This is the more recent archive page that I've made. The old one was breaking 250k, and that's not good. So here's a fresh one.
...A note to Google users that end up here...
CTRL+F Brings up the 'Find' dialog box
Type a key word in it, and you should be able to find what you're looking for...
Sorry if you don't find what you're looking for in this page. There's a chance, but I think it's funny that I can type all kinds of bits and pieces of things that are happening to me, and people get here through a search and end up finding no answers whatsoever. There's good info here and there, but if all else fails don't hesitate to email me and ask for further info on anything you read on this page.
...let the things I say never be lost...
Main lobby at Chateau Elan, Georgia.
For our anniversary last week, my wife and I went to Chateau Elan, a hotel/winery in Georgia. The day we arrived was the only day the indoor restaurant was closed, due to construction that went on until 6:30 and then began again the next day at 9 in the morning. The hotel bar was also closed, but they left the doors open so we were able to play many rounds of pool before we got tired of it. There was also a (free?) half bottle of scotch that I think they forgot to remove from behind the bar, but we didn't partake.
All in all, it was good, but not worth what we spent. Of course, spending the day with my loverly wife of four years was worth millions - but I won't spend that much if I don't have to. I'm a pragmatic sort. -18MAR2011
I have a photo picked out and everything - but my brain isn't working right to type up a summary of a story in a half interesting way. Hopefully I'll get home at a reasonable time tomorrow and not be so tired, so that I can update before Saturday when I need to update again. -16MAR2011
Sincerest apologies to my reader(s); last week's Photography Phaturday will be posted in the next couple of days. I have not forgotten about you(s). -14MAR2011
Somewhere in/around Jackson Hole, WY - October 2002.
This month (October, 2002) is a treasure trove of previously unposted pictures. It was due to a day "off" where we got to leave our duties behind us, to go to Yellowstone National Park. The picture you see above is of Jackson Hole; the town/rural area, about two hours from the National Park. There's probably 30 or so 'postable' pictures I took within the park, but I'll probably leave it at 5 for Phuture Photogrophy Phaturdays, and keep the rest in the event I might want to add them to my other section of pictures. -05MAR2011
Taken this morning. Bad lighting - I blame the clouds for not letting enough sun in.
Since the wife is out of town, I get to cook myself whatever I want - and no matter how bad it turns out, I know it will get eaten. In this case, it's chili I made in a crock pot, cooked overnight, in total of about 18 hours. Not on purpose - because this time I got the bright idea to put dry beans in with the other chili ingredients, whereas other times I cooked the beans separately and poured them in when they were mostly done. Well, after 8 hours, the beans still weren't quite cooked, so I made the decision to cook the chili overnight. I added lots of water to ensure I didn't wake up to a chili brick at the bottom of the crock pot, which is why it's still watery as seen in my (poorly lit and slightly out-of-focus) picture. The eggs were beyond perfect though. -26FEB2011
Phoenix, Arizona - sometime in September, 2002
This one surprised me. I didn't remember taking this picture, until I saw it this morning, looking for a picture to post here. I only know that it's Phoenix, because of another picture I took in the same series. Where else are you going to see palm trees and dirt hills in the same spot (out of the places I've been)? -20FEB2011
Taken August, 2002 in Kenner, LA at my mom's house.
Continuing on, in chronological order of my old Kodak DX3600 pictures (because I have taken no new ones this week): When my mom lived in Louisiana, she had a number of friends who liked to hang out around her apartment. Whenever she came home, they'd hear her car and come out of nowhere and swarm her, meowing, for the short distance where she had to walk from her car to the back door. In the picture above, what's going on is self explanatory, but what's unique is that the mother cat was comfortable enough in her environment to feed her kittens in plain sight - even to the point where I could stand reasonably close and snap a picture. Here's a low quality video I made, probably on the same day, of one of the kittens hissing at me (though you can't really hear it). -12FEB2011
Okay, ladies and gentlemen, the moment I hyped about yesterday (and I'm sure you read it and got very excited about it) is finally here. But first, a hint of sorts. Observe today's photograph below.
Taken April, 2008 - at the tourist hotspot, The Cliffs of Moher.
That's a great hint if I ever saw one. Have you figured out what my big update is? No? Yes? When I last worked on it, it was September of last year, and even then it was a minimal update. The time before that, was February, 2009. This page was built mostly in December, 2010 and late January 2011. I worked tirelessly on it for these first days of February as well. I put a total of at least 24 hours of work into it. And it still isn't finished.
But don't be disappointed, sir. I present to you anyway: MY MOSTLY FINISHED IRELAND HONEYMOON PAGE!!! I say mostly because I have buttons to work on, and I have to integrate the page into the site. I'm not sure how I'm going to integrate it, if it's just going to be another "Places I've Been." page, or if I'm going to link to it directly from my page-table-thing above, or what. This website is mostly a mess, but I do have nuggets of greatness, and I think my Ireland page is one such nugget. Enjoy. -05FEB2011
Huge update coming tomorrow with the weekly photograph. Are you excited? You should be. I'm still working on it, so there's no guarantees, but it's a 99.9% chance that it will be done sometime after the noon on Saturday. -04FEB2011
A Geo Metro clobbered by a fallen tree branch, with my car sitting comfortably next to it.
I normally parked in the spot where this Geo was parked. When it snowed, I saw a strategy to it, because there is a drain for the parking lot, right behind it, where all the snow melts due to the constant blast of warm (and by "warm", I mean more than 32 degrees F) air constantly coming from the ground. However, once I found a scratch on the side of my car, sometime in the summer last year, I decided to stop parking near the outside of the parking lot, especially that spot, thinking that kids walking down the sidewalk may have been playing or not paying attention to what they were doing, and damaging cars that were close to them. Little did I know that this decision would keep a tree from falling onto my car, and instead on someone else's. (To be fair, that Metro has been parked in the same spot for over a month. Somehow, I doubt the owner even cares about the minor dents/scratches to their decade+ old car.) -29JAN2011 (it's 50 minutes early, but you probably won't even notice)
Somewhere in Tourist DC, December 27th, 2001
Continuing on with my very old Kodak pictures, here is a picture of what appears to be a smile caused by an air trail. I could have turned the camera upside down, and made it a frown - but that would have been an awfully stupid and pointless thing to do. -22JAN2011
Barracks intersection, Smoke Bomb Hill, Ft. Bragg, NC - October 14th, 2001.
For Photography Phaturday #23, this was my 82nd picture (hah! Ft. Bragg is famous for it's 82nd Airborne - just noticed that) taken, ever, with a digital camera. In this case, with my first camera (of course), a Kodak DX 3600. 2.3 Megapixels of pure power... so much power that I elected to take pictures at 1/4 size, because my 32 MB Compact Flash card couldn't contain but a handful of pictures... plus my PC sat at 800 x 600, so the 900 x 600 resolution my camera used at the 1/4th size was huge enough as it is.
This picture is significant because it's the very first picture I took that was of beauty, and not of something. Little did I know that my inclination to capture beauty for further viewing would frustrate me to the point where I would have to upgrade from this camera to the Canon G5 around 2004, and ultimately the Cannon G11 in 2009 (only to scratch my head, wondering if it was really an upgrade). - 15JAN2011
Somewhere in Shai Hills Wildlife Reserve, near Accra, Ghana. January, 2006.
I took a lot of pictures from this vantage point... But this one is one I didn't already post. Not much color... and the dusty air prevents the view from being much better, but I still like it.
I think I've successfully debated enough political stuff with other Facebook posters, because I haven't seen anything posted politically related in a long time. I don't know what it is... someone posts some comment I disagree with, and that little thumb that says "4 people like this", and no opposition below the post just really gets my beans boiling and I respond, and keep at it until everyone is pissed off. Unfortunately, today, some loon went on a rampage targeting a Democrat congresswoman [It's a little traumatic to read the stories. She may survive, but there's six people at least, including a child and a federal judge that are collateral damage. No one wants political discourse to come to this. Glenn Beck will be blamed.]. Initial reports are saying he is as much a nutjob as someone can be - but hopefully this doesn't turn into a "See what the Tea Party does to people?". Not that I consider myself a member of the Tea Party, or even know what it is, but I do align with the belief that government needs to shrink. Anyway, it's making me take a step back (of course, it doesn't help I'm slowly learning how fiat currency works) and wonder if my passion for political economics is a waste of time. -08JAN2011
A collection of small rare earth magnets.
Randomly playing around with my Buckyballs, I didn't mean for the design to look like a tractor with a really large headed driver. I was going for something more abstract, but instead I left it at this. They aren't as easy to work with as it looks on their website's video. I left the large size image pretty big, and you can actually see the reflection of my camera on a tripod, and me behind it in most of the magnets.
Happy New Year. May this one be slightly better than the last two for everyone (except Wall Street executives, etc., etc.). - 01JAN2011
Taken the day after Christmas, from my mom's front porch-thing.
This week's Photography Phaturday was delayed due to the Christmas holiday. I actually didn't forget, but instead made the conscious decision to update when I got home (which is now). I hope that my ones of loyal fans didn't spend a lot of time constantly refreshing my website, hoping for an update on Saturday (to be factual, this page received 4 hits total on Saturday, so this definitely wasn't the case).
I took a number of pictures of the trees, and this nebulous sunset - of the series, the one above is the one I felt was best. It was the most snow my mom and sister have seen since they moved to North Carolina, but it was about a third of the snow I saw in 2000 when I was stationed at Ft. Bragg (and about a tenth of what I saw last winter in Virginia). Even so, it was one of the prettiest snowfalls I've seen - very picturesque everywhere you look. Driving around after the fall stopped, I was impressed to see that the state/county/etc. actually cleared the major roads. You'd be hard pressed to see northern Virginia to do half as good of a job (often they just plow in one direction on a two-way road, leaving a clearing just wide enough for two cars to fit side by side). -28DEC2010
From June 15th, 2004 - A sunset in Orlando.
I swear my camera took much better pictures back when it was new. This one is especially incredible, if you ask me. I don't know why I didn't put it in my sunset section, but I'm putting it here now. Happy Photography
A fountain this morning, in a business park near our apartment complex.
I'd already planned what photo to post this Phaturday, but this one trumped it. The wifey and I walked to a close-by Chinese restaurant to take advantage of their $6.99 buffet, and on the way back she says "WHOA!", noticing what you see in the image above. We walked over, looked at it, and I scurried as fast as I could to the apartment, wife in tow, to grab my camera and delight my phans with this delight.
I'm sure you're curious about the photo that was usurped. Easy enough - I can post it. Behold.
After many many tries of getting a good dark-looking picture with my G11, this one came out the best. It was surprisingly hard to focus (the camera's auto-focus didn't work at all, so I had to do it manually), and the TV being on at the same time cast weird colors all over the tree and the blinds behind it.
Because it took me about two months to get rid of the tree we bought last year, we decided to go with a small, fake one that we can box up for this year. I should have done a before/after because the difference between what it looked like out of the box, versus what it looks like now is incredible. Almost as striking as the one from Charlie Brown's Christmas.
Tallulah Falls, Georgia. I'm one of thousands to take this picture, I'm sure.
Well, Thanksgiving vacation was well worth taking, to find out that my "thumbnails" are pretty big on most computer screens (seems I'm the only one I know that uses 1920 x 1080), so from here on out their size will be reduced from 800 x 600, to 640 x 480. Originally I thought it would be a good idea to make a new page and hold the collection of Photography Phaturday episodes there, in addition to keeping them in my archives. Thinking about it, it doesn't really seem like there would be an advantage to anyone by doing that. If you want to see the old entries, just go to the archive and scroll down. I've also been looking at ways that the site could be better. I don't like that my music reviews hasn't been touched in five years. The same can be said for pretty much all the other pages - I still have yet to change the "Things I Hate" image to something better. Still no Ireland page. Still no pictures of my wedding. Yeah I'm a pah-tetic website master.
The world is going crazy... seems things are ramping up to go into apocalypse for 2012. North Korea is pot-shotting South Korea. We don't know what side China will take. We're nearing $14T of debt, with only the smallest of signs that government will stop increasing spending. The Fed just disclosed that they sent out some $3,300,000,000,000.00 to anyone (screenshot) with their hand out and just now disclosed it, only because of a financial reform bill that should not have passed. Jobs growth is still anemic, to the point where the unemployment rate actually rose for November, despite the massive seasonal hiring retail outlets do for Christmas. I'm still optimistic about the economy coming back (despite what Sean Hannity and Obama himself claim, his administration hasn't been nearly as extreme as FDR's), but I'm very concerned about it being hamstrung by inflation. The only thing in our favor is that Europe is in a similar quandary... but what happens when they become solvent or irrelevant? In the meantime, the dollar is poised to get dropped as an investment (in the US's defense, the only worst investment is in the Euro and British Pound), directly due to the actions of the Federal Reserve. If that happens, we're screwed. Think the Great Depression, but instead of public stocks, it's our currency.
Well, there you have it. This hasn't been a very big post, but I did spend a lot of time on it. I hope it makes sense. I think my backspace key got at least 49.9% of the use compared to the rest of my keys combined. -04DEC2010
A light post, a tree, and a sky at our apartment parking lot.
In the morning, as we were leaving to go on a road trip for the week, I was thinking about my last post, where I was having a desire to be a photographer, and how I no longer looked at things in the way I used to. It just so happened that I looked up at that moment, and saw the above picture. So I captured it. ~~~The End~~~
Well, not really. Between then and now, I've taken some 150 more pictures of various things, including Tallulah Falls, which I will likely post for next week's Photography Phaturday... and I plan on taking more. The possibilities are endless. This also marks the very first time I've updated this website from my new (now two years old) laptop. -27NOV2010
Taken November 2nd, 2004, on the flight from LaCrosse, WI to Houston, TX.
This was the 605th picture I took with my Canon G5, after owning the camera for about six months - I've taken (and deleted many of) over 10,000 now. I remember the days when I used to take a picture of anything and everything, wanting to capture as much as I could. I still have the desire, but not going to new places as often as I once did sort of puts a lid on it. There's only so many pictures of/around my office I can take, and I'm not allowed to bring a camera on most customer sites. I do believe though, that I'm looking at things through the eyes of "that would make a great picture" less and less. Hopefully I'll phase back into photography the way I once was, because I'm astonished at some the pictures I've taken, that I haven't seen in years, but have now thanks to Photography Phaturday (and my lack of new pictures for the week). - 20NOV2010
Bored in the office, playing with my camera, I took a macro picture of a potentiometer I had laying around.
Sorry for the late update once again. This time I really have no excuse. Hopefully this doesn't become a habit. :( -14NOV2010
A road, southwest from the town of Primm, in Fallout: New Vegas.
This week I went down to Ft. Bragg for work. Unfortunately, I didn't get to spend any time dilly-dallying like I wanted to - to refamiliarize myself with what was my stomping grounds for three years, between 1998 and 2001. In addition to the lack of time to dilly-dally, I did not have an opportunity to take any pictures. This resulted in me scratching my head, wondering what to do about this Photography Phaturday... So I played Fallout: New Vegas into the wee hours of the night, only to realize I was very late with an update, and would have to do it today. Then I got an idea - I'll just post a screenshot from the game. So here it is - an effective 'photo' depicting what I've been doing for the past two weeks on my free time at home. Roaming the wasteland (that looks and plays remarkably similar to Fallout 3, which I talked about being addicted to in my November 28th, 2008 update), killing mutated monsters, and helping various factions of desperate people find their own way to survive, while building up my character equipment in preparation for ever increasingly difficult battles.
So the Republicans took over the House. Democrats with Clinton and Obama, seem incapable of holding a majority for more than two years at a time. Even Republicans were able to do 6 years with Bush... not that it means anything, but a point can be made that people prefer a slow cooking over a quick one. I'm extremely skeptical anything good will actually come out of this, but am hopeful that less bad will be churned out. In my last post, remember when I said the economy would come back due to gridlock in congress? Well, that was before I knew that the Fed was going to conjure up 600 billion dollars and saturate the dollar to the point where a $5.15 minimum wage actually held more purchasing power than $7.25 will by this time next year. Peter Schiff, back when TARP was introduced warned of hyperinflation (for those that don't know, he's one of the few economists that predicted the housing bubble long before it popped) if the monetary policy kept on the same path. Well, with this, it not only has kept on the same path, but we've floored the gas pedal. The only hope is that they actually let Ron Paul take over the oversight committee as he's set to do, and reign the fed in, but due to his unpopularity within the congress, there's a chance someone else will be sitting in that seat come January. Part of me wants to purchase other currencies to protect my savings against inflation, but then with Washington acting the way it has been, there's no telling what kind of protectionist policy they might come up with to dissuade exchanging currencies other than the dollar within the states (and I'd be stuck with a pile of foreign money that I can't use). Another economist-type (in that, as far as I can tell he has no degree in economics) I happened upon while looking for something related, is the potty-mouthed Gonzalo Lira, who has a way of laying things out in a way that can actually be understood by economic featherweights like myself. I haven't read his November 4th article yet (because I'm using my time today to update this website), but I'm sure it's packed with lots of goodies.
Completely unrelated, I got my first speeding ticket while in my Subaru. 76 in a 65. The cop even checked my tint, trying to extort as much money as possible out of me (of course I was well within the legal limit). On the ticket, no price or anything... Only a phone number that is constantly busy and a website address that is about as easy to navigate as any government website, where as far as I can tell has no information on speeding ticket prices. Upon my arrival at home, I have in the mail nothing less than a second ticket, this time a photo one in DC, for 63 in a 50. The picture clearly shows a Suburban is next to me in the left lane, so I think it's fightable, but something tells me I'll just be wasting my time. -07NOV2010
The view, from the back door of my company's suite in Chantilly, VA.
A part of me wanted to do a massive political update this time... But I'm really lazy right now. Instead, I'll summarize: Re-pubes will take control of the House and maybe the Senate - either way, after this election, Washington will be gridlocked. The result of this gridlock, will be certainty in the marketplace, and the economy will finally start to pick up, despite the load its been put under by the Wall Street reform act and the Health Insurance BS act.
NOVA Brewfest, earlier today.
Deciding to go with a capture of something, rather than trying to show off photography skillz - I took this picture today. Looking at it now, I am reminded of the feeling of burned, crispy skin that happens to be my face and neck. The beer was good, and the crowd was much more sizeable than I would have expected. There were a number of tents with various crafts and food items... they even had what appeared to be a mobile strip club. Overall, a pretty good time but not much more to do other than drink beer. -23OCT2010
Roughly two hours after I posted the last update, my father died. He didn't make it to the nursing home - the transfer was delayed till Tuesday because of paperwork issues. He died Monday night, and I got the call from Carol around 3 in the morning. It was his intention to die in his own bed, rather than a hospital or a nursing home. Whether it happened by coincidence or intent is something else I'll never know.
Let's get on with Photography Phaturday, shall we?
Foamhenge - located in/near Natural Bridge, VA. June, 2007.
This is Foamhenge - a free to see tourist attraction near the southern portion of Shenandoah. We went there for my wife's birthday - she wanted to see Natural Bridge, which is also in the same spot. Unfortunately with Foamhenge (it's exactly what it sounds like - a replica of Stonehenge made of foam), because it is free to see, there wasn't any administrator to be found, which resulted in a bit of vandalism. Holes were carved in the 'stones', and a few were knocked over. The seemingly eccentric artist who built it also owned a free to see Haunted House that was pretty entertaining - that made money by recording your group as you went through and charging $15 for a VHS tape of the whole thing (optional, of course). Kind of a strange area altogether, but the Natural Bridge park was rightly the highlight of the visit. Maybe I'll post a picture of a sight from that on another Phaturday. -16OCT2010
The update below was mostly written the three days after visiting my father in Louisiana. Today, I have touched it up in places, but it remains mostly unchanged. I have since added more paragraphs, and inserted a mark showing as much.
My Aunt Cynthia called me, nearly crying. Her brother, who happens to be my father is being eaten up with cancer that has infested his entire body. He has gone from being able to ride a motorcycle, to not being able to walk inside of two months. I had talked to him before... called him on Father's Day; he told me he didn't know how much longer he had left, and I dismissed it. He wanted my address, and I tried to tell him but he couldn't make sense between what I said and what he was writing. Maybe brain damage from a fever he had between the time he was operated on for colon cancer, and when I called him. He sounded like himself otherwise. I previously sent him pictures (through Snapfish) of my wedding, after a portion of his colon was removed. I asked if he got them, and he said he did. He missed our wedding, so it was important to me that he at least know what my wife looked like.
But the call came Monday last week. A voicemail that was as pleading as it was unimposing from my Aunt Cynthia, asking me to call back. So I did. She said that if I wanted to see my father again, it had to be now. He was bedridden, weak, and not understandable... degrading fast. Refused to eat. She apologized, not knowing how I felt about him. She didn't know if I hated him, or resented him, or loved him, or was disappointed in him, or forgot him. She apologized for burdening me with the fact that this was likely going to be the last chance I had to see my father. She repeated over and over again that I didn't have to, but thought I deserved the chance to make the choice. I had to stand outside the office of my work, watching traffic go by... a Comcast guy was messing around in our warehouse, running cable for the other suites in the building my office resided in, making tons of noise. On the phone with her, I felt like I knew exactly where she was coming from, and exactly the emotions she was feeling. At that moment I felt like I'd known her all my life, and as such knew exactly who she was... I felt the mixture of urgency, grievance, caution, and indirect regret that seemed to be dripping off of her sentences.
After getting off the phone with her, I looked at plane ticket prices online, not ready to make a decision. Flights out of Baltimore on Tuesday were $89 a ticket, non-stop to New Orleans. Flights back on Saturday, $69. These were on Airtran, which as of today has been bought by Southwest Airlines. I called my Dad to see if he even wanted to see me and meet my wife. He couldn't talk very well, and he kept saying he couldn't hear me, and I kept talking louder. There wasn't anything wrong with his hearing, because he understood what his friend Ted told him at a normal audible level. There may have been a problem with his ability to focus, or that the phone was offset from his ear. It was a very strange and confusing conversation, but I did manage to get from him that he'd appreciate a visit. "Come on down!" were his exact words.
