< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="http://echo9er.blogspot.com" > Echo9er: February 2005

Monday, February 28, 2005

Snouts -- "The Perfect Gift"

Looking for the "Perfect Gift" for that "Special" someone? Look no further. If that special someone loves coffee or hot chocolate, Snouts may be just the gift.

Imagine the odd looks you'll receive when you place our "Pig Snout" mug up to your face to take a drink!

They're durable, inexpensive and fun for everyone. They're made of quality ceramic, hold 12 fluid ounces, are about 4 inches tall and have a peach colored semi-transparent glaze. The mugs are microwave and dishwasher safe.

Each mug is crafted to make sure your special one feels like the "Hog of the House".

Great gift for those you like and folks you don't!!!!

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

Hasbro's "Tooth Tunes"

Hasbro "Tooth Tunes"

"When pressed to the teeth, the toothbrush renders a recorded riff from a pop star that lasts two minutes -- precisely the amount of time dentists say children should spend brushing their teeth.

How does it work? "The two-minute recording is stored on a microchip no bigger than a dot atop the letter i. Push a button on the toothbrush, and a minicomputer starts playing the song. Sound waves are transported through the transducer to the front teeth,
traveling from there to the jawbone and then to the inner ear.

Just what we need. I wonder if Sanata or Iron Butterfly is available.

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Firefox Explosion

From Wired Magazine: The Firefox Explosion.
For Rob Davis, the final straw came during a beautiful weekend last summer, which he spent holed up in his Minneapolis apartment killing a zombie. The week before, a malicious software program had invaded Davis' PC through his browser, Internet Explorer, using a technique called the DSO exploit. His computer had been repurposed as a "zombie box" - its CPU and bandwidth co-opted to pump reams of spam onto the Internet. Furious, Davis dropped out of a planned Lake Superior camping trip to instead back up his computer and reformat his crippled hard drive. Then he vowed never to open IE again.
I started using Firefox about 2 months ago. I am very happy with it. I like the simplicity. I like the interface. I like that you can open multiple windows in tabs instead of windows. I like the Pop-up blocking. If you haven't made the switch, go here, read about it, and download it. It's free, and well worth your time.

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Military Probes Death Notice Hoax

From Newsday
February 23, 2005

SAVANNAH, Ga. - Military police are investigating a cruel hoax in which a man
wearing an Army dress uniform falsely told the wife of a soldier that her husband had been killed in Iraq.

Investigators are trying to determine why the man delivered the false death notice and whether he was a soldier, or a civilian wearing a military uniform.
This is really bad. I have had more than one occasion to brief Casualty Notification and Assistance Officers on the procedures for providing this vital and sensitive service. The Army is VERY serious about how death notices are conducted. These family members go through enough anguish and worry on a daily basis not to have it compounded by the likes of this individual. I really hope whoever did this is caught and punished severely.

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Happy President's Day!

Found this over at Dan Johnson Jr's Blog. I thought it appropriate to post here for President's Day.

Some words from The Presidents of the United States:

