Saturday, February 28, 2009

Military Spouses TAKE ACTION!!!



Military spouses, military families and supporters of the military it is time to take action. Let your voices be heard.

The lucky numbers for the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act - Senate Bill 475 (S 475) and House of Representatives Bill 1182 (HR 1182). The bill will provide a home state for military spouses.

Please resist the urge to read this and do nothing. Instead, advocate for a better quality of life, contact your Congressman (likely to have 2 because of this dual state situation) and Senators (likely to have 4) and ask them to support the bill (S 475 or HR 1182) by becoming cosponsors. To contact your representatives, find their information here: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

Please visit MSRRA on Facebook to be a supporter and get up to date information on "Military Spouses Residency Relief Act" at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Military-Spouses-Residency-Relief-Act/51457362877. Let other military supporters, spouses and families know how it went when you contacted your Representatives.

Activate your family and friends network and ask them to take action. We need you to tell Congress Military Spouses should have a home state!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Military Spouses Residency Relief Act Re-Introduced

(WASHINGTON, DC) – The Military Spouse Residency Relief Act was re-introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today by Congressman John Carter of Texas, and will be introduced in the Senate by U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

Carter was joined in a news conference unveiling the bill in the U.S. Capitol by Rebecca Poynter and Joanna Williamson of the Military Spouse Business Association; Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) President Vice Admiral (RET) Norbert Ryan, USN; representatives of Senators Burr and Feinstein; and military spouses and dependents from as far away as North Carolina.

“We have long supported a service member’s ability to continue voting and paying taxes in one state over the course of a military career as they are transferred around the world on orders,” says Carter, who represents Fort Hood, the U.S. Army’s largest base. “I feel it has been an egregious oversight spanning decades that we have not extended that stability to spouses as well, as they are impacted politically and economically just as much as the service member by these frequent and career-long moves.”

Poynter and Williamson stressed both the monetary cost to spouses in having to change residency status with every move, and the unique ability of military families to work with multiple Members of Congress in order to help promote the issue. “The fact that many couples have different Congressmen and Senators in the same household because of this situation gives us an edge in pushing the issue,” says Poynter.

“Our nation has long recognized the importance of servicemembers’ ability to maintain a domicile for voting and taxes,” says Admiral Ryan. “The service of today’s military spouses is such that they deserve that same opportunity.”

"This bill will give military spouses the ability to keep residency in their home state regardless of where military orders send their family," Senator Burr wrote in a statement provided for the event. "Our military families are often called on to make frequent relocations, which can be very disruptive to family life, and it is only fair that we give the same residency benefits to spouses as we do to servicemembers."

Carter, House Republican Conference Secretary, introduced the bill in the House during the last session of Congress. The bill allows a military spouse who moves out of a state with their service member under military orders to have the option to claim the same state of domicile as their active duty spouse, regardless of where they are stationed.

John E. Stone
Communications Director
U.S. Rep. John Carter (TX31)
Secretary, House Republican Conference
409 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Office - (202) 225-3864

Monday, February 23, 2009

Locked Cell Phones

Rikki and I spent 2 hours yesterday figuring out how to put a custom ring tone on her new cell phone "Rikki don't lose that number." Of course we could have paid to do it via Verizon's Vcast or text messaging but we have both of those services blocked (if anyone has bothered to text us we aren't ignoring you, we just don't receive them). So with the help of Google we found a way to hack into her phone so we could upload the song. Normally I wouldn't do this, but as I mentioned in an earlier post cutting out the UPC code to mail it in for a rebate voids the warranty since you can't return the phone without it... Did I ever mention how much I hate locked cell phones and their ridiculous contracts?

For anyone trying to do this, or for the next time we need to do it:
Download Motorola Software Update (MSU)
Plug the phone in via USB
Make sure MSU detects the phone
Download and install P2K Commander 3.2.6 (newer versions did not work with Vista)
Select P2K phone user in the right menu and navigate to ringtones.
Find mp3 in the left menu. Copy your mp3 to your phone.
You may have to delete the file MyToneDB.db
Reset the phone and voila!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Fort Story 20K Run

The Shamrock half marathon is coming up so I signed up for 10/15/20K runs since January. The final 20k was yesterday and just like the 15k my new shoes were not ready. The shoes I bought back in January were the first I've actually had sized and asked for advice from a pro-running shop. I decided to go with their advice and see if I it would be easier on my feet. I was wrong and should have purchased the same model Asics running shoes I've been using for the past 8 years. Of course I paid for it too, 100$'s for most decent running shoes these days though I could have gotten them cheaper at the exchange or online.

