Slowing down and stopping is a good thing, I guess

Brake pad replacement, rotor replacement, brake system flush, and lifetime brake repair agreement = $572.79.

It’s amazing what one little idiot light on an instrument panel can lead to.

Oh! On the brighter side, back in January I discovered that the tires I had on the car were not Run Flats but ordinary old radials. In the process of getting access to the brake pads the mechanics needed to use a specific lug nut key to undo one of the four on each front wheel. I hadn’t a clue whether I had said key. We lifted up the floorboard in the miniscule storage compartment behind the passenger seats and there, recessed, was a little tool kit which held the lug nut key, a scissors jack and a lug wrench. Now I wondered: why do I need a jack if there’s no spare tire, which was what I’d been led to believe? We bent down and looked under the car, and lo and behold, there is a spare in a wheel well under the car’s chassis.

There. Besides the new brake pads, I discovered I have a spare tire too. I guess I shouldn’t complain overmuch about this episode.

How to treat a troubled employee. NOT!

Josh Hamilton is a major league baseball player with an addiction problem which apparently began when he was 21 in 2002. He had a long history of addiction to booze and drugs in the early 2000s which cost him three years of potential major league service. He has had a couple of relapses since he first came up to the big leagues in 2007, but he played at a high level for five years with the Rangers. After the 2012 season he became a free agent and signed a 5-year, $125M contract with the LA Angels.

Mostly due to injuries, Hamilton has not performed for the Angels to the same high level he had in the past. Then, this spring, he self-reported a relapse of his drug and alcohol addiction to MLB. Because he self-reported, an outside arbitrator ruled he had not violated the terms of his treatment program.

This infuriated Arte Moreno, the owner of the Angels. Mr. Moreno seemed to see a way of ducking the remaining $83M the team owed Hamilton if only the arbitrator had ruled the other way.

Angels management was livid, with President John Carpino saying the ruling “defies logic” and Moreno pointedly refusing to say Hamilton would play for the Angels again.

Additionally, Moreno conveniently forgot what Hamilton’s contract language said:

Moreno also said Hamilton’s contract contained language that would protect the Angels from a relapse, an assertion vigorously denied by the players’ union. An attempt to enforce any such language almost certainly would have resulted in another arbitration hearing.

When the Angels signed Hamilton in 2012 — to a five-year, $125-million contract — Moreno said the contract contained no such language.

Now comes word that the Rangers will take Hamilton off Moreno and the Angels’ hands, trading cash considerations for him. It looks like Moreno will still be on the hook for $60 or $65 million bucks while the Rangers will pay the balance of Hamilton’s salary.

Sorry, Arte, but I think you deserve to get the economic shaft here. If you’ve got an employee that has an addiction problem (not a steroid problem, which at this point in MLB’s experience would merit immediate firing), I think you owe the guy help and support, not a blast of angry public words and a blatant desire to wash your hands of the man. You willingly entered into that contract, knowing he was an addict. You can’t hope to look good when you bail out on the guy and throw him overboard like this.

If I were a baseball free agent at the end of this season, I’d look twice at the Angels and perhaps go elsewhere for less money if I could be sure I’d get treated like a human being rather than a hunk of raw material, as Moreno apparently sees his employees.

Ack! Warning light on instrument panel! Oh no!

Um, thanks, Mini for telling me my brake pads have worn thin. Why can’t you also infuse my checking account with the cash to pay for replacing them?

I like this car fine, and I’m sure I’m just misremembering what happened with the previous car, but it sure seems like things happen to the Mini more often than they did with the Geo. On the other hand, it’s a 2005 Mini, so it’s 10 years old and things happen to 10-year-old cars.

Rats. Well, Lex Brodie’s,, see you Monday morning.

Too big to jail?

General Petraeus “was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay a $100,000 fine but was spared prison time on Thursday after pleading guilty to mishandling classified information.”

If it had been any old analyst or clerk, you betcha there would have been jail time. When you reveal classified information to a woman you’re sleeping with, particularly a woman not your wife, you’re not ordinarily given the benefit of the doubt. I guess when you’re a decorated General and the overall boss of the CIA you can get away with stuff your subordinates can’t.

The system is rigged.

Update: Just saw this at Facebook:

Please, O Internet Writers

Use a dictionary. Do not assume you know how to spell the word.