I called my sister in North Carolina and asked if she felt like she wanted or needed to come with me. She'd been sick due to her gall bladder surgery (I suspect) for the past week, throwing up every day. She decided to stay put.
So, my wife and I flew down to Louisiana on Tuesday, and stayed with the two people who have most positively affected my life while I was growing up, and happened to have a guest bedroom. We did get the chance to go out to Kenner Seafood that evening, and it was just as good as it always was, except for the oysters which were imported, due to the BP oil spill. But enough digression. I don't like oysters anyway.
Wednesday afternoon my wife and I went to see my father at the apartment he shares with his friend, Ted. As we walked around the building, I saw a heavy set guy with a Harley Davidson shirt, walking out to his motorcycle, and knew that had to be the guy. We shook hands and he walked us back and let us in, and there was my dad in his mostly empty bedroom, asleep on a very uncomfortable looking bed, with Nascar on the television. The epitome of an image of a dying man, his body weight was down to the near minimum, facial features limited to the shape of his skull, fingernails overgrown. My wife and I looked at each other, not knowing what to do, probably thinking it best to let him sleep. At that point Ted turned on the light and shook him awake, proclaiming our arrival.
The look on my dad's face went from confusion to anger, and then when he saw us, he genuinely looked happy to see us. He loudly mumbled something incoherent and I acted like I understood. We talked about various things, sometimes I could understand him and sometimes I couldn't. He knew how he sounded, and was getting more and more frustrated that he couldn't talk. He used the word "communicate" for lots of things (he also mentioned an inhaler that would help him communicate, that he lost, or may have never had). He expressed frustration at being left alive in a state where he couldn't do anything for himself. The Nascar race ended with number 33 doing donuts on the track, and he expressed disappointment at missing the finish because number 33 wasn't in the top ranks at all when he last glanced at the television.
He talked about how quick the sickness took over him. He was out with a friend of his, and all of a sudden "boom. Here I am.". He looked at me, likely noticing my expression of despair and concern, he shrugged, and said "This's gotta happen to everyone sometime. Ain't no big deal.", similar words were said by my grandfather the last time I saw him. It's hard to talk about death to someone who is dying. Even knowing that they've contemplated it, and are at peace with it, it's still an incredibly uncomfortable subject, and I haven't yet figured out why. There it is, staring everyone in the face, wondering if anyone will acknowledge it, but it remains ignored as I refuse to accept its existence. In any case, we said we'd come by the next day and hopefully he'd be able to talk better then. He indicated that he thought it was a good idea, and encouraged us to "find some way to mess around in the city" while we were here.
And mess around we did not. I called close-by family members to let them know I was in town. The wife and I, plus Mrs. Vicki ate at Smitty's (I don't miss much about Louisiana, but I do miss the food), and later Mr. Bobby came in from out of town and we stayed up talking about anything and everything. Rarely did my mind drift to my father's situation. Throughout the day regret was trying to creep up on me, wondering what kind of relationship we could have had if I'd made more of an effort to cultivate one in the past. The chance to have a father may have been within my grasp, and I ignored it. Of course, one can say it isn't my fault - in which case the blame would fall squarely on my father's shoulders. The only way I'd be able to come to terms with that, is with anger. That didn't seem fair either. The distraction of conversation was welcome.
The next day, the hospice nurse had visited by the time we arrived, and I was hoping that maybe this magical inhaler he'd mentioned the previous day would have appeared at least during the nurse's visit. He was asleep in the room, the television off. I woke him up, leaving the light off, and this time he wasn't quite as happy to see me. Nor was he improved, nor was there an inhaler to be seen. He tried to talk, but nothing came out right. At one point he joked that (after he died) he was going to keep an eye on us and give us a scare every now and then. I tried to ask him more questions, but his answers were very garbled. He looked sad and defeated, and my wife encouraged me to talk to him about various things, which helped. I talked about my sister, my mom, my job. I meant to talk about the Saints recently winning their Monday night football game, but I forgot.
There was a break... a minute long silence. He then turned on the TV. Five minutes later, his eyes were closed. My wife and I watched TV, sitting next to his bed for another five minutes or so. I glanced at him and caught his eyes half open, eyeballs pointed right at me. He quickly closed his eyes. "Yeah, we're still here." I said, and he half laughed. He raised his arm, and said, at least what I could make out, that if we had anything to do we might as well go do it. I told him we didn't have anything better to do, and we'd stay put. He humphed in a way that said "Suit yourself." and pretended to go to sleep. I didn't want to leave, but I also didn't want to stay. It was obvious he was trying to get us out of there, and what seemed like hours, but was only minutes, I stood up preparing to go. I went to give him a hug, and I attempted to tell him that I never harbored any anger or resentment towards him... It was difficult, but I got it out. He responded clearly "I don't care about all that." I hugged him, and said "Well, I guess I'll see you in about forty years.", and that brought a fresh smile to his face. I told him that I loved him on my way out, he didn't respond. Maybe he didn't hear me. Maybe he responded and I didn't hear him. Maybe he did hear me, but simply didn't respond. It's something I'll never know.
I asked Ted if my dad ever talked about me. He said that he didn't, and quickly changed the subject to cover what I already knew. Body will be donated, all arrangements have been taken care of. [Here is where I stopped writing weeks ago, and where I typed more today.] I tried asking him another question, and he was clearly getting uncomfortable. I suppose it's not an easy thing to tell a son that his father never showed any sign that he cared about him. We left. On the way to the rental car, I had a lump in my throat. I knew I was sad for a good reason, but I couldn't nail that reason down. I knew I was sad for the obvious reasons, but there was something much larger that I couldn't, and may not ever figure out.
When I was young, always in the back of my mind I knew that I had a father. He wasn't around much, but he was still close by, and there was always some level of comfort in that. At some point in my life between the age of 12 and 30, I forgot that I had a father. That level of comfort quietly disappeared, and I didn't even realize it. There was no moment of rebellion as I became my own person, simultaneously rejecting him and his flaws. There was no coming of age or competition where I established my dominance to my own decisions. He wasn't that kind of father... wasn't that kind of person. He kept to himself, didn't ask anyone for anything, nor did he volunteer himself to intervene in anyone's life. For better or for worse, this lack of guidance played a large part in making me whatever I am today.
That evening we went out with my cousin Jennifer and her husband on a free tour of New Orleans, which I mentioned earlier in my posts. That night, laying in bed, 20% asleep, I wrote in my head exactly what I wanted to say here, lamenting the circumstances we end up in because of decisions or non-decisions we make in the past, where it pertains to my father. It was very beautiful, dreamy, and even poetic. Unfortunately, I didn't remember much of it the next day... but I do remember the swirl of emotions that rarely make themselves known to me, and those are the same seeds that grew this update as well as my dreamy non-update.
I guess the thing that bothers me most, is the things that I don't know about my father. A figure who, in theory, is supposed to be very close to me, in practice, ends up being one of my most distant relatives. I don't know the first thing about who he is, or how the thinks, or how he feels. I don't know what he's accomplished, who he's affected (positively or negatively), or who, if anyone, was able to be close to him. Importantly, I don't know what he thought about me or my sister. I don't know if he was proud, disappointed, glad, burdened, guilty, resentful, over-cautious, lonely, content, or if he just shrugged us off as a generic part of his life that he could easily keep his distance from. I never held that he was a spiteful person, but I have to admit that the level of my uncertainty leaves room for it.
In the meantime, today he should be shifted from his bedroom to a nursing home. Last week he got to the point where he couldn't control his body in the way that he needs to in order to lay in his own bed. Carol, his first wife has been great in seeing that he's taken care of. She signed him up for hospice care, and researched nursing homes for him to stay in, and has arranged and paid for a sitting service to watch him during the time between. Ultimately, these would be my responsibilities had she not stepped up. I wouldn't have known the first thing to do otherwise. It would have been on Ted to contact me, and I don't know if that would have happened. Carol seems to care a great deal for him; I haven't yet asked her why, or at what level their communication/interaction has been for the last few decades. I'm very glad that she's there for him, and by proxy for me.
So there it is, the update I've been holding on to for almost a month. I've been hesitant on posting it... for many reasons. The main reason being, that it can never be complete. No matter how many sentences I correct, or out-of-topic thoughts I inject, it will never be enough. There's a lot of expectations that I think I should have had but never did. There's a lot of perspectives I can take on my father's behalf, on my own behalf, and on the behalf of an unbiased outside observer. It's all speculation of varying depth, and any effort spent on it may be the antithesis of my father's seemingly laissez faire philosophy on life itself. No matter what I can say, or what I can think, the unchanging fact remains that I didn't make the effort to find out who my dad was, nor did he make the effort to find out who his son was.
A day late is this week's update. I gave it an honest try to update yesterday, but there were issues getting my laptop working on my mom's internet router. Kept saying it was connected, but I couldn't get out. Long story short, I gave up and you get your update today instead of yesterday.
One tractor pull of many, at the Dixie Classic Fair in Winston-Salem, NC
So this week my wife and I meandered down to North Carolina for a visit with my mom and sister that was planned a very long time ago. Traffic was horrible, despite going away from the city on Friday morning, but we eventually got there. Saturday we went to the Dixie Classic Fair and had a "fair"ly good time (HAHAHAHAHA). Lots of great food, lots of questionable food, and lots of dream-shattering recipe and produce contests. There were also a number of shows/events going on but I guess you can read their website if you're really aching for details.
I did find that I was particularly skilled driving the bumper car; I probably learned a lot of the practice by driving in the similar environment that is the DC metro area. Other than that, it was the first fair I've gone to in a very long time, and now I'm good for the next very long time or so. -10OCT2010
Okay, here we are with another Photography Phaturday. I almost posted a normalish update mid-week, but it will be held off for a little bit longer.
Saw this while walking back from a Chinese Restaurant with my wife, right outside our apartment complex.
It looks like a beehive, but it's really some sort of pine cone (it's a little smaller than a normal pine cone). There were a lot of wasps flying around it, maybe doing something with the sap - I don't know. In any case, a week after first seeing it I finally went out and got a picture of it (while on a walking exercise with my wife) with the sole purpose of making it my 8th Photography Phaturday entry. I'd never seen anything like it before, but then my tree climbing days ended more than a couple decades ago. This sort of pine cone might actually be a common one, for all I know. -02OCT2010
A little over an hour left to the day, and I'm just in time for Photography Phaturday #7. I may or may not talk about the week in a later post. For now, it's just a picture.
Two houses/things, along Magazine St. in New Orleans, plus the moon and a street light.
Walking along Magazine street, after having dinner at Rani cafe and then going for dessert at Sucre with my cousin and cousin-in-law, we walked the street. I happened to see this, and I noted "That's a good picture right there." Unfortunately, the moon didn't capture properly with its bluish overglow and lack of features. There is one thing that I could have done, and that was to turn on the neutral density filter, and it would have cleaned up the light around the moon at a dramatic cost of shutter speed, which would have lead to a blurry picture. In other words, without a $3000 camera upgrade or a tripod, this was an impossible shot to get perfect. -25SEP2010
Okay I missed last Phaturday's update, due to feeling like boiled crap all day after drinking too much too fast during a noon time college football game. So it's a day late here on Phunday. I didn't take any pictures this week, so I had to go through my old ones again.
Icicles! Taken right outside of my apartment, after our big huge snow on February 12, 2010.
I contemplated posting this picture instead, but decided against it because it doesn't quite show the scale or have the color of the above one. It was also one of the first series of pictures I'd taken with my new camera, the Canon G11 (which I haven't been impressed with, coming from the G5 - I may make a page about it). I wouldn't mind spending this upcoming winter without seeing these again. -19SEP2010
Yesterday I almost posted an update with my award winning political hackery. But then I didn't. There's lots going on in the world and I'm feeling less and less like a difference can ever be made. Getting very tired of partisan bickering (courtesy of our elected officials), and the more I see it the more helpless I feel. The noise is getting louder; election is coming up. Few are predicting less than a 90% incumbent reelection, and if they're right, I think that would be the most depressing factor in our political environment because it would prove that there really is no hope.
Almost forgot - today is September 11th. Happy Terrorist Day, all. May your fear of strangers who walk close to you guide you to safety and a long life.
And for our fifth edition of Photography Phaturday:
Stuffed peppers, which I had for dinner yesterday and today. Absolutely delicious both times.
Their composition and execution was entirely done by my wife; they are the first peppers stuffed with chicken I've ever had. Also in the stuffing is rice and various amounts of different white cheeses, jalapenos, and other seasonings. It could never be done with red meat, and I doubt I'll find a red meat pepper that I'd prefer over these. -11SEP2010
Taken in February of 2006, in Dallas, Texas.
When I was on this trip, I was working with a strange guy named Juan (and no, I haven't seen them all). He noticed as we were on top of roofs of tall buildings that I made it a huge point to take as many pictures as possible from different angles and at different times of the day. Our job required us to go to roofs of hotels and other tall buildings - but it was a job that wouldn't last forever, so I explained to him that not many people get this kind of opportunity, and I valued it as that. Generally when you go to a building and ask to go to their roof to take pictures, you need a reason to be there that's other than taking pictures, otherwise you aren't worth the liability should you really be suicidal and jump off. Before he asked me that question, I didn't really give it much thought as to why I was borderline obsessive with it.
As reason would have it, this was one of the last trips I was on where I could get some really good pictures. The one above in particular is one of my favorites for the year, but I never bothered to post it. Until today. It actually looks reasonably professional; but the reality of it is I was still learning how to use my camera and this was one of the results (unfortunately it is slightly crooked to the left, unlike my political views HAHAHAHAHA!). -04SEP2010
Best wishes go to my sister, who is recovering from having her gall bladder removed. What was supposed to be "2 hours at the most" recovery time has turned into at least a 2nd overnight stay at the hospital. She's in good spirits, and hasn't complained. Everything went well during the surgery, but she can't eat or drink water without losing it. Doctors/nurses are mum about the cause; which leads me to believe it may be a reaction to the anesthesia they gave her, in which case she will be better once it's out of her system.
I was in New York (upstate) this week, and on the way back I stopped at one of the many scenic overlooks on the way. This one is the first rest area after crossing into Pennsylvania, and also this week's entry in Photography Phaturday!
Okay, this isn't the real entry. Look below.
And that's that. Three entries in a row without talking about politics. Woohoo. -28AUG2010
Already I am on a roll. Here for my 2nd iteration of Photography Phaturday, I bring my very first digital camera, the one I keep in my car at all times. It doesn't quite know what to focus on at any given time, and this picture turned out to be little more than useable. Didn't even bother with making a thumbnail. I actually took a 2nd picture when the sign was much closer, but the shutter didn't click until two seconds after I thought the picture had taken, so I have a picture of my dashboard instead of a better picture of the yield sign.
I almost forgot about updating today. I ended up getting a call as soon as I woke up from a friend that needed help picking up and bringing to his house a baby grand piano. What was going to be "just a couple of hours" turned into an all day affair. It was on my way home that I was reminded of the above picture, and I managed to remember to add it when I settled down in the apartment. So there you have it. -21AUG2010
I've had an idea floating in my head for quite a while - something to force me into a weekly update. The idea? Photography Phriday (not to be confused with SomethingAwful.com's Photoshop Phriday...) But since today is technically Saturday (it's 12:06 AM), I'll have to call it Photography Phaturday. I think I like that better, though Photography Phunday would be equally amusing. The intent is to post a picture with a comment, and no guarantees outside of that. Just something to keep my duties in check, to ensure I don't neglect this website as much as I have been. The photographs will be of anything, and posted on this main page. I'll try to make it a point to post a picture I've taken during the week, but since I don't carry my camera around with me everywhere I go, this won't be very likely. If nothing else, I'll go back over my picture database and post something that I didn't post somewhere else... of course this will be explained in the comment with the picture if necessary. Once I build up enough (maybe 10 pictures or so), I may make a new page to archive them all... We'll believe it when we see it, right? I'll try to include with the posted image, a larger one (see it by clicking on it). Sizes will vary.
In any case, I present to you the first weekly Photography Phaturday entry. Bask. Drown in its glory.
Taken about a month ago, this was a wasp nest underneath my mom's grill on her back deck. I didn't mess with the nest at all, electing to live and let live. I cooked a dozen hot dogs and half a dozen brats, plus some hamburgers and they didn't seem the least bit bothered by it. Once upon a time I wouldn't have been able to go near it... I wonder what has changed in me where today, their proximity doesn't bother me in the least.
Actually, it might go back to being in the Army, when I was at NTC. We were deployed in Death Valley-ish for about three weeks. No showers. One guy on our team brought a shower bag (you fill it up with water, hang it up, and rinse yourself off). Strangely enough, in a desert where no life could be found if you looked for it, bees in great swarms came out of nowhere to get to any kind of moisture. Of course, when you were showering, you became a sort of beehive. Once you realized that you weren't going to get stung, it was actually pretty easy to shower with 20, 30 bees on your skin, sucking up whatever moisture they could get their little bee tongues on, so much to the point where many of them drowned in the process. You just wiped them off, no harm, no foul. -14AUG2010
When I was in Kindergarten we were subjected to an Easter Egg hunt (clearly a tactic by Christians to indoctrinate me into their religion). We all had our baskets, ready to go, waiting for the teacher to blow the whistle so we could run out and find as many Easter eggs as possible. The top three who found the most would win a prize. I don't remember what the prizes were, but I know that I really wanted one. My eyesight as a child was as perfect as anyone can dream of, and probably the best out of all the kids who were hunting with me. I saw, from where we stood waiting, about ten of the construction paper Easter egg cutouts, flapping in various places in bushes, under rocks... wherever an egg shaped piece of paper could go without reasonable fear of being blown away.
The whistle blew, and I was off. I had more than a couple eggs before anyone else found one, and I kept seeing more with every burst of steps I took. A minute or so of egg-searching fenzy passed, and it was about then that I noticed in my basket that all my eggs were gone, just as I saw one of the kids pull the last one out of it. I had a line of kids following me, fighting over who would reach into my basket next. I was angry, but there were still a lot of eggs to be found. I stopped putting them in my basket, holding them all in one hand. Before I was able to get a third egg in this manner, the bigger kids used a tactic that caught me off guard. Whenever I reached out for an egg, I got pushed away and they grabbed it. After this happened twice, I gave up and cried. It wasn't fair. I found the most eggs, but they were stolen from me, and there was nothing I could do about it.
It was this event in my life, among many others that I believe helped shape many of the principles that I have today. It's frustrating when you do a bunch of work, running around, and generally doing something better than everyone else, only to have the fruits of your labor stolen from you by those that think it's okay to do so simply because you have more than they do. It's also the kind of action that causes those who are successful, to just plop down on the ground and give up, because it gets to a point where there is no point. As a result, many eggs eternally flap in the breeze, never to be found. :( -29JUN2010
What is on my mind this month? Well, this time it's about the ruckus over the Arizona immigration law. The one where, if someone is pulled over or otherwise caught committing a crime, part of the officer's process to process will be to check their immigration status if there's reasonable suspicion that said person is not a legal US citizen. Supporters of the law say it's necessary to curb state costs with schools, health care, and police. Opponents say that the supporters are racist and xenophobic. Supporters say that there will not be any racial profiling involved. Opponents say this will turn Arizona into Hitler-style "papers please" draconian wasteland, where you can get arrested and deported while trying to take your kid out for ice cream. Supporters say we need to control the border. Opponents say we need the workers.
Each argument has a dash of basis in reality, but none seem to be thought through very far. The law will probably do exactly what it's intended to do, which is to make people illegally in Arizona leave the state. The exact same thing happened here when Prince William County implemented a similar law two - three years ago. Crime plummeted according to the author of that law.
Where my thoughts deviate from all others that I've heard/read, is that I see the necessity behind the creation of the law in the first place. It's socialism. Now, when right-wingers bandy the word around in description of the welfare state they usually get lambasted by left-wingers. What do left-wingers think of socialism? They think of a police state, where people have no freedom or rights. Well, my lucky readers... I will reveal to you a secret. Socialism is both of these things. You can't have minimum wage laws, free health care, free education, free food (stamps), free housing, and a free monthly allowance without protecting it from abuse or overuse. That's where the police state comes in. You have the emotional left who want everyone to have everything (as long as it isn't more than they have), and you have the rational right that understand the costs involved with such a utopia. They will always have to merge at the center, the higher the bar on the left goes, the higher the bar on the right has to go to meet it. The more socialism you have, the more police and policy you need to protect it. It wouldn't be affordable otherwise. Your rights get whittled away as your individuality poses more and more of a threat to the collective. This is true for both the Arizona immigration law as well as the health care legislation I talked about previously.
What's the answer? I'm a proponent of open borders, conditional with the elimination of (most) social programs and laws. Where there's a minimum wage law (or income tax, or payroll tax, or health insurance mandate), there's an employer looking for cheap labor to illegally get a leg up on his competition. What bewilders me are the Democrats who are such strong proponents of raising the minimum wage, are also proponents of people illegally within our borders working for less-than-minimum-wage cash payment (ultimately resulting in Hitler-style raids of said businesses). Democrats who are against NAFTA because it "exports" US jobs, while simultaneously "fighting for the little guy who comes here just for an opportunity". And then you have Republicans who support free markets (supposedly), simultaneously wanting to prevent educated immigrants from competing with US citizens for high paying jobs. It's complete nonsense. Poppycock, even. Ridiculous, I say. There's no consistency coming from politicians, journalists, article writers, talking heads, or anyone I interact with.