The 20K was a cold run, in the 30's but luckily very little wind. I finished in under 2 hours which is my half marathon goal, but I did walk a few times to give my feet a break. I'll have to try a few more long runs before I wear these shoes for the marathon.

I'm still using my Garmin Forerunner 405 and tracking my workouts online. Pretty neat, especially the player you can click on the top right corner.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Fiscal Irresponsibility

I could really rant and rave on this topic. To bailout people and businesses that have made bad decisions is absolutely ludicrous.

John Locke wrote, "no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions." His writings led to our inalienable rights in our declaration of independence ""Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." No where does it say the right to a reasonable mortgage, health care, or non-competitive union employment.

The news is actually joking about the trillions of dollars and I quote "I wonder where all this money is going to come from? I guess we'll just print more." - ABC World News. Cutting edge reporting there. What is going to happen is the US dollar is going to continue to weaken. More and more of our money will go just to pay interest and the national debt will turn into the equivalent of a spiraling credit card debt that no one can ever catch up on. But the reporter is right, we'll just print more. But at some point no one is going to buy it and our economy is really going to crash.

Not to mention the fact that large portions of our debt is held by foreign countries. China is leading the way with 20% of it, thats over 2 trillion dollars. Our relations with China are hardly friendly, and they are not nearly as dependent on our economy as we are on theirs. They own enough of America to manipulate our economy.

Ford, GM, and Chrysler need to file for bankruptcy, disband their unions, and join the World's competitive auto industry. People who can't afford their homes need to be foreclosed on. Reducing their mortgage payments by extending the life of the loan actually costs homeowners MORE money and only postpones the current crisis. We need to hit bottom so the market will correct itself. I think we are already there or very close, this bailout may actually postpone the bottoming out. Instead we'll continue to bleed this country dry and reward bad behavior.

I have an idea for a stimulus package: how about financial education in our schools so everyone knows debt is bad so we can stop carrying on average 3000 dollars in credit card debt and won't let our government ruin our economy. Now back full circle to that quote in the beginning: "no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions." Today we are promising the possessions of future generations to pay off our attempted quick fix to the economy.

I guess this did turn into a rant. At least now universal health care may get postponed. I'm glad we don't have kids, they will be the ones to suffer the most from our mistakes. America won't be the World leader in a few generations at this rate.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Military Spouses Residency Relief Act - Reintroduction

I don't know how many of you know that I have been working with a non-profit organization, Military Spouse Business Association (MSBA). The MSBA co-founders have been working on getting a Military Spouses Residency Relief Act, MSRRA, passed with the help of Congressman Carter.

MSRRA kind of fell off the itinerary due to the housing crisis and then campaigning before the election. MSRRA will be reintroduced by Congressman Carter in Washington, D.C. Below is the updated information.

Show your support for MSRRA on Facebook




The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act is an important opportunity to better the lives of Military Spouses and Families. We need your support. If you plan to attend please contact Congressman Carter's office to verify the final location at the U.S. Capitol. If you can't attend but support this bill, please forward this to Military Spouses friends in the DC area and encourage them to "be there" to represent all of us.

All Military Spouses - please contact your Congressman (where you live) and your spouse's Congressman (where he/she has a home state) and let them know you support the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 18, 2009

Carter to Re-introduce Military Spouses Residency Relief Act

(FORT HOOD, TEXAS) - Military spouses would be able to claim the same state residency as their service member husband or wife, under legislation scheduled to be re-introduced next week in Washington by U.S. Rep. John Carter (R-TX31).

Carter's legislation passed the House during the last session of Congress but failed to become law before Congress adjourned in December. The bill allows a military spouse who moves out of a state with their service member under military orders to have the option to claim the same state of domicile as their active duty spouse, regardless of where they are stationed.

"We have long supported service member's ability to continue voting and paying taxes in one state over the course of a military career as they are transferred around the world on orders," says Carter, who represents Fort Hood, the U.S. Army's largest base. "I feel it has been an egregious oversight spanning decades that we have not extended that stability to spouses as well, as they are impacted politically and economically just as much as the service member by these frequent and career-long moves."

WHO: U.S. Rep. John Carter with supporting House and Senate members

WHAT: Military Spouses Residency Relief Act introduction to the 111th Congress

WHEN: 11:00AM Wednesday, February 25

WHERE: U.S. Capitol (Room TBD)

John E. Stone
Communications Director
U.S. Rep. John Carter (TX31)
Secretary, House Republican Conference
409 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Office - (202) 225-3864

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Go Admirals!

