Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ignorance of the law is now a valid defense

During the investigation, Captain Fewless stated he did not know that state law protected concealed-weapon permit holders' identities...

He is a police Captain, doesn't know state law, collects illegal information, distributes it, lobbies political causes while on the clock; and is cleared of wrongdoing. Hmmm.

Ignorance of law, fraud, wilful misconduct: the new get out of jail free card.

Today in Amreican History

1919: The Communist Labor Party is founded in Chicago, with the motto, "Workers of the world unite!"

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Today in American History

1963: Hot Line communications link between Washington D.C. and Moscow begins

The Real Heroes

A true, honest and accurate prospective from real New Yorkers

Makes me want to say...I love New York

Monday, August 29, 2011 you doin' today

After a wild week where the Eastern US experienced Earthquake, Wind and Floods it is time to take a moment and catch our breath.

OBTW: since all the media was covering the storm, did anything else happen that was important?
Guess we will never know.

Today in American History

1957: Strom Thurmond, Senator-D-South Carolina, ends 24 hour filibuster against civil rights

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Today in American History

1963: One of the largest demonstrations in the history of the United States, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, takes place and reaches its climax at the base of the Lincoln Memorial when Dr. Martin Luther King delivers his "I have a dream" speech.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Today in American History

1859: 1st successful oil well drilled, near Titusville, Penn by Edwin Drake

Friday, August 26, 2011

Today in American History

1920: The 19th Amendment to the Constitution is officially ratified, giving women the right to vote.

Right is Right: No further discussion is necessary

In a world full of standardized tests, this may be one of the best. It is simple, to the point, objective and provides expanded educational opportunities with each application.
Without the opportunity to vacillate or equivocate, issues are brought into specific relief. There is no moral equivalence or ambiguity. America was founded on a principle of protecting the individual from the oppression of the majority. The “go along to get along” mentality undermines that premise and weakens the very fabric of our nation.

Apply this test to some of the things you support; bet you’ll be surprised.

Today’s entry for the Darwin Awards

Apparently, stupidity loves company too. One person bad decision to watch the stormy seas from an exposed jetty is validated by seven other lemmings. Their motto must be “it’s all fun and games until someone…”

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Today in American History

1765: In protest over the stamp tax, American colonists sack and burn the home of Massachusetts governor Thomas Hutchinson.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Irene; the visitor no one wants!

We feel like we may have dodged a bullet with Irene, but the preparations continue, just in case it heads our way.

That being said, we really feel bad for those in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states. We are fairly prepared for these types of storms and have state and local services to assist with the chaos in the aftermath. Since our area has done this before, there is little wasted effort and “things” return to normal fairly quickly.

For them, no such luck. There are generations that have grown up in those areas that have never seen any type of storm like this. Our systems and structures have evolved due to past storms. Building codes, Generator ready businesses, staging of supplies and a relatively prepared population minimize the scope and severity of these events.

Like the legend of Katrina; some towns in Louisiana and Mississippi have never recovered. I fear the same may be true with this storm.

Today in American History

1894: Congress passes the first graduated income tax law, which is declared unconstitutional the next year.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Side Notes

Possibly the funniest line I have seen in weeks :-)

Today in American History

1784: Eastern Tennessee settlers declare their area an independent state and name it Franklin; a year later the Continental Congress rejects it

Monday, August 22, 2011

Today in American History

1921: J. Edgar Hoover becomes asst director of FBI

And so it begins again...again!

Spent the better part of yesterday staging for TS Irene. It is a routine that I am quite familiar with, since it is done the same way, every year, when the first storm threatens.

We have been building and honing our hurricane preparedness plan for thirty years. You can view some of those preparations in previous posts, but I’ll try to give you a glimpse of the initial steps in readying for a storm.

My wife says that she prefers a hurricane to tornadoes since you generally get days to prepare for the ‘cane and tornadoes come out of nowhere, with no warning. Yes, I know that hurricanes spawn tornadoes, but if you have hardened the house and have taken appropriate shelter, the chances of surviving are greatly improved.

