Sunday, August 24, 2008

Biden: Part Two

After some chatting with people and some reading, I think Biden is a better choice both long-term AND short-term than I thought before. Even though he has been in Congress forever, he commutes from his home in Deleware every night (or used to, not totally sure he still does since he remarried). In any case, his family and himself never got involved in the lobbyist culture of Washington which why he remains the poorest sentor on the Hill.

What does that give you? The ultimate outsider insider. That's great. Plus, he probably locks PA for Obama and puts into play Pennsaltuky.

While he is a hawk on the war he is a populist and that'll complement Obama nicely.

I'm liking it more and more. And he is going to rip apart whomever is McCain's VP pick in the debate. That'll be awesome.

Oh, one more thing. Deleware has a democratic governer so we won't loose that seat in the senate AND, and this one is nice, Dodd is next in line on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after Biden. Dodd isn't the hawk Biden is.

Good times.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Biden

Biden is an awesome choice from a long term perspective. He has been around long enough to know DC inside and out and absolutely fills out the ticket regarding Obama's weaknesses. The interesting thing about the choice though is he doesn't do what the VP choice has done for the various tickets recently - bring some aspect of the voting public around. For example, Edwards being picked in 2004 was to help bring the blue collar southern working vote. Biden is from Delaware, that isn't exactly a huge electoral state.

I'm glad Obama picked based on long term considerations rather than short term ones.

Awesome.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tax Plan Comparison

Ok, so I've been on a roll today with politics. That is what happens when it is a beautiful day outside and I don't feel like working.

Anyway, here is a nice article comparing the two plans. The following graph really does a good job of breaking this down so it can be digested.



Just want to point out a couple of things. First, the trickle down economics (or voodoo economics) of the 80's obviously do not work. The McCain camp's argument is the same as Reagan's in that if you provide more money for the rich, they will hire more people and create new jobs and that wealth will trickle down. Obviously that hasn't happened since the gap between the rich and poor has widened so much. When 60% of Americans make less than $66k a year, that's a pretty big gap.

Second, economic stimulus and getting people to spend money in America only works if the money you give back will be spent and will be done so in America. It does no good to tie it up in offshore investments or savings accounts, etc. The people most likely to spent real dollars back into the US economy are those at the lower end of the tax bracket. The people that don't have a lot of material wealth or who are living paycheck to paycheck. You give those people a break and more income, you will end up with more direct investment right back into the US economy since that money will be spent quickly.

In summary, cutting taxes for the lower brackets is likely to have a greater effect on the economy on a whole than cutting taxes for the upper brackets and expecting it to trickle down.

With all of that in mind, Obama's plan focuses more on the lower brackets where it will have a true and immediate effect where McCain's is mostly a kickback to the upper brackets with lip-service to the lower brackets. So when you hear the two candidates and their surrogates talk about tax plans and who is doing more to help out the middle class, just remember this chart.

McCain's Housing Thing is Comic Gold

This gaffe about not knowing how many houses you own is just gold. Love this:



I mean really, can you have any better of an example of who the elitist really is in the campaign? Obama is hitting this hard and fast. It is a beautiful thing.

Combine this with his remark defining the rich as making 5 million or more...what a gift.

Uncertainty Update

Probably should update you all on where I am since my Uncertainty post from earlier this week. I am no longer uncertain. While it isn't the result I was hoping for (or expecting, really) that I at least know where I stand and no where I'm going has really helped out.

Onward.

Get Out Of Jail Free

Bwahahahahahaha

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Uncertainty

I have entered a period of uncertainty that I'm not really enjoying. In the past, I haven't minded living in the grey area, as long as I had some idea of a direction to go in. Now, I'm in this grey area with no real idea of which way to go. There are things I want to say and want to do but I hesitate and don't do it. False starts or no starts at all have tormented me all day today.

The past is coming back to haunt me in a way that it never has before. How do you argue with your own past? Is it always a predictor of the future? Can someone over come their past?

I hate this. I hate knowing how things could be but having no way to alter them from the way they are, even when I understand and respect why they are that way.

At the end of the day though, this'll all pass and come to a resolution in one way or another and ultimately I'll be better for it. It is just that right now, not having a direction or even knowing where I'm at, kinda sucks.

