Christmas Break

Sorry for the lame and non-existent posts. Between final papers, Christmas Parties, busy end-of-year work schedules, buying presents…we haven’t had much extra time. And now for the next week and a half we are traveling to such exotic places like: visiting our grandparents in Paoli, Indiana (for you Larry Bird fans, that is about 5 minutes away from his hometown of French Lick, Indiana)… visiting our grandparents in Beaver Dam, Kentucky (for you Bluegrass fans, it is near the hometown of Bill Monroe), and visiting our grandparents in Berea, Kentucky (they are famous for their tremendous Spoon Bread Festival).

All of these places don’t own a computer…or even 3-pronged outlets to plug in our laptop. They still think computers are a fad.

We will return in January. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!


Quick Movie Recommendation: Children of Men

I have a real follow-the-leader mentality when it comes to movies. I want to see everything that movie “historians” recommend as important films. So in my high school/college days, I tried to watch a bunch of AFI’s Top 100 Movies of All Time. You know what I quickly found out? A lot of those movies are unwatchable. I’ve been so exposed to larger-than-life action, dramatic cuts, and other shenanigans, that I fell asleep about 6 times trying to watch “Lawrence of Arabia”. I challenge anyone to start watching that movie at 10pm and make it through. Can’t be done. Also, I hate when some movies are ruined before you ever watch them. I watched “Shawshank Redemption” and “The Princess Bride” long after everybody else saw them. So I went into both with unrealistic expectations and both films have forever been ruined for me. So I’ll try not to ever do that with a movie review. Without further ado:

Children of Men instantly became one of my favorite movies of all time. It begins with an interesting premise: In the future, because of unknown reasons, women are no longer able to become pregnant. Worldwide chaos ensues. We follow Clive Owen and his attempt to make sure a random pregnant miracle girl safely reaches a group of scientists. This would hopefully save mankind.
The story is by no means flawless, but I’m recommending this more for the style it was shot in. There are countless scenes were director Alfonso Cuarón uses long uninterrupted tracking shots. You really feel as if you are a bystander instead of just a viewer at your house. Check out this link to see a nice documentary of how some of this stuff was done. Instead of the director editing together a ton of footage, he trusts his actors to accomplish ridiculously intricate scenes.

The plot is very compelling, but the way this film is shot makes it incredible.

Daily Bible Verses: Days 3-7

*I’m starting my quest to read the Bible in a year. I’m using a structure in which I read from three separate books a day. I want to share the most meaningful verses/passages from what I read each day. On rare occasions I’ll elaborate, but most often I’ll simply post Scripture. I’m currently reading Luke, Genesis, and Psalm.

Genesis 6:6 - The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.

Genesis 11:4 - They said, "Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth."

Genesis 12:2 - And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing;

Psalm 3:3 - But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head.

Psalm 5:4 - For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with You.

Psalm 5:6 - You destroy those who speak falsehood; the Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.

Psalm 6:4 - Return, O Lord rescue my soul; save me because of Your lovingkindness.

Psalm 7:17 - I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.

Luke 6:35 - "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

Luke 8:39 - "Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.


Team First (Seriousness Level: Low)

I wanted to give a quick congratulations to Brian Westbrook of the Philadelphia Eagles for his unselfish act in last night’s game. His team was up 4 with the ball against their rival Dallas Cowboys. Basically, if the team held on to the ball they were going to win the game.

Westbrook broke a run and was trotting towards the end zone. He could have easily scored and padded his stats, but instead, he headed the advice of a teammate and stopped at the one-yard-line and insured victory. If he would have scored, Dallas would have had about 2 minutes for a possible TD, 2-pt conversion/onside kick/FG to tie the game. It would have been highly unlikely, but I’ve seen crazier things happen.

Anyway, in this me-first sports world, it was nice to see a guy think of the team ahead of himself.

Read the full story here:

GTKTPRFP - Fred Thompson: Part I: (Seriousness Level: Severe)

*Disclaimer - For every candidate I’m going to devote 2 hours to look over their opinions on key issues and pointing out where I disagree. Then I’ll be looking at the major issues playing in the media that will dissuade people from voting for them. I’m trying to summarize thoughts, so please don’t take my words as absolute fact. If you have any grips with my summary, please look to the candidate’s website for their official opinion. This is my interpretations from 2 hours ONLY. I reserve the right to change my opinion as this proceeds.

Baseball Card Statistics:

Full Name: Fred Dalton Thompson
Age: 65
Marital Status: 2nd Wife, Jeri – Married for 5 years
Party Affiliation: Republican
Most Recent Office Held: Former US Senator from Tennessee
College: Memphis State/Vanderbilt
Religious Affiliation: Church of Christ
Eric’s Official Nickname: Right Said Fred
Official Candidate website: http://www.fred08.com/
Randomness: Played a district attorney named Arthur for 5 years on Law & Order.
Pre-issue thoughts
I was making conversation with one of my clients about 6 months ago and knew he loved politics. So I casually asked who he thought the Republican candidate for President was going to be. Without hesitation, he said Right Said Fred would be the next President of the United States. My client is a self-made millionaire and a VERY smart man, so I’ve felt Right Said Fred was a front-runner for quite a while. The common line that keeps being uttered is: When is Right Said Fred going to break out of his shell. Nothing about this man stands out. He’s a prototype Republican candidate, but without ANY excitement. But he does have a couple things going that I like. He’s from Tennessee, he graduated law school from Vanderbilt, and his wife is a landslide favorite in the hottest potential first wife race. She is what we call a trophy wife. So with Right Said Fred; I want to like him, I’m just kinda bored with him. He has this incredible TV personality, but it hasn’t translated into the race. I think he should wear shirts that say: “Remember me, I’m the Law & Order guy” or “Arthur Branch and Jack McCoy 2008”.
Interesting Issue Watch
Immigration – For the most part, Right Said Fred is identical to other Republican candidates on immigration. But something stood out to me, and not in a good way. On his website, he starts out with this statement: “The United States is a nation of immigrants. Throughout our history, legal immigrants have brought energy, ideas, strength, and diversity to our country, our economy, and our culture.” Well, we are a nation of immigrants, well..besides the Native Americans, but that’s something for another time. What got to me was later in his immigration section when he said he was committed to: “Uniting Americans by welcoming legal immigrants willing to learn English, assimilate into our communities, and become productive citizens.” So on one hand, he praises the diversity of immigrants, but then is committed to making them assimilate into our communities. I know he just wants them to become productive, but the word assimilate is a very dangerous one. It’s basically loss of native culture and being absorbed into a new one. So listen up foreigners. If Right Said Fred becomes president be sure to bribe the immigration office with hot dogs, fireworks, and bad mortgages.

