Posted in The Family on February 27th, 2008 by Michael

Well, I went back into the office today given that there was a pile of things on hold and I did have the local cavalry fresh in from their tour of all timeshares in the Southeast part of the United States.

Let me think…

Hillary and Barack went after it again last night.  I think after 20 debates people are done tuning in (I know I was after the 2nd or 3rd).  Since polls show that she is leading in both places, the race will continue to go on.  The longer she lasts, the more her machine will have to wear him down.  The establishment is a tough enemy.  Just look at the successful re-election rates in the House.  That can’t be because people actually think they are doing a good job…

Some more sad news… William F. Buckley, Jr. died today. He was, of course, a conservative juggernaut. I use to read his magazine (National Review) as a young adult. He was also a fiction author. His books were akin to Ian Fleming’s works but with a US-based spy. And, finally, since we are in such a state, it is with a heavy heart that I have to report that Congress has decided it shall investigate Roger Clemens. I mean, really. This is what these people have to do with their time and OUR money. Does anyone really give a crap whether or not some hack gave some baseball player a shot in the ass back in the 90s? Vote everyone of these cozy, pension protected, loons out of office. Don’t even think about them as being democrat or republican. Whoever is there voting for stuff like this is not a public servant.

Okay, more positive stuff now.

On the kid front, things are progressing well.  Still a little baby acne but that should clear up in a couple of days. Even with the other babies potentially making fun of him and during this awkward phase, he remains pretty peaceful. 

That said, there is some minor groaning when it is time to eat.  He has been able to digest his food pretty rapidly given the diaper response.    They say one good load per day old your are…. if that is the case, he is working on the dog years scale.  He can also provide some powerful noises.

MA is feeling better too now that internal systems are readjusting and equalizing.  Daily treks around the floor have started.  It will be a while before that translates to the treadmill but it is a good start.

We are still on the fence about getting professional pictures.  There are some packages available but nothing is without some complications.  Last time out we found out that they sell this data to gerber life, etc. Not a fan of that.  The new form at least tells you this… in fact, it says by agreeing to the photography, you are acknowledging this information exchange until which time you opt out in writing.  So, there may be ‘homemade’ photos only.  Prepare to suffer through it all…

Speaking of which, the photo page has been updated daily in the event you were unaware.  Probably going to slow that down until Saturday when I put up a bunch.  Not a lot of changing right now… then it will go to weekly then monthly into the normal cycle.


He is here…

Posted in The Family on February 25th, 2008 by Michael

On the countdown trail

Posted in Uncategorized on February 23rd, 2008 by Michael

Work continues to be what it is… a necessary evil.

Pretty much everything else is on hold waiting for the arrival. All arrangement have been made. Cigars, golf balls and the banner have been ordered and arrived. The pak-n-play crib has been retrieved from the garage for temporary use until we get Meghan to sleep in a bed. Car seats have been relocated (not sure why Honda saved the $5 and didn’t install LATCH systems in the third row – made it a royal pain…). MA has done the pre-visits and heard all of the gloom and doom possibilities thankfully now delivered right before birth due to both lawyers and this entitlement based litigious society we live in. Wine has been procured (and sampled many times personally to ensure quality). Driveways have been cleared for the arrival of MA’s parents for some babysitting duties. Now we wait.

That is not to say that things have been quiet. We had carpet replaced in one room due to a newly found hobby of one or both of MA’s stupid cats. I took down shelves in the nursery to prepare for new things on the wall. I’ve answered a crap load of phone calls asking ‘how things are’. And, the biggie is that I replaced DSL with cable for internet access. Our DSL modem when south (or maybe it was something else). Couldn’t wait to get a replacement shipped out so I made the switch. It did not go well. First, the modem they gave me was broken. Then, after going back to replace it, we had a minor activation issue (e.g. took three service representatives). However, all was solved technically. Added in the wireless router and things were popping. Then I had to go get some new cables since the outlet it on the opposite side of the room from the desk. A 50 footer did the trick. I then added in an IP phone so I could work from home a little more over the next week or so. Took a little bit to get the VPN working to the PBX, but also, that was solved. Now, it is just some clean up…