We went to our first professional hockey game. The Norfolk Admirals played the Hamilton Bulldogs (a Canadian team). Unfortunately we lost but it was a very good game. The scope was very nice though we had to park at the MacArthur Center and walk. It was a cold walk but the arena was actually comfortable. We had a meet and greet before the game to meet the players and have pictures with the mascots. We were a little late because of the construction and rush hour traffic but had a great time.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New Cell Phones

We went to the local Verizon store to purchase new cell phones. Our 2 year contract expired a while ago. This is our 3rd set of phones. The first set was the most reliable. In 2001 the motorola startac phones were one of the first great flip phones. After that we purchased some generic LG-7000's around 2004 that were decent. In 2006 Rikki got a motorola Razr and I purchased my first smartphone the Treo 700. We were both disappointed with our phones. Rikki's Razr battery barely lasts a day without charging. And I made the mistake of buying another Palm product. Even worse a palm product running Windows Mobile. The only thing I liked about the phone was that it could play audiobooks. The screen was too small for anything useful and I despise miniature keypads.

We decided on what phones we were going to buy before going to the Verizon store. Rikki picked the Motorola Moto W755. They had it in stock for twice the price of what it was online. I pointed this out and they rambled off a dozen reasons why they were safer to buy from than Verizon online. None of them were very convincing but they knocked the price down and gave us a rebate. After all that they tell us we can't return the phone after more than 1 hour of use or if we send in the UPC for the rebate.... I have no idea why anyone would ever buy a phone from a brick and mortar store, I won't ever again. Also see our old post "Confessions Of A Former Verizon Sales Rep"

After all of that I went home and bought myself a Samsung Omnia online cheaper than Rikki's phone! So far I'm impressed. Samsung did an excellent job of hiding the Windows Mobile interface with its own more friendly (iphone like) touch screen interface. There is no keyboard, all touch screen and so I'm surprised it works even with my short stubby fingers. I played solitaire while waiting at Medical today. The phone itself is surprisingly small and light. The screen is good enough to read pdf files and do some basic Office documents, but the touch keyboard is a bit crowded. I did some web browsing on it but plan on canceling that service once I get it setup on my wifi network. It can even share files with my PS3. It is the most powerful smartphone to date. It is what I have been waiting for.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Shutting down our server

After running our own server since 2002 I'm finally going to shut it down. With another move and a deployment coming up I've decided to switch to the free blog, file, and photo sharing services. The free services finally allow enough storage and other features that the hassle of maintaining a server is no longer worth it.

I exported both of our blogs to the newly google owned blogger and will be adding our photos/videos to various other free sites. It will be nice to have everything online and more easily accessible.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Vista Administrator Account

Often when using Vista I need to activate the Admin account to bypass write and delete permissions. I need to write these down somewhere so I don't have to keep looking them up:

Open a command prompt in administrator mode by right-clicking and choosing "Run as administrator" then type: net user administrator /active:yes

Once the admin account is activated log off and choose the administrator account to log back in. Now you can edit all files/folders without issues.

Friday, February 06, 2009

San Diego Trip

Work sent me to San Diego for one week. The flight from Virginia to Atlanta was delayed about 4 hours so I arrived in San Diego at almost 8. None of the rental cars are at the airport so I had to take a shuttle to Enterprise. I was lucky enough to get upgraded from a compact to a Town and Country Van. I tried to follow the clerk's directions to the hotel and got lost. I brought along my laptop and GPS though so I just booted that up and found my way to the hotel easily. 

I usually go with low end hotels since they are the only ones that usually include free Internet and breakfast. But this time I went with Hyatt. I tried the automatic check-in and it didn't work. One of the staff noticed me struggling and offered to help. As he checked me in he asked if I "like surprises" I said it depends since I had 2 suprises today; a late flight and a upgraded rental. Luckily this was another good surprise. They upgraded me to a suite.

The suite was better than any hotel I've stayed at so far, including the 5 star Gulf Hotel. It had a 2nd floor balcony looking over the marina of mission bay. The seperate living room had 2 couches, 2 chairs, a fridge and a flat screen TV. The bedroom had 2 queens and a 2nd flat screen TV. Of course Internet was 10$ a day and the local shops and eateries were ridiculously expensive. It was a resort area next door to Sea World. The gym was exceptionally nice and even had an attendant in the mornings.

The week went by quickly, death by powerpoint. About 200 slides total over 3 days. But it was very productive and we did get a lot of work done and I finally was able to put faces to voices I've been working with on weekly teleconferences for the past year. 

It was colder than I expected, dropping around 50 at night. But, a few days were above 60 and I was able to get some running in. The trip back was uneventful and it feels great to be home.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Djibouti

The majority of what you want to know about this small country is here. The CIA World Fact Book is a great resource for info on any country.

Perspective - Life Without Limbs

Mom forwarded me this link to a tear jerker. His website is here.