I won't bore the world with any more scenarios, but my point is simply that a police state is a yin to socialism's yang. Human nature isn't altruistic, where everyone volunteers contribution of their own capital or time and work for the good of others. It is the opposite, where if free stuff is being given away, people will line up around the block to get it.
The majority of this I wrote about a week ago, but I lost interest in it. I realized something though, sometime last week... The main reason I've stopped working on my website. The story behind it, is I heard the phrase "10 - 100" as trucker jargon in a conversation, and I had no idea what it meant. So I looked it up and found this website. It's horrible! I thought "I can do better than that!"... and it hit me. I've stopped working on my website because as the internet has matured, so have all other websites, making mine a below average one - nay... a crappy one - instead of an above average one. There's no more pride in knowing my (very) basic HTML skills kick the hell out of Microsoft Front Page websites, because anyone today can throw together something much better looking and infinitely more functional with a few web-based clicks of a mouse... or by simply registering on Facebook. I guess I feel like an illustrator when cameras first started coming out, or a photographer when point-and-shoot digital cameras started becoming so good. I just didn't realize it until recently. Anyway, till next time. -17MAY2010
I had a dream last night that was pretty surreal. I was standing on a beach, with lots of people my age or younger. They were all dressed casually, and were socializing with each other. Several people even had laptops, a couple of which were sitting in the sand, ignored. The ocean was violent from the wind, and the sky was nearly black with clouds. The water kept coming close to the laptops on the ground, but never quite touched them. I kept looking at everyone, thinking "Are these people idiots?". Then the water started to recede significantly. My wife, standing to my left said "Uh oh...", as we both know what suddenly receding water might mean, and a tsunami began to inundate the area. The kids tried to get their laptops and run away, but it was too late. The computers were destroyed, and the dream switched to another subject before the water got higher than ankle deep.
A cursory search on the internet says that the dream means that I'm scared of the future. I assume that the people standing with me, unaware of my existence and unable to see what I was seeing, are the general educated American public, who hold a much different political opinion than I do. It was directly related to the health care legislation passed last week, no doubt. I read that AT&T expects a $1B operational cost increase for the first quarter alone. They wrote a letter to congress, and congress responded by telling them that the SEC needs to investigate their internal finance documents.
With the passage of this bill, the extra costs levied on employers has made my opportunity at getting another job an unquantifiable percentage lower. If it were only that, I might still feel okay. But considering the mood of the economy and how things just don't seem to be getting better, this might just be the brick to break the camel's back.
To me, the problem with our health care industry is very obvious. It's a supply and demand issue. Pundits try to make it sound scary when they say the government "is trying to take over 1/6th of the economy". But what they never mention is that the government already owns half of that 1/6th - that half is funded by Medicare and Medicaid. Government dollars account for half of the total health spending, while treating only a fraction of the population. So that leaves 1/12th to the private sector, right? Well, not really. There are insurance company mandates at the state and federal level, as well as requirements for doctors and hospitals... not only artificially pumping up demand, but also artificially constricting supply. Anyone with a basic grasp of economics can understand what this makes for... Skyrocketing costs. So the federal government decides (just like Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts) that to fix the problem is to mandate that everyone buy health insurance (again, artificially pumping up demand)... All this will do nationally is exactly what it did in Massachusetts. Doctors get overworked. Hospital costs go up. Insurance premiums go up. It's a little different from the housing industry, in that you can't buy investment packages in health services the same way you could a home mortgage, but even so the health industry is headed for collapse in much the same way. The cost can't exponentially increase forever, but that seems to be exactly what this subsidy (regulatory and fiscal) is designed to accomplish. In addition to all the current regulations and mandates, there are new taxes to be implemented on medical supplies, making them artificially more expensive and harder to come by as a result, driving costs up at the hospital yet even more.
So what's the solution? Well, a CNN article I read yesterday had a sort of expert question/answer session with imaginary people that might actually exist. I took a large amount of humor in what one of those people said in complaint of our current system, and it was "I can get insurance for my dog, but I can't get it for myself." Well guess what, Mr. Guy... Which industry is the government most heavily involved with? Pet insurance or people insurance? There's your solution. Get the government out. Not just taxes, stupid regulations, and stupid mandates seemingly made for lawyers to wait for violations of so they can make 60% off of a settlement, but also subsidy. That means get rid of tax breaks, Medicaid, and Medicare... or at the very least, reduce them drastically. Demand needs to be reduced, and supply needs to increase. To me, the hard, real solution is blatantly obvious - but it seems to be ignored on both sides of the aisle because no politician wants to face the hard reality.
This is a big part of why I haven't been inclined to post much. I'm really in disbelief that there are people out there that think this bill will lower costs, and is overall a good thing. Of course, something like this might be inevitable when headlines like "Insurance Companies' Pre-existing Condition: Heartlessness" often appear. Yeah, this bill really sticks it to the insurance companies. Thanks to it, they stand to make more profit than ever before. They can charge to the maximum limit and we're required by law to pay it. And if they run at a loss because the limit isn't high enough, then they'll undoubtedly get bailed out by (*drumroll*) taxpayers! Woooo! -29MAR2010
Saturday, it snowed (as I posted below, if anyone noticed). It snowed a lot. Sunday was Dig-Your-Car-Out Day. It was then that I met one of my neighbors, a 55-ish year old man named Ray. We had a pretty good conversation about snow and weather and beer. He was clearing out his car and his wife's... I offered to help, but he refused it. Slowly but surely, he cleared out all of the snow around the two spaces he and his spouse occupied... Roughly 6 hours of work (he was using a common dirt shovel).
In Fairfax, it is legal to block off your cleared parking space with property. Lawn chairs seem to be the property of choice.
Yesterday, Ray seemed to have the same idea... all at the same time I decided I was going to set up my camera to take pictures at 10 minute intervals to capture the imminent snow storm to happen that evening and night.
Here, you barely see Ray's folding chair sitting in his parking space.
Same space, different time.
Here, you see a couple in a black Civic making use of Ray's hard work...
Here, Ray (I assume) is standing next to the Civic after he comes home from work,
Barely off camera, you see a humanoid blur. This is when Ray knocked on our door,
I guess he gave up looking for the culprit. Here, his car is parked behind the Civic,
Ray appears to be busy doing something. An unassuming bystander has a quick chat with him.
With the score settled, Ray goes inside. See a kool animation by clicking HERE-10FEB2010-
One day, back in Louisiana... I was with my friend Mike. I don't remember the occasion; I think it was July 4th, or maybe Mardi Gras... or something. But, I was in the French Quarter with him, and there were a lot of people celebrating and being generally rambunctious.
On Bourbon street, there are intersections blocked off so that no one tries to drive on them. Because there are commonly groups of people on any day. Well, we happened to be in an area that wasn't blocked off... one that allowed cars to enter/exit... but because of the celebratory day, there were still large groups of people (I remember thinking, looking at a manhole cover, that if I were to remove it... ten or more people would likely fall through it before anyone realized the danger, because that's just how packed everyone was on the street). A white Ford Taurus was trying to push its way through the crowd... very slowly. The guy driving kind of had a sense of humor about it... The guy was obviously a moron and probably made a wrong turn somewhere. Well, the crowd didn't like his honking so much, I guess. One guy jumped on his hood, yelling and laughing... Another guy jumped on his roof doing the same thing. His wife, in the passenger seat, looked quite frightened. He looked like he had everything under control... "Yeah, yeah guys... We're all adults - haha". The crowd started pushing his car, rocking it in an exaggerated side-to-side motion. And then I saw the cop on the horse. And another one, and another one. "What's going to happen to these drunk people?", I thought. One of the cops eventually made it to the door of the Taurus and helped the driver out of the car. And then he promptly put handcuffs on him. Another cop got off his horse and into the drivers seat of the Taurus. The third, helped the wife out of the car and they disappeared into the crowd, along with his horse and the horse the 2nd cop left behind.
I can only imagine the chaos happening right now, after the Saints have won the Super Bowl. However, I don't want to imagine the chaos had they lost it. 07FEB2010
I now have 30 years behind me. It feels like a lifetime. The things I remember like they were yesterday, I'm starting to wish more and more that they actually were. In addition to that, I wish I could remember yesterdays. One of my more exciting memories was about 8 years ago, when I was first driving into DC to my new duty station. 30 miles from the city, the interstate was incredibly well lit. Traffic was light (as I was driving in at about 10:30), and I felt like I was in a whole new world. The road was rough, the concrete walls were high on the right side, there were elaborate overpasses everywhere. It was my new home. I got my first taste of DC drivers, when I got to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, I was in the right lane, and there was a merging lane just before the bridge. A car was coming on, and I slowed down to let it in. But it didn't move over. I couldn't see too well ahead, but judging by the driver's behavior, I assumed that it wasn't a merging lane - but an additional lane, which explained why the car wasn't moving over; it didn't need to. So I sped up. Turns out, that it was indeed a merging lane, and the merge point was forced right when I was next to the car. Tires chirped and a horn honked as the driver of this car took what I did to him (or her) personally. I was followed closely, all the way until I pulled into the gate at Bolling AFB. In Washington, D.C. people don't merge when there's an opportunity. They merge at the last possible moment, whether it's construction closing a lane, or if they're getting onto the highway. It took me a long time to figure it out, but the reason they do this is to block other cars behind them, so that they don't get in front of them using the merging lane to pass. This is especially evident when traffic is heavy.
The guest house, where I would be living for the next 10 days was what you would expect for a government run hotel. I shared a bathroom with the room next to me (and was locked out at least a dozen times, causing me to pee in the sink once). I had two suits that I would wear for my first day at my duty station. I ironed them. I was on my own and very nervous... I had no idea what was expected of me, or if I'd be able to succeed when the opportunity to presented itself. Somehow I made it to that point where 99.9% of others didn't. It was never a plan, but it happened that way because of a method I learned to employ early in life. In one hand you have a stupid decision. In the other hand you have a smart decision. Which one would you pick? Do you go to the barracks party and drink when you're underage, or do you hang out for a little while and then leave when things get rowdy? Do you buy a big brand new television with a 23% interest rate, or do you get a small one that you can afford and actually fits in your living space? Do you go to a fast food joint three times a day, or do you go to the dining facility where you can eat for free (this is where I learned to eat for sustainment, and not for pleasure)? It was those decisions that got me to where I was 8 years ago, which opened up even more doors for me than I could ever realize (as long as I kept picking the hand with the smart decision in it).
Over the next five years, I would embark on an experience that few people would not be impressed with. I traveled the globe, for free... Often crossing paths with people seen on television near daily. The work was tough, but sometimes the work was little more than waking up in the morning. I kept my head down, and my eyes open. I accomplished nothing spectacular, but I didn't screw anything up either. My time was mostly spent soaking up the experience, because I knew that when my tour was over, that chapter of my life would be permanently closed.
And so it did, and with it civilian life on my own opened up. My then-fiancee was very supportive and receptive to any career choice I made (whether I were to go to Omaha, Nebraska - or even overseas). I submitted my resume to everyone, every company I could think of. The place that I picked was the place that created this job position for me, where I'm given free reign to make our company better and keep our customers happy. It's been three years since then, where I truly took my life into my own hands, and I still feel like I have accomplished little. Being 30 years old now, I think I'm too old for procrastination. But what do I want to accomplish? I honestly don't know. I feel like the last 30 years has been preparation for my life to this point, and now that I'm here, I don't know what to do. So I'm updating my website (hey, maybe that's all I need to do!).
As I type this, Nina is going into labor (she hasn't had a chance to update her blog for some reason), leaving it to a good chance that her child will be born today, 30 years to the date from when my mother did the same for me. Ironies are everywhere. My wife's brother's birthday was yesterday, and his wife's birthday is on the 21st, the day after my sister's. What a crazy month. -12DEC2009
Yeah, so it's been over two months since my last update. Sue me. -01DEC2009
Well, it appears I was right to hedge my bets with Convalescence. Don't get me wrong... I still think it's a great song, but definitely not going to be in my top ten. I think the structure of the song is a little simpler than needed to keep my interest for a long time (unlike Opeth's 11 minute long The Twilight is My Robe - usually my favorite song at any given moment). I think I was a little infatuated with the fact that the lead singer was the opposite of what you'd expect... It's not just his glasses (he stopped wearing them in 2006, I think); even in his interviews he's incredibly boring and unenthusiastic, so much to the point where it seems more likely that he's pretending. I'm still on the lookout for the album it was on, and if I don't find it by the end of the week in stores, I'll just order it.
As for other music, I'm in a sort of divide and conquer mode, but without the divide because there's only one of me. Right now, there's another artist that's holding my interest named Marc A. Pullen (Homepage) who produces mostly instrumental music - all for free. Some of it is very experimental, but most of it (that I've been able to listen to so far) is metal. I was originally planning on listing the songs that I thought were good, but I've changed my mind. You can find out for yourself because it's going to take me months to listen to everything he has on that site (you click the album, then the track, and then it opens up a Last.fm page where you can download the song). The music isn't mindblowing, but it is consistently good.
September's Lesson of the Month - Don't make big purchases for anything you don't need, because when you do, you'll need to purchase something that you do need and you won't have the money for it. So last Sunday, after church (We've gone to church for the last two weeks. It isn't horrible.) we went to a small, local electronics retailer -IQ Home Entertainment to get a new TV. The one we've been using is a 20 inch Panasonic I've had since AIT (1998), and as TV stations seem to be gearing up more and more for HD stuff, other things are getting smaller, like text. I can see it fine, but my wife can't because she's mostly blind (which is why she didn't object to marrying me har har). We'd gone there before and decided on a 42 inch $680 Samsung something or other. When we went Sunday, of course they didn't have it in stock. But guess what they did have in stock - a 50 inch Samsung something or other! And they just happened to be having a special deal on it (...) that ended up knocking its price down from the posted sale price of $899 (from $999) to $799, a mere $120 more than the smaller TV. So in a moment of not wanting to walk out of the store empty handed I decided we'd get it. It had to be taken out of its box to fit in the car, and even then it still didn't fit. It had to be angled forward so that it was leaning on the back of the front seats, and with that, there was about 1 inch of clearance on either side. We brought it home, set it up, took it down, moved the TV stand and the adjacent bookcases, and set it up again. The thing is a beast. I remember when I was in the Army, I'd go to someone's house and see their monstrous TV and immidiately think "Do you really need all of that? What is the point of having such a monstrosity in your little living room?"... But now I say that when I walk into my own place.
So where was I? Oh yeah - the unexpected expense. I bring the Subaru over to the dealership for an oil change and general inspection... and they find a transmission fluid leak coming out of one of the drive axles (or something like that). Okay - the car is still under warranty for another 15,000 miles and it's covered... but what isn't covered are the four new tires I have to buy. With an all wheel drive vehicle, the tires have to be the same size. If three are worn, and one is new, it will burn up the differential because one tire will be rotating less than the other three (because it's bigger with thicker tread), and the differential is constantly trying to keep them all in sync. So they found a bubble in one tire, and a nail in another tire. Replacement is $240 per tire, plus labor, plus balancing, plus alignment, equaling about $1300 plus tax. For tires. I'm going to do some shopping around, of course, but I'm probably looking at a minimum of $1000 (because I want decent tires).
Florida Representative Alan Grayson made a pretty over-the-top speech on the House floor yesterday, saying that the Republican health care plan is 1. Don't get sick and 2. If you do get sick, die quickly. This of course, is not true, but aside from that I find it incredibly ironic that it was the Democrats who wanted the plug pulled on Terry Schaivo (which I agreed with), and it was the Republicans who wanted her sustained on life support, regardless of who had to pay for it.
One can say the Republicans don't have a plan - it's a current work in progress. Using the same rules, you can just as easily say the Democrats don't have a plan either. Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's discuss one of the key components of the Republican health care non-plan. Interstate purchasing of private health insurance policies. This is a great idea, but not for the reasons every Republican pushing for it says... They say it's to increase competition between insurance companies, but only a moment of thought will lead you to the conclusion that a health insurance company in Utah will have to charge a New York resident 4x more than Utah residents for the same policy, to pay for the 4x more expensive health costs in that state. It doesn't make much sense. The idea shouldn't be to increase competition between the insurance companies... but rather, to increase competition between the states. You see, some states have incredible amounts of laws, regulations, and mandates requiring health insurance companies to cover certain services, removing limits on service coverage, and a plethora of other things that sound really good to people... if you ignore the side effect that insurance companies have to make more payouts (if they try to get around it, they get sued), and as a result, your premiums rise. Getting a policy in Utah that does not cover hair transplants will be inherently cheaper than getting one in New Jersey where insurance companies are required to pay for it... maybe not by much, but you add up other things like gastric bypass surgery, birth control, sex change operations, breast implants, chiropractor sessions, the list goes on and on and on and eventually, you might be able to cut yourself a policy that is cheap, and serves every one of your needs even if hospitals charge 4x more and you're paying 4x more than someone in Utah for the same coverage. (Utah may mandate some of the things I listed... it's just an example) Well, in comes competition between the states. New York sees that its losing tons of revenue to Utah because their health care laws are too onerous and costly. What happens? New York is forced to change their laws to make health insurance companies located there more competitive with those in Utah. It's called a market based solution, and it will cost nothing out of our treasury. In the end, a working mom with four kids might not be able to get massage therapy at no cost out of pocket... Oh well. -30SEP2009
I am starting to enjoy music again. Don't know why, but what I once was incredibly obsessed with, turned into a mild interest, and then into little more than a (tower, then a) box of CD's that I hadn't touched in 8 years or more. It was rekindled, I think, when I got my windows tinted on my Subaru about three weeks ago. I called several places, and the one that responded quickest was Skyline Tint, saying they could apply the tint whenever I brought the car in. I drove there, parked, and walked into the warehouse where, in the background was Arch Enemy playing (Arch Enemy is a Swedish Death Metal band, that I liked but never loved). It was a mid to late 20's Japanese guy who runs the whole operation, alone. He said he once employed about 7 people regularly, but this last year has been incredibly rough so he does everything himself (and even by himself, he was able to take my car without notice).
So, obviously, while he was tinting my windows we talked about music. He was born and grew up in Japan, and apparently death metal is pretty popular over there (this explains the only live CDs (of bands I listen to) I'd seen before my hiatus from music, were Children of Bodom, and In Flames - both Live from Tokyo). It took about thirty minutes before I got enthusiastic, and wanted him to listen to some of my favorite music. My car was right there, with about 150 hours worth of music on the MP3 CD 6-disc changer, so it was pretty easy. He liked everything I played... and while I was listening 'from his perspective', I started to really appreciate what I was listening to, just like I had when I was 20. When it was all said and done, he recommended a handful of bands to me, and I did the same for him. I bought one CD off of his recommendation and it was okay, but not great. There are still more I want to try, but in the meantime I've been interrupted.
This is where Last.fm comes in... I was back to playing music off of there, streaming and random. After about a dozen songs, one came on that seemed to pop out above all the others - from a band from France called Split (homepage) (turn down your volume before clicking it - it streams their raw music recordings) the song titled The Least of Our Smiles. After listening to it (you can download it from that link by clicking the "Free MP3" button, by the way - just pretend it's the cookie monster singing) several times, and after lots of searching, I finally found their official website in the hopes of being able to buy their CDs. I sent them an email.
A day later, a response came from one band member, saying that there were no CDs out, that they were still looking for a publisher. So he gave me a link that allowed me to download all of their music (five tracks in total). Everything was great (not as ear popping as The Least of Our Smiles, but still very good stuff); we talked back and forth for a bit and he asked me if I'd ever heard of the band Between the Buried and Me (I hadn't). I checked out their MySpace page (or maybe I should say 'I checked out TheirSpace page') and listened to the music on there... I could tell they were very talented, but couldn't tell how good the music was due to the horrible quality that is the MySpace music stream. So today I bought one of their CD's, called Alaska (look at that cover - doesn't look anything like the music sounds)... and while I still have mixed feelings on it (I've only listened to it once), there was a DVD included with it that's opened my interest in another direction. One of the videos on the DVD was of a band (that happens to be based in DC) called Darkest Hour, and the song was called Convalescence (you can download it direct from the publisher from that link). I think I've listened to that song about ten times today... I don't know how well it will hold up over time, but right now I think it might become one of my top ten. I take a special amusement in that the lead singer looks like an English teacher.
A car chase happened right around me last week. I was on a ramp to get onto I-295S, and a old Buick was getting on it at the same time I was - when he was next to me he floored it and I pulled over to the left side of the ramp. The cops had been tailing him, and he tried using my car as an obstacle but I got out of the way too fast. They turned on their lights, five cars in total, and sped by. I got onto the interstate just to see gravel dust flying ahead as the Buick passed cars on the shoulder. Unfortunately, I did not get to see where the chase ended, but I was very tempted to try to keep up with it. - 26SEP2009
I flew to New York last week. As I rolled my luggage out to the taxi, I heard a locust behind me scream in terror, the scream cut off as my Samsonite-ish case squished it before I could even react. The cab driver was friendly, and spoke English. We talked politics and economics, I tipped him well when it was all said and done. Flying United, 90% of my flights with them in the last two years have been delayed. Imagine my surprise when the plane I was leaving on arrived on time. I sat next to a portly Indian guy in the very back of the plane, who didn't understand a word of English. The seats didn't recline, so when I got the opportunity I moved to one of the two empty seats in the row directly in front of us. I hope that I didn't hurt his feelings...
