Friday, May 26, 2006

Conservative Rock Top 50

I was perusing Cam Edward's blog just now and ran across a link to this tidbit over at NRO. One of the songs they listed I think deserves higher billing than they gave it. It was ranked #36, but I think it deserves to be in the top 5 personally.

Government Cheese by The Rainmakers

Give a man a free house and he'll bust out the windows
Put his family on food stamps, now he's a big spender
no food on the table and the bills ain't paid
'Cause he spent it on cigarettes and P.G.A.
They'll turn us all into beggars 'cause they're easier to please
They're feeding our people that Government Cheese

Give a man a free lunch and he'll figure out a way
To steal more than he can eat 'cause he doesn't have to pay
Give a woman free kids and you'll find them in the dirt
Learning how to carry on the family line of work
It's the man in the White House, the man under the steeple
Passing out drugs to the American people
I don't believe in anything, nothing is free
They're feeding our people the Government Cheese

Decline and fall, fall down baby
Decline and fall, said fall way down now
Decline and fall, fall down little mama
Decline and fall, decline and fall

Give a man a free ticket on a dead end ride
And he'll climb in the back even though nobody's driving
Too ******* lazy to crawl out of the wreck
And he'll rot there while he waits for the welfare check
Going to hell in a handbag, can't you see
I ain't gonna eat no Government Cheese

Sunday, May 07, 2006

He said/She said, but with a twist. (edited/corrected)

We've all taken jobs that, after accepting them we find that they involve a bit more than advertised, but usually, those unadvertised duties aren't that terribly burdensome (but not always.) We usually either, deal with it, complain to the boss, or quit. I am about to tell you a story. The story is as alleged in a lawsuit a former employee in the City of Houston Municipal Courts has filed. The allegations have never been proven in a court of law, mainly because they have never been adjudicated.

The story is about an employee that was hired by Sylvia Garcia when she was the chief judge of the city municipal courts in March 1994, and how according to court documents the employee claims she was required to perform duties two levels or more above her pay grade, and in August 1995, was asked to perform deviate sexual favors for Judge Garcia in exchange for a promotion to the pay grade for the job she was required to perform and threatened suspension if such favors were not performed. Two weeks after the sexual harassment and after no response from the employee, the employee was suspended for a day and a half for an infraction that occurred BEFORE the employee was ever hired and was committed by a different employee, one Ana Otero, who is now Associate Municipal Court Judge with the City of Houston Municipal Courts. Ms. or should I say Judge now, Otero was also working half days for the Center for Advanced Legal Studies while drawing a full time check from the City.

The odd thing about the suspension is that there is no documentation of the suspension ever being given in the employee's file. Judge Garcia then, in January 1996, decided to run for Harris County Attorney and began contacting the employee at home requesting her to work on her campaign. The employee chose not to. The employee served on the Hispanic Democratic Precinct Judges of Harris County's Candidate Screening Committee. She alleges that on February 19 1996, Pinkie Morin-Cantu, a close friend of Judge Garcia, badgered her to reveal whether Judge Garcia was going to be endorsed by the group prior to the public announcement. She refused to divulge that. After the group announced that they would back someone else, late that night, Judge Garcia called the employee at home, expressing her anger and disappointment, screaming phrases like "After all I have done for you in getting you this job...” despite loosing that endorsement, Judge Garcia won the Democratic Primary election for the position on March 12 1996.

Three months later on June 25 1996, she was called into the office library and quizzed by two of her co-workers, Ana Otero and Linda Vaughn as to why she was not working on Judge Garcia's campaign. This is in direct violation of city rules. Politics may not be discussed in city offices. Ms. Otero has admitted to doing so in her testimony. After she reiterated her desire not to, Ms. Otero began questioning why she was unable to perform her regular duties in a timely fashion. The employee insisted that the extra duties she was required to perform that were not part of her job duties were preventing her from performing her regular duties.

A month later on July 19 1996, Judge Garcia called the employee into her office on a Friday afternoon and with Ms. Otero present, they again interrogated her as to why she was not working on the Judge's campaign. Again, after reiterating her desire not to do so, the subject of work performance came up. Again, the clear implication was that, if the employee would only work on the Judge's campaign, then all this work performance stuff would go away.

The following Monday, July 22nd, the employee was again asked to perform duties that were above the employee's pay grade and outside of the employee's job duties. The employee stated that she would do so but that she wished to contact the City HR department to determine if doing so would violate Civil Service code. Ana Otero went ballistic and told the employee to leave the office. Before the employee could leave, Judge Garcia came into the office, and Ms. Otero and the Judge met behind closed doors. After they finished, the employee was called to the office library by Ms Otero and was informed that the employee was suspended for the remainder of the week without pay and to gather her stuff and go. Two days later on July 24th, the employee reported to the Harris County DA's office that Ms. Otero has donated $500 to the Judges campaign but that the Judge had not reported the contribution. The next day on July 25th, the employee filed an appeal of the suspension. On July 30 the employee filed a grievance concerning the extra duties that the employee was required to perform outside of the employee's classification.

