Saturday, May 30, 2009

To all the clueless music snobs

Who think I'm crazy for calling the scorpions one of the greatest, and most talented bands of all time:



That's 1974, by which time they had already been together for 9 years (and gone through one breakup). They're still together and touring today.

Is it pretentious and overblown? It was hard rock in 1974, what do you think? But it took a lot of talent to do that.

Oh and yeah, Uli Roth was HEAVILY inspired and influenced by Hendrix. OF COURSE he was. But you can also hear Roths influence in so many other bands, including a clearly strong influence on David Gilmour; and influence on many later metal bands.

The same goes for Frank Bucholz, and his very clear influence on Steve Harris.



Listen to that, and then try and tell me that Uli Roth didn't influence Eddie Van Halen? You can't. Or that Klaus Meine didn't influence two entire generations of rock lead singers. You can't.

Then there's the Schenker brothers. Without Rudi, there would be no Scorpions; and Michaels playing in UFO was legendary, and again highly influential.

Congratulations to JohnOC and Myrrh

On their engagement!



Long time friend and forum member JohnOC is getting married!

The date is tentatively set for some time in April.

Myrrh is a lovely woman and we're sure she and John will be very happy together.

And yes, for all of you who were at Majerle's that night we've been sitting on the announcement for a couple of weeks as we waited for the ring to arrive to make it "official".

Now, if you'll excuse me, as Matron of Honor in all but title, I have some wedding planning to go help with.

Mel

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cookbook Updates and Goddamnits

So we've so far received 60-some preorders, only 50 of them paid for so far.

Today the lawyer called in dire straits and needing cash and we were unable to do anything to pay our bill.

Look, we know things are hard all around. I wish it were otherwise. However, we are petty much screwed at this moment, to the point that I'm taking everything but my primary carry piece and selling it tomorrow.

We still need cash for 160 books JUST TO START THE PRINT RUN. If I can't do that within the week I need to refund all of the preorders already received.

Tell you family, tell you friends, tell your forum buddies. PLEASE help us get this off the ground.

Thank you,

Mel

The original cookbook post and ordering instructions are here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

ABCs of the Matrix

There's a technique in time/resource management called "ABC analysis", where you group tasks by criticality and timeline to set priorities.

I think ABC is a little simplistic, but it works for a lot of things. Doing basic ABC analysis let's you get a pretty good prioritization going, pretty quickly.

The problem I have with it, is simply that it chops up criticality into two categories (important, and not important), and timeline into two categories (soon, not soon).

So let's say under the ABC system you have four tasks to do; you would rank them like this:
A. Tasks that are very important, and due soon
B. Tasks that are very important, and due later
C. Tasks that are not important, and due soon
D. Everything else
In the ABC system, you are advised to simply not do (reject or reassign) things that are not important, and due later (drop the D is the mantra).

That's good advice. Stuff that's not important and due later is probably a waste of your time anyway.

Again I say, the problem is in the simplifying criticality and timeline into two values each. There's a good reason for it of course. With only two values for each variable, you can "chart" your priorities in your head easily.

The problem is that the analysis is really only suited to managing the time and resources of a single individual, or small group of individuals with equal skill, productivity, and resource cost.

Thing is, there are really four states of criticality, and four states of timeline.
Criticality:

Critical and required
Important and required
Less important and required
Not important and optional

Timeline:

Due now or overdue
Due soon
Due later
Due at no fixed time
ABC analysis is frequently right to simplify those categories down to two. By doing so, you reduce the total number of possible priority states from 16, down to 4.

But what about the items that fall in between the ABC classifications? For example critical items, that are due at no fixed time.

Under ABC you are advised to take such an item and either reclassify it as not important (because how important can it be if it has no fixed due date), or to fix a due date.

Human beings work a lot better with a due date, so it makes sense to do that... until it doesn't and everything explodes. Ok... sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't; but again, it emphasizes that ABC is really designed and suited for a single individual.

What if you're trying to manage time and resources for a group of a half dozen or more, with differing levels of productivity, differing skills, and differing resource costs (in terms of staff, the resource cost is how critical a resource that staffer represents, divided by how much time that staffer has multiplied by a productivity correction factor).

At this point experienced project managers are breaking out their Gantt charts, and thinking about taskings and timelines.

I hate Gantt charts. I don't think they work. I think they are "successful" as a tool, because people force themselves into the charts reporting system after actually doing whatever it was they needed to do, in the way they wanted or needed to do it.

I prefer something from the wonderful world of science (also programming, statistics, finance, economics... really anything with heavy multivariable calculations) called Matrix Analysis.

Any problem with a finite and discrete set of variables, will have a finite set of solutions, which can be expressed as a matrix.

An aside: Unfortunately, realworld problems are never finite or discrete; but we can only plan properly if we approximate, and pretend that they are. Just remember that it IS an approximation, and a plan, not the real world. Be flexible, and responsive
.

So the matrix looks like this:








Crit/TimeNowSoonLaterunk.
Critical



Important



Required



Optional





The higher up in the matrix, and further to the left, the higher the priority; or more precisely, the further from the origin, the lower the priority.

This method allows for items to have equal priority, as well as providing a nice numeric indication of that priority.

There's two ways of doing it, depending on how much of a spread you want, and how much weight you want to give relative differences in criticality and timeline. You can either add the numbers together for priorities of 2-8, or you can multiply them together for priorities 1-16.

How you do it is really up to you. Adding will result in lower priority differences, and less emphasis placed on how far down in each ranking the items are. Multiplying will result in higher priority differences, and more emphasis placed on relative position on each axis. Choose which works better

For example in a multiplication system, an item that was in the box "Critical, Now" would have a priority of 1 (because it is 1 step from the origin in either axis, in a 1 indexed list); whereas an item in the box "Optional, Unknown", would have a priority of 16 (four down times four over).

In an addition system "Critical, Now", the highest priority, would have a priority of 2; and "Optional, Unknown" would have a priority of 8.

Realistically, neither one is "better". It's just a matter of how you want to weight relative position.

In an addition system, the priority scaling is linear relative to the level of criticality or timeline; in a multiplication system it's progressively non-linear.

For example, in an addition system, an item in "Important, Soon" would have the same value as in a multiplication system, because 2 plus 2 is the same as 2 times 2.

