Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ethics in the Mirror

Throwing Stones

Our beloved foe
CEO with stolen dough
Your teachings survive

Gadabout would like to address the topic of ethics in American society. I’ve included a couple of AP articles (both abridged) related Tyco’s CEO Dennis Kozlowski's abuses that led to his conviction. The first was published after his conviction in 2005, and the second is a recent story where Kozlowski claims innocence and jury bias. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with some facts of the case:

Updated: 8:44 p.m. ET June 17, 2005
- In the wave of prosecutions against business executives that followed the boom of the late 1990s, L. Dennis Kozlowski came to be portrayed as the poster child for corporate excess.
The former Tyco CEO’s first trial last year was a parade of eye-popping largesse: an $18 million Manhattan apartment, a $6,000 shower curtain and an infamous $2 million party on the island of Sardinia in the Mediterranean.
Prosecutors said Kozlowski financed the lavish lifestyle with money he pillaged from Tyco — and on Friday, a jury convicted him and another executive of looting the company of $600 million.

Imprisoned ex-Tyco CEO Kozlowski claims innocence, jury bias
By Linda A. Johnson, AP Business Writer | March 22, 2007
TRENTON, N.J. --L. Dennis Kozlowski, imprisoned for looting millions from Tyco International, the conglomerate he once headed, claims he's not guilty and that jurors convicted him because of his huge salary.
Kozlowski, now 60 and serving an 8- to 25-year prison sentence, makes the comments in an interview set to air Sunday on the CBS program "60 Minutes," according to the network.
"I was a guy sitting in a courtroom making $100 million a year," Kozlowski tells reporter Morley Safer in his first network TV interview since going to prison. "And I think a juror sitting there just would have to say, `All that money? He must have done something wrong.' I think ... it's as simple as that."
Kozlowski became a poster boy for corporate greed amid revelations about his lavish spending -- including a $30 million Manhattan apartment, paintings by Renoir and Monet on which he evaded sales tax and a $2 million toga birthday party for his much-younger wife, who reportedly asked for a divorce in a prison visit with him last year. That lifestyle might have swayed the jury, Kozlowski told a reporter just before his sentencing in September 2005.
Wow. He still believes that he is innocent. Isn’t that interesting! Okay, let’s have an understanding on where Gadabout stands on the issue of CEO pay--$100 million big ones is excessive, plain and simple. Kozlowski is not a Bill Gates. He did not engender a vision for new technologies that moved the world forward in a dynamic way. He ran a corporation. He attended business school, moved up a corporate ladder, lied, stole from share holders and ruined thousands of lives.

Thousands of everyday ordinary citizens are incarcerated every year in this country for a lot less. Lesser crimes are tried for mail fraud, identity theft, grand larceny and so forth and we look upon those criminals and mostly agree that they need to do some time for their wrong doings. Kozlowski believes that his wealth biased the jury in determining his guilty verdict. I suppose that is possible, but I don’t think it would sway a jury anymore in his case than for someone that abused a child or stole an identity and bought a new Cadillac from a grandmother’s retirement account.

Along with high CEO pay, is an unspoken demand by the American public for ever higher ethical standards and conduct. If an individual is to be remunerated at levels unachievable by 99% of the general population and essentially lifts a family into an exclusive Royal Class of citizenship, then it is demanded that their ethical behavior is transparent and above reproach. Do we agree on this?

Okay, Kozlowski was found guilty, imprisoned, fined and is whining about it. I’d be rather upset with myself too if I was sitting in the slammer looking at another five to ten years behind bars. The question for all of us is what we, as individuals, can learn from this unfortunate lesson of deceit?

How are you living and conducting your lesser life? Yes, I am talking about our tiny, insignificant lives of the middle class. If we are going to pass judgment on our friend Kozlowski, throwing a first stone, what are we doing to achieve high standards at home? Do you file honest tax returns, or do you bend the rules a bit to minimize your payments? Have you ever sold a house and covered up a latent defect to avoid the costs of repair? How about a car that you once sold and high-fived yourself after depositing the check? Are you honest with your family and friends? Talk to me about your resume!