1. "Few men have the virtue to withstand the highest bidder." -- George Washington, 1st President of the United States of America (1789-1797)
2. "Upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss! On the contrary, if conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value." --
John Adams, 2nd President of the United States of America (1797-1801)
3. "Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written constitution." --
Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States of America (1801-1809)
4. "Theories are the offspring of the closet; exceptions and qualifications are the lessons of experience." --
James Madison, 4th President of the United States of America (1809-1817)
5. "The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil." --
James Monroe, 5th President of the United States of America (1817-1825)
6. "All men profess honesty as long as they can. To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so is something worse." --
John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States of America (1825-1829)
7. "I know what I am fit for. I can command a body of men in a rough way; but I am not fit to be President." --
Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States of America (1829-1837)
8. "It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn't." --
Martin van Buren, 8th President of the United States of America (1837-1841)
9. "A decent and manly examination of the acts of the Government should be not only tolerated, but encouraged." --
William Henry Harrison, 9th President of the United States of America (1841)
10. "I can never consent to being dictated to." --
John Tyler, 10th President of the United States of America (1841-1845)
11. "No president who performs his duties faithfully and conscientiously can have any leisure." --
James Polk, 11th President of the United States of America (1845-1849)
12. "I have always done my duty. I am ready to die. My only regret is for the friends I leave behind me." --
Zachary Taylor, 12th President of the United States of America (1849-1850)
13. "An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable victory." --
Millard Fillmore, 13th President of the United States of America (1850-1853)
14. "With the Union my best and dearest earthly hopes are entwined." --
Franklin Pierce, 14th President of the United States of America (1853-1857)
15. "The ballot box is the surest arbiter of disputes among free men." --
James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States of America (1857-1861)
16. "Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it." --
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America (1861-1865)
17. "It's a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word." --
Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States of America (1865-1869)
18. "The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity." --
Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States of America (1869-1877)
19. "Fighting battles is like courting girls: those who make the most pretensions and are boldest usually win." --
Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States of America (1877-1881)
20. "The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable." --
James A. Garfield, 20th President of the United States of America (1881)
21. "Men may die, but the fabrics of free institutions remains unshaken." --
Chester A. Arthur, 21st President of the United States of America (1881-1885)
22. "No man has ever yet been hanged for breaking the spirit of a law." --
Grover Cleveland, 22nd President of the United States of America (1885-1889)
23. "I knew that my staying up would not change the [election] result if I were defeated, while if elected I had a hard day ahead of me. So I thought a night's rest was best in any event." --
Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President of the United States of America (1889-1893)
24. "The United States is not a nation to which peace is a necessity." --
Grover Cleveland, 24th President of the United States of America (1893-1897)
25. "That's all a man can hope for during his lifetime - to set an example - and when he is dead, to be an inspiration for history." --
William McKinley, 25th President of the United States of America (1897-1901)
26. "Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." --
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States of America (1901-1909)
27. "Don't worry over what the newspapers say. I don't. Why should anyone else? I told the truth to the newspaper correspondents - but when you tell the truth to them they are at sea." --
William H. Taft, 27th President of the United States of America (1909-1913)
28. "Every people should be left free to determine its own policy, its own way of development, unhindered, unthreatened, unafraid, the little along with the great and powerful… These are American principles." --
Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States of America (1913-1921)
29. "America's present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration." --
Warren G. Harding, 29th President of the United States of America (1921-1923)
30. "Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my Administration has been minding my own business." --
Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States of America (1923-1929)
31. "A splendid storehouse of integrity and freedom has been bequeathed to us by our forefathers. In this day of confusion, of peril to liberty, our high duty is to see that this storehouse is not robbed of its contents." --
Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States of America (1929-1933)
32. "For three long years I have been going up and down this country preaching that government . . . costs too much. I shall not stop that preaching." --
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States of America (1933-1945)
33. "When even one American -- who has done nothing wrong-is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth -- then all Americans are in peril." --
Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States of America (1945-1953)
34. "Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it." --
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States of America (1953-1961)
35. "The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining." --
John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States of America (1961-1963)
36. "Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or to lose." --
Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States of America (1963-1969)
37. "The presidency has many problems, but boredom is the least of them." --
Richard M. Nixon, 37th President of the United States of America (1969-1974)
38. "I don't go to the movies to get a social lesson. I go for entertainment." --
Gerald R. Ford, 38th President of the United States of America (1974-1977)
39. "I look forward to these confrontations with the press to kind of balance up the nice and pleasant things that come to me as president." --
Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States of America (1977-1981)
40. "While I take inspiration from the past, like most Americans, I live for the future." --
Ronald W. Reagan, 40th President of the United States of America (1981-1989)
41. "I take as my guide the hope of a saint:in crucial things, unity --in important things, diversity --in all things, generosity."--
George Bush, 41st President of the United States of America (1989-1993)
42. "There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America." --
William J. Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America (1993-2001)
43. "Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve." --
George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States of America (2001-present)

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Watch the Dots

This fits into a previous post, A Photo for Every Minute of the Day.

Check out A dot for every second in the day.

(via J-Walk)

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

Nerd Watch Museum

My life is ALMOST complete now. As I looked through this "Virtual" museum of "Nerd Watches", I realized I actually wore some of these.

