White House Website

Have to say I am impressed with the new White House website. Each president has control over the website.  In the past this site has not been a significant source of information on what is occurring within our government.  The new website that President Obama has put up is very informative.  The new administration is utilizing technology to really provide transparency.  The full legislative agenda is on the site along with any executive orders and proclamations.  You can also see all the appointments he has made.  In the past I would not have know where to go to begin to find this information.

To provide full disclosure, I did not vote for President Obama.  I felt that he didn’t have enough experience to provide the leadership we needed.  Over the past few months, I have to admit, he has won me over.

Check out the new site.  It’s a very pleasant surprise.

Wordbook and Lifestream

Just installed the Wordbook and Lifestream plugins on the blog. If all goes well when I publish this post to the blog, my facebook wall will also receive the update. I’m using the Lifestream plugin to display any of my facebook posts back to the blog. I like the idea of integrating my blog and facebook to make both sites more “fresh” with content. Let’s see if this works.

Fireplace

One of the gifts we got for the house this Christmas was gas logs for the fireplace. We had been burning the artificial logs to be able to have a fire and keep the mess to a minimum. The artificial logs were not even close in comparison to a real wood fire, both in the heat given and the look of the fire. I didn’t like burning wood because of the mess. There would be wood splinters from bringing the wood into the house and building the fire. There was also the mess of ashes the day after.

The logs provide a much more realistic fire. The size and color of the flame is good. The amount of heat that is generated is really nice. The logs are rated to generate 34,000BTU’s. That is roughly 1/2 the size of the furnace for the whole house. And to top it off, there is no mess and no fuss. When we want to start the fire, just grab the remote and press on. The setup I choose included 7 logs. I liked the 7 log setup over the 5 log placement. The 7 logs placement had 2 additional logs stacked across the top at an angle. To me this setup provides a much more realistic looking stack of logs. The logs generate so much heat that the stone work surrounding the fireplace absorbs the energy. For a few hours after turning the fireplace off, the stone work continues to throw off heat into the room.

Installing the fireplace took about 8 hours from start to finish. The hardest part of the job was to drill a 1″ hole through the side of the fireplace to run the gas pipe through. Using a hammer drill it took about 3 hours. At one point the bit grabbed the brick and spun the drill. The 1″ drill bit was bent out of shape when the bit grabbed. I had to use a 2lb hammer to coax the bit back into a straight shape. Running the pipe was time consuming, but it was physically and mentally easy. The pre cut sections of black gas pipe from Home Depot really makes the job easy.

The one unexpected task was that I had to relocate the thermostat for the forced hot-air furnace. The thermostat was in the family room with the fireplace. When we had the fireplace turned on, the family room temperature quickly rose to about 77 degrees. This caused the rest of the house to not have heat. I had to run a new thermostat wire to the other end of the hallway down by the bedrooms and remount the thermostat. Since relocating it we haven’t had an issue with the heat being balanced.

Christmas Eve Dinner

Christmas Eve dinner was extra special this year. We had shrimp scampi in a white wine sauce over linguine. What made it extra special was that MJ cooked the entire meal by himself. Every time Cathy or I tried to enter the kitchen to help, we were shoo’d out. He did a fantastic job. The shrimp were cooked just the right amount. The white wine sauce and linguine were perfect.