Sunday, December 7, 2008

My Mother

Mother,

Tomorrow would be your 78th birthday, it's been 5 years since you've passed away and I wanted you to know how we all miss you. You were a powerful woman, one that doesn't come along that often, you raise 4 boys on your own, got your PhD with little assistance, made sure we had toys to play with and a roof over our heads, when I know you worried about making ends meet from month to month. I know that at least I wasn't the best of son I could be or even that I tried to be, I took a lot of what you had to offer for granted. Despite that you loved me, fed me, gave me a place to stay, and made sure I was well educated and prepared to live on my own.

You taught me fabulous lessons of life, the number one is how to see myself through another's eyes, to realize that no one on this planet really deserves any sort of prejudice, when in face we're all a bit different and bizarre in someone else's eyes. This is a lesson that I try to push into my own daughter, when she see's someone who is different, I ask her if that person thinks she looks different.

You taught me how to laugh when the pressure is on. You gave me life memories that make me laugh today. I blame you for my sense of humor, I remember you telling me I was adopted, then you'd pause and say "well not quite adopted, I found you in an alley nursing on the teet of a dog, and I felt sorry for you and took you in". I tell this to people and they see it as cruel, but today I still laugh at it, you were of course trying to teach me a lesson, you knew that some of our neighbors were adopted and you wanted me to think how it must feel like.

You taught me how to work hard, I'm still the first person in the neighborhood to clear the snow, they know I'm sick if the snow isn't cleared (and I have to be really sick for that to happen), I still water the hell out of my lawn to keep it green, for fear that you'll get angry with me, I make sure to keep my yard tidy, mowed and well groomed (it's one of the best in the neighborhood, though some of the neighbors are into competitive lawning, so it's not the best ;)).

You taught me how to love my neighbors and friends and to run to their aid when they need it, even if it means that I do without. I was telling people of how you gave our Thanksgiving dinner away one year to a friend who had cancer and was only getting dessert for Thanksgiving. I remember you and your fight with this disease and how you would proudly tell women that you had the disease and had a mastectomy, I remember asking you why and you said "I don't want others to be embarrassed by the disease, by having their breasts removed, they should wear it proudly and with honor, for it's not their fault they have the disease, they shouldn't have to live in shame for it".

I think of you fondly on several days, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Fourth of July, you sure loved to throw a party. On Father's day, I had always sent you flowers on that day, because you were the father I never had. I think of you with great pain on your birthday and the day you died, these days still hurt for me quite a bit, it's a pain that I believe I'll always feel.

You had great knowledge, knowledge I now know I'll never get to and I'm embarrassed by having it let get away from me. I now encourage my friends to speak with their parents and mine them for information, this verbal family history needs to be continued. Despite the fact you never became famous, never made millions of dollars, or never cured cancer, you should know that you'll always be my hero. I love you mother, I hope you're kicking ass up there in heaven, I hope you're surrounded by your family and with my daughter, Julie's sister, Melanie, please give her a big hug for me (I still love getting hugs because of you and I'll never be able to give enough).

Happy Birthday Mother!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dead Animal Games

I was watching the news the other day and I saw a piece where people were throwing frozen turkeys across an ice rink to knock over bowling pins. I started thinking to myself, since when is it considered OK to slide a frozen animal carcass across ice in the form of a game? These animals lived and died to be a source of food, not to be used as a macabre bowling ball. I saw a similar item on mythbusters where they used a pig carcass to shoot a cannon at.

I can see using animals for work, sport, food, clothing, science, etc... but I don't think using their carcass for mass entertainment is cool, these animals should be respected, all life should be treated as valuable, we put people in prison for dog fighting, personally I think the same should be done for people who use frozen turkeys for sport or make TV shows where dead animals are used for entertainment (at least in Iron Chef the cook and eat the animals they use).

Now I'm not going to the extreme of PETA, I like a good steak you know, I'm just saying if we take a life we should honor that life with more respect than using it's dead body as a plaything.

Monday, November 24, 2008

James Bond brought to you by Ford Motor Company

I recently went to see the new James Bond movie (which I enjoyed quite a bit), but when I was watching it I noticed that all the cars were Fords (Aston Martin, Land Rover, Jaguar, and even a stray Ford thrown in for good measure), what I also noticed is that none of these cars were what you'd see James Bond driving (the Aston Martin was left-hand drive and who would have thought that James would drive a Ford Focus?), none of these cars were what you'd see on the street either, the two Fords I saw were either hybrid or hydrogen (I did see a hydrogen BMW in DC one day, but it was a demo car, well I've also seen an Aston Martin in DC, and Land Rover's and Jaguar's seem to be the yuppie's dream car).