Early this morning, the numerous little tasks began. First we cranked up the ice makers and brought in the coolers. Next all the rechargeable devices and batteries began their charging cycles. The removable Hurricane tracks were re-installed. They are tracks that can be removes and replaced when a storm requires; not the shutters themselves. Unused yard items: extension cords, lawn art, house decorations and flags are all stored in the garage. Radios, weather and marine were checked and batteries installed.

All of this is not very difficult to do, but it certainly gets you in the mindset for what may come in the next few days.

Today will be the start of out photo documentation for insurance purposes. Also, all the laundry will be done. Clean clothes are a necessity if the power and/or water are out for any length of time. After Wilma, we were without power for ten days, but had clean, fresh, dry clothes to put on every morning; Ahhh.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Today in American History

1831: Nat Turner leads a slave revolt in Southampton County, Virginia that kills close to 60 whites.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Today in American History

1866: President Andrew Johnson formally declares Civil War over

Friday, August 19, 2011

Oprah Winfrey donates money to group of thugs!

No, this time it was not the Democrats and Obama...

Today in American History

1812: The USS Constitution earns the nickname "Old Ironsides" during the battle off Nova Scotia that saw her defeat the HMS Guerriere

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mixed Signals

Another example of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing!

Don't confuse me with the facts, I've made up my mind.

Today in American History

1939: The film The Wizard of Oz opens in New York City.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Today in American History

1998: President Bill Clinton testifies before a grand jury investigating his conduct (first president to do so), and admits an 'inappropriate relationship' with Monica Lewinsky

The Perfect Analogy for Rioting

Excellent Point

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

An Armed Society is a Polite Society

The recent events in the UK are once again a stark reminder that the forced disarming of a general population does not make it safer.

I governments primary responsibility is to protect its citizens. It is our delusions to allow us to believe that means it extends all the way down to the individual. At best, law and order is maintained on a community or regional basis. In events like natural disaster aftermaths, riots, terrorism, or political unrest, bring the matter into specific relief.

Regardless of the disruptions brought on by Watts, McDuffie (Florida), Hurricane Katrina, or 9/11; order was maintained for virtually all of the State and Federal areas. While the national media was focused on the locations of these events, life outside these areas was relatively unaffected. The best example would be that even during the attacks on NY and Washington; people on the West Coast woke up and went to work in convenience stores, offices and factories, as if nothing happened.

Regardless of any localized failures that may be attributed to governments; overall, each demonstrated that they successfully and appropriately weathered the “storm” and survived almost intact. While the individual players may change, the system remains intact; like a boxer taking a punch and shaking it off to continue the match.

The resilience of any area resides in the people of the community. They should not be deprived of that power to come together and protect themselves in the absence of law and order.

Today in American History

1977:  Elvis Presley dies of a heart attack in the upstairs bedroom suite area of his Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tennessee

Monday, August 15, 2011

Seeing America through fresh eyes

Since the advent of the Jet age, people have criss-crossed the continent at 30,000 feet. What has lost in this method of travel is the notion that; it’s the journey, not the destination. In the

As a kid traveling the Midwest for family vacations we would while away the miles straining our eyes in hopes of finding the elusive Rhode Island or hoping against hope to see a Hawaii. Along the way we discovered a universe of roadside attractions in backwater rural towns. Muffler men, water tower art, balls of twine, lint, yarn, etc. As children we were fascinated by the odd and unusual and were totally able to suspend disbelief at the drop of a dime. Back then, the world was simpler and only limited by our imagination.

On a recent car trip from Atlanta to South Florida we decided to kill time by playing the License Plate Game. If you haven’t done that since you were a kid, you should really try it again. We noted thirty-eight different States and how did we keep track you ask? Yes, they have an app for that. Of course there were all the usual suspects from the south and some stand outs like Idaho and Nevada, but we were truly amazed and almost swerved off the road when we spotted (wait for it) Alaska!!! We spent the rest of the trip saying “I can’t believe we got Alaska” Okay, I know that sounds like a major geek alert, but we have made that round trip route well over a dozen times and none were as fun, nor went by as quickly.  

