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Monday, July 25, 2011

I just couldn’t take it anymore



Have you ever had one of those e days where you had to vent or explode? I had mine today. Perhaps it's was a weekend of watching grown men acting like children or the 100+ heat. I just couldn't take it anymore. I don't assume to know all the answers, but I can't believe we still have people that think that all we have to do is throw up an arbitrary number, and the problem is fixed. Some still say all we have to do is have a flat tax where everyone pays the same. That would be great if we were on a level playing field, but we obviously are not. It's always been easy to go after the poor and label them lazy, unproductive, and say that they should be able to fend for themselves. It makes me so angry that I can't resist going after those that hold that mindset because I've been hearing that for most of my adult life. When I ask for the proof, all I get is personal stories of what their neighbor down the block does. We do need some serious reform but not right now, because it would be devastating. That's why it's easier having budget talks when the economy improves because then cooler heads will prevail.

The other thing that angers me is people who will put down Victoria and our newspaper every chance they get. Every Sunday morning I drive to the Speedy Stop at Crestwood and Navarro to buy a Houston Chronicle. I'm also a longtime subscriber to the Victoria Advocate. It is just my opinion, but I don't see that much difference in the content but the papers serve two different purposes for me. I get the local perspective from the Advocate of course but why do I need a local perspective from Houston? We should be proud and grateful that we have a daily newspaper, even though we don't always agree with the content. If we agreed with everything, it would be extremely boring. I wish those that continuously badmouth the City of Victoria would just leave because their sentiments are never constructive. I wonder how they would like it if Victorians badmouthed our surrounding cities all the time.

There's nothing that irritates me more than someone who posts something that they know will get deleted and then come back and blame the moderator because their childish post got deleted. There is a difference between being singled out, a questionable deletion, and intentionally posting something that is likely to be deleted. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what gets to stay and what gets deleted. Perhaps I missed some that should not have been deleted, but I agree with the ones that I have seen deleted. I'm not a moderator, so I leave that to the judgment of the proprietors of our online forum.

I don't blame people for getting tired of the same old political post we get on our forum. I bet if we were to pull up posts from five years ago; the same-old arguments would be found. People don't read enough to support their statements. Personal observations can enhance an argument but the situation can change from time to time; making that observation invalid and out-of-date.

When they bury or cremate me let it be said that I had a conscience and believed that a prosperous country should take care of its less fortunate. It's the moral thing to do, even though some might call it a welfare state. I also think that healthcare is a right and not a privilege. I don't think I'll live to see the day when we're on a path to alternative energy or taking steps to combat climate-change effects.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Will Victoria become bicycle friendly?


I got on my bicycle this morning to go to the Victoria Public Library but when I got to Red River at San Houston, I found it blocked. I don't mind the barricades but the soft sand would have made it difficult. It's about a 5 mile trip that usually takes me about an hour. I usually take a detour behind Citizens to find me a place where I can cross highway 59 safely. I know what the students go through every morning, half asleep, trying to cross that busy thoroughfare while trying to avoid those that are running late to wherever they are going. That's an accident waiting to happen.

The bicycle riders in California, who avoided "Carmageddon" inspired me,when they stayed off California's Interstate 405 while it was being repaired. I've been on that highway, and I just can't visualize it without backed-up traffic. It just goes to show that if we ask the American people to sacrifice; they will but we never ask. As a state, California is a lot more bike friendly than Texas. Austin does a pretty good job; it is quite a sight, watching the bikers navigate around the University of Texas area. I couldn't do it because it's too hilly but those bikers can get to their destination a lot faster than one driving a car. I've never lived in Austin but my nephew tells me that cars don't get into the bike lanes because they've gotten used to allowing that 3 feet or so for their fellow commuters. He said that he even allows the space where they aren't any bike Lanes. It's habit forming, I guess.

I use our trail ride but getting across Airline can be treacherous, unless you are an old retired person, who can wait out those persons that are in a hurry to get somewhere. It's a boring ride because backyard fences aren't that pretty. I do appreciate the city building the structure for us. We have a bike trail in our park, but it's too far away. I hope they build one around the Lone Tree area and leave as much as the original landscape as possible. I know it seems like I won't be happy, unless they build a bike trail outside my back door, but you don't know what I'm talking about, unless you try to ride a bicycle in Victoria. I've had pretty good luck bicycling from Tanglewood to the Wells Fargo at Mockingbird. I do have to cross Airline and Sam Houston at some point, but I have a lot of lightly traveled back roads I usually take. I have never tried to cross the Navarro but there are a lot of traffic lights on that main thoroughfare. It's the motorists that don't care about the lights much less the bicyclists that I worry about.