From what I now know, it seems that both good guys and bad guys drive a Ford. It makes me happy that I don't drive a Ford, since it's sometimes hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. I'm sure there were other product placements in the film, but I tend to notice cars more than watches, drinks, clothes, perfumes, etc... They didn't have any really cool tech gadgets, well a touch screen wall that was cool, I know Microsoft and Apple are working on computers like that.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Back home!

It's good to be back home from Zambia, it's unfortunate though that since I was there for business I never got the chance to go see anything outside the city of Lusaka. The trip home was brutal, 2 hour flight from Lusaka to Jo'burg, 2 hour delay due to weather in Jo'burg, then 8 hours from Jo'burg to Dakar Senegal, where they tear apart the plane, look under seats, confirm baggage belongs to you and that you belong on the plane, then 8 hours from Dakar to Atlanta (where I missed my flight and had to catch a plane a little later).

All was good though, on the big flight from Jo'burg to Dakar to Atlanta I made friends with the two guys next to me, who were traveling from South Africa to the USA for business, the two girls in front of him (they were from Kansas and said that South Africa was like Kansas with Elephants), and the girl in front of them (who lucked out with a row to herself, got to lie down and sleep), she was in Africa to work with Aids Patients with the Peace Corps (I was very impressed with her, it's good to see people get out and give of themselves like that). My favorite though was a couple, probably in their late 60's who were in Africa celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, they were very lucky to have each other, I pulled the husband aside and told him so.

If you ever have to make a trip like this, try to be under 6'1" and if you're taller than that be sure to get up and walk some :).

Friday, October 17, 2008

Last Day in Zambia

Well today's my last day in Zambia. I'm looking forward to going home, but I'm also disappointed that I wasn't able to get out of the city of Lusaka. Everyone here has been very friendly, I'm amazed at the energy and warmness of everyone I've run across. It really does make you want to do more for not only this country, but for the African continent. Given the riches we have in the States, Africa seems to be very poor, but they have a rich culture and warmness that they are both proud of and is hard to find in the States. While I am looking forward to going back to Virginia, and all the day to day problems that exist there, I am also looking forward to coming back to Africa, to getting to know more of the people, to hopefully get out of the city and into the wild.

Just about time to start the day, I board my plane at 1:50pm local time (7:50 EST) and get home just after 11:30am EST. It's going to be a long day ;).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Another Day in Zambia

Impala for Dinner

One of my good friends insisted that since I was out here in Africa, that I should have something "different". I tried having Ostrich kabobs here in the hotel, but they were out of them, so instead I had steak. Yesterday, the Procurement Team went out to a hotel and took me and my brother. On them menu were several normal items, but two stood out, Kudu and Impala. Since I had never heard of Kudu, I went with Impala (I've been for a ride in one of those before). Both are beautiful animals:


Impala



Kudu

My Impala went down well, though I think being the fast animal that it is, it speed right though me ;). We had a gentleman there, it was interesting to see him eat, because he didn't enjoy spices, so anything hot wasn't good for him, shellfish, etc... was off limits to his stomach. Others stayed away from Pork (which I love). We had spoken about other cultures eating dog or cat, we all agreed that we would all stay away from either.

Twins?

Well my brother should be happy about this trip with me. It seems that everyone things we look identical. Maybe it's just us both being big white guys with beards. We look similar, but I'm not sure if we look identical, but we've had some of the staff mention that we look identical though. Our driver said that he had spoken to some of the hotel staff and that they call us "the twins" (not sure I'm happy about being said I look like my older brother).

News

It's interesting to watch the news here, it's a lot more open than what we get in the USA. By open I mean that it talks about the rest of the world and not just what happens in the USA. Everyone here is happy to see the USA having elections to replace Bush, I've seen plenty of Obama hats and stickers here, too bad these people can't vote ;).