I am very confident that most Americans should reevaluate their own personal lives as related to ethical behavior. Like many, I have always found enjoyment in throwing the first stone, but maybe the lessons of Dennis Kozlowski’s evil deeds will assist me in keeping a straight course in the future. Thanks, Dennis!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Measuring Age and Determining Fate

As having grown older throughout the years, I have finally discovered why my parents never celebrated their birthdays with pomp and circumstance. Birthdays are reminders of the finite scope of life, and with each additional candle placed atop the chocolate cake, we slowly become aware that there is one year less to celebrate and observe. Gadabout doesn’t mention his birthday to others, but someone always seems to remember and send a card. This year I received a birthday card from my banker. Wonderful!

Birthdays aren’t the only reminders of age and the passing of time. Photos are evil reminders too. This past Christmas I brought my significant other girlfriend home for a few days. Our family always throws a big bash the Sunday before Christmas, so I thought it might be good for the extended family to meet Gadabout’s flame. While in my father’s den, during a brief moment of peace, I pointed out a picture on the wall taken in Las Vegas with Gadabout and Gadabout’s brother and father. My special friend asked “who is that guy in the middle?” I was hurt. Ah, yes, the gray hair is a bummer.

Besides pictures and birthdays to haunt us, God also sends us subtle reminders of the passing of time. I used to run an 8 minute mile—faster if I had to. 8 turned to 9 in my thirties and then 10 minute miles a few years ago. Now I am pushing 11’s and my knees ache constantly. I know I must look pathetic to passing drivers.

My most recent blessing of age is the need for reading glasses. When first discovered that I was having a difficult time reading smaller print, I was able to get by with low power 1.00 glasses from the drug store. Now I am using 2.00’s and am now an addict. I have extra pairs throughout the house, in my briefcase and backups in the car. How about you?

Sure, I know that I am lucky to have made it this far without additional disabilities that others face. I am thankful for my fortunes, but age does march with an insidious swagger and takes no prisoners. Time sounds a steady drumbeat of echoes that become louder with every passing day.

Perhaps all the aging signals; birthdays, aches and pains, reading glasses and photos; can be viewed in a positive light. Positive in the sense that they may prove to be gentle reminders of our limited time to accomplish our life’s mission, face challenges and make positive steps forward before our journey’s eventual and certain end. Time is limited, let’s all make the best of it.

Gadabout is dedicated to taking comfort in the aging process, knowing that all things will become memories, ashes and forgotten tears.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Global Warming and the Numbers

Gadabout is curious about effects of global warming as related to a rise in sea water levels. After reading a few articles about climate change and the projected rise in sea water levels, estimated to be between 7 inches and 2 feet over the upcoming fifty years, I decided to do some math to associate a degree of magnitude in my mind that made sense. A rise of two feet seemed like a lot to me, so I looked up a few facts and broke out my trusty TI-30X IIS scientific calculator and ran the numbers.


The earth is 7,926 statute miles in diameter (Radius = 3,963)
The earth’s surface is about two-thirds water
The volume of water in the liquid state is equal to its frozen volume

Math Formula:

Volume of a sphere is derived: V = 4/3 Pi (R)^3


I ran two equations for volume, one for a 3,963 (20,924,640 ft)mile radius, and another for a 3,963 miles and 2 foot radius (20,924,642 ft...remember the 2 foot rise in sea levels). I subtracted the smaller from the larger and multiplied by 2/3 to account for land mass.

The result is 22183 cubic miles of water. In other words, it is a cube 28.09 miles on each side. So, the earth will need to melt an ice cube 28 miles high to result in a 2 foot rise in water levels. Now remember, this is water that melted above sea level. It does not take into account ice below sea level that need not be accounted for since it already displaces sea water.