So my rant today is about the cable companies. Why is it that you can’t simply find the price of their services? Their website is no help. Once you give them all of you information, they will tell you about their specials – of course, $250 cancellation fees on top of 15 month service contracts was not what I was looking for. I did seemingly find some pricing – high speed was $44.95 a month as a standalone option. A little harsh for me. But I called them about options, they have a month to month for $15/month (basic) or $30/month (high speed). Sold. Took an hour though to circumvent the maze. I guess when you have a near monopoly, you can be as customer unfriendly as you want. They still have a lot to learn to make it to the current masters — cell phone provides. To that point, I am taking bets RIGHT NOW with odds that the bill will be messed up.

What else? Weather is suppose to be in the 40s for a week. I guess I will finish off the fence repairs. It is what I love to do. The kids are taking ‘frenzy’ up to new levels. With my energy levels low and MA’s belly big, it is not the time. Meghan has taken to waking up at some point in the middle of the night screaming. It is a fun time. We keep thinking it is that last tooth but then she starts saying she wants to go downstairs to watch ‘e-i-e-i-o’, her new favorite video.

Don’t expect a lot of content next week outside of images. I think that will be all consuming.

Super Delegates

Posted in Uncategorized on February 12th, 2008 by Michael

Super Stupid to me. Super Duped is all of those folks out there that think the democratic party is about them and represents their will. I’ve been curious about this since it appears that indeed it will be these few, elite, internally managed power mongers, that will likely decide the next democratic candidate and, most likely, president.

Who are they? Well, even the ultra-liberal MSNBC doesn’t try and sugarcoat it any more than it is…”Superdelegates, created in 1982, were intended to restore some of the power over the nomination process to party insiders, tempering the zeal of party activists.” In other words, people who want change are purposely removed from the voting process. Wow. I thought in America, everyone got one vote. Well, not so if you are a democrat… Latest count is about 20 percent of the vote is handpicked by people like Howard Dean. Granted certain elected officials are automatically superdelegates (e.g. Governors, Senators, etc.). But it is also given out to those that help the party in fundraising, local chapters of the party, etc. Oh little did they know, when they started the ‘get out the vote’ campaign, that they would end up getting calls from a well orchestrated and funded campaign leaning on the likes Madeline Albright, Bill Clinton or if you are really on the fence, Chelsea Clinton… Talk about a time to have an unlimited number! I wonder if they have made a deal with Ginzu for a set of knifes… I guess that might be “buying a vote” so they will have to deal with trips to “meet” the candidates “to get educated”…. Of course, Barack is bringing his own people to the party but he doesn’t have the inside clout that comes with 16 years of favors being granted behind the doors of the Senate and White House. So far, facts, prove this out: Barack is ahead in elected delegates but loosing the total delegate count with Hillary getting almost a 2:1 ratio of “super delegates”. I guess this will be yet another election where Washington politics decides the fate of America. Sad really.

This really gets me irritated. First that it is happening; Secondly most people don’t really get it and lastly that it happens in the Democratic party. Given the typical mindset, I doubt anyone would be surprised if the Republicans did this (they don’t, by the way). But, the party of the people is really a sham. Kind of makes drawing those broad conclusion about who cares about your opinions a little tougher.

What else…

It was damn cold this morning. I mean, 13 is one thing, but this was a cold 13. Nice light snow falling too. That must be the 16th or 17th day this season we have had some sort of snow.

Both my putters came back from the spa this week. The one for my son and the refinish on a fairly rare Newport.

and after .

They do good work there but it is not cheap. I guess restoring classic cars would be the same. It is all about the love of the product.

