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).


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.


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).


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.

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.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


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

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

Love You Mom!

J.W. Philip Ramsey

Saturday, August 2, 2008

At the Wedding Reception

Yep I cried at Liz's Wedding :)

Salt Lake Tabernacle

J.W. Philip Ramsey

Temple Square

J.W. Philip Ramsey

This is the Place Monument

Where Brigham Young came and declared "this is the right place". I also purchased a coke here, those Mormons will sell anything, even caffine.

J.W. Philip Ramsey

Friday, August 1, 2008

Is this why Mitt Romney stopped running?

Found this odd message for Mitt Romney in a Marriott in Salt Lake City...