Although it is difficult to stop and smell the roses at 70 mph, don’t let that opportunity pass you by the next time you hit the road.

Today in American History

1969:  Woodstock Music and Art Fair opens in New York State (Max Yasgur's Dairy Farm)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Today in American History

1945:  V-J Day; Japan surrenders unconditionally to end WW II

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Today in American History

1914:  Carl Wickman begins Greyhound, the 1st U.S. bus line, in Minnesota

Friday, August 12, 2011

We are the makers of our own change.

Yesterday’s blog post really got me thinking.

I am reminded of the Non-Aggression pact signed by Neville Chamberlain and Adolph Hitler. It is and was sheer folly to believe that a document can or will prevent anyone or anything from doing what “it” wants, especially if it is in “its” own interests.

The chilling effect that policies like this have is, they demonstrate that the only people the US government  can and will be punish is the American people; even if the they have done nothing wrong.

The best example of this is the TSA. Foreign nationals broke the law, overstayed their visas and committed an act of violence on the American People.  The Government response was to suspend the civil rights of all Americans and violate numerous sections of the Bill of Rights and Constitution in the name of safety. These documents, at their core, were designed to keep us (the people) safe from the government over stepping its boundaries. Once again, a document is unable to prevent… I think you get the point.

The people who fly into this country do not have to go through a TSA screening; either before boarding a plane, nor when they clear customs stateside. That means that even though 100% of those who committed the act that changed America were from out of the country, 99% of the people who are subject to increased scrutiny are Citizens. How can that possibly make any sense?

If you cannot imagine a time when airports return to normal, the way they were before September 11th, then you understand the nature of the problem.

Today in American History

1935:  President Franklin Roosevelt signs the Social Security Bill.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Is the pen mightier than the sword?

Apparently the one used to write this “form” is strong enough to shield the US from the violent Mexican drug cartels; something the US Border Patrol is unable to accomplish…

Today in American history

1965:  A small clash between the California Highway Patrol and two black youths sets off six days of rioting in the Watts area of Los Angeles.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What’s Old is New Again

As the Dog Days of summer are really kicking in and the heat is off the chart; time to take this fight outside.
Several years ago we made a decision to dedicate a portion of the patio to cooking. The placement of the Grill, side burners, coolers and storage make this the perfect way to escape the heat and helped turn the backyard into a tropical paradise.

Almost anything you currently cook can be made (and made better) on the grill. Add the benefit of keeping that heat and aromas out of the house and letting you’re A/C take a break; WINNING (too soon?).

I’m not big on recipes, but I’ll take ideas and hints from any source I can find. Once a month we do “Experimental Food Night”; by just selecting a meal that we have not tried before and giving it a whirl. If the pantry doesn’t have all the ingredients or it calls for something we don’t like, it’s left out or substituted. It usually worked out pretty well and because of it we’ve had excellent meat, fish and vegetable dishes, even pizza on the grill.

One or our family favorite activities is Sunday brunch on the grill. If you use propane in your Barbeque, it is fast and easy. Eggs are cooked in a pan on the side burners, bacon is cooked directly on the grill and the potato’s are pan baked using the grill as an oven.  The best part is that clean up is a snap, since you won’t spend hours getting the grease off the walls.

Mom always said “try it, you’ll like it”; sometimes she was right!

Today in American History

1846:  The Smithsonian Institution is established in Washington through the bequest of James Smithson.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Better than watching paint dry

When was the last time you inventoried your stuff. I know, I know, you are thinking; what an exciting topic. Sure, it ranks right up there with watching paint dry, but just hear me out.

