Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How to tip; how to improve your bar experience.

Here's a simple list of how to tip your bartender. A discussion of why will follow after the list.

Tip $1 on the following items (if you are paying cash) for each item:

1. Bottle beer that is less than $8.
2. Draft beer that is less than $8.
3. Well drinks (gin, vodka, tequila, whiskey) basically anything that is ordered like this "gin and (insert word here)" Vodka sprite/ vodka redbull/ gin and tonic/ whiskey coke...
4. House wine (less than $8)
5. Shot that the bartender knows how to make (if you have to explain it... it's more than $1).

Tip more than $1 per item if:

1. The bottle of beer costs more than $8 or is served with a glass other than a the bar's pint glass.
2. Draft beer that is more than $8.
3. A vodka/tequila/whiskey... where you specify the type of drink other than what is the well. If you ask for ciroc, tip more than $1. If you ask for Blanton's instead of the well whiskey... tip more than $1.
4. Any wine that is not the house red or house white.
5. Some shot that the bartender looks at you puzzled. If they have to go to their smartphone to look up what you said, tip them more.

Now, if you started a tab and are paying with plastic, the rules are different.

20% is a good standard tip. It equates to a $1 tip per $5 spent. That is perfectly acceptable. It's basically the same as above. It's easy to figure out 20%, double the cost and move the decimal point over one spot.

There you go, quick and painless, $1 a drink or more if paying cash, and 20% if using plastic.

So, why do you do that? Why isn't it just $1 for each time the bartender serves you? Why $1 for each bud light? Why not $1 for 4 bud lights?

Bartenders work on volume, unless at a specialty bar making craft cocktails (in which case you should be in the 20% range). At peak efficiency, I can get about 50 orders in an hour. Which if it was $1 per order, I'd be making $50 an hour. But that doesn't happen. Not everyone tips. Not everyone does $1 a beer. Tips usually average about 10-15%. The only way for a bartender to make more money (and face it, the prime reason people are working is to make money; otherwise, the bartender would probably love to be on the other side of the bar having fun too)is to either increase the number of sales, or increase the price per ticket. There comes a point when a person just can't do more in an hour. So, each transaction from "hi, welcome to..." or "what's next" to "here's your change" will take over a minute.

So how long does it take to make a drink anyway? You'd think the bartender could just make more drinks to make more money. When pouring a beer, most places like to have the beer flow at an ounce per second. So that only takes 16 seconds to fill a beer. That's not long, you should be able to do 3 a minute. That doesn't happen. A glass of beer very rarely comes out right on the first full pour. It's going to take longer, it can be too foamy, not foamy enough, pour slow, pour too quick, or worse yet the keg can blow while filling a glass, someone can be in your way and you have to wait for them to finish. All these things can make a beer pour go slow, and more.

When you go to a bar, and it seems like the bartender is taking forever to get to you, it's usually not the bartenders fault. They want to serve you as much (if not more) than you want to be served. But, many things get in the way of quick turnover. It's pretty much going to be the other customers fault. If you are waiting, be ready for when the bartender finally does get to you. Here are some things that are slowing down the bartender.

The biggest thing is a customer who keeps adding to the order. When you order, tell them everything that you will need. Once the bartender brings you that first drink, you shouldn't order another for someone else. The bartender is trying to be as efficient as possible, they don't want to make 2 trips, they definitely don't want to make 5 trips. For example, customer orders a pbr for themselves, and their girlfriend isn't ready to order yet, bartender gets the pbr and says "$2.25 please" then the customer says "she'll have a vodka redbull". The bartender then has to make another trip back to their station, and make another drink. It's more efficient and faster to get a vodka redbull and a pbr at the same time. Think of it like printing a document. Your printer is on the other side of the room. You have 5 pages to print. You hit print, and 5 pages come out, you walk over and get it. Or, you hit print page 1, go get it, print page 2, go get it, print page 3, go get it... That's 5 transactions, instead of 1.

A customer who isn't ready to order will slow down the bartender. Don't ask "what's good here?" Don't give your life story (if it's busy). Don't tell them "you've never been here before". If you aren't ready, look at the menu. Don't worry that you missed your turn. They will be back, and you should be ready then. You don't get to hold the bartender once you finally get them. That was the last customer, and you are better than that person.

Don't close a tab with a credit card each time you order a drink. If you want to pay each time, use cash. If you use a credit card, don't come back up and close a tab the next time. If you might have more than one drink, open a tab. It takes time to close a tab on a card. Time that bartenders would rather spend on turning over more customers.

If the place is really busy, perhaps don't get the fanciest "5 ingredient, muddled, shaken, served in a martini glass with a sugar coated rim" drink on the menu. When it's a slow time, sure get that thing. If it's wall to wall, and it took your an hour to order, be nice. If you are at a brewery and it's really busy, don't get a flight. Save that for when it's slow and you have a place to sit and enjoy it, and maybe the guy working can spend some time talking to you about it. Don't do it if it's wall to wall. Order easy things, you like those too.

