Saturday, February 28, 2009

Paying to Pee

If you think airlines couldn't sink any lower get a load of this. Ryanair air is considering charging people to use the bathroom on flights. This from the CEO Michael O'Leary.Follow this link. Now before you get too outraged a spokesman said their boss was speaking tongue in cheek (this cheek being the one one your face).

The article ends with:

Meanwhile, AP notes O'Leary picked up on a common theme in making his pay-toilet statement. "As always, O'Leary suggested a separate toilet fee would lower ticket costs and make flying, somehow, easier for all. Nobody, even his own aides, seemed to be sure if he was serious or pursuing his well-documented penchant for making brazen declarations to win free advertising," AP writes.

So I guess in the future you better make sure you have some change or you won't be able to go. I wonder if the machine will only except quarters or will it take nickles and dimes too.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Heavens Are Hung In Black

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Went to this play last night at the new renovated Ford's Theatre. Ford's has taken over the building to one side. It has placed the lobby in that building along with the box office, gift shop and the bathrooms. The theater reopened on February as part of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. For details about the gala go here.

They certainly did a wonderful job with the restoration. The interior of the theater is incredible. The seats well you can actually sit in them. Calling them uncomfortable in the past would be kind.

The show itself was very well done. It takes place during 1862. The play starts shortly after the death of Willie, Lincoln's son in spring of 1862 and goes until late summer 1862. It delves into Lincoln coming to grips with emancipation. Here's the review from the Post.

From the review:

Plagued throughout the nearly three-hour "Heavens" by grief at the death of his own son -- and his guilt over the legions of fathers, sons and brothers he's sent into battle -- the Lincoln conjured by playwright James Still seems as movingly human as any man who's occupied the presidency. Selby helps immeasurably here, endowing his Lincoln with the gift of humility. The depth of empathy is such that you are allowed to believe that the president -- visited by a woman seeking a pardon for her soldier brother, who's been condemned for falling asleep at his post -- might get down on his knees with her and weep.

The play was in three acts. I thought act two was the best. The third act was just a bit too long. Overall it incorporated many of Lincoln's famous sayings and some of his actions while in the White House. One involves the pardoning of a toy soldier his son Tad has condemned to death because of sleeping at his post.

David Selby (of Falcon Crest and Dark Shadow's fame) plays Lincoln and he really does seem to become Lincoln on the stage. In all a very enjoyable evening.

Odds and Ends

I like candy
I noticed this the day after Valentine’s day when I was in a couple of stores. I will admit it I was looking for half priced candy. All of the Valentine’s Day candy and cards as well had all been moved out. Whole shelves had been opened up. I was looking around and wondering what they were going to be putting in all this space. I looked around a little more and saw that there were boxes of Easter candy ready to go.

It reminds me of a story my dad told us once. He was working at Ace Hardware. We were all home for Christmas. He came home at the end of his day and told how he help unload the Valentine’s Day candy. It was still 7 weeks away!

Great GW basketbal game

Since the washer came so early on Saturday, I was able to get to the GW women’s game on Saturday. Things did not start out well for the Colonials against St. Bonaventure. With around 5 minutes left in the first half GW was down 35-17. But by half time they’d closed the gap to 35-26. Then slowly and surely in the second half GW wore down St. Bonaventure.

St. Bonaventure had tossed up one three point after another in the first half but went cold in the second half. GW pulled to a 10 point lead and the game seemed over but St. Bonaventure was able to make it close to the very end. Final was 66-60 for GW.

What I didn’t understand was why the St. Bonaventure coach didn’t call a time out when GW finally over took St. Bonaventure. I don’t think he used them very wisely and he had plenty to use.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Washer Arrives

My new washing machine arrived yesterday. I got it last Monday at Home Depot. I figured that was the best place to get it. They had the best prices and a sale and a refund to the cost of delivery. They would haul away the old machine and hook it up as well. I spent a little more money on the machine but made up for it because of the sale which 10 percent off machines over $398 and the free delivery. It ended up being less than the machine that cost $50 less.

I got an automated call on Friday night saying that the delivery would be sometime between 8 and noon on Saturday.