The next level down in criticality, with the same priority would result in a single point difference in an addition system, but a larger increase in a multiplication system i.e. "required, soon" would be 5, in an addition system, and 6 in a multiplication system.

The next level both down and across would reduce in priority linearly with an addition system, "required, later" would be 3+3=6, whereas in a multiplication system, it would be 3x3=9. The next difference would be even greater at 8, vs 16.

So, once you decide whether to add or multiply; all you need to do is sort all the tasks into the boxes, and you've got your priorities sorted for you.

What surprises people here, is that often "highly critical" items end up as lower priorities than less critical, because of timeline; and that sometimes items with a very tight timeline end up deprioritized in favor of more critical items.

For example, a critical item with no fixed due date would be a priority four or five (depending on whether it was addition or multiplication); and would be outranked by anything with a due date of "now" other than an optional item. Conversely, a required item, due "now"

It may seem counterintuitive, but it works... IF you have your criticality correct.

...which is the big gotcha in ANY time management system.

None of that helps you with the most difficult task of all this; deciding on criticality. That's actually a much harder subject than setting priorities.

Well... sometimes it's easy, you're simply told by management that one item is more critical than another. If you are very lucky (in my experience this never happens), you are even given a ranked list of criticality.

More likely though, everyone says everything is equally critical, and it's all due yesterday.

Of course, not everything is equally critical... or at least not everything assigned to you (and your people) should be. If it is, then you have a major problem because resources are one of those finite variables we talked about above.

All you have to work with are timeline, criticality, and resources (effective manhours). If you end up with multiple equally critical items, you need to talk with your leadership (or your management as it were), about resources, tasking, and due dates. Sure, you can take five equally critical items, but only if the due dates allow for them to be accomplished with the resources available.

What it comes down to though, is without explicit guidance from higher, you have to set your own criticality, based on your own organizations priorities and responsibilities; and the priorities and political realties of those you report to, and work with.

Best of luck in that.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lest we forget





Recessional

God of our fathers, known of old--
Lord of our far-flung battle line
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe--
Such boasting as the Gentiles use
Or lesser breeds without the law--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard--
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding, calls not Thee to guard--
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy mercy on Thy people, Lord!

--Rudyard Kipling

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way.

Leadership is a very unusual subject. Thousands of books have been written on it. Millions of speeches and talks have been given about it.

..BUT...

Leadership is one of those funny subjects that must be learned, but can't be taught.

Oh there are many elements of leadership that can be taught: techniques, technologies, aids, processes etc... but those aren't leadership, they are its accoutrement (some are critical certainly, but they don't make a leader).

Leadership must be learned; but it cannot be taught. It can only be discovered from within, by each individual. Except in a few rare cases (yes, some really are just natural leaders), leadership only appears when it is needed critically. When someone is tested, and must rise to the occasion. It must then be developed, and refined, or it is wasted.

Unfortunately, we have spent the last hundred years removing those tests that bring leaders to the front, out of our societies. At the same time, we have been removing the structures that nurtured leadership, and allowed it to grow and flourish.

Is it any surprise we have so many "managers" but so few leaders?

Leaders solve problems, with people.

In business, the last generation of real leaders we in the U.S. experienced were men seasoned by the Viet Nam war. War is the crucible of leadership; and those men came into "management" roles in the early through late '80s.

It's no coincidence that this time period is noted for bold, perhaps brash, and sometimes overly aggressive leadership. This was the generation of leaders for whom such personality traits were expected, encouraged, and enhanced by their experiences.

I sincerely hope that one of the good things to come out of the current wars in the middle east, is another generation of young men, entering leadership position in the corporate world, who understand what real leadership is, who have experienced both being lead by good leaders, and leading themselves.

It was a lack of REAL leadership, that has lead American business to where it is today. Not understanding what risks are worth it, and what aren't. Not understanding that the men come first, the mission comes next, and that maintaining mission focus is the only way to succeed.

Not understanding that leaders, solve problems, with people.

Not numbers, not techniques, not mergers and acquisitions, not computers... Leaders solve problems, with people.

Now I said leadership can't be taught; and I stand by that, it can't. There must be a spark, and a fair bit of steel in you, to become a leader.

What I didn't say, is that without instruction in the tools and techniques of leadership, it is difficult to become a good leader, and to be successful. Some stumble on it by themselves, by accident, or through painful experience; but very few are able to afford those mistakes, and as a leader your mistakes are written on the backs of others, so it is your responsibility to make as few of them as possible.

This is where all those books, and lectures, and all the other "stuff" comes in... and generally where I tell folks to toss it all (well, not all; just most) out the window.

I say that, because almost all of the so called "leadership" books out there, are actually about management.

Leaders solve problems, with people. Managers manage issues and resources. You can't be a successful leader without some management skills and talent (or at least knowing who to delegate management to, which is a management task in and of itself); but being a great manager wont make you a great leader, or even a good one.

I do not denigrate the importance of management, and managers. Without managers, tasks become infinitely more difficult to accomplish; and frankly many issues need managing, not solving.

You need leadership though, to do great things. To accomplish the extraordinary, or the unexpected, or the inspired, you need great leadership.

So, you can't teach it; but maybe you can teach someone how to learn it, and how to avoid some of the biggest mistakes along the way.

In that, the best I can do, is relate what I believe are the fundamental principles of leadership.

The first and most important principle of leadership,
is knowing and understanding your mission.


You cannot lead, if you don't know where you are going.

First, what is your overarching mission?, and what are the goals and criteria for that mission. Once you understand that, look at the lower level missions, and ask: How does this mission help me accomplish the greater mission? What goal does it achieve? What criteria does it support. Understand how they fit together... and if they don't re-evaluate either the lower level mission, or the larger mission.

For each mission, know and understand it, and all it's aspects. What are your goals, and what means and methods are available to you to achieve those goals. Is the mission achievable within the constraints? If not you must change the mission, change the constraints, or change the means and methods available to you. There is no other option.

If you don't understand the mission, you will fail. If you do not have the proper means and methods available to you, you will fail. If the constraints of the mission do not allow the mission to be accomplished, you will fail. When you fail, it will be your responsibility, and your failure; because you did not ensure you met the requirements to succeed.

What are the consequences and implications of your mission? What are the consequences of success, and what are the consequences of failure? How does your mission relate to other missions, in co-operation, competition, and opposition. What will the reaction to your mission be? How will success or failure effect your next mission.

