Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Weekend in the Smoky Mountains

Stacie and I went with another couple up to Sylva / Bryson City / Cherokee, NC over the weekend. We were worried about the gas shortage but couldn't cancel our reservations so we loaded up and hoped there would be plentiful fuel at our destination.

It was a good weekend to do a little hiking and chill out in a cabin in the woods. We hit a few waterfalls while we were out enjoying nature. There is not as much water flowing at the end of the summer and the falls were a little dry but weather was great.

We stopped in the Harrah's Cherokee Casino for a few minutes. It is nothing but video poker, slots, and digital blackjack with live dealers. You can forget about getting a drink while you're feeding the one armed bandits because the reservation is dry. I had the Midas touch and turned my 10 bucks in to 13 and Stacie kept saying "cash out" so we bailed. There really wasn't anything interesting enough to keep us there and the cigarette smoke was overpowering.
We didn't fill up the tank when we left North Carolina and were running on fumes by the time we got home. Once we were about 30 miles north of Atlanta the gas stations were either empty or they had a line stretching way down the road. Fortunately, it was our friends extra car so they had enough gas in their other vehicles to make it to work this week. Officials are telling us that we should be back to normal gas supplies in 1-2 weeks. If we don't see any stations open soon, we will have to postpone our trip to Stacie's mother's house again this weekend.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Politically Ignorant

When it comes to politics, I have opinions about how I would like for things to be, but I'm not as informed as I would like. The problem I have is I never really know what the candidates answers are to specific questions. Don't you wish there was a "hotline" that you can call in to and have your questions answered? It could be a non-political group that is informed about the issues and the candidates position and plans. They would not have an opinion, just give facts.

I usually get confused about the vague answers I hear in news clips or the specific accusations made against each of the candidates by groups sending out warning emails. I get a ton of emails from a former employee that must be on every conservative, Republican, Christian Coalition, and right wing mailing list. Some of the stuff I read is interesting, albeit very one sided. The latest one that has me worried is the one about the proposed tax changes after the election.

Proposed changes in taxes after 2008 General election:

MCCAIN: 0% on home sales up to $500,000 per home (couples) McCain does not propose any change in existing home sales income tax.

OBAMA: 28% on profit from ALL home sales

How does this affect you? If you sell your home and make a profit, you will pay 28% of your gain on taxes. If you are heading toward retirement and would like to down-size your home or move into a retirement community, 28% of the money you make from your home will go to taxes. This proposal will adversely affect the elderly who are counting on the income from their homes as part of their retirement income.

MCCAIN: 15% (no change)

OBAMA: 39.6%

How will this affect you? If you have any money invested in stock market, IRA, mutual funds, college funds, life insurance, retirement accounts, or anything that pays or reinvests dividends, you will now be paying nearly 40% of the money earned on taxes if Obama become president. The experts predict that 'higher tax rates on dividends and capital gains would crash the stock market yet do absolutely nothing to cut the deficit.

MCCAIN: (no changes) Single making 30K - tax $4,500Single making 50K - tax $12,500 Single making 75K - tax $18,750Married making 60K- tax $9,000Married making 75K - tax $18,750Married making 125K - tax $31,250

OBAMA: (reversion to pre-Bush tax cuts) Single making 30K - tax $8,400 Single making 50K - tax $14,000 Single making 75K - tax $23,250 Married making 60K - tax $16,800Married making 75K - tax $21,000Married making 125K - tax $38,750 Under Obama your taxes will more than double!

How does this affect you? No explanation needed. This is pretty straight forward.

MCCAIN: 0% (No change, Bush repealed this tax)
I did find McCain's entry about his in his briefing. "Allow Families To Keep Their Businesses: John McCain proposes reducing the Estate Tax rate to 15 percent and permit a generous $10 million exemption."

OBAMA: Restore the inheritance tax

How does this affect you? Many families have lost businesses, farms and ranches, and homes that have been in their families for generations because they could not afford the inheritance tax. Those willing their assets to loved ones will not only lose them to these taxes.

* New government taxes proposed on homes that are more than 2400 square feet
* New gasoline taxes (as if gas weren't high enough already)
* New taxes on natural resources consumption (heating gas, water, electricity)
* New taxes on retirement accounts and last but not least....
* New taxes to pay for socialized medicine so we can receive the same level of medical care as other third-world countries!!!

I realize the message was written from a pro McCain view point, but is any of this true? Where does this information come from? I just don't know It's not like I can go to Obama's web site and he is going to say, "hey, I want to start taxing you on the sale of your home, and don't forget please vote for me." You can't go to McCain's site and see where they can prove these numbers. I guess most of the time, it is just their interpretation and then the supposed result is given.

Unfortunately, I also get other emails that never emphasize anything about Obama other than his heritage. For some reason, the emails always list his name as Barack HUSSEIN Obama. What's with the need to include and capitalize his middle name? Is suggesting that he is a bus bombing Muslim the best strategy you have? Although, I would love to watch a good in-depth story on his father's side of the family that still resides in Africa and what ties / communication our possible future president still has with them.