So, not only did we board on time, we also took off on time. The weather out of Washington was great, and the flight was smooth. (For those wondering about why I never visit Veronica on these trips, it's because I'm actually further away from her there, than I am when at home) The weather in New York was cloudy, and the clouds were thick and gray. They told us to turn our electronics off and fasten our seat belts... and we proceeded to circle the airport for about an hour. I assumed that we weren't landing due to the imperfect weather... but was getting a little airsick from the prolonged bumpy flight through the clouds. At the end of the hour, the flight attendant comes on and informs us that the pilot (never referred to the pilot as "the pilot", but instead just "she") had trouble getting the landing gear down, but it's down now, and that we were just going to wait for a couple of other planes to land before we landed (I assumed that this was to keep those planes on schedule). She also said that "she" might not be able to turn off the runway once we landed (this sent up a red flag in my brain - if "she" can't turn off the runway, "she" better land that plane perfectly straight... otherwise we'd roll off the runway out of control). So we circled some more, and came down to land. It was pretty surreal, as we sped by on the ground, seeing all those heavy duty fire trucks lined up on the adjacent runway, ready to go. It was then that I realized that they didn't let the other planes land first because they wanted to keep schedule. They did it because there was a chance our plane would incapacitate the runway. Once we landed, the pilot apparently had full control of the front landing gear, as we were able to turn off the runway, and onto the taxiway, up to the gate. I hate flying. -30AUG2009
Why do people "join causes" on Facebook? I don't think I would feel any better by clicking "Join Cause", and subsequently being put on a list of other Facebook Users who also clicked "Join Cause" for said cause. Every time I click "Ignore" when someone asks me to join a cause, I get a little bit more frustrated. So much to the point where, I'm now posting about it on this website of sorts.
Got a toaster oven today. It works. It's replacing the expensive toaster I bought years ago, that I broke months ago, while turning it upside down to empty out the crumbs (the plane that you push down to push your bread down broke on one side... apparently it wasn't meant to be "lifted", and broke rather easily. I'm never buying Oster brand again.). But now I can cook little pizzas and frozen burritos without worrying about explosions and cheese melting over the sides into a crust onto a plate. -17AUG2009
Today is the unofficial (unofficial only because I may forget about this one, and make an official one later) Crawdaddypage Appreciation Day. Here I am... with a website over eight years old... posting... Granted, it's very irregular, and I haven't done much in the way of change in the last five years or so... But I'm still paying attention to the thing!
What brought this on? I've been checking a number of other people's personal websites on a regular basis (and I don't mean just the ones in my links section... nearly half of which are dead dead dead)... and they all started out really strong. Daily updates. Weekly updates. Daily updates. And ... as is ominously as common, the last post being something to the flavor of "I'm working on something huge."... and then years pass with nothing.
Realistically, this is a very inefficient way to have an "attention to me" section on the internet (Facebook, Myspace are much better). And that's all I've used it for in recent years. What would make this site better? More pages. Pages of my wedding. Pages of my 2+ year old car. My Ireland page, that I worked so hard on, but for whatever reason have stopped after being not even 20% of the way finished... Pages of new games... music... photography... You know... the stuff that I created this website for in the first place.
In the meantime... Appreciate the site for what it is. It's the Crawdaddypage Appreciation Day. Have a hot dog. Eat a biscuit. Slather some barbecue sauce on a sandwich. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, preferably. -16AUG2009
Because I am fair and balanced - I applaud our president in this action:
(Linky.)While I definitely don't agree with his initial statements over the "coup" weeks (months?) ago, I am glad to see him take a strong stance here... and one that actually makes sense. -10AUG2009
It's been difficult trying to think of something to post. I have wanted to update for about a week and a half now, and have had plenty of time to do it... But I can't seem to think of anything to post without boring myself. I know you're tired of hearing my excuses (and I'm certainly tired of having them), but what else can I post when I have nothing to post?
Of course, there is the argument that I have plenty to post about, but have some sort of mental block keeping me from posting it. It is a possibility... I'll even say that is likely. If that were the case, it doesn't change the fact that I've stared at my monitor for two minutes between finishing the last sentence, and starting this one.
Sotomayor got confirmed by the Senate. Looks like my prediction was wrong (I predicted that she wouldn't get confirmed). In speaking of predictions, back in March, I predicted that we wouldn't see double digit unemployment until after the minimum wage hike. Well, the minimum wage hike happened, and the statistics for July will be released by the Department of Labor tomorrow (even if it isn't double digits for July, I'm still technically right if it ever reaches double digits before the economy recovers). I also predicted that the economy would come back strong, not too long after... But I didn't take into account the Cap and Trade bill, or the "Public option" bill, both of which will do nothing to help us, but do everything to cost us. For the moment, it looks like neither of them have a chance... But if either even look like they're going to get voted on, there's no telling what will happen. Regarding the Public option bill, I do take amusement in the Democrat reaction to protestors. Now that they have the ball, they seem surprised... even insulted that they are getting tackled. Morons. As more and more people lose their jobs because of government mismanagement, overreach, and misdirected policies, the protests will get larger. This time, the groups won't be solely made up of college kids with nothing better to do, as seen during the Bush administration. I just hope that these new protestors are smart enough to understand what the Bush administration did in 2008 to contribute to the fact that our economy is still floundering, so that we don't have another repeat of Democrats in Republican clothing, come 2010 and ultimately, 2012.
I've been playing old games on my computer. This computer I built earlier this year can easily handle the biggest, baddest, most resource hungry games ever to hit the market... And here I am, for the last four months or so, going through some of my old games that I never quite spent enough time on. Games that have been sitting in a stack for three years. I even bought a couple of old games from GOG.com... games that I wanted to buy years ago but never did, and now I'm playing them. I think it's because I'm starting to feel old, and want to go back to the days when I was younger. -06AUG2009
A stepladder. Small, quiet, unassuming.
Littered all over this stepladder are warnings seemingly meant for people not yet old enough to read. This ladder conducts electricity. Metal does that? Really? I guess I won't place this on any live electric wires then. Not for Commercial Use. What business is it of yours what I use this ladder for? It's a stepladder. And finally...
(Click the image to get a bigger one.)
Yeah, just in case you didn't understand how to stand on a stepladder, here is how you do it. You wouldn't want to get befuddled, and plummet all 12 inches to the earth below.
When I first started this post, it was about federal mandates and how we're being increasingly encroached upon by nannies all around us (like the airbag warnings in car visors, that are impossible to remove without destroying the visor). But then a fresher realization came to mind... Lawsuits. If these warnings weren't on the ladder, then someone might have cause to sue the company that made it (China), which is a little less stupid, but more sad. Since complaining about stupid lawsuits is nothing new, I'll stop here.
I ended up getting my windshield replaced. Everywhere I called it was going to be $600 or more. Windshield City, though, did it for $195. The molding isn't set perfectly, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. It's much better than the molding on my Prelude after going to Safelite to get the windshield replaced, where the guy who worked on it, who couldn't even speak English, actually destroyed the molding clips and taped it down, so that when I removed the tape I had molding flopping around. And on top of that, the car leaked every time it rained. So far, it hasn't rained, but I'm hoping the Subaru doesn't have the same problem. I should also mention that the guys working there were pretty cool, and had no problems if you wanted to stand near them while you worked, and would even BS with you if you stood there long enough.
I saw Bruno this last weekend. I don't recommend it to anyone. I liked Borat, but Bruno lacked the improvisational humor, and had too much of the "shock" that I could have done without in Borat.-13JUL2009
A Chick-Fil-A opened up near my apartment yesterday. I don't know why I get excited when I see a Chick-Fil-A... It's not like their food is especially good. All it is, is a chicken patty (not chunked and formed like most other chicken patties), a couple slices of pickle, and bread. I think there might be cocaine ingredients in there, somewhere... Well anyway, they also do breakfast - and guess what they have on their menu for $2.35? Breakfast burritos! So I tried them this morning, one sausage and one chicken. The chicken one was better, but neither were anything to scream about, unfortunately. Egg, peppers, meat, and a packet of salsa. No potatoes, no cheese (or, at least not enough that I could taste it). Good quality, good flavor, but not great. I still long for a breakfast burrito of the same quality that you could get at Bubba's in Jackson Hole, WY.
I got a new computer chair. The last one had all the cushion of a pillow case, and was getting torn up. I ordered a new windshield last week. Still haven't gotten the call from the place I ordered from... The longer it takes them to contact me, the more reluctant I am to trust them to install it. Other than that, there is nothing new going on.
Sara Palin announced her resignation from her governorship today. Almost every media outlet I've looked at, has tried to make it look like she's doing it to angle herself to run for president in 2012. While I seriously have problems with her wealth redistributionist policies, I still think she's received a very unfair shake from the media and her opposition. Her family, especially (I remember, when Obama came out, the GOP were trying to go after his wife. After McCain won the primary, he did what the Obama supporters wanted, and that is to leave the candidate's family alone, which is perfectly reasonable. However, when Palin came out, it was an all-out assault on her family, which was justified because she "brought them into the spotlight with her"... Funny, I don't seem to remember her daughter ever speaking for her like Michelle did for Barrack). This move, I think, is because she's tired of being in the spotlight and has decided to end her political career. I know I'm going against the grain with that, but I think it's a better explanation than the DNC chairman's assessment that it is simply a "continuing pattern of bizzare behavior".
Tomorrow is the fourth of July, also known as Independence Day. At the same time there's a proposal sitting on the desks of our congressmembers that would turn you, or your employer into a criminal for not purchasing health care. - 03JUL2009
Juicy, no? Article here. Obama's foreign policy, for the most part, so far has been to apologize to everyone for everything America has done to them. Now here we have an Iranian president, reelected in a very fishy election, unashamed of the innocent people protesting shot down in his streets by his regime, demanding an apology for the comments that Obama made (way too late - and if you saw that press conference, he really tried to be nice about it. "Let's see how this plays out." What a cop-out.). No, I don't think Obama will apologize. But I do wonder if he will address this at all, and if he does, how (UPDATE: He dismissed it. I wonder if ole Mahmoud will respond.). There's a lot of things going down in Washington that are set to change the country in a big way (that's what 53% of the people voted for), and I'm in a mode where I'm overwhelmed by it all, so instead of getting angry or frustrated, I'm just enjoying the show. In the back of my mind, I'm remembering McCain, and aside from Obama's medical reform non-plan, he's pushed for everything Obama is doing domestically at least at one point in his career. My only hope is in a handful of fresh GOP congressmen, who actually understand the importance of economic policy over personally held moral values (and the forcing thereof on others). They probably won't make it far.
In speaking of personal moral values, the South Carolina governor Mark Sanford (R) had an affair with some Argentinian lady, and disappeared last week to go see her. He's married. And he has four sons. The GOP needs to stop running on the moral high ground because they are obviously incapable of holding to it. Rush Limbaugh today said something to the effect of "Well, at least the GOP has standards, even if they can't hold up to them." which is completely pathetic, and another reason why I've lost interest in a lot of talk radio (now I mostly listen to Jason Lewis (grab his podcasts!) and Grandy and Andy (get theirs!). There's also a Republican senator from Nevada... Ensign or something like that who also cheated on his wife. Again - take away the moral high ground, and what do you have? They need a new platform. One that actually affects the country. Less government. Less spending. Maybe even eliminate a federal program or two. Simplify the tax code. Maybe do something about the debt we're in. I dunno.
(The above paragraphs were written JUN 25, 2008, and aren't structured very well)
Michael Jackson is dead, and I find myself not caring. I didn't really take to his music, and honestly, he was a running joke for most of my life. Farah Fawcett died on the same day. I don't know much about her, except that some people thought she was hot.
As many of my readers may know, I was on vacation from May 29th through June 9th. A road trip to North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and North Carolina again - lots of people to see, and lots of driving involved. Words of advice: Don't rent a Ford Fusion if you plan on driving for more than a couple of hours at a time. The head rest is awful in that, if you lean back in your seat, your head is pushed forward so that your chin nearly rests on your chest. To combat this, you're constantly sitting up, relying on your lower back muscles to keep you from leaning back too far, and this causes great pain throughout your neck and back. We took the headrests completely off, and it made a world of difference, but then I got scared of whiplash and put mine back on.
The trip was awesome. We got to see tons of people that we haven't seen since our wedding (and my wife got to meet my cousin Stacey, and her husband and son for the first time), we had great food everywhere we went, and we both got our first tour of New Orleans from my cousin-in-law, Frank. If I talk any more about it, it will be a new page (I'll let you know when it's up, if it ever is. I've been horrible at creating new pages, and adding on to this website, generally) complete with pictures and maybe even some video.
There's a place called Sunny's Deli in a business park near where I live. I've gone there several times and was never impressed, but never disappointed either. They decided to leave menu flyers all over the neighborhood and I noticed they dropped their prices. An item caught my eye: Breakfast Burrito - Ham, Cheese, Egg, Potato - $2.45. Sure to be better than McDonald's breakfast burritos, I decided to try it out the next morning. Awful. Easily the worst breakfast burrito I've ever had in my life, taking the crown from one I got at a Brownsville, Texas Exxon station. The ham was standard sliced sandwich ham. The cheese was okay, but very pasty and gummy. The egg was good. The potato? Mashed. I was thinking home fries, or maybe tater tots, or some form of hash brown... but no. Mashed potato. It was all at the bottom too. There was also some sort of salsa, that was mostly sweet, which doesn't go with mashed potatoes as well as it might hash browns. The guy who owns the place is Chinese, and didn't speak English too well. It's possible that if I told him how to make a proper breakfast burrito (diced ham or sausage, cheddar cheese, any potato but mashed potatoes) and if I told him it would be okay to tack another fifty cents onto it if he needed to, that he might actually do it. I'll let you know if that ever happens.
Other than that, there's not much going on. I'm trying to keep busy for work so that I don't get booted, and after hours I play games on my computer. Nothing new or exciting... Except the Prelude needed a freon recharge for the first time since I've had it. Such an impressive little car - the A/C still works splendidly. -26JUN2009
The wife and I have been watching a reality TV show (is there any other kind of show these days?) called Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment. If you're not familiar with it, the basics are: No prize at the end, a mix of city slickers get thrown into Alaska with a very limited amount of supplies, and they have to hike from shelter to shelter until they find civilization, hunting/fishing/stabbing for food along the way. At any point in time, one can push a button and a helicopter will pull them out, and the rest continue on, with the extra burden of that person's supplies. I really took a liking to one guy on there, Jake, who seemed to have by far the best attitude of the group. I developed a great amount of admiration and respect for the guy... He was extremely laid back, humorous, and did things that were necessary for the survival of the group, alone, while everyone else was depressed and sleeping late. As the series progressed, I felt like he was a good friend of mine. After he would say something witty, I'd point to the TV and tell my wife "He's my friend."
Well, last night's episode he talked about his boyfriend, Andrew. My eyes widened. "He's gay?" I mumbled to myself, to which my wife looked at me incredulously, "You couldn't tell? It's pretty obvious, babe... I knew from the first episode." Well, I happen to be keeping in touch with an old army buddy of mine, who happens to swing that way (which, incidentally, I did not know until he told me, long after we had both separated from Ft. Bragg)... I mentioned this to him, and he replied "Dude, he's got the accent, the looks, the charm and the required level of narcissim [sic]. SO GAY. And just on his introduction you knew, er, well you didn't but everyone else did. HA! But seriously, I think your gaydar works fine. Maybe you just don't realize the blips as being possible homos because you really don't care about their sexuality." While this comment toward me made me feel like I was an upstanding person, I looked up the guy on Al Gore's amazing internet, and found a number of sites that made me slap my forehead with the palm of my hand. Jake's horse training site. Jake's photography site. Jake's twitter site. Even his Facebook picture is teeming with gayness. But the real question is, if I didn't know he was gay beforehand, would I have known after viewing pictures of him riding horses with a see-through white shirt, buttoned half way? I honestly don't know.
Yeah, I know this was a strange post, but I haven't updated in a while, so this is what you get. Also for a good read, and to see a bit of this guy's personality, click here.
This paragraph just for me (because no one likes reading about my political-ish stuff). Obama picked a Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor. I believe this is more of a toe-dipping in that Democrat strategists are seeing how far they can go, and how much they can get away with, than it is an actual nomination. After hearing a number of things she's said, and what she apparently believes I find it hard to accept that she has the slightest chance of getting confirmed (or is it affirmed?) by even a Democrat controlled Congress. Right wing pundits are going ape-s**t over it; Obama and his advisors undoubtedly expected nothing less.
The Dow has been stagnant since I last talked about it. A 10% VAT (or, if you're a right wing pundit a "VAT tax" because you aren't smart enough to know you're being redundant) is being considered at the federal level (I wonder when politicians and their supporters will realize that higher taxes after a certain point = less production = less revenue, and that we've been past that "certain point" since Clinton) (Also, when are politicians and their supporters going to realize that more taxes do not mean more revenue? You tax one sector of the economy, all that means is another sector of the economy loses that portion of cash flow, which means less tax revenue from that sector). North Korea is upsetting the UN with their underground nuclear explosions and missile testing; I think the sooner this is nipped in the bud, the better. Problem is, we can't afford to do it ourselves... it's time for other countries to be the bad guys this time (they're used to the United States stepping in, spending tons of money, and protecting their socialist run governments, as we have for decades. This time, we have our own socialist government to support, so we won't be doing any of that. North Korea will probably grow into an amazingly serious problem in the next few years). General Motors and Chrysler are on their way to being spayed, and will soon be owned by the federal government and UAW (now there's a winning combination). More people are dying of the swine flu recently than a month ago, but somehow it's no longer in the news. Interest rates are set to spike. Oil - last I checked was sitting around $42 a barrel, is now $63 a barrel (still low, but ... that was pretty quick). - 27MAY09
Happenings: My wife is getting promoted soon. I've been especially busy at work for the last month. I got a new laptop because I was getting frustrated that flash banner ads would entirely cripple my old one while browsing the internet. I haven't bought any new PC games (I have bought some old ones, though). The crack in the Subaru's windshield now takes up nearly half the window, straight across. My lips are chapped, and they hurt real bad. When I was in New York last week, I found a place called Beers of the World, that actually carried one of the best beers I've ever had, Svyturys, from Lithuania. I bought a case and a half of it.
Website updates: None. Except that now, my Asurion page has finally been indexed by Google, and I'm getting a large number of hits from it.
News: New fuel efficiency standards are in the works. An insane 35.5 MPG average for cars is to be mandated by 2016. It's policies like this that will bring change to America, right? Well, for those that have a short memory, George W. Bush signed into law in 2007 a very similar policy... one that mandated 35 MPG, by 2020. If it were the policies of the last 8 years that brought us to this economic downturn, then why is Obama continually expanding upon them?
A thought came to mind... What if General Motors (assuming they'll still be around in 2016) simply refused to go along with the new standards? What if they quietly continued to produce and sell cars that only got 30 MPG? What would the federal government do? Would they fine them into oblivion, thereby destroying American jobs and production? Would they jail the people who made them and sold them? Would they take the corporate jets away from the executives? I would like to see a scenario like this play out in real life. -19MAY2009
Yeah so I've been a horrible website master (by not updating very often). I'm cooking myself dinner right now. I enjoy experimenting - I'm simmering some cheap steaks in beef broth and spices, and I'm taking the broth and putting it in a pot with carrots and celery (and a moderate amount of pepper), and simmering that. It smells amazing, and it's hard to keep myself from plating it early (in about half an hour, the steaks will hopefully get really tender). In the meantime, I'm typing here.
So I got addicted to Robin Hood for a bit. It's a Facebook game that serves absolutely no purpose except to annoy your friends with constant automatic updates of your progressions. I, of course, did not know that the game did that because I never looked at my home page (if I did, I would have seen what everyone else was seeing). But eventually, I did notice. "I deposited $3,403,283 in my bank! PLAY ROBIN HOOD", "I fought someone and won! PLAY ROBIN HOOD" Ugh. The game is nothing but a cash cow for the developers, as you can buy tokens and crap for real money, that you can use to upgrade your character. I can talk endlessly about the problems of the game, but all that would do is make me look even worse for playing it (and even worse, being addicted to it). But I'm over it now. Done. Finished. I will deposit my money in my bank when I get on Facebook (which, before my wife asked me to join her Robin Hood band, I rarely logged on), and when I have enough to buy new land (to bring in more money) I will do that... But fighting (clicking on a random name) people and doing quests at this point is... well... pointless.
In the news we have a swine flu outbreak (overreaction and panic, which will ultimately lead to legislation being passed and one or two lucky companies getting a large government contract); Barack Obama's 100th day (he's the best president since FDR - depending on your definition of "best") (it's hard to be angry because I can't say McCain would have been any better... In fact, I'm glad we don't have Mr. "I looked in his eyes and all I saw were the letters KGB" Mc"Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran" in charge of the country); Arlen Specter left the GOP, giving Democrats that 60th seat to make them filibuster proof (not that they could have been filibustered before, with Specter voting with them anyway); the economy is still imploding, but now at a faster rate than before. -29APR2009
I need to update more often. -23APR2009
(Nearly) Every morning I have a PowerBar Harvest (Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip. The only good one.), so when they are in stock at the grocery store I buy them in bulk. They come in a box of 15, but when scanned they need to be counted as individual products (they don't sell the box as an item). So, the last time I bought some, about two weeks ago, I noticed that the cashier only counted them as 10 instead of 15 PowerBars. I corrected her, grabbing one from the bag that was already placed in my cart so she could scan it to count five more. The grocery bagger was very surprised at this, and informed me that something good was going to happen to me for being honest. "That's what they say." I said, shrugging it off. Monday, last week my boss said that I needed to pay a visit to the headquarters in New York for training. I did, and turns out that training was the secondary mission... The primary mission was a promotion. A promotion with a pay raise, and no strings attached. I specifically asked "What new responsibilities will I be taking on?", and was specifically told "None. Just keep doing what you're doing.". Unbelievable. I'm not saying that the two events are related in any way... I'm just sayin'.