You must also understand how success is measured. Don't let metrics drive you (or your goals will be subverted to the metric) but understand them, and use them.

Evaluate your plans, against your results; you can't do that without metrics. Look at what progress you've made, and analyze what elements of your actions have got you there. Test your assumptions. Then re-factor all of that, and if necessary revise your plans, change your methods, or re-evaluate the mission as a whole.

The second principle of leadership, is that people are your only resource.

People have tools, techniques, technology, process, and procedure; but as leader, it is the PEOPLE that are YOUR resources. People have tools, you have people.

For you to succeed, for you to accomplish your mission; your people must succeed first.

To succeed, people MUST get these things from a leader:
Loyalty: A leader must be loyal to the bone. Loyalty down, means loyalty up. You support your people, you protect them, you take the heat for them. It's your responsibility, no matter what.

If you do that, they will support you, and give you everything they have. If you don't, they won't. Without loyalty, you have nothing. Without loyalty, you are not a leader.

Sadly, one must also recognize when loyalty is not reciprocated, or deserved; but above and below.

It is rare that someone cannot be lead by a good leader, but it happens. Once you have exhausted all the tools that are available to you, and someone still will not be loyal, and still will not be lead, then they must no longer be allowed to be a part of your organization. They are poison to your people, and to your mission, and you must understand that, and how to deal with it.

When as a subordinate leader you recognize that your senior leaders are not providing loyalty down, and not deserving of loyalty up, your task is infinitely more difficult.

Your first priority is to protect your people. The faithless leader will attempt to hold anyone responsible for their own failures (and they WILL fail), and use you, and your people to cover their mistakes, and aggrandize themselves.

YOU CAN NOT LET THIS HAPPEN.

Yes, you have to work within the rules of the organization; and in order to reach their current position, the faithless leader will most likely be a master of those rules, and will use them to their advantage, and your detriment. So get to be as good with the rules as they are. Don't compromise your honor, but FIGHT BACK.

If it comes down to it, and there is no other way, you have to take the blame and not your people. That's your job, you're the leader. Just make sure that when you do, you take the bastard above you, down with you. Don't sacrifice yourself for nothing, sacrifice yourself for your people, and for the mission.

Remember, a good leader will always find another mission.

Clarity:A leader MUST understand the mission, and the tasks, goals, timelines, constraints, and resources related to it. They must remain focused on the mission, and provide clarity of thought, direction, and drive.

Your people have to focus on their tasks, it is your job to make sure they can do so; and to help them maintain focus and clarity. You can't do that, if you aren't clear yourself.

Communications: Simple. If you cannot effectively communicate, you cannot lead. Your people have to receive direction, guidance, support, and everything else from you, and the only way they can do that is through your voice, and your pen.

Not only that, but you must be able to communicate with other groups in your organization, and with your leadership, just as effectively; or frankly, you won't be prepared for your missions, will receive missions you will have difficulty in accomplishing, and will not receive the resources or support you need to succeed.

Guidance: As I said, your people are your only resource; and people need guidance. As a leader you will have to provide guidance about everything from a task, to your peoples personal lives. Do the best you can, be honest, and always tell them what you think is best for them. It's all you can do.

Support: A leader must provide his people with the resources they need to complete their tasks. If you can't get them what they need, they can't solve problems for you. They can't accomplish the mission for you. If you can't get them what they need, they don't fail, YOU do, and it's your responsibility.

Your people must also get from you the support they need to feel secure in their position, and to grow within their career. They must understand that you are as concerned about their development, and their success, as your own. That in fact, their success, is your success. You can't fake it. If you don't feel that way, either you're leading the wrong folks, or you shouldn't be a leader at all.
Give people these things, and they will accomplish anything for you. Give them less than this, and you will receive less in return. Give them none, and you will receive none.

The third principle, is that it is YOUR responsibility.

Always. You are the leader, it is your responsibility to ensure the success of your mission, the success of your people, and the success of your organization. If your organization is unsuccessful, it is your responsibility.

If you fail in your mission, do not achieve your goals, or your people fail in their tasks, it is your responsibility, and your failure.

If one of your people screws up, it's your responsibility, and your screwup. They either screwed up because you didn't lead them properly; or because you allowed them the opportunity to screw up and should not have. In either case, it is a failure of leadership. Iwt is YOUR failure.

If a group you are dependent on screws up, and doesn't meet your dependency, it is STILL your failure, because you should have had a plan, or a contingency, or some other way to accomplish the mission.

Unless that is, you were prevented from eliminating that dependency, finding some other way to fulfill it, or altering the mission so that you may achieve the goal of the mission by some other means; in which case it is your senior leaders failure. They failed to provide you, one of THEIR people, with the resources and support necessary to succeed. Either way, it is a leadership failure.

The fourth principle of leadership is to understand priorities.

Your priorities are as follows, and in strict order:
1. People
2. Organization

3. Mission

4. Task

5. Everything else
You are a leader. You solve problems, with people. Your people are your only resource. Without your people you fail, your tasks fail, your mission fails, and your organization fails.

PEOPLE COME FIRST

Not just your people by the way, but all the people in your organization... of course you are the leader of your people, so you are responsible first to your people; then to all the other people.

It's important to understand though, that sometimes doing what seems to be the right thing for one of your people, may in the long run harm the organization or the mission so much, that it harms the person you were trying to help.

Also, you MUST understand when the mission is so critical, that people must make sacrifices.

Equally important, you must understand when the mission is NOT so critical, and when you and your people are asked to make sacrifices, you should refuse.

Your organization is second. Never let the organization destroy your people; the organization needs people, and leaders, to be successful so allowing the organization to destroy your people is counterproductive.

That said, again, there are times that it is necessary to do something less optimal for your people, so that the organization can survive and succeed, and continue to provide benefit to your people. Understanding the difference can be damn hard.

Also, never let the task, or the mission, harm the organization. If you do, you may have accomplished your task, but you've failed your greater mission, the good of the organization and the people within it.

It is VERY easy to allow that to happen. You become so focused on your lower level mission, or don't understand it's consequences and implications well enough; that you end up achieving your goal, but ultimately having it be counterproductive.

Guard against this by understanding your missions at every level, as well as you possibly can; along with all the secondary effects, consequences, implications, and reactions.

Similarly, don't let a task, get in the way of the missions. Especially don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good. It is all too easy to allow the accomplishment of a specific task, or the meeting of a certain metric, to completely consume you.

