feeling a bunch of them would want to renew relations with me. There are a few things I'd like to do, I could give some to my various alma maters. All told, I could probably do all I wanted to do with about $200 million, at the most.
     But what would I do with the other $1.4 billion. I could hide it off-shore, so Uncle Sam can't get his grubby paws on it. Anybody have any suggestions? I know one thing I'd definitely need, an unlisted phone number because everybody and their little brown dog would be hitting me up for loans, dodgy investment offers, donations for causes, real or imagined, and more golddigging women than I could count.