Freedom Lives

October 31, 2008

Your 401k





Posted by Starhawk at 08:43 AM | Politics | Comments (0)

October 30, 2008

Work at home day

Not by choice but because I have the alarm people coming to figure out why the house alarm stopped working.
They said 8-10, now it turns out they meant 8-12.

They should finally be here soon.
I had to do a conference call from home with Europe., lot of fun that.

On top of those mild items we had to take star back to the Vet this morning, he was just not getting any better. Hopefully they will figure out what the problem is this time but it is sure to cost us some more money.

This is not unexpected since my horror scope said we would be speanding a lot this month. Now if only the other half comes true and we get a nice lump sum from somewhere to pay it all off. That would be nice.

Posted by Starhawk at 11:23 AM | Home and Family | Comments (0)

October 25, 2008

Not Good news

The headline reads "Palin's 'going rogue,' McCain aide says".

If she is or isn't no one on McCain's team should be saying that right now. the time to air dirty laundry in not in the heat of the campaign. If I were McCain and found out someone on my staff was talking to the press like this they would be gone as fast as possible.

It is not good and not professional.

Posted by Starhawk at 04:00 PM | Politics | Comments (0)

Thoughts on France 1

Since I am going to post a lot, but no where near all, of the pictures I took in France I created a separate topic for France 2008 Pictures. A lot of them are no of the usual tourist stuff but just of typical places I passed.

Packing was easier leaving the hotels becuase none of them had any drawers. I think, at least in my case, this was a good thing because I always worry about leaving things in drawers in hotels.

Of Cab drivers I had not one of them used seat belts. I do think seat belts are a good thing I just do not like the government mandating things like that. Perhaps they don't in France I don't know.

I think I forgot to take any pictures or phone booths. Hard to believe I forgot to take any pictures of anything but maybe I will find some when I look. Pay phones have pretty much disappeared in the the US but in France I saw them at a lot of places.

A Chinese restaurant around the corner from the hotel in Evry had the best Hot and Sour soup I can recall having in some time. The rest of the menu wasn't great but the soup made the meal.

Talking about food, most of the portions there are a lot smaller then what we are used to in the US. I think this is a good think as I did not stuff myself as I usually do and felt a lot better. It did not however seem to affect my blood sugar as much as I hoped but I think that is because everyone there eats lots of bread and that is something I need to keep out of my diet as much as possible.

Posted by Starhawk at 10:28 AM | France 2008 | Comments (0)

Another Departure

Since 2002 when I started blogging my blogroll has filled up with past sites that are no longer working for one reason or another.
It is always a sad day when one of the bloggers I like and have motivated me to do this at some point decide to pack it in. More so when it is one of the sites I really do read on a regualr basis.

Kim du Toit over the years has provided an excellent voice on gun related issues but he never stopped there and his wide range of coverage will sorely be missed. that doesn't even include the Sunday pictures of beautiful and classy women that he has been posting for a while.

On Novemer 30, Kim and his wife Connie will both cease blogging perhaps forever. Go over there and give them a shout and thank them for the years of effort they have put in to make the blogging world a better place.

Posted by Starhawk at 09:52 AM | Other Bloggers | Comments (0)

Summary of Gifts

I didn't get anything real expensive except the two bottles of wine.
A keychain for the kid, and one for me.
An Eiffel Tower paperweight.
Eiffel Tower light up thing.
Perfume for wife.
Swiss chocolates for the girls.
Ashtray.
2 shot glasses.

I have been collecting shot glasses for years.
I also got two packs of matches for my match collection.

Posted by Starhawk at 09:19 AM | France 2008 | Comments (0)

Houston High

Today's high in Houston 79.
In Paris 55.

It is great to be home.

Posted by Starhawk at 09:11 AM | Houston | Comments (0)

At Home Finally

Got in late last night.
The plane was 4 hours late.
What was even worse was that this was an older model and did not have video on demand which made the flight over go so much faster.
Instead of watching Indiana Jones I ended up watching Baby Mama with Tina Fey which was pretty painful. I also watched three CSI and three Without a Trace segments. Good shows but not what I usually watch so at least I hadn't seen them already.

