June 29, 2004

Construction Update

Here is my PhotoShop rendition, before any of the work had started, of what I thought the house would look like after the addition.

Here is how it looks today with most of the roof in place. Once again for reference the original house in the extended entry.

There seems to be quite a difference between original expectation and final reality. Here's the story.

Builder (A) explained that the slope of the roof section (B) was created to match the roof line of the dormer on the back side of the house. Which is identical to the dormer (C). The height and pitch of the main roof on which contractor (A) is standing was determined by the placement of a large beam at (D). The placement of (D) was determined in large part by the need to minimize the load on the roof of the main house.

All of these compromises were needed to keep the roof from being to far above a chimney (not shown at this angle) at (E). The reason this could not be accomplished with the original design was the discovery of large steel plate spanning the original structure on which we are building. This steel plate forced us to raise the height of the floor in the addition by six inches. this of course added six inches to the wall height. To have an acceptable roof line and a ceiling height that would meet building codes, would have meant rebuilding the chimney. Several thousand dollars we did have to spend.

just for informational purposes, the ugly decorative lattices at (F) are going away. The blue tarp at (G) is covering another window that is mirrored on the other side. The octagonal stained glass window that can be seen in either the original house image or the PhotoShop rendition was saved and will be installed on the front wall between the two windows putting it centered over the headboard.

The hedges seen in this picture will also be going. Judging from their condition they had not been maintained for many years before we bought the house. I have trimmed them back as far I can without cutting off all of the green and they are still over grown. more...

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:02 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


June 28, 2004

Giving Thanks

Today I am thankful that I do not live in the state of New Jersey. Today I am grateful for the government of the state of New Jersey. Today the Governor of New Jersey signed legislation enacting perhaps the most un-nuanced redistribution of wealth in the history of liberal politics in America.

Called the "Millionaire's Tax" the legislation imposes s 41% tax increase on those earning more than $500,000 a year. The intellectual dishonesty of calling the a "Millionaire's Tax" when anyone smart enough to not be a New Jersey Democrat can see that there is a significant difference between $1,000,000 and $500,000. Semantics aside however the real core of the socialist left is on full display in the purpose of the tax. The money raised form the increase is not targeted at covering a budget shortfall, it is not intended for some great new social welfare benefit, it is not for the children. The reason for the tax increase on some New Jersey residents is to provide for a bigger property tax relief check for other New jersey residents. In the plainest terms possible, the state is taking money earned by some residents, and giving it to someone else.

This is bold faced legislative redistribution of wealth. They have not taken any trouble to hide it.

If you want to understand the depth of the moral depravity of those who support open legislative mugging, consider this account of the signing of the bill:

TRENTON, N.J. -- Gov. James E. McGreevey and a crowd of senior citizens were in a festive mood as New Jersey's first income tax increase in 14 years Monday was signed into law Monday.

...

Several hundred seniors toting balloons in front of the Trenton War Memorial cheered as McGreevey called the new tax a fair step in the effort to ease the property tax burden.

If you have no problem with any of this, cast your vote for Mr. Kerry and smile the smile of the beneficiary of legalized theft. If you think it's a great idea by all means pack your bags and move to the People's Republic of New Jersey.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:56 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


Captioned for Success

Your humble Mayo Holder has had yet another successful caption contest entry. Taking second place in the Wizbang Weekend Caption Contest.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:11 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


June 27, 2004

Lubricant Overstock

Does this scenario sound familiar? You walk into the kitchen to make a peanut better sandwich. You get the bread and the peanut butter (in my house its creamy as I am alone in my preference for chunky). Then you reach for the silverware drawer and you notice that the once smooth slide of the drawer seems a little stiffer. You ignore it grab a knife and get to work on your snack. Over time, the drawer seems stiffer and eventually it gets to a point where you start to think, "I've got to something about that." The drawer is now officially on your mental list of things to do around the house.

For me these things usually stay on that list, unattended to until they become a serious problem. Like the filter in the air conditioner. I learned this weekend that when the filter gets so bad that it is not only no longer filtering but an actual obstruction to incoming air, the condenser just cools the humid air around it. This tends to cause the condenser to ice up. Then the little pump that is supposed to pump the condensation over to the drain can't do its thing. Then the air handler fills up with water. The air conditioner at this point stops working effectively and the basement begins to get very wet.