National Security – To come up with his platform on National Security, I imagine his people sat around a table and basically said: “Ok, lets just paste together a bunch of scary terrorism-related words”. Here are some of my favorite words and phrases from his 150-word intro paragraph. Protect the American People; Way of life; Radical Islam; Al Qaeda; Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD); Kill Millions; Defeat the Terrorists Abroad; Iraq and Afghanistan; Global War; Will to Fight and Win; A Weakened America; We must persevere; Mapping out a Clear Vision; (and my personal favorite broad meaningless phrase)Comprehensive Strategy.

So nearly a 1/3 of his words were either scary or political jargon. I’m kinda scared to leave my house now. I want a candidate to be blunt. I wish it said: “people hate us, they’ll always hate us. We need to figure how to prevent Americans from being murdered because of that hate.” Now THAT’S a blunt/broad statement I can deal with.

He also promotes: “A judicial system that deals with the realities of terrorists and unlawful enemy combatants.” English translation: “If I want to kick down your door because you last name sounds funny, I shouldn’t need a warrant. Let’s go Patriot Act”

Family Values – He states that his pro-life and against same-sex marriage. RANT: It’s hard for me to see how people are for same-sex marriage, but are also pro-choice. I agree that a government should not be able to discriminate against individuals for life-style choices. I am personally against same-sex marriage (because of personal beliefs), but I also realize that from a national level, our citizens should not be held to different standards. I mean, if you say you’re for same-sex marriage, don’t you HAVE to be pro-life. Not even from a religious point of view. Doesn’t the unborn child deserve the same rights that are being demanded for same-sex couples? We must protect the rights of individuals. When a woman becomes pregnant, she still should have rights, just as long as they aren’t at the expense of others, specifically the one inside her. I mean, we ban smoking in public because of second-hand smoke, but abortion is ok….really? By saying a mother’s right to choose is more important that a child’s life; you are making a similar argument to “traditional couples” deserve better governmental treatment than alternative life-style couples. You are taking one segment of the population and treating them better than another. If you want equal rights for everybody, then promote equal rights for EVERYBODY.
Eric’s Gut Feeling After 2 Hours of Research
Look, this guy’s great, but he’s a clone. I can’t find a reason to vote for him, but no real hindrances from voting for him. Maybe that’s a good thing. If you want a safe, bland President, here’s you man. I may vote for him, but he’ll need to stand up and be a little more outspoken. Stop reading from a script and speak from the heart. COME ON ARTHUR!
Eric’s Official Rating
I’ll give him a 75. He’s normal enough. If he ever wakes up and uses his personality, he may win this thing.
Tomorrow Afternoon: Rudy Giuliani

Smells like “Red Dawn” (Seriousness Level: Severe)

Growing up in the heart of Second Amendment country, a lot of my childhood revolved around guns. Most of my friends hunted; to the point during deer season, students would skip school to hunt. Before the popular appeal of paintball, a group of us would go into the woods, split up into teams, and have a BB gun war. Yes, it’s exactly what you’re thinking. We would wear tons of clothing, no helmets, and shoot each other with small projectiles. Of course we had the rule that you couldn’t shoot above the chest but there’s a reason why they don’t let 12-year-olds serve in the military.

Anyway, all of this contributed to my love of the TBS classic: Red Dawn. Starring the immortal Patrick Swayze, this film takes us to a place where the Communist tag team of the Soviet Union and Cuba decide to invade the US. The story is told from the perspective of a group of high school students, calling themselves the Wolverines, who fight back Rambo style, and take the fight back to the bad guys in the Rocky Mountains. (Side note: Here’s a way to always win the Michigan-Ohio State argument. Just say the kids from Red Dawn would have never called themselves the Buckeyes. Simple as that.) Needless to say, this was my kind of movie.

In the past week, the situation in Iraq has made me think of this movie. Maybe that means I’m an idiot, but here are some random thoughts.

The BBC reports this about the makeup of the insurgents in Iraq:
“Fighters range from former figures in Saddam Hussein's Baath party to Sunni nationalists fearing Shia domination and foreign Islamist fighters who see Iraq as an arena for a global struggle against the West”
So we’re facing two separate enemies. One is a group who is losing their power/control and the other is a radical element of a religious group, who doesn’t want the “Zionists” to control their country. They see this as a struggle that they are willing to give their lives for. The US is allowing protests, holding elections, but none of this addresses how to control the set of the population that doesn’t want our troops or the new government in place.