So, to speed up things at the bar:
1. order everything at once
2. be ready to order
3. pay cash or open a tab
4. don't get a complicated drink

So, what have we learned. Hopefully how to tip a bartender, and how to speed up the process.

See you somewhere, I'm probably going to be working or drinking a whiskey on the rocks.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Life is a Role Playing Game

Have you ever played a computer Role Playing Game? I have. Some of my fondest memories are of playing RPG’s. One of my favorites was Daggerfall. The main goal for most RPG’s is to go through the game and kill the boss. You follow the storyline and eventually you can kill the big bad guy at the end. You can’t just build your character, and then jump to the end, you have to level up your guy.

While playing Daggerfall, I spent a whole lot of time just working to level up my character. I’d build a guy with certain traits, so that I could get the guy to level up faster. He’d be biased to level up certain skills, so that he would be able to get his actual level higher. I’d spend entire weekends crafting a spell, and then just shooting that spell into a wall until he was out of manna, and then rest him; wake him up, and do it all over again. Seriously, I’d go home on a Friday, and not leave from behind the computer unless I had to pee or if I fell asleep. I was very intent on making my guy into a bad ass. There were certain other things that I’d work to level the guy up on, based on his skills. Like, you could hear a rat on the other side of the door, and then crack the door open a little, and just pickpocket the heck out of the thing until you’d advance your pickpocket skill. I’d pickpocket the same rat for hours. I’d never get more than a scrap or one friggin coin from it, but it wasn’t pickpocketing to get something, it was to increase the skill. I’d spend hours jumping, slicing, punching, swinging, all at nothing, in the Inn upper room, and then rest; just to level up my guy. As he leveled up, he could go and do more things easier. He may have never actually fought anyone or gone on a quest for the first 2 weeks of creating a new character, but when he was ready to meet the world, he was already an ass kicker. 

Your life is a lot like a video game. You are the character. You have chosen what you want your character to be, a lot of who you are is based on the roll of the dice to determine what your base skills are. You might not have started out as the strongest, smartest, fastest; but you can continually work on those skills to get them up to a better level.

Everytime you level up, you need to determine how you are going to assign your new skill points. Do you want to be smarter, stronger, faster, or have more charisma? 

So, in life, how do you level up? It’s the same as in video games. Do you want to be stronger? Lift. You won’t get much stronger if you just lift a little. You have to apply yourself. You have to sit in the weightroom and throw your spells against the wall until you have to rest. You won’t get stronger by just lifting once or twice. You have to do it a lot. When you do get to the point where you have progressed, then next time you go to a next level, you will have to work harder than you did before. If your goal is to bench 200, and you are at 150, each time you move up a weight, going to the next level is going to be harder. Leveling up in games and in life is much easier at the beginning. Going from 150 to 155 to 160 to 165 is pretty easy, when you go from the 185 to 190 to 195 to 200, it starts to get much harder. You still need to throw those spells against the wall. Once you do get up to 185 you may not be at your goal yet, but doing the 150 again is easy. 

When you are at an advanced level, some of the earlier tasks (that others haven’t even tried yet), can tend to look easy to an outsider. Why is it easy for you and not for others? It’s because you’ve done that thing thousands of times. It wasn’t simple for you at the start, but you’ve done it so often that it looks easy now. Others will sometimes have difficulty looking at you, thinking the things you do are easy, when it’s just that you’ve mastered the task. 

Leveling up in life requires you to stand in the corner and throw spells at the wall. If you want to be something, don’t just think that you’ve done it once so you’ve mastered it. When you’ve done it a thousand times you are coming close.

There are other ways of increasing your level. Sometimes, you can go see a trainer in the games to get better at a skill. In life, you can attend training, you can read a book, you can get a coach. All these things help in getting you up to a higher level, but after a while, you’ve still got to do the things so many times that you just know exactly what you are doing. 

I work in IT. I make printing work. I often think that people look at me and believe that the job I do is easy. The reason it appears easy is because I’ve done it so often that for me, it is. It’s still something that most people can’t do. It’s something that most people don’t want to do. I’m good at it, because I handle around 1000 printers a day, every day, for the past 14 years. I’ve created those print queues, I’ve set the default trays, I’ve added email and ldap, I’ve done it so much that I’m really good at it. I’m a high level at those things. My character is really good at that task.  It’s not a level one task, I’m just good at it. 