If you do, you will harm the mission, the organization, and your people.

Which brings me to the final principle:

You cannot disobey the law of unintended consequences.

It's like gravity. You may put it off for a while, but eventually, you're going to run smack into the ground at 140mph.

If for some reason you are unfamiliar, the law of unintended consequences is simply this:

You can never do just one thing. All actions (or inactions) have consequences and outcomes other than that which was intended, which are impossible for you (or anyone else) to forsee.

Life is extremely complicated. You can never have total, perfect information, or total perfect reasoning. Any idea that depends on coming anywhere close to that may seem to work at first, but will ultimately fail.

Anything you do will have effects you didn't anticipate. That's just the way it is. There is no way around it. So long as you remember that, do what you can to understand and mitigate what you can forsee and understand; and remain flexible, and responsive to changes; you'll be OK... or at least as OK as you can be.

Internalize all this, so that it's near to instinct, and if you are a leader, you will succeed. Ignore all this, and you will fail, no matter how much natural talent there is in YOU; because when you're a leader, it's not about you, it's about solving problems, with people.

See Also: Managing Cynicism

Writers Block

I know, poor excuse and all that.

I've got a bunch of work docs I need to finish up, a bunch of docs for a friend I need to finish up and I cant manage to quite close the deal.

I'm also percolating on about 8 different posts here, all about 3/4 written. Again, I can't quite seem to finish off.

In writers terms, Ive got blue balls...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Possibly my favorite line from television this season

Richard Castle: "She's not naked, she's holding a gun... strategically"

From the episode "Little Girl Lost"

As it happens, and against all expectations (and mathematics for that matter), "Castle" was officially renewed today (though it was announced a few days ago).

Oh and there's this gem:

Amanda Beckett: "What is it about men and boobs anyway?"
Richard Castle: "It's biological, we can't help it"
Amanda Beckett: "But doesn't it bother you that they're so obviously not real?"
Richard Castle: "Santa's not real, we still love opening his presents"

Filion just has that spark to pull it off. Fun. Fun writing, fun acting, a fun show.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Why collectivism works, but doesn't work

Generally speaking, when talking with a relatively reasonable and intelligent leftists about politics, economics (which are the same thing to them), econometrics, and social philosophy (again, they can't be separated in leftist theology); the "question" will arise "If socialism is so bad, why does it work in families, and villages? It works there, so it should work everywhere."

That isn't so much a question, as argumentum inquisitum (aka "begs the question"), but let's take up the challenge anyway; as the answer is simple, fundamental, and absolutely vital to understanding microeconomics, and how it interacts with societal level macroeconomics.

Collectivism (of any variety) does not work on scales larger than a village, because people will ALWAYS respond to their perceived interests and incentives.

ALWAYS

Let me repeat that one more time:

People will always, over time and absent interference, respond to their perceived interest and incentive.

People may (in fact, very frequently do) mispercieve their interest, or may choose a poor course of action in their properly (or improperly) perceived interests, but they will ALWAYS respond to them.

In a family, the incentive and interest are VERY strong, genetically, socially, societally, emotionally, and spiritually; to ensure the prosperity and well being of the family unit equal to or ahead of ones self.

We can see what happens to families where this is not so among the majority of members; or is not so among the "strongest" members (the "leaders" of the family). These families rapidly degenerate into an unhealthy mess of force, fraud, manipulation, pain, and dysfunction.

This is also what happens in society as a whole when collectivist ideology is enforced on it.

One should note, there is no such thing as a naturally occurring voluntary collectivist order above the small tribal group. At larger scales, collectivism must always be enforced on the whole, because it is against the interest of many individuals; until such time as a dependent class is formed which will create an artificial interest, causing that class to act in that interest to enforce collectivism on the independent individuals.

As I said, people will ALWAYS act in their perceived interest. Even in collectivism; which is supposedly communitarian in nature.

In society as a whole, and specifically in societies larger than familial, clan, village, or small tribal level; self interest is a considerably stronger incentive and interest than the interest of society.

Communitarian ideals can generally work scaled up to village size, or even small tribes; but the bigger the unit gets, in general, the weaker the cohesion; unless there is another binding force (such as tribalism, or at least ethnic solidarity).

Also, the free rider problem, which may be one or two individuals within a family, becomes a serious drag on resources even at the village size. It becomes insupportable above the scale of a large tribe or small state.

These village size units work best when the village is itself a competing interest against other villages, or groups of villages united by a common characteristic which creates a cohesive identity.

We call this tribalism; and it allows for progress to a certain point, but is also a natural restraint on it; in that tribalism encourages the violent breakdown of civil culture in conflict with other tribes.

In fact, almost all of the greatest evils perpetrated within the confines of society (as opposed to evils outside of a society such as serial killers, etc...) are the result of violent tribal conflict; including the wars in the middle east and Africa (all of them).

All forms of collectivism fail to recognize or account for the inherent competitive, and striving nature of man; and generally fail to account for his inherent xenophobia as well (yes, certain individuals or small groups may suppress those characteristics, but man as a whole is man; unchanging and vicious from prehistory to this minute. We just have better tools to kill each other with, faster, and on a larger scale now).

Thus, aside from its structural deficiencies, inefficiency, and moral evil; socialism is antithetical to the natural social nature and structure of man (contrary to the assertions of socialists that it is in fact derived from the nature of man, or is scientifically and historically inevitable. Both logic and history show this construction to be elegant, but falacious).

I KNEW IT!

Adam Baldwin (not a "Baldwin Brother"; the Adam Baldwin of "Firefly", "Serenity", "Angel", "Chuck", "My Bodyguard", and "Full Metal Jacket") has outed himself as a conservative.

I KNEW IT!

There was just no way that Animal Mother, Jane Cobb, and John Casey could have been played that well by a liberal.

It never ceases to amaze me how Joss Whedon keeps writing these spectacular conservative and libertarian characters, and employs conservative and libertarian actors (like Baldwin, Sarah Michelle Gellar -both conservatives-, Eliza Dushku - a left libertarian by her description, David Boreanaz, and Amy Acker - both libertarians); and yet is himself a hardcore lefty liberal. Hell, he even jokes about it constantly, and it's been the subject of "serious literary analysis".

Friday, May 15, 2009

Oh my god, it's a $2000 Ruger


Actually, when it finally gets down to street prices, and production capacity and panic buying have settled out, I'd expect it to retail somewhere around $1700.