Saturday morning I got up early and went down the basement to clear out the area around the washer. I then noticed that the hoses used to hook up the water to the washer were just barely long enough. I decided to make a quick run down to Home Depot to see if I could pick up some new ones that were a little longer. I rushed down to the store. It took a while to find hoses that were longer than 4 feet but with the help of someone at Home Depot I was able to find one that was 5 feet. One hose was red the other blue.

I got home and disconnected the old hoses. I had to move the washer out of the way to do this. I noticed that it really wasn't all that hard to move the machine around. I tried to get it out the back door but couldn't get it over the threshold.

Around 8:40 am or so I get a call. It is the delivery people. They say they will be there in five to ten minutes. It took them that long too. What I was impressed with is that they puller around to the back of the house and knocked on my back door.

In less than ten minutes they'd taken the old one out and set up the new one. There really wasn't all that much to do. There were a set of hoses that came with the machine but I had them use the ones I bought. The water intake on the new machine was more in the center so I think the 4 foot hoses would have worked out fine. They hooked up the hoses made sure they were on tight and then tried the machine to see if it worked. I then signed for it and I had a new machine.

I had several loads to do so I got started right away. The machine is very quiet. In fact for a while there I wasn't sure it was working at all. The agitator is as I said very quiet. Since I had several loads to do I tried several different settings on the machine. I'm very pleased. Most of all I have clean clothes now!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Peanuts Get Your Peanuts

That is unless they happen to be from the Peanut Corporation of America. If so you want to run from them as fast as possible.

This is one of those stories that you can't believe is true yet it is. This is a story about greed and the complete disregard for you fellow human being. The man at the head of this company is Stewart Parnell.

I think this sums up what type of a person Mr. Parnell is:

In another e-mail between Parnell and Lightsey, the manager reported that samples from the plant taken on Aug. 11 had tested positive for salmonella but had been sent to another laboratory and received a negative result. "Okay, let's turn them loose then," Parnell wrote.

This is from a story in the Post.

In other e-mails there was a discussion on how to use the peanuts that had fallen on the floor again. It was such a waste of money.

So far 9 people have died from the Salmonella outbreak. Thousands have become sick.

Here are a couple of questions and thoughts that come to mind.

Why isn't Stewart Parnell in jail? I understand they are still investigating. But this guy knowingly shipped product that could make people sick. Nine people have died from his actions. Isn't that murder?

Another thought if anything points to the need of government regulation ensuring the safety of our food sure does. Want a way to reduce the level of unemployment hire more food inspectors. Hire a lot more food inspectors. Here's something that should make your hair stand on end:

"The average plant is inspected once every 10 years," Jean Halloran, director of food safety for Consumers Union, said. "This one was getting inspected a couple of times a year by Georgia, but neither they nor the FDA were taking enough enforcement action."

Considering all the places our food is coming from the government needs to do a better job of protecting us and the only way to do that is with more people to inspect places.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Back to the Gym

Yes, I'm finally back at the gym on an almost regular basis. Now, that I no longer have a cold or that stomach thing or there are all sorts of holidays or an inauguration and any other distractions, I'm finally getting back to the gym.

I have a new personal trainer too. His name is Ed. He is in fact the head of the training department at Results. I feel very lucky to have him. Tomorrow will be the 4th session I've had with him. I' seeing him twice a week. I'm still sore from the workout he gave me yesterday which is a good thing. I'm back to spinning on Saturdays (I might have to miss this Saturday depending on when the washer will be delivered). Now I have to figure out the rest of my schedule. Training is Wednesdays and Fridays Spinning is on Saturdays. Then I have my own work out session on Sundays. So I need to add at least one if not two more session at the gym. There's a possibility of one more spinning session and a yoga class.

My weight is pretty good. I lost what I gained over the holidays. Now I have to work on cutting out some of the junk I eat to get down to my actual weight. Ed says I won't be loosing weight but shifting it around. But I think I can still stand to loose some weight. Again I look at it as the weight I should be if I cut out all those things I shouldn't be eating. That's not to say I'm going to cut them out entirely. It's just I need to eat a little better.

I also hope to get in a couple of evenings riding the stationary bike.

So fitnesswise the new year is starting out pretty well.

