Muck the Fets 
Before this week's series versus the Mets, I was ready to write the Phillies off as contenders in the NL East but I thought I'd wait until the series with the Mets was complete. Last year, I had them written of by the end of July but optimism this year got the best of me so I figured I'd wait.

Surprisingly, they swept the Mets! There's still hope! I enjoy September baseball so hopefully the Phillies will stay in this race and, gasp, maybe even make the playoffs. Go Phils Go!

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Worst Congress, ever! 
The latest Gallup Poll puts Congress at the lowest approval rating since Gallup began polling such opinions. After years of bleating and panting and reminding us with trumpets blaring and horns-a-blowin' how low President Bush's approval rating has been, the MSM doesn't seem so quick to point this one out. The poll shows Congress's approval rating is at 18% whereas Dubya's is a whopping 32%. Yes, 32 is nothing to brag about - unless you're comparing it to 18.

Is this the worst Congress ever? Maybe not, but give them time and if the media gave more press to the miscreants of Democratic leaders like Harry Reid or Dianne Feinstein, it would be a slam-dunk. Instead, the MSM memory hole filter traps as much negative news it can about the misdeeds of Democrats but even that filter can't stop the volume of this flow.

Of course, how much faith can we put in polls? Democrats were quite befuddled in 2004 when many polls, especially the exit polls, showed John Kerry leading Bush but when the votes were tallied, the people were reminded that polls are not a science.

Polls aren't news unless, of course, they show John Kerry leading or they show how disapproving the people are of Dubya.


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New Records 
There doesn't seem to be a lot of press about this but I have found at least two areas where the high temperature yesterday was the lowest on record for August:

New York City: 59
Allentown, PA: 61

I find it hard to believe that only two cities hit records.

Allentown's was a new low and New York's tied a new low.

State College, PA reported a high of 60 which ranked 112 out of 112 for lowest high temperature for the date.

Before the front moved east, St. Cloud, MN, set the lowest high of 59 for August 18.

Sacramento hit a new low high on August 5 and 6 (74). [Link]


Brrrr.


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20 
Well it's finally here, my 20 year high school reunion is this weekend and it's a three-day whoopdeedoo with a Friday happy hour, Saturday golf outing, school tour, and sit-down dinner at the hotel, and then a Sunday family picnic.

Many consider this our first official reunion, too. We supposedly had a five year but it was very small and I, along with others I have spoken with, didn't hear about the five year until after it happened. There must not have been a real effort to get the word out. After all, five years out and most of the class would have probably still been living at home and certainly a large percentage (I would say >95%) the parents would have still been the same address, or, at most, a graduate might have moved once or twice. It's pretty easy to locate people after five years of little contact than it is after 20. But, that's in the past and the important thing is that we are having a big event to commemorate this milestone. I also helped plan this thing and my biggest contributions were helping to locate people (through phone calls and emails and gleaning the yearbook; 141 graduates' parents were still at the same address) and procuring, through a family connection, a good part of the food for the picnic. Many other people helped find people too and collectively we found about 75% of the class. Considering we had 451 graduates, that's pretty good and about 20% of the located are coming to the sit-down dinner. It will be a lot of fun catching up with old friends and seeing the hard work of all who contributed in the planning pay off in the form of a good time for everybody.

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Yes, we have no bananas 
...but I am up to my ears in tomatoes! I planted 12 tomato plants in May and you can't believe the yield! Each of the last three days I have picked at least 40 tomatoes. I've been busy making salsa, spaghetti sauce, and giving them away. All told, I have probably picked at least 250 since they began bearing fruit and that's 250 edible ones. As always, some, although red, were no good.

I've never had so many tomatoes before and I have planted 12 plants several times. I moved the garden to a sunnier spot last year but many tomatoes suffered from blossom-end rot; I estimate I tossed out about 40% of the tomatoes I had. This year, I am throwing out much less, probably fewer than 10%. To say I've found the right spot for the garden is an understatement and there's still a lot of red out there!



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Unwrapped 
Well, I knew this was inevitable, this morning I took the winterizing plastic off the main air conditioner in our house. By the way, it was here when we moved in; I take pride in the fact that I've never purchased an air conditioner. We've been using a small room air conditioner (free) for the twins' room but the rest of the house had not been subject to air conditioning. I hold out as long as I can because I do not like air conditioning. Once it was on, I made sure to spend the day outside on our screened-in, non-A/C porch. 92 degrees, no problem, that's just barely the low-end of hot.

And, no, I don't use it in my truck either. It's been broken for five years and what irks me is that I'll have to fix the A/C in order to sell the vehicle. At one time I thought that A/C in cars was the worst feature ever but it was bumped to number two when some brain-dead marketing executive (excuse the redundancy) decided to put DVD players in them.

It used to be that people only used A/C when it got hot. Nowadays, it seems like people have lowered what 'hot' is from say, 90 to 80 and, thus, the A/C runs every day from mid-June to early September.