Which in the end does nothing more than illustrate the ineffectiveness of the floating mental to do list. So I made a specific mental note to change the filter again at the start of the cooling season next year.

The silverware drawer has gotten increasingly difficult to operate and it has been on my mental list to give it a shot of WD40®. So on random trips to the basement I have been looking in places where I would be likely to find the WD40®, with no success. I couldn't believe that I had none in the house. The stuff is magic in a spray can. With a can of WD40® and a roll or two of duct tape one could be a serious contender for the X-Prize. The mental memo paid of when I was at Home Depot for something unrelated to drawer function I went to the aisle where the stick WD40®, which I knew because I know where everything is in my Home Depot. I did have to wonder, again, at what it ads to the cost to have the little red straw attached to the can with a rubber band.

I got home and gave the slides a quick spray and the drawer glides effortlessly. l knew the perfect spot in the basement to store my can of magic as well. A little cabinet next to the breaker panel where I keep a few homeowner essentials. The problem is, there wasn't any room on the one shelf tall enough for the can. All of that space was taken up by three other cans of WD40®. There are five rolls of duct tape on the shelf above. I think I scratch the X-Prize off my list.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:42 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


Happy Anniversary

Yesterday was my 10th wedding anniversary. Ten years is longer than I have done anything else in my lilfe. We paused for a moment and took inventory. Two kids, three dogs, our second house, a huge mountain of debt and 10 years of happy moments and great memories.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:04 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


June 25, 2004

Blue


I have a message for former Vice President Gore.

You are not only un-American but quite unabashedly anti-American. You are a pompous windbag lacking the good sense to keep your mouth shut. You are a compulsive dissembler who would not recognize the truth were it to repeatedly slap you in the face. Just to be perfectly clear, it is not my intention to question your patriotism. It would be impossible to question that which you do not possess.

And just so you know. My shirt is blue.


UPDATE: The Emperor has started The Alliance if Digital Brown Shirts. Excuse me while I go change.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:16 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


Today's DNC SPAM

The RNC has a lot of catching up to with the DNC as far as digital communications go. I'm on both parties lists (because I'm a glutton for punishment and I'm not a cat so I fear no curiosity) As pieces of paper mail that I get from the RNC, I get at least an equal number from the DNC. They are both interesting in their own way, and the only purpose of any of it is to beg for money.

I have on couple of occasion put my responses to an RNC fundraising survey on this site and quite frankly since they send them on paper it's quite annoying. I hate typing. I know what you're thinking "but your typing now and you've typed every word on this site." True enough, but there is a tremendous difference between using a keyboard to record your thoughts, i.e. writing, and re-keying something someone else wrote, i.e. typing. In the end, this means that making fun of DNC communications is easier - and for many many reasons much more fun.

Today's DNC plea for cash arrived in my in-box from none other than DNC Chairman and Clinton stooge terry McAuliffe. The theme this begging missive how John Kerry is a victim of the "Bush Attack Machine."

Dear Steve Macklin,

Eighty-five million dollars. That's how much the Bush campaign has already spent on television ads attacking John Kerry's character. That's $85 million worth of distortions, half-truths, and outright lies approved directly by George W. Bush in an attempt to get John Kerry out of the race before it even begins.

Speaking of distortions, half-truths and outright lies, Terry, this race has been on for a long, long time. And here's a campaign strategy tip for you: If your candidates campaign wasn't based on distortions, half-truths and outright lies there would none for Bush to approve pointing out in his ads.
Instead of listening to the barrage of negative attacks coming from the Bush campaign, the American people are listening to John Kerry's positive vision for strength at home and respect abroad.
We have been listening for any sort of vision from Kerry, but what little he has to offer is drowned out by the barrage of negative attacks coming from the candidate and his suurogates Teddy Kennedy, Howard Dean, and Al Gore. And even this message from you Terry is pretty long on negatives and very short on positive vision. Could it be because the only thing you and your entire party can conceive of as a positive vision is a Democrat in the White House, even one as weak as Kerry?
They've still got plenty of special interest cash left to attack John Kerry, and we know they'll stop at nothing to win. Nothing.
What was that old expression about the pot and the kettle? The party that was contemplating not officially nominating their candidate at their nominating convention in order to manipulate the campaign finance system should probably not be criticizing anyone for "stopping at nothing to win."
What's more, your gift today is crucial to fully funding the largest voter registration and get-out-the-vote drive in history.
Yes, your money can help to bring convicted felons and sex offenders to your neighbor's door (but the other party will stop at nothing).

