Xyon's Rambles

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

10:28 AM

Right VS Left

One thing more and I will shut up about this topic (at least for a while :)

The thing is -- the report I submitted for your thoughts is really no better than the other ones that confuse you into believing that ALL their money goes to where they say it goes.

It is the opposite side of the coin.

Mighty Righty vs Clefty Lefty.

I try to stay in the middle as much as I can. Trying to look at both sides of the coin and figure out what it is that I choose to believe. (Everyone probabaly thinks I am wishy washy now, but that is ok...because most of the time I think I am wishy washy.

The thing is I want to see the data and make judgements for myself. It is hard to choose what you like and dislike when all you see is overly exaggerated truths hidden within very Crafty Lies.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

2:57 PM


The next bit of information comes from "Getting Rich - The Environmental Movement's Income, Salary, Contributor, and Investment Patterns -- with an analysis of land trust and transfers of private land to government ownership." It was a report from The Center For The Defense of Free Enterprise.

Some Interesting findings in this report -- information is kind of dated, 1993 or earlier....maybe things are different....

The Nature Conservancy (founded in 1951)
Annual Budget - $278,497,634 (1993)
Staff - 1150 total employees
Members - 708,000 individuals, 405 corporations
Fiscal Year 1993
Revenue $278,497,634
Expenses $219, 284,534
Assets $915,664,531
Fund Balances $855,115,125
Excecutive (as of 1993) John Sawhill, President and Chief Executive
Salary $185,000
Benefits $17,118
Expense Account None
Four Year Direct Lobbying $3,352,135
Four Year Grassroot Lobbying $12,508
Fundraising $24,791,449

National Wildlife Federation (founded in 1936)
Annual Budget - $82,816,324 (1993)
Staff - 608 total employees
Members - 4,000,000
Fiscal Year 1993
Revenue $82,816,324
Expenses $83,574,187
Assets $52,891,144
Fund Balances $13,223,554
Excecutive (as of 1993) Jay Hair, Executive Director
Salary $242,060
Benefits $34,115
Expense Account $23,661
Four Year Direct Lobbying $2,334,138
Four Year Grassroot Lobbying $486,947
Fundraising $3,994,986

World Wildlife Fund (founded in 1961 - predecessor in 1948)
Annual Budget - $60,791,945 (1993)
Staff - 244 total - 172 Professional; 72 support
Members - 1,000,000
Fiscal Year 1993
Revenue $60,791,945
Expenses $54,663,771
Assets $52,496,808
Fund Balances $39,460,024
Excecutive (as of 1993) Kathryn Fuller, Executive Director
Salary $185,000
Expense Account None
Four Year Direct Lobbying $7,069
Four Year Grassroot Lobbying $76,792
Fundraising $4,447,034

National Audubon Societey (Founded in 1905, precursors in 1886 and 1896)
Annual Budget - $40,081,591(1992)
Staff - 315 total
Members - 542,000 1993
Fiscal Year 1992
Revenue $40,081,591
Expenses $36,022,327
Assets $92,723,132
Fund Balances $61,281,006
Excecutive (as of 1993) Peter A. A. Berle, President
Salary $178,000
Expense Account None
Four Year Direct Lobbying $1,732,047
Four Year Grassroot Lobbying $549,012
Fundraising $4,338,227

Environmental Defense Fund (founded in 1967)
Annual Budget - $17,394,230 (1993)
Staff - 110 total - 80 Professional; 30 support
Members - 250,000 (1994) [Source - telephone inquiry)
Fiscal Year 1992
Revenue $17,394,230
Expenses $16,712,134
Assets $11,935,950
Fund Balances $5,279,329
Excecutive (as of 1993) Fred Krupp, Executive Director
Salary $193,558
Expense Account None
Four Year Direct Lobbying $624,030
Four Year Grassroot Lobbying NONE
Fundraising $3,168,754

Natural Resouce Defense Council (founded in 1970)
Annual Budget - $20,496,829 (1993)
Staff - 1128 total - 83 Professional; 45 support
Members - 170,000
Fiscal Year 1993
Revenue $20,496,829
Expenses $17,683,883
Assets $,30,061,269
Fund Balances $11,718,666
Excecutive (as of 1993) John H. Adams, Executive Director
Salary $145,526
Expense Account None
Four Year Direct Lobbying $246,526
Four Year Grassroot Lobbying $182,821
Fundraising $2,158,637

And the list goes on and on and on...this report was made in 1994..

