Last day of the month & the summer season…

Posted in The Family on August 31st, 2008 by Michael

Okay, I am still getting over my Palin hangover so just stay with me. For those that are curious, I think she – for what I know – seems like a nice person, energetic, capable, etc. The right choice given the cat and mouse game about to be played? Nope. It is clear Biden was brought in to 1) bring some credibility to the ticket (experience wise since celeb-senator is quite junior) and 2) to be the attack dog. So, why pick her to counteract? No reason I can think of, hence my comment earlier about McCain — to this point, he seemed to be making good decisions.  This one was bold — I think TOO bold (and probably a mistake).  That said, I was not a fan or Romney, Huckabee or Lieberman either.  Plus, Biden is such a blowhard, we will all be sleep before she gets the chance to respond… Shame when you have to lower yourself to another’s level, but politics… it is a dirty game and these are the rules that for one reason or another, we choose to play by every four years… No wonder those with their heads on straight refuse to enter the race.

Okay, important things…We had a little event over at our house yesterday for some of the neighborhood kids – more playmates and potential babysitters in tow. I think it was a marginal success. Got to try out my new party grill after much consternation regarding propane. 1140 sq inches of cooking surface. 100K BTUs. Do I need to say more ? I was relegated to be ‘heat it up” boy so I didn’t take many pictures.


I noticed my 17-55 lens is back focusing ever so slightly again. These are with the Tamron (the original lens I had for the camera). Still thinking about making the switch to Nikon. Got to see the reviews for the new 50D first however. The D700 is an impressive camera, but outside of the price that “hobbyists” such as myself will pay. The D300 is a little spendy but MIGHT be the answer. I really want a full frame camera but those are cash cows in digital form…

Meghan slept in her bed last night. We are very pleased about this. It is the third time. Not, third time in a row, but third time. It is a start, and as the great movie “The Commitments” taught us, we should believe in starts…. Along those lines, we bought a video surveillance system to spy on them. Works a LOT better than I thought a <$200 system would. Even works in the dark. Kids act pretty goofy when they should be sleeping…

Oh, and as expected, Ohio State started their season with a crushing victory against the local JV team.


Posted in Ranting, Uncategorized on August 30th, 2008 by Michael

Maxwell seems to like cereal.

The “2s” are indeed terrible. The “3s” are shaping up to be only marginally better.


McCain is a freakin idiot (for going on this Alaska fishing trip).  Count ’em – THREE electorial votes.

Oh…. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre you ready for some football?

Let’s see what to blog about….

Posted in Uncategorized on August 25th, 2008 by Michael

First, today is the start of the convention – yawn. Just an excuse for folks to spend the money of the people who think they are trying to do the right thing. I heard that Obama has this wife, his sister and some other family member speaking. Somebody who gives a rat’s ass please raise their hand. I also heard that Hillary and he agreed to have all of the delegates counted? Yeah, that is the power of the people… funny how their representatives change their vote when told too… A Ted Kennedy retrospective? Are you freakin kidding me? I find it interesting Hillary asked that Bill not speak on the same night she did. Hmmm. Finally, Biden? Yes, it shows he is a sell out – no one is surprised. Chastising McCain for being a Washington puppet and then picking someone who has been in Washington even longer. Yes, ironic. I would have thought the reverse ticket would make more sense (doesn’t Biden look like Obama’s babysitter? Sort of Like Chaney did with GWB?). Actually, I can’t wait for the commercials. Two guys that went to law school and then Washington with no real job experience outside of being a professional PAC spender. They represent the common person ? Right. Of course, we don’t know what loser McCain will pick so I am sure there is more badness to occur – my guess is Romney and he ain’t a prize. Kind of reminds me of the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Washington is the Hellmouth. Anyway, we have two weeks of this crap to watch? Geez……

Anyway, it is almost labor day and that means… Photokina? What? It is one of the two BIG photo shows where company drag out their latest and greatest. Not that we are having any more kids (we aren’t!), but I might get myself a new toy. Nikon this past year has really kicked some digital bootie (in the DSLR category – their P&S models are still weak). Is it enough to break the Canon ranks? Maybe. My lens collection is not that large (they is where they get you – like printer ink). We will see what is rolled out. UPDATE: Canon releases the new 50D today!

We went to an art auction yesterday. The deals were flowing since everything was employee pricing. I didn’t know the markup was as big as it was… I thought the bidder’s premium covered most of the profits – but no. Anyway, we picked up some animation art. A Speed Racer image for Max, a golfing print for myself and Dumbo for Meghan (it is by Willardson and matches the Seven Dwarfs image we have by him). I like it. We might have to consider selling some of our early art to make room for it all. Not going to be a financially good day there given the limited time we have owned it all.

