Gas Prices 
A bumper sticker I saw crop up earlier this year read:

"When Bush Took Office, Gas was $1.46 a gallon"

As it stands now, the U.S. average is $1.68 a gallon.

When Bill Clinton took office, gas was $1.06 a gallon. Mark that down as a 38% increase under Clinton and only a 15% gain under Bush as of today.

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Remember 
But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people—we will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us God.


Taken from Franklin Delano Roosevelt's address to Congress, December 8, 1941.

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Ab so lutely 
Vatican: Beatles music better than today's songs

Sensible and wise people, those Vaticans.

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A Sighting 
Keeping with the animal theme - seen the other day in my yard: a gray fox. Apparently, seeing these is a rare event. I heard a growl of sorts and looked out in the yard and couldn't believe what I saw. I grabbed the camera, which had no batteries and by the time I found batteries, the fox had moved into the woods. About five minutes later, my cat came trotting in from around the garden. I think the two saw each other but the cat was not aroused with the puffed up fur like he usually has when he encounters something.

The fox was a little more gray than the standard web search images I'm finding and it actually looked a little like a small coyote. However, judging by the ears and tail, this was definitely a gray fox.

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Just a Name 
Another letter to the editor today: [Link]

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Duplicity 
Ever notice that the same people who castigate ExxonMobil for making a profit are the same people who are making the most noise about all these firms losing insane amounts of money?

When big companies make money, the market does well. When ExxonMobil makes money, some people want to lynch them. Democrats have gotten their wish (just before a presidential election, coincidentally), big greedy American companies falling on hard times and now they gripe about it and pass a feckless pork-laden bill that will cause more problems than it solves; rewarding fecklessness and passing the bill onto us - well, at least the most responsible of us - those who live within our means.

I say put ExxonMobil in charge of everything, they seem to be able to do what the government can't do - make more money than they spend.

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Scary thing is, I might be right 
Last month, I made a post speculating what might happen to the world markets if ExxonMobil ever fails; (as many people in this land are hoping for, by the way). Judging how the market reacted today to a Congressional vote on a handout from the taxpayers, I might be right.

Additionally, after years of rooting for bad economic news and pumping up anything that was even remotely bad (and overlooking anything that was good - like when the DJIA topped 14K, the MSM made sure they didn't credit Bush, but he'll get a big chunk of blame for this current plunge), the MSM looks to have gotten their wish - crisis right before election day. Part of this is a manufactured problem designed to do just what it's doing - give people gloom and doom right before we go to the polls. The big part, of course, is the people themselves - spending, borrowing, and living beyond their means and lenders and the government doing their best to encourage it. It has now come time to pay for this foolishness and licentiousness that took root in the late 1990's; a prime example why the "if it can be done, it should be done" philosophy is nothing more than obtuse judgment and immaturity. But I digress, philosophical ideology is not entirely to blame, there's been plenty of malfeasance from everyone from the top down in both politics and business.

Just as children need their parents, even if they don't think they do, society needs the acute and mature who are the responsible citizens who manage their affairs properly and we seem to be a vanishing breed.

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Happy Constitution Day! 
From About.com:

On September 17, 1787, forty-two of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention held their final meeting. Only one item of business occupied the agenda that day, to sign the Constitution of the United States of America.


Of the 42 who attended, 39 signed and 3 did not; nine more facts.

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---- Hitting the Fan 
My wife and I been doing our part as responsible citizens. We save and we also invest. We don't buy things we can't afford. Excluding the mortgage, we have no debt, which, really isn't considered a debt but more of a loan. Yet, financially, things are a mess and I believe it's due to not enough invisible hands doing their part. Yes, the invisible hand can have negative effects too - if people continually live beyond their means and spend spend spend on things they don't need or can't afford. And, what worries me most, is that those of us today who save and invest and manage our finances wisely, will end up, in about 20 years, subsidizing those who aren't planning for their future. If it sounds like I am lecturing, it's because I am. I know that we are doing things right. Maybe people laugh at us when they see that we don't have a new car or maybe they laugh because our house isn't as big as theirs. But I sleep at night knowing that my bills are paid and that we'll have the house paid off in ten years and that we don't live paycheck to paycheck and, not to boast, an impressive credit score. Oh, we still are concerned with money, don't get me wrong, but we set limits and bounds and budgets and work within them.

My wife and I firmly believe that "it's not what you make, it's what you don't spend."

Is this current meltdown solely due to malfeasance of the consumer; no, but, maybe these failed companies should have had bounds and limits that were a little more strict. Nonetheless, if people don't pay what they promised to pay, no matter how established or big the lender is, things will go wrong.

Hopefully, those who manage such financial institutions will learn from these mistakes. Hopefully, those who've overextended themselves will learn, too. Of course, many people suffer foreclosure through no fault of their own; they just hit a bad stretch. Bad things do happen to good people too but that's life. I've had my share of financial hardship but I dug myself out without bankruptcy or government assistance and if I can do it, anyone can.