UPDATE: Distributor pricing was released, at $1350; so I'll revise my estimate down to "between $1600 and $1675", instead of $1700.

The gun in question is the newly announced Ruger SR-556, Rugers first entry into the AR market; and their first entry into the "assault weapon" world, since transferable AC-556s stopped being made in '86 (which is only half evil... after all, the A-Team used them, and they were the good guys... who couldn't hit anything).

The first thing most folks are going to notice, and most likely dislike, is the price. $2000 list is by far Rugers most expensive non-presentation grade gun (some of their shotguns get up there though).

I'm not one of those people. As I said, I expect that the eventual street price will hit around $1600; and for a piston AR, especially one configured as it is, that's a decent value.

Given that it's got the Troy sights, and Troy rail system on it, and that's $300 and $350 respectively if bought separately (plus the rail covers and Hogue grip, another $80 or so); it's actually a pretty damn good deal. Most other piston ARs start at $1800-$2400, without those things.

Oh and coming with 3 PMags is a great idea as well, and a usable soft case is gravy. There's another $120 you don't have to worry about spending.

... of course for some people, the whole reason they buy an AR is for the accessories... it's like tactical Barbie for them; but let's face it, they'd never buy a Ruger anyway.

From a purely political perspective, having Ruger in the AR camp is an unambiguously good thing. Do you really think the largest civilian firearms manufacturer in the world is 1.) going to get into manufacturing an AR if they think it's going to be banned shortly thereafter and 2.) going to allow their millions of dollars in tooling and marketing expenses to go down the drain without a fight?

Oh and another political plus; now every major firearms manufacturer makes an AR: Ruger, S&W, FN, Colt, and Cerberus (with Remington, Bushmaster, Cobb, and DPMS).

So, how do I think it will be received?

Well, with a certain percentage of the community, scorn. Ruger is forever poison to them after the actions and comments of the late founder surrounding "assault weapon" bans, and standard capacity magazines.

Also, this is not going to appeal to the tacticool at all; which is the usual market for higher end AR platform rifles. I mean, it IS a Ruger, even if it is a superneatohighspeedlowdrag Ruger; and you can't claim it's the "same gun as SEAL Team Six uses" or some other such nonsense.

Plus I'd assume it's cast (that is Rugers core business after all), and as "everyone knows" cast receivers and uppers are "just no good".... yeah, you can tell my opinion on that one.

UPDATE: Nope, it uses a forged (and outsourced from a major name) upper and lower.

So that's a fair portion of the potential market left right out.

For the rest of the shooting world... It's probably going to be seen as too expensive. Ruger is the biggest, because they sell decent guns cheaper than any other gun of comparable quality.

While this gun represents a much lower cost option than other piston ARs, and is a good value in the configuration it's sold in, the rifle is most certainly not inexpensive. The traditional Ruger customer is probably not going to appreciate the differentiation of a piston operating system, troy rails, Hogue grips etc... when they compare the $1700+ Ruger to a $900 Olympic.

Rugers traditional markets and customers are very cost sensitive, and they're going to have to work to convince folks either to stretch into that price range; or to convince premium firearms customers to consider a Ruger.

Personally, I think it will be a big hit at first; but will sell modestly well, once the initial buying surge passes, and the AR market stabilizes (well... ok, IF the AR market stabilizes).

I did get a chance to talk with Michael Bane about the gun; and he's put a few hundred rounds through one. He was favorably impressed with it, likes the gas system, and that the quality just "felt sturdier" than POF or LW. We talked about the relative value of the gun, with the premium parts and accessories; and he also thought that Ruger was going to have a little trouble finding acceptance at that price point.

The Quinns over at gunblast were also quite pleased with the sample they reviewed; though they didn't talk about the price (I've rarely seen Jeff and Boge talk about price in a review though).

Am I interested? Not really. Give me an 18" model with a real stock and I MIGHT be. I'mna try and take a closer look tomorrow (we didn't make it to the exhibit hall today).

UPDATE: Got a great interview with the chief engineer on the project, and the production manager for the Newport plant where it's assembled, as well as handling, and field stripping the rifle. More in a followup post.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My give a damns busted

I was talking with a good friend last night, and we both had that same tone in the voice.

You know the one I'm talking about, the absolute bone deep weariness that creeps into your voice when you've just had about enough, or more than enough, but you know you have too much more to do to slow down.

I said to him "Brother, right now, the both of us are the kind of tired that a good nights sleep don't fix".

"Yeah, that's about right".

After the last few years of stumbling from crisis to crisis at work, in our legal battles, and god knows in our society and our political lives... I'm just exhausted.

As tight as we are at work right now, I still need some time, and I'm taking it. I've got a couple days off for the NRA convention this weekend.

I'm thinking I'm going to be doin a lot less than I'd originally planned; maybe limit myself to hanging out with old friends, and making a few new ones; but I just don't have the "giveadamn" to do much more right now.

I think I need to go take the ATV out somewhere and roost around for a while.. only it's 105 fucking degrees out.

Hell, I've only managed to go shooting twice in the last few months; and with ammo as scarce as it is... Shit, I can't even buy a box of .357 anywhere at any price; forget about 5.56, or 10mm. I have seen exactly 1 box of 10mm on shelves anywhere in months.

Sleep, read, drink, hang out with friends... Sounds like a plan to me.

There may or may not be any content up here for the next few days as the mood strikes me.

Oh and it may be a chick song, but the refrain certainly applies at the moment.

Monday, May 11, 2009

NRA Annual Meeting Party at Our House

We're going to be headed to the Annual Meeting all weekend, and we'd really like to get together with other attendees; not necessarily just the Second Amendment Blog Bash attendees.

Drop us a line if you're coming in to Phoenix so we can meet up.

We're also planning an Annual Meeting Party at our house in Scottsdale (15 minutes from the convention center) Thursday night.

Bloggers, readers, and forum members are all invited.

Date: This Thursday
Time: 4:00pm - ????
Food and alcohol will be served

Basically we're going to have food and drinks and friendly folks around from late afternoon until we're too tired to keep it up.

Unfortunately we couldn't get grandpa to take the kids for the weekend 'til Friday, so we aren't able to attend the Thursday night mixer.

email Mel (melody.byrne AT gmail.com) for more info and directions.