There are an estimated 17,000 people in the group actively rebelling against the US army in Iraq. This is a group of people that have banned together in an effort to “save their country”. With some politicians and a growing segment of the public demanding a troop withdrawal, I feel that this group will only grow once we “invaders” leave. If the US leaves without a plan for the new Iraqi government to end the insurgency, they will be headed for civil war.

Sorry for the non-conclusive ending. I just wanted to share some thoughts. To put you in a better mood, here is a link to the famous Swayze snot bubble from Red Dawn.


Shopping for a Good Charity?

The end of the year is coming soon, so we all need to get in our tax-deductible Charitable donations before December 31. Here are some of my favorite (and please comment on your favorite ones too!)

Tip: before donating, always check the Better Bureau Business for the specifics of the charity. You can find out if they are legit, what percent of your funds will go to administrative costs, their mission statement, their standing with the BBB, what they ate for dinner last night, their first grade report cards…etc.

Side note: I’m pretty sure bureau is the hardest word in the world to spell…thank goodness for spell check. Shouldn’t we have a limit on how many vowels can be in one word? I propose a new law: one word cannot contain more than a 0.42 vowel to consonant ratio.

World Vision: We sponsor a child named Inginir Yishak (pronounced Engineer Yee-shack) in Ethiopia. Last Christmas we wanted to send him something special, so we called World Vision and they recommended a cow for his family. So we paid them $100 and they bought a cow, a soccer ball, and some clothing material and sent us a picture with Inginir, his Dad, and all his gifts. It was so cute! I highly recommend this organization.

Blood:Water Mission:
Every dollar you give provides a person in Africa enough clean water for an entire year.

Locks of Love: They provide hairpieces to children suffering from any type of medical hair loss. I’ve donated hair to them about 3 times, and congrats to Courtney Baker who just donated 10 inches (and who’s haircut looks amazing)! Locks o' Love need Lots o' Money to actually create hairpieces from the donated ponytails.

Second Harvest: "to create a hunger-free America." It’s easy to donate food around the holidays, but don’t forget that people are hungry all year round!

American Red Cross: Since I am terrified of needles and have ridiculously low blood pressure, I will probably not donate blood like my wonderful husband Eric. A good alternative is donate money anytime someone you know is going and you (like me) are too chicken to give blood (there is no shame in being a chicken!).

Local/Childhood organizations: When I was little I went to Camp Horizon in Leesburg, FL. It is an amazing place and I have such wonderful memories there – so I try to give a little back to them. Try to think of an organization that has personally or spiritually helped you, and give back!

Please comment with some of your favorites!

Eric’s Semi-Annual Blood Drive (Seriousness Level: Elevated)

I gave blood for the first time in mid-November. It was very rewarding, especially once they give you the statistics on blood donations and let you know how your blood could be used to save 3 lives. Some day I hope to meet one of these people and tell them we’re blood brothers and make them feel very awkward. But that’s only a wish.

This morning I called the American Red Cross of Middle Tennessee to schedule my next donation. That’s when it hit me. Why not bring somebody with me. So here’s my request to our loyal readers. I’ll be donating my life blood on Thursday, January 24th. My blood drive goal is to have one other person donate on the same day. ONE PERSON! The more the merrier, but I’m starting small. If you want to commit to this, send me a quick email to eadams@dovermotorsports.com and I’ll help you get registered at your local donation center.

Here are a three quick facts to guilt you into donating:

- Only 5% of the eligible US population donates blood in any given year.
- One donation can help save the lives of up to 3 people
- Nobody can ask you to do any heavy lifting as long as you have the bandage on. You can wear it for as long as you like. It's your badge of honor.

Finally from the Red Cross: Two most common reasons cited by people who don't give blood are: "Never thought about it" and "I don't like needles"

So I can’t help the needle part, but now you can no longer say you never thought about it.


Daily Bible Verses: Day 2

*I’m starting my quest to read the Bible in a year. I’m using a structure in which I read from three separate books a day. I want to share the most meaningful verses/passages from what I read each day. On rare occasions I’ll elaborate, but most often I’ll simply post Scripture. I’m currently reading Luke, Genesis, and Psalm.

Luke 6:22,23 - “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.”

Genesis 3:22 - Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever."

Psalm 2:11 - Worship the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling.

GTKTPRFP - Ron Paul: Part I: (Seriousness Level: Severe)

*Disclaimer - For every candidate I’m going to devote 2 hours to look over their opinions on key issues and pointing out where I disagree. Then I’ll be looking at the major issues playing in the media that will dissuade people from voting for them. I’m trying to summarize thoughts, so please don’t take my words as absolute fact. If you have any grips with my summary, please look to the candidate’s website for their official opinion. This is my interpretations from 2 hours ONLY. I reserve the right to change my opinion as this proceeds.

Baseball Card Statistics:

Full Name: Ronald Ernest Paul
Age: 72
Marital Status: Wife, Carol – Married for 50 years
Party Affiliation: Republican
Most Recent Office Held: US Congressman from Texas
College: Duke
Religious Affiliation: Baptist
Eric’s Official Nickname: Rupaul
Official Candidate website: http://www.ronpaul2008.com/
Randomness: He recently had the largest one-day fundraiser in US history.

Pre-issue thoughts

I’ll be honest. Rupaul’s opinions are powerful. He’s a Republican candidate that has previously been endorsed by the Constitution Party and ran for president in 1988 as the Libertarian candidate. He walks across party lines and stands up for what HE believes in. I really feel like he loves this country more than anything and sometimes that gets him into trouble. Reading through his statements on issues, for every opinion I loved, the next I disagreed with, maybe hated. Like when he said 9/11 was kind of our fault. Yeah, that’s not very good. I would love to talk with Rupaul for about 5 hours, but I’m not sure yet if I’d want him to be my president.