Howling Wind

Well the wind howled again today. Just like it did last Thursday. I was a little concerned that something else might fly off my roof. Thankfully nothing did this time. Even though it wasn't all that cold out the wind sure did make it feel that way.

It supposed to be cold again this weekend with a chance for a wintry mix on Saturday. I always love when we have a wintry mix. Just so long as it doesn't interfere with the delivery of my washing machine which is also supposed to happen on Saturday.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


That's the name of the new site for my political podcasts with Arthur. The site is exactly up and running yet but it will be shortly.

You can go here and listen to the first podcast under our new name.

The main focus of the cast is the economy. Specifically we focus on to the economic stimulus, which President Obama signed into law on Tuesday. We talk about some of the implications, and I also presents my ideas for helping ordinary homeowners which I outlined in an earlier post. That leads to a talk of banks, the financial markets and the salaries people are paid. Despite it all, we end on a positive note.

Hope you enjoy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pompeii and the Roman Villa at the National Gallery of Art

This was an incredible exhibit. They've brought over some very incredible pieces. One of the most impressive was a fresco called Apollo and the muse Clio. As the brochure says:

Frescoed on the walls of one of its dining rooms are images of the god Apollo, patron of liberal arts, flanked by muses. Their presence would have reminded guests of the pleasures of intellectual and creative conversations, the ideal at any Roman banquet.

This is a somewhat controversial exhibit installed on the moving walk way between the two wings of the Gallery. It is called Multiverse by Leo Villareal.

In honor of the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, there are all sorts of special exhibits honoring him. The National Gallery has the models used for the building of the Lincoln Memorial and the actual statue.

The always beautifully decorated rotunda of the West Gallery.

After seeing the Pompeii exhibit, I stumbled on this one while seeing the impressionists at the West Gallery.

Rearranging the Furniture

That's what I did yesterday. I rearranging the furniture in my bedroom. To me more exact I moved my bed which of course entailed moving everything else around in the room too.

It was one of those projects you have in your mind that you think well at the most it will take like an hour to do. When I was growing up my dad would have projects like that. The most famous one was on one Saturday morning. We (my dad, brother and I) were going to chop down this dead maple tree in our side yard. My dad said it would hardly take any time at all. After all the tree was dead it would come down in know time. Best laid plans. The tree it turned out wasn't all that dead after all. We used just about every sharp object in the house to try and get the thing down. About three hours into it I just gave up. I went upstairs with one of my friends and we watched TV. The thing didn't finally come down until my friend's dad came home from work. He got a rope and a whole bunch of people finally pulled the damn thing down.

That's about the way the quick rearranging of my bedroom went. I wanted to move the bed to the other side of the room. In order to do that I had to move 4 book cases. The first thing I had to do before I did was of course to empty all of them. I didn't realize how much stuff I had in them. The contents took up most of my front bedroom and the upstairs hallway.

I got the book cases empty in just about 45 minutes. I figure the rest will be easy. Ha! I had a queen size bed. The mattress was more than a little hard to maneuver around but at least it had handles on it so you could try and move it. The box spring? Well was nothing to grab hold of on the box screen. It took me almost 10 minutes to get the thing across the room. On the way of course it got on any stray object in the way. Some how it got caught on the phone cord. Then I couldn't get it around the dresser (which still has to be moved). Finally, I got the thing across the room. The next thing was to get it on the frame. That was pretty easy.

After the box spring the mattress was a piece of cake. Then I had to put the book cases in their proper places and get all the books back into them. One good thing about this was I went through the books the weeded out those I don't want any more.

This "quick" little project took almost three hours. After that I took a nap. The moral of the story is I'll think a little longer about such projects in the future.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

It Fell From the Sky

Well, actually it fell off my roof. It was a very very windy day on Thursday. I came home and found this in my front yard. At first I thought well so much for watching TV. I came and turned on the TV and all channels were coming in fine.

I called DirecTV and told them what I found. The person I talked to said that I wouldn't have a signal if that was the dish that was being used. She told the type of dish I had. It did not match the one I had sitting on my dinning room table.