We are talking about a 28 square mile ice cube. Wow! Now, I have no idea as to the height of the polar icecap. It could be 1,000 feet high or maybe 10,000 feet high, but for the sake of discussion, let’s assume a 5,280 (1 mile) foot elevation since it makes the math easier.

It would take 798.55 square miles of 1 mile thick ice to melt to produce an affect of a 2 foot rise in sea water. Okay, my math and assumptions are a bit simplified, but I am guessing this estimate is within +/- 20 percent, and errors on the conservative side.

Other facts for the record:

Cubic feet = 11,004,134,523,828,749

Ice cube in feet = 148,358 feet on each side

For the reader, I adjusted these numbers slightly from my original post to reflect a more accurate measurement in Earth's diameter.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Gadabout Jack is in the Florida Keys

Gadabout will continue to be out of pocket until this Sunday. Fear not, I will return. But I will have to say, in these few precious minutes at the local internet cafe, that the Keys are a special place where everyone should take time to visit and stay at least a few times in their lifetime.

Below the Surface

Dive trip two miles south
Floating over coral reef
Momentary peace

Keep the comments coming. I'll answer your mail in the next few days!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Springtime Habits


Manicured lawn
Built upon sweat and savings
Crumbles by autumn

Lawn maintenance is high maintenance, and it is that time of the year again. That’s right fellows, more maintenance than your highest maintenance girlfriend ever, and more expensive to boot. Gadabout Jack is going to uncover another truth about American consumerism, wasted talent and labor, and most importantly, wasted cash.

First, let’s look at the big picture. There are about 80 million homes in the USA with yards that require care. That’s a lot grass, lawn mowers and mulch; and that is just for starters. Taking care of lawns and landscaping is big business, just drive by your local Home Depot and check out the gardening section. They are waiting for your annual pilgrimage to spend your hard earned cash-ola on flowers, walkways, trellises, mulch, lawn seed, low voltage lighting, fertilizer, planters, birdseed, water hoses…..we have all been through the drill before. Picture Home Depot in your mind’s eye for a moment. My inner vision sees all the goodies, crowds, credit cards and a soiled SUV. What do you see?

The million dollar question I pose for you is this—if all of these products really were worth it, then why do we have to have a do-over every year? My goodness, every single year Americans spend billions on a depreciating effort that holds limited value for about nine short months. By the end of November, after cleaning up leaves and other debris from the yard we are exhausted from our voluntary servitude and escape to our inside worlds, happy to have parked the lawn mover in the corner of the garage. I am speaking with authority here, I have been that Guy, I have wasted time and talents better served elsewhere.

So why do we follow the same pattern every year? The answer is that we believe in the high powered advertising; we are antsy to get back outdoors again are labor our backs and muscles; we like our home investments to appear happy and clean; we demand to keep up appearances; we associate success with a well manicured look; and most importantly we follow our ancient DNA patterns passed down through generations. This may hurt, but it is true. Like I already mentioned, I’ve been there. Hey, you might not need the cash you would save by taking a more natural based approach to the care and feeding of your house, and if so, go for it.

What are some of the ways we can cut back on costs, labor and environmental impacts:

1. Plant flowers from seeds and save a bundle.
2. Start a mulch area and reuse waste.
3. Think twice before buying high price items like low voltage lighting—they always break anyway.
4. In-ground water sprinkles are expensive to buy, install, and maintain. Plus, your water bill will sky rocket. Very wasteful.
5. Hold back on week killer products. They not only damage the environment, they kills weeds—weeds are plants too. Don’t be so insensitive!
6. Consider reducing or eliminating open grass areas and return your lawn back to a yard. You know, go natural.
7. Cultivate perennials.
8. Don’t be temped by the gigantic riding mower. They are a waste. Be a minimalist.
9. Think twice before buying.

I don’t spend a lot of cash on commercial lawn products anymore. I pull weeds, use what is at hand, and I save plenty of dough. I probably save more in my newfound non consumption than most families save in a year for retirement. More importanly, I have time for other pastimes and pleasures. Reflect on these words.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Appropriateness of Playboy

I have a question for my readers today. Is it appropriate, in today’s PC environment, to receive a subscription to Playboy magazine?