It’s “straitjacket”, not “straightjacket.” It’s “backpedal”, not “backpeddle.” It’s “lose”, not “loose.” It’s “for all intents and purposes”, not “for intensive purposes.” It’s a “dog eat dog” world, not a “doggy dog” one. It’s “publicly”, not “publically.”

This has been a Public Service Announcement on behalf of your readers.

ESPN & Tebow

For whatever reason, ever since the former Florida quarterback appeared on the scene and won the Heisman Trophy back in 2007, ESPN has been fascinated or possibly obsessed with him. They’ve devoted more screen time to Tim Tebow than to any athlete I can think of (with the possible exception of Johnny Manziel), even true football champs like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

With the word that Chip Kelly, coach of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, has offered Tebow a one-year contract and he’s accepted it, ESPN has gone bonkers again. I took note of this phenomenon way back in 2009.

Um, you guys at the Worldwide Leader in Sports? It’s still unseemly.

My question is, is Kelly just trolling ESPN for fun?

Tebow now will join a crowded Eagles quarterback roster that includes Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez and Barkley, giving Philadelphia three former first-round picks at quarterback in addition to another decorated college player.

Tebow hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2012. You cannot persuade me that he’s better than a healthy Bradford. He might be better than Sanchez. I don’t know enough about Barkley to judge.

Book recommendation

Back in March of last year somebody suggested Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Liaden Universe® books to me, and I’m very glad they did. Dragon in Exile has just been published, and I’m waiting for it to arrive. Meanwhile, I found Ms. Lee’s Archer’s Beach trilogy. I’m a third of the way through the last book and enjoying it immensely. If you like contemporary fantasy, check them out. The first book is Carousel Tides.

The principal character is Kate, a young woman who has just returned to the small ocean town which bears her family name, Archer’s Beach. Her family has run the carousel in the Fun Park which brings in much of the town’s revenue during the (too-short) Season. Her grandmother has been in charge, but she’s signed over control of the ride to Kate and disappeared.

I think I’m enjoying these more than I usually do contemporary fantasy because the non-humans aren’t thrown in your face as they are in so much of urban fantasy. There are no evil vampires, no dread werewolves. There are complicated Others, but their motivations are as murky as any human’s and thus much more interesting. There’s magic, but it’s not flashy.

Give ‘em a shot.

Kansas, stealer of children

Back on April 7 I wrote about the Kansas state government trying to shame those of its citizens who need financial assistance and or food stamps.

They’re at it again. This time it’s over marijuana. An 11-year-old boy who is the son of a woman who’s an advocate for cannabis oil as a treatment for illness was in a drug-education class at school and had the temerity to disagree with some of the statements the counselors made.

After her son spoke out about medical marijuana, he was detained, and police launched a raid on Shona Banda’s home. “Well, they had that drug education class at school that was just conducted by the counselors… They pulled my son out of school at about 1:40 in the afternoon and interrogated him. Police showed up at my house at 3… I let them know that they weren’t allowed in my home without a warrant… I didn’t believe you could get a warrant off of something a child says in school.” Banda continued, “We waited from 3 o’clock until 6 o’clock. They got a warrant at 6 o’clock at night and executed a warrant into my home. My husband and I are separated, and neither parent was contacted by authorities before [our son] was taken and questioned.”

Wait. It gets worse. Anyone who advocates for marijuana is obviously an unfit parent.

Banda then described the actions that the State of Kansas began to take in an effort to take her son from her, “On the 24th, he was taken into custody. That was on a Tuesday. He was taken out of town Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Friday we had a temporary hearing… and temporary custody was granted to my ex. Now the only reason why temporary custody was granted to my ex is because the judge said something to the effect that the amount of cannabis found in my home [2 ounces of cannabis and an ounce of cannabis oil] was going to possibly be felony charges and it was pointless letting the child return home to his mother.” She believes that the state is trying to take her son away and said, “The state is trying to deem it to where [Shona’s ex-husband] is not fit and I’m not fit and they’re trying to take custody of our child.”

These government officials in Kansas who take their direction from a Republican-run legislature and Governor’s office surely don’t believe in that “small government” business they claim as one of their guiding precepts, do they?

Taking a child away (or even implying they will) after using his word to execute a search warrant on his home is anything but good government. What’s the matter with Kansas indeed!