I don't expect Victoria to designate bike lanes because we have too many negative people that will see it as a waste of taxpayers' money. We even have some (as holein1 calls them) north side elitist who think anything south of Northgate is not worth improving. They only think of the south side when they flush their toilets. We've had some bicyclists hit by cars but the only solution right now is for people riding bicycles to stay off the roads. I don't ride my bicycle that much to worry about it, but I bet a lot more people would be riding bicycles if we became more bicycle friendly. The larger cities have community bicycles where you rent one and leave it at the next destination. The malls and other business place have installed bicycle for their customers at the front entrance.

If you come across an old retiree slowly peddling his way across Victoria on a bicycle equipped with a light, mirror, and a small GPS unit mounted on the handle; go around me but please do not honk. I don't know why I have lights; I would never ride at night.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

We are just one cog in the wheel


It was very self satisfying to see an original poster (Pilot) spank a new poster named jasonbourne (with an "e") down to size. The poster, jasonbourne, did not like the idea of a Tejano Monument being erected at the statehouse to honor their descendants. He (jasonbourne) is entitled to his own opinion, but he let it be known that he had an agenda when he posted "They don't need a monument. They have an entire STATE!!!." People like to call Victorians" country hicks" but that does not keep us from reading between the lines. Pilot quickly picked up on this and dressed down the poster with some well chosen words .I've always said " you better have your ducks in a row, if you're going to do battle with a wordsmith."

I know I don't get out much but when I do I don't see all this political bickering that we do in our forum. I bet that I can still walk downtown nod, smile, and say hello to 20 people and 19 will respond accordingly. That other person was too busy texting. I know some individuals develop new personalities when they get behind a keyboard, but it doesn't have to be that way. I'm obviously opinionated or I wouldn't be writing a couple of blogs, but I'm the same person away from my keyboard. My religion has this ritual of shaking hands with people around you and saying the words" may peace be with you" but I've always suspected the sincerity of that message. I've always wondered if we would express the same feelings if I encountered the person who shook my hand at a different time and place. Would they shake my hand if they knew I was pro-choice and thought Governor Rick Perry's "Day of Prayer" coincided with his run for the presidency? If ideology can divide us, do we really mean" may peace be with you" or is it just, for the moment, and the remainder of the mass? It sounds cynical but I'm a person that hates superficial. Oops. That's an opening for Kyle..:-)

I think John Kennedy inspired Democrats and Republicans alike, but I didn't really get interested in politics until I heard a young Bill Clinton in Houston. We didn't intend to go to his political rally, but we were in downtown Houston, saw the crowd and decided to check it out. That silver tongue devil immediately got my wife's vote, but I really liked what he said about the economy and his plans to revive it. It was that Monday when I got to work and shared my experience with my coworkers that I found out how divided we were. I wasn't interested in politics until the 1992 election year and probably voted for George H.W. Bush over Michael Dukakis. I was already in my mid forties, but I was more interested in sports, music and other types of entertainment. If my coworkers hadn't been so adamant about their dislike for Bill Clinton,liberals and democrats, I probably would have never become a political junkie. I thank them for that and after my wife saw Obama getting kicked around by the right, she became more political astute. She now sits down and watches a few political shows but she still would rather watch “One Life to Live" and “Dancing with the Stars.

It's funny because it shows just how much the media plays in our lives. I was surprised at a poll that showed only 18% thought we should raise the debt limit. After two weeks of “debt ceiling" bombardment, the general public became educated, and now it's up to 38% that think we should raise the debt limit and 55% think we will suffer a serious economic impact if we don't. It's the media's job to educate, and it's ours to absorb that education because we're only one cog in the wheel.

Friday, July 15, 2011

When did the word “compromise” become a dirty word?