Funny/Sad

I'm not sure if this is very funny or sad. When having dinner last night, one of our hosts mentioned that he had lived in the States for a few years. He mentioned being at a bar and a woman asking him if he was from Africa. When he replied "yes", she grabbed his arm to feel it and said "you look healthy, you don't look like you're starving". I had to laugh, but it's a sad comment that all Americans know about foreign countries is the negative about them. We are even trained to see the negative, instead of the importance. Our host said that in the States he saw a homeless fellow, he said here that if that person lived with his tribe, that the tribe would have taken care of him, found him a place to sleep and something to do. Why can't we do that in the States?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lusaka - Zambia

Well not much going on here really. We've had meetings with the customer, good and bad, but that's to be expected with a customer, I'm the same way with vendors. I haven't had much opportunity to get out and explore, today has been my only down day, we're off until a 2:30pm meeting, unfortunately I didn't get much sleep last night (should have popped an Ambien, I'll probably do so tonight).

So far the people have been nice, though things operate at a different pace here, than in the States, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, since in the States (especially on the East Coast) we run at a torrid pace, that we hardly have time to sit down and have a spot of tea (they do have tea time). I was reminded in what was said in the movie Blood Diamond, they kept saying "TIA" or "This is Africa". If you come here expecting to have things as easy or as quick as you would elsewhere, then you best stay put ;). Personally I don't mind it that much, I realize that things will get done and for some things, I'm in no hurry.

The network coverage in my hotel is spotty. I've been able to do some skype, some IM, but not much. The quality of service I think is in the hotel's network, I'm sure if I could get a real network, then I wouldn't have problems (though it seems what I think of as real and what others do isn't the same). The client we are dealing with have 1mb down and 256kb up and they host on that line, which means that all downloads from their server is at 256kb (not acceptable). I'm thinking that if people really want to expend resources here, they need to work on infrastructure issues, good Internet connectivity will only help improve the quality of life for all.

I might be coming back, I will be in Ghana in two weeks. FYI: I'm told there isn't a McDonald's or Starbucks here, so if you need them stay away ;).

Monday, October 13, 2008

Zambia - Getting there!

The trip into Zambia wasn't too bad. It was about 8 hours from Atlanta to Dakar, where we had a crew change, got some fuel and then got back into the air. Then another 8-9 hours until we got to Johannesburg (Joberg to the in crowd). I sat with a nice fellow from South Africa who had been to Kansas for training, he was wearing a Kansas City Chiefs jersey, seems that he had wanted to see the NBA, but had to settle for the NFL ;) (he's also a budding NASCAR fan and was upset that he missed the Kansas City race by a week).

When I take trips like this, I start to think about how hard it must have been for the initial pioneers, the people who sailed the oceans or went through the brush by foot. It keeps me from complaining too much that my sandwich is cold or that my legs are cramped ;).

We were met in Zambia by our driver (I'm here with my brother on Business), our driver works with COMESA (which is a big group of multiple states in the area), so we got the diplomatic treatment. Strait to the front of the line and straight through Customs, it was great. The driver was very nice and explained some of the history to us on our way to the hotel (I wish I was actually awake and could have paid better attention to him). The Hotel is nice, it had a place to ut my head, which was great. I didn't get to sleep until after midnight (I'm a geek, had to futz with the internet first, it was flaky last night, but seems to be stable right now, who knows what tomorrow will bring). I'm learning the phrase TIA (this means, This is Africa), seems to be a solution to a lot of questions ;).

I have been able to use Skype this morning, I tested it last night and got horrible results. Hopefully with a more stable internet connection, I'll have better results with Skype :).

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Africa Trip - Zambia

I'm getting ready for my Africa trip. I'm going at least to Zambia and possibly to Ghana (either immediately after Zambia or a week later). It's been interesting preparing for the Zambia trip, it will be for business, so I'm not sure how much "site seeing" there will be. So far I've had to get several shots (Flu, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever, Polio). I've been told to eat nothing raw (except for fruits like bananas and oranges), to stay away from the water (even for brushing teeth). I've been given medication for Malaria (this makes me a bit dizzy, it's supposed to also give me wicked dreams, but I haven't had that, damn), Travelers Diarrhea, Ambien (for jet lag) and Prednesone (this is for a weird issue with my platelets and only to be taken if needed). I've also had to spay all my clothes with insect repellent (this will last for a few weeks) and I've gotten plenty of deet 30 for myself (don't want to get Malaria). Finally to get the Visa I had to go up to the embassy here in Washington DC and apply in person (OK, so there is a benefit to living near DC, well other than the first ones to die in a massive nuclear war).