The least amount the Executive Director gets at one of these non-profit organizations is $65,000 at the Greenpeace Fund (there is an other Greenpeace organization called Greenpeace, Inc - and that executive got $82,882 annually in 1993). Other Executive fees included $77,142 (Sierra Club), $90,896 (Wilderness Society), $74,104 (Friends of Earth), and $106,507 (Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund). Granted these figures are 9 to 10 years old but I seriously doubt if it has changed any. Probably just got worse.

This packet has lot more stuff..but you get the idea. All these groups I am sure do some great things, but it is hard for me to look at these figures and not say, being a birdwatcher and nature lover in general, "I'm a friggin' Friend of Earth!"

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

3:30 PM

Movie Review

First - since the last blog -- It did snow. I hear Johnson City had more snow than here in Elizabethton. I had Friday off and went to Charlotte and Winston Salem (That is another story I will share soon). We got roughly 3" in 'Betsy...

For my Film Critism class we had to watch a film / movie that we hadn't seen before and write a review - Here is mine:

Triple X - All Brawn, No Brain

Vin Diesel’s latest visual extravaganza, XXX, is what you have come to expect from the actor – not a lot. Vin Diesel’s character looks like “Mr. Clean” on steroids, thinks he James Bond, and acts like Sly Stallone. The plot has the standard “one person save the world” theme and is filled with as many explosions as the projected $50 million budget would allow, minus the actor’s fees, of course.

The movie is from the same director, Rob Cohen, that made Diesel a house hold name in The Fast and the Furious.

Vin Diesel plays X-ander Cage, an extreme (hence XXX) junkie with a lousy attitude and lots of adrenaline. The first big action scene in the movie has X-ander stealing a senators high priced car, strapping cameras all over it, and jumping it off a bridge that is connecting two mountains while he hangs on until the last minute. He then pulls out a parachute and glides to safety. There is mention that the senator is against something that the X-treme crowd likes and his is being punished, immediately showing X-ander is representing a larger crowd of angst. Mental note to studio – retain your lawyers now, imitation freaks are at an all time high and you will probably need them.

The plot has a grungy guy (X-ander) going “undercover” because other agents are spotted too easily. He is sent to Prague to spy on anarchists. These guys, as it turns out, have a biological weapon that they plan on unleashing on the world. His mission is to gather information and report it back to the NSA agent who recruited him (Samuel L Jackson). Of course, after he finds out that they have a biological weapon he has to stop them, but not for the reason that should be obvious. He has given his word to his romantic interest (Asia Agento) that she will be given immunity if she will gather more information, but she is not able to get out before he is ordered to leave. It is “forget the world and save the girl” attitude and if the world gets saved too then so much the better.

Unbelievable may be not a strong enough word. The audience is suppose to believe that a fresh off the road X-treme junkie with no training is sent to underground Prague to spy on terrorists planning to kill the world? Then they are to believe that this same untrained person can stop the terrorists, defuse a bomb, and save the world all based on his Playstation skills? X-traordinary.

Well, he did pass his test.

XXX shows off a bit too much while exploiting the action scequences. There is a scene where X-ander, straddling a motorcycle, leaps a burning building with the “money shot” being repeated three or four times from different angles. Later, he out races an avalanche on a snowboard that goes on a little too long. These are fun to watch but fuel little for the worth of the movie.

What we are given is not a totally bad movie, just not a good one either. It is filled with high power explosives, good vs. evil, too many ties to James Bond, and just about as much forced dialogue from Vin Diesel and I care to hear. Action movies are fun but action sequences can only carry a movie so far and XXX goes way beyond the limits.

After many re-reading since I turned that in, I think it could have been written a little better. Kinda vague in places if you haven't seen the film. Oh well..next time.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

8:57 AM

To Snow Or Not To Snow

Well - everything at work is on hold because of the impending snow that is forcasted to come today. Let's see, what is the latest....Winter Storm Watch / Heavy Snow Warning -- 4-6 inches (as of 8:44am from weather.com) expected. Everybody at the city is scrapping whatever plans they had for today and racing to get the snow trucks ready, loading them with salt, and putting the scrapers on the front.

What that means for me is that I sit here on hold.

ok - Let's see my alternatives. Freezing me ass off as we lay out a retaining wall on West Oakland (near the new Chili's, Barnes and Noble [opening in March!} and the Cheddar's [opening ???]. Right now it is 23 degrees F and nice steady 8 mph winds. Thank the Lord for small favors. I'd rather wait.

