This year my annual pilgrimage to Montana involves attending the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) mid year meeting. This came about largely at the suggestion of Walker Milhoan, an acquaintance that I met through Twitter. I am hoping to get a chance to sit down with him for a few minutes and talk about the future of technology in ranching. I also hope to meet and chat with Ryan Goodman, Manager of Communications at MSGA.

I have had long running discussions with both of these men about the use of smartphones, computers, and technology in general in the ranching industry. While the farming industry has been adopting various technologies pretty readily for the past 10 to 15 years, ranching has been more resistive. Recent developments such as smartphones, cloud computing, and technologies associated with drones are making technology a lot more accessible to the rancher as well as providing significantly more benefit.

I am looking forward to meeting MSGA members and finding out how much of a role technology plays on their ranches today. I would like to help ranchers better incorporate the resources that are available online and through the use of computers to improve production and profitability.

It is so obvious that if you do not understand this you are clearly uninformed, uneducated, stupid and possibly evil.

This is the basic argument of all things political in America today. We see it all over social media. The blatant insinuation that if you do not “understand” X, you are stupid. If you don’t understand that Obamacare is bad for America, you are stupid. If you do not understand that the Koch brothers are buying/have bought the American political system, you are stupid. If you do not know that Obama is a Muslim, you are stupid. And on it goes. The naked arrogance in both tone and content makes any civil discourse about the given issue all but impossible. The deep partisan divide is as much a grassroots movement as it is a problem inside the Beltway, in fact what happens inside the Beltway may well be a reflection of this grassroots phenomenon.

There is actually a lot going on in formulation of these arguments. First, a complicated and convoluted issue is reduced to a single component. That single component is then encapsulated in an emotionally loaded statement that is heavily biased. The statement is delivered with righteous indignation, calling into question your intelligence if you do not immediately and unequivocally agree. The ploy is that emotion, ego, and bewilderment will take you down the primrose path before you have a chance to question the original premise. Before long, it feels so good to support such a worthy cause that honestly and openly evaluating the cause in earnest seems almost evil.

One thing I have learned in life is that I am never the smartest guy in the room. Regardless of the topic, no matter how many years I have been doing it, there is a better than even chance that someone in the room knows more about it, has more experience doing it than I do. And if I am not the smartest man in the room, I am definitely not the wisest man in the room. Ever. My greatest moments of wisdom are when I have the presence of mind to shut up. So, I am not really comfortable with idea that I have figured out the answer to any given thing and anyone who does not agree with me is wrong. I have some pretty strong political opinions. I have a preference for how I would like to see government work. I also recognize that very smart, wise people who have studied forms of government and government process most of their lives have arrived at opinions and preferences that are very different from mine. It would be the height of arrogance to assume that they are not as smart is I am. It would be only slightly less arrogant to presume that I am smart enough and wise enough to discern which of two opposing groups of smart people is correct to the extent that I am willing to call everyone who does not agree with my choice stupid.

Life demands that we all make decisions. An old adage says that wisdom comes from making bad choices. I think that is only partially true. We do seem capable of repeatedly making bad choices while never getting any wiser. At least I am so capable. As we go through life we come to conclusions about how life works, why things happen. I think that our choices, conclusions and opinions would benefit from taking the time to fully understand the person who has arrived at a completely different choice, conclusion or opinion. Even after we fully understand how she arrived there we may not agree. I might even think he is not very smart. If I was a wise man, I would also consider the possibility that I am the one who is wrong. Maybe even on both counts.

“I’m the village idiot, I don’t have anything to do with this pathetic little opera, I just felt like passing through!”

A quote from Hansel and Gretel and Ted and Alice,
an opera in one unnatural act
by PDQ Bach.

I have not written anything on my blog for quite a while. About a year. Seems the way with a lot of blogs. I’ve actually been doing a lot of work on the blog recently. I moved the blog back to Movable Type. WordPress was not what I wanted. I put a new graphic design in place. I designed my own Flickr image display. The blog has been my practice arena to remember and improve my html, css and javascript skills. So now, I’d really like to start writing again.

It is interesting, what many people want their blogs to be. Like so many things in life, we start out with very grand intentions when we set up our blogs. I think everyone goes through the phase where they think they will earn some money from their blog. That is the dream that Google AdSense was selling. That was an interesting evolution. Google AdSense will not be a significant revenue stream for the vast majority of bloggers. Guy Kawasaki could not even make it work.

The most interesting blogs are the ones that actually have something to say. Usually a theme or a topic that they are focused on. My own blog hit its high water mark during my first tour in Iraq (Kuwait, actually). I do not really know how many readers I had but there were quite a few. In the hundreds. People read my blog because I was talking about an experience that they were interested in. I was a deployed sailor talking about life on deployment and the war in general. That is what people tuned in to read about.