When you purchase insurance; home, auto, renters, they give you sheets to compile lists of all your stuff. Let me guess, like me, you filled out a few items and bagged it until later; and later never comes.

Here's how I overcame that problem: Video camera; actually, a digital video camera. Over the course of a week or so, I went from room to room and taped everything. I opened every drawer, closet and cabinet. Pull the things from under beds, behind doors and open boxed items.

Go slow, take your time. This will be what you use to make a claim should you have a loss. Use longer range shots to establish areas and then use close-ups as you leaf through close. Remember that there is audio so talk about the items that are in the picture. This will help you remember items that may be out of sight and out of mind.

When you finish a room or area, simply plug the camera into the computer and back it up. Files can then be easily stored, organized and backed up to secure locations. I keep a copy on the computer, a separate hard drive, a memory stick in a safe and also make a DVD that I send to a friend in another State for safe storage. Space is cheap, think about online storage options, but it is wise to keep a copy off site for safety.

Today in American History

1974:  Richard Nixon resigns presidency, Vice President Gerald Ford becomes 38th president

Monday, August 8, 2011

Today in American History

1942:  6 convicted Nazi saboteurs who landed in the U.S. are executed in Washington D.C.

It’s never too late to begin

In case you haven’t noticed, things have been a little off kilter lately. Unemployment, the economy, politics, food and gas prices; the list goes on.

In Florida, as well as in many coastal communities, the annual ritual of hurricanes/storms constantly forces to have several “days” of supplies on hand.  Many people keep just enough food for the day. I am suggesting that you try to bump that up to at least three. It would be a good idea for just about everyone to have at least a week’s worth on necessities on hand. Remember that according to the Government and other studies, there is only about four days of food in the grocery stores and if they are not resupplied in that time frame; well the shelves will be bare.

You never know when a freak event (Natural, man-made or otherwise) will force you to deviate from your normal patterns. Sometime, you may just want to keep your head down for a couple of days and not have to leave the house. It would be nice to know that you could, whether you would or not, that’s a different matter.

If you have not read about Nine Meals Away from Anarchy, you should. I am certainly not suggesting that things will go downhill that fast, but once they start; it will be far too late to stock up for your family.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Today in American History

1782:  General George Washington authorizes the award of the Purple Heart for soldiers wounded in combat.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Today in American History

1945:  Paul Tibbets, the commander of Enola Gay, drops the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.It was the second atomic bomb, dropped on Nagasaki, that induced the Japanese to surrender.

Friday, August 5, 2011

You can take it with you… sort of

The loss of a loved one is tragic; the loss of all the accumulated memories is equally devastating.

Take the time to make the memories and make sure that you preserve them.

Scan and save digitally all photos. Transfer video tapes to DVD and back up digitally. Scan and save all important documents digitally. Scan and save receipts for purchases. Scan and save bills. Scan and save the contents of your wallet.

In the event of a catastrophe, you'll be glad you did!

Today in Amreican History

1974: President Richard Nixon admits he ordered a cover-up for political as well as national security reasons

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Someone is watching ... and that is not good!

Watch what you post online. The facial recognition features in Social Media sites can be used to predict your Social Security Number, divulge private information and steal your identity.

In the old days criminals used the Who's Who as a database for identify theft, now people are just lining up and volunteering to be taken advantage of on the net.

As an aside, it is facial recognition software. It can scour the net looking at thousands of images an hour. Pictures posted by friends, events you attend or even random "public places" crowd shots where your face is visible, (even in the background) can be used to compile a profile combining your on-line and off-line life.

What you post can and will be used against you, if you're not careful!

Today in American History

2010:  Officials determine that over 28,000 people have died from Mexican drug violence since December 2006

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What did you add today?

The job of preparing for a storm is never actually complete. Right now, Tropical Storm Emily is forming in the Atlantic. Will it hit South Florida or any part of the US, too early to say.

