Happy Birthday, Mary Ann

Posted in Birthdays on June 24th, 2009 by Michael

She is less than 40 years old, but has impacted our lives positively more than 40 thousand times.  Happy birthday Mary Ann.

Hope you enjoy the toy.



Posted in Michael's thoughts, The Family on June 22nd, 2009 by Michael

Indeed the summer is here and that means holidays for some, starvation to fit into swimsuits for others (no, that isn’t me).

The holidays is summer break from school, vacations at work (use them or loose them assuming your projects allow), FIFA soccer matches (if you are Obama), Father’s day – if you celebrate such limiting and arbitrary holidays, Mary Ann’s birthday and of course, Independence Day. As much as I have enjoyed being out of the fray, believe that there will be some sort of country supporting, communist antagonistic blog around that time.

The good news is that I have read all of my manifesto work on the kindle and being cheap, I have downloaded some freebies – right now, I am reading “Return of Sherlock Homes”. Classics are called such for a very good reason.

This weekend, the first wave of mini-blinds were indeed hung in the window with care (or more accurately via brute force and an 18V power drill). They look okay. Cookie jars have been selected and some art hung. The guest room is now complete. Well, except for a bedspread selection – but we will worry about that when you actually need one and are not baking in the heat.

Not much else to report. I know people are into the whole hallmark holidays – even if I do not celebrate it — so here is my version…

A couple of more days…

Posted in Michael's thoughts on June 22nd, 2009 by Michael

First, it is hot here and I don’t like it. I do wonder if our radiant barrier is helping our cause any. Not sure. We only had part of the summer to compare last year but I do hope so.

Insurance companies are stupid. We have been going through the annual process of relooking at all of those incidental charges that when added up are anything but incidental and so we looked to change our insurance company. You have to understand that home insurance in Texas is outrageously priced. Actually, I would say insanely so but it is the way they do business (premium are determined by state so all of those hurricane impacted folks are getting paid out of my pocket). Okay, expensive is one thing, stupid is another. For some reason, everyone things our house is worth much more than it is. I get that – they use logic based models and not real world data in determining value. Fine, but why do I have to pay a premium for that? Why do I have to pay for so called replacement value instead of a fixed price? If I want 200K of coverage, why can’t I buy it? Also, why would they want to insure my house for more than it is really worth? Wouldn’t that really cause me to want to burn it down and make off with the difference? Also, why isn’t the artwork in our house covered by the personal property? I mean, it is personal property… Makes no sense when there is a cap on the value amount.

Another thing that irks me is this hideous practice of “bundling” options on cars. Why can”t I get parking sensors without a 5000 gazillion watt stereo, xeon hi-beams, leather seats, etc? Yes, I know I could go after market but that is the wrong answer. Things should simply not be this difficult.

I decided to buy the iPhone – possibly against better judgment but I do see that this device will become more of an access point that just a phone. The big debate was black or white but in the end, I’ll get a gel cover for it. We shall see how long it lasts me. It is only 32G. Wow, remember when that seemed like an insanely large amount of data ?

I was looking at some images the other day and I am not averaging around 4G a month in pictures. Some of that is Max being an amiable subject but it is also clear that the file size increase of the higher resolution cameras are also impactful. Good thing data storage is cheap (if you don’t include having to get new phones all of the time).

Oh crap, I have to go back to the airport soon.

Catching up.

Posted in Michael's thoughts, The Family on June 14th, 2009 by Michael

I took Friday off (sort of) to possibly go play some golf but it turned into a shopping day. I’ve been trying to adhere to the fiscal diet, but it sort of got pushed out the window.

That said, I arrived at the PGA Tour Superstore. For those that golf and have not been to one, it is a treat indeed. We have two in Dallas… there are others. Today, I was at the Preston location (not my normal store). Did some good shopping as I stacked a few coupons. First, we got an offer to get 20% uplift on any gift card. That was a no brainer. For $100 get $120 on the gift card. Did that. Then we got a coupon in the mail for $20 off a $50 purchase. So, that is what I did. Noticing that they had a sale on Bryon Nelson shirts, I grabbed one of those (which really is to be a father’s day gift to me). $40 is usually a lot to spend for me on a shirt that I do not get from a pro shop, but BN’s are very fine shirts and was basically almost 50% off. Got a Nike ‘dry fit’ t-shirt since frankly we are all sweating like pigs these days. I combed through the 75% rack for that one – MSRP $55, take home $15. Then moved on to get some shorts – their PGA Tour brand had them 50% off so I grabbed one of those too – adjustable waistband – yeah!. Grabbed a new Vokey wedge too to fill in that gap I have from 125-135 yards. It was a totally good haul for $157 out of pocket given that the wedge itself was $118 with tax. Reminds me of the days when I use to ‘stack coupons’ on the Dell site when ordering computers… Saving money is good.