I meant to mention on my last post about what I saw that night watching the NBC Nightly News show... They had a 6 minute segment about how the rest of the world was faring during this tough economic time, comparing EU countries to each other, about how Spain is kicking out immigrants so their residents can go back to picking strawberries, etc... And then they got to talking about the Dow. 5 seconds - "Stock markets finished up for the month, believe it or not.". That's it. 8.6 - 11% gains in a month across all three and that's apparently not news, according to this particular news show. A few days later, the Dow has its best four week run since 1933. Did you know that? Aren't you glad you view this website every day, so you can learn these things? -05APR2009
I'm famous again! I got an email from a journalist, asking permission to use one of my pictures. I granted it (immediately), and he used it in his article. I expected it to be a local person for a local news site, or some other site, but it turns out that it was Associated Content contribution (see it here), which I find to be even neater than the Russian article that credited this site for a similar picture. The article itself has a theme that I would have definitely gone with, in that it doesn't even dance around the issue of the intimidation tactics of the current administration in how they want a business to operate. I bet Rick Wagoner is feeling real good right now... not only has his company sunk like an anvil, but it continued to do after getting 18 billion dollars of taxpayer money (the money saved GM, kind of like the trampoline saved this baby), AND he gets fired by the president of the United States.
I'm watching C-Span right now. Three or four Republicans are giving a special order speech to an empty auditorium, talking about the new Obama budget. They keep talking about how Obama's budget will double the debt - the same debt that it took over 200 years to accumulate from Day 1, to the time Bush left office. What they keep ignoring, is that Bush's budget doubled the debt as it was when he took office. It is refreshing though, that after looking a couple of them up (Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan), they are new hires, and were not around during the Great Republican Growth of Government (or GRRRGGGG for short). Now Democrats are up with the "Populist Caucus" special order speech, scaring the hell out of me. They know their goals, and their goals are noble; it is obvious they have no idea how to get there, except that if you keep voting for them, we'll get there eventually. -31MAR2009
I think the "Undo" feature is the best feature in the world. I could erase anything I want right now and all it would take is a Ctrl + Z to bring it right back. Heck, I could even hit Ctrl + Z right now and undo most of what I've typed here, without using the backspace or mouse. Let's try it. Yep, it works. "How does this paragraph make sense? If you hit Ctrl + Z and deleted half of it, I would no longer be able to see it. Did you type it all out again?", you ask. No, I did not type it all out. Instead, I hit Ctrl + Shift + Z, and undid my undos. This paragraph brought to you by me seriously screwing something up while trying to think of something to update this page with, and fixing it with ease.
So I have nothing to talk about really. I could talk about my PC games, but that's boring. I could talk about my beer, but none of you drink or care about beer. I could talk about my fatness (thank you, beer), but that's boring. I could talk about my car (oh yeah, I have a crack in my windshield. In two weeks it's grown to about two and a half feet), but that's boring. I could talk about my job, but there's nothing to complain about, so that's boring. I could talk about politics, but I've been out of the loop for the last week, on purpose. I could talk about books I've read, but I haven't read any books. Movies... nope. Today I did see a large, balding Asian man wearing a pink collared shirt, and a schoolgirl-style miniskirt in the parking lot of the grocery store. He was pushing someone in a wheelchair... I tried to get a picture of it with my (K1m RAZR - I still haven't activated the v710 my wife got me) phone, but my thumb kept hitting "Videos" instead of "Capture" and they went out of my line of sight before I could figure out that I, in fact, was not snapping multiple pictures. Shame, because he had really pretty legs.
I went to my wife's best friend's wedding in Georgia last weekend. Very informal - it was nice. She seemed like a completely different person, but then her attention was pretty divided between the near hundred guests. Here is a picture of her with her daughter and husband - easily the best picture I took during the whole thing. -29MAR2009
I started a couple of times, writing an update focused on the AIG bonus fiasco. But then I realized there really is only one thing I can say that hasn't already been said (or at least, from what I have heard)... and that is, after all this bad PR congress is throwing at the company, effectively turning all AIG employees into criminals, who will want to do business with them? How will they ever get solvent and pay the loans back? Congress has spent about $200M (and it's not over yet) in man-hours grandstanding about $165M in perfectly legal bonuses, that they allowed for in the first place, while they pass hundred billion dollar pieces of legislation without hesitation (that wasn't supposed to rhyme). How many billions of dollars of business has AIG lost because of this? What is this helping, other than making people feel like they're administering their own sense of justice?
Things have been pretty boring lately. I cancelled my Angelfire account - the site is still there, and in "free" mode complete with banner ads and hundreds of pop-ups. That's $5 a month that went to complete waste for years. In the spirit of making the most of my money, I increased my 401k contribution to 15% two weeks ago, while DOW was below 7k. Let's see here, I increased my 401k, and DOW grew by nearly 1,000 points since. Looks like I am the one brought it back up... At first I was skeptical, but the proof is too solid to deny. -20MAR2009
Yesterday, the DOW was up by 300 points. That's good. Today a rally turned into a crash, but still finished up at +3 points... or something. That's good too. Savings rates have risen, while retail sales have seemingly plateau'd (well, the opposite of a plateau; it's leveled out after dropping is what I mean). This recession, I have believed since the beginning, was one based mostly on fear more than an actual economic downturn. Yes, the housing market crashed. That was real. But there was also a bubble prior to that, where a lot of people made a lot of money. The people in real trouble are the ones currently stuck with houses they never planned on actually living in in the first place, and the bank executives that authorized the policies to lend them money. People constantly say there's a credit crunch, but I don't buy into it. I've yet to see any stats on how many people have been denied loans today, versus a year and a half ago (a Google search turns up nothing, and I sure didn't learn anything of the sort by watching CNN). I predict, (and this is on the record) that when the economy comes back, it will come back strong. I think it will happen soon. I don't see double digit unemployment rates, until after the second minimum wage increase kicks in this Summer. But after that, there will be a rebound. It will have little to do with the stimulus plan, and everything to do with natural market forces, reacting to three years of too easy credit, followed by a year of banks acting like banks again. The stimulus plan, if the money is spent as transparently as Obama says it will be, I think might actually do some good (not necessarily for the economy as a whole, but for public services to be improved upon). I've never considered the amount of money spent on pork to be a problem, but rather the anti-competitiveness of it to be toxic. I believe transparency will allow competition to thrive slightly better (e.g. Paul Kanjorski might not be so quick to give his family business $9.25M with nothing to show for it).
Yesterday was our 2nd anniversary. To celebrate, we went to a restaurant in D.C. - Vidalia, described in the Washingtonian magazine as a modern Southern restaurant. She got the shrimp and grits (delicious), and I got venison (also delicious). It was a fancy restaurant - the kind they make fun of on TV, complete with the really small portions. Thanks to the refillable bread (delicious as well), we were pretty full by the end and didn't want dessert. Getting out of DC, as usual, was like working your way across a plate of spaghetti, if you were an ant, and there were tons of traffic lights on the spaghetti, and sometimes spaghetti strands ended without warning, for no reason, and you pissed off other ants trying to get into their spaghetti strand.
Also I got a Motorola V710 as my anniversary present. It's used (of course), but looks pretty good, and I look forward to ditching my K1M. It even came with contacts already in the contact list. I don't know who they are, but I think this is a sign to start meeting new people. And with these, I already know their names. How exciting!
I was cleaning out a drawer in my bedroom and came across an old game brochure for my Atari Jaguar. I didn't want to get rid of it, and I didn't want to keep it. So I scanned it, and now I can throw it away. Do you want to see it? Really? Okay, click HERE! Back in the infancy of this website, I wanted to make entire sections dedicated to the old video games that I used to play, 3DO, Sega CD, and especially the Jaguar games. That would be a LOT of work, but I'm thinking about doing it again. And I'm still not finished with my Ireland page. -11MAR2009
Here is a Crawdaddypage Media Exclusive! So I was driving back from a customer site visit, and put on the AM radio as I am often inclined to do. Rush Limbaugh was on, talking about himself, as he is often inclined to do. Well, he finally went to taking calls, and he introduced someone by the name of Ferris. For those of you unfamiliar with the name, Ferris is the main character in the excellent movie, Ferris Beuller's Day Off, and is played by Matthew Broderick. The call is quite weird, and awkward...
Normally, I would not have suspected a thing... except towards the middle of the conversation, Ferris mentions his friend Cameron. Cameron, like Ferris, is a peculiar name, and also happens to be a character name, a character who happens to be Ferris's friend in the movie Ferris Beuller's Day Off. So I get home and look for anything on the internet about Matthew Broderick calling the Rush Limbaugh show as Ferris, and found nothing. This, ladies and gentlemen, could mean that I am a pioneer in observation, because what I did find in my search, is that Matthew Broderick is a flaming Barack Obama supporter. If you watch the video in that link, you may notice a slight similarity in voice betwixt the two sounds (or maybe I'm just very hopeful). When you take all of this in, as this is happening at the peak of Limbaugh's notoriety (thanks to RNC chairman Steele, and Limbaugh's response), it kind of makes sense that Broderick may have called to thank Limbaugh for helping to bring the Republican party down.
I got a new computer right as my last one completely died on me... Literally. I built the new one (parts mostly bought from Micro Center, a walk-in store that actually sells real computer parts, a la the failed CompUSA (it's online only, now, I think). They were actually cheaper than NewEgg (not to mention CompUSA, which seemingly had a 75% mark-up on every computer part they sold - no wonder they collapsed). I put everything together in my living room, and then tested it. I turned on my old computer and started uninstalling large programs and online-activated DRM applications, with plans to transfer the hard drives from the old, to the new, as additional storage. Well, during the uninstallation of Grand Theft Auto IV, the computer crashed. For the last time. I was unable to get it to boot up, as it would just turn itself off and all the fans would kick on at 100%. I gave up, and everything transferred over just fine (even using the same copy of WindowsXP - surprisingly I didn't have any issues activating it with Microsoft), and now I'm enjoying my new computer (Intel Core i7 920, 6GB RAM, Radeon HD4870), except on 1st Page (the software I use to type my HTML in), scrolling is still slow and choppy. Maybe it has more to do with the amount of text on the page than anything else.
I'd like to use the computer swap as a reason as to why I haven't updated in a long time, but that would be lying because I've had plenty of opportunity. At least, I was out of town this last weekend, helping my mom out with her home office. Everything went great there too. I put together the biggest computer desk I've ever seen (and my wife put together a file cabinet), all the rough edges were hidden (I often forget to pay attention to that when putting pressboard furniture together), and everything seemed pretty sturdy. It was raining pretty bad when we left Sunday morning, but surprisingly, we were only stuck in traffic for a few minutes going into D.C. (commonly, on Sundays, around noon - 6PM things will back up a LOT before the HOV lane gets added in on I-95N).
The next morning my wife had to get up much earlier than I. I heard her leave (closing the door), then come back, then leave, then come back again, and then leave. I look out the window and I see this:
She had a pot in her hand, trying to scrape the snow off the Prelude. There was no way she was going to be able to get the Prelude out of there, even if she did manage to get the snow off of it with a pot, so I took her to work in the Subaru. Despite my previous problems with the car, I'm glad I went with the AWD route because it performed admirably, and I think I'll never get a non AWD car for as long as I live north of Florida. -04MAR2009
Marco Island pictures are posted. It took much longer than I thought. I find myself caring more and more about aesthetics with each time I update a page. I think the biggest reason behind this, is I designed most of this website to be seen at 1024 x 768, and then 1280 x 1024. Pretty much all the pages I did look like feces smeared on the screen when viewing the site on a widescreen monitor (1680 x 1050, which is what I use now). So, to tighten up the page, I table-fied all the entries. I also did something different with the Marco Island post, compared to the others. This one is four pictures across instead of three, and the captions are centered instead of aligned left. On previous posts, the captions give the images an off-center illusion (some are really off-center, most are not). I moved the Korea post from the bottom of the 2nd page to the top of the first after I noticed that the 2nd page was 3x bigger. The rest of the 1st page is untouched, so you can get a good look at how awful my work used to be. Work that I was once proud of, that I am now embarrassed by.
I screwed up my computer... A plastic spring loaded clip snapped off, effectively removing the heatsink from my motherboard chipset, causing it to overheat and make my computer freeze up about five minutes after booting it up. With some electrical tape, and a wire I've re-made contact between the chip and the heatsink, but I think some permanent damage was done. The computer, while games still act normally, is a bit slower than it used to be. Even typing this here is slower, letters appearing about a half a second after they are entered. Starting up Firefox used to be instant. Now it takes about 10 seconds. It's a good time to get new computer parts... everything is on sale and the dollar is about to go belly up. Intel just came out with an i7 series of CPUs, the lower end of which are reasonably priced and blow away their competition. I just don't like spending money, so I'll probably live with this for much longer than I need to. -15FEB2009
I don't like putting up boring, passionless posts, so I just don't post. It's nothing personal.
Just got back from New York, once again. Imagine waking up at 5:30 in the morning in your warm hotel room, showering, not drying your hair (because guys usually don't do that, and you're a guy), getting dressed and having to walk to a rental car that's been sitting in 4 - 8 degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures all night. Those of you that read this, that live in New York, probably know what I'm talking about, and are used to it. Those that don't - grab some ice out of your freezer and put as much of it on your face as possible. Now keep it there for 10 minutes. That's how it feels (except ice tends to be warmer)... it's so cold that it burns. I usually have pretty good control over my shivers but what I have experienced over the last four days has forced open mental doors that I've closed for a long time (In Wyoming at -15 degrees wearing nothing more than a suit because I couldn't afford a good coat to go with it at the time). The final morning I walked outside to the rental car, and instead of 8 degrees it was 16, and it actually felt comfortable, and I didn't shiver.
I finally replaced my printer. It had to be printed from it often, or else the ink would dry at the tips and you'd have to buy new expensive and hard to find cartridges. The annoying commercial on the radio for the Epson Workforce series had me looking for the printer, and I bought it. I went to Circuit City first, but they didn't have it. Also I got depressed watching all the riff-raff rummaging through the stock - like vultures fighting over the last pieces of someone you knew. :( Anyway, I ended up going to Micro Center, a shop that will undoubtedly take up more market share as time goes on. Ironically it cost just as much as my previous printer (an Epson Stylus 880), bought over 8 years ago. Obviously it does more (Wi-Fi and network capabilities), and fits exactly the way the old printer fit on the top shelf of my computer desk. Thank you,
Something in the news has been bothering me... This time, it's executive pay limitations. It doesn't just bother me... it downright scares me. Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Commission, the government guy in charge when all of this stuff went down, wants to limit executive pay to all U.S. businesses due to some "deep rooted anger" among the American people. Wealth envy is going to bring this country down faster than any terrorist attack, and maybe even faster than teachers unions (smirk). You are allowed to have all the envy you want, but when you start turning envy into legislation, nothing good will ever come of it. It's nobody's business how much anybody makes, and I'm insanely frustrated with how much attention is being paid to CEO salaries and private jets. It's none of our business, unless the money has been stolen from us. The CEOs have no power over our money. Only the president and Congress does. Our anger should be with them. Barney Frank should have been replaced as chairman long, long ago. Now - I'm going to hold my hands over my ears and yell, pretending that I didn't just read that article, hoping that it's too absurd to ever be seriously considered, and ignoring the trend of the exponentially growing government control over the economy.
I have no problem with executive pay being limited to companies that take federal funding. In fact, I encourage strict rules on any company that participates in pork barrel projects, especially business owners that have familial ties to congressmen. What I have a problem with, is adding the limit retroactively, effectively chasing away the people in charge, and leaving the position open to someone willing to take such a large responsibility for $500k a year, and banned from perks that would cause bad PR. Had they asked initially to the executives "Would you still take this bailout money if we imposed these limits on you?", much liked the AP asked the CEO of General Motors if he'd step down were the tax payers to bail them out, I would feel much better about all of this. But they didn't dare ask that question then, because those CEOs (like the GM CEO) might have said "No, thank you."
I drove to the car wash today. For the "Worst Financial Crisis Since the Great Depression", there sure were a lot of people sitting in their running cars in line, waiting to pay $18 to get their cars washed. My car is still dirty. I'll go tomorrow morning. -07FEB2009
Looks like Circuit City's heartbeat suddenly flatlined. Before Christmas they announced they were going to close 20% of their stores and then all of a sudden, on the 16th of January they closed their website, and are liquidating all of their stores (this makes me very very sad). Everything is 10 - 30% off, so if you have a store near you, now's the time to go (well, at least it was when I started this post, four days ago). I went to a store near me, and it had more customers than I'd ever seen (in that store). I walked around; there was plenty of stock, but I just wasn't in the buying mood. Even with the discount, I couldn't justify getting anything that I wanted. But I did have two $25 Best Buy gift cards burning a hole in my pocket, so I went to Best Buy. They were more packed with customers... I guess the high ceilings really do a lot to bring people in.
After weeks upon weeks of the meteorologists telling me that it was going to snow, it has finally snowed. I got to play around in a parking lot a bit with my Subaru. It's scary how easy it is to lose control - and how far the car slides even if you're only doing 10 MPH. I don't know what makes cars slide off the road, when the road is straight... and I don't want to find out (I suspect it's sudden lane changes, or maybe hitting the brakes too hard - two things I try very hard to avoid doing). All day, I didn't hit anything, and nothing hit me despite tons of cars and trucks sliding off the road all around me. I'd love to say that's because I'm a very wary driver, and while I am, I think it had more to do with luck than anything else I made it through the day unscathed.
Just like when I stopped at the first paragraph before I ignored it for four days, I've stopped at the second one. I have writer's block. With that, I'll just leave well enough alone and post what I have, unedited and commercial free. -27JAN2009
Happy Barack Obama day. There was virtually no traffic in and around the D.C. area. I'm sure it was packed inside the city - but anywhere outside was light for a Sunday morning. Bush goes home quietly and unmissed. I can't help but feel sorry for him.
A week after my company's holiday party (this last weekend), there was a perk that I got to participate in. Basically, about 16 people are hand-picked to have made the biggest difference with the company, plus the sales guys that made their quota, to go to Marco Island, Florida. Obviously, I was picked and that's where I was from Thursday - Sunday. So the trip was good, but what's even better is all the stuff I got. An iPod touch (basically an iPhone that doesn't call anybody), an iTunes gift card, a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses (one for me and one for my wife), a 5 pound crystal trophy, a man bag (plus a tote bag for the wife), a golf jacket (plus one for the wife), four $200 American Express gift cards, a hat, a towel, and the best gift of all - a bag of Chex Mix with a bottle of Fiji water! Our suitcases were pretty packed on the flight back. When I get a round tuit, I'll add Marco Island to my pictures of places I've been section.
So, that's where I've been, and that's why I took so long to approve comments and update this site. - 20JAN2009
My company had a holiday party this Friday (two nights ago), that I took my wife to. Since my company is based 7 hours north of here, that's where we had to go for the party. It was a very well put together shindig (as expected)... Open bar, live music, lots of food, etc. Everyone got a $1000 chip to gamble with (fake money, of course). There were gambling tables set up... poker, roulette, blackjack, poker, blackjack, more poker, more blackjack... you get the point. Whoever won the most at the end, got a prize. Even though someone gave us their $1k chip, we still managed to lose everything. It was fun though.
Just like last time, we drove on the beautiful drive. This time it is a much different time of year, so I thought it best to take a whole 'nother series of pictures for my own archival purposes, and for your viewing pleasure.
Pretty, isn't it? It snowed very heavily during the drive there, and the drive back. Couldn't see anything except a faint indication of grooves left by a vehicle in front of me (that I could barely see). What is normally a 6.5 hour drive was turned into a 10 hour one. I think, for the next holiday party I'm going to fly in. I don't want to go through that ever again ever again ever again. Ever.
It appears that spambots have found my Wordpress "application". It's only a matter of time before they figure out how to register, completely bypassing my moderation and filling your heads with advertisements for v1agRA and cheap Nike Jordan Shoes. When it gets to that point, my comment feature may be discontinued. I hate spambots. -11JAN2009
Mutual funds are great because they are low risk, and one of the safest ways to invest. But not for me. Yeah, economic downturn blah blah, but let me take the opportunity to say that Dow Jones did not drop as low as my mutual fund did. It would be marginally acceptable, but the value has not increased since I started the mutual fund in 1998, putting in $20 a month every month for almost 8 years (plus a $2 fee for the service of them taking my money). I've been waiting for the market to go back up so that I can at least break even by the time I take my money out, but that doesn't look like it's going to happen any time soon. So, stay away from Pioneer Investments for anything money related, unless you can't find a hole to throw your extra cash in instead.
I actually worked on the Ireland page today... added three paragraphs. The page is going to be huge... I don't want to split it up but I might have to, because it will take you half an hour to scroll down to the bottom by the time it's done. -05JAN2009
Of the four blogs I link to below, three of them are now dead. My sister Nina has discontinued her blog as a way of welcoming the new year, resolution-like. (I am against the idea behind New Year resolutions, by the way) I'll leave the link up for the foreseeable future, you never know when it will magically go back active.
My five days off were pretty relaxing, but very unsatisfying. I accomplished nothing I listed out. I didn't even spend my gift cards. I did cut my great grandfather's European Vacation home video down to size, but it's still massive. 220MB, so if you're on dial-up it would take you about ten hours download it (as opposed to a day and a half). I haven't made it available for download yet, and will let you know when I do. I also made some minor adjustments to my High Heat Baseball 2003 review, making it slightly less ugly. Eventually I'll do the same for the rest of my reviews (some are just horrible looking, and read that way too).