Cutting back on our A/C usage would be an easy way for everyone to chip in and reduce our energy consumption. I wonder why no one ever proposes this? I'll admit I do it for personal reasons but what about all the blowhards out there who are always lecturing us on our habits and yet never change their own? Brian: 1, loudmouth hypocrite: 0.



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Kubuntu 
Ok, so I tried the Kool-Aid again. I installed, successfully, Kubuntu 7.04 (Feisty) on a Sony Vaio laptop. A brief overview is here and I submitted the entry to Linux on Laptops too.

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Sunflowers 


I was going to use this post to make some comments about Mr. Hypocritical but I decided against it because all Americans should educate themselves on his inconvenient reality. These sunflowers are American Giants and the package said they can grow to be 8-14 feet. The tallest one there comes in over seven as of today.

As for my garden, the storm we had a few weeks ago really did some damage. Most of the tomatoes were blown down, cage and all, and many had snapped branches. However, none were uprooted and there is red out there and I've already picked about a half dozen tomatoes. Since none were uprooted, I am optimistic for a good bounty.

Given my minimal carbon footprint, I feel good that I have offset what I emit. Aside from the garden and flowers, the air conditioner that cools the main floor of the house is still wrapped in the winterizing plastic!

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Money Laundering 
To launder money basically means to conceal the source of it. Sometimes people have no choice but to disclose what path their money has taken.

Dog chews and eats nearly $750; most recovered

From the story:

"After finding out what happened, the family collected the pieces of money, cleaned them as best the could, put them together and swapped $647 for fresh currency at a bank."

Makes you wonder what the money you've handled has been through, doesn't it?

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Canada Trip 
Here is another picture I took along Kings Highway 15 near Seeleys Bay, Ontario two days ago. If I do the math right, that works out to about US$3.77 gallon.



I didn't hear a lot of griping about gas prices when I was there but things in general are more expensive. The gas price I saw is typical throughout Ontario according to ontariogasprices.com. Other prices I saw were a dozen eggs cost about $2.10. A 1/2 gallon (2L?) of milk was $2.45; Canadian of course. The local exchange rate was 2%; 98 US cents == $1 Canadian. Officially it's .955/1 according to x-rates.com. I just paid $1.81 for a 1/2 gallon of milk here and I rarely buy eggs when they are more than $1/dozen.

I found out that the Kingston area of Ontario has a doctor shortage . According to Wikipedia, the metro population of Kingston is about 152,000. With 20,000 without a doctor (are they uninsured then or just completely without any means to get medical treatment?) out of 152,000, that's 13.15% of the population. If we take the generally agreed upon number of uninsured in the US at 40 million, that works out to be 13.33% here. I don't know if 'doctor shortage' = 'uninsured' but I do know that if there is a doctor shortage, the amount of uninsured people is not the main healthcare issue that needs to be addressed.

I was not totally without Internet access. The local library, open three days a week, had Internet so I was able to get online for about 20 minutes one day just to check email and the news back home. There was a coffee shop that had wi-fi but it had closed down within the past week; just my luck. The nearest McDonald's to where I was, about 20km, did not have wi-fi.

When I crossed back into the US, at the line where the car is supposed to stop at the border checkpoint I saw some apparatus that looked a little like a cell phone tower except it had large gray squares, maybe 18 inches square, about 6 on each one, one at each divider between the lanes at ground level. I wonder if they are radiation detectors. I decided not to take a picture of one because while I am sure the Homeland Security folks are really nice and friendly, I didn't feel like spending an afternoon with them, lol. Whatever they were, I've never seen anything like them. We passed through after a few questions from the border guard, as usual and, as usual, it felt great to cross the border back into the US.

We stopped at the Ft. Drum exit off 81 to gas up ($3.06/gal) and grab a quick bite at McDonald's. Aside from the welcoming site of American flags and listening to American radio stations, I saw a trio of our bravest from the 10th Mountain Division entering the McDonald's. Even though I was still 250 miles from my house, I knew I was home.





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Canadians Support Their Troops Too 
Picture taken by me at a coffee shop on Kings Highway 15 near Seeleys Bay, Ontario. The sign has a McDonald's logo on it but the nearest McDonalds was about 20 Km down the road.

Locally, the biggest story was that a soldier from Kingston was killed in Afghanistan on July 4 and the funeral is being held today.





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On Holidays 
...well not anymore. I returned to the good ol' USA today after a few days in Canada. I came home to no phone service in my house. The storm on Tuesday must have knocked it out. Of course, this being Friday evening, the earliest the phone company can come out is Tuesday. Luckily, it appears nothing else major was affected by the storm except maybe my garden. I took a quick look at it and it, well, looks, oooook, but I can see that it did take a beating. Nothing appears uprooted or totally destroyed but I'll find out for sure tomorrow.

I'll have another post in a day or two about my trip and maybe post a few pictures.



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