Lots of good articles on (crap, did I actually say that?). Actually they are in the money section. They have a whole host of how to save money, spend less, etc. Common sense stuff like watch movies at home vs. going out. Working one day a week at home. Bringing your own coffee vs. Starbucks. Negotiating your hospital bill, increasing your deductable, etc. In total, the amount is staggering. Of course, they needed “not going onto ebay” but that may be a personal issue. I saw the 2002 “My Girl” putter with headcover just sold for over 2K yesterday. That was the first one in the series (and no, I did not buy it). We have them from the last three years (#4, 5 and 6). Their value has not skyrocketed yet since people actually started to collect them. The 2005 version is starting to fetch some coin. It IS a nice putter though… Back to saving money. Phone companies are great for that. We saw an ad about getting a free DVR on FIOS. We called and said “what’s up with that, homey” and bam, free DVR player plus 3 months free HBO. Free markets are good things, don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Side note, I see gas vendors are still sticking it to us… lowering gas by a penny a day. Yeah, that is market economics…

Tomorrow is dance class #2. Mackenzie seems to dig it. Meghan, not so much. I am guessing every freakin parent in this area will start sending their kid to gymnastics after what Nastia did (see lives about 3 miles from us). Of course, there is a parade planned. Back the dancing thing. Why the hell do they have to wear stupid pink tutu things? They are 3-4 years old… sort of like lipstick on pig, yes?

We stopped at IKEA on the way to the “auction”. I have to confess, I love hanging stuff on rods. Really. We got spices racks too. This is how those smarty pants Nordic folk can make so much go into so little. I bet that was a mad house two weeks ago with College punks stocking up. Anyway, they have a new room to go with the 378 and 750 sq ft. home examples. This one was only 250 sq ft. It was less impressive than the other two (it felt small – but still, fully functional in room smaller than my bedroom was impressive). Furniture or not, still a good place to buy meatballs.

Found the gosh darn best freakin’ Christmas gift for my friend (scoff, but it will sneak up on you). I love epiphanies when they happen. If they are moderately priced and just plain awesome, even better. Slight side note: Starship Troopers on blu-ray arrived recently. The only good bug is a dead bug. Gotta love it. Yes, if you have a Y chromosome, you must love it. No presidential debate required.

BTW, heard that they are adding a fourth judge to American Idol. Personally, not sure I could care less (hey, it is not Big Brother and that I KNOW I could not care less about) but wanted to give a shoutout to my friend and weekend prisoner (e.g. bridesmaid).

That’s it for the week.

Another small trickle of time….

Posted in The Family on August 14th, 2008 by Michael

First, Michelle – we have not forgotten.  We just need a box.

Secondly, I do sincerely hope that no one that reads this blog is stupid enough not to recognize Barack’s latest “VP notification” announcement is simply a fund raising ploy.  Speaking of which, I guess he can take John Edwards off the list…

Okay, on to other things.  First, still no car.  No patio.  Not a lot of anything recently.  I did finish building and installing the cornice in the man room.  It should help with the light management issue.  Minor accomplishment.  The garage is the next project underway.  With a lot of our junk headed to GoodWill, there is an outside chance we can actually go out there with out stumbling all over ourselves.  Now we just need to get rid of my snow tires (shockingly, not a big demand in Texas) and a few of the extra golf bags I have.  To purge is good – unless you are a 16 year old girl worried about the prom.

We are also beat.  Tired to no end.  Sleep patterns don’t exist outside of random and wishful thinking.  Between Mackenzie screaming about a bug or some other non-sense and Max, we have no ability to get a full night in.  If I didn’t drink, I’d really be [more] irritable.

We finally ordered new locks for the house (we had been using ones I brought from KC) and everything matches  now.  If only we could then purge the rest of the hideous gold/brass fixtures …  I got an edger too so the HOA police do not come after us.  I used it and it seems to do its thing though it took a while to overcome the extended growth.  Next time around should be smoother with less excess sparks being generated as I blindly edged some of the concrete walkway too.  I hear we may actually get some rain so it might be a while until I have to do more yard work.

I decided to replace the camera that was dropped.  I LOVE that PRIME shipping option at Amazon.  Anyway, was not so impressed with the replacement camera.  I am not sure if it was a dud or not but back it goes.  Now, the question is… do I replace with the same model that was dropped or wait it out for new models.  They should be announced in the next month or so.  Unlike cars, their availability is usually quickly to follow.  I think we shall wait.  We have enough pictures of the kids.