I have something here that is interesting. It is a report about the various 'environmental friendly' organizations and their expense / payroll sheets. Some crazy stuff here. I will get into this soon. If I have enough time today I will get into this - if not today soon. You won't believe some of this stuff. Makes me think twice about giving to these organizations - and I am a very environmental friendly guy, being a birdwatcher and all.

As for now - I sit and do office chores. We have a lot of maps that need to be organized better and that is my task at hand. I had best get to it. Of course, since I wrote something about snow it probably won't do nuthing but flurry....but then again, since I put that, everybody better head to the STORE! Ha!

Monday, January 13, 2003

11:40 AM

Sit Patton. I said SIT!

Oh, boy. The shit has really hit the fan now. Here is a headline from last Thursday from CNN...

Video shows police killing dog

Ok, granted this is not too bad of a headline because we don't know the circumstances, but let's go a little deeper....

Here is the sub headline....

Family considering legal action against police, highway patrol

Uh, oh - something has happened...but what??

Then you see the article's orgin...

Cookville, TN

--- in Tennessee...this is going to get ugly in a hurry....

Then you read the bold synopsis of the article...

Police Video released Wednesday showed a North Carolina family kneeling and handcuffed, who shrieked as officers killed their dog -- which appeared to be playfully wagging its tail -- with a shotgun during a traffic stop.

As Rex says, Blimey

Highlights of the rest of the article...

"The Smoak Family was pulled over the evening of January 1 on Interstate 40 in eastern [just barely] Tennessee by officer who mistakenly suspected them of a carjacking. An investigation showed James Smoak had simply left his wallet on the roof of his car at a gas station, and motorist who saw his money fly off the car as he drove away called the police."

The Family was driving through eastern Tennessee on their way home from a New Year trip to Nashville. They told CNN they are in the process of retaining a lawyer and considering legal action...."

"In the Video released by the highway patrol, officers are heard ordering the family, one by one, to get out of their car with their hands up. James Smoak and his wife, Pamela, and 17-year old son Brandon are ordered onto their knees and handcuffed."

'"What did I do?' James Smoak asked the officer."

'Sir, inside information is that you was involved in some type of robbery in Davidson County, ' the unidentifed officer says."

"The Smoaks told CNN that as they knealt, handcuffed, the pleaded with the officers to close the doors of their car so their two dogs would not escape, but the officers did not heed them.

"Pamela Smoak is seen on tape looking up at an officer, telling him slowly, 'That dog is not mean. He won't hurt you.'"

"The tape then shows the Smoaks' dog romping on the shoulder of the interstate, its tail wagging. As the family yells, the dog, named Patton, first heads away from the road then quickly circles back toward the family."

"An officer in a blue uniform aims is shotgun at the dog and fires at its head, killing it immediatly".

"Y'all shot my dog! Y'all shot my dog!' James Smoak cries. 'Oh my God! God Almighty!'"

"The officers bring him to the patrol car, and the family calms down, but they ask the officer for an explanation. One of them says Patton was 'going after' the officer."

B"randon Smoak told CNN that Patton, was playful and gentle -- 'like Scooby Doo' -- and may have simply gone after the beam of flashlight as he ofted did at home, when Brandon and the dog would play."

"...and investigation is under way.'"

For the complete article...go to Video shows police killing dog

Warmest happiest New Year wishes to the Smoak's from Tennessee.

But I digress....

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

2:58 PM

Always, I mean Always Make Sure You Have Clicked EVERYTHING You Need To

I learned an important lesson today.

The thing I learned was that ETSU nothing but a money hording bastard institution.

Well, I knew this all along but it really hit home today.

As I stood in line to pick up my financial aid check today, I was amazed at the amount of people that were having problems getting their check. One person said, "I had twice this amount listed on the INTERNET are you sure this is right?" And sure enough, after they looked again there was a second check for them to pick up. Another person's check wasn't there at all. After 10 minutes they were finally referred over to the "troubleshooting window" and the line again flowed freely. After about the 6th person to have trouble I was getting tired of waiting. I kept thinking - all they had to do was make sure everything was in order BEFORE they got here and all this waiting could have been avoided. I was also cursing ETSU for waiting until the first day of classes, like they always do, to give out financial aid checks. They could have started Monday (yes, the employees have been back since Monday) and made it much easier.

I finally make it to the window and have out my ETSU ID so I can be done as quickly as possible. I smile to the poor lady who has to stay there all day tediously going through all the envelopes looking for people's names and hand her my ID. She looks here, looks there, and then looks here again. After a few minutes, she says, "I am sorry it is not here. Please step to the next window and they can tell you what has happened."