So I guess when they came and put in the HD dish, the old one was not removed. I'm just glad it didn't do any damage. Of course I can't see what happened up on the roof; I'm keeping my figures crossed on that one.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thoughts Economic

Well so the stimulus package passed or will be passing shortly. Now the government has to figure out what to do with the second half of the bailout money. Yet still there is no plan to help people out with their mortgages. Until this problem is solved the economy is going to be in crisis. I was watching Anderson Cooper 360 last night and Suzy Orman was on and she was saying the exact thing. She talked about the need to help people who are already in their homes and having problems paying their mortgages.

I think these people need to have help immediately. But I have few additional ideas on helping people out.

If someone owns a home the single largest expense is their mortgage payment. With so many people loosing their jobs how are they going to be able to make their payments. Instead of waiting until these people go into default or start having problems help them out now.

I think if you are unemployed you should get a housing allowance. This would be a one time thing to help us get through these difficult times. This housing allowance would be given to the person who was unemployed. The person would not have to own a home. They could be renters. (It’s interesting that there’s been essential no coverage on the rental market. It would be interesting to know what’s going on there.) The allowance would be say $1,000. Now for some people that’s not going to pay the entire mortgage but it would be a help. Also the allowance would be paid to people after they got a job. Just because you get a job doesn’t mean your back on your feet financially. That takes some time. So the unemployed person would get the allowance for an additional three months after they find a job.

Now as to the housing market in general or more precisely to mortgage holders. Most of the talk about helping people out with their mortgages is helping people who are in trouble. That’s too late. If the premise is the consumer is the big driving force in the economy, then it is important to make the consumer feel like they can spend some money. The way to free up some money is to reduce a person’s mortgage payment.

So here’s my idea. You offer any mortgage holder a mortgage loan of up to $250,000 at 4% interest. This would be for three years. There would be an additional year for the interest rate to return to the original rate of the original loan.

What would this do? Free up money is what it would do. In my case I would have an additional $200 a month to spend or save or pay down my debt. The best results is that people would spend the money. Or they might decided to pay down their debt. That’s not the optimal result you’d want. But the faster people get out of debt the sooner they will feel they can spend some additional money.

The question of course is how would it work. Here’s what I had in mind. You wouldn’t be taking out a new loan. The government would come along and assume what ever percent of the loan is above 4% interest. So here’s how my idea would look.

Let’s say you take out the maximum of $250,000. Let’s say your current mortgage rate is 6%. For simplicity’s sake I’m going to base the payment on a 30 year mortgage. Currently the loan at this interest rate your payment would be $1,498.88 a month (according to a mortgage calculator I found on the web). Now under the new plan your interest rate would drop to 4%. Your monthly payment would be 1,193.54. The difference is $305.34. That’s how much extra money the home owner would have each month. That’s also the amount of money that the government would pay each month to the bank holding your mortgage. In year four the loan rate would cycle up to 6% interest. In each quarter of year 4 the interest rate would go up .5%. I think this would help soften the blow of having to go back to the original mortgage payment.

Is this the best bang for the buck? I’m not sure. But let’s do some supposing. Let’s say everyone takes out the maximum loan (this of course would not be the case). It means for each loan the government would be paying to banks that $305.34 each month. Let’s round it and say $300 a month. That means over the course of the year the government would be paying $3,600. That’s $10,800 paid out in the course of the three years. Again for simplicity sake I’m going to leave out year 4.

How far would a billion dollars go under this scenario? Taking the above figures a billion dollars over the course of 3 years would take care of 92,592 mortgages. 100 billion dollars would be 9,259,200.

Here are a few more calculations. I tried to find out the number of households in the United States. I googled and got this site. These numbers are from 2005. I’m going to use this number for the total number of households in the US. 111,090,617. I’m going to do some rounding and say the number is 111,000,000. According to this site 66.9% are owner-occupied housing units. That means there is a potential of 74,259,000 mortgage holders. Now some of these people probably own their homes out right. So again for ease (math’s not my best subject) let’s round to 74,000,000.

Next I’m going to take the total number of mortgage holders and see how much my plan would cost the government if everyone of them participated in the plan. Drum roll please the total would be $799,200,000,000. That would be the cost to the government but that is also the amount of money that would be freed up for Americans to spend.

Would this solve the problems that we are having? I don’t know. What I do know is at least under my plan everyday Americans would be getting help which so far they have not gotten at all from any proposed plan.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Kalb Report

I got to go to another edition of the Kalb Report last night at the National Press Club. It was a very interesting discussion on the economy and the way the news media has covered the current economic crisis.