Do you watch golf on tv and dismiss it because the guys on tv make it look too easy? Have you ever golfed? How did you score? You are probably at least 2 strokes a hole worse than the people on tv. Do you want to get better at golf? You need to stand in the corner and level up. Go to the driving range and hit a bucket of balls. To be as good as the people on tv, you probably need to hit as many balls as they have. So, you are probably only a couple hundred thousand swings behind. So, you better start swinging.  They have a coach, you should probably get a coach too. They’ve read books, you should read books too. You will be able to measure your level at golf, by watching your handicap drop, your scores get lower, and the money you are taking from your friends. 

How good are you at billiards? Practice is how those guys on tv in the tournaments get good. Shoot the same shot 1000 times, you will probably get pretty good at that shot. That’s just for that shot. Most things are the same in billiards, but you can put top, bottom, left, right… what’s the ball going to do in each situation? How many combo’s have you practiced? Each of these skills are going to be required for you to get to a higher level overall. 

The next thing you have to wonder about is, do you want to win most of the time, or do you want to be able to beat everybody?

Being a high level at something will let you win most of the time. Being the highest at all the skills will let you win nearly all the time. Nobody wins everytime. Nobody loses everytime. You may be the best, or you may be the worst, but you could have a bad day, or you could have the best day, flukes happen. Being skilled at all facets, definitely increases your odds.
Are you doing something, and you are tired of losing? You can either quit, or you can work to make yourself better. Identify your weaknesses (they aren’t as easy to figure out as just looking at your stat sheet), and work on that skill. 

When I work at the brewery, I think of all the jobs that I’m doing as different skills that I’m working on leveling up. Every time a wash a glass, I’m working on that skill. Every beer poured, is making me better. Each flight, tshirt, glass, sticker, keg change… those are all making me into a better barman. You may think pouring a beer is easy, it’s not that tough, the hard part is not throwing a glass at a customer when there are 20 people who came in out of nowhere, who all want flights, when you only planned for a certain amount of people. You don’t want to start someone new on a busy Friday evening, you start them on a slow Monday. When they get good on slow Monday, move them to a more fast paced night. When they can handle that without going crazy or crying in the corner, then you can move them to the busy night. Let them level up before you send them to face the games ultimate boss. 

 When I watch Rich, Greg, and Anthony on the staff brew days, it’s amazing for me to see how much more they know about what they are doing back there. Those guys know how to do the things back there, and they make it look easy. They asked me once to hook a hose up to the plate chiller, and it took me about 5 minutes to figure out the clamp. I asked if it was something that couldn’t be done, and they were just making the new guy do it, but they assured me it could be done. I have very little skill at that task. They know how to do the hoses, the clamps, when to add acid, when to do the other things too, and it’s amazing to watch them work as a team. When the brewery first opened, they didn’t know how to do those things. They did it so many times, they know what they are doing now. They spent time getting their character leveled up. I haven’t spent that time. 

When someone makes a task look easy, don’t think that the task is necessarily easy. First think that the person may have worked their asses off to get to the point where it is easy for them. Not every job is glamorous, but every job has to be done. Have you seen the commercial of the guy folding the pizza boxes? We can all probably fold a pizza box, but most likely none of us have spent the effort getting to be as good as that guy. Most everyone can wash a dish, but going into the back of a restaurant and seeing the pile of dishes after a busy dinner shift, and then going back an hour later and seeing them all gone, is an impressive sight. That person worked their butt off to be good at that job that goes underappreciated. If he sends out one plate that isn’t fully clean out of a stack that may have been ALL the plates in the place, someone will notice. He may get 99% done right, which is a hell of a stat, but that 1% is the thing that will get him in trouble. Hopefully, you aren’t in a position where a 1% failure rate will get you berated, or have a horrible yelp review because of a less than perfectly clean plate. 

Most everyone can ride a bike, hardly anyone can compete in the tour de france. What’s the difference? Those guys have spent thousands and thousands of hours working at their skill, but it’s just riding a bike. You can probably ride a bike. You can’t compete in the tour. It’s a simple task, until it’s not. They have worked hard to level up. You haven’t spent that time. They make it look easy, it’s just riding a bike… right?

To sum up, life is an RPG, it all depends on what your character is. You need to work on the skills to level up your life. To be the best, you have to spend more time at that skill, than the person who is currently the best. We can all work at our skills to get better at what we are.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tap List 11-12