The very next day on July 31'st, Ms. Otero drafted a harassing performance review letter and then back dated it to before the suspension in order to make it look like it had been filed before either grievance, but she made two mistakes, first, the letter is dated the Saturday AFTER the Friday afternoon meeting (July 20), and secondly, all letters written are logged, and this one was logged on July 31. This letter was not given to her until the day of the hearing on the appealed 4 day suspension on August 5th 1996. This letter is the first written documentation of poor work performance in the employee's file in the year and a half that she had worked for the City.

In the letter, she was also informed that her work hours would now include evenings and weekends. This would appear to be intended to interfere with the employees own after-hours political work. The letter also indicated that some of the functions that she was being required to do outside of her job duties would be taken away from her on August 19th, a full month after the meeting, but they were not. The letter purported to be minutes of the July 19 meeting but no mention of the political work interrogation was made.

On Sept. 6th 1996, the employee filed another grievance concerning the harassing performance review and the badgering for her to work on the Judge's campaign. The employee further complained that it was her belief that the Judge had misappropriated city resources to benefit her campaign. On Sept 24 1996, the employee contacted HR and complained that Otero had not responded to her July 30 Grievance and that Otero was required to do so within 90 days. On October 7th 1996, the employee went to the Harris County Clerk's office to check as to whether Ms. Otero's $500 contribution had been recorded as required. It had not and the employee complained to the clerk's office about it, then contacted the DA's office and was told nothing would be done until after the election.

On Oct 15 during a meeting with Ms. Otero, the employee was told by Ms. Otero that she would not discuss the employee's earlier grievance because that was between Judge Garcia and the employee.

That November, Judge Garcia failed in her run for Harris County Attorney.

On Dec. 10, The HR division manager contacted Ms. Otero and informed her that she must respond to the grievances. On the Morning of Dec 11, Otero overheard the employee commenting about her happiness that a candidate she had worked for (Ken Benson) had won election to US Congress, and angrily ordered her to perform a menial clerical task as punishment. On December 16, 1996, the employee informed HR that Otero has still not complied with the required response to her grievances and that further, Judge Garcia had given Barbara Earhart a very sizable raise after Garcia had lost her election bid in 1992 and that Ms. Earhart, with no college degree was drawing nearly twice the employee's salary when that employee had a BA in Communications, and that as of December 16th, 1996, 100 days had passed since the September 6th harassment grievance had been filed without a response.

A written response concerning the extra duty grievance was finally given on Dec. 23. Sometime around this time, Ms Otero was contacted by the DA's office concerning her campaign contributions to Judge Garcia. In February Judge Garcia was informed of the investigation into her Campaign finances, on Feb 12, the employee was informed that there would be meeting about both of her grievances the next day. During that meeting it was made clear that the employee had concerns about improprieties in the Judges campaign. At that point, Otero became aware that the employee was probably the whistleblower that started the investigation.

The rest of that day and all of the next the employee tried to get permission to take the afternoon of Friday Feb 14 1996 off to attend to a tow hearing. The employee was eventually told to use either vacation or comp time to take the time off. The next Monday, the employee was accosted by the Judge and asked why she did not return after the hearing was over, the employee insisted that she was unaware that she was to return and that at any rate, the hearing was delayed. The Judge apparently asked the employee if she was calling her a liar, and the meeting went downhill from there. Two days later she was fired.

A month later on March 6, 1997, Silvia Garcia finally filed an amended Campaign report that included the $500 donation from Otero, which has since gone missing.

The (now former) employee filed a whistleblower lawsuit on April 25 1997. 29 days after the civil service commission refused her appeal.

Today, we have a lesbian serving on Harris County Commissioner's court, one who apparently has no compunction about asking a subordinate for sexual favors in return for favorable treatment, and one who lies about campaign contributions and then when she is forced to file an amended report, the report conveniently goes missing. One that apparently has no compunction about firing people who refuse her advances, who refuse to work on her campaign, and has no problem fabricating and doctoring records to make such a firing happen.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Blasphemy of a Conservative Blogger

I am about to blaspheme here, but I find myself in a very unpleasant position, therefore I must make a choice based, not on what is good for Texas, but what I feel is least harmful for Texas. I must throw my support behind Strayhorn, but I do so while wearing a gas mask and biohazard suit because I find that choice repugnant in the extreme.