Our collection spans hundreds of models, dozens of manufacturers and infinite gadgetry. Since your hosts are of the LCD generation, rather than LED, liquid crystal display models have been the focus of our collecting. Many LCD timepieces played an important role in the evolution of digital wristwear, and we are striving to present as many as possible in our virtual museum.

Visit them here. Check our the message boards. This is too much. This is the place to find a complete photographic exhibit of every LCD watch ever meet your wrist

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Do you need a new Piggy Bank?

The Coink Piggy Bank.
Conveniently designed to store your loose change, this piggy bank transcends the "one coin at a time" models of yesteryear with its generous "quick dump" funnel.
I have got a fairly good collection of "Old Navy" Piggy Banks, and some from Germany. But none of them look like this one.

This is a neat way to save those pennies. Maybe I'll cruise over to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Online Store and check it out.

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

The Human Clock

A Photo for Every Minute of the Day. This site really doesn't need much explanation. It uploads a different picture every minute. Choose between Digital or Analog".

Here's one that was taken on 2/17/2005 at 10:02 PM (PST).

Signing off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog!! drh

A Stand-alone Internet Explorer?

Should Mozilla Firefox be concerned? I don't think so.

From Infoconomy: Gates announces stand-alone Internet Explorer release.
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates told delegates at the RSA Security conference in San Francisco that it would make trial version of its Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) available this summer.

The move highlights the growing concern within Microsoft over the number of users that have ditched its browser in favour of others regarded as more secure and with better features. Microsoft has seen its market share eroded over the last 12 months, dropping to below 90%.

It seems to me that when Microsoft went through all of the antitrust trials, a main argument was that IE was intgral to the Windows operating system and could not be broken out as a stand-alone. Hmmm, this is curious. Perhaps the "instant" popularity of Firefox has gotton the attention of developers at Microsoft and will cause development of a better browser. Let's just hope the consumer doesn't get caught up in the wars.

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

New Search Engine

Found this new Search Engine while reading The Spot. You really need to try this. Type in what ou are looking for, this engine brings back you result. It's really great.

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

Monday, February 14, 2005

A Tribute to the Banana

How about a visit to the Washington Banana Museum?

The Washington Banana Museum. . .has assembled close to 4,000 items, a melange of artifacts, folk art and other cultural oddities devoted to the world's perfect fruit. Assembled by a longtime scholar of banana consciousness, it features a compendium of whimsical and serious representations of the #1-selling fruit in the United States.
Here is a Picture of a postcard from 1911.
Pay a visit. Leave a comment about what you think is neat about the Banana Museum. You might learn something like:
Bananas were introduced to the American public at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, the same expo that introduced Alexander Graham Bell's telephone.
Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

Another Darwin Candidate

I wonder if this guy will get nominated for a Darwin Award. He certainly contributed to reducing the Gene Pool. Hobart man dies testing bulletproof vest

From IndyStar.com

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

British Food

Only in Britain would there be a web site where people can vote to rate various foods. I only found one appealing: Fish and Chips (although the Mushy Peas and Spam Fritter, may be a turn off).

British Food Gallery
Here's a gallery with lots of photos of British Food. Shown here is steak pudding, corned beef hash and a toasted roll. Artfully arranged to look like Mickey Mouse.

(Via J-Walk)

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

New Links Added

I've added some new links for you to browse.

Blogs for Firefox. If you have'nt switched browsers yet, consider this one. Pop up blocking, open source, change to look when you want to, a great community. Try it. I did and I LIKE IT!
The Word a Day. Just to keep your vocabulary up to date.
The Internet Movie Database. A GREAT resource for all of those movies we love to watch.

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Pull up your pants!

Update: From The News Tribune: Droopy-pants bill dropped in Va. Senate
Finally, common sense prevails.
. . .Virginia lawmakers dropped their droopy-pants bill Thursday after the whole thing became just too embarrassing.
. . .news reports implied that lawmakers were preoccupied with droopy pants.

I hope this is the last of this issue.


Yeah. Like this will be enforced. Sometimes I have to wonder how these people get elected. Oh, yeah, we elect them.

From The News Tribune: Va. bill sets fine for low-riding pants
The state's House of Delegates passed a bill Tuesday authorizing a $50 fine for
anyone who displays his or her underpants in a "lewd or indecent manner."

