Too Soon?

For levity?

What, the guy dies and all of a sudden we're supposed to stop mocking him? Meh. The attention of the masses, however fickle, is part of the price you pay for fame. Don't want it? Settle down in Peoria and deliver the mail for a living.

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Legends Ranch POA Board June Meeting

I’m not going to give you an exhaustive breakdown here. I’ll just throw out my primary takeaways and thoughts. First off, our Board seems like a reasonable group. They appear sincere in trying to address resident concerns. They do seem to be a get a tad exasperated because every resident has one particular hobbyhorse they want to beat to death. Or several, depending on the resident. Me, I just went to observe and see the dynamic in person.

The first big issue is the construction entrance. A whole bunch of people point out the subdivision is not really a gated secure community with that entrance still open. Also, the deed restrictions specifically prohibit any entrance that isn’t secured. Not living near it, I don’t have a dog in that hunt except as it concerns security. Everybody by the construction entrance seems to hate it, it’s a security hole, and it’s prohibited by the deed restrictions. So, the construction entrance has got to close.

The only question is how we do that and still allow for construction equipment and heavy vehicles. Neither of the existing controlled access gates is suitable for heavy truck traffic. Mesa Valley is too narrow, and we’ve already had problems with drivers of big vehicles clipping the guardhouse. The most feasible solution seems to be widening the Easy Tag lane at the front, but that costs money. Guess what? The POA is broke.

The POA is also pursuing speed bumps, even though it appears a majority of residents don’t want them. This strikes me as bizarre, but the speed bump question was essentially tabled until executive session. I didn’t get to attend that, so I guess we’ll all see what the Board comes out with when the minutes are posted. I don’t see how the Board can justify spending money on speed bumps when we’re in violation of the covenant with an unsecured gate. However, I’m not on the Board.

The POA also has budget issues. Everybody had some suggestions for how to trim money and which services are unimportant. Unfortunately for the Board, every service someone wants cut is another resident’s favorite thing evar. My suggestion? Get rid of the security patrols by the Constables. If they can’t write tickets and are only there for 4 hours from 5-9 PM, what good are they doing the community? The only time I ever see Constable patrol cars, they’re hanging out at the Splash Pad parking lot. I guess that deters crime at the Splash Pad, but I don’t see that as an issue. Maybe I need to reread the police reports for the subdivision and I'll find out the Splash Pad is a hotbed of crime.

If everybody was paying their dues, maybe the budget wouldn’t be an issue. The number being tossed around for the dues shortfall is $330K. I don’t know if that money would completely solve the budget issues, or if there’s deeper problems. However, the economy being what it is, you can’t get blood from a stone. If residents are getting foreclosed and builders are going bankrupt, I’m pretty sure the missing money to make up the budget shortfall just ain’t there. Budget cuts seem the only way to go, but I'm sure someone will bitch about those, too.

Finally, there is the traffic petition. The county now wants a majority of resident property owners to approve the petition, which is a death knell in my opinion. That means they have to get 625 property owners to agree. According to the POA manager, they can’t even get 20% of the subdivision to pick up the windshield stickers. I’m feeling doubtful they can get the numbers. Since the county doesn’t really want to do it in the first place, the Commissioners’ Court is going to use every excuse they can to not pass it.

However, at this point, I’m baffled by the point of the petition. The county has told the POA there will be no patrols even if the petition passes. What I’m taking away is we will get the level of police protection we are willing to contract. So the traffic petition is asking all of us to have the POA pay the county so the county can give us traffic tickets. Wait, what? You want me to pay to get ticketed? That’s a resounding screw you from the back row, thanks. I’ve heard dumb ideas, and that certainly qualifies.

In any event, the meeting minutes will be out sometime in the near future. Feel free to peruse them and draw your own conclusions if you weren’t there.

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So, Leisure Suit Larry who just stole the election in Iran is running around telling everybody who will listen the US is interfering in the electoral process over there. Ahmadinejad apparently doesn't pay attention to his surroundings. It's been a long time since we were any good at the subtle approach. We've pretty much given the whole coup d'etat deal away in favor of a straight up punitive expedition.

In other words, you dumb bastard, when the JDAMs are taking the building down around your ears, we're interfering. Until then, not so much.

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Hah Hah!

Bashing British machinery never gets old. Especially since the bike has been in the shop since late May.