Not there ever was a chance in a trillion that I would be contributing to the DNC, but this kind of crap might just convince me to drop out of the race and throw my support to Bush.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:55 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


June 24, 2004

Return of the Waffle King

Absentee Senator John Kerry (D-MA) has expressed his displeasure at Republican Senators who interfered with his plans to use a scheduled vote on veterans benefits as a campaign photo op. During the course of his campaign for the presidency, Kerry has reportedly missed 80% of all Senate votes. Leaving his home state with representation from only one senator with a blood alcohol level likely higher than the number of votes Kerry has cast.

For Kerry, his Senate seat is clearly as meaningful as his military service. Something to bring out on stage when it it is convenient.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:57 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


June 23, 2004

Another Construction Update

They were here working all day. When I talked to my wife around noon I could hear the sound of hammers in the background. But there is no new photo because it still looks like this. I don't have easy access to the space yet so I just have to assume they did more than sit up there drinking beer and banging hammers on the floor!!

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:08 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


June 22, 2004

A Good Start

I take back some of what I said here. Specifically:

And if the current administration is not willing to do what it takes to fight terrorism, if they are not willing to see our enemy as one without boundaries of either nationality or humanity, then we might as well all vote for Kerry and get it over with.
I hope this is an indication of a strengthening resolve.
BAGHDAD, Iraq — The United States launched an airstrike Tuesday in Fallujah on a safehouse used by followers of Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- the second strike against the terror network in three days, the U.S. military said.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmit, the U.S.-led coalition's deputy chief of operations, said the strike involved precision weapons to "target and destroy" the safehouse and was based on "multiple confirmations of actionable intelligence."

"Wherever and whenever we find elements of the Zarqawi network, we will attack them," he said.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:30 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


Religion of Evil

I am not sure there is a response strong enough to deal with immoral animals who today brutally murdered another innocent victim. It is tempting to say that we should turn the Middle East into one vast above ground nuclear weapons testing facility, but that would only be throwing out the baby with the bath water. But it is time for the Bush administration to take off the election year gloves and treble our efforts. Damn the cost, and damn the whiners on the left. Double the anti-terrorism budgets of the FBI and the CIA and tear down any last remnants of the Reno/Goerlick wall between the two agencies. Pull out troops out of Europe and re-task them to the War on Terror.

The United States and its allies should put the world on notice that we are taking the fight to the terrorists, wherever they are. Borders and boundaries mean nothing to terrorists and they should mean nothing to us. If we know there are terrorists in a given country, we are going after them and we will eliminate anyone who stands in the way.

This we should do in the name of Daniel Pearl, of Nicholas Berg, of Paul Johnson, and of "Kim Sun-il.

This we should do in the name of every decent life respecting freedom loving individual on the planet.

And if the current administration is not willing to do what it takes to fight terrorism, if they are not willing to see our enemy as one without boundaries of either nationality or humanity, then we might as well all vote for Kerry and get it over with.

UPDATE: I am not alone in wondering when Bush will actually do something.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 08:44 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


Another Construction Update

No progress was made yesterday as we experienced another weather related delay. It was sunny with temps in the low 70s and a nice breeze. A perfect day for house building or fishing. Today's forecast calls for a 60% chance of thunder showers so I will not be surprised if they elect to not remove the tarps and climb up on to the roof wearing tool belts full of little lightening rods. And since I'm not to excited about the prospect of another downpour in my living room I guess I'm o.k. with that. The forecast for Wednesday is looking pretty good for potentially making progress on the roof.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:36 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


June 20, 2004

Your Sunday "Read the Whole Thing"

Den Beste Writes a long and detailed post (surprise surprise) to outline the fact that he can't verify with any certainty the author of this piece on the nature of terrorism and what must be done to fight it. A good number of Den Beste's words are devoted to point out that its authorship doesn't really matter, the content is good enough on its own.