Well I am slacked jawed and shocked. I immediatly stop caring how long the line is behind me and proceed to ask what has happened. I had everything in order and ready to go. Again, she says, "Please step one window over and they can help you, sir." Disgusted I step out of line and head for the other window. Luckily their was only one person there and I get to the window quickly. First thing she says is "You did go THAT line didn't you??" As she said that she pointed to the really loooong line. I said, "Yes, ma'am" and handed her my ID. After a few keyboard strokes, she looks back up at me and politely says, "You didn't confirm your financial aid and registration. [how I heard it was -YOU DIDN'T CONFIRM YOUR FINANCIAL AID AND REGISTRATION] All your classes have been purged for non-payment {ALL YOU CLASSES HAVE BEEN PURGED FOR NON-PAYMENT} The words sounded like a thunder clap in an empty warehouse building as they echo through my skull to my so-called brain.

I dumbly ask, "It is fixable isn't it?"

She tells me I have to re-register again and come back to this window - TODAY. I race to the registrars office and get everthing back on and head back to the window I just had left. When I get there I am again fortunate (at least I think at the time) that there is only one person ahead of me. 10+ minutes later, after phone calls the lady had to make on the GA's account and five trips from her chair to who-knows-where to do or get who-knows-what I finally get to the window. It takes all of 30 seconds for me to get my stuff straightened out. I saw the figure the check would be written for and then she said, "You can pick up the check tomorrow after 2pm." I say ok and leave.

On my way out, it dawns on me that I had to pay a $100 late registration fee. $100 FREAKIN' DOLLAR mistake! I was almost sick. Then I was mad at ETSU for such a greedy freakin' rule. I remember when they put that fee in place. I thought it was inappropiate then - and really do now. That seems wrong that they are allowed to do that shit. All over not clicking on the freakin' button to confirm. I, apparently, am in the wrong business.

No, I am not bitter at all.....

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

3:35 PM

What Were They Thinking Would Happen

As posted sometime ago, I am a Star Trek fan and was super pumped when the new movie came out. Over all it was a decent story and great special effects by Digital Domain (Digital Domain, by the way, is the special effects company that my cousin Jeff Stringer works for in L.A. - visit their page at Digital Domain).

The big stink right now is that Star Trek:Nemesis only made 14 million opening weekend and then took a nose dive to the cellar the next weekend. Well, DUH - Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers opened that weekend (the Wednesday following Star Trek's Friday premier.). If I was a big wig at Paramount and had seen that the movie was 1/2 week before the second part of Tolkien's Trilogy (which broke all kinds of records when Fellowship of the Ring debuted in 2001) I would have made sure the picture had been moved to another opening date.

Good movie - lousy, stinking, really, really bad release date.

Friday, January 03, 2003

2:32 PM

I'm Back

Wow. When I posted that last blog on 10/28/02, I had no idea it wouldn't be until January 3, 2003 until I wrote my next blog. A lot has happened since I last wrote you blog. I have a lot of catching up to do. As I sit at work thinking where to begin I think I will hit the highlights and write more details in future blogs. There should be future blogs now that I am settled. It has been a turbulant couple of months -- and now by (and in come cases despite) popular demand (Thanks Skycry and Rex!) let us see how long I blog this time.

Here is a chronological listing of what has transpired over the 2 months absence.

1. My now ex-roomate decides to move in with his girlfriend. (1st of November)
2. I can no longer afford to live at current apt - but cannot just up and move either I decide to stick it out until Christmas break from college.
3. Most of November and early December I have 3 paychecks coming in to pay for rent in December and college finals start rearing it ugly head.
4. Early December I find a GREAT place in Eliizabethton and secure it with a deposit.
5. Most of December I move from one apt to another and lose internet (because I had phone turned off).
6. Decide not to have home phone at all and use cell phone as primary "home" phone with cable modem.
7. Finally get everything moved and transferred in my name.
8. Bracing for a fight with ex-lanlord for the deposit at the now ex-apartment in Boones Creek.
9. Gonna be in debt to my parents for the rest of my life after all the wonderful help that they have been during all this
10.Spend my first night in my new place just before Christmas.
11.Spend my first New Years at my new place with good friends Scott and Brea Garland.
12. Spending the beginning days of 2003 unpacking and setting up.

That was the quick version. I will probably get in to more detail as I get back into blogging again.

I hope everyone had a GREAT New Year!

Here is this for those who keep up with this sort of thing....

200 Elm St #2
Elizabethton, TN 37643

Rex --- call me....