This is sort of a tough question since the answer will be dependent upon the individual life situation. For instance, if there are kids in the house, then it may not be the best idea for them to have access to Playboy. It could screw up their young minds. I know this since my father had Playboy in the house, even though he feigned attempts to keep them hidden. Kids don’t get enough credit for their skills and determination to fully explore an entire house; insideout and backwards. They are very detailed oriented that way.

I like reading Playboy and have been a subscriber for many years. It all began in college. The house needed Playboy, so the five of us decided to subscribe. It seemed very adult to us and they didn’t go unread—EVER! Even our visiting female friends enjoyed flipping through the pages in the evening. It was accepted then, but today there seems to be a social darkness surrounding those who still believe in the magazine. Of all the magazines and publications I have ever had delivered to my house, Playboy is the only one that was never trashed unread. Now, that’s readability.

Okay, I can buy off on the position that the latest edition should not be displayed front and center on the coffee table, but I cannot believe that those who have Playboy delivered should be labeled as social outcasts or deviants. It’s just Playboy for crying out loud! I mean, I like reading the articles. Your thoughts are welcome.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Wayward Celebrations


Smokey pub filled
With oblivious, green drunks
Mindless intentions

Gadabout Jack went out for a couple of cold ones last night to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. The parking lot of the local pub with an Irish name was jammed and loaded to the brim. I was surprised that they were not charging for parking, but I guess they weren’t since the pub is part of a shopping strip and the other merchants most likely would balk at the idea. If they did charge a fee, I would have paid, along with everyone else.

Anyway, a loaded paring lot infers a packed pub, and that inference was supported in truth once I was inside. I immediately noticed lots of green, beads and funny hats. Hats seem to be on the upswing in popularity these days, especially cheap felt hats associated with some sort of theme. I saw a few dudes who had dyed their beards green. Nice touch. The main part of the bar and dinning room was too full when I walked in, and since I was on the search for my buddies I decided to check out the tent area that was set up on the side of the building to support the anticipated large crowd. The tent was a class act in the since that it include a temporary bar, two bartenders who accepted credit cards, chairs for the weary and two out door lavatories that were vented outside.

I ended up with two friends, who met up with two other friends and so we had a nice little group of six drinking beer and shouting at each other over the noise of over fifty drunks in the tent area. Now, let’s have an understanding about Gadabout Jack. For the most part I don’t drink very much in public places because I don’t want to be nailed by the police while driving, and I don’t like being a drunken sloth in public (or private for that matter). Because I don’t get hammered much anymore, I really find drunks repulsive. They knock into you when they walk by, they project spittle in your face when they try and talk to you and they blow cigarette smoke in your eyes. Drunken people bother me, I don’t like being around them, and I was in an Irish Pub on Saint Paddy’s Day. What was I thinking? Making matters even more depressing was that I was missing the MSU vs. UNC basketball game. So, I split and drove home after two beers.

Well, after coming home and watching MSU get the Tar beat out of them, I started to reflect on my pub experience and questioned why the whole thing seemed so empty and hollow. It was all phony. The hats, the green beer the crowd partying over nothing but an idea of celebration for celebration sakes was shallow. The only theme seemed to be alcohol and green. Sure, there were some cheap decorations on the walls with clovers and leprechauns, but that’s about it. No authentic food, beer or clothing, just drunk Americans looking for a venue and excuse to party. Maybe it would have been different in a place like Chicago, Boston or Buffalo where there are parades and some history, but this is Virginia Beach. Hey, Memorial Day is right around the corner.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Gadabout Jack is Excited About Baseball

Gadabout Celebrates Another Tiger Win in 2006

As we stumble through March, with all its madness, most of America silently prepares for baseball with bridled enthusiasm. Spring is around the corner, buds are appearing on the cherry trees and baseball is being played in Florida and Arizona—Mecca East and Mecca West. That’s right, American’s have two Meccas. We seem to do everything in excess, so why question it? We live for this!