Another other thing I don't understand is the absolute hatred some people have against some of the candidates that until this election, we had never heard of. I mean really, who the hell knew who Obama was until he started running for president? As for Palin, the woman is governor of the largest state in the union, but I never heard of her until she got picked by McCain. I completely understand not being a supporter of a party's general policies or disagreeing with specific actions / positions the candidates have taken, but can you honestly tell me you "hate" Palin like I have heard some of the Hollyweird folks say. Inexperienced, sure. Lack of foreign policy experience, absolutely. Sorry M'am, just because you can see Russia from your doorstep, doesn't make you an expert. Hell, if that was the case, I could be the ambassador to Mexico based on my tequila consumption alone. But let's not forget that Obama also has little experience in many of the same fields where Palin gets bashed.

I have read both candidates plans and like many parts of each and don't agree with a few from both, but I at least recognize that each is not happy with the the current state of our nation. I still blame most of our current situation on policies that started by Clinton while the Republicans were in Congress. It seems that the Democrats and Republicans can only agree and work together when the shit has already hit the fan. We see very little preemptive cooperation for the good of middle class Americans. How cool would it be to watch a debate one time and one of the candidates say "I like that idea, I wish I would have thought of it" or "I am so going to use that if I'm elected"? Either way, good luck to all of us.

***UPDATE*** Ask and ye shall receive. Thanks to J for the links to Factcheck.org and a Wall Street Journal article about the taxes. It's a start.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Walking for Boobies

Well, this is the big weekend. Tomorrow morning at 6:00 I will begin a 30-mile journey with a group of about 1500 people who all have a common goal: to raise awareness of and to fight against breast cancer. I am very excited and looking forward to being a part of this experience. I expect it to be emotional, uplifting, inspiring and exhausting, and I can't wait to do it! I have been training for months and have already walked over 100 miles total. I am ready for this walk, but I'm not ready for breast cancer - for me or for anyone else I know. Knowing even one person who has battled it already is one too many.

I'm walking this walk for my aunt, a breast cancer survivor, and for all the other women out there who have survived it and for all of those who sadly lost the fight. I'm also walking it for all of us who have so far been free and clear, with hopes that we can stay that way through early detection and treatment.

I am happy to report that I have raised over $2000 for this cause, and so far the Atlanta 2 Day Breast Cancer Walk has raised over $4 million!

Now I ask of you: at some point this weekend while you're watching football or playing poker or mowing the lawn or whatever else you may be doing, stop and think about all the people who have been touched by breast cancer in one way or another. And think about the 1500+ people who will be walking and walking and walking to make a difference!

You better believe at the end of this 30-miles, there will be a very large glass of wine waiting for me. (That's your hint Brian.) :-) Oh, and the Tivo-ed Auburn/LSU game!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Price Gouging

On the way home from work today, I filled up the Maxima for tomorrow's trip to visit Stacie's mother in South Carolina. We had already been warned that prices were hitting over $5 / gallon in some areas due to hysteria. I try to fill up at Kroger since we bought some gift cards earlier, but today it wasn't going to happen because of the long lines. I stopped by my favorite BP on the way home, but 75% of their pumps were closed and the lines were 5-7 cars deep for the pumps that were working. I tried one more place across the street because they still had gas at a reasonable (HA!) $3.99 for mid-grade. As I pulled in, a guy was pulling down the 3 and replacing it with a 4. You've gotta be shittin' me! I asked the lady in front of me if gas really just went up $1 a gallon while I am next in line. She said she was still paying the lower price so I turned the car around and pulled in to the pump next to her. The pump still showed $3.99 for 89 octane so I swiped my credit card and filled up the tank. When I was done, the receipt did not print so I went inside to get one and make sure of the rate I was paying. It correctly showed what the pump had reflected, but I noticed when I got in the car the pumps now showed $4.99 / gallon. It went up a fucking dollar a gallon in the time it took for me to get my duplicate receipt! If that is not price gouging, I don't know what is. Although we can make it up to Greenville and back on a tank, we will have to fill up on Sunday so we have gas for the week. We were worried that we either won't be able to fill up or it would be over $5 / gallon. We decided it would be best to cancel our trip and ride out our existing gas supply for a while. I only have 1/4 tank in the G, but that will have to last until this stupidity passes. I expect by the end of next week it will be back below $4 / gallon. It's a good thing we carpool as much as we do and have a short commute. Good luck to everyone that needs to fill up this weekend.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Titty Nipple?

No, this is not an attempt to increase traffic. I wouldn't know to tell if it happened anyway. WTF, did Moneymaker's buddy really say "from my right titty nipple" during his WSOP interview? He was kind hard to understand at times and I don't think that it was because of the car accident. It was more like the dip and the Tennessee. Do you think Helmuth treated Hobbs different because he is in a wheelchair? If someone else had slow rolled the boat like that we would have seen a full scale rant. Then Hobbs followed it up with "nice hand." I will give the kid the benefit of the doubt due to nerves and inexperience and I'm impressed Phil did as well. I still say if he was a fully able bodied young man, Phil would have started channeling Scotty Nguyen.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

More Years of Bush in The White House?

He He, I kill me.