Will have some more thoughts on France later and more pictures as I go through the batch.

Posted by Starhawk at 07:23 AM | France 2008 | Comments (0)

October 23, 2008

Last full day in France

Well today I start my last full day of the trip. This time tomorrow I will be all packed up and waiting for a cab to the airport.

It has been a good trip but it will be good to get home. I called last night and one of the dogs is sick. He stopped eating and Star eats anything. He goes back to the vet today hopefully it will not be serious though I am sure it won't be cheap.

I will be happy to leave the cold weather too. It is about 20 degrees warmer in Houston which is another reason I am glad I live there.

Posted by Starhawk at 01:18 AM | France 2008 | Comments (0)

October 22, 2008

French Servive

I have eaten at the hotel for the last two nights and may continue to do that as I am trying to limit my walking now. Oddly enough my hips and back are in much better shape though my feet are still killing me. I think I have blisters on the balls of both feet.

I was in the restaurant business for 8 years so I have some insight on how things should work. French service, at least in the places I have gone to, is interesting. On one hand I have never felt pressured to hurry up and leave a table no matter how long I sat there and drank or even read a book. On the other hand when I have wanted to get service I have found it hard to get the attention of a waiter. The restaurant I was in in Paris on Sunday night I wanted to buy more wine but finally got up in frustration and left.

This might be because they don't work for tips the same way americans do, I don't know.

Posted by Starhawk at 01:00 AM | France 2008 | Comments (0)

October 21, 2008

Paris Sunday Morning

Even though the Left Bank was my objective on Sunday there was still one right bank place on my had to go list. Any true fan of the Doors of which I include myself must stop at pere lachaise when in Paris and visit the grave of Jim Morrision. I was going to just stop there but when I read in the guide book that the other direction of the walking tour was mostly downhill I decided to do the whole thing.


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First up was Oscar Wilde. Those are actual kisses that people have placed on his headstone. Don't ask me I don't want to go there.



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This is where Edith Piaf is certainly seems to be the most flowered of the graves I saw and according to the guide second most visited to Morrison's


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The cemetery is very crowded and built on multiple levels. This is a walkway behind a row of headstones.


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This is Molierre's


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Jim's place is hard to find as it is tucked in behind a few other headstones. However there were plenty of people there and it was the only gravesite that had metal barricades around it


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According to the guide book they did not at first want Jim Morrision buried here until they found out that he was a writer,


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This lovely young lady who was probably born ten or more years after he died was observed placing a single red rose on his grave and tearfully leaving. Jim's music lives long after he left us and still affects people to this day.


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Jim's grave seemed to have a guardian of sorts who would not leave even though he was being photografed constantly. I guess when you find a sunny spot on a cold day you don't want to give it up.

It looks like I have just about used up my Flickr allocation for this month so I will have to wait until next month to post more pictures of Paris streets.

Posted by Starhawk at 12:40 PM | France 2008 Pictures | Comments (0)

October 20, 2008

Sunday quick note

I will post details of my Sunday later, suffice to say I was so tired by the time I hit the hotel around midnight I was not going to post anything.

I didn't think I could beat Saturday's record but I just looking and I have 564 pictures from yesterday on the left bank.

The early part of the was actually on the other side of the river where I saw Jim Morrison's grave, a must for any Doors fan of which I am one.

Posted by Starhawk at 11:32 AM | France 2008 | Comments (0)

October 19, 2008

The Conservative Cocoon

In between sightseeing I have been following an exchange between Mark Steyn and Ross Douthat and Ross again about Elites opposed populism.

If you want to follow it in order go to the first Ross post then Steyn and then to Ross's latest.

First off I want to say that this sort of thing is good and shows that we are still a vibrant party where we can disagree in public and still be civil. We have not descended to the depravity of the left where descent is not to be tolerated and any deviation must be punished by putting the offender in stocks or worse.