Yes, the economy has seen better times, but it also has seen worse times. Rising prices at the pump and grocery store affect us too. But with years of training and disciplined money management, we are dealing with it. Yes, I still worry that things may go wrong and we end up in dire straights but I feel with how we conditioned ourselves, we'll be able to handle it. Parsimony isn't hard if you try.

In every society, there are people who have hardship due to needs. However, it seems that in the U.S. there are way too many people whose wants are the primary reason for hardship. This more inimical to society than those whose needs are to due to legitimate hardship.

It also concerns me that those who manage our money seem to be incompetent and reckless - whether it's government or business - and, of course, it's the frugal and responsible citizen who gets the bill when things hit the fan.

Many businesses are really beginning to irk me with their carelessness - whether it's irresponsible lending practices or farming out their manufacturing with no regards to quality control or consumer safety or contracting out customer service with the sole intent to discourage anyone from ever calling customer service - often to complain about a shoddy product or an arcane fee on some service. But, this is a topic for another day. I am rather displeased with the many once proud businesses seem to have abandoned principles and practices that had made them strong.

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Much Ado About Nothing 
I don't watch a lot of TV but I have seen (before the Eagles-Rams kickoff) the much publicized and criticized Microsoft commercial with Bill and Jerry. Awful. First of all, I had no idea what the commercial was for and, secondly, Jerry Seinfeld isn't funny at all; never was, and Bill Gates certainly isn't either. I never liked Seinfeld to begin with and that show wasn't very funny either. In fact, it's one of the shows that opened my eyes and led me to totally ditch, save Jeopardy! and sometimes the Simpsons (probably the best-written show ever), prime-time television viewing. From what I have seen, it's only gotten worse over the past 12 years. Newton N. Minow, how right you are.

Speaking of comedians, Obama's lipstick on a pig and stinky fish comments seem to be the talk of the town. The vast wasteland of the cable news channels is hyping this too much but not near at the level you'd see if McCain had said the same if Obama had a woman running mate. Plus, with McCain's bounce the MSM has gone into red alert damage control mode to cover for Obama once again. However, polls in September mean nothing, no matter who's leading. They'll sway many times over the next eight weeks.

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Too Good? Too Bad! You're Outta Here! 
Yet another example the ongoing effort to neutralize anyone who is good at something:

9-Year-Old Boy Told He's Too Good To Pitch

Of course, if a league told a kid he wasn't good enough to pitch - instant lawsuit!

People have learned that if someone is smarter/more athletic/more successful than they are, then instead of taking initiative to overcome the challenge, they take measures to punish the people who have set the bar higher. They have been told, often by certain politicians, that if Person X is smarter than you or has a bigger house than you do, then it's not your fault, and you've been discriminated against in some way. Telling you that you need to work harder or that sometimes the cards don't play in your favor is political suicide. When a politician implies this, he/she is often branded a meanie.

As discussed on the previous post, some people are just naturally gifted at some things - be it sports or academics, and those people need to be encouraged, not suppressed or neutralized.

It just seems that everything is bass ackwards in our society. We punish the good and those who aren't good are told it's not their fault and we try to make them feel good by instilling punishment on the good then we wonder why such a high percentage of kids who graduate from US high schools can't read or write beyond a 6th-grade level or that many young adults don't seem to be motivated anymore to do better. Society can't produce competent adults if we continue to tell the best and brightest that they are too good at something and need to slow it down, literally in this case, so that others feel good.

Competition has become another "C" word.

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Numbers 
0 - number of vacation plans we had to alter this summer because of gas prices. We went to Canada and DC/Virginia. We also went camping, the shore, went to Musikfest, several Iron Pigs games, and I went to the Reading Air Show.

2 - number of times this summer I paid more than $4 for a gallon of gas; both involved our trip to Canada. We bought just enough over the border to cover the trip back into the US. We paid $1.249/L in Canada and $4.17/G off I-81 near Watertown, NY. The stations all near my house never topped $3.99.

5 - when I went to donate blood last week, I found out I had passed the 5 gallon plateau.

7 - number of Iron Pigs games I went to this summer. Their record in those seven games: 0-7.

7.3 - Unemployment rate in Illinois, BHO's home state. Unemployment in AZ is 5.1%.

8 - Micheal Phelps; simply amazing; proof that hard work and determination yield results.

14 - the over/under number, in seconds, after the Olympics end how long it will take someone from the MSM to blame Bush if China finishes with more medals than the US. However, it looks like China will finish with more gold so you'll see some BDS in action regardless.

21 - number of plants in my garden; 12 tomato, four jalapeno, four anaheim chili, and one pumpkin. Plus, I have two rogue tomato that popped up and have tomatoes on them. I planted 11 sunflowers but the deer got some so I ended up with four.

26 - number of pounds down since January I was at my morning weigh-in today. I continue to exercise daily and watch my diet but I am not losing weight as quickly as before. Maybe am building muscle.

162 - number of 90F+ days recorded at Chicago's Midway Airport from 2000-2008: "the fewest 90-degree temperatures in the opening nine years of any decade on record here since 1930"

571 - number of miles since April I have biked according to the cycle computer. It broke three weeks ago so I am likely close to 700 by now. My goal is 1000 from April through September.

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