Sunday, January 28, 2007

A long walk

As part of my attempt to loose some weight, I'm taking walks most days. Sundays I take one in the afternoon and so it's longer than the morning ones.

What I've done is look at the real estate section of the paper and see where the open houses are in the Brookland. Today there were a large number. I eneded up going to about 9 of them. My walk lasted about 2 and a half hours. I'd reset my pedometer and realized about half way through the walk I'd done it incorrectly mostly because the directions leave out a step you need to do to determine what your stride is. I figure I walked around 5 or 6 miles today.

I enjoy going to the houses. It makes me so glad I bought when I did because now I couldn't afford to live here. I ran into my real estate agent, Ed Wood, at one of the open houses. He was actually the agent showing the house. It was really nice and worth the asking price. At least half of the house I saw today were way over priced. Serveral had converted the attic on the third floor into a room. I could not figure out how you'd be able to get any funiture up into the room. A couple of the places were just dumps and way over priced.

I took along my iPod so I had music to listen to and had a very enjoyable afternoon. I came home and watch some of the hockey game on NBC in HD. Wow it is amazing but I think I've said that before.

HDTV Arrives

Second time lucky or something like that.

I was scheduled for a visit from the folk as at DirecTV Saturday morning between 8 and noon. Noon came and went and no one had shown up. Around 1 PM or so I called them. Now DirecTV is franchised out so the people at the 800 number are not the actual people doing the house calls. My guy at DirecTV puts me on hold and calls the local company in charge. Before this he reconfirms all of my information. There’s a lot of back and forth. The person locally is checking with her dispatcher. Then my guy comes back and asks well was there someone at the house all the time during the morning. I lost it at that point. I said in no uncertain terms that I’d been at the house the entire day and this was the second time I’d waited on someone to get the job done. I’d gone so far to open my front door and leave the storm door closed that way there would be no question that someone was at home. Finally all three of us are on the same line and I’m told someone will there in 30 minutes or so.

I hang up and think I’ve been told that one before. About 10 minutes later I get a call from the person who’s going to do the installation and he says (with a mouth full of food) he’ll be there in 5 minutes. And five minutes later they did indeed show up. They actually had a ladder that was long enough to reach the roof. Half an hour later I had HDTV. Yeah.

Well yes and no. I still have the old receiver which I’m pretty sure they were supposed to take with them. The remote that came with the HD receiver only partially works. I can access all of the menus and change channels but I can’t change the volume or turn the set on or off. There is a way to program the remote. I tried that but HP is not listed as one of the 162 televisions. Harely-Davidson is but not Hewlett Packard. Go figure. Thankfully the old remote will do everything so for the time being I’m using that one.

My DVD recorder now only plays DVDs and is not set up to record anything. The installers didn’t set that up or surround sound for watching the TV. I’m still trying to figure out where all the wires and cords go. This should be wayyyyyy simpler. The technology of plugging things has not changes all that much. I hooked up my new DVD player which has the HDMI connection which is supposed to boost the video signal of DVD to make them look like they are in HD. I tried it on one movie but really didn’t notice that much of a difference. They I tried it on another one and there was a noticeable difference. I did get an error message about some wrong audio signal coming from some where and to check on that. My problem is I’m not sure what device the error message came from.

As to the picture quality of the very few stations that are broadcast in HD, it is amazing. I watched a basketball game and it felt you were actually there. It looks like someone could step out of the screen into your living room or you could walk into the set and be on the court. I'm looking forward to seeing what the Super Bowl will be like with it.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

State of the Union

I was going to comment on this early but I just couldn't bring myself to. It was the first time in a very long time that I actually listened to a State of the Union address. Not much new here. Bush pulled his usual bs and used democrat party instead of democratic party. As far as I'm concerned if you can't call the opposing party by its correct name you have no interest in bi-partisanship at all.

Aids to Bush said it would not be a repeat of his speech from a week ago about Iraq and yet it essentially was. And once again according to Bush there are only two options what he is for and defeat. Well you know Mr. Bush one could say that your options so far are leading to defeat. And in the simple mind of his where there is only black and white this is all he can think of. There are many other ideas out there that are different from the course you are taking but at the same time are not for defeat.

And then there is the vice-president who lives in some fantasy land. Talking about "enormous successes" and of course saying that all the problems are the fault of the media.