I thought they made some very good points. They said that the problems about the economy were reported as far back at 2007. It's just not everyone put it together. There is a tendency to just believe the good news. Also people said the bubble was going to bust; yet things just kept going along with no signs of stopping. When the signs did finally appear and start to effect people, it was too late to do anything about it.

Pearlstein of the Post I think had a good analogy. The economy was like Wile E Coyote. It kept running and running and when he finally looked down he was no longer on solid ground. He'd run off the cliff and suddenly was on the way down.

Another point they all made was that we need to know our history. Yes this crisis is like any other we've ever know. Yet there are also similarities to past down turns they may serve as a guide to how we get out of this situation.

They also talked about how fast the cycle of news is and how important it is to keep up to date on everything that is going on. And just how hard that is to do.

In all a very informative evening.

From left to right Steve Pearlstein, The Washington Post; Alexis Glick, Fox Business Network; Marvin Kalb, Moderator; Diana Henriques, The New York Times and Ali Velshi, CNN.

Thoughts Economic

I guess the latest show down on the stimulus bill will be taking place a little later today. I think it is important that it pass. Something needs to be done.

I've been doing some thinking about it. The Republicans say there's too much spending and not enough tax cuts. Everything I read about the bill, it seems fairly balanced between the two.

Here's the problem I have with the push for more tax cuts. I don't think it is enough money. As whole it is a huge amount of money but per person is where it matters the most. The cut in taxes that the Republican propose, as far as I've been able to tell, are not going to put huge amounts of money in people's hands. Look at it this way say the idea is to give everyone $1,000. Now with a lump sum most people are thinking wow I've got $1,000. I can pay off some bills and get that new washer that I need (which by the way I do need a new washer).

But if you go the tax route the $1,000 might come to each person by a reduction in their taxes of say $20 a week. Yes, over the course of the year, you'll get the $1,000 but you don't have it in hand all at the same time. No one is going to go wow over 52 weeks I'll have a $1,000.

That's always been my problem with a tax cut. Also the more money people make the more they are going to get back. Rich people are not the people you need spending money. They are certainly an important part of getting the economy back on track but it is every day people that you need spending. The extra $20 a week means people might use it to help pay for groceries. The extra $1,000 in hand means they might buy the washing machine. And right now we need people buying more washing machines.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

How Do You Not Pay Your Taxes

I have to say I'm amazed by this. How can so many of these people not pay their taxes?

I think the vast majority of Americans would love to make $140,000 in one year. Tom Daschle owed that in back taxes for one year. Then of course there's Nancy Killefer (the Chief Performance Officer) and then Tim Geithner. I also understand Labor Secretary-designate Hilda Solis husband has a tax problem too. This has to do with his business but the amount is small potatoes compared to what Daschle has to pay. The problem is that the $6,400 owed by Solis husband has been outstanding for as long as 16 years. The story doesn't go into detail if the entire amount was owed for that long.

All I have to say is What the hell is going on here. Haven't these people heard of Turbo Tax or H&R Block or an accountant.

This has not been a good week for Obama. These aren't unimportant matters everyone who serves in government should pay their taxes and pay them on time. But it is a distraction from what the administration needs to be focusing on and that is the stimulus package. This needs to be passed and passed soon. Something needs to be done so the economy doesn't get any worse. Well in all likilihood it is going to get worse. But something needs to be in the works that will help to slow the decline down and maybe help start the recovery.

The tax distraction has caused a loss of focus that needs to be quickly restored.

A Funny Story

It’s interesting how your mind can work sometimes. How randomly some memory pops into your head. Something you haven’t thought about for months or years.

That happened to me just the other day while I was on the couch hoping my stomach would stop doing gymnastic routines. It is a rather funny story.

There’s some set up involved (the whole story isn’t all that long but some back ground information is necessary). Across the street from the house I grew up in lived an older woman. I’ll call her Mrs. P. She loved animals. She took in all sorts of them. She had a cocker spaniel named Sandy and a succession of cats called kit. I can’t tell you the number of times she would come onto her front stoop and call out Kit . . . Kit.

