January 2008 Archives

Well, I suppose this is good news, and shows that the message occasionally gets through to Congress. In a joint statement from Speaker Pelosi and Whip Boehner:

“The legislation that we authored, and which passed the House yesterday with overwhelming bipartisan support, would not allow any taxpayer funds to be distributed to illegal immigrants.

MythBusters: Plane on a Conveyor Belt

This week's MythBusters episode was awesome! They tackled the amazingly controversial topic of whether or not an airplane can take off while on a conveyor belt. And, I have to say, the results at first surprised me, until it all finally clicked. When it did click, I went "Oh! Oh! Oh! DUH!!!!!" Before I explain...

*** SPOILER ALERT *** SPOILER ALERT ***


A Handful of Political Stories

Akin to my last post, here a few political-related posts of potential interest. I find the Florida primary an interesting story. On the one hand, I'm a little surprised by Clinton's margin of victory. On the other hand, I'm greatly amused that Florida may not be allowed to send any delegates to the DNC convention, so it doesn't necessarily matter. I really hope that Obama does much better on "Super Tuesday" next week. I just can't see another 4 years with the establishment - even if her first name is Hillary. The recent campaign antics by ex-pres Bill should be proof enough that he won't be able to stay out of the way if she gets elected. Not to mention that I really feel like we absolutely must put someone into office who has fewer ties and debt owed to the establishment. Anyway, that being said, the few links of interest:
* We Must All Do Our Part To Preserve This Climate Of Fear
* Department of making my brain hurt, Clinton/McCain edition
* Did Hillary Clinton really win in Florida?
* RIAA Wants $1.5 Million Per CD Copied
* Senate lawmakers pass $161 billion stimulus bill (with a bonus link that you'll want to read)

Thoughts and comments inline below...

A Few Tech and Security Links

Rather than spam you with a bunch of different posts, thought I'd consolidate a few here, with comments. The articles in question are:
* MythBusters: 7 Tech Headaches—and How to Fix Them, by Jamie Hyneman
* ICANN Moves To Disable Domain Tasting
* Symantec Weblog: From Myth to Reality: Evaluating the State of IT Risk Management
* Swedish Bank Stops Digital Theft

I've offered up a few comments inline on each below.

The ACLU has an excellent refutation of President Bush's assertions on FISA reform during the State of the Union address last night. A quick read, highly recommended. As I've already pointed out, his assertions are based solely on FUD and no valid or legitimate concern for the ability to collect intelligence.

This is my favorite quote, from the end of the article:

"This is all, of course, beyond the pale when compared to the knowledge that the Bush administration sought expanded wiretapping powers before 9/11. The President would have you believe that his administration has gone above and beyond to protect America after the attacks of 9/11, when, in fact, his administration was in the midst of an executive power grab months before the attacks."

Lessons on Privacy

It's still early, so not going to spend a lot of time going into this. Bruce Schneier has an excellent article posted today on "Security vs Privacy" - looking at how it should not be framed as a "vs" comparison, since the two concepts are compatible. A very interesting, worthwhile read.

Also, from the files of "be careful what you put on the Internet," 4 teenagers in Minnesota have been disciplined for posting pictures of themselves consuming alcohol on their Facebook pages. Oops. This seems to be part of a larger trend, as I've seen probably half a dozen such instances just in the past week. The best rule of thumb is this: don't even take the picture, let alone posting it in a public forum. Duh. I do, however, wonder about the legality and admissibility of these works. Somebody else's problem to solve today.

Sorry, I lied! I forgot that tonight was the State of the Union address. You can get the full text here. I just wanted to share a few quick thoughts and quotes. Mainly, this is same-old same-old, very optimistic, and equally deluded on the standard topics of the economy, Iraq, No Child Left Edu^H^H^HBehind, FISA reform, and so on. In the name of brevity, let me get right to the quotes and comments, in order from the speech.

America: Bubbleland

Last post for the day - promise! Here's an interesting and somewhat amusing article about how the "new economy" has become a self-sustaining bubble-blowing machine. It's actually far more serious than it sounds. The long and short of it is that the economy may not longer be controllable by economists, politicians, or the Fed. Hmmm. Oh, and it sustains itself by building bubbles, popping them, building bigger bubbles, and so on. It's an interesting theory. If it's true, the question then is how to ride those waves up, bail out in time, and then reinvest into the next wave. Or something like that, right? :)

Interesting Book on Game Theory

Referenced in this article here, The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World sounds like an intriguing read. It's on my "wish list" at Amazon now, so we'll see when I can get to it. I only have 19 other books in front of it, plus the one I'm currently reading, plus all the news rags I've gotten for free that pile up on a weekly basis (Time, btw, is worthless and has been cancelled - maybe more on that another time).

Just a grab bag of links across the spectrum of things I've been reading today. Enjoy!

