November 2012


I just got back from our annual ThanksChristmas trip to West Tennessee and have not had time to write anything this week.  Get over it.

Our holiday season begins today.  We will do some driving and have Thanksgiving with my inlaws on Wednesday, Thanksgiving with my family on Thursday, and Christmas with my family Friday.  We may even celebrate the 4th of July early while we’re on a roll.  Meanwhile, Sara got a stomach bug and we don’t know how ready she will be for travel.

I don’t have a lot of time, so I just wanted to say happy Thanksgiving to all my readers.  If you’re a Tennessee Vols fan, you can be thankful that we will be getting a new head coach and better things may come.  If you’re not a Vols fan, you can be thankful that you’re not a Vols fan.

This past Saturday was a gorgeous fall day.  The sun was shining with not a cloud in the sky, the air was a nice, warm 70 degrees, and we were in the perfect place to enjoy it – the mountains of northern Georgia.  After a nutritious breakfast of an iced cinnamon roll, my oldest daughter complained of a tummy ache.  This is a pretty typical thing, so we didn’t think much of it. 

I had some work to do at the cabin, so I went about my business until nearly lunchtime.  Olivia still complained of an upset stomach and kept her head in Sara’s lap for most of our lunch.  We were planning on going hiking after lunch, so I thought this was just Olivia’s plan to get out of it.  As we left the restaurant, Olivia could barely walk.   She does have a flair for the dramatic, so I was still unsure if this was for real.

Sara pressed around on her stomach and the only place she hurt was in the lower-right quadrant (which happens to be where your appendix is located).  Now we were starting to grow a little worried.  I decided to play my trump card by asking her if she wanted to go swimming… to which she immediately replied, “Yes.”

Busted… or so I thought. 

She went on to say that she wanted to go to the pool, but she would just put her feet in the water because she didn’t feel like swimming.  Now we knew something was badly wrong.  Since we were up in Ellijay, we decided we should probably head for home in case we were dealing with appendicitis. 

She was in even greater pain as we drove home and started to feel a little feverish, so we went straight to the ER.  Again, it was a perfect fall day outside, but we were sitting in a windowless patient room for a little over three hours.  I don’t know why you are called a “patient” when seeing a doctor, because we were anything but that.

It was now dark outside and the perfect fall day had come to close.  Olivia decided to get down off the examination bed… at which point she cut loose two of the biggest farts she had ever had.  I know… little girls don’t “fart” they “toot”… but just to be clear, these were indeed farts.  We just spent three hours in the ER, over an hour and half driving, and who knows how much on medical bills for a bout of horrendous gas!

She suddenly felt much better but our perfect fall day had come to a close.  Don’t get me wrong – I think we did the right thing, but why couldn’t this happen on a cold, rainy day?

This may be a little controversial, but I’m going to post it nonetheless.  I voted recently.  There were three things that stood out to me as I waited in line to cast my ballot.

First, it is never good for an engineer to wait in a long line.  They had the whole thing set up wrong.  There was a line that led to a table where you filled out a form with your name and address – a 15 second process.  This table had seven chairs around it (that’s 28 people per minute).  There were 14 voting machines set up, but before you could go to them, you had to get your little yellow card.  There was a single table with two people manning it scanning driver’s license and distributing the voting cards – a 20 second process.  Yes – I timed everything… I had over an hour to kill.  So there was obviously a bottleneck in getting your voting card and a result, about 5 voting machines were vacant at any given time.  Never go to an airport with me.

Second, it was nice to see all of the people who would willingly stand in line in the cold November rain (cue Guns ‘N’ Roses) for their opportunity to vote.  The ability to cast a ballot is one of the things that makes our nation great.

Third (and this is where it gets controversial), many of the people standing in line had no business casting a vote on some of the issues.  I’m not talking about their vote for president.  I think most people had their minds made up on that one long before they stepped in.  I am referring to the votes on whether or not to make amendments to our bylaws regarding some important educational issues. 

One of the items we voted on a whether or not to allow charter status for schools.  That sounds like an easy one, but when you dig deeper and start to consider where the funding will come from, the actual performance of existing charter schools, and how this impacts the other public schools, it gets a lot more complicated.  The voting precinct handed out literature on the topic, but most people didn’t even bother to read it even though they were standing in line with nothing else to do.  The person in front of me started to read the material and after about 15 seconds said, “I don’t understand any of this.”  She then passed her literature back in the line – making a conscious choice to vote out of ignorance.

Before people are allowed to vote, shouldn’t they be able to prove some sort of comprehension regarding the issues on which they are voting?  We allow people who are completely ignorant of the issues to cast a vote that determines the direction very same educational system that apparently failed them.   What if sample ballots were available ahead of time with some bullet points on the issues?  How about a list of candidates and their positions on important topics prior to entering the voting precinct?

Don’t tell me you’ve never punched a ballot for a name without having any clue who the two candidates were or what they stood for.  That’s just not right.  We complain about politicians all the time, but when it comes time to decide who will represent us in office, we don’t carry out the due diligence required to make an informed decision – partly because it is so difficult to get unbiased information.  So if you have not done so yet today, go vote… but know what you are voting on!