Well the last Kit was one SOB of a cat. Probably the meanest cat I’ve come across (except for the last cat my parents had but that’s another story). It was found underneath the porch of a next door neighbors. The cat hunted just about everything in the area. I once even saw it try and take on a raccoon which must have been twice the cat’s size. Mrs. P had bits up and down her arms where Kit had bitten her. Once the damn cat even bit my mother. When told this Mrs. P implied it was my mother’s fault. I believe my father came up with the name we always referred to this cat and that name was Preddy as in predator.

So that’s the set up now here’s the story.

I was home over summer during college. A friend was over. We were sitting on the front porch steps. Mrs. P came out of their house. She was holding Preddy. Preddy was not the cat he once was. He was much reduced in size. I said to my friend wow I thought Preddy was dead. Mrs. P put Preddy on the porch step. Preddy swayed back and forth. Mrs. P picked Preddy up and placed him on the next step down. Again Preddy swayed back and forth. Without missing a beat my friend turned to me and said he is dead. We had a great long laugh at that one.

Again, I’m not exactly sure why I thought of that as I was lying in agony on the couch. Then again maybe my mind was trying to help me relieve the agony. But it did bring a smile to my face.

Sunday Smile

I certainly needs a Sunday smile after the week I've had. I think things are just about back to normal. I spent all of yesterday in the house. I only went out once to throw stuff into the trash. I'm only going out today to get groceries and to go for a short walk.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Sick As A Dog, Part II

I made it to the doctor. I called after I got into work. The receptionist took my name and number and said my doctor would call me back. Instead I got a call back from the receptionist saying there was a cancellation. So I got in to see the doctor today.

He said I probably have the Norwalk virus. I should keep doing what I've been doing which is eating very bland food, keep drinking liquids and keep taking my Pepto-Bismol. He gave me prescription to use only if I don't get better by Sunday. I really hope I'm on the mend.

Now for where Sick as a dog came from. Here's what I found out:

As with most of these word/phrase origins, it's very hard to track down an exact source. "Sick as a dog," meaning "very sick," dates back to at least 1705. It's the oldest "sick as a _____" on record, though various animals (e.g. cats, rats and horses) have filled in the blank throughout history.

The general consensus is that:

(a) When dogs are sick, they're noticeably different from when they are healthy. If a cat is sick, it lies around the house all day. If a cat is healthy... it lies around the house all day. But a sick dog will not jump, lick, sniff and play like a healthy dog. When a dog is sick, you notice. Thus, "sick as a dog" makes sense to anyone who has a dog; "sick as a goldfish" probably doesn't mean much to anyone.

(b) Dogs are the only animal that most people are likely to ever see vomit (other than cats coughing up hairballs). The phrase "sick as a dog" probably originated in Britain. While "being sick" in North America can mean a number of things (having a cold, the flu, a stomachache), in Britain it usually means vomiting. If you are so sick that you are vomiting, you might equate yourself with a sick (i.e. vomiting) dog.

(c) We simply like to use dogs in phrases: dog-tired, dog-eared, go to the dogs, she's a dog... Dogs are the animals people are most familiar with so they pop up in a lot of idioms.

For more you can follow this link.

And shortly I'll be back to comment on things more fun and enjoyable!

Sick As A Dog

I wonder why it's not sick as a cat.

Anyway that's what I've been sick as a dog. I won't go into great detail. It's something gastro-intenstine related which is taking it's damn sweet time in getting better (it's been going on since early Tuesday morning). I will say this like clock work around 10 each evening it feels like someone is taking my instetines and tying them into knots, untying them and then tying them up again.

That's the reason for no posts lately.

I'm going to try and make up for that over the weekend when hopefully I will start feeling better.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Tin Ear

That's all I can say about the people in big finance these days. They have a tin ear. They seem to have no idea how angry people are about the bail out and the money we are having to pony up for it.

Citibank decided it would buy a corporate jet. After a huge out cry the next day they decided to cancel the order. This from the story:

The jet quickly became a lightning rod of criticism. A White House spokesman said President Obama does not believe "that's the best use of money" by companies receiving taxpayer assistance.
I can't see how they would not get the idea that people would be pissed off about this.

