23 March 2017

Bikes May Use Full Lane

There exists a bit of irony with this sign because there are two meanings here, literally.

Biker Perspective

You have permission to use the full lane whenever you like. Bikes may use full lane.

Motorist Perspective

Beware of idiots. Bikes may use full lane.

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17 March 2017

Why Good Programs Get Cut From Budget

 It comes as no surprise to me that cuts made by the Trump administration are upsetting many people on the left and the right. Why is it that some programs get cut from a budget and others do not? Why would a wonderful program which goes to such a great cause get defunded? How heartless can people be?

There are many programs out there and when it comes time to make the cut, nobody wants their group of people to suffer. So, let us assume that every single program is a good program, or else why in the world would it have ever gotten a green light to proceed, correct? But if we can agree that we need cuts, let's not decide based on who has the most heartwarming cause or helps the most likable people.

I don't want to throw money in a jar for a program that promises to feed the hungry year after year with literally no established results. So, if we can agree on this, let's look at why a great program might get cut before another program that doesn't sound AS great!

When program cuts are made, the first thing to look at are the goals and objectives of the program. Have they been met? Why make cuts in some programs and not in others? Because programs funded by the people (taxpayers) must perform toward their original promised goals and objectives and prove to be effective based on measurable data. To see what that looks like, note the following example:


The goal is a universal and idealistic vision. It is a promise to whomever is funding the campaign/project/journey (taxpayers), that it will increase or decrease X by some factor.
Our program goal is to increase productivity in the classroom by 25%. We will do this by implementing a regimented nutrition program in public schools. 
This means that showing a correlation between a regimented nutrition program and an increase in productivity is prudent, right? Fair enough.


Objectives are those completed tasks which will impact, in a positive way, the goal. The objectives, once measured, will show the increase or decrease in X, which was the goal.

  1. Establish a baseline classroom productivity scale. Word.
  2. Make public schools decrease the amount of fatty foods served in their lunch programs. Nobody will complain about this one.
  3. Public schools will remove vending machines from cafeterias. Meh, okay.
  4. Provide public schools with wheat grass supplemental snacks during recess. OMG, please! But okay, let's see what you got.
  5. Conduct an annual classroom productivity survey to measure against the established baseline. Duh!

Measurement of Success

Believe it or not, success doesn't just happen. Accomplishing goals and objectives isn't as straight forward as winning the Superbowl. It's not as concrete as winning a spelling bee.

When there are objectives to meet, those objectives must be measured to show success. Measurable data can either prove or disprove that the objectives had an impact on the goal. So, it is important to collect this data to determine the success of a program.

Are we able to produce the results that will show our program has been a success?
Oh, I'm sorry. Were we supposed to be measuring data somewhere?

Don't blame Trump. Blame the program administrators for not producing measurable results!

Please read the following language pulled from the actual Trump budget cuts proposal:

Economic Development Administration ($221 million): The Trump budget says it has "limited measurable impacts and duplicates other federal programs."

Minority Business Development Agency ($32 million): The White House says this minority business incubator program is "duplicative" of other programs in the Small Business Administration.

McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program ($202 million): Trump's budget says the program — a sort of Third World school lunch project — "lacks evidence that it is being effectively implemented to reduce food insecurity."

21st Century Community Learning Centers program ($1.2 billion): The formula grants to states support before- and after-school and summer programs. "The programs lacks strong evidence of meeting its objectives, such as improving student achievement," the budget says.

Community Development Block Grant program ($3 billion): CDBG has been a bread-and-butter funding source for local communities for 42 years, totaling more than $150 billion in grants over its history. "The program is not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results," Trump's budget says.

What cut programs have you puzzled and/or fuming?

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28 February 2017

Goodbye Hollywood, I'm off to The Daytona 500!

I look so short without heels on!
Yes, I boycotted the Oscars. Just like I boycotted the NFL, the Grammys, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. I refuse to watch any show which chooses to use its platform for anything other than its intended purpose: entertain everyone while patting themselves on the back for a job well-done. They've all gone political.