We are a big tent and to remain we it is important that we here from both sides of the tent even if we don't agree with them. We agree with a strong America, smaller government and freedom for all.
Almost all of us (Mr. Buckley not included) have issues with some of what John McCain stands for but are in agreement that whatever a McCain presidency would look like it would be much better than the alternative.

We need everyone. John McCain and Sarah Palin are not going to have all the answers be it with Katie Couric or Vlad Putin but that is what we have advisors for. What we need from our President and Veep is the ability to look at all sides, listen to them and make the decisions that are in America's best interests.
I don't think this is something that Obama will be able to do because he is took wrapped up in the establishment and special interests. He had never shown the ability or inclination to throw off their chains and the hope that this will suddenly change when he is president is the height of folly.

Time is running short but it is not too late for us to all pull together and talk not about what divides us but about what we share in common.

Let us stop fighting ourselves for the moment and focus on the real opponent

Posted by Starhawk at 03:25 AM | Politics | Comments (0)

Saturday in Paris 2

So I went to the Louvre.
The Louvre is the biggest museum in the western world and going through it I discovered that I really don't like big museums that much especially when all the signs are in French.
I did see a bunch of stuff including the Mona Lisa and Venus.
One thing I noticed is that the Louvre doesn't seem to much care if you take flash pictures even of the Mona Lisa unlike some other places.

After that I went through the gardens which were packed with people. More on that when I post pictures.
I sat down and figured out what to do next with anything having to do with more walking not high on the list as my knees had joined in the general complaint. So being a smart guy I decided to walk up the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. Nice walk a lot like Fifth avenue except the sidewalks are much wider. I wish NY sidewalks were this wide.
I got to the Arc just as they were starting the usual unknown soldier ceremony (6:30 I think) and sat down under it and read the guide book. I read that there was a great view from the top only 284 steps away. At this time I had general stopped keeping track of which parts of my body were hurt so I did the only smart thing to do. I sat there and rested. Until it was close to dark and then bought a ticket and started up the stairs.
Was it worth the trip and pain. I will let you be the judge.


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There are more of these before and after the sparkle started, This is where I took the movies since I was sure none of the sparkle shots would come out. I was surprised this one came out so well.

One of the deciding factors was that I could catch a Metro near the Arc that would take me all the way back to the hotel with only one train change.
I did this and things went very well. The NY transit could learn a lot fro mthe french on how to run a subway. I got to my stop found the right exit and even found an escalator to take me to street level.
Perfect.
I trudged down to the hotel intending to rest a little and then go out and get something to eat. I walked in pressed the elevator and waited, and waited. The desk clerk came up to me to inform me that the elevator was not working (did I mention I am on the 5th floor).
I went up and then down to eat after I wrote the previous post. Had a great meal and a big Heneken.
Now I am ready for my Sunday in Paris adventure. I guess it is the Left bank today.

Posted by Starhawk at 02:37 AM | France 2008 | Comments (0)

October 18, 2008

Saturday Agenda 1

Well I just back to my room and I left 12 hours ago so I would have to say I put in a good days sightseeing.

First thing up was figure out the Metro system which proved pretty easy since the station I went to was a lot less crowded than the one I came in at which is somewhat like Grand Central.

My first stop was the Nation stop. I got there easily. There is a circle and a monument there, like there is at almost every Paris intersection I go to.
I should have mentioned that the street outside my hotel had sprouted a ton of street vendors. I found the same thing at Nation but even more so and a lot more food vendors. Pictures will follow, for the record I took 467 plus 4 avi's, not a bad days work and there is still room on the sd card, I also had to change to a new set of AA batteries (4), which I thoughfully had in my camera bag.

After working around there a while and taking pictures I decided to go to the Bastille and made what might have been my first mistake as I decided to walk it. It was a nice walk though I have been having trouble with my right hip this trip and this didn't help it.

I noticed that they use a lot more scooters and motorcycles here than we do and I have lots of pictures to illustrate this point.