Interesting Issue Watch

Global Diplomacy: To cut to the chase, Rupaul thinks that the US should not be a part of any international body in which decisions are ultimately made for the US, i.e. the United Nations. Quote time: “Under no circumstances should the U.S. again go to war as the result of a resolution that comes from an unelected, foreign body, such as the United Nations.” Rupaul goes on to imply that he likes the idea of the U.N. for diplomacy sake, but not where an international body can vote to make laws for our country. Hmm…how to respond to this? I agree that other countries should not be making decisions for us, but we have to get global input before we take actions with global impact. I don’t think he’s promoting an isolationism policy, but we can’t just shut our doors and pretend everything outside is ok. Speaking of shutting doors…

Immigration: Let’s allow Rupaul to throw the first couple grenades. These two come out of his six point plan for immigration reform.

1) Physically secure our borders and coastlines. We must do whatever it takes to control entry into our country before we undertake complicated immigration reform proposals.

2) End birthright citizenship. As long as illegal immigrants know their children born here will be citizens, the incentive to enter the U.S. illegally will remain strong.

I vote for a climbing wall to be placed around the Canadian and Mexican borders. Then we can use our American Gladiators to race up and pull them down before they get over. This worked in the early 90s and it will work today. Have I told you I’m excited about NBC bringing back that show?
About the birthright issue: It’s clearly stated in the controversial 14th Amendment: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” So Rupaul is calling to amend an amendment to get the constitution back to an earlier state. It’s like trying to triple stamp a double stamp.

Iraq/Patriot Act: I gave this its own area; because I think it’s worth nothing that Rupaul is a rare Republican that has always been against the war in Iraq and the Patriot Bill (he voted against both). I as a God fearing Republican hippy have always been afraid to say how much I despise the idea of the Patriot Bill and the war in Iraq. So I feel a pretty good connection here. As a disclaimer, I think our military should always be supported at times like these. We all have friends or family that’s been impacted. Anti-war does not mean Anti-soldiers. It’s a shame our troops are over there without a long-term solution for the region. That’s all. A couple great points by Rupaul:

“The war in Iraq was sold to us with false information. The area is more dangerous now than when we entered it. We destroyed a regime hated by our direct enemies, the jihadists, and created thousands of new recruits for them. This war has cost more than 3,000 American lives, thousands of seriously wounded, and hundreds of billions of dollars. Both Jefferson and Washington warned us about entangling ourselves in the affairs of other nations.”

Was Saddam good for the world; of course not. But if you’re taking him down, you gotta go after a list of dictators that are equally punishing their people. One site estimates the cost of the war at $400 billion dollars or $4,100 per household. Yeesh. For Rupaul, this issue is more of an "I told you so". I don't like that he can use this example to rule out justified international action at a later date though.

And the Patriot Act. It was sold to us at a time of fear as a way to protect us. It’s even got a name that suggests that if you’re against it, you’re a nazi. Look, I don’t want to get into an ends justifies the means argument. Who knows how many lives its saved. But there has to be a point where you stop giving up civil liberties to the government. If somebody busted into your house tonight without a warrant, cited the Patriot Act, what would you say? I would probably start by hiding all my Cat Stevens albums.

Eric’s Gut Feeling After 2 Hours of Research

I think Rupaul is a great Congressman. He is somebody who is not afraid to offer a dissenting opinion in times when public pressures are clouding long-term judgment. I’m very bothered by some things he says. He’s very intent on protecting the US at all costs. I think he may resist entering into future international affairs that we need to be involved in. In Washington and Jefferson’s time, the world was a very big place. It probably took 3 years to get from Independence, Missouri to Oregon. And even then you would have to hunt buffalo and make sure you didn’t come down with cholera or get a snake bite. Now, innovations have made the world smaller, a place where the US needs be a world player.

The question I’m asking myself now is: Do I want a leader who leads by a set of personal beliefs and who is not afraid to offend a part of the country to put them into practice?

Eric’s Official Rating

Rupaul is very polarizing. Somebody I really respect said he is crazy and would never vote for him. Some other people seem to be very intrigued at what this man is fully about. I’m going to give him an 84 at this point. At the very least, he makes Mittens look boring and bland. I want to learn more about him, the good and bad.

I may be very naïve to consider voting for him, but regardless, he’s very good for this 2008 race and will hopefully force the other candidates to come out of their shells a bit more.
Tomorrow Afternoon: Fred Thompson


Daily Bible Verses: Day 1

*I’m starting my quest to read the Bible in a year. I’m using a structure in which I read from three separate books a day. I want to share the most meaningful verses/passages from what I read each day. On rare occasions I’ll elaborate, but most often I’ll simply post Scripture. I’m currently reading Luke, Genesis, and Psalm.

Luke 5:30,32 - The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?" And Jesus answered and said to them, "It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."

