Things Are Looking Up!

As noted previously, my year got off to a rough start, but it’s my belief that this just means I’m getting all the crap out of the way up front and the rest of the year will be significantly better.
The good part of the year is starting to kick in. On Thursday, I went to an MVA Express office to renew my driver’s license. The last time I went to an MVA Express office, I was there for more than an hour. This time I was in and back out in just 10 minutes. The photo even looks like me!
The rest of my year is gonna rock!


When I mess something up, generally only a few people know about it.
When Barack Obama messes up the oath of office, pretty much the entire civilized world sees it on live TV.
So in the big picture, I guess my goofs aren’t really all that important. And hopefully any further mistakes from either of us will be just as inconsequential and just as quickly forgotten.

Acronym Soup

I need to mail a package in the next couple days. Doing some running around tomorrow morning, I’ll be passing near a Post Office, so that seems like an ideal opportunity. The only catch is, all federal offices in the DC area will be closed tomorrow in order to help reduce the number of people heading into the city on what’s projected to be the largest-ever event on the National Mall. (As Dave points out, 7,000 porta-potties at an average width of 3.5 feet works out to more than 4.5 miles.) This applies not only to the District of Columbia, but also to Fairfax County, Virginia; Prince George’s County, Maryland; and Montgomery County, Maryland.
This raises an obvious question: If I stop at the Post Office, will it be open?
Fortunately, the Post Office web site includes a “National Mail Service Updates” page. Under the heading of “Washington, DC — Inauguration Day 2009,” I found this very helpful notice:

Washington, DC– the following service changes are in effect for Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009.
All P&DCs, SCFs and BMCs in the region will be open during the Inauguration.

Well that certainly clears it up.

The Obama Stimulus Package

A month or so back, some of the predictions for Tuesday’s Presidential Inauguration had as many as 5 million people crowding onto the National Mall to watch the swearing in followed by the inaugural parade. Various officials have since imposed a number of security restrictions, closed a number of bridges that empty onto the mall (starting sometime between now and Tuesday morning, it will become impossible to enter DC from Virginia, you’ll have to go into Maryland first) and so on with the final result that it won’t be possible to attend the inauguration unless you actually live along the parade route.
OK, maybe it’s not quite that severe, but the news reports in recent weeks really have been filled with a growing number of road closures and quite a few area residents have decided to avoid DC altogether until Wednesday. Now officials are concerned they may have scared people away from the area and the latest estimates for crowd size are “only” 2.5 million. (For comparison, the previous record crowd size on the National Mall was 1 million in 1976 for the Bicentennial celebration.)
One side effect of all this activity is a bit of economic stimulus for the DC-area economy. Not just the surge in hotel occupancy, sales of Obama bobblehead dolls, and various inaugural memorabilia, but also some less obvious money makers.
The Washington Post reports that local companies are benefiting from the need to construct “The Great Wall of Privies” with 7,000 porta-potties on the National Mall.
One result of all the security restrictions is that there aren’t many places to park. The Washington Nationals are offering parking spots at Nationals Park for $20/day ($35 if you leave the car overnight).
Not to be left out, The Washington Post is offering you the chance to place a personal message to President Obama in the Inauguration Day edition of the paper. (Your guess is as good as mine as to whether he’ll read them.)
Likewise, if you’re a Washington Post subscriber (and possibly if you’re not), you can also pre-order the special commemorative edition of the paper, buy a special commemorative picture book, or if you’re really into newspaper memorabilia, you can even buy a replica of the press plate for printing the commemorative edition of the paper.
And finally, in a move that seems to have folks around here evenly divided over whether to laugh or cry, the District of Calamity’s City Council decided to cash in on the influx of visitors by passing emergency legislation to allow bars to continue serving until 4:00 AM.

A Winning Investment Strategy

Back in April, shortly before the most recent rate increase for first class postage, I took advantage of the opportunity and stocked up on “Forever” stamps at the 41-cent price.
The rate went up to 42 cents on May 10. Since then, I figure I’ve probably used about 200 of them. That’s a savings of $2 on an $82 investment. Granted, 2.4% doesn’t seem like much, but that’s pretty fantastic compared to the return on my 401k during the same period.

Nice and Toasty

I’m a little concerned about jinxing it, but it would appear that I’ve survived into the second week of January.
The furnace guy was here again today, and this time he had the part to fix my furnace. So now, for the first time in several years, I have a programmable thermostat that actually follows its program and for the first time this winter, the furnace is actually able to keep up with the program. The house is once again toasty warm.
The past eight days have also been a mini job fair:
Emergency Locksmith: $55 to come out; $185 to open the door. All told, less than 30 minutes work. The downside of course being, it’s really cold at 2:30 AM on New Year’s Day.
Furnace Repair: $85 to come out (includes the first 30 minutes); $45 for each additional 15 minutes.
I’m in the wrong line of work.

Doubts About The Dentist

I’ve known for years now that Herbert! (C) is a dentist. I’ve even read some of the articles he’s written from time to time encouraging people to take care of their teeth and explaining why oral hygiene is so important. (He can be a very entertaining writer.)
I’ve always thought dentistry was a specialization in the world of medicine, but now I’m not so sure. I got a letter from Herbert! (C) today and his handwriting is far too neat to be for him to be any sort of a doctor…

Yet Another Bailout

I did a definite doubletake when I spotted this headline on the CNN web site a little while ago:
Porn industry seeks federal bailout
So then, the idea is that the government would be paying people to keep their clothes on? (I thought the National Endowment for the Arts was responsible for that sort of thing.) It can’t be any less effective than some of the other programs that have been tried lately.
OK, all kidding aside, I can’t help thinking the “request” for a bailout is meant more as a statement about the way bailouts are suddenly being thrown all wily-nilly. But I definitely got a laugh out of it.