I admit that I spend way too much time trying to catch every little tidbit that comes over the political airways. It’s time consuming but Congress reminds me of my child rearing years. Remember when the kids always brought us their side of the story? Fortunately, we remembered when we used to do that, so we asked them go call their brother, so we could hear the other side. That's what happening in Washington, they have meetings and then immediately after the meetings, they all rush to the microphones to tell us their version of the facts.

I'm at a point where I can give you the talking points of both sides, verbatim. That only makes me more frustrated than the average person. I understand the fiscal conservatives think the problem we have is spending and collecting more revenues is like giving an alcoholic more booze. I do not argue that we spend more than we collect, so spending should be a priority, but a household budget is not equivalent to a national budget. I separate from the fiscal conservative when they want to privatize what should be public and when they don’t want to share the sacrifice.

Even though I'm a dye in the wool liberal democrat, I know that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid have to be reformed or it will be impossible to fund them without jeopardizing, the full faith and credit of the United States government. Those entitlements do not come up for a vote every year because, as a name implies "they are entitlements." That's not to say that we should let the republicans cut benefits without taxing the top 2% or coming up with some sort of means testing or tax increases. I don't believe a 1% hike equally distributed between Social Security and Medical payroll taxes would be too big of a burden, after the economy recovers. The president has now said that he open to "means testing" on Medicare. I don't see why it can't be used for Social Security?

Present Obama's bipartisan commission on reducing the debt would phase out the Earned Income Credit but the commission did not garner enough votes to ever be enacted. That's a safety net program that should be gradually reduced and eventually eliminated. It's not so much a monetary burden but it infuriates a lot of middle class conservatives who see it as a handout. This program was meant to ease the burden on low income taxpayers while they were trying to move up to a bracket where they could no longer have to receive EITC. I think that I would hate to see it eliminated it from the single moms having to pay child care, housing, utilities, and other bills while working at entry level wages. I think if we were to amend it like we did welfare; we wouldn't have to repeal it all together. We could give the EITC a three year shelf life for any recipient. It's amazing what people can do in that 11th hour.

I'm rather happy submitting my blogs to the VA, now that a couple posters have decided to go out on their own, thereby leaving me alone. I don't want to discuss fantasy or revisionist history because it's never ending and unproductive. I'm glad they have a couple people who willing to engage with them. Maybe now they will continue to stay away. A few conservatives have shown me the error of my ways and I look forward to the days when we can have a civil debate to just put out our thoughts out on the table, not expecting people to eat the whole meal, just sample it; eat your peas...:-)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Happy Retirement Ron Paul


Yesterday was full of surprises, Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell threw in the flag of surrender and Congressman Ron Paul decided not to seek reelection. I'm still looking over the details of why Mitch McConnell wants to defer to the president on raising the debt limit.

After all these years, Ron Paul is telling his constituents that he just wants to concentrate on his presidential run. I guess the fact that he is being placed in a district that does not consider him the only honest congressman in Washington has nothing to do with it. A new district of voters would automatically look at Ron Paul's age and make it a factor. Ron Paul's political philosophy will only work in a district that is dominated by libertarians. Congressman Paul has a 7% national poll rating in his recent run for president. That 7% will drop when Governor Rick Perry enters the race. The GOP has too many presidential candidates to hold a constructive nationwide debate. In 2008, a candidate had to have at least 5% in the national polls to qualify. Ron Paul may be one of those candidates who will get left out of a national debate. Fox News does not want Ron Paul in the debates because he doesn't always toe the company line. They want robots that will evade the hard questions and stay on a message of attacking President Obama.

I always expected Ron Paul to win the 14th district year after year, and I really didn't mind it because I didn't expect anything from him. I've heard stories of him acquiring service medals for veterans and intervening in disputes with the Veterans Administration on health benefits. I even heard of him resolving social security and Medicare issues, even though he doesn't believe in those programs. I agreed with his stance on the Iraq war and the Patriot Act, but he loses me when he starts talking about reducing the size of government down to nothing by eliminating the IRS, CIA, EPA, FDA, and other vital programs. He does have a faithful following that believes that he’s the only honest congressman and has the single copy of the United States Constitution. Those faithful followers will miss him, but after he leaves they will get to see how the other half lives. Next year the voters will have to actually listen to the candidates, unless they just want to pull the lever for any republican or democrat.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Public v Private Sector War