Baseball greats us each year in early spring, and stands by our side offering unconditional friendship throughout summer and fall, until it falls asleep again and rests during the winter months. Baseball is dependable that way. As we move out of darkness, suit up daylight savings time, open the windows and turn off the furnace, baseball greats us with a wide, toothy grin and invites us in.

Baseball can be listened to on the radio, and in the mind’s eye the game can be seen. It is magical that way. Baseball is perfect for napping on the sofa in the afternoon after mowing the lawn. Turn the sound down a little and rest and dream of the field, the grass the ball in play. Some say that makes baseball boring, but fans know better. We know that baseball is perfection.

Baseball stadiums are shrines. Everyone remembers going to their first baseball game. My first such spiritual experience was when I made the pilgrimage to Tiger Stadium in 1968, the year they went the distance over the Cardinals. I saw Al Kaline play right field. I ate a hotdog. I watched beer being drank in great quantities. It was bat day, and I took home a miniature bat that was displayed in my bedroom for years. That single day changed me forever. I became a fan for life. I was baptized.

Baseball is grace. Baseball is for life. Baseball is right around the corner.

"Baseball will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us."
Walt Whitman

Friday, March 16, 2007

Risk, Choice and Life's Pathways

Intractable Pathways

Bright stones laid firm
Amongst those dark and cracked
For eternity

Life is a risky business in more ways than you might imagine. Usually we associate risk as related to financial exposure or personal harm and pain. But risk and living goes far beyond the black and white dialog of savings and pain avoidance. Risk is the hidden shadow that directs, guides and determines our destinies. Our relationship with Risk can be closely associated with our beliefs or disbeliefs in the existence of divinity and the infinite mysteries of being. Believing in a Divine being is a personal choice, and all choices are in essence, risk. All of our choices in life represents a degree of risk, and the consequences of our risk taking leads us through our personal and unique pathway of life. No two lives are identical, or even nearly so, and each individual pathway is structured strikingly different than any other. Each built upon choice, risk and result.

Essentially, risk is choice. A person accepts risk of harm by choosing to drive their car in the morning. Many people are injured or killed while commuting to their jobs, but that is not stopping many from working. We choose to work either because we take great satisfaction from our efforts and have a strong desire to face new life choices and risks, or because we need to work to avoid financial risk, or both. Some will argue (effectively) that most people simply take employment as a means to pursue personal interests outside the work domain. This position demands acceptance that life pathways are not pursued on the job, and that one progresses on life’s journey solely outside of the workplace. I would strongly argue this matter simply on the basis of the overwhelming disproportionate amount of time and energy expanded in favor of one’s professional life contrasted to that dedicated to personal time. Point made, so let’s move on.

Risk and choice are encountered more often than casually believed or understood, leading to continuously adjusted life pathways. Success, failure, happiness, joy, disappointment and enlightenment are all encountered and defined along our individual life pathway, during every moment of our lives. Moments tangled with choice and risk resulting in life pathways that transcend time, generations and other pathways.

The successful entrepreneur chose to start his own business and sacrificed an established corporate position after business school. What would have happened if he had taken the job offer with the notional corporate giant? We’ll never know. Maybe he would have met the woman of his dreams and raised a family, stopped climbing the advancement ladder and found eternal joy and happiness. Maybe he would have been struck dead crossing the street on his first day on the job. Life pathways cannot be second guessed because from the moment choice and risk are acted upon the pathway is cast in stone. Each block in our individual pathways is set firmly in place with each passing second for our personal eternities.

The question for each of us is to reflect upon on personal pathways and judge whether or not we find joy and happiness in our pasts and decide upon risks and choices for our futures that we find bright and favorable. Every one of us has decided on pathways that were unwise or destructive at one point or another. The addict took the first needle into the vein. The alcoholic drank the first drink. The coward turned away from his first opponent. The lonely heart said no to the first love. The cancer patient smoked the first cigarette. The list goes on. What were some of your unwise choices?

