Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Farewell 2012….Welcome 2013

Time for my Top 10 predictions for 2013. But, before I put those on the record….how did my 2012 forecast turnout?

My 2012 predictions and results.

Prediction Number 1:
The Packers win the Super Bowl. They will beat New England in an epic game that goes down to the wire.

Results: New England made it, but the Packers let me down. The Giants, the NFC representative did win the game. But it was not “an epic” game. Prediction Grade: C-

Prediction Number 2:
Big trouble in the Middle East. Things will come to a head this year and the results will drive up oil prices and cripple the global economy in the second half of the year.

Results: As usual, a lot of problems in the Middle East, but not as bad as predicted and oil prices did not go crazy. Prediction Grade: D

Prediction Number 3:
President Obama gets another term. The Republicans blow it but retain a majority in the House.

Result: Got it right. Prediction Grade: A+

Prediction Number 4:
The U.S. economy overcomes the impact of predictions 2 & 3, limps along and fairs better than many of our global competitors.

Result: Prediction 2 really didn’t come to pass, but #3 was spot on. I think our economy has faired better than most of our global competitors. Prediction Grade: B+

Prediction Number 5:
More crazy weather and rising commodity prices.

Result: Record heat and drought. Rising commodity prices. Prediction Grade: A

Prediction Number 6:
The “Occupy Wall Street” movement grows and becomes better organized.

Result: Did not happen. I guess the rabble went home and worked on getting out the vote for Obama. Prediction Grade: F

Prediction Number 7:
Tiger Woods does not win a major.

Result: Although TW had a good year, he did not win a major. Prediction Grade: A

Prediction Number 8:
The unemployment rate drops below 8% (but then edges back up).

Result: The rate has dropped below 8% and really hasn’t edged back up yet. Prediction Grade: B

Prediction Number 9:
We will add over $1 trillion more to the national debt.

Result: Done. Grade: A+

Prediction Number 10:
The world will not end on December 21, 2012

Result: We’re still here. Grade: A+


And now for those 2013 predictions.

Prediction Number 1:
Green Bay (of course) and Denver meet up in the Super Bowl. But The Pack goes back to Green Bay without the trophy. Denver wins and the game will be a classic.
(Closer to home…Karma kicks Jerry Jones in the ‘nads and the Cowboys lose to the Redskins this Sunday, missing the playoffs yet again.)

Prediction Number 2:
We postpone going over the fiscal cliff by passing a very weak compromise with some tax increases on the wealthiest Americans, caps on future spending and a “commitment” to really address the problem this year.

Prediction Number 3:
We do NOT address our fiscal problems this year, but continue to dance along the edge of the cliff.

Prediction Number 4:
Israel opens up a 55 gallon drum of whip ass on Hamas. Iran makes the mistake of getting directly involved and things go very badly for them as well. The impact on the global economy is severe, but short-lived. Assad finds a way to stay in power another year in Syria.

Prediction Number 5:
The U.S. Economy drifts along with moderate growth. Unemployment finally dips below 7%.

Prediction Number 6:
Attempts to ban the manufacture, sale and ownership of assault weapons will fail again. Additional background checks and restrictions are put in place. More mass shootings will occur.

Prediction Number 7:
Tiger Woods will not win a major.

Prediction Number 8:
Nick Saban will return to the NFL

Prediction Number 9:
A major railroad will purchase a large truckload carrier.

Prediction Number 10:
50% of my predictions will be accurate.

“Those who have knowledge, don’t predict. Those who predict, don’t have knowledge.” -Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher, 6th Century BC

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Letters...It’s a Wonderful Life Isn’t It?

“You keep on talking about the good life, Elton, 'cause it makes me puke.” – Bobby Dupea

(Jack Nicholson’s character in the movie, Five Easy Pieces.)

I will admit to being somewhat of a scrooge when it comes to Christmas. Christmas holds religious significance for me and I really enjoy the way little kids get so excited about Santa Claus. But, I could do without the rest of it. Too many commercials, too many television “Christmas” specials, too much Christmas music playing in the background wherever you go, too many strangers expressing holiday greetings, too many parties, way too many decorations, just too much Christmas stuff period.

But, the thing that I dislike the most about Christmas is the “Christmas Letter”. It should be called the unaudited Annual Report of Your Wonderful Life. Who really wants to read one of these? If I care to know about your life and you care that I should know, then we need to be in contact on a regular basis. Especially in this age of instant information and communication. If I don’t know what’s going on in your life, I probably don’t care to know or need to know. And if I do know what’s really going on in your life, it is likely that I know a lot of stuff you definitely don’t want in your Christmas Letter.