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Self Control

I'd just like to congratulate myself for managing to make it through the POA Board Meeting without using profanity or calling any of my neighbors ignorant, stupid, or otherwise genetically predisposed towards suboptimal cognition.

Out loud, anyway. My usual approach is to sit with my lovely co-blogger and take notes on my netbook. My notes are primarily a form of entertainment for me, with actual information content being secondary. A lot of my note taking is more note passing, with me typing my snide commentary and observations to J. You're not going to see the unfiltered version, as I'm already making enough new enemies in our new neighborhood. You'd think I was a rude, abrasive, unpleasant individual. Hmm.

Anyhow, it's late and I'm going to bed. Further notes on the meeting tomorrow.


Bad Presents

I stayed home from work today due to profound gastro-intestinal distress. While I was lying in bed half-asleep, the Dog V2.0 hopped on the bed and started whining softly. I opened my eyes to see him staring at me, holding something in his mouth. I fully opened my eyes and sat up to see what the hell he had in his mouth. Dog V2.0, upon seeing he had my full attention, wagged his tail vigorously, dropped his burden, and hopped off the bed.

Leaving a dead bird on the sheets.

Thanks. Way to cap off an already shitty morning, junior.

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Open Letter To Fellow Residents

If you're going to go forth and place yourself out in front of everybody and try to demand change, you have to be prepared for a little blowback. Not everybody will agree with what you're trying to do, no matter how clear the case may seem to you. If you can't handle the blowback, perhaps you shouldn't be placing yourself in front of everybody. Criticism comes with the territory. If what you're trying to do is really important, you should be able to shrug off a little criticism to reach your goals. If you can't handle criticism or opposition, than either you and your fragile little psyche shouldn't be out there, or it's not really worth it to you to suffer through the process.

Furthermore, spending all your time complaining about how people treated you does nothing to advance the goal you're ostensibly working towards. To be blunt, it also makes you look like a thin-skinned whiny little bitch. Presumably you have some coping resources that don't involve putting your pity party on open display on the internet. You might try using those in private.

In short: Man up, nancy. People aren't always nice. Fucking deal with it.


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Community Involvement

So, the taller and grumpier residents of YPS Manor went out to see about the concerns of our fellow neighbors and community residents here in Legends Ranch. I even took notes! So in my attempt to be more of a social creature and less of a misanthropic hermit, I'm actually going to try to be polite. It didn't work so well last time, but today's a new day.

Anyhow, a group of concerned residents are not satisfied with the POA and how it's being run and the response to their concerns. So, they all got together and decided to organize the residents to try to pressure the POA into compliance.

As a side digression, one of the problems is the current makeup of the POA. Our POA, since the subdivision is not completely built out yet, is still controlled by the developer. The developer has different goals and concerns than the actual residents. This is not, in my opinion, something susceptible to change quickly. Best option is to wait until the remaining 200+ houses are sold. Tedious, but the alternatives are time-consuming and expensive. Expensive, as we shall soon see, is an issue for the residents.

Anyhow, the concerned residents have two major issues. The first issue strikes me as legitimate, the second one far, far less so. Issue the first is the finances of our POA. Some numbers were tossed out yesterday that frankly, looking at the financial statements posted on the web, don't make any sense. I'll have to do some digging and see WTF is really going on here. However, if we are collectively ponying up over a million dollars a year to the POA, the POA had damned sure better be exercising some fiduciary responsibility. I have no problem with anyone who wants to understand the disbursement of the monies, especially with an eye to improving how the money is spent.

The next major, and to my mind illegitimate, gripe is the traffic petition. Mommy & Daddy Busybody can't keep their precious snowflakes out of the street. Polite, dammit, polite. Let me try that again.

Some of my fellow residents are concerned about the lack of traffic enforcement within the subdivision. Since the roads in the subdivision are privately owned and maintained, the county has no authority to enforce the Texas Transportation Code. Apparently, this is unacceptable to certain folks in the subdivision. So they have started a petition to allow the county to come into the subdivision and enforce the law. Anybody want to guess my position on this? Anybody?

Man, you people aren't any fun. Coming as a complete shock to all my loyal readers, I think this is the worst idea I've heard since...well, truthfully, since the n00b opened his yapper last time. Repeat along with me one of the painful lessons of history: if you pay the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane. If the County Commissioner's Court accepts our petition, they will decide whether or not we pay for the privilege of allowing the cops in to write us tickets. If they agree, we will also never be free of the agreement. Gee, a commitment to help fund the county that we can never break and have no control over! Wow, this sounds like a spectacular idea! Umm, not so much, thanks. How about no? Does no work for everybody?