These examples may be too intuitive because life pathways are in many ways more finite that can be imagined. My point here is at the “smell the flowers along the way” level of understanding must be accepted in the construction of our own pathways. Each human encounter, every sense aroused, every passing moment of consciousness influences choices and risks taken. Being at peace and harmony with our surroundings certainly can assist us with making good choices and taking balanced risks. All of us have made the mistake of bringing anger in to a discussion or argument with someone either in a professional or personal situation. The outcome is always the same, and it is never good. Take a moment to recall such a situation, how you felt beforehand and the outcome. It hurts, doesn’t it?

Moments of peace, understanding and empathy don’t always come easily; they have to be cultivated with great care. Taking walks, gazing upon star filled nights and feeling a breeze on a warm evening enable us and strengthen us to make good choices and risks throughout our lives. Good decisions don’t begin with anger, resentment or revenge. They begin with a clear heart, clean souls and understanding. Since we cannot go back in time we cannot rebuild our individual life pathways, but we can be insistent on building future pathways with balanced choices and risks based upon a foundation of goodness.

Make it be your personal challenge to reflect on the all the choices you have made in your life and risks associated with your decisions. Were you risk averse when time for action was required? Did you take risks that were simply risky, and you lost? What were some of the risks you took that were spot on and led to happiness and joy? How can you prepare yourself for future risk taking that will lead you closer to your dreams and aspirations? How can you interact with others knowing that your life pathway is woven amongst others within your personal infinity?

Our life’s journey leads us to our own personal destiny. Our choices along the way leave an indelible pathway that exists for eternity. In essence, this is our soul, and it has been touched in some way by countless other souls and will touch and affect countless others, forever. Learn from past experiences, visualize your present and future pathways knowing that yours is not yours alone. It is all that has ever been, and all that will ever be. Perhaps it is part of the Holy Spirit that we hear as the wind rushes through the leaves of a tree. Perhaps it is our communion with God.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Life 101--Text Messaging

Lost Ancient Art of Etiquette

Voice mail message
Abandoned to rot in queue
Is not forgotten

Gadabout Jack is curious and disturbed over the mobile phone text messaging phenomena overwhelming and influencing our Nation’s youth. I just don’t understand. It’s a telephone, is it not? Part of me understands that texting is a quick way to make a point or send a message without having to answer and conclude a call. You know, “Hello, Gadabout speaking...hey, I don’t have time to talk right at the moment, but I’ll call you back in a few...bye now.” And avoiding calls from those that you don’t like very much, like an ex-wife, is good reason not to answer too. My point here is that people in their 20’s and 30’s never answer their cell phones...EVER, requiring the rest of us to leave messages that are never returned!

Okay, here is the fallout. This is not 1970 when the 60 year old geezer could be counted on to either croak or retire in short order. At one time, people actually retired or died, and either way they were out of the picture—for good. Not so these days. We are all living longer, working longer and holding grudges longer from unreturned phone calls than ever before. Take note you little sissies who sip on flavored vodkas and are offended by cigar smoke—the generation preceding you is not drifting gently into that good night. Start answering and returning our calls immediately! Let me be clear. Blackberries are for text and cell phones are for voice.

Go ahead and giggle at these words. Sip your fancy coffees and devour $20 cocktails all day and night while typing meaningless messages to friends and family. Call me a grey haired old dude living in the past because I actually talk on my phone. Just understand this: unless the corporate structure and strategy cannot operate without you, and you don’t call the boss or a competitive peer back within reasonable standards, you’ll liable to get your can canned!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Real Estate Assessments--Uncovering Truth

Recently, homeowners have received notices from the city (Virginia Beach in this case) indicating revised real estate assessments for their residential properties. Since property values have skyrocketed these past five years in Virginia Beach, it has been common for homeowners to have “appraisal shock” knowing that an increase in appraised value corresponds to an increased tax bill for the upcoming year. This has provoked great anger in those people within my social circle, depending upon the degree of increase, of course. I view this homeowner angst with both pleasure and amusement. Let’s look at some facts, biases and myths that affect moods and opinions.