We are all set to respond if conditions change, but I saw the opportunity to add an often overlooked item to our list of nonperishable supplies: Tire sealant! It goes by many manes; Fix-a-Flat, Slime, ... I picked up four (4) cans today.

When Hurricane Wilma hit, the roads were impassable due to debris from all types of materials; including highway signs and power lines. Even if you managed to get around the objects blocking the roads, the likelihood of getting a flat was very high. Having this in your trunk can be a lifesaver and will allow you to keep going, when others are stopped dead in their tracks.


Today in American History

1882: Congress passes the Immigration Act, banning Chinese immigration for ten years.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What works for you: Good, Better, Best

During 2004 we experienced numerous tropical storms and 5 full blown hurricanes. In 2005 it was worse, with 7 hurricanes affecting Florida. Needless to say, with that type of activity, hurricane preparation is a way of life that impacts your actions six months out of every year.

Hurricane shutters were one of the first things we added to our house after moving in at the tail end of the 1990’s. These are basically engineered metal panels that cover every opening of the house. By keeping flying debris from breaking windows, it is hoped that you can ride out the storm relatively unscathed, with your home intact.

We had decided that once a TS watch went up, so did the shutters and all the outside items would be placed indoors to prevent them from becoming airborne missiles that could damage someone’s property, including our own.  After the storm passed, down came the shutters and all the “stuff” went back out so we could resume our normal South Florida lifestyle. This had worked well in our old house, which was much smaller, so we said "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

That was all fine and dandy until 2004. We shuttered five times that year. This equates to ten moves of outdoor furniture, plants, grills, yard art and all the little knick-knacks scattered around the property. That year broke the camel’s, and my, back. Although our hurricane preparedness plan was sound, it was becoming impractical and had to be adjusted to better suit our needs.

We made the decision to try something different the next season. The new plan was, when the first TS watch is issued, pack it all up and it stays packed up until the end of the season in November. The same went for the shutters on the sides of the house. In 2005, the number of storms increased to 24, a jump of nine from the previous year. That was the same year that Katrina hit Florida and then moved on to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

The plan worked perfectly! It seemed like every week something Tropical was happening, since all the “heavy lifting” was done so we could just sit back and relax. That part of the plan remains unchanged, while others portions have continued to be tweaked. It will always be a work in progress, since we learn something new every year.  

Remember; planning is good, implementing the plan is better, and modifying the plan to better suit your needs is the best.

Today in American History

1776: The Continental Congress, having decided unanimously to make the Declaration of Independence, affixes the signatures of the other delegates to the document.

Monday, August 1, 2011

As we approach the height of hurricane season it’s time to get back to the basics: We have already discussed how to get informed about hazards and emergencies that may affect you and your family, as well as developed an emergency plan. Now it’s time to collect and assemble disaster supplies.
A basic kit of disaster supplies should consist of the following:

• Three-day supply of non-perishable food.
• Three-day supply of water – one gallon of water per person, per day.
• Portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries.
• Flashlight and extra batteries.
• First aid kit and manual.
• Sanitation and hygiene items (moist towelettes and toilet paper).
• Matches and waterproof container.
• Whistle.
• Extra clothing.
• Kitchen accessories and cooking utensils, including a manual can opener.
• Photocopies of credit and identification cards.
• Cash and coins.
• Special needs items, such as prescription medications, eye glasses, contact lens solutions, and hearing aid batteries.
• Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles, and pacifiers.
• Other items to meet your unique family needs.

Prepare for foul weather, the worst your climate as to offer. You must think about warmth and keeping dry. It is possible that you will not have heat or suitable shelter. Think about your clothing and bedding supplies. Be sure to include one complete change of clothing and shoes per person, including:

• Jacket, coat or poncho.
• Long pants.
• Long sleeve shirt.
• Sturdy shoes.
• Gloves (work or winter), hat, mittens, and scarf.
• Sleeping bag or warm blanket (per person).

Today in American History

1966: Former marine Charles Whitman kills 13 and wounds 31 at University of Texas