Why it was ultimately the corruption of accounting firms...

, auditors, and rating agencies, that got us into this mess:

Dilbert.com


Seriously, it was. Go read "the number".

Friday, May 08, 2009

Truth Hurts... Ignorance Hurts Worse



I disagree with Schiff on hyperinflation; but we're DEFINITELY going to be seeing significant inflation. I'm thinking 1979 levels or so.
Note: Schiff is also a firm believer in the inherent value fallacy; which is just that, a fallacy. There is no such thing as a stable currency, because nothing has inherent value. All value is circumstantial.

Fiat currency is a horrible thing, but the solution is NOT specie currency, which has its own issues (which can be just as bad as those of fiat currency). The solution is a global free currency market, without government value setting by fiat, OR by an arbitrary commodity standard... or any other arbitrary standard.

Let the market decide what the currency of a nation is worth, and it will seek its natural level. Let the markets set their own confidence level, based on whatever a currency represents, is backed by, what its purchasing power is... whatever the market values.

We are approaching the technology basis that will allow this; though we aren't there yet. Universal realtime international communications are a pre-requisite for an efficient currency market. Currently, currency markets present significant arbitrage opportunities based on asymmetric information, communications lag, and government distortion.

Unfortunately, now that governments have the power of fiat currency, they will absolutely refuse to give it up.
We've got maybe a 24 month window of slight recovery and plateauing of prices; then we doublehump this, with real economic contraction spurred on by the devaluing dollar rapid inflation, and concommittant high interest rates, and tighter credit (you think credit is tight now? Not even close).

If you want to buy a house, do it 18-24 months from now on a fixed rate mortgage; and plan on living their the rest of your life. Inflation is going to wipe out a significant amount of your debt anyway.

... presuming the Chinese don't bail out on us entirely, and kick this off SIX months from now, instead of 24 months from now.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

One legged man, report to the ass kicking contest immediately

So, in the last few weeks, I've had an "interesting" time.

First, my workload at work effectively doubled. Then I got a nasty sinus infection. Then I had my birthday. Then I got another bout of intestinal salmonellosis (actually, from the food at my birthday party).

Just when I was done recovering from that, one of the guys I lead found out he had to go in for double bypass surgery (which is today in fact. Praying for him now). We're down to 4 guys, plus me and my boss, doing the work of 12.

Oh and I got more "enterprise" docs, meetings, and tasks to do, in addition to all our regular work. We've been working 7am to 6pm most days to try to keep up, and it's not enough.

Finally, after all that, we're having a re-org and a big management and structural shakeup in my division. They announced it last Thursday, and it has sent a major shock through EVERYTHING.

A bunch of people are being laid off (thankfully no-one in my group, but lots in the org as a whole), or moved around, and it's creating total chaos. Some folks have been told that they're being laid off a couple months in advance, and let's jsut so their motivation was not improved.

I can say without irony here, "this is why they pay me the big bucks". When you hit this level, it's expected that you suck it up, and make it happen; and that's what we're doing.

Of course this isn't sustainable long term, so we need to recruit four more people permanently, and get in at least a contractor or two on a temporary basis.

... Unfortunately, with the management shakeup, my boss may not be around to do the hiring; so I've been interviewing the candidates etc... We've got two good internal prospects, and two contractors identified, now we just need to get approval to hire them/transfer them.

Actually, we've got four good internal prospects, but we can't have two of them for another couple months 'til they finish what they're doing now.

Oh and of course, once we actually get the new guys, they'll actually be a DRAG on our productivity for the first few months, while we get them streamed into the group.

My boss and I think we have a plan worked out with the big boss, where he gets a technical one step bump in grade, to take on more management duties (he's 50/50 management technical right now) and more staff (we're probably going to go from the 7 - including me and my boss - we are today, to somewhere around 10 or 12), and as lead I take on the tactical management stuff like one on ones and performance reviews. That way we've both still got the bandwidth we need to do the enterprise level architecture stuff, while making sure all the management tasks get done.

If that works out, it means more work, and more responsibility for me; but it also means I'm pretty much guaranteed my bosses job when he retires in a year or so (he's 65). Oh and unlike today, his job wouldn't be a pay cut for me (only senior management make more than chief architects. My boss is officially classified in the same grade as I am, but he's grandfathered in as a manager from before the current classifications went into place. Otherwise as a manager at his current level, he'd make $20k less than I do); it would be a $10k bump, plus an extra 5% bonus.

Unfortunately, because of HR rules, they can't just promote him, they have to post the position out and do a competitive evaluation and hiring process. Obviously he has the advantage in the process, but it's still a pain, because we can't move forward with anything on the management front for about 6 weeks, and it's always possible that HR could do something that would screw him up in the meantime (HR doesn't like promoting someone shortly before they retire, and my boss is going to retire in less than two years).

Right now, a management freeze like this is bad enough; but with the resource constraints we have at the moment, a management change would be a disaster. We've made that clear to higher, and they understand it; but HR is HR and rules are rules.

So, the side projects I've been doing, and my recreational pursuits and writing have been taking a hit, obviously. I think I've missed more days on the blog in the last month than I did the previous two years.

Hopefully things will settle down shortly.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Dear God...

Please don't let me fuck this up:


48 years ago today, Alan Shepard became the first American to officially enter space, as spam in a can (it is likely that both Scott Crossfield, Chuck Yeager, and several other test pilots, had unofficially done so several times from the early 50s onward in various x planes).

I had the good fortune to meet Alan Shepard; along with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Pete Conrad, and Gene Cernan (on separate occasions); five of the twelve men who have walked on the moon. We lost him in 1998, and there are only 9 of them left (a sad statement if there ever was one, but that's another story entirely).

Shepard had a wry way with words, and a somewhat twisted sense of humor; perhaps common to his New England upbringing.

While sitting and waiting to blast off, Shepard reportedly intoned what has now become the universal prayer of pilots, "the Shepards prayer": "Dear God, please don't let me fuck this up"... though he later claimed that he didn't say that... that he only wished he was that funny.

After several hours sitting waiting in the capsule on the top of that converted intercontinental ballistic missile, Shepard had to urinate urgently. As Shepards flight was only intended to be a few minutes long, no provision had been made for a relief tube. Shepard eventually solved his uh... problem... by urinating in his flight suit.

On returning to earth, he was asked what he was thinking about while he was waiting to blast off. His response was perhaps even more of a classic: "The fact that every part of this ship was built by the low bidder."