I enjoy the Bill Maher show because it is about people sitting around, and speaking truthfully about what's on their mind. Christopher Hayes the editor of a liberal magazine called the Nation was one guest and the other guest was a known liberal hater Ann Coulter. As expected it started off with a bang by Ann Coulter saying that anyone working in the public sector was a leech on society. Christopher Hayes said his mother worked as a schoolteacher for 37 years, and she certainly was not a leech. Ann Coulter did not back down, saying anyone that does not contribute to the production of a product is a leech. I guess she doesn't consider molding young minds a worthwhile product. Therein lies the problem, it's about fundamentalism, ideology, and terminology. "It depends on what the meaning of the words 'is' is." –Bill Clinton

I remember during our  own Victoria County cutbacks people were applauding the decision to lay off county workers and reduce their health care benefits. That laid off employee is no longer a productive person who will now be on public assistance. I don't have the county budget in front of me but I don't think it's unreasonable to think that they could've saved those jobs by cutting something else. I used to work for a company that retained its employees doing hard times because they had a lot invested in us, so the cost to retrain new employees would be counterproductive. There was no guarantee that we would come back to the same job when the economy improved. In 1974 I had to do some work that was normally done by contract labor but I retained my job. That works both ways.The public and private sector employee are both human beings that pay taxes. People in the private sector do not pay the salaries of public employees,they pay for the service that employee provides.

I just saw where someone repeated the old Reagan line” were from the government and we are here to help you" along with " government is not the solution it's the problem" but those are words to make the average person think that government is the enemy. Clearly we have a bloated government and at times the bureaucracy slows things so much that it makes it ineffective. I remember an old line we had when I was in the military and it went like this  “yes I know, make everything in triplicate" and what do we do with that third piece of paper?” If you said " you put it in file 13 (trash can)" you can go to the head of the class.It's the same way in the private sector. Having said all that, I can't imagine a country without an environmental protection agency. A food and drug agency or public education, libraries, law enforcement and fire fighters. We need agencies that will not cut services to remain profitable.

Bill Maher ends his show with a segment called "New Rules" where he goes through a litany of stupid things we do. I am paraphrasing so it will not come out as funny. He said" when did the CEOs get so sensitive, that we can't say anything that might make them unstable because it might scare them, and they won't be able to lay their golden eggs with the jobs in them. He went onto say "we tried that in 2004, but the corporations took the taxpayers' money and still shipped the jobs overseas."

I just got a response on my blog from a poster named neighbor who was trying to make Texas the model state because we starve our people, don't educate them or give them health care but we are business friendly because we don't have a corporate tax rate. That is  straight from the “trickle down" manual. I don't think it would be presumptuous of me to think that he  hates lawyers,poor people,unions,taxes,government people,unions,taxes,government,liberals,environmentalists ACLU,gays,Muslims,regulations and lot more he thinks is un-american. It's like Jon Stewart said one time “conservatives are patriotic Americans but they hate 50% of the country."...:-)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Bring on the tournaments


I don't know what the Advocate meant by calling a little league tournament an economic boost but in the past it hasn't been. Now, if we could host the tournament on a permanent basis ,then we could count on that extra revenue and make the appropriate planning. I remember the tournaments we had in Cuero, Yorktown, Edna and Kennedy. We never made plans to eat there or stay overnight because they were held during the week nights. The short commute between those cities allowed us to do that. I wish that we could host tournaments that involved teams from San Antonio, Corpus Christi and El Campo. I'm glad we hosted 32 teams, and I hope we made the extra effort to encourage them on coming back.

I managed at all levels in girls' and boys' Little League and served on the board of directors for a few years. A little hospitality goes a long way because I remember all the managers and directors praising the efforts of the Inez community. They didn't ask the participants to do anything but play ball. They had people picking up trash and icing down water coolers while the game was going on. The two fields were immaculate, and they kept the tournament kept on a tight schedule. It's too bad that they can only be considered as a way to keep the tournament moving along because they weren't big enough to host a championship game. I remember that we couldn't host many little league games because our facilities weren't that great. It's a good thing; we had Riverside Stadium, Lowe, Rippamonti and Victoria High School to host events at the junior level.