The money quote from Den Beste

Read The Whole Thing

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:23 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


June 19, 2004

I Got a Very Nice Invitation

I got a very nice invitation in the mail the other day. It's from the Republican members of congress. They are inviting me to The President's Dinner.

I asked myself what I had done to deserve such an honor. Then I looked at the enclosed R.S.V.P. form that I am to return to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert. It seems the only way I can have dinner with the President is to pony up $2,500 for a ticket. They don't even offer a group rate its $25,000 for a table of 10.

So lets just wee what kind of commitment to dinnner I would have to make.

Two round trip tickets to DC $450.
At least one night in a decent hotel in DC $380
Wardrobe for dinner $400
Incidentals $200
Two tickets to dinner $5,000

Total: $6,430.

I don't think I'm going to make it (see the post below). I hope the President and his guests enjoy their pressed chicken.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 08:29 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


Construction Update

When we first got the ball rolling on the addition to our house, I promised regular construction updates. So far they have been few and far between. Mostly because progress has been slow. There have been weather delays and lots of leaks, but mostly as they finished the demolition the discovered some "irregularities" in the framing of the original structure. The parts that we were going to be building onto. So they have been working diligently but there has been nothing much to show until now.

Now we have walls.

In the very, very, very unlikely possibility that you have been following this as closely as I have, I put the "Before" photo in the extended entry more...

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:26 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


June 18, 2004

Images From the Religion of Peace

Al Qaeda terrorists have brutally murdered American hostage Paul Johnson. He was beheaded in the name of their god. He was beheaded in the name of the "Religion of Peace." I wonder if the media will cover this story as thoroughly as the covered the murder of Nicholas Berg. I wonder if the left will still refuse to see the Islamist threat as real. I wonder if they will finally understand that this is a war.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:47 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


June 17, 2004

It's Meme Time

I did the book thing, good fun and all that. But Victor didn't want to so he started a movie version.

Keep it going. Highlight the ones you've seen. Add three more at the end of the list

The hardest part was picking only three movies to ad on at the end. more...

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:56 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment


June 16, 2004

And They Were Probably Running Windows Too

Phil Libin CEO of the digital security company CoreStreet also write a blog: Vastly Important Notes. He writes about security issues and much more. In one recent security related post he detailed the state of the art security attached to America's nuclear arsenal during the height of the cold war.

In his February 11th column, Bruce Blair from the Center for Defense Information gives a rather horrifying first-hand account of the traditionally framed conflict between safety and convenience. In this case, it's the convenience of being able to annihilate our geopolitical enemies on short notice versus the safety of not starting a nuclear war by accident.

In the 1960's each of the thousand-odd Minuteman nuclear missiles were fitted with special locks which would prevent launch unless the "secret unlock code" was received from high-authority - presumably the president or secretary of defense. The purpose of the locks was to prevent unauthorized launch either by accident or through a deliberate subversion of the chain of command. The problem was that this extra step was seen as a cumbersome process which had the potential to delay our nuclear response and thereby dampen the retaliation we could mete out in the case of an actual attack. The solution was the equivalent of writing your windows password on a sticky-note attached to your monitor:

The Strategic Air Command (SAC) in Omaha quietly decided to set the "locks" to all zeros in order to circumvent this safeguard. During the early to mid-1970s, during my stint as a Minuteman launch officer, they still had not been changed. Our launch checklist in fact instructed us, the firing crew, to double-check the locking panel in our underground launch bunker to ensure that no digits other than zero had been inadvertently dialed into the panel. SAC remained far less concerned about unauthorized launches than about the potential of these safeguards to interfere with the implementation of wartime launch orders. And so the "secret unlock code" during the height of the nuclear crises of the Cold War remained constant at OOOOOOOO.
All I can say is that I agree entirely with the first lesson he learned from this story.
We are really, really, really lucky that the world didn't get all blown up before the end of the cold war. Sure, the professionalism and relative cool-headedness of many individuals on both sides of the conflict helped a lot, but there was a scary number of close calls. Let's try not to do this again.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:50 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


June 14, 2004

A Supreme Cop-Out

How do you say Supreme Court of the United States in French? What is the Spanish word for SCOTUS?