There, now I feel better. :)

UPDATE: Something just occured to me. I'm starting to embrace the situation and, as a result, am starting to become comfortable with it. This is good. I'll just keep moving along as I have been and let it go where it goes. Yay for direction.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Heresy! Blasphemy!

Bring out the pitch forks! As if moving from real corks wasn't bad enough...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Presidential Contest Compared to Rocky II

This video is pretty funny. Compares the upcoming conventions to Rocky II. Check out McCain's mohawk.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Awesome House Value Tool

Zillow is a tool that lets you check out the prices of houses that sold in an area and estimates what your price may be. According to it, if I sold right now I'd break about even.

Something to think about.

Adventures in Boating -- Part II

The boat is toast.

Here is what happened. I took Friday afternoon off and went back down to see if I could find someone to fix the fuel system. I did a lot of research during the week and had a better understanding of the fuel system. The first thing I did was yanked the fuel filter with the hope that it was dirty. The thing was clean as a whistle.

I walked up to the repair place and they gave me the number of a guy that works on outboards since they do not. I called him up and he came on over to check the engine out. I tried to fire it up and even before it turned over he was telling me to cut it. He said it sounded like I had no compression and it was a lot more than just a filter or dirty tank.

He asked me if I could pull the boat out of the water so he could check it out so I spent the next hour getting the thing out of the water with just a paddle and a deck pole. I was able to get a tow for the last part, which was great because otherwise I'd be fighting a pretty stiff wind.

We took the boat over to his shop and he did a compression test on the cylinders. Now, this is a big deal in outboard engines (any engine really) and each cylinder should have a compression around or over 100 psi and all be within 10% of each other. The first cylinders on both blocks had 0 psi. The second ones were around 67 or so and the third pair around 95. So yea, dead engine.

Seems that the shitty fuel blew out the compression in them, thus trashing the engine and putting me in the EXACT SAME PLACE I was before - a screwed engine that either needs to be rebuilt or replaced. Exact same damn place. Seriously. WTF?

So at this point I think I'm just walking away from the speed boat. My current thinking is to sell the two burned engines for parts and then donate the body to charity if they'll take it. I've put way too much money into another trashed engine and with my new interest in sailing I think I'm just going to try to move on for now.

Sucks, big time.

McCain's War Timeline

This PDF contains a single picture of a timeline that is pretty revealing.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

"I'll See You At The Debates, Bitches"

I'm not a big fan of Paris Hilton and I've always thought her a waste of life, but this is really pretty funny.

Wealth Distribution Inequalities

Just an interesting here.

What I find most interesting about it is that, in 2006, earning over $350,000 puts you in the top 1% of earners in America while over $105,000 puts you in the top 5%. That means there is a buttload of people making well under that to round out the remaining 95%. What a huge discrepancy between wealth.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Not Even Close To Being Over

Well, the housing crunch apparently isn't even close to being over. Check out this for a nice description of the coming wave.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Adventures in Boating

Clyde and I went down to Lake Anna today with the general notion to attempt to put my boat in the water and try some wine at Lake Anna Vineyard. There were several details not worked out before hand such as:

1) Where my boat actually was.
2) The status of my boat.
3) Where the mechanic was located to whom I owed money.
4) Where I was going to keep the boat, assuming I could find it.
5) The tasteing hours at Lake Anna Vineyard.

In addition, we didn't even get started on the 2 hour drive down until about 2 o'clock. As you can see, this was a well planned operation.

I had in a call to the fella that had been taken care of things for me, let's call him W. He usually takes a few days to get back in touch with me so I wasn't too surprised that I didn't hear from him. So the first order of business was to figure out where the mechanic was located and visit him. The idea here was that 1) I owed him money 2) he may still have my boat and 3) he may have another number or a different way to contact W. All I knew about his location was from W that he was 'just down the road'. So we drove down the road near where W lived. Low and behold, shocker of shockers, no mechanic.

Failing to find the mechanic from the excellent directions, we decided that the gas station and *gasp* asking for directions was the next step. Then I recalled that W is part owner in the Lake Anna vineyard so plans were quickly changed to do a wine tasteing and see if we could locate him there. Turns out, they are closed on Mondays. All I have left to go on is my memory that it was called something like Hank's Engine Repair or some crap like that. I checked my phone and, look at that, I found the number to Larry's Boat and Motor Repair. I gave them a call and we were on our way.