Of course, I then made my way to IKEA for some MORE shelves and also to pick something up for the living room to de-clutter it a bit. That was a tribulation in itself but after an hour or so I think I pretty much nailed it (note: we have a red couch). A little power screwdriver action that night and I have to say my visualization was spot on. Now, can we get the toys go to IN the cabinet? Not sure – right now, yes, but then again, there is a fascination with the doors.

So, Saturday was to be house husband duties and I duly got up without fanfare and began the process only to find out we had not paint rollers… So, there was the 8am trip to Lowes. Thankfully and freaking almost unnaturally, it was the only trip there that day. Why are we painting (wait, not we – that would imply plurality)? Good question. We do want to do the mail living room but that is a little ambitious and would require a color selection. I have ideas but scaffolding is not appealing to me. So, it was the guest room first off. It is now a light blue and we deem it ‘the summer beach shack get away’. Some shelves are now up (courtesy of IKEA, AMEX and Ryobi), furniture re- arranged and new 2 inch blinds on order from our favorite online discount blinds company (with 30% off coupon). I trust that future guests will enjoy it. Of course, with that order came the idea that we should replace some other cheap blinds in the house — so it looks like I will get the opportunity to perfect my craft through at least eight attempts…

Then there were more shelves for the girl’s rooms to place an insane amount of stuffed animals. All are now put together (even with Mackenzie’s help) and leveled perfectly. Junk has since taken its position on top.

Once done on the inside, it was time for the hot box (aka mother earth). Edging, weed eating and mowing were performed to stave off the HOA Nazis and keep up with our neighbors, who have a service that visits every Saturday morning.

All in all, productive – if that kind of crap can be called progress.

Sunday, was to be the day for golf. I was going to get up early and get out before it hit triple digits. Well, that didn’t quite happen given our [above mentioned] neighbors were having a little bash. It was not loud, but all of the people leaving it were – or just loud enough to wake me trying to determine what that noise was. Couple that with the fact, that for very little physical labor, I was actually a bit sore this morning. So, it was breakfast with the kids, some Dora on TV and after everyone was dressed for the day, I went back to bed while MA contained the civil rivalry and occasional screaming one floor up. Was not good sleep and I did lay there lamenting about my failing ability to remember this guy’s name I use to work with (it came to me after 10 minutes) but I did finally pass out and maybe it will help offset the normal afternoon pull towards taking a nap. I do have a few things I need to do for the office that I have procrastinated on for weeks… and I need to start cleaning out the garage. MA plowed in there a couple of weeks ago, heroically, but ran into something more akin to a mountain than a molehill. It is not a one day event, regardless. I sense a visit to Lowe’s coming on for storage bins but hopefully not.

We are also thinking hard (okay, I am) about our minivan purchase. It looks like financially, that there will be only one car purchased this year and it will be hers. There is a practicality to that versus an ego itch to me swapping out mine. The big question is: ‘does one wait for the 2010 or go with the 2009’ at a discount. Everyone is mum on it, but it sounds like the 2010 is not an update, that will be coming in 2011 so the 2009 is looking more attractive. We shall see… The whole process, even with the internet and fleet managers, is a bit yucky.

Also, thinking about the iphone. Due to be released in a week. I had one but it was not 3G and slow and well, not really what I needed. Of course, that was three versions ago and there are so many new applications out there – many of them useful. I really like the idea of keeping everything on one device. I have an iTouch which I use for trips and walking on the treadmill (right!), but it is too small at 8G to be an all in one. I have a lot of images as if that comes as a surprise… Is the iphone that device? Not sure yet.