THAT, was Rear Admiral Alan Shepard; second man in space, first American in space, first man to crack a joke in space (as far as we know), and the fifth man to walk on the moon.

Personally, I think he said it.

Captain Chaos breathes his last

Dom DeLouise died yesterday; he was 75 years old.

He was one of the funniest men who ever lived. I think no more need be said.

Funniest... and most true... thing I've seen all week

Overeducated Redneck

One of the things that has always amazed me, is the willingness of those on the left to dismiss me, and those of my political bent, as racists, hicks, ignorant, rednecks (as if those things were synonymous) etc...

Any time I've written about the evils of collectivism, how firearms are as important to freedom as speech, how political correctness is as damaging to freedom as any other form of censorship, how liberal and leftists ideas just don't work (no matter how well intentioned they are), how islamofascism... or any other kind of fascism for that matter... are anathema to liberty and the well being of a people... Like clockwork there they are calling me an ignorant, racist, redneck (and it's always those three together for some reason).

Well first thing, I'm generally certain that I'm considerably more intelligent, educated, and informed than those calling me ignorant (and for that matter, they are almost certainly racists whether they realize it or not; and I am definitely not; but that's another post entirely); but that doesn't address the point I want to make here.

To these people, redneck is an insult. So is "cowboy" for that matter, or really anything to do with rural America or "country".

This is of course another form of class warfare, and identity politics. By calling me a redneck, they believe they are dismissing me, my ideas, my opinions, and the facts I present; as not credible, irrelevant, or below them.

Well... to me, call me a redneck, and that's a compliment. They didn't intend it that way, but it is.

To their conception, all intelligent, educated, perceptive people must surely agree with them; and anyone who doesn't follow their false faith of transnational progressivism must therefore be either stupid, evil, or ignorant (or some combination of the three); i.e. a "Redneck" as they see it.

This is especially amusing to me, as given my minarchist libertarian views, some on the far right would consider me just as evil for not following THEIR faith of coerced morality through the force of government.

Of course on its face calling me a redneck would seem ridiculous. By the leftists own expectations, I should be "one of them".

I was born and raised in and around Boston Massachusetts (with a side trip into Northern New Hampshire. I live in Arizona now, by choice and circumstance). I lived there until I was 16; attending a public school in theory, but most of my education was from a special "gifted" students program called "ACE", which stood for Accelerated Cognitive Education.

In the ACE program, I started taking 8th grade level classes in 3rd grade, with private tutors and at local private schools. By the time I was a sophomore in high school I had completed most of the first two years worth of general education college courses at local colleges.

I graduated high school at 16; and from there I went on to two degrees at a small private engineering college.

My family are typical Boston Irish. A mix of blue collar, government employees, teachers, cops, firemen, tradesmen, and of course politicians. Most of them are either union democrats, or straight liberals (though surprisingly the politicians in the family were mostly Republicans).

So, as I said, by all their expectations, I should be one of them (and the fact that I'm not seems to drive some of them to even greater lengths of apoplectic rage).

The difference is all in the decisions I made for myself.

I decided to leave home at 16, because my home environment was bad; but I did it going to college. I made something of myself, though I hasten to say a college education is neither necessary, nor sufficient, to do so. My younger brother, in the same environment and with similar native intelligence, decided to suck off the government teat, and became a small time drug dealer.

I decided to join the Air Force; which has changed me more than any other experience in my life but fatherhood. I credit my grandfather, the Air Force, and my kids, for making me who I am.

I decided to travel around the world, and expand my horizons along with my knowledge. I've had the great good fortune to visit all 50 American states, and 40 someodd countries (I say someodd, because some of them aren't countries anymore, and some are two or more countries now).

I decided to take the opportunities that came my way, and when they weren't coming, to make them; taking risks, sometimes failing, sometimes getting ahead, but always learning.

I decided to learn every damn thing I could to get by, and get ahead. I learned computers, AND carpentry; mechanical engineering, AND auto mechanics.

I decided to take responsibility for myself, and to do for myself and my family, in every way that I could.

And guess what?

Those decisions have made me into a redneck, and I'm proud of it.

You know what being a redneck means to me?

It means being independent.

It means knowing how to fix things when they break.

It means not being helpless outside the modern urban island.

It means knowing the difference between right and wrong; and knowing how to apply my best judgment.

It means knowing that there are things more important than my own comfort and my own skin; and that those things are worth fighting, and dying for.

I've chosen to surround myself with others like me; and let me tell you, there are a heck of a lot of us out there.

We're black, white, asian, hispanic; Bostonian, New Yorker, Texan, Alabaman, even Californian. We're college educated, and self educated. We're rural and urban. It's never really been about where you're from, or who you were born to; it's always been about the decisions you make.

The decision to reject the collective, for the individual. The decision to be in charge of your own life. The decision to live the way you believe is right.

So hell yeah, I'm a redneck, and proud of it.

Sadly, this seems to be their actual position on the matter

A little music to reflect my mood for today

The original (with an interesting background video):



And this lovely update:







Stewie makes a great Koko, no?

Monday, May 04, 2009

When the merely loony think you're starkers...

From "True believers: The biggest cults in tech" - Wired Magazine:

"The cult is the Amigans," says one closely placed source who requested his name not be revealed. "These are people who worship the Commodore Amiga operating system and expect that one day its superiority will cause it to rise again. Some of them are really annoyingly crazy."

Restaurant Review: Toby Keiths "I Love This Bar & Grill"

The final word right up front: I'll give it a C, but with potential.


The Setup

One of the benefits of living in Phoenix, is that we are often used as a test market for various products, services, and concepts. For example, we generally get new candy bars, soft drinks, and other foods test marketed here, and even movie previews long before other markets see them.

Because we're a market with a relatively low cost of doing business, cheap land, and high value demographics; we've also been used as the opening market, or one of the early markets, for a number of chain restaurants.

For a while there it was retired sports stars; but recently the big thing has been musicians (I'm not counting Alice Coopers place which has been here for 15 years). We had Carlos Santanas joint "Maria Maria" open up here about 18 months ago, a number of others open since; and just last weekend, Toby Keiths "I Love This Bar & Grill".