Genesis 1:26 - Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

Genesis 2:23,24 - The man said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

Psalm 1:2 - But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:6 - For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Vanderbilt’s International Invasion (Seriousness Level: Low)

I’ve been a bit skeptical about Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball team. As my good friend Jon pointed out, they didn’t seem to have a go-to guy in the clutch like last year. Well after tonight’s game, I don’t think it matters. A couple fun things regarding Vandy’s great come-from-behind win at DePaul:

Vandy trailed 58-40 early in the second half.
Vandy trailed by 10 with less than 5 minutes left in the game.
Vandy is the first 10-win team in the country

I’m not one for hyperbole, but this win was one of the gutsiest I’ve seen in a long time. They could have packed it in numerous times and refused. I’m official sold as this team being able to handle about any situation thrown at them. At this point, they look to be a lock for a 16-0 record before SEC play. I’ll be randomly talking about this team throughout the season, so if you want to join the bandwagon, here are my favorite three players:

Andrew Ogilvy #4, Center: One of the top freshmen in the country. Period. From ESPN’s feature piece on him. “One NBA player personnel director told ESPN.com this week that Ogilvy already solidly projects in the 14 to 20 range of the first round if he chooses to make himself available for June's NBA draft.” He’s an extremely athletic big man who hits free throws. Oh yeah, and he’s from Australia. He’s half kola bear and two-thirds kangaroo. What’s not to like.

Shan Foster #32, Shooting Forward: Probably the heart and soul of the team. He’s passion on the sidelines either inspires his team or really ticks them off. I’m hoping it’s the former. He really doesn’t have a great ability to create his own shot, which bothered me last year. But with Ogilvy down low, double teams have to come from somewhere. And with coach Stallings knack for ball movement, he has the opportunity to stand and shoot a lot. Good times.

Alan Metcalfe #11, Forward/Center: I’ve liked this guy for a couple years. He’s always seemed to be a very hard worker. He’s from England and I remember hearing that he’s a boxer, so I like to imagine him as one of the gypsies from “Snatch”. From now on let’s call him Mikey O’Neil. I’ve never heard him talk, so I hope his voice is either A: a garbled mess or B: VERY high pitched like David Beckham. Either way, Ogilvy seems to get in foul trouble a bit, and in tonight’s game Englishman stepped in and put up 18, most coming in the first half.

GTKTPRFP - Mitt Romney: Part I: (Seriousness Level: Severe)

For every candidate I’m going to devote 2 hours to look over their opinions on key issues and pointing out where I disagree. Then I’ll be looking at the major issues playing in the media that will dissuade people from voting for them. I’m trying to summarize thoughts, so please don’t take my words as absolute fact. If you have any grips with my summary, please look to the candidate’s website for their official opinion. This is my interpretations from 2 hours ONLY. I reserve the right to change my opinion as this proceeds.

Baseball Card Statistics:

Full Name: Williard Mitt Romney
Age: 50
Marital Status: Wife, Ann – Married for 38 years
Party Affiliation: Republican
Most Recent Office Held: Governor of Massachusetts
College: BYU
Religious Affiliation: Mormon
Eric’s Official Nickname: Mittens
Official Candidate website: http://www.mittromney.com/
Randomness: His family has a blog called Five Brothers.

Interesting Issue Watch

Terrorism: Mittens seems to have a very practical approach to combating terrorism. He sees the issue larger than any specific country or any one terrorist group, i.e. Al Qaeda. A title of one of his “issue watch” pieces is “Confronting Radical Jihad”. He calls it this century’s nightmare. The main point that jumped out is his call for the creation of the Special Partnership Force. This sounds a little like a superhero club. I like it. Basically this would coordinate our anti-terrorist activities under one military banner. I think this is a wise way to combat terror. Focus on individual cells rather than blow up countries that harbor terrorists.

"This [Special Partnership] Force would work hand-in-glove with local host governments. Together, they would seek to target and separate terrorists from the local population, and to disrupt and defeat them. (Remarks At AEI World Forum, 6/21/07)

Illegal Immigration: Apparently illegal immigration has skyrocketed from 3 millions per year in 1997, to over 12 million last year. Who’s counting these people? Shouldn’t they be arresting them instead of counting? Just a thought. Anyway, snow Mittens agrees, and has two points I haven’t heard before (I’m learning these issues, so this may be a common thought):

From his website:

Implement An Enforceable Employer Verification System. Issue a biometrically-enabled and tamperproof card to non-citizens and create a national database for non-citizens so employers can easily verify their legal status in this country.

This sounds WAY too much like a George Orwell book for me. Maybe we should give them tattoos of I’s on their arms. Then we can catalog them in one of my wife’s fancy spreadsheets. Maybe this is good, sounds a little weird though.

Punish Sanctuary Cities. Cut back federal funding to cities that are "sanctuaries" for illegal immigrants and refuse to comply with federal law or aid federal law enforcement.

Now we’re talking. Just like cities that didn’t adhere to the national seatbelt law, let’s bring the hammer down on cities that aren’t complying. Let’s give something teeth, even though this would be almost impossible to imploy.

Eric’s Gut Feeling After 2 Hours of Research

Look, I’m trying to give each candidate a lot of my time. I know that 2 hours doesn’t sound like much, but it feels like a lot, especially because most party candidates say the same stuff. My opinions will grow, so more depth will be added as the time goes. There’s one thing that KEEPS getting brought up about Mittens: He’s a Mormon. So the question of the day is: Does religious affiliation matter when electing a president? Of course it does to some degree. I think it would be naïve to think otherwise. I live by a certain set of morale guidelines. The happen to run hand in hand with the Bible. They’re based solely from that. So why would I vote for somebody that differs dramatically from my personal set of moral guidelines?

So the larger issue for me is: Would Mitt Romney’s religious beliefs negatively impact the county as a whole? (Side note: I don’t understand the full differences between our two faiths. And there is a difference. This isn’t the time to address everything, but there are differences). I don’t see the difference between a Mormon and another candidate who calls himself a Southern Baptist just to get votes.