Taking more pictures when I got there I looked at my guide book and decided to take what they describe as the Marais walk. I am using Rick Steves' 2008 which a friend at work gave me along with Paris for dummies which I looked through but didn't bring with me.

The Marais walk is pretty interesting and it starts right at the Bastille.
I went to the Hotel de Sully, Victor Hugo;s House and a large park next it named Place des Vosges. Victor Hugo's required some stairs so I stopped at the park after to ease my hurting hip.

By now my feet were starting to hurt also.

Next stop on the walk was the Carnavalet Museum, since it was on the way and free. Some fascinating stuff about Paris history but once again there were three floors of walking involved.

Next stop was what the guide book called the Jewish Quarter. Not very Jewish except for restaurants but since it was Saturday I didn't much to be open.
I grabbed lunch at a sandwich show of a Turkey on an Onion roll which was pretty good. After I finished I walked down the rest of it and noticed some big crowds. Apparently Falaffel shops are a hot item in this part of Paris.

Since the Jewish museums were closed I decided to skip the Pompidou Center and headed for the river. My feet were hurting more but my hip wasn't getting much worse which is to say it hurt like hell every time I got up.

I took some pictures of the river and wandered over to Notre Dame. There was a big line waiting to get in and the though of walking to the top of the place was not very appealing given the various hurting parts of my body which now included my back.

I hung out outside Notre Dame for a while taking pictures and sitting down.

From there I walked some more since the Louve was really close, well pretty close.
Next post the Louve and beyond, hint more walking.
First I need to find another restaurant and get dinner or maybe the same as last night, I will see what is open but since that would require more walking I may just take the easy way.

Posted by Starhawk at 03:01 PM | France 2008 | Comments (0)

October 17, 2008

Hot Chicks

Another thing I noticed at dinner that I had found sadly missing in Evry was lots of lovely ladies. They were all outside smoking however.
Which might be why the guys were there.

Posted by Starhawk at 04:42 PM | France 2008 | Comments (0)

Dinner and smoking

I had dinner a place down the block on Place Félix Eboué called Au Metro probably because there is a Metro station right outside.

It was a odd experience since it was about 46 degrees out and there were easily three times as many people outside as in sitting, drinking, eating and smoking.
Yes smoking which is maybe why they were out there with their coats on but none seemed to mind much. The French seem to be very social people, they were all having a good time though I can't imagine a similar scene in NYC where everyone would be inside and you can't smoke outside the door as people were doing here.
Marlboro seemed to be the favorite brand, sounds like a safe stock buy in this market.

I however was inside looking out. Another odd thing about this place was that they were playing American music. Not iccky stuff but good old american tunes like I play when I am doing my thing as a DJ on Second Life.
I remember first noticing Jambalaya then On the Road again and American Pie.
I may go back there again except that they don't take Amex which is going to make my expenses messy.
Most places here take Master and Visa but not Amex except for the more expensive places.

In case you are wondering I had a salad, and a Jack Daniels with a coffee chaser.

I walked around the area a bit after eating even though it was 10:30. In a lot of ways it reminds me of NY. I didn't feel at all uncomfortable there but I did find myself slipping into the kind of behavior patterns that one gets growing up in the big apple.

Posted by Starhawk at 04:37 PM | France 2008 | Comments (0)

Getting ready

Well first impressions are very important.
TV wise this is an improvement since it has MTV and the Simpsons (in French).

If I thought the elevator in Evry was small this is tiny. One person would be optimal, two would be very crowded.

MTV is odd, it is in english but with german subtitles, go figure.

Oh well I caught my breath now I can find somewhere to eat since it is only 8:30.

Posted by Starhawk at 01:32 PM | France 2008 | Comments (0)

In Paris Night 1

Well I am here.
The train ride from Evry was easy but I had someone from work there to help me along.
I couldn't figure out Metro when I got to Gare de Lyon so rather than taking a chance I decided to walk.
I have been told and have often bragged that I have an awesome sense of direction. This time I even impressed myself.

I left the station and I knew I had to go south so I went in roughly that direction.
I knew from previous checking that the hotel was about 2 miles from the station.