        1) Tucher Helles Hefe Weizen (Standard Hefe with banana and clove flavors, citric mouth feel, crisp finish, abv 5.3%).........      5.5
        2) Two Brothers Prairie Path (This golden ale was tested and certified to be gluten free, good "step up" beer, abv 5.1%)…..    5
        3) Ommegang Scythe and Sickle (Harvest Ale with fresh barley, wheat, oats, and rye, a creamy seasonal, abv 5.8%)……….      5
        4) Lost Abbey Serpent's Stout (Imperial Stout, tons of flavor, knock your socks off good, year-round offering, abv 11%)….       5
        5) Central Waters Glacial Trail IPA (American style IPA from Wisconsin, liberal amount of citrusy hops, abv 5.5%)……..       5
        6) Boulevard Collaboration No. 3 Stingo (From the smokestack series, with traditional English ingredients, abv 8.5)……....         5
        7) Summit Horizon Red Ale (A hybrid ale with complex floral, dry, hoppy flavors, big on malt sweetness, abv 5.7%)………        4
        8) Ballast Point Calico Amber Ale (Red Ale, hopped in a very California way, solid malt, little sweet abv 5%)……………..          5
        9) Lost Abbey Witch's Wit (A wheat ale with grapefruit zest, orange peel and coriander, refreshing, abv 4.8%)……………..        6
        10) Green Flash / St Feuillien Friendship Brew (Belgian collaboration, old-world Abbey / US craft brewing, abv 9.5%)…..        6
        11) Weihenstephaner Weissbier (#1 rated German Hefeweizen, light, floral, very refreshing abv 5.4%) (Newton's Pick)…...       5
        12) Summit Extra Pale Ale (This classic, distinctly hoppy brew was designed to be approachable for everyone, abv 5.1%)…    4
        13) Two Brothers Dark Mild (Second beer they ever made, dark sessionable ale with an intricate flavor profile, abv 3.2%)...      4
        14) Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock (A late year smokebock aged in oak casks, tastes like smoked meats, abv 6.6%)..      5
        15) Lindeman's Faro (A blend of old and new Lambic, sweetened with Belgian candy sugar, abv 4.75%) (Paddy's Pick)…..      7
        16) North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout (On nitrous, full of coffee and caramel flavors, abv 9%)…………...          6
        17) Boulder Mojo (Amarillo hops give a huge citrus flavor, balanced with malt, now on nitro, abv 6.8%)……………………          5
        18) Boulder Hoopla (This American Pale was made with generous amounts of Glacier hops, festival beer, abv 5.7%)……….       5
        19) Weihenstephaner Festbier (Bavarian Oktoberfest, brewed in accordance with German beer purity law, abv 5.8%)…….         5
        20) Ayinger Celebrator (One of the truly great German Dopplebocks, full-bodied, velvety, rich and malty, abv 6.7%)……...        5
        21) Southern Tier Harvest (Fall seasonal, classic English style Extra Special Bitter, deep ruby in color, abv 6.4%)…………         5
        22) Weihenstephaner Pils (Slightly bitter, mild, with a fragrance of hops, a pilsner with character, abv 5.1%)……………….        5
        23) O'Fallon Kite Tail Summer Ale (Cream Ale style, has a slight tartness, making it very refreshing, abv 4.5)……………..        4
      24) Troubadour Magma (Belgian IPA, fruity aromas balanced with American bitterness,50 IBU, abv 9%)…………………            6
        25) Founders Devil Dancer (Triple IPA, dry hopped for 26 days, 10 varieties of hops, 112 IBU, abv 12%)…………………            6
        26) Port Old Viscosity (A monster of a beer, tons of complexity and flavor, truly a beer drinkers treat, abv 10%)……………       6
        27) PBR (Dubious claims to winning a ribbon in 1893 at the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition, abv 5%)……………...        2.25

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Homily for FUBECCA's wedding

(in case you wanted to read it)

We are all a part of teams. At Radio Maria, Matthew and I often work together as a team. At carle, bridesmaid Sarah and I are a part of a team. I am a member of a softball team with several people here. Families are also a team.
When two people get married they become a team. There are truly only two people on this team. Today, the team that we're making is Matthew and Rebecca. The rest of us, all of us here, are fans of this team. We are not on the team. We can support this team, like we support any other team, but we are not on the team. Even those of us who were there at the earliest meetings of this team, are not on it.
The contract binding this team together is one of love. Yes, we just had a formal signing of a contract, but that piece of paper is not the thing that will keep you together. Only your love for each other will keep this team contract in place.
There will be things that try to break this contract, from arguments about money, arguments over the hours that each of you work, to arguments over the amount of beer and shots that either of you may drink.
Do not ever let these small things come between the love that you have for each other. At the time, an argument may seem like the end, I assure you that your love for each other can be stronger than any outside influence.
Every team has an opponent. So who or what is the enemy of this team? Honestly, your opponent is the world. The world will do everything it can to tear your team apart. You will be tempted by the world. You will be tempted to fight over those things I mentioned before. You will be tempted to fight over things we don't even know exist today. When you have these fights and arguments, remind yourself that you are a team. Everything you do is for the team. Do not let the world win.
I've heard a friend say before, "I can never win, when I argue with my wife". And that's true. You should never try to win an argument with your love. You two are not adversaries in marriage. You ARE the team. Always try to see the point behind the other's argument. Defend your ideas, do not attack the other person. Soon, (if you aren't already there) you two will know more about each other than anyone else in the world knows about the other person. You will know what things hurt them the most. When you have an argument, and you think you are losing; it's better to lose the argument, than to unleash the thing that you know will hurt the most; just to "win". In marriage, you can never WIN against your spouse. You will only win WITH your spouse.
Never forget the way you feel today. Always remember how beautiful Rebecca looks in her dress. Always remember how awesome FU looks in his kilt. Always remember why you chose each other. These are the things that will get you through tough times. Tough times don't last, strong teams do.
There's already another person who needs this team to be together. In the future, there will probably be (at least) another who needs this team to be together. The team of Matthew and Rebecca, or Fubecca as I call it, needs to be the strongest team around. If the team of just you two is strong, it will support the other family teams that you make.
I wish nothing more for you, than to be the best team out there.