Got to Larry's, which turns out to be a dude's house and he works out in the garage. Paid them for the work they did and asked if the boat was there. It was not and W had it. I thanked him and we headed out.

We hit a couple of marinas near Larry's because I wanted to see about storing my boat at a different location. Found one that had both field and water slips available, so I told the lady I'd be back if I could find my boat. She kinda looked at me weird but on we went.

The next stop was to just go to W's house. I managed to remember how to get there and I saw my boat sitting in his yard. Went up to the door and his daughter and son-in-law came out along with about 100 dogs. I asked when they expected W home and they said 6 ish. I didn't feel like waiting and she offered to call him at the office. I said to go ahead and call and let him know I was taking my boat and to give me a call later. We hooked the boat up and headed out.

We drove over to the marina that had the water slip available and I purchased slip #44. The boat was full of water because the plug was left in so we had to let it drain. That took a good 30 minutes or so. Once that was done I backed the boat into the water and tried to fire it up. To make a long story short, it took a jump pack (because the battery was dieing) and a long time but finally got the thing fired up. However, it wouldn't idle smoothly and would keep cutting out unless it was up around 3000 rpms (should idle under 1000). Decided to take it out anyway and pushed the bow around so it faced the water. I slammed the throttle out of neutral and then full open as fast as possible to keep the engine from cutting out and off we went. At full open the thing maybe went 15 mph. Obviously something was wrong.

We made it maybe 200 yards before the engine crapped out again. After dicking with it and not being able to get it in gear w/o cutting out we started to paddle back. I knew there was dirty fuel in the tank so I figured we just needed to get it to dock and I could contact their repair office the next day to have them clean the tank and fuel system out. It took us about 45 minutes or so to get the boat back and parked. I was able to get the engine in gear and drive it most of the way in.

So we docked the boat, tied it up, and headed home. So close but yet so far.

Ok vs Fine

When someone asks you 'how are you doing' and things aren't super peachy, do you answer with Ok or Fine?

One of the interesting things I've picked up about myself is the different situations I answer with either one or the other. It seems to me that when I'm less than 100% and I don't want to talk about it or try to hide it I'll say that I am fine. However, if I am less than 100% but don't mind people knowing about it or I'm not trying to suppress it I'll say ok. Actually, I think it is more that when I'm trying to convince myself I'm great I'll say fine, when I accept things aren't awesome I'll say ok.

I once heard that Fine stood for Fucked up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. I think that really sums up the situations it is used more often than not.

The words we use and the contexts we use them in can tell a lot about your mood and the way you handle situations. I think it is really fascinating.

Post Lessons

So I returned last night, ASA certified to skipper up to 30' auxillary powered sail boats. The next step is a two-day bareboat course that certify up to 50' with inboard diesel engines. Hopefully I can take that in early September.

I learned a couple of things. First, I HAVE to get to the gym and build up some upper-body strength. Working on the deck to raise and lower the sails and dealing with the anchor kicked my ass. Second, while the basic skills for sailing a bigger boat are the same, things happen slower and take a lot more energy to do. There is also a lot more momentum to take into account when tacking and gybing so it took a little while to not over steer. Third, my ass is going to get seasick down below on rougher days. There are some pretty cool devices that apparently work very well to counter seasickness that I am going to start looking into. I will not let my old foe keep me from sailing. Forth, there aren't too many knots that you need to know but you do need to know them. I must practice.

My instructor was a up to 50 ton coast guard certified captain who was career Navy and spent most of his time on subs. He was great! I learned quite a bit from him and a lot of tricks.

All in all, it was a very good experience and I am anxious to charter this month sometime hopefully. Need to get some experience under by belt.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Sailing Lessons

I leave tonight for Shoansy (near Deltaville, VA if you want to see where) in order to take a three-day sailing course that will get me one course away from being certified to take 30-50 foot boats out as skipper. With these two courses I am taking this weekend (assuming I pass the tests, of course) I'll be certified up to 30' as Skipper so we can jump right into cruising with small groups this month, I hope. :)

In any case, I'll be out-of-touch until Monday night. It is my intention to be at Tavern.

Have a great weekend!