What else?  I got back 2007 version of the family book and it sucked.  I need to do a better job at reviewing these things before I spend the time and money to have them printed.  I suppose that is something for me to do in my copious spare time.  I can’t believe that I have to do THREE books this year.  Argh.  It is a worthwhile investment however.

MA is considering some sort of dance class for kids.  I’m thinking anything organized at their age is a waste of money but it is sort of paid babysitting at the same time.  I guess that is goodness.

Maxwell is now mobile.  Not in the I can crawl mode but in the ‘I can pretend to crawl a step at a time and then roll around until I get the fireplace’ kind of way.  It will not be long now.  He is the first of the kids that did not decided to go backwards first.  Must be a guy thing.

The Olympics continue.  Not sure why NBC doesn’t have more live coverage.  Not too excited over the swimming gold medal counts but that relay was exciting.  Those Chinese girls are not 16 – who do they think they are kidding?  Guys that can do the Rings are studs.  My pects hurt just watching.  Is the balance beam the stupidest event?  Well no, but it is my least favorite gymnastic related one.  I’d actually rather see that ribbon crap that the beam.  Not a huge fan of the Pommel Horse either.  Speaking of the Olympics, they need to fix the open ceremonies.   First, it seems that the athletes seem to forget the magnitude of the event as they are acting like idiots taking pictures most of the time.  I guess they didn’t know there are professionals to do that… secondly, what was up with the Dutch?  I can understand ugly but it is worse on the Dutch.  My eyes could not get past those orange ties.  Who designed those?  Elmer Fudd?   And the Danes?  Were those Capri jeans  – -even for the men?  I would rant on about the Spanish, but they brought us paella so they get a pass.  At least the American’s were not wearing cowboy hats this year.  Finally, note to speedo.  Women swimsuits do not have to look like men’s weightlifting outfits (though the athletes seemed to be of similar shape).

I very much dislike preseason football.  At least the Farve nightmare is over.  The Ryder Cup is coming up.  Cooler weather.  Lower electric bills.  Maybe some golf.  Yahoo.

On second thought…

Posted in Uncategorized on August 6th, 2008 by Michael

Okay, the expense of wrought iron gates has caused me to postpone the –possibly- ill-conceived fantasy about getting a new bad ass ride. Therefore, ‘big daddy’ will drift about until which time we complete the nightmare contractor search and see what we have left to deal with.

Had to write Maxwell’s first 529 check this past week too. That hurt the discretionary fund…

I guess the big event of the week was Meghan. She did her bit to show us what being two was all about. Not a fan. At least Z is starting to mature, in a way. Spending more time self-sufficient, though more pouty when she does not get her way, as well. It is a wonder what a $1.99 coloring book can do.

The week was spent doing crazy, silly things. It was busy (at least for MA and the kids). There were trips to the circus, Chuck E. Cheese and of course, the Wiggle’s Room. That last place is not a strip club, though surely there are a couple of them in the US with that name, but yet another CC clone that I think is based off some dudes that dress up in colorful outfits and sing stupid songs on TV. You can, of course, experience many of things 2nd hand via various parts of the web site. I, fortunately, was able to miss them 1st hand as I had to do that ‘work thing’ that enabled these things to occur.

MA’s parents came to town for a week while other sundry duties like doctor’s appointments occurred. Two got shots to which they mostly did not approve. Meghan came in a little heavy (shock!) at just over 30lbs. Max has been cleared for cereal. It is not like he is opposed to throwing enough things up….

While in town, they (parents de jour) got to experience some of the finest foods Costco has to offer, as reheated by me ™ on the grill. We ate at Dickey’s for the sendoff meal. Sadly, they ran out of pickles — which is one of my favorite things. Plus, the one near us was a little too sterile for a BBQ place. I like the original place better.

It has been hot here. Freakin, bake your back side, hot. Yeah, I can bitch about this or that, but at 107 and full on sunshine, it is not a matter of whether or not you can cook an egg on your car. Its’ whether or not you want to add some sausage and make an omelet. Luckily, it is only in the 80s when I leave for work at the crack of dawn….

No pool as we wait out news on crypto. We certainly do not need things coming out both ends and you know the kids drink the water – regardless of what you might suggest to you.

Was thinking that the $5 sunglasses I bought in St. Thomas may not really be UV resistant, I broke down and some Ray Bann sunglasses. I’m not one that was ever into spending big bucks for sunglasses but I have to admit, they do up the stud factor. Think the ones like you see on Burn Notice, without the top bar.

On the good news (for us), we were able to pawn off a lot of crap to friends and family. The de-cluttering continues but getting more difficult. There is always “what if”. For those who have seen “Clean House” you know of what I speak. For those of you on the receiving end of the clutter, remember, it was a one way trip. No one’s arms were twisted. Goodwill shall soon receive the rest of phase 1. I should point out that phase 2 has much better stuff…. The “tree” will be part of phase 2 as will some cookie jars and tea pots.