(also, there was a slight change while spoken, as it was changed to "we will soon have a formal signing")

Friday, May 11, 2012

time for reflection (oh, you look nice narcissus)

Time for reflection;
Around the birthday, I tend to think about where (in life) I'm at. I'm in no way disappointed in my life, my life is great. But I sometimes wonder, what is it supposed to be like? How is a guy "my age" supposed to act? Am I doing it right?
At this age, (and with facebook making it easy to compare to others my age, in my high school graduating class), where am I supposed to be?
It seems most everyone my age has kids. I don't, that probably explains my ability to do most of the things I do with my free time (not that there's a lot of it). Instead of going to the kids soccer game/lacrosse/hockey/little league, I'm doing it myself. Granted I'm kind of busy with work at Radio Maria on Sunday's but I'm on two softball teams. So, instead of going to the kids games, or being the kids coach, I'm on a team, and I'm the captain. Instead of taking the kids to boy or girl scouts, I'm in the beer club. I'm ok with that.
I do have a mortgage, so I guess I'm somewhat responsible in that manner. I don't rent, I'm not in an apartment, I'm not giving someone else money to make payments, so I'm good on that one.
I've got 2 jobs. Both of which I enjoy. The first time I touched a PC, a real one, not the ones we had in high school in '88; I figured that'd be something I'd want to do (I believe it was Dan Fuss' PC). Now, 20ish years later, I've got a career doing that. It pays well. I'm ok with doing it. Can I see myself doing it for another 20 years until retirement, yeah. My other job is as bartender and beer guy at Radio Maria. The first job pays the bills, the second one gives me my "walking around" money. I do the second one for fun. Whenever it gets busy, or I start to get angry at the other job, I remind myself, that I'm just doing it for fun. That changes my mood. It's like my hobby. I get to play with beer. I get to play with other liquors. I don't "need" to make a certain amount in a weekend to pay my rent. It's my hobby, and it pays damn well. (thank you to everyone who tips me). My buddy jim (in stl) has a hobby with jeeps. Skot is in a motorcycle club. Joy does gardening. Chet goes fishing. I get to make people drinks. I don't spend money at my hobby, I make it, which is pretty cool. That kind of sets me apart from the others that I work with, but not completely. I can go into work happy, because it's my choice to be there, not a necessity to pay for my phone. It doesn't mean I'm not going to take the money that I've earned/been given, you should still tip your bartender appropriately.
I'm not married, I have been. I have no plans to get remarried. I'm happy with where I'm at and what I've got. I don't like being told that I should get married (it really pisses me off). Kridz is fine with what we've got too.
I'm not at a point financially that I actually have extra money at the end of the month. I've still got debt, but after I pay my bills, there's money left over. That's just with the first job, the second job is like a bonus, again, it's walking around money. It feels kind of weird to pay the bills, and have money after. In 5 years or less, I'll be debt free (except for the mortgage), I'm good with that. It's not just going to be a light at the end of the tunnel; it'll be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
I've got everything I need: a place to live, a car to get around in, clean clothes, and food to eat. I eat well. I haven't made hamburger helper in over two years. My idea of dinner isn't "what can I do with a pound of ground beef". I think I'm doing ok in that regards. Not that there's anything wrong with hamburger helper, I'd rather have beef tenderloin.
Yeah, I drink. Some might say I drink a lot. I don't feel I have a problem. It hasn't caused any problems with my relationships, and isn't hurting me monetarily. I'm not drunk every night. I don't drink every night. Last night, I had a beer at the Stube, and had a couple of ounces of something Skot brought over. Wednesday night, I was hammered, but I was at a concert. Tuesday I was pleasantly buzzed. Monday had a beer at my meeting at Radio. Sunday, didn't drink. Saturday, didn't drink. Friday, had a couple of beers after working. I don't drink everyday, and I don't get hammered every time I drink. When I do get drunk, I have a driver. I'm actually somewhat responsible. Yes, there are times when I've driven when I shouldn't have. I don't like to do that. I'm pretty sure most people who are drunk don't want to drive. But there are probably those that do. My girlfriend drives me to drink, then she drives me home. So, I guess this paragraph is, NO, I don't think I have a drinking problem (I don't think I'm an alcoholic).On nights when I don't go out, I don't stay at home and drink a case of beer, I don't drink a fifth of cheap whiskey/vodka/gin. If I have a beer at the house, it's probably something to go with what I'm eating. Or it's something I'm sharing with friends that are over to the house.
Speaking of friends, I have a very diverse group of friends. I think my group of close friends is an amazing bunch. (Who isn't glad that they are friends with who they are friends with?)Everyone who is with me most of the time is into craft beer (they didn't all start that way though). My softball teams are all people who I'd hang out with, and have hung out with. It's not just a collection of who's new and best and biggest. Some of the teams we play against, I can't fathom sitting down with them at a bar and having a beer. If all you are playing for is to be on the best team and only win, as opposed to having a good time with people who are your friends, I feel bad for you. I'd rather lose with people I care about, than win with people who I don't necessarily like. Of course, I'd rather win with my friends.
I have a Mohawk, I've had it for 5 years. I guess that's something that people my age aren't supposed to have/do. I'm not trying to fake being young, I just like it. I think it suits me. Yeah, I get it dyed every now and then, but that's because it looks better darker than with white. Sometimes, it does look good with a white streak, but then I want it to look different. The white in my mustache/beard… that's what makes me look old (I pluck that, or shave it off for vanity, because I don't want to look old and gray).
So, I think I'm pretty average for people my age. Yeah there are things I do that others my age don't, but that's because I don't have to have the kids in bed by 9. I've got more in common with people my age than with some of the younger… kids… that I am friends with. But, I just think I'm experienced… not old. I don't feel any different today than I did at 29 (when I got out of the army). I didn't feel different at 29 than I did at 25. I still think of myself as 25ish. Granted, I'm going to be 25 with 16 years of experience at it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