Instead, I chose to spend some time with Charles at the Daytona 500 race. I had so much fun and I didn't have to sit around listening to a bunch of Hollywood elites bashing our country and our president. Thank goodness for NASCAR. :P

Unlike these awards shows, I've never even watched a NASCAR race on television, so this was a novelty for me to actually BE there in the stands, taking photos, filming flybys, and drinking beer. Talk about stress-free living and camaraderie. Quit whining and get out there and have some fun with your fellow Americans, and quit listening to this consistent message in the media that everything is going to hell.

You know what? The Daytona 500 sold out of seats this year. Can you say that about any NFL games, including the Super Bowl? I heard the Oscars had the lowest ratings since 2008. Ouch.

Enjoy the photos, and leave me some comments. All are welcome, just be kind to each other!

We had just got on the tractor trolley that took us to the buses.

I have a camera that likes to be creative and it spit this out. 

Outside the stadium before the race.

Getting ready to enter the Daytona International Speedway
stadium for the first time ever.

And here we are!

This is what sold out looks like. THIS is living life and not
whining about politics. Don't give yourself ulcers!

Creative Zoom this is called. Love it.

Waiting to see shit talking and fighting, but it never happened.

One of the better close up photos I took.

Excited crowd.

It was hard to capture photos this clear
when the cars were going so fast!

The side of the track where most of the crashes happened.

We had seats high enough, we could see the backside.

Pit stops were amazing!

My guy, Keselowski in the Miller Lite car! lol

Sun has gone done and we are in the shade....cool out.

The blimp is last because that's when it showed up! Last.

Smiley face

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11 January 2017

Plotting vs Pantsing Smackdown

There are two modes of story writing that I've come across. The one that sells, and the one that tells. The first one I think needs structure or else most readers won't get it, they won't stay engaged. I consider myself in the group of most readers. Most readers want to immerse in the story world and feel that arc upon which the protagonist journeys. We all understand that.

I read over at The KillZoneBlog where they discuss an article in Writer's Digest, "Just Write". The article indicates that by our own experiences we have a natural ability to write stories.  And so comes the argument of what method of story writing makes for great content, plotting or pantsing, for what the industry deems sellable.

Today, I'm going to be an advocate for the Pantser. Most folks who want to write have a passion to write. Not to tell a story, but to write, in any form. The story is just the most common and accessible means to doing just that. Writing is what we love to do. But, as mentioned at The KillZoneBlog, you don't just write a story, especially fiction. You must first understand the underlying mechanics of what makes stories work *cough* said the author of a story structure book to the novice writer. If you believe that, you haven't judged many writing contests. The talent pool is swimming with creative young writers who can tell great stories. Their imaginations are phenomenal.

What I like to argue, is for a great work of art to come to fruition, the writer must unleash the story within. That is, the telling of the truth. No form or structure is going to allow for the next great novel to come alive with as much impact. Story structure is what makes the reader get that familiar feel of a story. The beginning/middle/end, a call to journey, the  crisis, the denouement, whatever. It's what sells as a good read. Anyone wanting to write for a living must know this, learn it and apply it. Or you can fall back on the no-resolution resolution structure.

But a story that tells is different for me. The telling of a great story, even in fiction, is one that spills truth. It's one I deem a creation that forms from the implanted seed which grew inside the artist. The only way to spill truth for a writer with a story, is to be unbound from traditional forms of storytelling. How did S.E. Hinton, at such a young age, bang out The Outsiders? Or how did Mary Shelley pen Frankenstein? Do you think she was aware of story structure, or do you think she just wrote what was already within her? I think the latter. She'd endured the birth and death of her baby before she was 18 years old. The story was in her. It wasn't birthed from a formulaic presupposed rendition of the cookie cutter storyline. Though I'm sure publishers polished it up a bit after she wrote it.

Be careful not to provoke the artist into changing their vision. They shouldn't strive to fit a structure before they begin to write. Some guidance is great, but the gifted writer should write without scrutiny or the presupposition that they are incapable of producing greatness without guidance or structure. What came first? The story or the structure? No story should be bound by traditional and formulaic structures before writing it. The Writers Dream Kit contains over 32,000 story forms. I wonder how we discovered those forms. Were they written first?

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