What else… I actually was able to escape to play some golf. Hit it pretty good – sort of like I had not taken a couple of months off. That tells me one of two things – I got natural skills that simply can not be denied or I’ve reached the highest level I’m ever going to achieve and it doesn’t matter if I practice. Anyway, it helped the course was wide and the fairways reasonably fast. Only a small hiccup and that is mainly around my fear of snakes. I took a drop since I did not want to wonder into the weeds. I actually did see a snake. It was 3-4 feet long and black. It got partially off the ground while moving towards the cart (swiftly). It might have been spooked that we were near by or it could have decided to come after us for disturbing it sleep. I didn’t wait around to ask…. Good thing I will probably not be playing golf again anytime soon as I would have to avoid that course.

MA and I have played “Hot Shots: Out of Bounds” for our PS3. I’m generally kicking ass but as I have rose in rank, the players have gotten better and the shots more difficult. Now, I am on the wrong end of the booty whomp. It is a nice 30 minute diversion though. BTW, the man room is shaping up. I still need a little more black out work on the west window, but it is functional. That is a good thing.

In the workplace, I have started to look into various tools around collaboration. That coupled with my friend’s – who is too busy to come visit – question about some hit she got from a high school chum, got me to look into facebook. It is an interested concept. I’m probably not the right demographic, for it as it takes a lot of work but then again, networking does – even digital social networking. Honestly, I’m not good at either one. Blogging is about as good as it is going to get. That said, there are a lot of people out there with a lot of time on their hands….’nuff said.

Unfortunately, being on the web has exposed me to more BS in the world. I see Harry Reid is blocking a vote on expanding offshore drilling. I don’t get that. Shouldn’t the monkeys we send to Washington put a stake in the ground? If the answer is no, it is no. But to basically take the 5th is cowardly. No, I’m not surprised. I see BO is flip-flopping again. No, not surprised. Love the fact that the media reports on his chastisement of McCain for being a oil-lovin Cheney clone when it was he – not McCain – that voted for the Cheney energy plan (No. America is not smart enough to know that because they believe the left wing media. No, I’m not surprised). I see McCain has failed to energize anyone or come up with a comprehensive, strategic platform. No, not surprised. I see Bret is back in GB and the team continues to mangle this badly. Also … not surprised. Not a big fan of those that retire or un-retire but since it is done, GB should man up and do something. He is either the best QB they have (to which there is no doubt) and they should play him or be done. Aren’t the fans paying to see the best team ? If he isn’t worth the 14M a year they are paying him (well, besides NO ONE is ), then trade him to someone else. It shouldn’t matter to who since isn’t worth it to them. Trying to buy him off is stupid.

Finally, I see that the war seems to be going better (well ,as war’s go). Deaths are down. Local support seems to be up. Our boys and girls getting shortly tours and starting to come home. I’m all for that. I’m not surprised that things are turning around. It was a sound plan (its value is another debate) even if misguided and poorly sold. There was not a short term solution and those that actually believed there would be are idiots. Those that knew better and said differently are disingenuous doodle heads (PG version).

I also note that gas is slowly coming down. Obviously – OBVIOUSLY – the connection between oil and gas prices is not linear. A lot of people ask why. Interestingly, some academic (from Ohio State no less) put forth a theory about this being tied to consumer behaviors. He stated as gas got more expensive, people felt the need to shop for bargains and hence there was competition. As it decreased, they had less need so companies did not feel the pressure to compete. Well, he is a dumb ass. The answer is greed. And while it is easy (and partially wrong) to blame the gas companies, it is also station owners. These guys don’t eek out a great deal of margin in general, but they have be soaking the public on this one. It takes 45 days for oil to be manufactured and brought to your station. The price of oil today is in no way reflective of the cost of the gas. As oil prices rise, the station owners raise their prices since the public thinks they are hand in hand. Yet, the station is still paying older, lower prices for their gas in most cases. Their profits are huge. Now, the reverse is a problem since as oil decreases, the gas is relatively more expensive since it was based off of higher oil costs. Hence, they lower the price more slowly to offset some of that decreased margin (plus, they already pocketed the higher profits). Shameful. Certain commodities should be cost plus. Everyone wins. Have competition be based on other things (like whether or not their bathrooms are clean, they offer delicious slurpees or have in house Church’s fried chicken.

I do like my Church’s fried chicken (spicy, of course).

Okay, it is dinner time. Those were the thoughts of the day.