An interesting note here. I have seen these pants in the stores with an extended top that looks like boxer shorts. Apparently the pants are baggy but do fit properly at the waist. With the extended "boxer" material, it looks like the pants are falling down. It's a ridiculous look either way. The new law is even more ridiculous.

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

A Darwin Award Candidate

Those who know me also know how much I enjoy reading the Darwin Awards. Well here is a candidate that has eliminated a lot of possibilities from the gene pool.

From Reuters:

Well, at Least He Won't Be Fathering More Fans...
Tue Feb 8, 2005 8:28 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - A Welsh rugby fan cut off his own testicles to celebrate Wales beating England at rugby, the Daily Mirror reported Tuesday.

Geoff Huish, 26, was so convinced England would win Saturday's match he told fellow drinkers at a social club, "If Wales win I'll cut my balls off," the paper said.

Friends at the club in Caerphilly, south Wales, thought he was joking.

But after the game Huish went home, severed his testicles with a knife, and walked 200 yards back to the bar with the testicles to show the shocked drinkers what he had done.

Huish was taken to hospital where he remained in serious condition, the paper said.

Wales's 11-9 victory over England at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff was their first home win over England in 12 years.

Add this to the growing list of fanatic fans of various sports (Soccer, Hockey, now Rugby. . .).

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

2004 Tax Guide By State

For those wondering about such things as taxes, here is a rundown of the taxes in Washington State.

For those of you who just happen to pass through, please check out the link for your state.

This is 2004 data. I will try to post any changes when the 2005 data becomes available.


Sales Taxes
State Sales Tax: 6.5% (food and prescription drugs exempt); cigarettes are taxed at $1.425/pack of 20, $1.781/pack of 25. Local option taxes may increase total tax by 2%.
Gasoline Tax: 28 cents/gallon
Diesel Fuel Tax: 28 cents/gallon
Gasohol Tax: 28 cents/gallon

Personal Income Taxes
No state personal income tax
Retirement Income: Not taxed.

Property Taxes
Property taxes account for about 30% of Washington's total state and local taxes. Properties are appraised at 100% of fair market value. A property tax exemption program is available for persons age 61 or older, or persons unable to work due to a physical disability. The property, which can include up to an acre of land, must be owner/buyer occupied. Applicant's total combined household income must be $30,000 or less for the filing year. Under this program, the assessed value of the applicant's primary residence is frozen as of the time they initially enter the program. As long as the applicant remains in the program, the valuation stays constant. This means that even though the market value of the property may continue to rise, the taxes will only be figured on the frozen value. In addition, all excess (voter approved) levies are exempted; and, for applicants whose income is below $24,000, a portion of the regular tax is waived.

The state's Tax Deferral Program works in conjunction with the Exemption Program. A senior citizen or disabled person may defer property taxes or special assessments on their residence if they meet certain age, disability, ownership, occupancy and income requirements. The state pays the taxes on behalf of the claimant and files a lien on the property to indicate the state has an interest in the property. The deferred taxes must be repaid to the state plus 8% interest when the owner dies, sells or moves from the home, or doesn't have sufficient equity in the property. Qualified people may participate in both or one of these programs.

For more details on property taxes, click here (PDF).

Inheritance and Estate Taxes
The state of Washington replaced the inheritance tax in 1982 with an estate tax. The estate tax is 100% of the available state credit rather than the reduced percent of state credit allowed by the federal government. For details, call 360-753-5547 or 360-753-7518.

For further information, visit the Washington Department of Revenue site.
For state tax forms, click here.

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

A Woman's Worth

Found this over at "Behind the Smile" Blog. Looks like it's just starting up. Nadia doesn't reference where it came from, but I thought I would take a copy and post it here. It is very thought provoking. Thanks Nadia.


A Woman's Worth

By the time the Lord made woman, He was into his sixth day of working overtime. An angel appeared and said, "Why are you spending so much time on this one?" And the Lord answered, "Have you seen my spec sheet on her? She has to be completely washable, but not plastic, have over 200 movable parts, all replaceable and able to run on diet coke and leftovers, have a lap that can hold four children at one time, have a kiss that can cure anything from a scraped knee to a broken heart -and she will do everything with only two hands."