I've placed all my paperwork in folders by country and project, so my anal retentive side is working overtime. It'll pay off when I want to find something quickly, it's just funny to see me do it :).

On the tech front, I'll be taking my laptop, iTouch, and a few odds and ends, but nothing fancy. Upon my brother's suggestion, I only got plug adapters, but not current adapters, it seems that laptops will handle the current change on their own. Items like my iTouch I'll charge off my laptop :). I've purchased a month subscription to Skype, I'll see if I can use Skype to call the people I care about back home (this required me to purchase a USB headset, I need to test that out), Skype is only $3 a month for calls to the US. For business I'll need to have a Ubuntu Linux box set up, so I've installed VMWare and Ubuntu on a virtual machine on that server (I love VMWare, it's very nice and it's free).

Cell phone's upset me some. I can't use my Verizon Wireless phone, since it's CDMA only. I don't want to upgrade phones yet, because ALL the Verizon phones are horrible. I would go with the iPhone, but I'd need to jailbreak it first before using it overseas (which is a tragic waste of technology). My brother will have a cell phone that he can just insert a simm into for the host country, so we should be set there.

I'll go through a test packing today, make sure I've got enough room. I'll most likely google for the most effective way to pack my clothes. I've got a few requests for gifts, my doctor was funny because he wants something, he's a pretty cool guy so I'll get him something, besides after giving me my first prostate exam, I figure we should be exchanging gifts and such.

I'm told that I'll have decent internet connections (if not then Skype, Yahoo, Twinkle, Twitter, etc... just won't work, now will they ;)). I'll be taking my baby camera and will be updating my blog while I'm there :). If it's decided that I go to Ghana, I'll post that also :).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I'm a Little Confused

OK, I got this in an email from my oldest brother, but I thought it good enough to reprint. I'm sure it's working it's way around the web, congrats to whoever wrote it :).

I'm a little confused...
  • I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight..... If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."
  • Growing up in Alaska eating mooseburgers and going aerial shooting for wolves in the winter; a quintessential American story.
  • If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.
  • Name your kids Willow, Bristol, Trig and Track, you're a maverick. Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.
  • Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.
  • If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, to 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.
  • If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive. If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.
  • If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disf igured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian. If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.
  • If ,while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.
  • If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.
  • If your husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.
OK, much clearer now.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mortgage Mess - Update

Sorry, because my calculator couldn't hand 700,000,000,000 I had to guesstimate and did it wrong. The number in the previous blog isn't 43,0000 times my mortgage, it's 4.3 million times my mortgage. I'm sure this will be a relief to everyone who was concerned that our government is wasting our money.

I should also add that McCain wants to create a big agency to consolidate all the other financial agencies in the country. I'm hoping he didn't get this idea from DHS, since it's well known that DHS is one of the biggest boondoggles in the history of this country and possibly has created an even greater threat to the security of this country than if it was never created. I've been to one of their buildings in DC. They have nice large TV's with video conferencing equipment in EVERY room, they also have very nice stainless steel appliances in their kitchens (I swore the counter top looked marble, but I didn't touch it, didn't want them getting my fingerprints you know). The chairs are also very very nice and comfortable $700 variety. But this is about our government wasting our money on the mortgage issue, not about them wasting our money on office furniture.

Mortgage Mess

Wow can you believe that Bush wants to give Wall Street $700 Billion to bailout the mortgage mess? I'd be OK with this if it weren't for the fact that the people involved with this made millions or more themselves, and this bailout will just put more money in their pockets, my money, money that I can't afford to give them. What we need to be doing is assigning personal responsibility to issues like this. If people get rewarded for good work, then they should get punished for bad work. What's happening at the top echelons of corporate America is that the leaders get rewarded for driving their companies into the ground. This bailout will do nothing but reward these companies and show others that they can get away with murder while lining their pockets.

This financial mess was caused by people who aren't concerned about the country, they aren't concerned about their companies or people, they are only concerned with making as much money for themselves as possible before things go bust. We've seen this in .com, energy and now mortgages, what's next? Why not reward people for a job well done? I'm also not happy that I did everything right, I didn't get tons of money out of my house to buy big TVs or fancy cars, I didn't buy a house that I couldn't possibly afford, but I'm now stuck with part of the bill to pay this off. This payoff will pay for my mortgage over 43,000 times, think about that. If we would have put this to solving Aids or Cancer, would we have done so by now?

