Saturday, March 22, 2008

Maker of the Universe

On this Easter weekend, Phil Keaggy's song, "Maker of the Universe" says it best:

"The Maker of the universe, As Man for man was made a curse.
The claims of Law which He had made, Unto the uttermost He paid.
His holy fingers made the bough, Which grew the thorns that crowned His brow.
The nails that pierced His hands were mined In secret places He designed.
He made the forest whence there sprung The tree on which His body hung.
He died upon a cross of wood, Yet made the hill on which it stood.
The sky that darkened o'er His head, By Him above the earth was spread.
The sun that hid from Him it's face By His decree was poised in space.
The spear which spilled His precious blood Was tempered in the fires of God.
The grave in which His form was laid Was hewn in rocks His hands had made.
The throne on which He now appears Was His for everlasting years.
But a new glory crowns His brow And every knee to Him shall bow."

This is a time to stop and reflect.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Uncle Sam Wants Your ATM!

I read a little tiny story in the USA Today last week encouraging “real geeks” to go and find the new Bank of America ATMs and try them out. The story said that they have now perfected their ATM technology now that you can deposit a check without putting it in an envelope with a deposit slip. Now you just put the check in the machine and it scans it and comes back and has you verify the amount, etc. and then presto you make the deposit with that check right there in the machine in real time. While my eyebrows did raise a smidgen with the advancement, I have already been impressed with ATMs going all the way back to the summer of 1980 when I deposited my first check from Jeff Boat, Inc into the Citizen’s Bank ATM on 10th Street in Jeffersonville, IN. Everyone thought I was crazy. “You can’t trust one of those things”, I was told. “You gotta go in and let them stamp your savings book to be sure”. I have to tell you, in all the number of times I have used ATMs around the world, I have never, never, had a mistake. I mean never. And, I watch them carefully. So, that tells me, along with the newest technology that BofA ATMS now have, that we have the wrong people working on voting machines. Well, maybe it’s not the wrong people, since the same people who make ATMs also make voting machines (the guys that UTC are trying to buy), but it’s that we aren’t thinking about it right. Why are we trying to spend more time building voting machines when we already have everything we need in an ATM. It’s secure, it’s available all over the place, it’s got cameras, you need a password, you need a card, it tallies and posts back to a central location in real-time. What am I missing here? Try it this way. When I register to vote, my voter registration card is not a piece of paper, it’s a plastic ATM card with a magnetic strip on the back that carries all the information needed about me and my party affiliation, etc. It’s up to date at all times. I am given my voter access code/password with my Voter Registration Card (or I choose one). And now, it is election day (or election month, week, or whatever) and I go to any ATM anywhere in the country and I can put in my Voter Access Card. It knows where I am from, what precinct, etc. and it provides me a ballot to vote. I vote using the touch screen. The camera has taken a picture of me. The vote is registered. I can print out my receipt to keep. The vote gets counted. I didn’t have to drive to a polling station, stand in line, sign a piece of paper with my address on it, stand in line again to go into the booth, go into the booth, vote and then watch on TV that night about the irregularities of the voting machines and the problems with hanging chads, etc. Nor do we have to wait hours and days to count the votes. They are already counted the moment the voting time is expired. Tell me again, what am I missing? Let’s do this…get one of the banks to volunteer to test it! That’s right, let’s have one of our fine and upstanding financial institutions step up and offer their ATMs as a test. Imagine all the people who would vote!!! How great would this be?! Wait, is that why we don’t do this, is that what I am missing?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Price of Change?

I have a friend, Jeff Brown, who says that it is going to take an $8.00 USD gallon of gas to get people (drivers, car manufacturers, the government, etc.) to make the changes necessary to really change their ways as it relates to energy conservation. Well, I felt this week that he was half right. There I stood on Sunday morning filling my Mini Cooper up with (the required) Super Premium gasoline at $3.99/gallon. Okay, it’s not really $4.00 yet, but that fraction of Abraham Lincoln can’t fool me…it’s $4.00 a gallon of gas! My tank took $49.76 of Chevron to fill it up. I would have normally topped it off, but I just couldn’t stand to see the numbers roll over to $50.00 to fill up a Mini Cooper! I have no recollection of the cost of gas when I first started driving but I do remember filling up my 1969 MG Midget for under $5.00 back in 1979. It’s 29 years later and I still drive a car that is about the same size but I pay 10X the amount of money to fill the tank! Eeegads! To put that in perspective that means that the house I grew up in that cost $12,000 would sell today at $120,000. Hmmm…I think my Mother can get more for the house than that. Okay, that means that the comic book I paid, $0.12 for would today go for $1.20! Hmmm…I think they are more expensive than that. Okay, one last try…The Gap jeans, I mean the real Gap jeans that that were $14.99 would be $149.99! Ha, see they didn’t go up that much. But, the D&G jeans I bought not long ago?….well….hmmmph. Okay, so Jeff is right, it’s going to take another doubling of the price of gas to get us on the bus, walking to work, car pooling again, riding our bicycles, putting locks back on our gas caps! I’ll be ready when it happens. Of course the question then will be, what do I do about those $300 jeans I have in my closet?