I can’t seem to whip up the enthusiasm to comment on the State of the Union address or the growing number of President-wannabees so here’s just some stuff rattling around my brain.
First, congratulations to Jonathan who turned thirty this week, got a promotion and will soon be featured on a segment of Mythbusters.Â These accomplishments make me feel both proud and old.Â (I’ll let you know whenÂ the show he is on willÂ be telecast.)
Why as you reach the tollbooths going westbound onto Alligator Alley (I-75) are there all these cowbirds and grackles standing around between the cars.Â They are all looking up at the drivers, making you a little nervous about opening your window to pay the toll.Â It’s like “Birds” waiting to happen.
In following the long tradition of our bringing extreme temperatures to anywhere we travel, an overnight freeze was forecast for Florida last night.Â Once when we were in Key West they had their lowest high temperature ever – 48.
All this talk about earmarks made me wonder about the derivation of the word.Â According to the online etymology dictionary, an earmark was a cut on an animal’s ear to signify ownership.
John was telling me about the tax on inheritance today.Â Apparently the exemption keeps rising until 2009 to a top of $3.5 million per person and then reverts back to $1 million.Â So I guess if you are rich you should think about dying soon.
With all the hype about the Super Bowl, John and I were probably the only people to have an Australian Open party.Â Maybe we should call it a Grand Slam party, it has more pizazz.Â Anyway, if you didn’t see the semi-finals and the final, you really missed something.Â If he’s not the GOAT now, Roger Federer is well on his way to becoming it. (Greatest of all time.)
A week from today we are winging our way home.Â Â United Airlines has managed to route us from South Florida to Washington DC to Oakland – over 11 hours travel time.Â We could go to Europe in that amount of time.Â We have had a really good time in Marco Island.Â This week is the last set of playing tennis at the Y, the last wine tasting at the Wine Seller, and the last dip in the pool.Â We are looking forward to seeing the kids and Nathan.
It’s a rainy day here on Marco Island and Cabana Boy (my Florida nickname for John because he brings me drinks and snacks next to the pool) and I will have to forego our outdoor activities.Â It looks likeÂ one of those day long rains where the whole sky is gray.Â It’s really kind of nice since this is a kind of rain we rarely get in California.Â At home the sky is usually blue and cloudy at the same time and this very fine rain (which we call stupid rain) falls intermittently.
Today is an excellent day to watch the Australian Open, knit some more on Nathan’s sweater and maybe take a nap.Â Since our hips and knees are aching, it’s also a good day for taking a day off from tennis, swimming and in general being on our feet a lot.
Here in Marco Island we have had a sad, old TV.Â Last year, we got a TiVo for it and then had to get an RF modulator because there weren’t inputs for such a modern device.Â But although the TiVo helped and we could enjoy the Australian Open without commercials and without having to get up at 3:30 AM, the picture quality was poor.
I guess we’ve been spoiled since we got our new plasma TV at home.Â The HD picture is so wonderful.Â This year I was authorized by my sister to get a new TV for the house.Â So we went up to Naples (shudder) and fought through all the other old people and got a LCD HD ready TV.Â The Comcast guy was scheduled for Tuesday and then we would have a great picture and recording capablity for the rest of the Open.
But things don’t always work out the way you hope.Â The guy showed but the DVR-HD box told us we were not authorized to record or to see many of the HD stations including ESPN2 which was broadcasting the Open.Â Oh no, here we had a shiny new set in the living room and we were once again huddled in the tiny room off the kitchen watching a one inch Roger Federer do his magic with a ball that you could hardly see.
We spent hours on the phone with Comcast.Â We got various responses from there’s nothing we can do, to your box is broken and we won’t have any for the next couple of weeks, to just unplug it and we’ll reboot and everything will be OK.Â Â Except it wasn’t.Â Everyone tried to help, and everyone was polite but nothing happened.
Then, magically last night around midnight, the clock on the DVR box started to tell time.Â With hope in our hearts we turned on the TV, and, voila, it all worked.Â And there on the screen was a clear, sharp, bigger Roger Federer beating yet another opponent.Â And, what is it that he’s hitting?Â Yes, a ball!Â And we can see it!Â Hurrah!