Actually from what I understand, we were intended to be the second location for the chain (the first outside of Tobys home state of Oklahoma), but the restaurant has been delayed for the last three years, and had to change sites; so instead we're I believe the fourth location (the others are in Oklahoma city, the Chicago suburbs and Las Vegas)

Mel has been wanting to go ever since she heard the place was coming; but we wisely avoided opening weekend, and decided to head out this past Friday instead.

The Review

First impressions? It's big, and it's loud. Very big, and VERY loud in fact.

The place is about 20,000 square feet, 200 foot plus wide with a HUGE 85 foot long guitar shaped bar running right down the middle; a dining area to one side, and a live music stage and smaller dining are to the other, plus outside seating.

There is no question, the bar is the focus of the restaurant. It's a gleaming neon lit show piece that takes up at least 1/3 their floor space. However it's also where the largest concentration of loudspeakers is. When you're within 20 feet of the bar, conversation is impossible.

In fact it's difficult to hear yourself think. I have a very loud voice, and I had to shout to make myself heard to the greater and hostess.

The music is a mix of country, classic rock, southern rock, and a little hard rock. Basically, if you'd hear it at a NASCAR tailgate, they'd be playing it at TKILTB&G.

... a word on that... Seriously, I know branding is important, but don't you feel silly saying "I'm going to "Toby Keiths 'I Love This Bar & Grill" I mean if nothing else, isn't it a little long?

Sure, it's a natural branding fit, but seriously...

While we were there, the live band of the night started up, and they were very good (I unfortunately didn't catch their name); but even louder than the recorded music.

At any rate, it was simply too loud inside to enjoy a meal, even at the far end of the seating area; so we chose to eat outside (many, if not most, restaurants in Arizona have outside seating).

The service is friendly, clean and neat. The women who they have titled "Whiskey Girls" (more of that branding thing) all wear the same "uniform" of a tank top, cutoff jean shorts or skirts, and cowboy boots, while the men have a more mundane short sleeve button down shirt, jeans, and boots.

The menu is pretty solid. Neither very large, nor limited, they offer a good selection of choices; though as you'd expect, focused on the beef and pork end of the spectrum. The dishes have a slight "country" feel to them, but it's the "suburban" country version. So there's no collard greens, but there ARE fried bologna sandwhiches.

The drinks were good, as was the beer which they had an acceptable selection of; at a slightly above average but not outrageous price for the class of place, and they were well sized. Oh and they serve them in Mason jars, which I always like.

This is where we hit our second point of dissatisfaction however. The fact is, I just don't think the place is a good value for money.

We ordered a single appetizer, the "buffalo" wings (they were good, but they weren't buffalo wings, They used a slightly sweet, slightly hot, thin vinegar based sauce) and the relatively small platter (8 whole wings; drums and winglets not disjointed as is typical) was $10. More typical pricing in this region would have been $6.99 to $8.99.

Other appetizers were in the $7.99 to $8.99 range, and although we didnt order any we did see them on other tables, and they appeared a little smaller than one would expect for the price.

Mel ordered the rib plate at $14.99 for a half rack, and two sides; and I ordered the "Fish and Game", at $22.99, a 10oz peppercorn sirloin and fried shrimp with two sides (and the most expensive thing on the menu).

They also sell the same peppercorn sirloin with two sides (but no shrimp) for $15.99; which honestly is a bit high for just a sirloin. $12.99 to $14.99 would be more in-line with other casual dining places offering a 10oz. For $15.99 I'd be expecting a 12oz or even 14oz steak from a similar place.

So, for $22.99 I expected a LOT of shrimp. In fact I expected a big portion of everything. If you're going to charge for it, bring it right?

There was a little 4oz (at most) soupcon of mac and cheese, a scattering of fries, a tiny little sirloin, and THREE tiny little shrimp.

Now remember, the exact same plate without the shrimp was $15.99; so they charged me $7 for THREE shrimp; and they weren't even big shrimp.

For $7 I expect at least a half dozen 16-20s or at the very least 21-25s; these were 26-30s (one size above "popcorn shrimp"), and there were 3 of them.

Mels "half rack" was more like a 1/3 rack; with the same portions of sides as mine.

Let me just say to balance off my criticism a little, the food was good. It wasn't great, but it wasn't at all bad. It was just the pricing for the portion that I was unhappy with.

The desserts were the highlight of the meal, and unlike the rest, quite reasonably priced. For $5 you got a reasonable sized slice of pie, cake, etc... Or a couple of deep fried twinkies swimming in a huge bowl of strawberries and whipped cream (which is obviously what I got). Mel got the pumpkin pecan pie and declared it delicious.

The total for our meal: an appetizer, two drinks, two entrees, and two desserts; came out to just about $70.

That isn't BAD, but it's $10 more than I'd be paying for the same thing at say an Applebees/Chilis/Fridays/Etc... for a similar quality of food (and all of those portions would be larger). Worse, it's only $10 less than I'd be paying at say, Claim Jumper; which would give me much more, and better, food.

Oh there is one point of great value on the menu: The burgers and sandwiches, although we didn't order them, look excellent; and they're priced very well ($7.99 with fries for a plain 1/2lb burger or lower cost sandwich to $12.99 for the super deluxe items).

The service was a bit iffy. There were some slowdowns and some little mistakes; but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. This was just their second weekend up and running, and the staff were obviously trying hard; they just didn't have their crew or their routines sorted out yet. That will come in time, and I expect the service will eventually match the great attitude that the staff all seemed to have.

The Good: Great friendly attitude, good drinks, great desserts, big burgers at a good price, good menu overall

The Bad: The overly loud music, service isn't sorted out yet (give them a chance though)

The Ugly: $7 for three tiny shrimp

Would I recommend "Toby Keiths 'I Love This Bar & Grill" ?

No, I don't think so. I wouldn't warn you off of it, but I'm hovering somewhere between neutral, and slightly negative (thus the "C" grade above).

We had a good time, and an OK meal, but the negatives outweight the positives for me.

If they turned the music down, and dropped the price on everything by $1 or $2; or upped the portion size on everything by 20%, I'd recommend it in a heartbeat.

As it is, I'd say give it a pass, unless you just want to have a drink, a burger, and dessert; and listen to country. Then you'd be playing to their strengths, and none of the complaints I had would apply.

If you're interested, here's another review of the place.

Sweet Sweet Revenge

Dilbert.com


Actually, I disagree with her entirely, as I'm sure does Scot Adams... but it was just too good a line to pass up.