Eric’s Official Rating

As of today, my ranking system is out of 100 points. Those 100 points are arbitrarily thrown around. Anything under 50, I will not consider voting for and pretend they don’t exist. From 51-75, I will keep my eye on for new developments. If they do something interested, they get a second column. Anybody will an initial score of over 75 will receive a second column in the coming weeks. I know that’s about as simply as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but I’m new at this so give me a break.

I’m giving Mittens an early score of 80. We share a lot of similarities on the issues he comments on, but I’m not blown away. He has a very high appeal with voters and that makes him VERY relevant. Seems like a good guy and any Republican that wins office in Massachusetts has to have something going for him.

Tomorrow Afternoon: Ron Paul

Quasi-Scientific Experiment 07-001: To Line Dry or Not...

Being an avid clothes dryer user, I often wondered why the heck people line dry their clothes. I’ve heard answers like “It saves money”, “your clothes don’t wear out as quickly”, “It is better for the environment”, “you can’t tell a difference in the drying”. But are these things true? I set out to find the truth.

Quasi-Scientific Experiment 07-001: To Line Dry or Not...
1. Does it save money?
2. Is it better for the Environment?
3. Can you tell a difference?

(Note: The test to see if it extends the life of your clothes would take like a gajillion years and tedious methods that bore me at the moment. My gut says it does, so let’s assume that.)

1. Cost Analysis:
Total savings to line dry = $0.51 per load

Drying cost of each load: $0.57 per load
5,500 average watts per hour a dryer uses
80 minute cycle per load
$0.07822 per KwH (current NES rates)
Fabric Softener vs. Dryer Sheets adjustment: $0.06 difference
$0.0921 Fabric Softener cost per load
$0.0337 Drying Sheets cost per load

2. Environmental Analysis:
Eric and I typically wash 4 loads of clothes per week. Yearly, that would be 1,542 KwH [kilowatt hours]…which comes out to $120 a year. This doesn’t seem like much, but when you get into other ways to save on electricity, this is pretty substantial. This is the equivalent yearly savings of switching 20 light bulbs to the compact fluorescent version (with an average use of 4.5 hours a day).

3. Drying Analysis:
Negative Drying Results: Eric’s t-shirts came out super stiff…even with fabric softener. Putting jeans on was like wearing metal pants. Towels were NOT soft and even a bit crunchy (if that makes sense). Almost everything was wrinkled.

Positive Drying Results: Eric’s mesh shorts were practically dry when they came out of the washer. I have no idea why I have been putting those in the dryer for the last 5 years of my life. My dress shirts that were nylon or spandex or wool/cashmere line dried very well. Some socks and underwear went pretty well, and line drying bras is a must (the dryer tears them up).

Observations: It didn’t take that long to hang everything up. It was roughly the same amount of time that it takes to hang up clothes after they have been in the dryer.

Overall Results:
1. Does it save money? Technically yes, but it is a lot of effort for little savings.
2. Is it better for the Environment? Since it substantially reduces electricity usage, yes.
3. Can you tell a difference? YES! In a bad way, though. Natural fibers like cotton are HORRIBLE line dryers. Synthetic materials do better line drying than traditional drying.

Ultimate Conclusion: Do not attempt to line dry any natural/cotton material. T-shirts, jeans, towels, or wrinkle-prone materials will be utter failures. Synthetic materials, socks, underwear and bras all turn out quite nicely. As far as money goes, I will have to line dry 7 loads just to cover the initial expense of purchasing fabric softener ($3.68). The better savings is avoiding the wear/tear on your clothes that the dryer creates, and the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you think you are doing something to save the environment.


Finally I'm not Eric Adams anymore

So, you might have been confused when I, Shannon Adams, would write a blog and talk about Eric...and then it would say "posted by Eric Adams". Maybe you thought that Eric had multiple personalities or just a regular case of the crazies.

There should be no more confusion because I fixed it.
I am Shannon.


Politics 101 (Seriousness Level: High)

In a lifelong quest to better educate myself, I’m going being a new daily series titled: “Get to know the people running for President”. But for shortness (and out or respect for Dink and Flicka) the series will be shortened to: “GTKTPRFP”.

The goal of the series will be to find the candidate I’ll be voting for. I’ll analyze the major candidates out of the 5 biggest parties in the country: Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Green, and Constitution. Not so sure how the judging will happen, but it’ll be the same parameters for each candidate.

I’ll mix in some random daily posts, but these Daily Series posts are the ones that’ll keep me writing. Thanks to our fans so far. The best is yet to come.


Which Credit Card is best?

We get about $400 - $500 a year from our credit cards rewards program…and you can too! I’ll recommend my top picks.

Disclaimer: Credit cards are both an amazing budgeting tool, and an easy way to get up to your ears in debt. Always pay your balance!

-Cash Back Programs*:

Chase Freedom Visa
3% cash back on top 3 spending categories
1% cash back on everything else
For every $200 check you get, they’ll give you another $50
Total yearly value = $350
Personal opinion – Chase is a great company. I bought a faulty dishwasher once and they gave me all my money back. They are great to work with.

Capital One No Hassel Rewards Visa
1% cash back
25% annual bonus on your cash back
Total yearly value = $150
Personal opinion – Capitol One is the scum of the earth. I had truly fraudulent charges on my card and it took MONTHS for them to do anything. I will never own a Capitol One card again.