So instead of talking about these things and praying that January 20, 2009 gets here as soon as possible (hopefully before the Bush administration decides to invade Iran), I'm going to post some pictures.

Here's Sam reading the sports page getting ready for the playoff games last Sunday. He is a big Bears fan even though he thinks Rex is not a very good quaterback. He was hoping the Patriots would win so the match up would be the same as 21 years ago. But as always he hopes for a good close game. Sam knows that is asking alot.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Power returns

I just got off the phone with my dad and his power came back on around 5 today. So a week and a couple of days and things are back to normal. Well at least one hopes. They all plan to stay in the motel tonight. In part because they have already paid for the room. Also they want the house to warm up which will probably take awhile. Most importantly they don't want to give up the room and have the power go out again.

It seems that the tree trimmers have been out around my brother and sister-in-laws today. That probably means the electrical people will be by tomorrow sometime.

Glad they are finally out of the deep freeze.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Bad customer service

I got a post from my friend Arthur in New Zealand about my DirecTV saga. He said:

Why is it that for so many businesses these days “customer service” is an oxymoron?

I couldn’t agree more. I made up a little poem:

This weekend I had to imagine what HDTV would be
‘cause no could bother to show up and install it from DirecTV

What makes me mad about the whole thing was that no one could bother to call me from DirecTV and say no one would be coming on Friday. They called at 3:45 to say the guy would be late. Why couldn’t they call back? Why couldn’t they call back and reschedule the appointment?

I had to end up doing that. Another thing that annoys me about this is I’ve mentioned on every occasion that whomever shows up to do the job will need a long ladder. They’ll need it because the dish is on the roof. I told this to DirecTV from the very first time I called to upgrade my system. And each successive call I’ve mentioned it as well. The second call which actually set up the appointment I said now I mentioned the other day about the ladder. So they checked on whether it was in the comments section. It took awhile but finally I was told yes that was mentioned. Now here’s the thing. When I called to reschedule the guy said he didn’t see anything about a long ladder. Same record as before. Where did the information go?

It will be interesting to see what happens on Saturday. I’d like to get HD set up so I could see the Super Bowl. But as we say in my family we’ll see.

Speaking of my family their power won’t be restored until the end of the coming week so things could be worse.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to my friend Arthur in New Zealand. Also thank you once again for inviting me down there!!!!!

I hope you have a great, big, wonderful day.

Almost funny

If it wasn’t such a serious subject it would make you laugh out loud. Here’s a story from the Post about people being on the no-fly list and not being terrorists. This sums up competence of the Homeland Security Agency:

The Homeland Security Department, which houses both Customs and Border Protection and the TSA, will soon begin a Traveler Redress Inquiry Program for people who believe they have been wrongfully subjected to additional screening or denied permission to board flights to or from the United States.

I’m sorry how long ago was 9/11. How long ago was the Department of Homeland Security created and they are just now getting around to setting up a process where people can get their names removed from this list. Talk about incompetence with a capital I. Talk about wasting both the passengers and screeners time. Like I said you’d laugh out loud but for the fact of how important this is. If this department takes so long to do this, how is it possibly going to protect us from the bad guys. Then again this might have happened sooner with a little more money but we’re wasting all that by fighting in Iraq.

Think of all that money spent on Iraq spent here to make this country safer from attack.

There is hope two years from today Bush will be out of office. As far as I’m concerned it can’t come too soon.

Friday, January 19, 2007

No show

DirecTV was a no show. They called at 3:45 and said that someone would be over between 6:30-7:30. I asked how they were going to work on the roof (they have to upgrade this dish so I can get an HD signal). The woman said there would be no problem with that. Of course there was no problem because the guy never showed up. To top it off no one could be bothered to call me and tell that no one was going to show up.

I have to say I'm less than impressed with this. I was told when I signed up the upgrade in service that someone in three days would be calling me back to set up an appointment. Four days later I got an automated call from DirecTV saying that I hadn't called to set up an appointment for my service. Well of course I hadn't called because silly me I'd been told I was going to be contacted.

My next appointment is for next Saturday. I could have had an earlier one. I said to the guy I've already taken time off work and I can't do it again especially if no one is going to show up. I took the early time 8-12. I figure that way maybe be 3 or 4 someone will show up to do the upgrade. I'm hoping to get a customer service survey when this is all done. I'm looking forward to giving them a piece of my mind. The only upshot is that I did get $100 credit but I'd much rather be looking at HDTV.