The angel was astounded at the requirements. "Only two hands!? No way! And that's just on the standard model? That's too much work for one day. Wait until tomorrow to finish. "But I won't," the Lord protested. "I am so close to finishing this creation that is so close to my own heart. She already heals herself when she is sick AND can work 18 hour days." The angel moved closer and touched the woman. "But you have made her so soft, Lord."

"She is soft," the Lord agreed, "but I have also made her tough. You have no idea what she can endure or accomplish." "Will she be able to think?", asked the angel. The Lord replied, "Not only will she be able to think, she will be able to reason and negotiate." The angel then noticed something, and reaching out, touched the woman's cheek. "Oops, it looks like you have a leak in this model. I told you that you were trying to put too much into this one." "That's not a leak," the Lord corrected, "that's a tear!" "What's the tear for?" the angel asked. The Lord said, "The tear is her way of expressing her joy, her sorrow, her pain, her disappointment, her love, her loneliness, her grief and her pride." The angel was impressed. "You are a genius, Lord. You thought of everything! Woman is truly amazing." And she is! Women have strengths that amaze men. They bear hardships and they carry burdens, but they hold happiness, love and joy. They smile when they want to scream. They sing when they want to cry. They cry when they are happy and laugh when they are nervous. They fight for what they believe in. They stand up to injustice. They don't take "no" for an answer when they believe there is a better solution. They go without so their family can have. They go to the doctor with a frightened friend. They love unconditionally.

They cry when their children excel and cheer when their friends get awards. They are happy when they hear about a birth or a wedding. Their hearts break when a friend dies.They grieve at the loss of a family member, yet they are strong when they think there is no strength left. They know that a hug and a kiss can heal a broken heart. Women come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They'll drive, fly, walk, run or e-mail you to show how much they care about you. The heart of a woman is what makes the world keep turning. They bring joy, hope and love. They have compassion and ideals. They give moral support to their family and friends.

Women have vital things to say and everything to give. However, if there is one FLAW in women, it is that they forget their worth.

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Spacesuited Women

Just what we need. A web site dedicated to Women is Spacesuits.

This is pretty cool if your into Sci-Fi and want to go down memory lane and review some of the movies and tv shows of the 1950's through the 2000's. There are some greats from Solaris (2002) to Catwomen of the Moon(1953).

Here is a picture from Way, Way Out (1966) starring Connie Stevens:

Spacesuited Women

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

Friday, February 04, 2005

CD vs. Downloaded Music

Go over to Ed Bott's site and read an interesting and informative log of the benefits of buying CDs and ripping them instead of downloading from the various music sites. This is especially good information if, like many people, you don't backup your music/data/etc. very often and you lose it. The bottom line is this: If you purchase music from many of the music download sites, and later lose your music due to system crash, etc, you will have to pay to download that music again.

Ed mentions a number of ways to purchase CDs, to include the used CD market via Amason and others. Another way I can think of it to go to your Public or School Library. Many of the libraries have CDs available to checkout for FREE!

The link to Ed's log is here. I, for one, am going to go through a process of copying my CD collection into digital format (probably via an external hard drive). This will hopefully serve a dual purpose, 1) I will be able to find music I have long forgotten about, and 2) I will be able to create customized playlists to download to portable formats (CD, MP3, etc).

I can't begin to tell you how many CDs I have at home, but the list is long. I don't even know when I am going to start the process, but I will. It should be fun (and time consuming since I will have to do this in the evenings and on weekends).

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Are YOU a Freak?

Got this via J-Walk.

Take this quiz to see how much of a Freak you are. Be prepared to answer some personal questions. BE HONEST.

My results are split into these three catagories:

Need to be unique
: You like to be a somewhat different than others.
Need to NOT conform: You prefer to conform to others' standards, but don't mind acting differently occasionally.
Willingness to express dissent: You are typically respectful when you disagree, but are willing to speak your mind if it is appropriate
This test was developed by two psychologists in the 1970's to determine an individual's "Need for Uniqueness". It's a real test, not a so-called purity test found elsewhere on the net.
Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

What I'm reading (listening, to) -- Part 2

I just finished listening to The DaVinci Code. A very good book. If you are a fan of the quest for the Holy Grail, you will like this version.