Watched part of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” movie on TV last night. It was so horrible but chocked full of stars. Based on it alone, it is shocking that it actually was made into a series – a good one at that.

Not much else happened today – at least here at the homestead. Kids ran around. I heated some meat on the grill. I didn’t get around to cleaning out the garage but did make another trip to Lowes.

I assume that much is happening in the world though I am able to avoid knowing it. I could guess of some of the stupid things that have occurred given the history of his press controlled presidency, but I do not want to think about it.

The Horrors and the rain

Posted in Uncategorized on June 10th, 2009 by Michael

Well, I came home today – mostly stress free – to find that someone cut Maxwell’s hair. In fact, a supposed “professional” did. I use these air quotes since frankly, he looks as if he is off to boarding school with Joe Cocker using a bowl to do the honors. Anyway, of all of our kids, he would be the last one I would send off to boarding school. I am trying not to focus on it – since it will grow out (some time in 2011) and would take a picture to post, but I can’t bring myself to record this era in history. My little go lucky dude has left the building.

They can cut my hair short since it is naturally thinning and turning the most manly shade of gray you could ask for anyway (granted – I believe this was accelerated by said stress I referenced earlier, and no, there is no stimulus money for a cure – it is all going to a mouse in SF). Max though, had those happy locks of blonde that captures his ‘smiley nature”. Now, it is achtung-baby! He still smiles though I know he curses us on the inside.

Also, my golf idea might just be rained out. We had a wee bit of a storm roll through here with 60+ MPH winds, tornado sirens going off, rain at 2 inches per hour, etc. We did not see it (could not see crap through the gray sky and horizontally blowing rain) but according the weather man and his 6 billion dollar mega fantastic 4D Doppler radar, there is a high degree of likelihood there was a tornado just down the road from us. Oh well, all is well here now. Well, all but possibly the golf course I had planned to frequent.

Mackenzie did make the decision that she does not like thunder. Just in case you were wondering.

So to get some yang to counterbalance the yin, I did go to Costco and the PGA Tour Superstore. That is a good thing.

So I was thinking…

Posted in Uncategorized on June 10th, 2009 by Michael

The last day or so, I was able to get caught up with the so-called news. The propaganda is intense, the loss of objectivity immense, the politicalization of events disgusting, the lack of respect for the Constitution scary and the absconding of personal responsibility disheartening. My fear of the future state for my children, immeasurable. Hmmm.

It is hypocritical to decide to give up knowing full well, that resistance may not be futile even if it feels that way. That disengagement is what the State wants with constant barrage of propaganda used as their weapon, when they cannot force change through laws that limit individual freedom. I know that. But, I think I need to unplug for a while and live in ignorant bliss. Fortunately, there is the self-serving nature of those that are in power and that, if anything, is more powerful than the liberal agenda. Therefore, I have time. Bureaucracy will slow down the erosion of liberty by the Statists. Hopefully, so that we have some sort of rights still left by the time we vote in 2010.

Of course, it may all be for naught. After all, since FDR, the slide towards socialism has quickened, albeit for a short road bump in the 80s. And it is not surprising that it happens. I mean, life is hard and for those that have not accepted personal responsibility or the challenge to meet it head on, the idea that someone else will shoulder the burden is indeed alluring. What is so ironic however, is that the liberal machine – the democrats – like to call themselves the party of the people. What an abomination! They are the power of the State – the State that gives to some people in return for them ceding their power … to the State. I mean, literally, who can be so stupid as to think that the party of bigger government is the party of the people? Okay, we know that answer. That is what is so funny about the academic heads and the Hollywood crowd. They have success and opportunity ONLY due to those things that they supposedly hate. They are all for herd mentality because they believe they are immune to it or part of the ‘governing’ class. The State uses that to their advantage like other groups… So, have Barack put a cap on the amount of money a “star” can make and see how many fundraisers that kills….Of course he would never do that since he likes the money, he covets the adulation and he needs their influence over the constitutionally weak.

Anyway, it is this kind of crap that gets me wound up and stress is the number one killer out there (until the government takes over healthcare – ooops!). So, I am de-stressing and there are minimal ways to do this.

For now, I am unplugging from sources of socialism – that means, I am not reading blogs, watching the ‘news’, or even checking in on ‘facebook’ for a while. We just got a new subscription to FIOS HD with the Golf Channel and I am taking advantage of it.