This should have been easier to do. Then again why should it be easy when it can be hard.

Iraq again

Normally I don't agree with Charles Krauthammer, he's way too conservative for my tastes. But his column in the Post makes a great deal of sense.

I really agree with what he says here:
The administration view -- its hope -- is that, whatever Maliki's instincts, he can be forced to act in good faith by the prospect of the calamity that will befall him if he lets us down and we carry out our threat to leave. The problem with this logic is that it is contradicted by the president's simultaneous pledge not to leave "before the job is done."

Krauthammer argues that there needs to be developed another plan. (Yes that is asking the administration a great deal when it can barely come up with one plan about Iraq to have to come up with two) A fall back position if the surge doesn't work. Why would Iraqis step up and help with this plan when they know the Americans will just stay no matter what the Iraqis do. There needs to be a Plan B to be able to say to Maliki: You didn't help us. You didn't fulfill your promises. So now were not going to protect Baghdad any more. There needs to a stick to reinforce the carrot or else the surge is not going to work at all.

Pictures from Christmas

Yes they're a little late but I finally got around to them. And since the DirecTV people won't be here until after 6:30 pm I thought I put them up.

The turkey just about ready to come out of the oven. It was cooked in a bag and it was really good!

Here I am carving the turkey. Since it was cooked in the bag, the meat just about fell off the bones.

My dad's living room. We borrowed the sting of lights from Ed and Jennifer. The soldiers on the mantel were decorations from the artifical tree we had when I was a kid. They must be at least 35 years old.

The New Zealand sweaters. They were a big hit and they fit too!!

This is the carving I got for my dad.

All the carvings that I got for Ed and my dad from New Zealand.

Bush caves on wire taps

A day before Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales was to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee the Bush administration decides it live with a court having some control over wire tapping (the emphasis is on some control since the exact role of the court is not be described by the administration). It seems this still does not sit well with members of the committe. See the story in the Post. Howard Kurtz has an interesting column on the reaction to this change.

It seems the Bush administration is picking its battles with the new Democratic Congress. Obviously it saw this as a no win situation.

Sounds like hmmmm cut and run to me.

The technican will be there from 1-5

I'm waiting for DirecTV to show up and install the HD receiver and upgrade the dish so I'll be able to get HDTV.

At least I can do it in a warm house. The power has still not been restored at either my dad's or my brother and sister-in-law's. The Days Inn they are staying at has heat but the storm has knocked out the cable so there's no TV to watch. There is supposed to be snow there this weekend so that will push back the timeframe for when power will be restored. I'm hoping for their sakes it is early next week.

I'm going to get together another care package and send it off on Monday.

So in the meantime, I'm going to do some cleaning around the house and download the pictures I took at Christmas.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Very funny video

The things people come up with.

This is from my friend Arthur's blog. It's a really funny clip.

Here's the link.

It is amazing to think what the internet has done to our lives. Now anyone can post a video. I'm sure George Allen wishes YouTube didn't exist. If it wasn't around he might have actually won his race for the Senate and even now be considering a run for the presidency.

Technology can be wery wonderful at times.

Thawing out in Springfield

I talked to my dad yesterday. He said the temperature inside the house was just about 32. That’s the temperature inside the house. Thankfully everyone stayed at friends of my brother and sister-in-law’s Tuesday night. Then last night they were in a motel. The only problem was that the weather had knocked out the cable TV there. But at least they were warm.

They also had some luck. At my brother’s house the electrical box that’s attached to the house was pulled out when a limb came down and pulled a wire. They were able to find an electrician to come out and fix the box. The power company will still have to reconnect the power line but at least one thing it out of the way.

My dad had someone looking in the house next door who came over to take a look at my dad’s house. The guy crawled under my dad’s house to make sure the pipes that run to the outside faucets weren’t cracked. He took his blow torch and thawed them out. When my dad asked how much he owed the guy he was told not to bother. What a very great guy.

Also my dad found a tree guy again who was next door. If all goes well the tree guy will be back at the house this morning to take care of some of the damage. A huge chunk of the tree in front will have to come down. The tree guy says it will look funny for a few years but eventually it will grow out of that. He recommended that my dad leave the trees alone in the back yard. Since power lines run through some of the limbs, the power company should take care of it and probably won’t charge for it or if they do charge it won’t be as expensive.

As for when the power will be back on well that’s still anyone’s guess.