Our men's softball fields are too small for major tournaments, unless you like home run derby. When I was down there we didn't have the hotel facilities, so we weren't even considered. A softball tournament will bring in big bucks because the players and families make it a weekend event.
I like the idea someone made about combining a tourist event with a little league tournament. In fact, they could share the name of the event and benefit equally.

I'm surprised that I didn't upset the local conservatives with my VA blog but that wasn't my intent and there is still the weekend coming up. I can only write about the subject as I understand it. Perhaps, all my detractors have left..:-)

Who would have thought Rupert Murdoch would stoop to the lowest journalism standards ever in the history of Great Britain?

Thursday, July 7, 2011



Yesterday I had one of those “I can't believe I did that" days. Every year we all get our vehicle registration stickers that we have to apply on the windshield. I pulled out the sticker from the envelope and found the same razorblade tool that I have used for several years to scrape the old sticker off. It took about 15 minutes to scrape off the old glue and then I applied the new sticker. I felt like I'd just completed eight hours worth of work, so I opened the door to admire my art. It doesn't take much to impress an old retiree but when I saw that I had replaced the vehicle inspection sticker instead of the vehicle registration sticker, I yelled out some words that would make a sailor proud. I swear those two stickers look the same on the inside looking out.

I then went inside to tell my wife what I had done, and she didn't disappoint because she asked the rhetorical question, I expected “why did you do that?" It's a good thing. I didn’t make that mistake with her Prius, or she might have said more than that.

As I got into the vehicle, I found out that my windshield dispenser was dry, but it didn't matter because the windshield was covered with old caked up bird poop and so was the rest of the truck. I drove with extra caution to the car wash because I feared of being stopped for a traffic violation and compounding it with a ticket for no registration sticker. Who knows, I may look like the auto thief they are looking for. I still possessed that fear, until I entered the driveway of the service station that was going to rectify my problem. I've told my embarrassing story to the mechanic, he smiled and 20 minutes later it was as if nothing had happened except my wallet was $14.50 lighter... That's an extra $14.50 because I still had months left on my old sticker.

When I got home, my wife was on the phone, but she swore she didn't her friends. I know that she told my daughter because that evening my grandson called and said" you should've called me." There are things like changing out filters, batteries, and stickers where help is not needed but thinking back, what if I just would've kept my mouth shut and drove to the service station without telling my wife? I'll survive but rest assure next year it will take twice as long, but I will only remove the vehicle registration sticker.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I’m all for the future but I like a little nostalgia now and then


I don't know what I was watching back in the 90s, but I know I wasn’t watching Seined. It's not that I didn't watch a couple of episodes but I wasn't hooked on it. I remember my children going to see his act in San Antonio, and I wondered why. Recently, I've started recording some episodes, so I can watch when there's nothing else on television; like this past weekend. I now love Seined, even though the theme is “about nothing" because it reminds me of things we don't do any more, like rewinding VCR tapes to avoid an extra dollar or two rewind fee. That was a rip off. I laugh every time I see  Jerry talking on his over sized cordless phone with the raised antenna. My mother never wanted a cell phone or a cordless but she did like that 30 ft. extension cord we bought for her old phone. I can see where video stores will be a thing of the past because it's so easy to rent from Amazon or Netflix online, rather than having to drive the Hastings to rent and return. Are we really getting that lazy or are we just taking advantage of today's conveniences?"

I'm sort of in-between because I love new technology, but I'm equally impressed with the person that can make a fire by rubbing two sticks together. I'm fascinated of how the Amish cling to their old ways but still compete in our technology crazed country. I have just about all the latest gadgets and a Twitter account (I only use it as a new blog alert) but I probably will never be a member of Facebook. My children tell me of all the advantages it has, but I don't want to spend a major part of my life on the computer updating trivia matter. My two blogs take up too much time of my time as it is.

I got acquainted with computers a long time ago and for while I was the go-to person in my family for technical advice. I no longer have that title because that knowledge is equally distributed among several family members. I liked the idea that I can carry around helpful applications, a utility knife, tape recorder, smart phone, and a small writing pad and pen in my iPad carrying case. My wife jokingly calls it my purse. Remember several years ago when the European shoulder bag for men came out? I wanted one to carry around all my gadgets, but I would've been the laughingstock of Victoria. That's the same reason; I won't use a Bluetooth headset. I might rethink that when they make them smaller and barely visible. I may be opinionated in my blogs, but in real life, I'm a shy person, so I don't do or say things that bring me any unwanted attention.