Now, maybe I missed it in amongst the comedy over at the Yahoo group, but I haven't seen anybody provide me with any statistics that justify the need for traffic enforcement. I get a lot of anecdotes about people not stopping and driving too fast. Since I doubt many of these people have radar guns, I have to question how they know how fast people are driving. Since we're apparently paying a fair sum of money to have constables sit around and not enforce the traffic laws for 4 hours every night, maybe they could gather some data on how many vehicles they see breaking the law relative to the total number of vehicles. Why not? They're apparently keeping a list of the "problem drivers" in the subdivision. If they're already doing the work, let's see the data.

Frankly, the meeting last night was not to "provide information". The meeting was to convert everybody to the positions the organizers held. The information presented was cherry picked to portray the organizers' position in the best possible light. Anyone presenting an opposing viewpoint was dismissed as "ill-informed", even when the organizers had nothing but hand waving to support their positions. All in all, I have to say we got off to a rousing start at engendering bad feelings and creating acrimony. If this is what a POA is good for, I'm glad I've missed out all these years.

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Lifetime Decisions

Cracked has a pictorial lesson on what your tattoos mean. I notice some of mine aren't covered, either under content or location. Hmm. I guess I am a precious snowflake after all, albeit of the cute little convicted felon princess variety.

More seriously, the number of people walking around with tattoos of this isn't large, so it's not liable to come up much.

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Nice thoughts, Cold Realities

So I got this e-mail from one of Newt Gingrich's blast deals that contained the following words:

America has been here before.

1964, 1977 and 1993 - in each of these years Republicans were gleefully pronounced dead by the news media. But in each case, they came back.

1964 was followed by 1965, in which
Ronald Reagan was elected governor of California.

Two years later we began a 40-year period in which no overt liberal won the presidency.

In 1977, Jimmy Carter's popularity on inauguration day was higher than Barack Obama's.

But in 1980, Ronald Reagan won a
decisive victory and changed the course of America.

In 1993, they said Bill Clinton was creating a new, stronger Democratic Party.

In 1994, the
Democratic Party suffered its worst defeat in 40 years.

So don't tell me it can't be done.

Kind of uplifting, and I think a lot of people will be surprised in a couple of years, if they haven't already usurped our right to vote by then. Unfortunately, I think if we're counting on this crop of Republicans to get us there, we're in big trouble. I think it is time for something new, but I don't necessarily think I'm the one smart enough to know exactly what that should be.


More Chicanery

Tim Cavanaugh, fresh off his win at the L.A. Press Club Awards, is on fire today when discussing the idiocy being promoted by Timmy the Tax Cheat and Larry Summers. More regulation will make everything all better! Yeah, not so much. But I'll let Mr. Cavanaugh savage the stupid:
This is horse pucky. The crisis in confidence and trust is the cure, not the disease. Banks are not lending because there are are too many bad risks out there. People aren't getting loans because they can't establish their creditworthiness. And the reason for that isn't some baloney about mass psychology or people needing to be protected from themselves. It's because about 20 percent of Americans have demonstrated that they must never be loaned money on any terms.
I know the people he's discussing. I have seen the failure of risk management in the lending industry up close. Somebody has never pointed out to the banks an 18% loan interest rate is great for cash flow, but it doesn't mean shit if the borrowers don't have the money to pay you back. Or, more accurately, the borrowers will mismanage their financial affairs to the point that you are one of several competing entities trying to get $15K a month out of a guy who only makes $5K a month. It just doesn't work.

Plus, let's be honest about the impact on the financial industry:
it will succeed in regulation's oldest, truest goal of propping up existing players and creating new barriers to entry for anybody who might challenge them. Rest assured that Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase will make noise about how the new liquidity, reserve and reporting requirements are tough, challenging and a step in the right direction. Editorial boards will swoon that "even industry leaders agree" on the need for the new regs. Things will look a little different if you're not either owned by or on a first-name basis with the secretary of the Treasury.
Plus, it will do absolutely nothing to prevent the next meltdown. The law of unintended consequences being what it is, we'll have a failure of the exact same systems brought on in large part by the shiny new regulations designed to prevent a failure. I mean, it's not like we haven't been watching the same scenario play out over the past year.