To read further about the Springfield ice storm click here.

I see the Party Lights

I'm borrowing from a Natlie Cole song here.

Here are a couple of pictures of the light that my brother and siser-in-law got me for Christmas. They were sent to me, along with a couple of other gifts I couldn't carry on the plane, at my office.

For various reasons my department's holiday party didn't happen until after the new year. So we decided to put up the lights they were a big hit.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cold weather coming to DC

Finally it is going to be winter in Washington. It seems the storm that pounded the Midwest will be arriving sometime today. We won't be getting any of the ice just the cold weather.

Speaking of ice my family in Springfield has been without power since early Saturday morning. My dad said the temperature inside the house yesterday afternoon was about 45. He thinks he'll loose most of his trees to the ice. You can go here to see more details. It's a great big mess.

I think the sun is actually supposed to come out today which will help matters a great deal. The temperature is in the teens. It looks like Wednesday will be the first day that the temperature will be at or near freezing. Then again you don't want things to warm up too quickly that could cause even more tree limbs to come.

I've sent a couple of care packages which I hope will reach my dad (my brother and sister-in-law are staying with him) by the end of the week.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Counter surge

Wow Congress has really reacted to the surge. And the main firepower is coming from Republicans.

I found this from the Post:

White House aides said they fully expected criticism from many quarters, but they expressed disappointment that, as they saw it, many lawmakers do not appear to be giving the new strategy more than a cursory review. More than 130 lawmakers trooped to the White House for personal briefings from the president in recent days -- but to little apparent effect.

Lawmakers giving the new strategy only cursory review. How could they possible be surprised? They’ve sold a bill of goods one too many times and now people are really going to look at what is proposed.

And to me what is proposed is not enough. It’s not enough troops to make that much of a difference and it’s very late to be putting them in.

I also like how members of the administration say that people who oppose the plan need to say what they would do instead. People have been putting forth alternate strategies for years. None of which were listened to. Now all of sudden the administration is interested in what other people have to say.

It’s sad. It’s sad that more American troops will be put at risk. It’s sad that more American money is to be wasted. It’s sad because if the Bush administration had given any thought of what was to come after the war we wouldn’t be in this mess.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

It's official the surge in on

What to say after last night that hasn’t already been said. Because of an incredibly incompetent and arrogant administration the United States find itself in this situation.

Here’s something that Bush said that puzzles me:

I have made it clear to the prime minister and Iraq’s other leaders that America’s commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people. And it will lose the support of the Iraqi people.

I think the Iraqi government has already lost the support of the American people. But here’s the thing. What happens if the Iraqis don’t meet the commitments they say they will. What will America do in response? Bush says we can’t loose in Iraq. So what could we possibly do to make the Iraqis come into line? I don’t see how we have any pressure at all to bring against the Maliki government at all.

And something that I find really disturbing is this:

Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of the extremist challenge.

This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.

It seems not content to just fighting a war in Iraq; it seems we might be invading Iran and Syria too.

This from Secretary Gates:

I don’t think anybody has a definite idea of how long a surge would last,” Gates told the House Armed Services committee. “I think for most of us in our minds we’re thinking of it as a matter of months, not 18 months or two years.”

How are you possibly going to make any difference in a matter of months, especially when it will take a few months to get all the troops to Iraq. And to be totally honest if is the plan there are not enough troops going.

As for Secretary Rice again from the Post:

Rice said there also will be a “civilian surge” in State Department diplomats and reconstruction experts. She said she hopes they will move “into the field” outside the protected confines of the Green Zone and get more involved with Iraqi officials, and she announced a dramatic increase in the number of Provincial Reconstruction Teams that will aim at bolstering local infrastructure and government operations around the country.

Gosh don’t you think this would have happened oh I don’t know months ago.

I hope this work so that we can get the hell out of there.

But to be honest this new direction in Iraq looks a day late and a dollar short.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The speech

Well that’s all the media is talking and writing about the speech. It’s seems rather certain that there’ll be a surge. It sound like it won’t be enough troops to really get the job done. But everything planned by the Bush administration regarding the war has been half assed. Why should this be any different.

Here are a couple of articles putting forth some very important questions. The first from the Post

I think Mr. Meyerson asks some very important questions. This new resolve by Mr. Maliki is a leap of faith. It’s sometimes very hard to bite the hand that feeds you. And the consequences in Iraq are usually you get blown up.

The second is an editorial from USA Today.