I thought our forum got a kick start over the weekend, but it's currently in a 1½ hour lull. I thought when the posters got to the part where “my god is better than your god" the religion thread would burn itself out.It's hard for me to believe the audacity of some low intellect posters trying to take on an intelligent poster like Kyle.  He's had to dial back his IQ quite a bit ,just to try and have a conversation with them.  One poster thinks God is a conservative. I bet that's the way people looked at me, when I was constantly trying to politicize everything as democrats and republicans. I think that I'll take a lesson from that thread; I will continue to post political blogs, but I'll try to keep myself in check. After all, that's all I have control of.

Well the forum just got the Casey Anthony verdict and they are responding; perhaps this will pick up the slack.  My wife got into this trial but she thought Anthony should be convicted for attitude alone...:-) I watched a little bit of it but it didn't draw my interest because the lawyers  weren't very good and it was more about tabloid than actual evidence presentation...IMO

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Just a snippet of our Friday night newscast


I will admit that I don't know all the details of the case, but I heard a disturbing KAVU report, that an 18 year old boy was stopped for questioning, because he was walking on the wrong side of the road. The young man immediately took off, but was eventually caught and arrested for “walking on the wrong side of the road "and for running away from the police. I  understand that a policeman's instinct is a valuable tool, and it's not wise to run if you are innocent, but “walking on the wrong side of the road" is not that uncommon. I believe the police officer could have told the 18 year old to get over on the right side of the street, if it was that important. On the other side, if the individual would have been caught with contraband, was a runaway, or had outstanding warrants, it could have been seen as good police work. I hope is not a case of abuse of power.I think it's pretty safe to say that the kid's parents do not have enough money or influence or this case would not have seen the light of day.

The rest of the evening news was pretty good because I heard our mayor say that we will complete the Sam Houston project, downtown renovation, and repair the downtown water and sewer lines, even though he's being criticized for spending money during this economic downturn. He said what I've been saying all along, materials and interest rates are low right now and future monies will be coming in, when the construction of the Caterpillar is complete. He also said that Caterpillar was very impressed with the fact that we had built many new schools. That's a sort of " build it, they will come" mentality that we don't hear enough of, because people have been brain washed into thinking that you run a government like you do a household budget. The principle of not spending more than you take in is a valid one, but don't we all take out mortgages without fully knowing what lies ahead in the future?

It's sad that these politicians would rather shut down government than increase taxes on the rich. The state of Minnesota laid off more than 20,000 public employees, closed their state Parks, libraries, and will not fund their safety net programs. It's sadder that their former governor and current congresswoman are urging their republican state legislators to keep the government closed. Somehow this makes Tim Pawlenty and Michelle Bachmann standout in their quest for the presidency. Unfortunately, we have plenty of politicians in Washington that thinks it's cool to shut down government. We can expect to see more this now that the Supreme Court has passed the controversial” Citizens United” case where corporations are treated like individuals,thus  allowing them to spend as much undisclosed money as they want ,in influencing legislation and elections. Republican lawmakers have to sign a pledge for Grover Norquist, not to raise taxes under any circumstances and another one for the Koch brothers not to pass environmental laws. Michelle Bachmann recently criticized Mitt Romney for not signing an abortion pledge. The era of compromises over, because it’s all about the pledges and lobbyist money.

I just received an idea from Rusty Bucket's blog, so I will be working on that for a future blog.  There are people that just hate the Federal government and make no bones about it  Abe rewrote or copied a piece from some right wing site about the Fed arresting some Amish people for selling raw milk.  Of course, Observer  thought it was another NAZI move by our government.  Unpasteurized milk can make someone really sick.  It doesn't matter that some drank it as a child without any ill effects.  I've known people that ate undercooked hamburger meat without any ill effects, but I also remember my wife being admitted to the ER because she ate an undercooked Wendy's hamburger.  I guess it depends on the amount of the E coli a person absorbs.Am I wrong about this?

The weatherman said it's going to be hot, hot, and hot but why is that news? Hopefully, we get a rainstorm here and there. Enjoy your July 4th.