hearts and minds

Joshua 6:21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
1 Samuel 15:14 And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
War used to be a complete destruction of those that opposed you. If you went to war, you fought until everyone on the other side was dead. If they ran away, you chased them and killed them. When you killed them all, you won. War was for one purpose, land acquisition (and the resources that came with it). If you were there, in the place that I wanted, you (or I) died. That was war. There were no insurgents afterwards, they were all dead.
Gradually, the process went from killing absolutely everything, to killing only the men (keep the women, and everything else).
The US Civil War was a gentlemanly battle (mostly). There were distinct places where people fought. It wasn't that big an area, have you been to Gettysburg? Thousands of men died on a field, just walking towards each other shooting. There's a town right next to it, but they fought in a field. (fuck that). The ground gained was a field. Except the battle wasn't for ground (well not that land), it was for a REASON (well, several reasons). The actual place of the battle didn't matter, it could have been a field anywhere, that's just where the two armies happened to meet up at the time.
In WW1, there were set battle lines, everyone knew where the front was, there was a trench, there was no man's land, then there was the other trench. Guys would jump over the top, run towards the other side, and try to kill someone before they died. No civilians were on the battle field, it was evident where it was.
In WW2, things changed a bit more (this war evolution happened quickly), the advent of better tanks, and aircraft changed things drastically. Instead of fighting for a few feet, armies fought for miles in a day.
Next came Korea, the communist north wanted (and still wants) to take the south. We went there to help some buddies.
Vietnam changed almost everything. The troops didn't know what they were fighting for, (communist expansion, right?) They didn't care, losing Vietnam didn't mean anything to them. The Vietnamese don't look like them, don't talk like them, and are just different.
The last time the US fought a war for actual territory was the original 91 Desert Storm. Saddam took land, we took it back.
Modern wars are totally different, we aren't fighting for ground. We kill people for reasons, not for property. It's ideology. We are right, you are wrong. We don't like how you are behaving. It's a little more violent than just misbehaving, but basically, you are doing something so bad, that we have to kill you.
Because war has changed from killing everything, to just simply trying to kill the people who don't like you, it's allowed people to become sensitive. Since we are pretty good at just killing the bad guy while leaving everyone else intact, we become outraged about civilian casualties.
Here's why I'm writing this.
Modern society wants us to treat the enemies with respect. The current scandal with the military is of US troops posing with dead bodies of insurgents.
Top U.S. military and civilian officials rushed to condemn the soldiers' actions Wednesday, calling them repugnant and a dishonor to others who have served in the conflict. The Army said an investigation is under way.
When people in the military kill, they are either killing one of two things, an enemy (who is a thing), or an actual person.
Why is there so much post traumatic stress disorder? Because most people have an aversion to actually killing a person. Killing an enemy, who is a thing, them, the bad guys, something less than us; is much easier to do, than actually having to kill a living breathing human.
When does the enemy who is hated and deserves to die, switch to something that must be treated with respect? At the point of death?
Soldiers used to take trophies of their kill. This gruesome prospect has been outlawed. With modern phones, and cameras, it's much easier to just take a picture.
If I had to go from just killing a thing that was beneath me, to suddenly respecting the corpse, that might be a difficult transition to make, especially if that thing was trying to kill me (and had probably killed one or more of my buddies). Fuck that guy.