It is sometimes hard to find which street you are on in Paris, at least so far but in not too long I found I was on Avenue Daumesnil. A quick look at my map printed from Yahoo showed that it would intersect Boulevard de Reuilly where my hotel was but past it an off the map.

I kept going until I got to a large circle which I now know is Place Félix Eboué. I milled around for a little because I sensed I was close but really had no idea which way to go. I almost went into a restaurant and had dinner so I could ask but I really wanted to drop off my stuff first. Finally I showed my map to the man at the newsstand and he confirmed that I was very close and pointed me in the right direction.
I rock.

Posted by Starhawk at 01:07 PM | France 2008 | Comments (0)

October 16, 2008

Evry Pictures

I leave Evry tomorrow and head into Paris for the weekend so I thought I would post a few of the pictures I took this week.


Cathédrale de la Résurrection



This is the Cathédrale de la Résurrection which happens to be right across the street from my hotel.



Outside Cathédrale -night



The fountains in front of the Cathédrale at night, obviously.



Mall entrance



Like any red blooded american one of the first things I found was the local shopping mall. Here is the ramp leading up to the second level parking lot.



Evry 2 Mall


Here is the mall from the outside.


Inside Evry 2 Mall


Inside it doesn't look all the different than one of our malls. I guess some things transend culture.


Evry Misc


A few buildings in the area.


Evry Misc2

Next up Paris but it might take me a while to post those since I bought a new 8gb SD card for the Canon A640, for only $20. I love technology.

Posted by Starhawk at 04:07 PM | France 2008 Pictures | Comments (0)

October 14, 2008

First Impressions

Evry is a very nice little place.
I am staying right near the university which is nice and the weather is mild which is nice too.
The elevator at this hotel is tiny.
It says capacity 8 but three is more like it.
The room itself is not huge either but it is adequate.
The people here seem to drive pretty fast too, not on highways but on regular city streets.
The buildings around here are nice. Not at all alike and pretty interesting. I will try and post some pictures tomorrow.

Posted by Starhawk at 04:48 PM | France 2008 | Comments (0)

October 12, 2008

On the road euro style

I am about to make my first trip to Europe.
I will be in France for the next few weeks and hope to post some pictures if the hotel internet lets me.

It is a work trip but I should get some time for sightseeing.

Posted by Starhawk at 08:28 AM | France 2008 | Comments (0)

Pictures of Ike

I have been meaning to put some pictures I took of my yard post Ike and this seems like as good a time as any.


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This is the one that fell right on my front path.
As you can see it pretty much demolished the creape myrtle there and the one on the other side of the path you can't see. It also smashed the two arbors holding up the star jasmine.


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This is the same tree at a different angle. the one that hit the house is inthe background


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This is the one that hit the house over my bedroom and put a hole in the roof. Cost to remove $2,500, plus tax.


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This one was a twofer on another part of the yard. I don't know if they both fell at the same time or if the one on the left fell into the one on the right and took it down.
All eight trees we think fell at the same time and in the same direction.
We are getting these two cut little by little but they were not as urgent as the one that hit the house and the prices will come down.

Posted by Starhawk at 08:10 AM | Ike | Comments (0)

The sound of Ike 2

Last weekend I was talking about the sound of Ike being chainsaws.
Yesterday I went out and heard different sounds, hammers.

Hammers.

Things are getting better but I have still not heard from my insurance company.

Posted by Starhawk at 07:38 AM | Ike | Comments (0)

October 02, 2008

Wal Mart Rocks

People have been very down on Wal Mart for a long time but let me tell you they can be very good to thier people.

Case in point my wife got a cash "gift' to help her with the cleanup from the storm last week.

Today they sent a team of six people over with chain saws who cut up and burned two more of the fallen trees. It took all day and they are doing similar things for people from each of their stores where they find someone very hard hit.

They did not make us whole but they didn't have to do anything and what they did do will go a long way to help us get back to normal.

Posted by Starhawk at 07:27 PM | Ike | Comments (0)