Speaking of sons, the count down is on. Cigars HAVE been ordered. Actually, I failed to get any for Meghan so these will be a shared item. Too bad there is not a golf course out there where I can enjoy one right now.

Someone should have gagged the first person who decided to publically adopt and support political correctness. Things are just so stupid these days. I might do a whole blog on it.

Speaking of stupid and frankly concerning things… I have decided to support the candidate who puts forth a motion to have California succeed from the nation. What a bunch of whack jobs. The latest Berkeley city council resolution that basically told the Marines they are not welcome to find a few good men (and women) is over the top. It was bad enough they granted protesters a parking spot in front of the Marine Recruiting office but to give out a free protest permit and to send them a letter stating opposition really floors me. Want to protest something? Okay, do it. But pay for your permit like everyone else. I’m not thinking the Minutemen will get a free one (maybe if they wore pink…). I think the Representative who put forth that we should withhold federal money from the area makes a lot of sense. You don’t want us, you don’t want our money. Oh wait, they won’t put their money where their mouth is. Not surprising that some backpedaling is now underway. Is it a coincidence that Nancy Pelosi represents a nearby district? Hmmm…

I will finish today off by saying that I am so glad I will not be raising my children in San Francisco. Outside of a few golf courses and Apple, you can have the whole state.

Hope all is well with you.

Quick Blog

Posted in Uncategorized on February 10th, 2008 by Michael

This has been a tough week – AGAIN.

More crap. More pressures. The world is just moving too quickly and there are just too many demands that frankly are there because we feel that they should be. Do we really have to have 99.99% percent uptime for non-life and death things? Do things HAVE to be delivered overnight? I think not. I think we want these things but have no idea what it takes to ensure they happen. To that end, companies build these things in as a requirements, when they should be an option. There is a HUGE cost to our economy in the world of convenience and entitlement. I am so for those tiered offering. For example: Free shipping (5-7 days). $10 (3-5 days). $30 (overnight). If everyone was given a choice on all things, we would be so better off. I can live without getting my new DVD for a couple of more days if I say a couple of bucks (not to mention that it would be put on rail or truck versus flown here, saving more greenhouse gases).

That leads me to the rant of the day. This stupid stimuli package. I know I have touched on it before but that was really before I knew all of the pieces and parts and before I had to lay here in bed listening to all of these people talk about it. It boggles the mind now –really- that it has passed the chambers of idiots. Maybe that is too harsh – there are some smart people in there. It should be the chamber of sellouts. Anyway, remember the whole point is to get more money back into the economy by providing some relief to those that have had to redeploy said money into paying taxes, etc. (yes, which fund a ton of pet projects and earmarks that the Democratic run congress refuses to get rid of). By the way, I realize that the Republican run congress didn’t get rid of them either but it has taken a life of its own now with these secret inclusions after votes. GW should not sign this but since it is a ‘feel good’ for the masses without macro-economic degrees, he will.

  • Back to deploying said tax money into the economy directly… The concept has merit, the execution does not. Let’s look at the formulas:
    • Family of 4 making an AGI of 25K. Total taxes withheld: $3-4K. Total ‘refund’: 1800 or 48 % (note: with standard deductions, taxes paid would be 0)
    • Family of 4 making an AGI of 75K. Total taxes withheld: $15K. Total ‘refund’: 1800 or 12%
    • Family of 4 making an AGI of 150K. Total taxes withheld: $36K. Total ‘refund’: 1800 or 5%.
    • Family of 4 making an AGI of 170K. Total taxes withheld: $42K. Total ‘refund’: 0 or 0%.
    • Note: situation is more extreme if you have more than 2 kids. The phase out is 5%/$1000 over 150K regardless of family size (why is that?)
    • Note the increasing tax RATE and decreasing refund AMOUNT. Yeah, that is progressive.
  • To compound things, let’s not forget this is based on AGI, not taxable income so there are lot of people getting screwed now for making decisions a year ago (sold your boat? Too bad). Those folks whose housing costs are major sources of their income? Too bad. This hurts you. Hmmm, I thought this was to combat some of the subprime fallout? This does not help. If it were based on taxable, it would.
  • My friend Angela suggested that congress tag these dollars for energy improvements. That makes a lot of sense – too bad no one will do it.