Speaking of which, I played some golf this weekend (3rd time this year). I had no responsibility to the kids, I didn’t have to drive, do any work, take care of anything. It was just me. So, I channeled some Tiger and went to town. Uncle Jack Daniels showed up early and came to visit often. Maybe too often but outside the morning for some liver and brain cells, I do not care. And you know what, I actually slept well that night, had dreams fro the first time in a while, and woke up feeling five years younger on Sunday. Plus, I carded a 40 on the front nine – even with a double on number 9.

So, the lesson? Stress is bad.

So, I am taking a new approach to it all for a while. I’m trying to do this without spending a fortune too. That said, I have started to think about a getaway place (which would be contrary to the not spending a fortune tenet). Like Happy Gilmore, it is important to have that happy place. I think mine is in North Carolina. Of course, my mortgage has a few things to say about that but those conversations can be had over the next couple of years.

MA is on a healthy eating kick again and I so I too shall be – for a while. It is not like some exercise and having fewer processed foods will hurt me. Heck, maybe that and living stress free will collide to make a better me. Of course, I have doubts. One, I doubt I can go stress free with kids. Two, I doubt I can stand not eating foods I love (like chicken fried steak, chili dogs, brownies, etc.) for that long. Spock was all about “live long and prosper” not “live long and suffer”. But a couple of weeks – I can do that. Maybe.

And I am going to play some more golf. Maybe even on the weekend if I can stomach getting up early and playing really slow rounds. MA went out and hit some balls the other day. So, who knows where that might lead.

Richmond Blog

Posted in Michael's thoughts, Political Opinions, Ranting on June 4th, 2009 by Michael

I was going to spend some time cranking this out over the trip but I was too frustrated and then, I was too cramped in the porta potty called a regional jet.

So, here we are .

First, I trust that Memorial Day was eventful, in a good way, for all. We spent a lot of time (I think every waking second) working on the front yard. The entire flower beds are now replaced, the gutters changed out, plants moved about, and new perennials in the ground. I got sunburned on my shoulders big time, but then what should I expect? Fat white guy showing Mother Nature some skin. She was obviously not amused and let me know.

We only had Max and he seemed to be thrilled with the concept of the water hose. Shrieked his joy as he chased it output around the yard.

So, I got to spend some time at the airport yesterday – first due to a missing pilot, then a delayed pilot (once they loaded us on the plane) then due to weather delays (lightning was so bad, they would not let the ground crews out to push back the plane – interestingly, no big concern about us ON the plane…). Then, of course, a fun ride out.

Anyway, the airport was not that busy but there were a significant number of service men and women making their way back to base or wherever. With that, I have to say that I am truly humbled by the sacrifice and commitment some give to their country. My country. This has pushed me further to strengthen my resolve to oppose and eliminate the influence of the current Statists or Socialists (pending your view) that are currently in government actively looking to change and degrade it.

BTW, also had time to finally finish my book ‘5000 Years’. Highly recommend it if you are at all interested in the constitution and/or basic premise on which this country was founded. It is so concerning that much of what letters from Franklin, Washington, Burke and Adams call out as dangers to our country are happening TODAY without unabashed glee by those that are dependent on the transformation of a country run by the people to one run by the government.

Thanks to the handy dandy Kindle, I have started to lead Levin’s book. Unlike 5000 years, he tends to provide more analysis and extrapolation (e.g. opinions) on what is occurring versus a more simple history lesson. He helped draw the line for me that I just could not make. Why is that academia and the media are stalwarts of the liberal left. The same goes for the “Hollywood” crowd. I could only get 80% there…. But then again, I am not a sociologist and I really have not given a lot of time thinking about those whack jobs.

What is really concerning and ultimately ironic is the position that Obama and some of this inner circle take on the decoupling of liberty and property. Without a lot of fanfare, read ‘5000 years’ to see a great deal of discussion about how these are intrinsically linked in this country (or wait — I’ll likely write a long blog on that one day). Anyway, they argue that we have disadvantaged some through our political actions and that this elimination is required for all to truly be free (note: the liberal establishment is big on social/economic equality = freedom, where it downplays the individual (in light of government control) in this equation). These arguments come from tenured professors, etc. Hmm. If we were to be truly free and socially equal, would we not have disallowed the tenure of professors to allow all to share in that limited (aka privileged) social position? It is eye opening how ironic and selective a basic argument is for social change. It is very much a “don’t look behind the curtain” approach.