Well, I guess other than that I have nothing more to say. Israel is finally laying waste to Hamas in Gaza. G.H.W. Bush wants Jeb to become president (someone get these people away and make them shut up, please). Obama is looking to add some 600k new government jobs. John Travolta's son died. The world is still turning. -04JAN2009
I had one of the better New Year's celebrations I've ever had last night. I drank more than I wanted to, but it was pretty fun. We went to a friend of the wife's house back in our old neighborhood. Street parking, and the only space available was right in front of her place. I somehow managed to parallel park perfectly (for the only time in 2008). After eating (and drinking) there, we went to a little bar nearby called Fireflies. They cleared the place out to make room for people, and they had a very unique live band. Unique in the sense that they were all black guys (and one portly white guy playing the keyboard) with either shaved heads or dread locks, in suits, singing classic rock (they even sang "I like that old time Rock 'n Roll") and blues. The Kelly Bell Band. Towards the end, my wife asked me for $15, and without asking I gave it to her. Next thing I know, I'm getting two CDs shoved in my pocket. The music was performed exceptionally... very precise. They kept making jokes; "I bet you guys didn't think we could do that, did you?" when they played certain songs, and they made jokes about being the only black guys in the club.
So, Happy New Year everybody. 2008 was a beast of a year. Gas prices dropped below $1.50 for the first time in five years. House prices became affordable again. Our military are all but finished in Iraq. Yeah, I'm ignoring the bad stuff because I think it was all necessary. Bubbles pop. The bigger you let them grow, the bigger the pop will be. What sucks about that, is government budgets are made based on the bubble's growth, and when it pops budget deficits cause officials to go crazy with raising taxes. I am not looking forward to 2009.
So I'm starting off the new year by making some homemade chili. It smells wonderful. (UPDATE: It's finished.) It's my favorite thing to make because it helps to get rid of some of the spices we never use; I just basically walk around the kitchen looking for things to add to it, and it tastes different every time, always delicious. I don't use recipes. I'm off till Monday so I have plenty of time to work on the ole website and cook things in the crock pot I bought my wife for Christmas (her favorite gift by far). I might even finish reading Atlas Shrugged. I also have some $75 worth of gift cards to spend, so I'm pretty excited about having nothing to do.
When I was visiting my grandfather in Florida, my grandmother Elizabeth treated me to coffee made in a french press. I was very impressed with the strength of said coffee, so much so I commented about it to my wife at a much later date. As a result, I got my own french press for Christmas, and I don't think I'll ever use my coffee maker again. I rarely drink more than two cups, so having a 12 cup maker is a little more than I need. The only downside to the french press is how nasty it looks when you're done. It just about forces you to clean it thoroughly every time you use it (kind of like when you get fingerprints on your iPod). In speaking of the iPod, that reminds me of an old vacation video my great grandfather made while vacationing with my grandfather in Europe. It's about 20 minutes long, no sound, filmed like an animated slideshow, quality stuff. I'm contemplating posting the movie on this site, maybe on the movie page, maybe on the family page, maybe both. First though, I have to figure out how to cut it down to a reasonable size to download.
It looks like I didn't finish my Ireland page before the end of the year like I expected to. I haven't touched it in a couple of months. I guess this means that my Asurion page really is the best page of 2008 (according to me). It's one of my favorite ones to look at; great color scheme, nice image layout, easy to read, and just very professional looking. -01JAN2009
I left town Thursday (the 24th) hoping that anyone who commented on my previous posts, would not think I was ignoring them by not approving them. Four days later, I check on the website, only to find no one left a comment. I guess my wife's confusing comment chased everyone else off. I think she posted that just to see if I had the guts to approve it for everyone to see... I did, and look where it got me. :(
The wife and I flew down to Georgia, where the majority of her family resides. They have a Christmas Eve dinner tradition thing where (strangely) as much of the family as possible gets together and eats dinner. My mom and sister made it down from North Carolina to join the festivities. Everything was delicious, perfectly cooked. No dogs pulling the turkey off the table. No one forgot to turn the oven off. Nothing like that happened at all.
After that, it was my brother-in-law's wedding. I was a groomsman for it, so I didn't get to take any pictures... But some will pop up on some website any day now, and when it does I'll link you to it (you might even see me). The wedding reception was pretty nice... Lots of people, the food was well made and dinner-like. When we left the wedding for the reception, I was under the impression that I was "off" as a groomsman. I removed my bow tie and tossed it into the back seat of my rental economy car (a Mustang. Not an impressive car, but not disappointing either... probably because I didn't have very high expectations to start with, but for the price of an economy class you really can't lose. Thank you, Hertz for running out of the type of cars that your customers reserve). Got to the reception area and sat down, got comfortable, only to get summoned by a fellow groomsman to get pictures taken. Everyone waited on me to go get my bow tie and put it back on, but when I got back they didn't wait for me to get it put on properly... so there were a few pictures where I was hiding behind a pillar trying to put it on. And then the rest of the pictures, I'm sure I look out of place because I kind of just hopped into the back of the group. My tie was probably crooked too.
Our flight back got delayed, putting us walking into the apartment around 1:20 AM. For some reason, I couldn't sleep all night (kept thinking/dreaming I had a wedding to set up, along with making sure everyone had a rental car). Went to work, not feeling tired. Got home, still not tired. Got antsy, so I updated the Web Log. I also recently noticed that I have had Marshal's name misspelled for a very long time (two L's). Maybe that's why he hasn't been talking to me for the last year. Well, I fixed it. Good day to you all. -29DEC2008
DC traffic... More specifically, I-95 South going out of DC. Worse than normal, but it makes sense when you consider that it's the 23rd of December and all the people driving to visit their families for Christmas. It makes perfect sense, until I tell you that this is at 9PM. The part where it goes from stop and go, to slow is where the HOV lanes end, effectively turning a 5 lane highway into a 3 lane one. I hope priority number one in Obama's infrastructure stimulus is widening I-95 up to five lanes minimum, as it is the main vein for the entire Northeastern part of the country. It's just as bad the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I made the mistake twice of trying to drive South then. -23DEC2008
It's very amusing to see Obama's plan for America unfold. All the righties thought he was going to turn hard left from his relatively centrist campaign rhetoric as soon as he won the election. All the lefties thought the same.
His pick of Rick Warren to speak at his invocation has surprised all sides, as Rick Warren is vehemently anti-everything gay. Gay rights of course, being one of the many trophies held high by the Democrat party, this choice seems to show the activists are having regrets. I was reading an article about it, and am amazed at the level of furiousness leveled at Obama. On one part of the article, it mocked Warren on his equating homosexuality to pedophilia, and then in another part it discounts how people define "traditional marriage" by talking about how men used to marry children. Such amazingly blatant contradictions in an opinion, it's hard to think one like this could get a job writing for a major newspaper.
In the opening paragraph of the another article, I noticed that it says "only Democrats" ignore their base to serve the other side. In fact, it was the African American participation (another Democrat "base") that helped Obama win, in addition to passing Proposition 8 in California (effectively banning gay marriage there). Looks like two special interests are stepping on each others toes there, and white Democrats are up in arms about it (especially the gay ones). But, back to the "only Democrats" part of the statement... Wasn't it John McCain who believed in global warming and thusly, a cap and trade tax for carbon emissions? Wasn't it John McCain who voted in favor of the $700B bailout package? Wasn't it John McCain who was against the Bush tax cuts, and who was against offshore drilling (and still opposes drilling in ANWR)? Wasn't it Palin who believed in windfall profits taxes on oil companies, to generate welfare checks to Alaskan residents? Wasn't it Palin who as mayor, fought to get tons of earmarks for her town, and for her state as governor? And I should throw in that she was in favor the $700B bailout package as well. That bailout has worked out great so far, by the way. Sorry, but the Republican base has received its share of elbows from Republican leadership, George Bush's policies included.
Gay marriage is not banned, and can never be. Same goes for polygamy. The reason it can never be banned is because the free practice of religion is protected in the Constitution. Anything that consenting adults want to do, they should be able to do if we are to call this country a "free" one (what a can of worms that statement can lead to). However, what the state laws prohibit is not gay marriage itself, but whether or not the state can recognize the marriage as legal. There can still be ceremonies, and there can still be rings worn, no one will stop it. Now, why the state(s) need(s) to recognize marriage at all is entirely a different question. If there is supposed to be separation of church and state, the word "marriage" should not appear in any law or government policy, but for the time being marriage is consistently defined as between one man and one woman throughout (most) states. What I found interesting with Proposition 8's passing, was how the gay community (and gay support community) reacted. Rather than go to their state legislature and protest that their civil rights issue could be voted on at all, they went to the Mormon church and protested there because of how they "influenced" the will of the people. Welcome to the dangers of Democracy. Be careful what you call our government structure, because you just might get it. Irony can be defined as the activist holding a sign that says "STOP THE HATE" while furiously barking at a church member peacefully walking into the gate.
That brings up another opportunity to clarify my stance... I feel individual rights should be held high above the will of the people. Right wing talk radio seems to make a big deal about the will of the people and how important it is when it comes to gay marriage... But for some reason when it comes to gun ownership, the will of the people doesn't matter when the majority wants guns to be banned. To me it's no different. An individual right is an individual right. Gun ownership is an individual right. Marriage is an individual right. One of my favorite quotes from Thomas Jefferson, "A Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51 percent of the population can take away the rights of the remaining 49." It became my favorite, right around the same time that I learned that this country is a constitutional republic, and not a democracy. On the same note, I hope Obama keeps his choice the way it is, and applaud him if he stands by it.
That's probably a lot more politics talk than you're used to seeing here in the last month or so. I started out with a different point in mind, but digressed quite a bit on the gay marriage thing. I felt good about this post when I finished it, but after reading over what I've typed, I see this post is a mess.-22DEC2008
I thank all who participated in my comment experiment the day before yesterday. It was a marginal success. You are able to register from the main page, and from that point I believe that your post does not need to be approved every time if you are registered when you post. If you'd rather I use my Blogspot site in the same fashion, rather than my Wordpress "application", feel free to say so.
I updated my "Yet Even More Pictures" page. No new pictures... but I removed the link to my old forum that I forgot about (which led to an offensive message meant only for spambots). I also reworded some of the captions and changed the color scheme of the page to better match the rest of the site. -19DEC2008
So Powweb has all of these "applications" that I can "install" on the website with a few clicks of the mouse. I got the idea to "install" a blog "application", but never use the blog itself... but rather just copy and paste the code that would allow people to comment on each of my posts. So I installed Wordpress and found that the task is not impossible, but also not perfect. "But Crawdaddy! Why don't you just post updates on the blog itself?", I can hear you asking. Unfortunately that is a question that I can't answer, except to say this is my site and I'd like to keep it as much mine as possible. And that means I continue to add to the web log by my normal means.
When I said earlier that it's not perfect, I was referring mainly to the fact that if someone were to comment on a post I made, you would not be able to see the count go up. So to see if anyone else has commented, you'd have to click "Comment" each time you want to see. I understand that this is a pain, but I guess if worse comes to worse you can just go to the main comment.thecrawdaddypage.com website and see the comment numbers updated there. But then that leaves you checking two different places constantly and that's just not fair to you, dear reader. So until I figure something out, this is the only post that will have a comment link. Or maybe I'll just reinstitute a guestbook... But then there's the spambots (a perfect possibility for the WordPress direction as well). The more I think about it, the worse the idea becomes.
I close my eyes, and click "Send" - 17DEC2008
UPDATE: Well, as it turns out, there's no way for me to disable "post approval" mode so any comments you post will have to wait for me to approve them... Another way is for me to set up a registration process I think... but that's starting to get complicated. This whole experiment has turned into somewhat of a failure. I might figure something out later that involves my Blogspot site instead... We'll see.
Yesterday, on my way to DC I stopped at a McDonald's. One of the few ones that did not have a drive-thru. On my way out, in the parking lot, behind me I heard a horn honk. Normally I don't turn around when I hear a honk, because I usually end up looking like an idiot (because the honker is honking for someone else). For some unknown reason, this time, I did turn around and found out that the honk really was for me. An elderly woman looked like she needed directions, but could only make howling sounds out of her mouth. She was deaf. She held up a piece of paper that said "Wal-Mart". A bit of time passed, and finally I was able to get a pad and pen to write down the directions (Wal-Mart was about two miles away). Left at the light. Left at Telegraph. Left at Kingstowne, and Wal-Mart will be on the left. Too easy. She said "Thank you" in the best way she could and I got into my car feeling like I'd done something really good. I ate my chicken biscuit in the car, and pulled out of the parking lot and stopped at the light the deaf woman turned at minutes ago. The name of the street at the light: Telegraph Road. I gave her bad directions. "Telegraph" in the directions, should have said "Van Dorn". There was nothing I could do to fix it, and no way of knowing how far she was willing to go down Telegraph until she would realize she would never see Kingstowne. I've never gone from feeling so good to so bad in such short order in my entire life.
Try as I might, I simply can't seem to figure out how to get my Asurion page listed in Google's index. I put meta tags in (which Google really doesn't seem to care about), I tried entering the whole URL into Google's search box... Weeks later, nothing. So I ask you, friendly web friends of the web, if you wish, if you would like, please pass the potatoes, and also put a link to my Asurion page somewhere in your daily rant. I'm not really asking for an advertisement... You don't have to try to sell it to your own viewers. The link just has to exist. You can even put the link in a period if you want, and no one will even know it's there... but Google's webcrawler will.
For a birthday present to myself, I bought a Panasonic Arc 4 yesterday... and man is it nice. Pay no attention to the price tag on Panasonic's site; I got it for $150 at Circuit City (it was $170 at Best Buy, according to their site... It really sucks that Circuit City is the one that lacks customers comparatively, and will eventually go under) (I always try to shop there whenever I need something they sell) (I hate Best Buy). It's an amazing razor... They say on the box that it has "One Pass" technology. Marketing sentences like that go in one ear and out the other for me because they usually mean them in absolutely perfect conditions. Well, imagine my surprise when after one pass over my face with this razor, it was smooth. It was actually smooth. Not "if you press a little and rub your face you feel stubble", but "was I just born today?" smooth. No pain either. It didn't pull my hairs to cut them like almost all other razors do. You can use shaving cream with it. You can use it in the shower. I've had countless razors... Remington, Norelco, Braun, "ShaveMan" (Chinese company; $10 2 AA battery powered razor... great to leave in your travel bag), and none of them have stacked up to this one in initial quality. The Norelco Advantage (the one with the ejecting lotion) came close (pun not intended), but this Panasonic wins out by a large margin. Let's just hope it stands up to my abnormally scruffy beard, which has a habit of opening holes in the foil, exposing my skin to the blades and leaving scratches all over my face. Don't hold your breath, but I think this might produce another page in my Things I Hate section for the Braun Activator.
The governor of Illinois has been caught trying to sell Obama's seat in the Senate to people... Everyone, including himself, knew he was under investigation. Judging from his actions, and how he talked to people after Obama won, I think it's safe to say that he knew he was going down for something and did what he did to try to take as many people as possible down with him. Too bad the investigators didn't wait until the actual felony of selling a Senate seat was committed. I'm just glad it was a ring of Democrats this time. -10DEC2008
I removed the link to Something Awful (because I haven't been over there in probably a year or more) and replaced it with a link to Neal Boortz's site... a site I actually look at every day. It's only fair that I link to it. I may be removing Fwapah (hasn't been updated in a year and a half) and Giggleman's blog (almost a year) from the list and replacing them with even more political places to go. I will admit though, that now the election is over that I haven't been paying nearly as much attention to the news... and politicalish rants here will inevitably dwindle as a result. (Yay)
I (just today) found on my hard drive, a completely updated page for my traffic rant section... Something I had worked on a very long time ago and never uploaded to update. How unbelievably lazy... I also updated the current pages so they fit better on your screen... and I finally corrected the picture where "Yield" is spelled wrong. So the rant is updated with a 3rd page. I didn't go over it, so there may be tons of spelling errors, and things might not make sense. Also, with my high-contrast flat panel monitor I can see very clearly the slightly different shades of white used to make them (3rd page pictures only). They look bad. I did the fourth page only as sort of a "The End...?" gesture. At the bottom of the pages you can see that I planned on doing at least seven of them, but never made it past three.
I've been using something different to listen to music lately. Rather than listen to streaming radio (like I used to often do at the now dead RothMetal.com), I've discovered something at Last.fm. It's a small program you download, and you type virtually any band you want in the box, and it will stream music in high quality to your computer (for you to listen to) based on the band that you type. The first song it plays might actually be by that band, but every one after that will be based upon what other people listen to, who also listen to that band. You can't rewind or fast forward, but you can skip if you get to a song you don't like. I've gotten a lot of exposure to a lot of bands over the last couple of weeks this way... and I might actually start enjoying listening to music instead of talk radio on long drives again. -30NOV2008
It hasn't been happening as often as it used to, but every now and again I get addicted to a game and don't want to spend any of my free time doing anything else other than playing that game. That is what has happened to me for the last week, and will continue to happen to me for at least another week. Fallout 3, is the game this time. The last one was Oblivion, two years ago. It should be no surprise that these games are made by the same company. -28NOV2008
I've typed and deleted several paragraphs, meaning to post something worth while. None of it was. -20NOV2008
I couldn't care less who Obama picks to be his cabinet member(s). It seems that's all people want to talk about... this endless stream of speculation being played on repeat in all forms of media... What drives it? It's almost like the media is trying to pick Obama's cabinet for him.
The United Auto Workers union are pushing for some bail-out money and we're finally seeing Democrats and Republicans fall into their proper roles. Shame that the Repubs had to get their tooshies spanked three ways to Friday for them to act like Republicans again. I can't wait to see the legislation that gets passed over the next two years. These are exciting times.
I continue to feel optimistic about the economy. Don't know why... There's tons of predictions that this will get worse and last well into 2010. I guess it's just the fact that everywhere I go, there's still people shopping. People driving. Traffic jams are still occurring. Food is still cheap. I think the time to worry really, is when you walk into a grocery store and there's no food to buy. I looked for, and noticed Campbell's Soup profits are up this quarter. How dare they profit on the fear of the people. Time to put a cap on their CEO's salary. -17NOV2008
I've been reading over my previous entries, and I see that a couple weeks ago I thought that 4.5 x 4 = 24+ (regarding the number of hits I could accumulate). Well I have edited that entry to reflect the proper math to read six and a half, rather than four and a half. Also, a very long time ago I see (from reading a very old entry) that I bought "Mr. Bill's Disasterpiece" - a collection of Mr. Bill segments (from Saturday Night Live long ago, when it was entertaining). Unfortunately, I have absolutely no recollection of ever doing so, nor do I know where the box set went. When I was a kid, I couldn't believe how many things adults completely forgot... But now I'm starting to understand.
Other than that, I have no update to bring you. Nothing going on here. -09NOV2008
Click above image to get full screenshot.
Wow. Congrats, CNN. I especially love the picture of the guy in the middle. How racist is this whole thing? "It's like we can do anything" Really? Seriously? I laugh, but I also cry. -05NOV2008
Asurion page is done. Click "Things I Hate" and I'm sure you can find it from there. I wish I were exaggerating when I said it is the best addition to the site this year... But it is. I put a surprising amount of work into it. I think it looks good but might be boring to read through if you haven't had a similar experience. Don't let me put you off though. Read it anyway. For me.
That's right, children. For the first time in my life I voted. Stood in line for about an hour... There were kids selling donuts and coffee. Keith Fimian was talking to people in line... Not necessarily trying to sell himself (well obviously that's why he was there, but he didn't make it obvious by handing things out and/or talking loudly), but just letting people know who he was and giving them the opportunity to learn more about him. He saw my wife's Ireland sweater and we talked to him a little about that... their housing crisis and how they were handling it. We also talked about how the dollar -vs- euro wasn't pretty to look at (disappointingly, he didn't know that the dollar has gained strength in the last few months). And we talked about earmarks. I tried to tell him how it was frustrating that everyone talks about the wastefulness of earmarks, but no one talks about the anti-competitiveness of them. I brought up the wooden arrow company in Oregon that got a $3M tax break, and I said (something to the effect of) "What about the wooden arrow company in Utah? Now they can't sell their arrows because the company in Oregon can handily undercut them.". I got a blank stare, but a nod which made it obvious that he had never considered this aspect of earmarks, and made me doubtful that he ever would. Oh well. I voted for him anyway because I detest the Democrat rival.
For the senators, I know Warner (not the guy I sent my email to... a different Warner who was running against Gilmore, both of which were former governors of Virginia) is going to win. I won't mind him despite the D next to his name, I don't think. I voted for Redpath just because I want the Libertarian party to have more of a showing. I don't know too much about him... I was invited to a fundraising dinner at his house, but didn't go.
And for president? Well, it's very complicated. I voted for Barr. The guy's record doesn't hold up to what sort of policy he pretends to uphold, but then the same thing can be said about McCain and Obama. It was more a vote for the Libertarian Party than it was for Barr himself. Personally, I find him to be a little creepy and probably a pedophile. But from watching his interviews over the last year, he says pretty much everything that I'm thinking. For instance, in a 3rd party debate that aired only on C-SPAN (Chuck Baldwin and Ralph Nader were on there as well), he was the only one that didn't want to eliminate NAFTA (this is my preference as well). It took some sort of principled mindset to be able to go against the grain in that fashion, and I respect it.
With that said, another thing keeping me from voting McCain was the sheer fear of what would happen if he won. Since August, Obama has been up in the polls, and steadily gaining popularity till today. What would happen if he lost? People are still sharply bitter from when Bush "stole" the election from Gore... and they were polling even, with Bush usually ahead at that time. I can't imagine what would happen if Obama lost at this point. I don't want to imagine it. I hope he wins, not only for the sake of the morale of his extremist supporters, but also so the rest of the country can see the reality of what his policies will do to this country. -04NOV2008
Judging by my Bravenet counter, no one has seen this page since my last post... So this means that no one was disappointed by the lack of update yesterday. How great does that work out? (Very great)
I did some work on my (Things I Hate) Asurion page (background: Asurion is a cell phone insurance company and they suck and I hate them). I'm about 70% complete with the text on that... and 0% complete on the code that makes the actual page (it will include images as well... still need to search for the ones that I want to use). Other than my Ireland page (which I worked on yesterday), it will be the best addition to the site this year. Good day. -03NOV2008
I put disclaimers on a couple of pages in my Misc section, where the button doesn't match the page it goes to. I also added "Go Back" and "Go Home" links to each of the pages (very much overdue). Added a new counter to this page, this time without a Jewelry Store link necessary. It sucks in that each digit is an image located on the PowWeb server somewhere that's obviously overloaded because sometimes one will be missing... But whatever. The Bravenet counter at the bottom of the page is more important anyway... That one counts not only this page, but also archive pages so I can see what people are searching for when they get here.