Irritates me that this is the best win the Congress has in two years…To that end, I will send $10 to the first person that can find me a bumper sticker saying “Love America, Vote out Pelosi and Reid”.

Other political curiosity events…

  • Romney dropped out. Didn’t see that coming three months ago. Huck is standing strong and starting to get some wind. He has zero chance… Then again, McCain doesn’t have much of a chance in the general election either….
  • I really do not like the ‘winner take all’ primary voting that the Republicans use. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me…
  • Obama is putting the hammer to Hillary. Has won twice as many states yet less delegates AND he will lose the convention because of the backroom politicking that “the party of the people” employ. What a crock. Super delegates – those that are paid and supported within the party AND NOT the elected delegates — will end up deciding the next president. So, your vote doesn’t matter in the end. The elite run the show. And who do you think the party officials will support? Exactly. What a sham. Leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Speaking of which, some sort of stomach virus has infiltrated the house of Robbins. It attacked MA first, but mainly because she is slow. Now, it is after me. I’m resisting but it might not be a fight I can win. Besides a persistent cough, puking is my least favorite thing. Kids have been immune to this point. We remain hopeful.

We took Mackenzie and Meghan to our local collectible store. They each picked out a gift for the baby. Z choose a bear that was dressed like a bunny. Meghan got a blue bear wearing a hat. The animal theme will be dinosaurs and dogs. Parrots are okay, as well. No, don’t ask why to these kind of things.

There is some late breaking news… we HAVE picked a name. I know I have taunted many with this before, but now it is a done deal. I ordered the banner yesterday and I’m too cheap to order two of them. Several good names were left off the list.

  • Andrew John, Benjamin Logan, Charles James were all early contenders…
  • Millennium, Major and Maverick are other fine, slightly interesting, options that failed to make the cut. McDaddy also didn’t pass (though as favorite of Mackenzie), in case you were interested.

What else…

I started the fence repair. Of course, it is in the low teens right now and do not plan on working outside (nor do I feel up to it).

We started our taxes – this will be delayed due to the wrangling around the AMT that occurred late last year in congress. Frankly, I am not even sure what that is or it impacted me. I’m a turbotax monkey. Answer questions, hope the number in the upper left hand corner is green and not red. So, far, so good but there are lots of things still up in the air. Last year was a good year for taxes. This year not so much given changes I made to withholdings. I know it is not smart to do economically, but I really do not mind letting the government have my money interest free for part of the year. If I have it, I’ll spend it. Simple as that. I know I COULD take the extra 100/month and put it in some mutual fund or bank account but it is too much hassle. Plus, I like getting a check that I sort of had forgotten about. $1200 could equal a new lens, a new putter and driver, a trip to Myrtle Beach – yeah baby. Oh wait, this is not a normal year. All of it will go to the insurance company and fat cat hospitals. That plus a lot more… Oh well, I still like simple and good things.

To that end, we watched both (seriously) Larry the Cable Guy (Netflix) and Dukes of Hazard (TBS). Now, I am somewhat of a sophisticated viewer of films (Hey, I got plenty with subtitles) but there were parts, albeit limited ones, that made me laugh. Is it me or is well done bathroom humor immune to the time/space continuum? Again, simple things.

Congratulations to step-brother Heath who just welcomed in his son Haydon.

Additionally, more congratulations to the other step-brother Joshua who will be getting married this month.

Lots happening in February (not the least, is the ‘mind control devices’ jewelry stores like Jared’s and Kays are trying to get you to download from the TV)

It goes without saying that MA wants her project to complete ahead of schedule.