So, how do you keep a readership? Joey de Villa is still blogging after good lord knows how long. Technically speaking, Post Secret is a blog. As is Engadget and several other tech blogs.
So, obvious very focused and entertaining blogs draw readers. But what do personal blogs need in order to be interesting? That will be part of the effort here.

The other goal here is to have a place to practice html, css and javascript. The goal is to have this be a showcase of my web development skills. We’ll see.

So the final conclusion would seem to be that whereas other civilizations had been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions and providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania; himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down. And having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer, until at last, having educated himself into imbecility and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over, a weary, battered old brontosaurus, and became extinct.

Malcom Muggeridge, Hoover Institute at Stanford, 1979

I first heard this quote in a podcast by Ravi Zacharias. I like it because I believe it to be an incredibly accurate and concise summary of modern society or at least Western society.

Y’all do remember that the title of my blog is Smittie’s Ramblings? Today, the emphasis seems to be on rambling or at the very least, randomness.

My Kids! My Heros!

My wonderful wife of 21 years 18 years and 8 months ago gave me a beautiful daughter who has been My Little Girl ever since.

4 years, 3 months, 17 days later this lovely woman delivered a baby boy who by his very existence reminds me daily that he, his sister and their mother are far more important than chasing that Dollar.

Smittie's Birthday Party - 11

I┬áthink you’re the greatest mother in the world. I think there is at least two more people who think so as well. I am very proud of you as the mother of my children. Thank you for being a wonderful mother to my children.

I graduated from Crescenta Valley High School in 1978. One of the many things I will miss as a result of the upcoming deployment is my 30 year reunion. I’m actually rather bummed about that. I was looking forward to going. I was looking forward to talking to old class mates and hearing what life had done.

A few years ago I was talking to a friend who is some 10 plus years older than me. He had gone to all of his high school reunions, 10, 20 and 30. He had an interesting observation. At the 10 year reunion, most people were still trying to impress each other. Broad brush caveats apply, obviously, but for the most part that seemed to be true at my own reunion as well.

I did not go to my 20 year reunion. My friend said that he enjoyed the 30 year reunion the most but that the 20 was better than the 10. By the time everyone got to the 20 high school really was a thing of the past. When the 30 rolled around, many had children who were teenagers and thus were seeing the teenage years from the other side of time. It’s funny but adolescence viewed from the vantage point of a middle age parent seems but a caricature of what it was when we were living it. This usually plays out in the form of an argument, the teen accusing the parent of never listening. Yeah, that’s mostly true but the reason that parents don’t listen is because we know the script. We’re embarrassed at the realization of how ridiculous we sounded when we uttered the same words now being flung at us. The wise among us also remember how important the statements and the emotion behind them were as a teen and parent accordingly.

So, according to my friend, the 30 year reunion is far more relaxed. By the time people reach their late 40’s, their pretty comfortable with whoever they’ve become. Even if they aren’t yet comfort in their own skin, they realize that their old high school class mates probably can’t help them.

I wish I was going to be there. I hope that I can somehow hear about it.


My wife and I have been together for 22 years, married for 20.

We celebrated the anniversary of our years together with a short vacation to the central coast of California. We visited Hearst Castle and the San Luis Obispo Mission. We drove along Highway 1, enjoyed each other’s company. Talked about the past and our dreams for the future. The trip culminated with dinner at The Chart House in Monterey.

Now we begin working on the next 20 years. They are going to be awesome.


[posted with ecto]

ZING Costume Party – 7

Originally uploaded by smittie

I asked my daughter to come up with a Halloween costume for me. We had a halloween party at work and they were offering a $25 gift certificate for the first 20 people who showed up in costume. The people at my company have no spirit. I was pretty sure I just needed to show up in a costume and I’d get the certificate.

So, here’s the costume. Very cool, I think.


I'm With Fred

That’s right. I’m with Fred. I’ve signed on as a Friend of Fred Thompson. And, in the event that he decides to run for president, I plan to vote for him.
I am comfortable with Fred Thompson’s political positions. More significantly, I am comfortable with the way in which Fred Thompson makes decisions and the way in which he communicates with the public.

At the core of Fred Thompson’s political philosophy is the concept of Federalism, with strong support for implementation of government at the lowest possible level. Fred Thompson holds that the Federal government should not involve itself in issues that are really better handled at the State level. Education is an example. The driving principle in the decision of any issue is should the government be involved in this and, if yes, at what level. I am a proponent of smaller government. Government gets smaller by doing only that which should be done by the government and then only at the appropriate level of government. This makes sense to me.

I support Fred Thompson. I hope you will too.


[posted with ecto]

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