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February 2008

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At what point in your life do you develop common sense because it sure isn’t in middle school. Three things happened today, each with a different kid, that made me come to this conclusion and oddly enough they all happened at lunch time. Maybe low blood sugar is to blame.

The first incident is as we were leaving the room to grab our lunches a kid starts walking in the opposite direction of the cafeteria. Now, this is February 29th. This kid has been at this school all year. He knows where the cafeteria is. He’s even been in my class before. Yet for a moment he forgot where the cafeteria was.

The second was a kid getting his lunch. The choices today were pizza, ham and cheese sandwich, pasta, or fish sticks. This kid was dumbfounded by fish sticks. He looked at the lunch lady like she was an alien. He then asked her if they had chicken inside. Yes, they are called fish sticks because chicken is inside. Talk about a Jessica Simpson moment.

The last incident was a kid dropped his pasta all over the floor. He just stood there staring at it. He then asks what he should do and of course the answer was to clean it up. That confused him even more. When you drop something, you clean it up. Get some napkins and wipe up the mess, then go get another lunch.

Kids are funny. Days like these bring a smile to my face.

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I have a feeling this is going to be a disappointing season for the St. Louis Cardinals. The new General Manager did very little, and I mean very little to strengthen the team for next season. In fact, he let some of our good players go (Eckstein, Edmonds, Rolen, Taguchi) and picked up players that are either hurt or no better than the ones we let go (Clement, Glaus). The Sporting News rates the Cardinals as 4th in the Central Division. 4th?!?! The Central Division is usually considered one of the weaker divisions (what, with the Cubs and all) and we are predicted to come in 4th. That’s sad. Also, what’s really sad is to know that the outfielder that we have with the most experience is Chris Duncan. That’s just not right. It’s also not right that the only two starting (everyday players, not pitchers) Cardinals that are returning this year are Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols. Unless by some miracle this mediocre team is able to pull off some wins, this is going to be a very depressing season.

Yes, it’s time for a rant about the Department of Motor Vehicles and how inefficient the process of getting new plates for a car is. Come with me on a journey to the bureaucratic maze that is the DMV with a quick detour to the St. Charles County Collector’s Office.

As you may (or may not) know, I recently purchased a brand new 2008 Pontiac G6 GT. This is the first property I’ve owned, so I have not paid personal property taxes in the past. Last year’s personal property tax receipt is one thing I needed in order to get plates on my car. If you’ve not paid personal property taxes before because you’ve not had property, then you have to get a waiver saying you haven’t. On Saturday I go to the Collector’s office to get my waiver. Guess what? They aren’t opened on Saturday. In fact, they are only open 9-5 on Monday-Friday. Great to see that the government services I need are only open during the normal work day so if you need something from them, you have to take off work to get there. My wonderful tax dollars being put to great use (sarcasm).

Monday I decide to try again for my waiver. Luckily, I work at a school and get out at 3:15. I head down to get the waiver. I stand in line for about 10 minutes at the window I was told to go to. The lady looks up my information so I can get my waiver. I was thinking, wow, this isn’t bad. I’ll be out of here in no time. Wrong. The first window was just so I could get a sheet of paper printed saying I needed to have a waiver printed. This lady looked at my tax history and asked me several questions. Why she couldn’t just print the waiver I’ll never know. I head to the next section and pull a number. Number 63. They’re serving number 46. Great. I wait. And wait. And wait. Right now I’m thinking that there was about 15 people here. If they were on number 46, that means the majority of people come at the end of the day, so why do they only have two windows open at the end of the day? Typical government. Finally, after about 45 minutes, my number is called and I get the waiver printed. By this time, it’s too late to make it to the DMV by the time they close. That will be saved for Tuesday.

I go to the DMV on Tuesday. This was relatively painless. I had to wait, but not long. The only bump I ran into along the way is that she wasn’t going to give me new plates yet because my new insurance card with my new car on it says it starts in March. I needed proof of current insurance. Luckily, for some odd reason, I had a card from my Mazda in my glove box. Here’s the part that makes me wonder about the DMV’s efficiency. In order to get personalized plates, I have to fill out a form, mail it to Jefferson City, wait 8 weeks for a letter stating that my plates are in at the DMV, then go pick them up. This can, and should, be much more efficient. I should be able to go in, choose personalized plates if I want them, the DMV should be able to search the records to see if they are available, request those me printed for me, then either mail them to my house or notify me that they are ready to be picked up. I guess if they were efficient, they wouldn’t be the government, right? It’s 2008. It should not be this tedious to get license plates. How hard would it be to get all these forms and things computerized so that nothing needs to be mailed anywhere and it can all be done on the computer at the DMV? Not very hard.

I have to say one of my favorite features of my new car is XM satellite radio. I always wondered who would pay for radio. The quality is not that great, it’s radio so you hear the same stuff over and over, and there are way too many commercials. With my car I received three free months of XM’s service. Of course they give it to you free hoping they’ll hook you and have you purchase the service after the three months are up. Well, I’m hooked. XM takes all my preconceived notions about radio and throws them out the car window. The quality is fantastic, there is a great mixture of songs and stations, and very few commercials (the commercials I have heard are usually for other XM stations).

I love XM. There. I said it. The programming is perfect for me. I love old school hip hop and guess what, there is a station for that. I love liberal talk radio, and guess what, there’s Air America Radio. Now, St. Louis does have an AAR affiliate, but it’s not a dedicated affiliate, meaning they have other programming on the station as well, and the signal is very weak. It’s nice to be able to turn it on whenever I want and listen. I also love being able to listen to XM online. I listen to it quite a bit at home. It will be really nice when I travel. I’ll never have to search for a local station and hope they play good music. I have my 10 or so favorite stations on XM that I can listen to across the country. I’m definitely keeping the service after the free three months are up.

I was watching an old George Carlin comedy special on HBO Comedy tonight and I began thinking about someone I used to work with when I worked at Domino’s in high school and college. I worked with this guy for about 5 years and got to know him really well. One thing that we both had in common is that we were both huge George Carlin fans. This always surprised me because he was a bit conservative and typically voted for Republicans. If you have never seen George Carlin do stand up or read one of his books, he is a really liberal guy. He hates government (Republicans and Democrats), he hates the Right Wing, hates religion, and is all about the freedoms that make this country great. Maybe it’s just me, but in order for me to like something, I have to relate to it. Could my friend have related to it even though Mr. Carlin makes fun of the very things that my friend believes in?

I once knew a guy who was the same way with music. He listened to a lot of hip hop and one of his favorite rock bands was Rage Against the Machine. They were a really liberal band, some might even say socialistic, yet this guy loved them. Sure, you can enjoy the sound, but if you don’t enjoy the lyrics, how could you enjoy the music as a whole? I know I don’t listen to music who’s lyrics I’m not particularly fond of. One might, and rightfully so, argue about the lyrics in hip hop and if you listen to it, you’re supporting the content. There’s no argument for me there. Yes, there are songs I’ve enjoyed that have lyrics I might not necessarily agree with. Heck, my favorite rapper is 2pac and I know he’s had songs I don’t agree with on content, but he’s also had songs in which I can fully stand behind the content. Typically, if I don’t relate to the music in any way, or don’t like the message in the music, I’m not going to listen to it.

So I guess my question is, what makes people enjoy things that usually go against their ideologies? Why does my conservative friend like Mr. Carlin when Mr. Carlin stands up (pun intended) against everything that most conservatives value? There’s no simple answer to this. Just a thought I had while watching the very funny Mr. Carlin.