In speaking of stats, I think now is a good time to show you exactly how many hits I get on this site, using the stat program my host provides that analyzes the detailed logfiles of everything and everyone that accesses every page on this site. I know my counters on the main page are pathetically low... But bear in mind that those counters only count visits to this page and three other ones.
As you can see at 4000+ visits in a month, means that I'd have over 24k hits (which is what my counter currently shows) in six and a half months. This site has been around for over 7 years. Most people that end up here end up on my "Pictures of the Places I've Been" page... and surprisingly my Blade of Darkness, and Gothic 1 and 2 reviews are very popular. I plan on working on the site some more throughout the day. I know it's the weekend and you're busy, so it will probably be done and this entry updated by the time you read this. -02NOV2008
Hey, hey! After over two years of mass media frenzy telling everyone we're in a recession, it finally looks like we are in a recession! (thanks to the 0.3% GDP shrinkage over the last quarter... the way these a-holes have been talking you'd think there'd be a full 5% drop... or more) Hmmm... Something about that headline bothers me. "As consumers retreat." Strange... if the economy is so horrible, then how do these people come up with enough money to provide Obama with record ... breaking ... donations??!!! Maybe that's why the economy shrunk, everyone is giving away their money for fliers and 30 minute infomercials (not to mention a satellite TV channel) all in support of their guy.
I know my work on this website is infallible... But believe it or not I actually made a mistake on the code for my pictures below. Somehow it worked out so that it looked and acted exactly like I wanted to despite the fact that I forgot to add the <tr> tag to the bottom two rows. It's fixed now... But obviously you won't be able to tell a difference. There's a lot of cleaning up I have been putting off. My Ireland page sits untouched for over a month now... Things just aren't progressing on their own. -30OCT2008
I changed the properties of this main page to 'better conform' to modern HTML standards. Everything you see here is in one giant table cell at 80% width of the size of the page (basically, there will always be a 10% margin on either side of the text - also the lines separating entries have always been set to a percentage width; they've always auto-adjusted size depending on your screen/window size). If you spot any errors (and I don't think you will), let me know.
Also, just for the hey of it I decided to post some pictures from my drive to/from New York. This is along the way on US 15... Beautiful drive almost the whole way. A lot of my pictures didn't come out due to me trying to drive at the same time of performing professional photography acts... so all I'm going to post is six of the best ones.
Got a thing in the mail from the Libertarian party asking for donations late last week... Something funny I noticed is that if you donate $44 or more, you get a free sticker. That in itself isn't funny... it's what the sticker says that strikes me. "Don't blame me. I voted Libertarian." So here they are, asking for campaign donations while at the same time admitting that they have no chance of winning... It's moves like that that show how inept the party is at allowing newcomers to take them seriously. -27OCT2008
I had all kinds of time to update the site over the last three days and I didn't do squat. I don't even know what to say for this update... I had a real bad cold. But I'm over it now. I was in New York for the last week. But I'm back now. I bought a new pair of jeans. They didn't fit, so I am going to return them soon. ... ... -26OCT2008
Updated (some of) the link descriptions below. I plan on adding a couple more later on... I might remove the Deviant Art/Something Awful links and put the other ones in their place. Also cleaned up some code (you won't see a difference) just for the sake of it. I tried to progress more on my Ireland page but lost motivation quickly. Complacency is probably the most evil of evils. -19OCT2008
I saw a guy riding a unicycle today. -17OCT2008
Saw the debate last night. The third and final one between McCain and Obama. McCain needed to hit it out of the park. He didn't. People on the news are talking about how well he did compared to the previous two debates. But he still did poorly. There was a scene when McCain talked about Ayers, Obama said it was a complete lie, and McCain didn't know how to handle it. He was a baseball pitcher who is scared of getting hit with the ball when it comes back at him. There was a part during his stutterfest in trying to talk about Obama's association with Ayers, and the camera shot showed McCain's profile, and Obama was looking at him. McCain looked pathetic, and the look on Obama's face showed it. While yes, Obama's expression was disgusting, full of contempt and disrespect... at least it was confident. To me, McCain's constant blinking, with his hands in the air, almost pleading to the viewers showed anything but confidence. This guy is 72 years old and he can't seem to figure out how to defeat a Marxist freshman senator from Illinois who has nothing exemplary to say about his past or his accomplishments. The newly famous Joe the Plumber has a better idea of how to debate Obama's policies than McCain does.
Someone says "Think about Obama as president. With Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid on either side of him. Nothing will stop them. Vote for McCain." And ... you know what? I'm pretty sure that McCain would end up a puppet for them anyway. This is Mr. Reach Across the Aisle himself we're talking about here, who believed at one time that tax cuts were bad and off shore drilling was unnecessary. But on the other hand, there's the bail-out he favored that has accomplished great economic stability. Oh! Actually that didn't do squat (thankfully banks aren't as eager to be socialized as Paulson, etc. envisioned). So there you have it. I'm at the point that I don't care what happens during the campaign trail. I don't think there's anything McCain can do to get my vote. I don't care about the media bias any more because I think it could have been overcome with ease if the GOP had a decent candidate. This has been a very sad election season. -16OCT2008
Man... I was on a roll there for a while with the fairly consistent updates. I've been in a funk this week. I got a statement from my Louisiana bank where I had and have maintained my first savings account since I was 16. Apparently they've taken the liberty of charging me $5 a month for the service of holding on to my money. They call it a dormant account fee. So I think it's time to close that account, because they apparently want to discourage me from leaving my money there.
My Subaru (at 29k miles now) decided that it wanted to be a POS. All kinds of noise coming from under the hood when the clutch wasn't pushed in. Brought it to the dealership, and they had the clutch throw-out bearing replaced... Under warranty of course, but this really isn't the level of reliability I was expecting. Once the warranty is up, I find it hard to accept that I'd want to keep the car any longer.
But I still have my Prelude, right? Well, not really. Virginia has annual safety inspections. Apparently, if a boot is torn on your CV joint, your car is unsafe for the road and you have 10 days to get it fixed. Since both my boots were torn, that repair alone is $700. Plus they had to align it afterwards. That's another hundred bucks. No real biggie. I can just order the parts online, grab a Haynes manual, put the boots on the car, and bring it in for an alignment, right? Wrong. In Virginia it is illegal to work on your car unless it is inside a garage. I don't have a garage. I rent. Not only are my torn boots perfectly safe, but I can't legally replace them on my own. A long time ago, this would have surprised me... that a population can let government regulations get so out of control, that they seem to be doing nothing more than keeping mechanics in business. It disappoints me, but doesn't surprise me.
So, that... combined with the economy finally taking a much needed dip into recession has put me in a slightly depressed funk. Obama is rising in the polls and the most disappointing part about it is how his supporters are seemingly drooling and barking over the prospect of having him in the White House. I can't specifically put my finger on what it is that bothers me about that... If I figure it out, I'll let you know. - 15OCT2008
Again, if you've been paying attention, the monstrosity I mentioned earlier this week passed through both the Senate and the House, and was ultimately signed by our number one guy, George W. Bush yesterday. Rather than re-type my feelings to you on this internet website of sorts, I'll just post my letters to my senators, both of which have voted in favor of the bill. I would have written my representative, but he's retiring so it would be pointless (and if I did, it would probably look very much like my letter to John Warner). Enjoy.
And there you have it. I did watch C-SPAN, by the way... and it scares me how these people get by the way they do repeating talking points over and over again. If I had a nickel for every time someone said "Wall Street ... Main Street" I'd have about $4.60 more in my pocket. "Golden Parachute" - $3.75 at least.
However, there was one guy whose speech stood above and beyond everyone else's I saw - and it came out of Senator Jim DeMint from South Carolina. I highly recommend you watch it... As of this posting, you can see a video of it on his government-owned website: demint.senate.gov. If you happen upon this paragraph, and the video is no longer there, I have taken the liberty of recording the audio of the speech. You can download it in mp3 format by right clicking and saving as HERE.
No site updates since my last one. I might get something done tomorrow (or maybe even later tonight) - but don't hold your breath. - 04OCT2008
Well then. I have spent a very long time... almost four straight hours cleaning up my Me page, and updating it. Not only that, but I killed the frames on the Misc page, made new buttons, and made it look a little better. It's still not as nice as I want it to be, but it's getting there. Also now that I've killed the frames, all the pages in the Misc section need to be updated with Back links (until then, you'll just have to use your browser's Back function). I also cleaned up some of my scanned images... kind of ironic that I talk about Irfanview so much, when I have so many images with white lines on the borders (which can easily be fixed with Irfanview). I haven't touched the Ireland page in weeks. Also you may have noticed I changed the font once again... This time it's Verdana. I think it looks a lot cleaner than Arial Black; though the letters tend to blend a little on the left side of the page. But I'm fine with that for now. Eventually I need to change the structure of this page... It shouldn't look any different to you, but it's going to make it more solid as far as how other browsers display it. I have to get away from using the [blockquote] tags as well as the [basefont] tags. Seems that browsers, as they get updated start to ignore support for older, redundant HTML commands (that I learned from Angelfire's old tutorials).
I went to a shop near here called Micro Center to get a new keyboard. My old one was one of those $80 "gaming" jobbies, a Logitech G11, with lighted keys and all kinds of controls and even some USB ports. But it was just too big. I had to push it off the side of my keyboard drawer/shelf by about six inches to have enough room to move my mouse around. So, after a couple of years of dealing with this major annoyance, I got a new keyboard. A Kensington ... black keyboard. $15, spill resistant, and a lifetime warranty. Keys are a little too hard to press down on (but I guess that's part of why it's supposed to last a lifetime), and I'm not a fan of the small backspace key... but all in all I'm pleased with it. Also I got a new mouse pad (the old one was just getting nasty).
For those keeping up with the country's issues, the seven hundred billion dollar "bail out" plan was rejected by the House in one of the most bipartisan rejections I think I've ever seen, or at least could hope for. I know there's doom and gloom right around the corner, but one major thing I'm tired of seeing this administration do, is throw money at a problem. They did it with the Department of Education. They did it with Medicare Part D. They did it with FEMA. They did it with Iraq. They did it with the "stimulus package". Management is obviously something that Bush is far from familiar with. The bill will rear its ugly head again this week I'm sure... but I hope it continues to get smacked down. I don't care what happens to Wall Street, or the economy in the near future... Because I know that when it rebounds, the country will be much stronger than it was before, as it was after the Great Depression (though hopefully we can get it done this time without a war, or socialism taking over). - 30SEP2008
Upon asking my cousin what she thought of my new font, she answered "It's not you." I was cornfused, so I asked for elaboration... She reminded me that I write in all caps, and copperplate gothic light represented that. This made me nostalgic for about three seconds, but then I decided that I'd rather use a common font for no other reason than to wipe off the special download instructions (many PCs do not come with copperplate gothic light installed). I still don't like this font all that much... it will probably change again (exciting!).
I've made zero progress on the site since the last update. I haven't even been keeping up with politics, save for watching the disappointing debate between McCain and Obama. No more comments. - 28SEP2008
Hey, something changed! Yeah, the font is different. And bigger. Those of you with low resolutions will have to scroll more to read the page, but those of us with large resolutions (namely widescreen laptops) have to squint to read anything. Yeah, I know the CTRL+Mousewheel trick but that is not necessary when I can just change the whole page. So I went from Copperplate Gothic Light at "2" to Arial Black at "3" (I know it's not black but that's just the name of the f... you know). I'm sure there's a better font to use... but this one will do. It's readable.
I also added a third archive page as the second one was getting too big. It was more work than I expected, so unfortunately I don't have any more site updates to talk to you about. -22SEP2008
Today marks the two year anniversary of when I got out of the army. I miss some things about it... The biggest simply being a soldier and feeling like I had a higher purpose. Sometimes I start to miss the people I worked with... but then I realize that they all got out as well. I still have dreams about wearing the uniform, and probably will for the rest of my life. -19SEP2008
I don't normally post YouTube videos. In fact this is the first time I've ever done so on here. I can't get enough of this one.
Once again when I finally get to a point where I'm checking others' blogs every day... they stop posting as frequently as they used to.
I worked some more on the Ireland page. Decided to add movies to download as well. It's going to be a big page. I go out of town next week, so there's no guarantees that it will be finished anytime soon. I also cleaned up some code at the bottom of this page. I removed the Flash banner ad that used to be there (had somewhat of a falling-out with that person a while back). I would like to clean up the rest of the website as well... I'm thinking about changing the font to something that doesn't require that annoying "download font Copperplate Gothic Light" text below the "Navigation Table". I have had a new car for over a year and a new apartment for almost six months... but there's no pictures to show for it in the "My Car" and "My Apartment" sections. Also my "Me" page is severely lacking... I thought it was quite sufficient back in the day. Today it looks pathetic. So do most of my game reviews. And at least half of the rest of this website. -14SEP2008
I am finally working on the Ireland page... I'd give you a preview, but then I'd get lazy about finishing it... and nobody wants that. Already it's a huge page, and I'm only on the first three pictures out of 48. I'm trying to put as much memory into it as I can... It will end up being a lot of typing for me and a lot of reading for you.
There's a website out there that I have been waiting for all my life (without realizing it until I heard about it). Good Old Games... chock full of games that I've always wanted to play but never got a chance to buy before they were taken off the shelves to make room for newer games. You can download games from there for dirt cheap (about $6 a game) and there's no limit to how many times you can install them, or how many computers you can install them on. What I fear might kill them is the tech support aspect... Getting old games to work on new computers isn't easy. When someone pays $6 for a game, and a tech support guy spends two hours helping the user get it to work they lose a lot of money. Here's to hoping they stay in business because I think they've cornered a part of the market that's been hungry for years.
I'm back to traveling again. Next week I go to Iowa, and the week after I go to Alexandria, LA and Jackson, MS. While in Jackson, I certainly look forward to visiting my freshly pregnant cousin for the first time in a very long time... not to mention seeing my sub-cousin in a working condition for the first time ever.
Looks like McCain's bounce has settled. That's enough poll-talk for now.
Also Happy September 11th once again! The day that everything changed... This morning I saw MSNBC played an entire re-cap of their newscast from 2001. When it happened, I was in the motor pool at Fort Bragg, pretty much indifferent to the whole thing (well, more indifferent than just about anyone else... I cared and all - but it didn't shock me like it did everyone else). Seeing it happen on TV "live" - well had I seen it that way the first time I might have been as shocked as everyone else. The reporters scrambling to come up with explanations... trying to report every detail. The first tower collapsed and the reporter didn't even notice. Someone else had to say "Wait... wait... it looks like a part of the tower just fell off. Rewind that footage about 20 seconds"... and it was a while before they figured out the whole tower collapsed (there was a lot of smoke, and you really couldn't tell). It had me glued to the TV in the break room pretty good. - 11SEP2008
The quality of Levi's jeans has really done down the crapper. I used to be all about Levi's every time I bought jeans. I stayed that way for much longer than I needed to... I seem to remember them coming out with a Silver Tab line, and that's the only kind of jeans I would get. They were comfortable and durable. Well, not too many years after I noticed a serious drop in quality in the Silver Tab jeans. So I stopped buying them and went to getting the uncomfortable, but durable regular jeans. Well, turns out they aren't so durable. Over the past four years I've bought about 9 pairs of jeans, all of which I hardly ever wore (weekends, pretty much). Holes, rips, tears in the seams... where the back pocket is attached... never takes long to get that way. What started this thread is I washed this one pair of jeans for the ~fourth time and it already has a hole in the fabric. It's a small hole, but it shouldn't be there. So, bearing this in mind I will be on the lookout for better quality jeans. Screw you, Levi's. You made a mistake by sending your factories to areas where the workers can't even afford a pair your jeans.
Hey, check out the latest Gallup Poll.
McCain appears to have done a 1-up on Obama. Everyone knows that both sexes prefer good looking women over good looking men. Just look at the cover of men's magazines... It's women on there. Look at the cover of women's magazines. Also women on there. -07SEP2008
Well the media frenzy seems to have slowed down over Palin... which is surprising to me. There was a burst after her acceptance speech about the things she said, and then it died down. For whatever reason people focus on the Bridge to Nowhere flip-flop as something substantiative (when she campaigned for mayor, she was all about earmarks, and still was when she became mayor... she was also all about the Bridge to Nowhere when running for governor). When she became governor she spoke about it... pretty clearly. Long story short, Alaska was corrupt and has the resources to stand up on it's own and she decided she was the governor that was going to help the state do it. Alaska would no longer need earmarks. Admirable. However, she did this by taxing the hell out of the oil extracted from the state, earning over $10B in tax revenue from oil alone (from windfall profits taxes no less). Now, anyone who is a good student of history and/or right wing radio, they know that windfall profits taxes cause shortages and fuel costs to skyrocket. I wonder if anyone with any intelligence in the media is going to pick up on this, and blame her for the staunch rise in fuel prices in the US earlier this year due to the limiting of supply coming out of Alaska (no stats on it yet, but I would not be surprised to see if development slowed or got reduced during her tenure, lowering domestically produced supply... if you notice fuel prices here rose at a much higher rate than other countries). I don't think it's safe to say that oil coming out of Alaska is statistically insignificant... and I would argue that the high taxes imposed had at least some impact on fuel prices. The problem with admitting that her policy affected fuel prices, would also shoot all kinds of holes in Obama's infinitely brilliant policy of tax the hell out of oil companies to lower gas prices. -05SEP2008
For the last few updates I've posted, I have used Google Docs to prepare my entries when there's nothing to do at work (I copy and paste it into 1stPage to edit my HTML files, and touch it up/preview it). I find it amazing that a program of this caliber is not only free, but web based. I read today that Google is coming out with their own browser as well... called Chrome (which, incidentally is what Mozilla calls their browsing engine). Upon hearing of this initially, I figured it was only a matter of time that Google stepped into the browsing market.
.... Only, it's not "just" a browser. Apparently it aims to make your entire computer web-based. There are Java based applications out there that allow you to play fully 3D games inside your browser. What Chrome appears to want to be, is a complete Operating System that is universal to Operating Systems. If they can pull this off, it has the potential to be a complete revolution in the computing industry. But in the meantime, every time my Google Doc here auto-saves, my cursor is reset to the bottom of the page. Very annoying.
McCain has picked his running mate. I don't think there is anyone he could have picked that would make me vote for him... but this woman is probably the best he could have picked. She brings some much needed energy to the campaign and everyone is talking about her. On one side, we have someone with 30+ years in the Senate with someone with less than 2 years of real experience, and on the other side we have someone with 30+ years in the Senate with someone with less than 2 years of real experience. I am especially frustrated at the right wing radio side of things that point to her "executive" experience as being more substantive than Obama's Senat(orial?) experience. While I agree, I really don't think it's statistically significant and it's best to just throw the whole experience argument out the window for both sides. The best thing the Obama campaign can attack, are the hypocritical attacks on his inexperience... But instead he's arguing that he has more experience (which I find to be a very stupid way to fight this).
And then there's the left wing bloggers. I've not seen such viciousness out of anyone than I have of people out there attacking Palin for her 17 year old daughter's pregnancy, or for having a kid at her age when the chances for Down's Syndrome is so high (nevermind the whole asinine idea that the Downs kid is the daughter's kid, and Palin claims it as her own to cover it up). The media also has been coming out hard and heavy ever since her acceptance speech. The pregnancy was not a secret, but there are headlines everywhere "Teen Pregnancy Interrupts GOP Script", "Pregnancy Surprise Throws Republicans in for a Loop", "Doubts Casted on McCain's Ability for Incomplete Vetting Process". All when the information was immediately readily available that the daughter's pregnancy was made known to McCain from the get-go. And then you have the claim that she's a member of a secessionist party. I looked up the party and their platform, and it's not a secessionist party. She doesn't appear to be a member of that party, but there is a video floating around of her addressing them at their convention. No real evidence, but it's on the mouths of everyone I argue with on the internet. I need to find a productive hobby. -02SEP2008
Been traveling a bit lately. Was in Lansing, MI and then Topeka/Wichita, KS the last couple of weeks. Didn't get any pictures (trust me - nothing worth taking a picture of) unfortunately. On my drive up to Lansing I got to experience the wonders of a toll road where, it cost about $20 to get a car through part of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and part of Michigan. I, thinking that this is some sort of trend that seems to be taking place only in the north have been proved wrong, as Kansas also had a moderately costly toll road going from Topeka to Wichita (about 120 miles, and $8). I don't know how I feel about toll roads... I like them if they are privately owned, and I like them if they are state owned... However if it is an interstate road I cannot fathom how a toll can possibly exist. It is federally funded through several means - namely the gas/diesel tax and through state compliance of certain BS federal "suggestions" like keeping the drinking age at 21 and over (don't do it and you lose funding). So we have taxes to pay for these roads... we have the loss of state freedoms to pay for these roads... and tolls seem to be getting popular as well.
It's a simple, easy example of being nickel and dime'd to death. What makes it even more stupid is that I noticed that I didn't want to take any exits for food or gas because it would add that extra pain of having to stop and pay a toll on the way, and then take a ticket on the way back onto the road... so it makes it difficult for the local businesses to thrive. Instead what's popular are the stations along the way of the toll road which typically have McDonald's inside them that end up getting all the money... most of the profit of which probably ends up going to the government anyway for allowing those businesses such a convenient spot to do business. Of course, this presents a virtual monopoly on toll road traffic and as you can imagine the prices inside reflect it.