Does something need to be done about this? I don't really know. One of my very good friends thinks that we should be hands off. The President obviously believes we should just write this off (he's done that a lot with the cost of money and lives in Iraq). I'm thinking it should probably be somewhere in between. If I was McCain I'd be quaking in my shoes, because I think most Americans will be repulsed by this bailout, and I'm sure the Democrats will pounce on this for political purposes (I also don't like this, the country is suffering, we need people doing the right things for the country, not their party).

OK I said my piece, I think I'll go figure out how I'm going to pay for my mortgage, since the government isn't bailing me out of my responsibilities.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ramblings

OK, it's been a few weeks since I've posted anything here. I'm not sure why I've been so hesitant, well I do, it's because my thoughts are a bit, radical sometimes. I don't try to be radical, it's just that I tend to think without concept of boundaries, I've been told that while some people think outside or inside the box, I don't feel the box really exists, the belief in this "box" provides an instant limiting factor.

It's been interesting to watch the flow of the political season. While I don't like being called a Democrat, for lack of a better term I am one of those. I don't like associating with parties because they instantly want to build a box around you. It's like what my mother told her students at BYU "When I became Mormon, the Elders told me I had to be open minded", one of the students commented back "They forgot to tell you that once you've joined, you need to close your mind again". Mom was fairly radical also, which is why her students liked her, I'm sure she was a breath of fresh air at that very religious institution. Mom also preached to me that I most likely looked as different to the person I was looking at as they looked to me, this is an important concept that many people aren't taught.

That's what I feel is the issue with these political parties, they expect you to embrace their philosophy, but don't want to listen to other's ideas and concepts. I look at the two parties in power right now and I see two groups of people who've lost sight of what's important for the people. They just want to win and gain power. Right now the Republicans are coming out of their power curve, they've gone in, exploited their power, and are now being voted out. I'm sure given 4-8 years of Democratic leadership the same thing will happen to the Democrats, they will have exploited their power, and will be voted out. This pendulum is swinging in very wide arcs right now, leaving the majority of the American population to fend for themselves. What are being looked after are the special interest groups who pay for the elections, the majority of the American people are left to try to pick between two groups who don't care that much about them.

I am very careful about what I tell people, again many of the thoughts are "different" and I prefer to sit and debate topics than write about them from a blog pulpit. I've had people who think my thoughts are not within the teachings of their religion, and try to force their faith on me, disowning me as a bad person if I don't change my thoughts. Personally I believe in being Christ-Like and I try not to judge a person by their opinions, but rather there actions. I try to be people's friends and I have many of them. Many people define me as being "cool", not sure what that means, but I guess it's OK. I think they like me because they know I'm there to help and listen, I'll go out of my way to help someone, even though it's not my job or I'm not getting paid to do it, I do these things because I feel they are right.

OK, I must be in a philosophical mood today ;). Maybe we should instead discuss what is the color red?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Freedom of Speech

I had my friend the "BarkingCarrot" (Actually I don't know her, she frequents a social app that I've been playing with lately, she seems to be pretty bright though) congratulate me on a posting I put on her site, she said it took "Balls" (her words not mine) to say what I said. I've been thinking about this for a bit and I started thinking, when does someone have to have balls to state their mind on the state of our current political situation. To be honest we're a bit messed up in this country (this is one of these things were I'm not sure if we've ALWAYS been messed up and as I get older I'm realizing it, or if this is something new, I think we've been ALWAYS messed up, but I like status quo).

This is the state of the current political situation as I see it. We have two groups that don't like each other. They have taken on causes, not out of desire to push that cause, but because they enjoy power. I would respect both parties if they could just look at each other from time to time and say "Hey, that's a great idea, and it's not my idea", instead we've become a nation where we're completely polarized. People don't like each other based on their skin color, background, orientation, political stance, favorite football team, sock color, etc... We've become a nation that is afraid to speak our mind for fear that it will offend. One race can't talk about problems with another race without being labeled racist (I've analyzed myself on a very critical level, I know I have issues, but I believe I can say that overall I'm not a racist, I love people).