Freidman is a waste of a vote, and even if all three other candidates were struck down by lightning, he would still be lucky to find himself in a runoff with Mickey Mouse. And even if he DID win, he has no real plan or platform to speak of, and what little bit of a plan he HAS revealed has shown him to be a bit to the left of your average DU poster (Anybody want to guess who was testifying for a twice convicted triple murderer in court?). Bell is an avowed Democrat and I just can’t bring myself to vote for a democrat ever again. Perry is even worse than a democrat, he is a democrat that claims to be a republican, which makes him both a liar AND a thief.

Sure, Strayhorn has changed party allegiances more often than I have changed underwear, but on the plus side, that at least indicates she is sensitive to which way the political wind is blowing. Sure she has been in government for far too long but what else am I to do? What other choice to I realistically have?

This tax plan of Perry's is an HORRIBLE idea. It will singlehandedly destroy small business formation in this state. Anyone who can re-locate will. People will convert all of thier LLC's back to Sole Proprieterships and all new companies will be SP's to avoid this tax and if the business fails as a huge number do, they will be filing bankruptcies right and left. And since you have to pay the tax whether you make a profit or not, small businesses that have a high cost of goods compared with thier profit margins will find that survival will be iffy at best.

I predict that if the incoming legislature in January doesn't kill this tax plan, the Texas economy will be a ghost town by 2008.

Mark My Words™

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Rank novice photography from OTC

OK guys and gals, I promised OTC pics and here they are in all thier blurry unfocused splendor and glory.

Here we are looking out across the exhibition hall.

Bet those people on the Titanic wished they had a few of these...

Ever wondered what the inside of a jet engine looked like?

Here we have the Blue Marlin carrying a part of the missile defense system, beautiful photo, but I would have preferred a pic of it bringing the USS Cole back from Yemen like this one,

but given the attendence of the show, that probably would have been rather impolitic.

I tell ya, Bell Helicopter has always built some pretty machines. Compare these pics with this Euro(trash)copter and you'll see what I mean.

Here is what all the "cool" divers are wearing these days.

Here is a pic of a decent sized Shear Ram Blow Out Preventer, and below is a pic of what it does if the well is unstable and pressure cannot be maintained any other way (this is a last ditch option to prevent a Blowout)

Here we see a model of various types of sub-sea wells, in the foreground is the method that everyone wants to go to, it is called an FPSO. Essentially instead of pumping the oil and gas onshore through a subsea pipeline, it is pumped aboard a modified tanker where it is processed, gas and oil are separated from the water, and the oil and gas are offloaded to shuttle tankers that ferry it back to shore. The advantage is that in the event of a hurricane, they can disconnect and find safe harbor for the ships, and the wellheads are on the bottom of the ocean where they are out of harm's way. Sub-sea pipelines also often plug up due to the very cold temperatures at the ocean floor, the moisture and the natural gas forms methane hydrate plugs and the wax and parrafin in the oil congeals out to form wax plugs too, especially when the flow stops for any length of time like you'd have during a hurricane evac.

And speaking of hurricanes, you can bet there are people that specialize in forcasting them for the offshore oil biz too.

And of course no trade show would be complete without "Booth Babes"....

Now for the real reason I went to the show... Yes Ladies and Gents, one of my projects was up for an award, we made it to the top 5, but in the end these guys won.

but at least we got an honorable mention (no it isn't blank, just redacted to protect my slim anonymity...)

Monday, May 01, 2006

Walkabout at OTC

This year's OTC is shaping up to be the biggest in 20 years, still not quite up to the early 80's but getting there. I only had about 3 hours to roam the hall, I didn't make it out to the other two extra exhibit halls that were set up in the parking lot, complete with AC. There were so many companies on the waiting list for exhibit space that they decided they needed a bigger hall, hence the air condidtioned tents out in the parking lot. I snapped a number of pictures but the camera must be tired, it is refusing to download them to the computer. Actually I think I have a bad cable, I may need to visit Fry's tomorrow evening for either a new card reader (I'm not sure I trust my current one, the last card I tried in it got fried.) or a new cable, or both. I'll try to get them recovered and posted soon. Suprisingly, there weren't quite the number of booth babes this year as in years past. Althout there were a couple of "superhero women" and a "superhero guy" that were wandering about in cheesy get ups made from what appeared to be wetsuits (unfortunately, I missed a picture opportunity). They were attractive enough (the women that is) but cheezy get-ups nonetheless. There were a couple right near the entrance that were apparently hired for talents that did not include word processing or filing.

There was a dearth of real hardware (vs sales mockups and cutaways), probably because every ROV and BOP was out on a job. Everybody is busy doncha know. There were however a couple helicopters on display, a full working Eurocoper and a Bell mockup with what appeared to be a working avionics package.