This paragraph really hits home to me:

He has refused to ask the American people to share in the sacrifice that the war on terror and our commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq have placed disproportionately on the volunteers in the armed forces. But it’s either everybody’s war or nobody’s war. At a minimum, he should have proposed a broad-based special tax to refurbish the military and create a global network of anti-terrorist operatives.

There’s a long list of additional things Bush should have done or for that matter any politician from either party. How do the terrorists have so much influence and what is the means by which they are supported? The answer is oil. Why the hell do not launch a Manhattan Project for riding us of our dependence on oil. I’ve done a great deal of thinking about that and I’m going to post something about it very soon.

One final article to read is also from the Post. It’s from the vice-president of Iraq urging us not to give up on Iraq yet.

Now all that’s left to do is tune in and see what Bush says.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The new toy

Here are a couple of pictures of the new TV. It really takes up a lot less room in part because the stand is so much smaller than the old one but also because it's so thin.

Putting It Together

Well I finished putting the new TV stand together and didn’t have any problems.

Then I had to take apart the old TV hutch. It took me a couple of minutes to work out how the screws were connected but once I did that it was pretty easy to take apart.

The next step was to get the new TV out. I was able to do that and attach the base. I was also able to put it on the new TV stand. Wow 37 inches in big in my living room. I am so very glad I listened to my friends advice when he said the 42 inch was too big. It certainly would have been.

Then came the fun part connecting all the cables and figure out how to operate the TV. It came with a 50 page instruction book.

Before I started on that fun project, I got all the cords and speaker wire organized behind the stand. I got a few rubber bands and used them to tie up the extra wires. It doesn’t look like a complete mess behind there now.

It took me a couple of tries to get the DVD to work. The directions could have been a little more clear on the point but then again that’s always the problem with directions. I even got surround sound set up. It is really cool.

Now I have to wait for DirectTV to call me back and set up an appointment to install the new receiver and upgrade my dish.

In the meantime, I’m going to be looking into DVD players that have a HMDI jack in the back. This is supposed to boost the signal resolution on your DVD so they almost look high definition. Or what you could do is send $500 on an HD DVD. I’m going to wait. Oh and one more thing the HMDI cable can cost as much as $100. I guess they can’t get you on the hardware and more so they’re going go sock it to on the peripherals. I’m order my cables on the internet.

I’m really pleased with my purchase.

How do we learn what we know

I was thinking about this the other.

I was pulling into a parking space at the Home Depot parking lot and it just struck me. I just automatically pulled into the spot without giving the cars on either side of the parking space a second thought. I just knew when to turn the wheel of the car. I knew that I would have more than enough space to open my door and get out of the car. Now I know this comes from years of driving a car and parking hundreds of times but still I did we learn that. There just seems to be a sense of the space.

Then again there are people who obviously haven’t learned anything because they park so badly.

I guess what I’m wondering is why the person who can’t park well for lack of a better way of putting it can’t park. Surely they’ve been parking for years but yet they still can’t get it right.

Another take on Iraq

Here’s an interesting take on the situation in Iraq. I think the first paragraph sums up what’s been going on since we got into this mess.

The new plan for Iraq that President Bush will announce this week will suffer from the same fallacy that has infected each of his previous war strategies -- and also most of the counterproposals sprouting up in Washington. That is, the notion that American action can produce decisive results in Iraq in six to 12 months.

Civil wars are not fought in months. They take years. We should have learned from what this country went through.

It comes down to once again the complete lack of planning for what would happen after the war.

I cannot see how Bush will get people to support this. If there had been some honesty from the beginning, some ask of sacrifice on the country’s part, then maybe just maybe people would give this new gambit a chance.

But I believe Bush has spent his good will from the American people.

I think the question needed to be asked is: Why should be believe you this time Mr. President?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sam and the TV

Sam likes the new TV

It’s in the mirrors

Have you seen this commercial? The little girl says it’s in the mirrors. Colors will be brighter etc., etc. Why the hell is the elephant in the commercial? I wonder sometimes who comes up with these ideas.

But this is not about the commercial although it is to some extent about DLP technology.

As I said I had a wonderful Christmas in Missouri. After we’d opened all our presents we got a nice check (one to me one to my brother and sister-in-law) from my dad. It was very generous.