Do you think the German soldiers who had to kill Jews had difficulty at first? They were taught to think of them as less than human. The first few would have been tough, but after a while, they are just a thing… Jews. They had to have felt they were beneath them. Killing millions of people would be difficult to do. If they are nothing more than ants that need to be exterminated, that makes it easier to do.
So, now we've got a bunch of people in the armed forces who have spent multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan killing our enemy (and they are called all sorts of things, just so that they aren't identified as HUMAN) and we back home get outraged when our guys do something that we don't like.
There are rules to war, but it is bullshit. Short of killing everyone we can never win over there. Anyone over there who sympathizes with the way an enemy combatant is treated after death is a sympathizer with their cause. For us to win a war, those people must be killed. Anyone over here who thinks that the troops did something bad, needs to stop thinking of the recently killed enemy as a human; and needs to think of them as a thing. Something like a used pizza box that deserves to be thrown out with the trash.
Do you think our enemy will treat our casualties with anymore respect? Do you think they would hesitate to "desecrate" a corpse of one of our guys?  Do you think our enemy thinks of us as humans? (If we are not Muslim then we are less of people and deserve death anyway).
I have a friend who had several kills in Afghanistan, including stabbing an enemy. He was a normal kid who played the drums in high school. He joined the National Guard (probably for the tuition benefits), then he got sent to Afghanistan. Look at any high school yearbook from 2000. Most likely, there's someone in it, who has killed someone in a war. Which one from that yearbook do you think it is?
Killing people isn't normal. Was that person normal? If you talk to them about that, did they think of the person they killed as an actual human or as something else. (Don't bring it up unless you are willing to resurrect some old memories that they probably don't want to deal with and have difficulty dealing with).
Is posing with a dead enemy any different than posing with a deer that you killed? Be thankful that they are just taking a picture, and not doing like hunters and having the thing mounted in their living room.
We've created nearly a generation of killers. We can either let them behave like people who killed a thing and let them sleep at night. Or we can try to get them to believe that they killed a human, who had dreams when they were growing up, probably wanted to have a wife and kids, probably wanted to have a house, wanted an education… and turn our guys into serial killers.
Which would you rather deal with? Your friend who killed 13 humans, or your friend who killed 13 baddies (or whatever other word they used to describe them)
Since we aren't just going to level the whole place, that is why we are going to lose Afghanistan. We are too concerned about the "hearts and minds" of people who live there. In order to win a war, you have to go back to Jericho. Kill them all. Let them be less than human in the eyes of our boys. If you don't, and get outraged when our guys do something that you wouldn't expect (like treat enemy as less than human)then we are creating serial killers.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Iowa Caucus

Rick Perry spent $6,035,705 on tv ads in Iowa. He received 12,604 votes, that's $478.87 per vote. Even if he won with Romney's total of 30,015 votes, he would have paid $201.09 per vote.
Romney spent $4,665,342 and got the above 30,015 votes, for $ 155.43 per vote.
It's a crazy amount of money spent on tv ads in Iowa, for almost no votes. There were just over 120,000 voters (caucus goers) and a whole lot of cash thrown at them. Looking at the chart, it looks like over 15 million was spent in Iowa by the candidates on it. That's $125 per voter. Wouldn't it be more effective to just hand a person $125 and say vote for me, than to give the money to tv stations?
If Iowa didn't have one of the lowest unemployment rates, I'd think this money could have done something better to boost their economy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How to become President of the United States (a guide)