Reading the news on the internet (where everything is true) the other day, I came across an article about guns and murder rates.Â The researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have discovered that statesÂ where people own more guns have higher murder rates.Â In fact, as compared to states which have the lowest gun ownership, the gun-happy states have a murder rate 114% higher.Â
I’m not surprised about the results, merely surprised that something as patently obvious would warrant a study.Â I wonder if they got a federal grant to figure it out. “Hmm, do you think that places that have more guns would have a higher murder rate?Â Maybe it’s just that lower gun ownership means that people are killing other people by other means.Â Let’s get a couple of millions of dollars and study this!”
Surely all the NRA types will point out that Harvard is in one of thoseÂ LIBERAL!!!! blue states.Â But I think we can agree on the fact that it’s a waste of time and money to discover something so obvious.
Â John mentioned to me today that I haven’t written anything lately.Â Part of the reason for this is that we’ve been in transit to Marco Island and part of it is that I’ve been pretty sick.Â But now that I’ve had this virus for a week, it seems to be slackening it’s hold a bit.
I did not watch President Bush deliver his speech last night.Â I opted to read the full text today, it’s much less annoying.Â In his speech, he offered what to him was a new direction in the Iraq – choose one, insurgency, civil war, conflict, debacle.Â To me, it sounded like the same old strategy just with more troops.
In one part he said, ” The Iraqi government will deploy Iraqi Army and National Police brigades across Baghdad’s nine districts. When these forces are fully deployed, there will be 18 Iraqi Army and National Police brigades committed to this effort, along with local police. These Iraqi forces will operate from local police stations — conducting patrols and setting up checkpoints, and going door-to-door to gain the trust of Baghdad residents.”Â So Shi’ite soldiers and policemen are going to go around politelyÂ knocking on the doors of Sunni residentsÂ gaining their trust.Â That doesn’t seem realistic to me.
Further, “If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people — and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people.”Â Note to President Bush, you’ve already lost the support of the American people.Â Check the results from this past November.
President Bush justifies his stance by saying Â “The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits.”Â Yes,Â the policies of our governmentÂ have created the perfect storm for more terror.Â Â By relying on faulty intelligence or, worse still, selectively choosing the intelligence that fit his plan, President Bush has totally destablized and already unstable region.Â He’s empowered Iran to pursue nuclear weapons and ignored the whole Palestinian Israeli problem. This war has alienated our allies and consolidated and added to our enemies.Â
ThisÂ Â morning in a Gallup-Ipsos poll, fully 70% of Americans do not think that sending more troops is the right answer.Â Let’s hope that the new Congress can rein in an out-of-control executive branch.
Out here in Californialand we have a virus.Â It is called synctial respiratory virus.Â I am always very careful not to catch viruses that attack my lungs.Â But I have gotten this one.Â Our good friends were over for new year’s eve.Â One of them had the virus.Â Now John and I both have it.Â We like to share with our friends but not this.
Â Yesterday, we celebrated Christmas part 2 with our kids.Â We told them that they should stay away from me.Â But, you know, it’s hard.Â I wanted to get hugs from everyone.Â I am really hoping that no one gets sick.Â Sarah told me she is already not feeling well but while that’s possible, it isn’t possible that I gave the virus to her.Â It just doesn’t happen that quickly.
On Tuesday we head off to Marco Island for our winter sojourn.Â I am sure that everyone on the plane will be sorry that we are on the same plane with them.Â But airlines make it impossible to change your plans.Â I guess we will just have to try to isolate ourselves.
Or maybe we will be all better!Â I have been taking Air Borne to try to boost my immune system and I have been eating in a healthy manner so perhaps by Tuesday I will be sympton free!
Every time I get a respiratory infection I think the Grim Reaper is standing in the wings.Â Bad lungs are what have gotten a lot of the people in my family.Â I feel like I walk around with a number on my jersey.
People are always complaining about the weather but it’s always been one of those things that you just can’t do anything about.Â But wait, it appears that if we act in concert then we can do something about the weather.Â We can make it warmer.
I was outside today by San Francisco Bay watching the airplanes land.Â What a beautiful day.Â Temperatures in the 60’s and a light breeze.Â That kind of weather in January is not unheard of here.Â But when I looked on the internet today, people were also sitting outside by the harbor in Baltimore where the temperatures were in the 60’s.Â Plus this is the first time since 1877 that it hasn’t snowed in New York City in November or December.
Who knows?Â Maybe it is all just a blip in the long term weather or maybe it is global warming.Â One thing for sure, though, people tend not to complain much about the weather when it’s 60 in January.Â Just wait until it’s 109 in June.