Most Christmas Letters are all about what a wonderful life the person is living. If anything negative is mentioned it’s usually about someone else. But it doesn’t qualify as gossip because it’s “for the best” or a “blessing in disguise” or we need to “keep them in our prayers”. People who write Christmas Letters always have great jobs. Their homes are new or newly remodeled. Worst case, they finally put in that pool they’ve always wanted. Their children are on the honor role. Mom has lost 10 pounds and Dad just ran his first marathon. People who write Christmas Letters always take great vacations and love to tell you about them. People who write Christmas Letters brag about the good deeds their family has done over the past year. People who write Christmas Letters are proud of themselves and you should feel honored that they have chosen to send you this letter along with an air-brushed photo of the family you wish you could be a part of.

Here’s my advice. If you have the urge to write a Christmas Letter, then write an honest Christmas Letter. Write down all of the good and the bad and the ugly. Write about the losses as well as the gains. Count your blessings and your bruises. Acknowledge your regrets and sorrows along with your hopes and joys. Write about what you need to do better next year, not just what you did well over the past year. Take your time and really think about your Christmas Letter. Read it at least three times. Once you are sure that you’ve written all that needs to be written, do yourself and your family and your friends and the hapless souls who somehow found their way into your address book a huge favor….delete it.

Now go… Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I live in one of the reddest counties in one of the reddest states in America. I am in the old white guy demographic. Most of my friends are old white guys. Last night I was at a holiday party with old white guys and their ageless, forever young-looking wives. (I am not stupid…someone might actually read this.) Conservative old white guys and their lovely, equally conservative wives. The wives talked about holiday plans, family, food, fashion, football, the horrific Connecticut school shootings and gun control. Their husbands talked about local politics, the fiscal cliff, Obama, deer hunting, the drought, football, the horrific Connecticut school shootings and gun control.

Most folks, especially folks from “the Left”, would predict that this crowd is in the “pry the gun from my cold dead fingers” camp. And I guess, to some degree that is true. But only if we are talking about hunting rifles, shotguns and pistols. Maybe it was just the reaction to the latest mass murder, but no one was advocating that citizens had the right to own automatic or semi-automatic, assault weapons (rifles or pistols). Who needs 15, 20 or 30 round clips of firepower? Sure, there are people on the fringes who are preparing for life after the “big one” (whatever the big one might be.) They are storing food, water and fuel. They are armed to the teeth and prepared to defend themselves against the stupid and unprepared masses that won’t be able to survive when the shelves at Wal-Mart are empty. But these “survivalists” are few and the reality is that they will find a way to arm themselves.

What concerns the mainstream, even the conservative, gun-toting mainstream in places like Texas; is the firepower that is now available to virtually anyone with an ID, a little money and a few days to allow for processing the paperwork. We fear that the next mass murder may be in our school or our church or our mall. As I have written in the past, we are not shocked anymore when these things happen. It’s almost become the norm in our society. While we are not likely to stop the crazies from killing people, we can at least take steps to reduce the body count.

The other concern is that every time we have guns used to commit mass murder, we move closer to the extreme position that citizens should not have guns in the first place. Oh perhaps, you can “own” a deer-rifle or a shotgun for hunting. But those need to be secured in a locker somewhere (not your home) and only accessed during hunting season and with the proper licensing and authorizations. Now that’s not going to happen, but when folks in this part of the country hear liberal knuckleheads preach gun control, we fear even the possibility of such controls and limitations of our gun rights.

Last night I heard conservative, gun-owning and gun-toting Texans saying that something has to change. They weren’t spouting the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” mantra of the NRA. They were saying ENOUGH…we’ve had enough and if we don’t crack down on the ownership and possession of certain types of weapons, we are at risk of losing our rights to own and possess any type of weapons. And, we and our children and our grandchildren are at risks of becoming the next victims of a mass murderer wielding guns designed for killing dozens of people in only a few minutes.

I have friends and family who literally hate guns. Don’t own one and would never allow one in their home. I respect their point of view. Don’t agree with them, but respect their viewpoint. I do own guns for hunting, varmint control and self-defense. I live in a rural area, no police patrols and no next door neighbors. If someone decides to enter my home uninvited while I am there, it is very likely that they will be shot. I have more than one gun in more than one place. This is not unusual for people in this part of the country. (And when kids are around the guns are locked up. So if the bad guys hit us when kids are around I guess we're just SOL.) But I don’t need assault weapons with 20 round clips of ammo. If I can’t stop the bad guys with my .357 revolver or 12 gauge shotguns, then I deserve to be a victim. And if my lovely wife goes off the deep end someday and shoots me, I will probably deserve that as well. So don’t blame the gun.

Gun control will be a hot topic for the next few months. Like most controversial issues, the majority of Americans are somewhere in the middle. Those of us on the right have concerns about losing our guns. But we know that something has to be done to restrict the types of weapons and the level of firepower. We understand that there needs to be more extensive background checking and if that means it takes longer to purchase a gun, so be it. Most of those left of center are not for taking our guns away. They are for banning assault weapons and having tighter controls on who can purchase or possess firearms. We must find solutions. They may not be perfect and they may not satisfy either side completely. But, it will save lives.