So now I’m in the market fro a new TV. I already as in the market for a new one. When I came back from New Zealand the TV downstairs did not work. Great sound but the screen was all white. This set is maybe 4 1/2 years old. So I drag my old set from upstairs down to use. And by the way this TV turns 14 in a couple of weeks.

The dilemma was what to do with the one that didn’t work. The problem is the set is very heavy and to move it out of my house would take two people. Then you have to consider is it even worth taking it to get repaired. When it can cost $50-$100 just to open up the TV does it make sense to get it fixed or to just get a new one. I decided to wait until the new year to make a decision one way or the other.

And now it’s the new year and the decision was made for me!

So my search for an HDTV begins which brings us back to DLP technology. After my research, I decided on a Samsung with the DLP technology. I thought I could fit the 42 inch in my space. I went to the Best Buy in DC. They didn’t have the 42 inch model but they did have the 46 inch model. I thought it would be tight but that would work.

I went home and did some measuring and it would just fit. Also on the way home I called up a friend who lives in Virginia. There’s another Best Buy near him. So I said let’s go out to dinner and then you can help me buy my new TV.

So after a nice dinner at Chili’s we went off to Best Buy. They had the 42 inch version of the Samsung TV. My friend says I don’t know I think this is too big. After some reflection I agreed. I ended up getting a 37 inch HP. It is not sitting in its box in my living room. But you can’t just buy the TV come home and plug it in and have it work. No there’s a whole bunch of other stuff you have to do. I have DirectTV and I needed to upgrade my receiver. So I bought a receiver. I also need to have the guys from DirectTV come out and install the new receiver and a new dish. I also needed to get another TV stand because the one I had is too small. I’m hoping to have everything all set up by the end of the month. I called DirectTV and started the process rolling. I’m supposed to hear back from someone about setting up an appointment in the next day or so.

Right now I’m building the new TV stand. So far so good. No string of four letter words has come out of my mouth yet and I think I’m pretty much done.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Last act of Christmas

My last act of Christmas used to be taking down the tree. This year its taking down the outside lights. I’ve waited until this weekend because New Year’s was on a Monday and I wanted them up then.

Now begins the slow process of taking them down. It makes me rather sad. I really enjoy Christmas and then it’s over. I have to say I’ve never been a fan of New Years. To me it’s a couples holiday almost as much as Valentine’s Day.

So during the course of the day I’ll be taking down the lights. In the very very warm weather that we have in DC. It is expected to getting close to 70 today. Record high temperatures. There’s concern that plants will think it is spring and come out and bloom. In fact there’s already been some evidence of that. Of course with the warm weather will come all the warm weather pests. I don’t mind a change of season. In fact I rather like it. I like snow. And I like seeing the complete and total panic that sets in on people when we actually have snow. You’d think it was the end of the world.

Well need to take down another string of lights.

Friday, January 05, 2007

No surge but a bump

I guess the increase in troops will not be a surge the new idea is to call it a bump.

It seems once again the Bush administration is doing things half assed. The number being talked about is around 20,000 which really won't make a whole hell of a lot of difference.

It also seems Bush continues to expand his reach into individual American's lives. He now claims the right to open people's mail. Here's a column about it from the Post.

The story also talks about the "bump".

Happy New Year

Ok I'm a little late but HAPY NEW YEAR anyway.

I had a really great time out in Missouri seeing my family.

The Springfield ballet put on a production of the Nutcracker. This was the first time they had live music with it. The Springfield Symphony played. There wasn't enough room for everyone in the pit. So fit everyone some of the boxes were taken up with performers. The harp and piano were in one box and the percussion instruments were in the other. Before the show we went out for a gret dinner. Eating did seem to be the theme of things but then again it is the holidays.

I'm very glad I didn't have to go anywhere near Denver and that the storm went north of Springfield. I remeber one year we went out there before Christmas. December 23 it strarted snowing and it snowed and snowed. My flight went to St. Louis and then on to DC. My parents had a direct flight to Chicago. I got to St. Louis and the storm only got worse. We sat in the plane for hours. Finally we got out of St. Louis and I eneded up getting to DC on Christmas day.

But that was not the case this time. In fact the weather was pretty nice.

The presents from New Zealand went over very well. The most important thing was that the sweater for my sister-in-law fit her. I was worried about that one.

That's all for right now. Much more to come. And I'm going to switch over to the new blogger soon. First I have to build a TV stand so I can put my new HDTV on it.

More about that too.

Once again: HAPPY NEW YEAR