The book was a fast listen, probably because I had the "Abridged" version. I need to get the "Unabridged" version and listen again. I think there was quite a lot left out after the abridgment.

I started State of Fear by Michael Crichton today. So far, so good. Will keep you posted.

UPDATE (February 3, 2005): An EXCELLENT book. Very well written and read. If you are on the fence as far as environmental issues are concerned, read or listen to this book. It's long, and in places, really drawn out, but the story is good. The hardcover version is footnoted and has numerous graphs and drawings. I am sure you will enjoy this book.

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Opinion -- Death Gratuity

The news has been full of proposals to increase the Death Gratuity to families of Active Duty Service members who die while on Active Duty.

The current Gratuity is a one-time, tax free payment of approximately $12,500. To some, this is a paltry amount of money for surviving family members. Let's look at this.

When a service member dies, the Military pays for ALL funeral related expenses: transportation, casket, funeral home related charges for preparation of the remains, burial site and care, to name a few. Additionally, there are pall bearers, honor guard, and a bugler. As a rule, even without the Gratuity, the surviving family members have no out of pocket expenses for the burial/funeral of their loved one. The Death Gratuity, again this is a TAX FREE gift, would pay for anything above and beyond what the military pays for: additional flowers, limousines, etc.

So, why do we need to consider increasing to $100,000? This seem a bit extreme to me. Now, don't get me wrong. I am a believer in taking care of our fallen comrades. But the Death Gratuity increase is just too much. I have no issue with increasing the servicemen's Group Life Insurance (SGLI) from the current $250,000 to $400,000. The service member pays into this and it is the right thing to do. But increasing the Death Gratuity to $100,000 is way to much. I would agree to $15,000 to $20,000, but no more. In addition, and surviving children are provided educational benefits through the Veterans Administration. This is a huge amount of money that the family does not have to put out of pocket.

Besides, look at the surviving spouse of a person who dies while receiving Social Security Benefits. The Death Gratuity is only $250.00. Is this fair? Especially in light of the fact that ALL expense for the funeral are borne on the survivors. There is no expense for the Active Duy survivors.

I say, let's increase the Gratuity to Military family members to a reasonable amount. But, we also need to consider increasing the benefit to Social Security survivors to a more reasonable coverage.

I know. The argument is burial insurance or some other pre-death planning. I don't think so. The Social Security death benefit needs to be raised to cover funeral home expenses. The Military takes care of that for the family and gives them a reasonable amount of money to cover additional expenses.

Off of my soapbox for now. I don't know who will read this or who else even cares. But, the increase of Death Gratuity just gives me cause for concern.

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.

Washington State Politics

Many of you know that Washington State had a long, drawn out election process to detrmine our Governor. The Republican candidate won the General election by a very narrow margin, and per state law, a recount was completed. The Republican candidate won again, However, the Democraic candidate insisted on a hand recount. This 3rd recount had numerous problems: Ballots not counted in the previous counts were suddenly found and counted; invalid or no signatures on the mail-in ballots, deceased votes counted, voters convicted of felonies were counted, etc. The end result, the Democratic candidate won the manual recount and was declared winner.

There is now a movement to get a revote. The state Republican party has a court date set. However, one legislator, Rep. Jeannie Darneille(D-27) who represents parts of Fife and Tacoma, has written an email addressing the fact that if there were a revote, the dead would be disenfranchised.

"The Center for Health Statistics reports that every month an average of 3,700 residents die in Washington State. A significant number of these are of voting age. This means that since the November election, approximately 11,100 residents have passed away – they do not get a chance to vote again.

I want their votes in this Governor’s race to count. I don’t think it is appropriate to eliminate their voices."

What? They are dead. Of course their votes won't count. Additionally, there are a large number of people that have turned 18 and are now eligible to vote that weren't in November. The offset, in my mind, should be pretty much a wash. This is truely unbelievable.

Thanks for the heads up on this politician from Stefan Sharkansky at Sound Politics.

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.