Just think about what is going on with GM now. The Government is selectively exercising different options to allow it to work at the determent of Chrysler and Ford. The benefactors? Union owners (who are loyal to the government) and the government (not the people). Where is the competition? Where are the benefits back to those that are funding it ? Actually, where was his legal right to do any of this? Well, they are getting sued now over some of the practices but it is too early to tell how that well come to be as the judicial branch too has been infiltrated by activists.

That reminds me…Obama said he wanted to have a judge with more focus on the real world. This should make any American scream in agony. The Constitution is not there for real world adoption. It is there to provide the framework for the real world. There should be no liberal or conservative judges. There should be those that simply apply the basic tenets of the Constitution to cases of law. If this is not the case, then we will have an ever-changing basis for the country and as such precedents are no longer applicable. The great socialist FDR has already changed the country greatly by his Supreme Court work and started us down this path of Constitutional reach that has provided mechanism to socialism.

Okay, the Obamateur has just made his choice – Sonia (do what I say since it worked for me) Sotomayor. A disaster. A self-appointed activist that believes the race and gender of a judge plays a part in decisions and that policy is made on the bench. I HAVE read the Constitution and I do not remember that being in there.

There are three branches of government. The Constitution was written down for a reason too… It is about time someone remembered that. Of course, everyone has also forgotten about the role of the federal government and the states have rolled over like lazy dogs waiting for their treats (aka federal funds). It is not suppose to be like this….

Don’t even get me started on the debt and how the founding fathers saw this as an evil. They campaigned amongst the congress not to allow future generations to be burdened to it and put forward provisions to have any borrowing paid within the lifespan on those that spent it. I know this is not an Obama only situation (debt happens but it should be short term). No one has created a more potential beholden nation than his administration. Of course, liberals like that since it provides power to the government (as the holder of the debt). Even Bernacke has come out and said we need to start to balance this debt. Man, when the guy who helped hold out his hand to get some cash says that, you should listen.

What else is new? Sorry, my brain is fried after the late night getting here and of course, my disgust with Sotomayer or more importantly the calculated erosion of the Constitution that Obama has been systematically orchestrating. Man, it pisses me off. Let’s make jokes how she saved baseball (BTW, nice job – paying guys millions a dollars a year to take drugs) but no mention or her ignorance of legislative branch. On that alone, she is not qualified to do anything. Then you have the press falling all over themselves praising here. You have Democrats saying “oppose her at your own peril”, and of course Harry – dumb ass – Reid says (quoted by the press) that she is the whole package but also states (not reported by the press though 30 seconds apart from the other quote) that he had not read a single judgment she had authored. So you have the democrats and their patsies (aka the press) making the claim that Republicans are going after her based on race while they themselves are supporting her only based on race (and in difference to the will of “the one”). I do not recall any such media furor when Bush nominated Thomas or Estrada. Oh wait, the media only reports what is in the Statist favor.

BTW, I am driving a 2010 Prius while here in Richmond. I am a little more excited about it than I thought I would be. It corners well. The acceleration is a little better than expected. Lots of gadgets. I do like the layout of the controls. Given the new Ford is faster than this beast, it might be worth a look. According to the computer, I am getting just under 49 MPH. Rental companies must hate these things – no $7.99 per gallon fill ups. There goes part of their profit center. BTW, I think that is scummy business practice anyway. If I were a rental company, I would want to refill the tanks myself to make sure people aren’t putting in crappy gas or something.

Okay, I went on a little more than I planned on that but I get so passionate about the dismantling of America, it just pisses me off. If others would just pay attention or care, they too could see it. But, we have become like those on the boat in Wall-E. Where is our little buddy, so needed to save the day?

BTW, just to spike the NBA, I am hoping that Denver and Miami make the finals. No one will watch. That will teach them for letting the Celtics loose.

Property taxes and insurance rates from hell, the kids do like living in Texas and especially going to the pool. I’ll leave you with this one.