Another aspect is that to build a road today... it's insanely more costly to do it than it was 30 years ago. Why? I just read an article about a construction workers union in New York where someone who holds a "SLOW" sign gets paid $58 an hour. This is insanity. I like hearing about workers getting paid well but the line has to be drawn somewhere and that just doesn't seem to exist in industries that are locked into contracts with the government (nothing like an endless supply of guaranteed money stolen from citizens to pay your company more than it's worth). Businesses (that rely on the private sector for revenue) suffer because of higher taxes. People suffer because of suffering businesses (they lose their job or don't get a raise - or have less chance of being able to switch jobs). The government suffers because of less tax money generated from commerce. How do they make up for it? Higher taxes! Higher tolls! It's either that, or go into debt with no intention of getting out of it. You could cut spending (for instance, by hiring a construction company who pays their sign holders $12 an hour, which is still more than they're worth), but that will never ever happen.
Oh and I should mention that the toll roads were in pretty shoddy shape. Almost like being in Louisiana again.
I started this to talk about things I did and saw in Kansas and Michigan... but I again went off on a confusing tangent. Till next time! - 21AUG2008
A new search engine came out that was supposed to rival Google. That search engine is Cuil. As any other text on the internet that talks about it says, Cuil is pronounced "Cool". Since you've probably already tried it, I'll just go ahead and tell you that I know that you know that it is probably one of the most horrible search engines to ever come out since AOL. Now there are those fake ones that flood you with advertisements but I don't consider those to be search engines... those are more like "click farms" so they don't count. During my frenzy of search terms I tried to find this webpage. I could not. I tried to find me. I could not. I tried to find information on motorcycles and found two results with drive-through ice cream shops, another that sold CDs, and two more that sold gloves. The remaining ones were blog and forum posts of people talking about their motorcycles. I typed in an exact phrase and it told me "No results found.". I did another search, and while it told me "121 results" it only gave me one item to click on. What crap. I kind of feel sorry for the developers, but I feel even more sorry for the investors that essentially threw their money in the garbage.
So during my search frenzy (using Google to compare) I happened upon this page: http://www.dni.ru/auto/2008/5/16/142454.html that actually credited me while using one of my pictures from my site. They did a great job of doctoring it up and removing the power lines.
Pretty neat, I say.
Political talk! The more I learn about both of these presidential candidates the more scared I get. The more I watch what Congress is doing the more scared I get. $800B was added to the debt ceiling, putting it at 10.4 trillion dollars... nearly double what it was when Bush took office. Blame Iraq all you want - the cost is only (heh) just now approaching $800B... a sixth of the debt incurred by extravagant domestic spending that we somehow haven't seen except the handful of morons who bought more house(s) they could afford, and get to be bailed out. (Oh yeah, there were the stimulus checks. Woowoo. Thank you, China.) - 31JUL2008
Happy Cost of Government Day!!! Yes, today is officially the day that the average (US) American has paid all of their taxes and can now earn money for themselves, according to Americans for Tax Reform. Enjoy! - 16JUL2008
Wow I really suck at this whole "updating" thing. I even screwed up some HTML code, noticed it on the site (it was the <.p> that you saw), but didn't bother to fix it. But then again, none of you fools bothered to notify me of it either, which gave me the impression that you aren't looking at this site. Which is fine... the less people I know look at it, the more crazy stuff I can put on it. Bob Barr for president! - 21JUN2008
Sorry for keeping you on edge with the ole "stay tuned" remark.
Just for fun, I decided to try a new HTML editor. This time, it was PageBreeze that got my attention (it was after all, the first thing that is listed when you type "Free HTML editor" in Google). Instant failure. Seems to have some good features, but when I noticed (almost immediately) it can only edit one page at a time I immediately uninstalled it. Useless POS (though it did have an "upgrade" button that I'm sure might have added the feature -plus more- for a fee). - 02JUN2008
Done moving. Have internet. Going to North Carolina for the weekend. Stay tuned. - 23MAY2008
I think I'm moving tomorrow. I should be moving tomorrow. Problem is, I have work so I have to depend on Mrs. Crawdaddy and her brother to do most of the moving while I am at work. There's a good chance I won't be completely moved till Tuesday, and a decent chance it won't happen till Wednesday. In either case, Ireland pics are still not going to get posted. I'm in the process of ordering FIOS (Verizon's optical internet service) for the new place, and when it gets installed is the very very soonest that you'll see what Ireland looks like (again).
I am into a new song... it's rare that I enjoy a song so much that I listen to it more than once in a single day; and this time it's Conjure One's Redemption. I can't get enough of it. Find the CD and order it. The whole thing is good, but that song stands out more than the rest. - 11MAY2008 (Mother's Day, to the surprise of myself and my mother)
As it turns out, I have had almost no free time here in Orlando. It's been a fairly miserable week. I am very sunburned, but only on my forearms and face. No Ireland pics any time soon. :(
UPDATE: Cottonelle, so soft it's like wiping yourself with a puppy.
I almost didn't update at this moment - because I felt it "too soon" to update. How crazy is that? Here you are... used to the bimonthly post or two... What if you visit the site, and don't see yesterday's post? This is the internal conflict I am dealing with here... Which is remedied by me talking about yesterday's post (and the post before - don't miss it!) so that I know you won't just read this update. Blogs.
Anyway, cousin Veronica was nice enough to inform me of her magical trip to D.C. With the information obtained (for the magical visit) we scheduled a meeting! During our meeting, we talked about various habits of various family members (including myself)... of which I readily admitted that I had the fault where I would not contact other family members on my own but instead waited to be contacted (this was while talking about my SuperGrandfather of Superness - going to visit him next weekend by the way), and she agreed. We had dinner, we had Guinness, and then (upon the wife's insistence) I drove her into the depths of D.C. to save her from the terrors of the D.C. Metro at 10 o'clock. During the 2 hour drive of driving in circles, we talked about how I never update my Weblog (I refrained from telling her I had just updated it a couple days ago). And with that, she said that I never mentioned that I was moving.
I am moving. Yes, today we finalized the lease to live over in Fairfax - the wealthiest county in the country (oh, wait... now I remember talking about it). Anyway the place is really nice, but really expensive. It will be worth the extra dough, but we'll still be paying $1300+ a month for a one bedroom apartment. However - this is at a time where I sit in 80 degree heat because my current apartment complex (EATON SQUARE AT ARLINGTON RIDGE - FORMERLY KINGSPORT APARTMENTS - eat that, spiders) decided that they wanted to replace all the air conditioning units. Instead of doing it section by section, they removed ALL of the A/C units and have been replacing them at a rate of about 9 units a day over the last... three weeks or so. We've been without A/C for a very long time, but thanks to 'natural weather cycles' the weather has been cool most of the time since then ('natural' because when the weather is cool it's natural, but when it's warm it's because of capitalism).
Sunday I leave for Orlando (the city where I took this amazing picture) for a trade show type thing. Hopefully when I'm there I can muster the will to update the site with my Ireland honeymoon(ish) pics.
UPDATE: My wife had read this post and told me that it is very confusing. My apologies. -02MAY2008
The prospect of having a website used to be so exciting... Oh man. Anything I put here can be seen by anyone in the world. What happened? MySpace. Yes, MySpace killed my desire to post my stamp on the internet. I have said it many times before that MySpace would lead to the ruin of the internet - but for some reason I have not realized till now that it has affected me in a negative way. At least, by posting things here I can feel superior to the average attention whore on the internet, even if (much) fewer people are going to read the things I say than if I would post on a MySpace blog.
Good day, ladies and gentlemen. -01MAY2008
Well, then. I bet you've been foaming at the mouth waiting for me to tell you all about Ireland. Well, that's gonna have to wait for another day. It's going to be big. I took over 500 pictures... It was by far the most time I've had to just enjoy a setting... no work to worry about, and nothing but looking out the large bus window (or sleeping) between site visits. On deciding to go, we had the choice of landing at the airport, renting a car and making our own way around the country, or taking a guided coach tour stopping at many places along the way. Since they drive on the left side of the road, I was pretty uneasy about doing the former... so we signed up for the coach tour. Little did either of us know that if we added our ages up, we'd still be the youngest people on the bus. At least six gentlemen came up to me, and told me that the two most important words to remember are "Yes, Dear", and then laughed as though they had come up with it themselves. We were always being looked at... always being watched... smiled at. It was creepy.
Back to politics that I shouldn't talk about: "The American people... What they're looking for, is somebody who can solve their problems." - Barack Obama, in an interview with Fox News Sunday. I tell you what, unfortunate as it is that's exactly right. This guy keeps saying things that are making me more and more uncomfortable. Between Clinton and Barack I am more afraid of Barack. He and Clinton both have the same policies (roughly), but Barack is much more capable of convincing the country that we need them... Charisma trumps everything. Another thing he said during the last debate that irks me more the more I think about it... He was asked why he would raise the capital gains tax, when history shows that tax revenue drops when you raise the tax. The answer? "...what I've said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness. We saw an article today which showed that the top 50 hedge fund managers made $29 billion last year -- $29 billion for 50 individuals. And part of what has happened is that those who are able to work the stock market and amass huge fortunes on capital gains are paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries. That's not fair." Not fair? Who the f*** are you to decide when someone is making too much money? So you're going to punish 100 million stock/fund owners just to get at a handful - because fifty people are making what you think is too much money? It's absolutely absurd to me... Of course the secretary isn't going to make that much money... are you going to compare her career path with that of the billionaire? Would that make it fair? As a child I was told more times than I can remember to mind my own business. It appears that the adult figures of today refuse to do just that.
For the first time ever, I've become interested in local politics. Apparently the district we are moving into - the 11th of Virginia is the richest district in the nation (according to Stephen Colbert, in the consistently hilarious "Better Know a District" segments). On the elephant ticket for 2009, there is a man named Keith Fimian who has never held office before. It's actually a little bit exciting being able to watch this guy start his campaign, and see where he might go. I sent him an email asking about his stance on the FairTax, to which I got a semi-generic response of "Thanks for asking! Keep an eye on the website." So keep an eye on the website I will. Virginia currently has four co-sponsors for the bill, out of a total 72. One more can't hurt. -28APR2008
Tomorrow the wife and I leave for Ireland. Our honeymoon... finally. I'm a little nervous - having never traveled internationally without someone holding my hand the whole way. At least we picked a tour where I wouldn't be driving (on the left side of the road). We start in Dublin, then go to the Aran Islands, then to Shannon, and then back to Dublin. I will have lots of Guinness and beef stew. I don't know what she will drink or eat. Probably not Guinness or beef stew.
In preparation for the trip I pulled out my old laptop. It was having problems years ago - the power cord seemed to not want to make a connection with the laptop - needing constant 10+ lbs of pressure at a certain angle in order to get the green light on the laptop to appear (that shows it's getting power). Well today I decided to do something about it... I scraped the inside of the cord, and the inside of the connection on the laptop with a flat tipped jeweler's screwdriver. It did wonders. I always feel good when something really really old comes back to life the same way it did when it was new. Yeah, the laptop is crappy but it has always worked great for travel. I opened the CD drive and found a Diablo (game) disc in it. I don't even remember buying Diablo. - 05APR2008
It is March 10th. This is our 1st anniversary. She bought a new dress. I'm going to try to squeeze into my good slacks (they were pretty snug when I was 20 lbs less). And with that, we're headed off to Ruths Chris Steakhouse for an elegant setting while we enjoy the best parts of cow that the butcher can carve out for us. Jessie and I went to a zoo near Natural Bridge, VA and in the petting zoo that we weren't allowed in was a cow (along with some goats and other things). The cow came up to the fence and I patted its head and it genuinely seemed to enjoy it. It was very docile and friendly... it even leaned its head so that I could scratch its ears. Because of that calming, sweet moment every time I eat a steak I think to myself, "Why does this have to be so delicious?". -10MAR2008
Nevermind what I said earlier about not being interested in politics. That lasted about two days. While I'm not as involved with the candidates as I once was (probably due to the choice between horrible, horrible with great speeches, and a little bit less horrible) I am more involved with how the federal government operates as a whole. A lot of this probably has to do with a book I'm reading - The FairTax: The Truth. The parts where it actually talks about the FairTax are ... dull and at times a stretch. But the parts where it talks about our current tax code and our current system just makes me want to punch myself in the face over and over again.
Our country is screwed. Recently environmentalists have burned down/blown up million dollar homes in Washington (state) because of "urban sprawling". What it comes down to is unbridled jealousy and envy for those that are successful in their lives. The resident liberal I work with had the following to say: "I find it hard to find sympathy for those assholes" (regarding the people who were going to move into the homes). Nothing like being objective and open minded.
I heard a snippet of an Obama speech that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up... Basically what he said is that CEOs are making too much money, and comparison between the working single mother who can't make in a year what the CEO makes in ten minutes - and that something needs to be done about that (nevermind that the mother chose to have unprotected sex with a dirtbag who disappeared on news of the pregnancy - it's not her fault she's struggling). This was a speech he gave in Texas, which included positive words about the "free market" of all ironies (in quotes because the free market doesn't exist any more in any industry in this country). Why are celebrities and athletes not demonized? Why is the demonization reserved for those that are actually responsible for the growth of the economy and hundreds and thousands of jobs? Don't most athletes and celebrities make more money than most CEOs (I don't have the stats on this - but I'm assuming so)?
Yesterday an act passed the House half of Congress to raise taxes on oil companies by $18 billion to spend $6.5 billion on 'green energy' and 'green jobs'. That's what we need - more government expansion and government programs and government jobs. What is never disclosed while the oil companies are demonized for making money (rarely more than a 8% margin, by the way) is how much the federal government makes off of the oil. I figured it out today... The oil industry as a whole made $123B in profit last year. If you use that number and compare it to the amount of oil the US consumed in 2005 (which was a little bit less than last year I imagine), if the oil industry made zero profit it would come out to a savings of roughly 35 cents a gallon - averaged between diesel and gasoline. Too much! Let's tax them some more. That'll teach them.
In speaking of taxes - finally got around to doing our tax return today. Holy cow... between the two of us we paid nearly $30k to the Federal Government (this is more than the MSRP of the car I'm driving by the way). Our return? $1,320. Our state taxes for the year? Roughly $6k. Our return? -$278. Yeah - we owe nearly $300 to the state. And the $1300 we paid for the annual property tax on our cars is not deductible (hey our return can pay for that this year). While we were doing the tax return after a certain point it seemed that for every hundred dollars of income we added, it took 99 dollars off of the return total. All of this while inflation is increasing at a record rate - effectively destroying the money I have in savings thanks to the people that bought homes they couldn't afford (and get a deduction) and to pay for tax breaks for that single mother who chose to have a kid she couldn't afford (and
Politics. I have suddenly become very disinterested in politics. And I think it's because the Ron Paul 'movement' ended up being a dud. It is unfortunate that many Ron Paul supporters are as vicious as they are (ever try to argue with one on the internet? Might as well stick your freshly cut arm into an aquarium full of piranhas.)... They turn off pretty much anyone that asks legitimate questions or makes legitimate points. There's an attitude of "U HAVE BEEN BRAINWASHED BY THE MEDIA MACHINE AND I WONT WASTE MY TIME WITH U" that seems to come up... not to mention the endless spamming of Ron Paul ads all over various message boards. Something else I noticed is that I see Ron Paul signs in areas where signs aren't legally supposed to be (for instance, in Pennsylvania there were bookmark-like signs tied to almost all of the mile markers). I think that this type of angry mob-like support is what has turned all the real voters away from Mr. Paul. I love the man's message, but I hate the fact that he's incapable of getting people that don't want to hear it to listen to it.
I'm very disappointed at the direction the Republican party has been going for the last seven years or so. This "economic stimulus package" is pretty much BS. I love it when the government spends money that it doesn't have. Initially it was to go to taxpayers, but now it looks like it will go to lots of people that don't pay taxes, as well as to pay the heating bills of people who say they can't afford it because "Nobody should have to choose between putting food on the table and staying warm." - or buying a new TV for the Super Bowl (WARNING: Do not click if you're susceptible to Right Wing brainwashing).
So now that I'm pretty much out of politics (I even turned off Sean Hannity on my way home - never liked him that much anyway but sometimes there's good nuggets in his show that make the rest of it worth listening to)(I also notice that liberals get angry and don't want to talk to me after I mention to them that I listen to Sean Hannity on my way home), I am not into anything. No new PC games to look forward to. Even if there were some on the horizon, I don't think I'd care. The Superbowl is coming on (next Sunday? This Sunday?) soon and I don't even know who's playing. I made chili the other day. It came out pretty good. I got into website building this last Saturday. It came out ... okay (yeah the Spambot page is pretty boring... I know - but that's how I'm feeling lately :( ). My next hate section will be about Asurion. It will probably be boring as well - but worth the read if you use them or are thinking about using them. -31JAN2008
I have been thinking about making a new section called "Things I Hate". I will have to restructure my menu to include it properly... Not a big deal. I don't know if I'll leave my Traffic Rant section up, or include it in the "Things I Hate" section... we'll see once I'm done with the initial work. I was going to rant about a few things in this section, but I need to change my routine a bit... posting blog after blog is boring. For instance, it's almost been a year since my wedding and I still have yet to post my wedding pics. What's that all about?
UPDATE: Okay I made the section, complete with one whole new page about how spambots have affected (and are still affecting) my site. The image/button/thing isn't pretty though... I will need to change it to something more readable I think. -26JAN2008
Not really much of an update. I found that picture on a right wing radio talk show host's website and felt the need to share it. Arguing politics over the internet is fun. The next big thing after Socialized Health Care is something called a "negative income tax". I can't wait. -03JAN2007
Guess what? I'm still alive, that's what. The 12th was my birthday. According to my aunt I am 29, and according to my mother I am 27. The 25th was Christmas. Merry Christmas. A few days will mark the turn of 2008. Happy New Year, in advance.
I read an article today that said before the collapse of every empire came the worship of athletes and celebrities. I wonder if it had any validity. - 27DEC07
Nothing new with me. Lots going on in the world. Georgia is drying up. California is burning. OJ Simpson is back in court. Pakistan is confused. Turkey is attacking Iraq. It's Christina's birthday. Lots of things going on.
Well, there are a few things new with me... I shouldn't lie like that. I've forsaken SmartFTP as my FTP program. Ever since they went to version 2.0, it makes you reinstall the thing after 90 days of use. This is very ridiculous to me. It checks for updates every time you start it up and sometimes won't let you start it up at all (splash screen) and then says "Please download the latest version of SmartFTP" and gives you an OK box to click, which closes the program. GAY. So now I use the much appraised and harder to use WinSCP. It does the job okay... but it's 30x more customizable so I shouldn't complain because I just don't want to take the time to learn it. Also I haven't updated to the 4.05 (I'm on 4.03 now). I hate updating.
I also bought a new processor for my computer. I've been struggling along with this Athlon 64 3500+ for almost three years now. I replaced it with an Athlon X2 4200+. I bought the $3500+ for about $280 three years ago. When the X2 came out about a year later, it retailed for around (I'm guessing) $450. Well I bought it last week for the piggy-breaking price of $68. It is by far the cheapest upgrade I have ever done to any computer I've ever owned. It's not a world of difference... Unzipping large files is much faster, as is video conversion and mp3 conversion... But only games that support dual core have any benefit from it (and it's only a handful of games). If I want a faster processor than the one I just bought I'd need a whole new motherboard because this is the last Socket 939 CPU on the market (well, there's the 4400+ as well, but this one is easily overclockable... they are both essentially the same product just in different packaging).
Also the sunroof on my 10 month old Legacy GT decided that it had something jammed in it and would not close; but instead back itself off to the halfway point. Nothing was jammed in it, of course. It just decided to be a POS and not close. Holding the button down did nothing. Apparently I am not smart enough to know when and when not to close my own sunroof, and I need to rely on the car's mechanism to save the life of a child sticking his head out the top (which honestly, do you need a sunroof motor strong enough to decapitate a child? I don't think so.). I took it to the stealership and they managed to get it closed, but said I needed to leave the car with them for a whole day for it to get fixed. This doesn't bode well for the future, when the car is out of warranty (for those not keeping up, my stereo has broken, I have a leak in my passenger footwell because the A/C doesn't know how to drain itself, my passenger window struggles to go up, and I get a constant warning light that my tires are low in pressure - but when measuring them they are all the correct pressure).
So how's that for an update? Actual content! Exciting.
Also I've been getting into Ron Paul a lot. The poor guy doesn't have a chance. Even when they ask him if he thinks he has a chance he says "Don't ask my supporters that!" and doesn't really answer the question. But that's part of why I like him... He's excessively realistic and seems to really care about this country, unlike pretty much every other candidate.
... Which reminds me I need to bitch about taxes. Taxes suck. I hate them. Democrats in congress are using the war as leverage to get whatever policies they want. I actually sat down and watched CSPAN for about an hour. I saw Mr. Obey run down the water appropriations bill - loaded with earmarks and explained each one... Had the cost associated with them, and then named the number of days in Iraq that would equate to the cost. Absolutely ridiculous. How, as an adult can you do that? The budget has increased by over $1T a year (from $1.8T to $2.9T), while the cost of the war in Iraq has hovered below $200B a year. Where does that extra $800B go? The war costs too damn much and has been mismanaged entirely from the get-go... No one can deny that. What about all this other BS? How does $800B just up and disappear in spending? I sure as sh** haven't seen it. The roads are bad. Gas prices are high. Medical care and college tuitions are through the roof - ooooh... There's one place it's going. More medical and college $$$ from the government, causing the medical industry and colleges to charge whatever they want? Who would have thought? Okay I'm ranting about crap I didn't want to rant about. Update over. -13NOV07