Back to freedom of speech. As a professional I feel that I don't have the freedom to write in this blog what I truly feel. I know that whatever I write could be used against me on some level and right now I'm not in the position to do this. I think the President of the United States saying "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists" has done more to destroy this country and it's freedoms than the war in Iraq that is in theory being fought to preserve our freedoms. After that little sentence, everyone who didn't agree with the war in Iraq is a terrorist. This Administration has done more harm to the country and to the office of the President than any in history. They have lied to the country and world, illegally invaded a country, tortured prisoners of war (sorry they are terrorists, not prisoners of war), they've made it so I laugh when the President told Russia that they can't invade a Georgia (of course he said a democratically elected country). They've done all this and they are still allowed to stay in power (well at least he didn't lie about having an intern perform oral sex on him, we all know lying about that is wrong).

This freedom of speech needs to be protected, our founding fathers thought it so important that they made it #1 on their list of Amendments. We need to understand that we might not agree with each other about political, moral, or other issues, but that doesn't make us bad people. I've been labeled a "Liberal", whatever that is, I fight the term "Democrat", we had a Republican here in Prince William County I would have voted for in a heartbeat, He was concerned about his community, not his party (of course when he went for higher office, he changed his voice). In reality we don't have "true" freedom of speech though, I could easily have someone look at this blog and decide not to do business with me or decide I'm just a bad guy. To that person I feel bad for, I wish they would take the time to sit down with me and talk with me, I'm actually what most would call "good people".

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Olympics and Politics

Flipping around this morning between the Olympics (interesting how we ONLY get to see sports where Americans do well, I want to see the sprint cycling matches, last time we got to see those in depth was when Nelson Vails was good in it, he was an animal in the sprint) and Meet the Press (man I'm getting old).

Olympics

8 gold medals? I find it odd that 1 or 2 gold medals isn't good enough. Phelps now has 14 Gold Medals and 2 Bronze. He's a great athlete, but I feel that this is goes in hand in hand with the obsessive nature this country has in winning and in "more is better". They have a Soccer and Basketball channel, these keep replaying old matches, we should be able to see different sports, hmmph.

Needless to say I'm tired of the Olympics, they need to have more action and less special profiles, more countries being shown and less of US athletes willing gold. Best win I've seen so far is with the Brazilian swimmer, he won and broke down in tears, being part Brazilian I understand that feeling and I know I would have done the same.

Politics

I'm watching Meet the Press, they are talking about Obama and McCain of course. Seems that both candidates meet with an evangelical group (I think it's sad that this country is so pulled by special interest groups). Both candidates were asked about evil, if it existed and what they would do to it. Both admitted that evil existed (which is good, we all know that in order to have good we need to have evil, well those of us who think about those things know it, I've run into people who believe there can be only good, hmm let's define good without evil), McCain wants to stamp out evil (ok how do we really do that), Obama wants to confront it (a better answer, admits that you can't stamp it out, but you can try to manage it).

Russia/Georgia

This is an interesting situation, but what's more interesting is to hear our President say that you can't go in and invade a country (hmm isn't that what he did with Iraq? At least Russia isn't fabricating evidence to show they are in the right). From what I've heard so far Georgia had been probing Russia's defenses (most likely at US request, since this is what the US has done for years). This is a touchy game to play, since if you piss someone off you end up with people dead. So Russia was provoked and acted with force (if you listen to the President, that's how he says he would react).

I believe the US needs to stick out their chest some here, but it's awfully tough when we have a person in the White House who's lied to the world, authorized and defended torture and illegally invaded a country, I think we really have no leg to stand on.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tire Update

For everyone that's following my blog and I know it's in the millions by now, I thought I would post an update regarding my tires. If you remember from my previous blog, when I got home from my trip I noticed that the tread on my rear-tires was non-existent, this was very troubling to me since I had been driving my car at freeway speeds on mountain roads, if I would have hit a slick spot or had a blow out it could have caused serious injury or death to me and my family.

Well after extensive discussions (some at high volume) with two dealers and several Acura employees, Acura decided to admit this was their responsibility and that they would purchase me new tires. This was caused by a design defect with the toe-in of the rear-tire, it seems that when the car has a heavy weight in the back seat (in my case my 100lbs daughter and suitcases for our trip). They fixed this by stiffening the rear-end of my car, this is something I felt as soon as I started driving the car and something I'm going to have to get used to now. To apply this fix took them 2-3 hours and they had to remove the back seat of my car, this is probably why Acura isn't fixing all 2004 TLs.