How to become president of the United States (a guide)
There are two phases to becoming president, step 1, you must win your primary. How do you do that? In order to win your primary, you have to be the "cleanest" person in your party. Why the "cleanest"? It's because everyone you are going up against is pretty much the exact same as you. You all (mostly) share the same ideals, values, and norms. Any person who is an outlier in the primary will be quickly discarded, even if they have good ideas (see Ron Paul). You must be the person with the least amount of skeletons in your closet. If the stuff is already known about you, you will be fine (see Newt Gingrich). You can not be the target of any new allegations (see Herman Cain). Any new allegations must be either discarded as irrelevant, or as youthful indiscretions (even in your 40's, see George W. Bush).
If a new allegation comes up, or you have something in your past that no one knows about, you need to get that out in the open right away. You should already have everything that you've ever done out in the public record, when someone finds out that you did something "bad" before, and you try to hide it; you are screwed.
Since you are pretty much exactly like the others that you are running with, there are several things that will help you win your parties nomination.
Be tall. People expect tall people to be leaders, even if they aren't. If you aren't 6 foot tall, you are probably screwed. When standing on the stage with your opponent, you will look less impressive, if the person towers over you and looks down upon you.
Have a position that is just a little different than the others. Don't be radically different, just a bit different. This is why Ron Paul can't win the election. He may be in second or third in the polls, but the fans of the others aren't going to back him if their candidate quits the race. He is stuck with the number of people who want him to win. The only way he can win, is if some new scandal finds the others that are running.
Look presidential. Even though Barack Obama is black, television shows and movies with black presidents have already softened people to think that maybe a black president is ok. Obama kind of looks like the black presidents in movies, that's why he's presidential looking. You can't look unfit or unhealthy for the times. Taft could never be elected today. Back in the early 1900's a fat person wouldn't have the stigma that a fat person has now. (Taft was the last truly hefty president). Everyone now, is relatively long and lean.
If you are just running to enhance your book sales, then it doesn't really matter what you look like, or how tall you are, or what your positions are, or what you plans are (no matter how dumb or smart they are); you will lose the election.
Have a book published. Your job as congressman, or as a spokesman, or as whatever else it is that is your normal salary, isn't enough. You need to get royalty checks. Everyone who supports you must purchase this book. They may not make a donation to your PAC, but they can give the money directly to you, in the form of your book.
Have a family. Actually, have a daughter or two. Bush 1 was the last president with sons. If you have sons, they must be politically active and be of the same party. If you have daughters, you must say that "your family is off limits" even though you are using them as props to get you elected.
Remember, you are a rock star. You may think you are an everyman who just somehow fell into all this stuff, but you spent your whole life manipulating people into getting your way. You aren't some schlub off the street who wants to shake the hand of someone, you are the guy who's germs are going to be on someone for a month because after they shook your hand, they didn't wash it. Accept your rockstardom. It you will need it.
So, to sum up: you must be just like everyone else in your party; you must not have anything hidden in your past (since you have a book, you need to put a chapter of everything bad that you've ever done, that way no one can surprise you with it, and the fact that you've admitted a "mistake" will earn you forgiveness… even if you killed someone); have a couple of daughters (2 seems to be the perfect number); have a book (or 2); be tall; be somewhat fit.
So, now that you've won your party's nomination, how do you guarantee that you are the person elected president.
Let's look at the past winners and who they were up against.
2008 Obama, McCain
2004 Bush, Kerry
2000 Bush, Gore
1996 Clinton, Dole
1992 Clinton, Bush 1
1988 Bush1, Dukakis
1984 Reagan, Mondale
1980 Reagan, Carter
1976 Carter, Ford
1972 Nixon, McGovern
Winners on the left, losers on the right… what do all the winners have?
They are more charismatic than the people they beat. Clinton was definitely more charismatic than Bush, but Bush was more than Dukakis.
During the early 2000's George W Bush wasn't unbeatable, the democrats were just really stupid. Half the country hated Bush, and all the democrats could put up were guys who had less personality than a wet towel.
Based on the charisma factor, the two people you wouldn't want to run against are Reagan and Obama (Clinton is a close third).
The actual election has little to do with politics, and so much to do with who's the person who can captivate the crowd.
Winning is all about charisma (and no skeletons). Gary Hart wouldn't have beaten Reagan in 1984 (lost to Mondale in the primary), but he would have beaten Dukakis if it wasn't for his affair. Had he beaten Dukakis, he would have beaten Bush based on the charisma factor.
The vice presidential choice makes little difference in the ability to win. You cannot select someone who is more charismatic than you to be your VP though. It won't help. Sarah Palin may be polarizing, she has enough charisma to win the general election, but wouldn't make it through the primary. Dukakis selection of Lloyd Bentsen didn't provide enough boost to overcome his looking like a midget when he was in the tank.
Jack Kemp may have been the best non-winning vp candidate, but he had more charisma than Dole. Kemp vs Clinton in 96 with Gore and Dole as the vp's would have been a tighter race. (Clinton would still have won).
So, to sum up: after you have won your primary, you need to have the stage presence to beat the other person. You may be good in one year, but you might not be the next time (see Bush). For this reason, there isn't a republican who can beat Obama this year. The only candidate who could have, would have been Herman Cain, but his affairs cost him that chance.
Endorsements don't matter, newspapers don't matter, all that matters is that you can carry yourself better than the other guy.