-Rewards/Points Programs:
There are a lot to choose from. Here’s the scam. You get 1 point for each dollar spent, but 6,000 points equals a $50 gift certificate. You’ve essentially paid $60 for a $50 gift certificate to a Hallmark Gold Crown store…and how many crappy figurines do you need in your life?
-Store-Specific Credit Cards:
We buy almost everything at Target. So, naturally we have a Target Visa. After every $1,000 we spend, or every 10 prescriptions we buy, we'll get 10% off one day of our choosing. Also, 1% of your purchases go as a donation to the school of your choosing. If you shop predominately at one store, take a look at their credit card (there are too many to talk about here). They may be a gold mine!

-Airline Miles**:

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Visa
One time Bonus: 1 free flight
2 points per $1 spent on Southwest
1 point per $1 spent everywhere else
$59 annual fee
Total 5 year = 4.6 flights
Average yearly value = $217

Personal opinion – The only thing I have against Southwest is that there are no international flights.

Gold Delta SkyMiles Amex
One time Bonus: 17,500 miles
2 points per $1 spent on Delta, supermarkets, gas, bills, etc.
1 point per $1 spent everywhere else
$85 annual fee
Total 5 year = 4.3 domestic flights; 2.1 international flights
Average yearly value = $335

Personal opinion – This seems good, but I had an American Express card once, and NO ONE took it. It’s a Visa and Mastercard world.

Top Pick:

Gives the most money, and it’s cash, so you can use it to buy an airline ticket, a Hallmark figurine, or laundry detergent.

*Assumptions – you spend about $12,000 a year on each credit card.
**Most airlines have one time bonuses, so I did a 5-year average to even out the initial bonus.
(Posted by Shannon Adams)

Good Call Germay (Seriousness Level: Guarded)

For some reason, Germany has always scared me a little bit. I guess it was the two World Wars and big wall that used to split Berlin in two. I guess Hitler plays in part in that as well. Anyway, I read a Reuters story that is beginning to change my opinion. They laid the law down on somebody else that gives me the creeps: Tom Cruise.

"Germany does not recognize Scientology as a religion; seeing it as a cult masquerading as a church to make money. Scientologists reject this view."
- Full Story

So a thumbs up to Deutschland, for realizing that Oktoberfest is more of a religion than something created by somebody named L. Ron. Isn't that the guy's name from Lord of the Rings?


Ping Pong Domination

I can now say that I am consistently beating Eric in Ping Pong. He had been complaining that our paddles were low quality, and that is why he couldn't beat me. So we bought him "the contender" (I'm not kidding, that's the name of this stupid paddle). So last night we played...Eric had his contender and I had my 25 cent paddle. Guess who won? Shannon. 3-1. You can now add your comments to make fun of Eric that he consistenly looses to his wife in Ping Pong. And yes, this is my face poorly photoshopped onto an Asian player.
(Posted by Shannon Adams)

No More Word Verification

Sorry for the word verification process on the comments section. It's gone now. I doubt we'll have that many computer hackers try to spam our blog.

American Gladiators (Seriousness Level: Low)

I had a pretty big flashback this week. NBC has announced that January 6th is the debut of the new American Gladiators. I, like most of guys my age remember this David vs. Goliath contest. You basically had normal Americans competing in head to head physical battles versus body builders loaded up on steroids and probably some sort of nose candy.

Personally, I always wanted to compete in Assault. It was the one where contestants tried to advance from station to station while avoiding 600mph tennis balls being shot at them. The contestants got to return fire at each station with a nerf rocket launcher, nerf crossbow, you know..high powered stuff.

What I never expected was that I would be competing in Power Ball this morning. Let me explain: Shannon and I pretty much have the best dog ever. She never barks, whines, very cuddly, etc. So much to my horror this morning, I found out that my dog loves to each rabbit poop. As she was unleashed in our fence backyard, I walked over and saw her eating small pellets of feces. Great, my dog eats poop. So I ran her off, but she just went to another spot in the yard and ate from a different pile.

What transpired over the next 5 minutes can best be described as a modified version of Power Ball. See field pics below (Yes, one is from the SNES video game):

I immediately morphed into a 2007 version of a Gladiator. Pick you favorite. I was also partial to Laser or Thunder. As such, my dog took the role of a contestant, avoiding me at all costs to score in the 4-5 different rabbit gold minds across the yard. Needless to say, I didn’t win.


BCS Part I (Seriousness Level: Elevated)

A lot of my sports stuff will be lighthearted and shorter, but with the BCS in the public spotlight, I had to discuss it. Today, the general problems with the system:

Steps in the right direction:
· The Elimination of Split National Champions: In 1997, Michigan finished the season as #1 in the AP poll and Nebraska wound up #1 in the ESPN/Coaches poll. Both teams were credited with a national title. That was a great way to reward to undefeated teams, but having two champions is absurd. Something had to be done. So at the end of the year, the BCS allows us to remember one team as a champion. Well except for 2003 when the AP went rouge and voted for USC, but that’s a story for another time.
· Money: Although I don’t have all the financial data, it’s safe to assume this system has brought in tons of money in TV deals and naming rights. Fox is in the tail end of a $320 million dollar 4-year deal. That money has been funneled back into colleges, which is nice…sort of.

Things that have not been addressed:
· What happens when there are not two clear cut front runners?: The best example I can think of is from the 2004 season. That’s when Dink and Flika’s own Auburn Tigers were left out of the BCS title game. They finished 13-0 but that wasn’t enough. The problem was that there were equally deserving teams. USC and Oklahoma made the game with the SEC Champs left out in the cold. How can any team from a power conference with an undefeated record not be given a shot? This leads to the next point
· Teams do not control their own destiny: In every sport in the US, maybe the world, every sports team has a shot at winning their respective championship at the beginning of the season. This is not currently the case in D-I college football. Let’s take this year’s Hawaii team. Are they the best team in the county? Probably not. But they deserve to play until somebody beats them. There have been many stories written about how major programs will refuse to schedule them. So for the sake of argument, what if Akron fields the best team in the history of football in 2008? There is NO possible way that will have the chance to jump other power schools to be eligible for a title. Out of the D-I schools, I would say regardless of talent or record, about 50% of them will have no opportunity to play.