Careful with the dealers also, one of the dealers here in Northern Virginia actually said this was my fault for not bringing the car in for their free oil change (this was the place I had purchased the car), they said if I would have brought it in, they would have applied any open TSBs, after speaking with a second dealer (Pohanka) and Acrua, who both told me TSBs only get applied if the car is in warranty and the customer is exhibiting the specified issue, that I realized the service manager for the first dealer was lying to me. Pohanka handled this very well, they let me get angry, they didn't lie and they communicated with Acura what the issue was (they even offered me a free donut and soda), I'll definitely be going back to Pohanka for future business.

In the TSB Acura links this to the tire, but it has nothing to do with the tire, I'm sure they do this in order to make it look like the tire is bad and so that they won't have to replace more expensive tires like I had on my car. If you have a 2004 Acrua TL I would suggest you force Acura to apply this fix ASAP, I'm sure if I would have gone another 200-300 miles on my tires, they would have blown, and that could have easily been tragic given that I was driving at highway speeds on curvy mountain roads.

Here is the TSB for this issue, hopefully the link stays. Hopefully no one gets injured from this.

http://www.in.honda.com/Rjanisis/pubs/SB/B05-050.PDF

Monday, August 11, 2008

15 Days - 12 Different Beds

OK, that sounds like some sort of trashy romance novel, but it's actually the trip my family took from Virginia to Utah and back to Virginia. I got to see the heartland of the country (well at least it's Interstates) and my wife and daughter got to sleep many hours.

The Purple line on the map shows the path we took (you might be able to click on the map and have it expand for you). For the fun of it I'll take you through a bed-by-bed story.

Bed 1 - Kingdom City, Missouri

Kingdom City wasn't our original stop, but since we were making excellent time, we drove on across the Mississippi River to Kingdom City. Kingdom City seemed to be a nice little town, we could only find room at the Days Inn, it wasn't the best of places to stay and only had double beds (so my wife decided to sleep with my daughter). My daughter who is really small didn't like the bathroom and I tried not to look for blood or other stains. This hotel had potential, I think it was poorly managed. Had a very good breakfast at the spot across the street though. I was surprised by the time we made on the road, but we didn't hit any traffic and the speed limits were mostly in the 70's.

Bed 2 - Aurora Colorado

Day two was grueling, the plains of Kansas and Colorado while beautiful can be grueling and monotonous, it wasn't easy to do. I kept thinking of how difficult it must have been for the pioneers to come out and be in this inland sea of grass and trees, knowing that they still had to cross mountains before they got to the Western shore of America. They were truly great people. During this leg we saw our first wind farm, this almost made me cry, the thought that people were creating relatively green energy.


At a gas station in Kansas I asked a young woman what they did for fun, she said "hike in farmer's fields and around the lake", it was interesting to hear. When we got to Aurora Colorado I was exhausted, we stayed at a Comfort Inn by the airport. I was told that the room I was staying in would cost an extra $300 a night during the presidential convention.

Bed 3 - Moab Utah

This was the best place of all, a little place called "The Rustic Inn", from the outside you'd think it was rented hourly, but on the inside it was spectacular, nice beds, big room, nice shower, fridge, kitchen, the works, all for $79 a night (which my big brother Paul picked up for me, thanks Paul). In Moab we went hunting for dinosaur fossils, met a dinosaur hunter and got to see Dead Horse Point and Arches National Park (we didn't hit Canyon Lands). Both were spectacular and a must see. I was kidding that I wanted to see Delicate Arch again before it collapsed, when we got home to Virginia I read that a different, but also popular arch in arches did collapse, possibly when we were there.

Bed 4 - Provo Utah

After Moab we spent two days in my brothers downstairs bedroom, he had redone it and did a fabulous job with it. It was good to spend a couple of days in the same place, I was getting very tired. We had only planned one day in Provo, but due to a virus at my brother's house in Logan we decided to stay in Provo for an extra day. While in Provo I got to have my favorite burger, it's a Golden Burger from Burger Supreme. It's pastrami on a burger and grilled sour dough bread. When I walked into the place I told them I had driving over 2000 miles for a Golden Burger :).