Faced with a question that goes to the heart of the meaning of the First Amendment's establishment clause, a case that goes to the root cause of the cultural divide in America, and a case that couldn't more clearly exemplify the reason the supreme court was created, the justices turned tail and ran. They found a minor technicality and voted unanimously to do nothing.

The case is Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, or as most people know it the Pledge of Allegiance case. The issue put before the court, the one they refused to deal with, is what is the meaning of the language "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

For many, this language means exactly what it says. That congress may not establish an official religion of the United States. For others such as Michael Newdow this language means that the worlds of government and religion should never meet. That government should make no mention of religion in any form or forum.

I am not a religious man. I belong to no church. I do not believe in God. I am not, however, anti religious. I am not offended by the beliefs of others. A comparison of my values and standards of morality with those taught by most western religions reveals a considerable commonality. The faithful and I diverge most sharply on our view of the source of value and morality. A thorough analysis of this divergence would take a book length post so I'll put that off for now.

What the anti-religious object to in any governmental association with religion is the enforcement of a standard of right and wrong, good and evil. By and large what most religions teach is not moral relativism, but rather a moral absolutism handed down in scripture. Most religion is not about "if it feels good do it" burt about sin and sinners. I understand that I am oversimplifying and generalizing here but it has been my experience that people who will pursue or support the pursuit of a case such as the Newdow case generally do not want to be held accountable to any standard.

It is this split, the divide between moral absolutism and moral relativism that is the core the culture war currently dividing America. This is what the Supreme Court was faced with, and this is what they ducked. In doing so they also failed to do their job in applying and interpreting the Constitution. This is what the Supreme Court does, decide Constitutional issues. In this case they decided not to.

Article Three of the Constitution contains this language (emphasis added)

The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour
Nitpicking their way out of having to make a difficult and controversial decision fails to meet my good behaviour standard. To me, it is intellectual and moral cowardice.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:22 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


A Great Straight Line

In baseball, they refer to it as a gopher ball. A pitch that is only going to end its journey when it lands on the the other side of the outfield fence. In comedy they refer to it as the straight line. The "serious" comment that is the set-up for the punch line. In email parlance it comes with a subject line of "The Democratic Convention wants you."

The message reads

DNC Announces "Create Your Own Ad" Contest; Winning Ad to be Shown at Democratic Convention

Dear Steve Macklin,

If you've ever wanted your voice to be heard in a presidential election, now's your chance. The Democratic Party is holding a "Create Your Own Ad" contest, and the winning ad will be shown at the 2004 Democratic Convention.

We're asking you to create an ad because some of the best ideas we've heard have come from our online activists. Here's how the contest will work:

You make an ad up to 60 seconds long on why you are supporting John Kerry or why American needs a change in leadership. You choose which topic you want.

Then enter the contest by uploading the finished ad (either video or flash animation) at www.democrats.org/amc.

It's that simple. But hurry -- the deadline for submitting ads is July 12, 2004.

Paul Begala, Democratic strategist and co-host of CNN's Crossfire, will narrow the submissions down to 10 finalists. We'll showcase these 10 ads on Democrats.org, and tens of thousands of activists across the country (including you!) will pick the winning ad.

This is your chance to show your work to a live audience of thousands and to possibly millions more watching on television and over the Internet.

More important, it's a chance for you to tell America why this country needs a change in leadership and why John Kerry is the right man for the job -- in your own way.

To learn more, go to our An American Made Convention contest page. Get started today: all entries must be submitted by July 12!

This one is just too good to let go by and over the next week or two I will be developing my submission. When it is done, I will share it here as well.

And just so you know that I am not breaking the rules by telling you this

Tell a Friend

Do you know someone who would make a great video for the Democratic Convention? Let them know about our An American Made Convention!

So follow the link, read the rules and start creating. Just be prepared to run afoul of rule three
In determining finalists and winning entries, the DNC reserves the right to disqualify and remove from consideration any entry which, in the DNC's sole discretion and judgment, is inappropriate, offensive, defamatory or demeaning to the DNC's reputation or goodwill or is otherwise not in the best interests of the DNC or the Democratic Party of the United States.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 08:17 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


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