In a rising marketplace, owners of real estate feel a sense of pride and increased wealth associated with their property. You have heard the boastful puffing at parties and in the lunchroom. “My house is worth $250,000 more than when we bought it three years ago,” they say. Yawn. Well smarty pants, if you say it is worth $250,000 more now, why are you surprised when the increased assessment arrives in the mail? You should be happy, jubilant and jumping up and down with joy for the city’s validation of your wealth. You lucky dog!

This jubilation is never realized, though, since an increase in value leads to an increase in taxation. Taxes are evil, right? Well, maybe not, and the increase is never really that much. Let’s take a $100,000 increase in value on a $500,000 property, using a 1.00 percent tax rate. First off, the $500,000 home is now notionally worth $600,000. That’s a nice 20 percent increase in one year! The annual tax burden now increases $1,000 (a federal tax deduction), from $5,000 per year to $6,000 per year. Gadabout likes the $99,000 paper value of his estate in this example.

A note on assessments. City Assessors are civil servants, and as such are not part of the political machine that spends tax receipts. They are accountants of sorts who have one job to do—assess value and report their findings. Don’t hate the player! The political arm—city council—makes the call to the level of assessments (usually 85 percent, but some are as high as 100 percent, as in Virginia Beach), and the TAX RATE. If residential housing tax receipts are producing too little or too much revenue, then the political arm of government adjusts the tax rate applied against the assessed value. Are you keeping up with me?

The funny thing about all of this is that the people who whine the most are usually those who make out the best. If you have children in public schools, you are making money, regardless of your tax burden. Schools are expensive, and the single population and retired crowd are covering your children’s education. Sorry, but $6,000 per year for schools, police and fire, roads, garbage collection, etc, is a bargain. I bet you spend more than $6,000 a year lawn care, Girl Scout cookies and pet therapy.

Like my Dad always said, “Son, it takes money to make money.” Ponder those words, pay your taxes and enjoy the many benefits of homeownership. Don’t worry, be happy. Okay?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Gadabout Jack is Back

Gadabout admires a Spitfire fighter plane that helped save England from invading forces

Gadabout tours London and finds the indigenous auto fleet curious

Gadabout Jack prays for fallen British servicemen

Gadabout discusses national policy with fellow officers

Gadabout strikes a pose at the Lincoln Cathedral

Well, the UK trip was wonderful and all that kind of stuff, but it is good to be back on American terra firma. Actually, the journey to and from the UK was uncomfortable and annoying. After being informed that our flight from Norfolk to Dulles was cancelled, we decided to rent a car and drive to DC and catch our overseas flight to Heathrow. Of course our itineraries were already revised to reflect a next day departure, so needless to day rebooking was not a snap, especially since Dulles was a mad house. Mad house is a pleasant euphemism for chaos. Yes, Dulles was in a complete and utter state of chaotic servitude. "Stand there, walk here, don't ask questions you low life traveler." You understand. The flight was 95 percent full, and since I was traveling on the government's dime, I was relegated to the travel car section, crammed in with the world's proletariat. The only saving grace of the seven hour flight was my seatmate, Pidic. Yep, Pidic (Peedick). Pidic was a very nice gentleman who adjusted himself against the bulkhead and only asked for one standup to make a rest stop, then back to his window cage for the duration.

My encounter with customs was met with similar discomfort. A fairly attractive customs chick looked over my documents and inquired on my motives for travel. I replied in kind as to the official government business to which I was undertaking on behalf of the USA, but was having a bit of an ADD moment as to the location of my first stop, to which she notified me was a security violation that would be overlooked "this time." Welcome to London.

UK Customs Chick

Passport offering
Fatigued, red-eyed gaze
Suspicious hard stare