Bed 5 - Logan Utah

Couple of days spent in Logan, mainly trying not to work on my brother's deck. I was mostly successful at that. I did manage to set up his MAC and PC with VNC so he could work on his MAC remotely. Seems the latest version of OSX has VNC built in (way to go MAC people).

Bed 6 - Salt Lake City

A couple of days spent in Salt Lake, this was the main reason we went across the country, to see my niece get married. All of my nieces are so beautiful and it was great to see them going up and getting married. While in Salt Lake I took my daughter to see "This is the Place" and "Temple Square" both are a must see while in SLC. In Salt Lake we stayed at the Marriott, the Marriott was definitely nice, but it didn't have free Wi-Fi, how lame is that. All of the small hotels we stayed at had free Wi-Fi, but the Marriott is all about making tons of money.

Bed 7 - Provo

This time in Provo we couldn't stay with my Brother. My Tia Vera (Tia == Aunt) was in town for the wedding and using the spare room, so we stayed at a Super-8 in Provo (right across from BYU on Canyon Road). It wasn't a great place, but they had free cookies. It was great to see my Tia Vera, she looks so much like my mother, I cried when I saw Vera, even her touch reminded me of my mother. I wish my Portuguese was stronger so I could have spoken with her.

Bed 8 - Provo

For our last day in Provo we went back to Paul's house, this time staying in the upstairs bedroom. Also used this day to go visit mom, she's not much of a conversationalist these days, but it was still good to visit with her. Also got to visit with one of my best friends in Lehi Utah. Seems the Valley's of Utah were on fire that week. We say 4 fires in just a few days. Is Zion burning?

Bed 9 - Livingston Montana

I had never been to Montana, we had gone to see Yellowstone, which was great. In Montana we stayed at another Super 8, which was just fine. In Yellowstone we saw old Faithful do her thing, and saw from the distance a 45,000 acre fire that was burning in the park, but what was really exciting was the Winnebago fire we ran across. This delayed us for over an hour, but we got to talk with some pretty cool park employees and get to see the rest at work. Now the people who are running the concessions at Old Faithful are not the brightest or best, it was obvious that the people responding to this fire were fantastic and great to see at work. Luckily all the people in the Winnebago got out without a scratch.

Bed 10 - Rapid City, South Dakota

I've always wanted to go to South Dakota and it didn't disappoint me. Before we got to Rapid City we stopped by Devil's Tower Wyoming, while in Devil's Tower we hooked up with about 2000 motorcycle riders in the area for Sturgis. It was fantastic. We also got to see Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, all were fantastic, this whole segment of the United States is very under represented. I could easily move to and be happy in South Dakota. Here we stayed at a Econo Lodge that was very nice, I'd have to put it at better than the Marriott, and it had free Wi-Fi (go figure).

Beds 11 & 12 - Worthington, MN and Richmond IN

Both of these were just places to rest our heads. We were tired and were now putting on serious miles. This meant that both my wife and daughter were catching serious Z's and I was driving.

Overall the trip was fantastic. We had unexpected surprises, no rain and no disasters. I found out after I pulled my car into the garage that I had zero tread left on my rear tires. I'm working on that now. Someone, either the dealer or the tire company will be replacing them. If you want to see more of my pics please feel free to.


http://picasaweb.google.com/pramseycom

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Minnesota!

J.W. Philip Ramsey

Back on the road!

J.W. Philip Ramsey

Crazy Horse

J.W. Philip Ramsey

Biker Julie

J.W. Philip Ramsey

Mt Rushore, SD

I'm happy to report that all the Presidents still have their noses.

J.W. Philip Ramsey

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

South Dakota--bikers headed to annual Sturgis Rally

J.W. Philip Ramsey

Devil's Tower, Sturgis 2008

J.W. Philip Ramsey

Devil's Tower, Wyoming

Lots of motorcycles, no UFOs, and a strange desire to play with my mashed potatoes.

J.W. Philip Ramsey

Why oh why are we back in Wyoming?

J.W. Philip Ramsey

Little Bighorn Montana

Here at Little Bighorn and can't seem to find that famous last custard stand, could sure use the ice cream right now ;).

J.W. Philip Ramsey

Monday, August 4, 2008

Saturday, August 2, 2008

At the Wedding Reception

Yep I cried at Liz's Wedding :)