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Mad Science

Theo Gray has a great essay up on the dangers we willingly accept for our children and the dangers we don't. Of course, in future years, I imagine the subset of parents who are unwilling to have their children take any risk will get larger. Being somewhat risk-prone, (or as it was once described, being "prone to be where accidents are prone to happen"), I don't have a whole lot of use for the safety-first mindset that is silently creeping throughout our culture. I especially don't have any use for it when it's going to have disastrous long-term consequences, as Mr. Gray points out.

By removing all risk, you end up with a class of people who are unable to judge risk and are therefore incapable of dealing with it. Fine when you need accountants and actuaries, I suppose, but less so when you want people to push forward the frontiers of human endeavor.

Anyhow, he also wrote a book. You might buy it, especially if you have children and you'd like to do some science with them.



Proving Negatives

I'm curious as to a line of thinking someone espoused today about the economy. Apparently, things in our economy were so dire and so perilous Barack Obama and his enablers in Congress and elsewhere had to act. Stimulus had to be made! GM and Chrysler had to be saved! Otherwise, the economy would be much worse than they are now.

I'm now going to note an argument made several weeks ago by Dick Cheney about the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. Basically, he said if the US hadn't used enhanced interrogation techniques terrorist activity would have been much worse.

If the first argument about the economy is valid, isn't the second argument about terrorism also valid? So either both of these arguments are valid or they aren't if you're going to be logically consistent. I realize logical consistency isn't important to some, but many of us use it as a yardstick for whether or not you're arguing in good faith or you're just a pathetic hack.

You also need to consider if either argument is ever falsifiable in any meaningful sense. Leaving aside the internal consistency of your position, it seems that an argument for public policy or government action isn't flasifiable, then it's not a particularly strong argument. So if you're asking everybody to go along with a lot of potentially very bad ideas, you might want to have something a little bit stronger to make your point.

Or, judging by the American electorate, you might not.



A Little Light Lunchtime Reading...

Apparently, Teh Barackulous' transition rejected a proposal from the Bush folks to publicly join forces in setting tough conditions on GM and Chrysler in return for money to "survive". Not that I agree with or endorse any of this mess, but it should put to rest the kvetching by his majesty's minions that they unknowingly inherited this mess.

Kwame Kilpatrick, former mayor of Detroit and convicted felon, is getting some new and improved subsidized housing. What I want to know is how do these guys find people who are willing to give them these high paying lucrative jobs and pay for their housing without providing sexual favors or anything else in return? I am in the wrong business.

Thomas Sowell discusses the varieties and ramifications of doing nothing. Kind of an interesting analysis.

Apparently there's a firestorm surrounding some ignunt filming drunk kids doing what they do: shooting off at the mouth. This time they’re in Jerusalem and they're talking about Obama. I think the biggest problem here is that journalists are pissed that these kids are talking trash about their holy messiah.

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SCOTUS blocks the Auto-Rama

My initial thought: it is about time. Ruthie's going to get her 4 justices, and I hope it is the precise 4 that Teh Barackulous and his merry band of socialist flying monkeys doesn't want. I am feeling optimistic that there are 4 members of the high court who may jump on board just for the opportunity to strike down this, maybe TARP...and potentially all of this unconstitutional government intervention. Hey, maybe there's some hope & change for me after all.

One can only try to look for a bright spot, right? Needless to say, there are so many potential outcomes and ramifications here...and the Supreme Court could just be the ones to save us all.

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Back many years ago, when I was but a lower-case t, the usual advice regarding water consumption was to drink enough water so that your piss is clear. As we get further into the summer, this is still good advice. Drink lots of water and stay hydrated.

On the same note, drinking beer, champagne, and Jack Daniels until the resulting effluvia is clear is not going to help you in the morning with respect to dehydration.

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Buy Independent

So, I think I can cross off GM and Chrysler from my list of possible new vehicle choices. I'm already helping to prop up these failures with my tax dollars. Why should I give them any more money? Oh, yeah, I'll get a car out of it, right? At least, until the government decides warranty service is too expensive. That'll never happen, though, because we all know GM is turning out such a quality product these days.

Yeah, I think my dream of a new Camaro just died an ugly death at the hands of the government. Looks like I'll be getting a new truck instead, since I can buy one from somebody who is siphoning money out of my wallet already.

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Nazi Zombies

How can this not be a great movie?

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