We will see. Betting yes, but then again, what do I know (besides the name)?

Another snow day

Posted in Uncategorized on February 6th, 2008 by MaryAnn

Today is a snow day. Most schools in the area are canceled, as was our normal Wednesday meeting at church. Both girls enjoyed “helping” daddy shovel the snow.

Since we anticipated being cooped up all day, we went to a music class yesterday. During the instrument part, Mackenzie opted to play the drum, while Meghan chose cymbals.

Last night, both girls slept in their beds, in the same room. This is the first time they made it all night in the same room. Unfortunately, once one woke at 5am, the other did. Neither was willing to go back to sleep.

We’re still working on potty training Mackenzie. She’s just not all that interested at times. Meghan has decided to join in the activities and has used it a few times now. Not sure about trying to potty train two at the same time, especially once the new guy is here.

New Week

Posted in Uncategorized on February 3rd, 2008 by Michael

I learned how to blog directly out of Microsoft Word and that makes things MUCH easier for me since I am in that application about thirty times a day at least. Just think (optional, really), type and click.

Not a lot of news since the last post.

January images are posted. As anticipated, much fewer in number than normal months. For obvious reasons, the next month will be overwhelming well populated.

Mary Ann signed Z up for soccer – I hate soccer but I guess it will be how I get to spend my Saturdays this spring. We are now owners of shin guards, shiny shorts and a size 3 soccer ball. Of course, I might have to buy a new camera lens to take these outdoor photos (perhaps a 70-200L IS ?). We will see about that.

Super Tuesday is upon us. Yawn. I am STILL surprised by the resurgence of McCain. He was a couple of votes from closing the doors and now the front runner. I think Huck may toss in the towel soon. Romney has too much money to give up yet. Obama and Clinton will go on for a while but Clinton’s machinery will be tough to overcome. In the end, you will have McCain and Clinton – the two most Washington insiders running. So much for America’s disdain of the status quo.

The President was in town on Thursday. Not sure why – he gave a speech at Hallmark (I wasn’t there). Always a traffic jam however. So, I went the other direction to lunch at one of those Brazilian places where the meat is ever flowing and they have the best salad bars. I bet that whole restaurant type was ushered in by a proctologist.

Super Bowl tonight. Also, Yawn. It is obvious to me and I think most people on the planet that the Patriots have been the best team in the league, hands down. Whether or not they win this one should be somewhat inconsequential.

Tiger Woods won again even though I had sort of wrote him off. Birdied the last two holes to pull it out in Dubai – that hotel there is something else ( Personally, I think I would be freaked out to stay there but a marvel it is. I watched some show about in on the travel channel. Not sure of the rates but given that it is in oil country and that their courtesy cars from the airport are Rolls Royce’s, I’m thinking it is a moot point. Wait, I just checked – reasonable. Just over $1000US/night. Reasonable for oil country (heck, you can’t stay in NY for less than $225). To pile on to my comments about the Patriots. Tiger show a 73 yesterday (his playing partner shot a 72). I doubt anyone is going to consider his Irish journeyman of a playing partner as good as he is…

Finally taking more advantage of our home theater downstairs. Besides Blade Runner (which was fantastic), our Netflix arrivals are getting the treatment. WE watched: “Live Free or Die Hard” and “Oceans Thirteen” (we are behind the curve on new releases…). Die Hard was pretty good – loved seeing the “Mac guy” as a hacker being hunted – one could see Orwellean overtones there. Oceans 13 was pretty much like the first two – and that is not saying much.

I might get a Mac one day. There latest offerings were so close to being a home run but alas fell short. Maybe next time they rev the MacBook pro (summer). Until then, I will still get the occasional restarts, Vista slowness and the knowledge that some of my money is going to that place in Redmond.

Update: I THOUGHT we had a name settled but it is back in play now. Down to a three combinations or so. Now the analytics come into play. Our pro/con list is pretty short. Gut check time. Time is running short.