There are tons of other issues, but I think the last point is the one that discredits the system the most. Basically college presidents have set up a system that makes them a ton of money, but doesn’t give their students a fair system to play in. How can the NCAA, which was created to act as a collective voice for 100+ schools, support a system that passively segregates some of its schools from the sport’s pinnacle?

Coming Friday: What’s the best way to fix this?


It’s Tax Time! Only 27 days left to get your finances in line!

Little known tax deductions:

[The only real way to get tax deductions is if you itemize – meaning you probably need to own a house since the interest paid is tax deductible, Otherwise you would just take the nice standard deduction. Your deductions lower your taxable income…so in effect, multiply your total deductions by like 0.15, and that is what you actually save]

(1) Donating to a thrift store. You can deduct up to $500 to a thrift store (my favorite is Thriftsmart their proceeds go to awesome ministries). Just donate your stuff, get a receipt and deduct away!
(2) Traveling involved while you volunteer. Say you volunteer at a non-profit place every Saturday and it is 15 miles away. You can deduct 18 cents per mile (32 cents if you helped out in Katrina), which would come out to a $280 deduction.
(3) Deduct the Sales tax you paid that year. Since Tenessee has no income tax, you can deduct the sales tax. There is a standard rate, or if you bought a car or something expensive, you should itemize and keep your receipts.
(4) Tithing – give that 10%! You’ll get about 15% of what you give back to you (and you could always use it to give your church a nice Christmas gift).

Little known tax credits:

[Tax credit is dollar per dollar savings. You don’t have to itemize (i.e. have a house) for these. Say you owe $3,000 in taxes and have a $1,000 credit, then all you owe the government is $2,000.]

(1) Buy a ceiling fan, get $50. If you buy and install an energy saving ceiling fan, you can collect $50 per fan. This credit maxes at $500 for Jan 1, 2006 – Dec 31, 2007. So if you took a $475 credit last year, you can only get $25 this year. Also if you purchased ANY energy star appliance, check out here for the specific credit you can receive.
(2) Retirement Savings Credit. This one is pretty cool. If you are single and make less than $25,000 per year or married and jointly make less than $50,000 per year, you can get a 10% credit for any money you’ve put into a 401(k) or retirement account. So say you jointly put $2,000 in your 401(k). Like everyone else, you automatically get a tax deduction of about $200-$300...but now you can claim this credit for an additional $200…then if your company matches (like Vanderbilt - which is the best gig around), you would get like $4,500 for only contributing $2,000. This is an amazing return on investment! [P.S., if you did this every year, you'd have 1.5 million dollars by the time you retire*)
(3) Tuition Credit. If you make a ton of money, you’ll probably want to deduct your tuition expenses, but normally the credit is to your advantage. You get 20% back from all tuition expenses.

*There is some math and assumptions here. If you want details, let me know.
(Posted by Shannon Adams)


Why am I doing this? - Shannon

Well, Eric is a great writer. People love to read what he has to say. But sometimes he writes about boring stuff like sports…that’s where I come in.

My personal interests are -

  • Finance: Budgeting, Investments, Taxes, Portfolios, 401(k)s, Credit Cards, Healthcare
  • Religion: Mainly Religion and Society…unfortunately I’m not a profound theologian
  • Travel: We tend to travel a lot (this year alone – a week in Vegas, week in Colorado Mountains, a week in San Diego, Quick trips to Dover, Columbus, Austin, and Gatlinburg)
  • Quasi-Scientific Experiments: I’m a lazy scientist and I like quick results, so I’ll share some experiments that I’ve done – kind of like Myth Busters, but without blowing things up
  • Design: Photography, Architecture, Home and Graphic Design.
  • Environment: I’m a lazy environmentalist, so if its not too much work, I’m into it.
  • Television: I like TV. I’ll endorse my favorite shows.
  • Movies: Eric and I like to critique movies. Sometimes it’s interesting.

I’ll probably stick to those genres. So if you don’t like any of those things, you’ll probably hate my blog. But that’s why Eric is here – to provide a different perspective on different topics.

Why am I doing this? - Eric

I've wanted to be a sports writer for about 10 years. But apparently they don't let you start writing a column at ESPN with zero experience. I'm also pretty bad at grammar and punctuation, so I have a lot of stuff to work on. Some topics I'll be covering

  • Sports: Mainly current topics, but I'll also comment on the 1990 Cincinnati Reds from time to time.
  • Religion: Why Jesus is important to everyone and my theories on practical Christianity.

  • Global Issues/World History: I was a History major for like 3 semesters, so I'll try to explain issues that we always hear about, but really don't understand.

  • TV/Movies: Random stuff.

Another thing about my posts: I have realized that at times my stuff will dramatically change from light-hearted to ridiculously serious and pretentious. So I decided to institute a warning system. Something that will tell my loyal readers what to expect. Instead of spending a lot of time coming up with my own clever system, I am adapting one of the most absurd uses of tax payer money: The Homeland Security Advisory System. So my Seriousness Level will range between Low, Guarded, Elevated, High, and Severe.

If you feel as if the Seriousness of the story and the corresponding warning don't match, heed the words of our government: "All Americans should continue to be vigilant, take notice of their surroundings, and report suspicious items or activities to local authorities immediately. "