Further proof of the tin ear or complete arrogance on the part of Wall Street is what happened at Merrill Lynch

. . . reports surfaced that billions of dollars were paid to Merrill executives in late December.

Those bonuses were paid as Merrill was about to report a $15 billion fourth-quarter loss, and while Bank of America was seeking more federal funds to help it absorb the mounting losses at the New York-based investment bank.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's investigation will center on trying to determine why the timetable for paying the bonuses was moved up to December from its normal period in January; who knew about the bonuses; and how Merrill could justify spending billions of dollars on bonuses knowing it was on the brink of reporting a multibillion-dollar loss for the quarter, a person familiar with the probe told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

The usual refrain is that people have to be paid these high bonus or else companies won't be able to retain these "high caliber" people. Further these are such high quality people they can't be easily replaced.

My reaction that in today's market is to say where exactly are these people going to go and get a job. I'd say to them you're going to get a 10% pay cut and maybe just maybe you'll keep your job. Also aren't these the same "high caliber" people that helped to get us into all the problems in the first place. Maybe the fear of unemployment might straighten up these guy.

It seems this culture of entitlement on Wall Street was allowed to continue when the bail out started under Bush. It's rather obvious that the Obama administration has a different view on this. All I can say is it's about time.

Jon Mclaughlin at the Birchmere

On Wednesday I went and saw Jon McLaughlin at the Birchmere in Alexandria.

The Birchmere is a very cool place. There are two areas where you can see concerts. One is huge bar where you stand for the performance. The other is a sit down area where you can have dinner and then watch the show.

Jon McLaughlin was in the area where you had dinner.

I went with my friend from work Lisa. In fact she gone with me to all three times we've seen him. This is also the third time Jon's been in the DC area in the past seven months. I have to assume that his label feels he does well in this area.

The food was very good. I had a hamburger and then a brownie with ice cream. The brownie cost about as much as the burger.

The opening act was called Parachute. I liked them. I got there five song EP.

Then Jon came out. He was as always great. I didn't bring any sort of a camera because the Birchmere site said you couldn't. But people had them all over the place. The one thing that was said was no flash photography. I'm glad I didn't bring one. I could have used my phone but I just wanted to sit back and relax and enjoy the show. As I said it was great. It was also different from the one I saw in July. If you ever get a chance to see this guy do so Jon is a great performer.

However, thanks to the YouTube here's one of the songs from the concert:

Sink Repair

I have to say I'm not all that much of a do-it-yourselfer. I'm rather all thumbs when it comes to fixing things around the house. I can do some things but not a great deal. I will also have to say I haven't had to fix many things around the house (knock on wood). There was the problem with the central air but I wasn't going to be fixing that. Also had to replace the garbage disposal. That involved electricity and I don't do that.

The upshot of all this is that the sink in the bathroom had a drip from the faucet. It's been happening on and off for the past week or so. At first if I fooled around with the faucet repeatedly turning it on and off, the leak would stop. Then I would have to slam the handle down and I could get it to stop. In the last few days nothing would make it stop dripping. The drip was also getting progressively worse.

I thought that I could fix this. I could get on the internet and find some instructions maybe even a video to show me what to do. So I fired up the computer and Googled away. Lots and lots of hits on fixing a faucet. I thought this is great. I looked at site after site and they really didn't have my exact faucet. Finally after a great deal of searching I found what I was looking for. I have a cartridge faucet at least I'm pretty sure I have that one. There was even a video.

This morning I decided I would throw caution to the wind and fix the damn thing. I gather up all my tools and set off upstairs. The first thing you need to do is turn off the water. There are two shut off valves underneath the sink. I turned the first one no problem. The second one well here's where things got interesting. As I started to turn the valve to the off position, it started to leak. The more I turned the valve the more water would come out.

That was the end of me fixing the faucet. Tomorrow I will be calling a professional to come and fix it.

Sunday Smile Honoring the Super Bowl

I'm trying to work up some enthusiasm for the Super Bowl. I always enjoy watching it. The main thing I hope for is a good game. A game that's close into the fourth quarter. Not one where one team is ahead by 21 points with 9 minutes left in the first quarter.

I came across this Peanuts cartoon which I think sets the mood for this Super Bowl.