* Best Buy recalls infected picture frames: Some Insignia-branded digital picture frames seemed to have been shipped with a computer virus. Oops!
* LEGO Brick's 50th Anniversary: It's the 50th anniversary of the LEGO brick. Check out this site with a cool graphical timeline. :)
* Disabled Spy Satellite Threatens Earth: Duck and cover! A US spy satellite seems to have lost its propulsion system and is projected to come crashing back to Terra Firma some time in the next couple weeks. It's rumored to contain sensitive data, and to be toxic. I wonder if the "toxic waste" warnings are designed to keep people away from the sensitive data? :)
* Code Red: An Economist Explains How to Revive the Healthcare System Without Destroying It: Tyler Cowen recommends this book if you're curious about the economics of health care and how to solve the problems.
* Happy Data Privacy Day!: Per SANS, the IAPP has declared today Data Privacy Day. Protect your data, identity, and shred stuff. More importantly, fight the rollback of civil liberties.
* New 4100 Lumen Flashlight Can Set Things On Fire: Looking for a portable way to fry everything in sight? Check out this new flashlight, capable of 4100 lumens. It can burn paper, melt plastic, or fry an egg. Fun stuff! :)

The Use of FUD in the FISA Debate

As I've mentioned on a few occasions recently (see here, here, and here), FISA reform, such as in the form of the so-called "Protect America Act," is very bad for this country, in terms of privacy, national security, and civil liberties. I wanted to spend a little time, however, exploring this concept of "FUD" and why it's a dangerous argument.

The Tipping Point Challenged

I've never read the book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, but I do know that it posits the theory that if you can get a few key influential people on the bandwagon for your product or service, then they will kick off a trend that will result in a tidal wave of business, ensuring success. Well, there's now a new theory out that says that this is a bunch of bologna. A quick quote from the article:

(...) According to MarketingVOX, an online marketing news journal, more than $1 billion is spent a year on word-of-mouth campaigns targeting Influentials, an amount growing at 36% a year, faster than any other part of marketing and advertising. That's on top of billions more in PR and ads leveled at the cognoscenti.

Yet, if you believe Watts, all that money and effort is being wasted. Because according to him, Influentials have no such effect. Indeed, they have no special role in trends at all.

Check out the whole story over on the Fast Company web site at:
http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/122/is-the-tipping-point-toast.html


Security Risks of FISA Reform

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Venerable InfoSec veteran/forefather, Steve Bellovin, has a post on his blog about the security risks related to the so-called "Protect America Act" (aka FISA amendments/reform). He and a number of other infosec über-geeks have penned an article for IEEE Security & Privacy on the topic.

From his blog post:

Fundamentally, a wiretap is an intentional breach of security. It may be a desirable or even a necessary breach, but it is a breach nevertheless. Furthermore, the easier it is for the "good guys" to "break in", the easier it may be for the bad guys. The Greek cellphone tapping scandal is just one case in point.

There's another, more subtle, problem: if your wiretap is done incorrectly, perhaps by relying on incorrect information, you may miss traffic that you're entitled to hear (and should hear, to protect society).


http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~smb/blog//2008-01/2008-01-27.html

A Brief Political Roundup

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Hey there, just want to post a few very, very brief thoughts on politics, mostly with links to Think Progress.

First off, Obama seems to have won the South Carolina primary, and quite handily. Woohoo! I'm still working my way through his book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, but thus far I've liked what I see. We could definitely have much worse people in the White House.

Second, crybaby Bush has threatened to veto a 30-day extension to the amended FISA laws, which would technically be a win for him. Why? Well, because he's a wanker, naturally, but more on point, he wants to force the law to become permanent. As I've mentioned before, this law needs to be sent into exile, not lengthened, strengthened, or made permanent. Call your Senators today!

Third, it seems that El Presidente is also finding this whole "freedom of information" thing to be too hard for him to handle. So much for transparency in government. As such, he's trying to roll back decades of progress in transparent governance initiatives. Luckily, 1 year is unlikely to be enough time for him to make (more) progress, marking him down as an obstructionist more than anything else.

Last, I've mentioned before how scary I think Huckabee is. Well, as if you need more proof, let's add this little tidbit: he still thinks there are (or were) WMDs in Iraq. If we use Bush as a measure for presidential qualifications, then I suppose this immense degree of lunacy makes Huckabee eminently qualified. Umm... so, let's hope some other idiot gets the GOP nomination, not that the Huckster wouldn't be an easier foe to defeat.

So, there ya go, nice, simple and to the point!

Aussie Open: In With the New?

We could potentially subtitle this as "Serbia takes on the world of tennis" in the grand scheme of things. For those who don't follow tennis, let me sum things up for you in a quick nutshell. The Australian Open is currently going on in Melbourne. It's the first of the Grand Slam tournaments of the year given their southern latitudes. This weekend will be the final matches.

Going into the tournament, Justine Henin and Roger Federer have completely dominated singles play, both easily establishing and maintaining their position at #1 in the world in their respective leagues (WTA for Henin, ATP for Federer). Both were expected to do well in the tournament, as were two American sisters, Venus Williams and Serena Williams. In the end, none of them made the finals, and Serbian players are the reason.

Here we go again... the Senate is debating FISA reform again... but wait, it's great news, because the Senate is in a hurry! Apparently they all want to go to Davos for the financial conference, so their answer is to quickly approve the bloody law, rather than do the right thing. Argh!

It's time to make your voices heard, once and for all. Tell the Senate "NO NO NO" on FISA, and "Definitely NO" on Telecom Immunity. If the telecoms were acting in good faith based on government requests, then they have no reason to fear prosecution. Granting them retroactive immunity - which in and of itself is questionable and possibly illegal - will only suppress information about Bush's illegal wiretapping program.

Call your Senator today! You can find their contact information in the Senate directory here.

Don't have time to call? Then take 2 minutes to use the EFF site here to send an email.

This is a fight for doing what's right, rather than what's easy. More importantly, this is a fight to begin holding the Bush administration responsible for their illegal activities. It's time to stop the spying! Roll back the leading tentacles of the Bush police state now!

stopspying.png

Bush's Delusion Illustrated

This was just too funny not to pass along - and here it is in my 250th post, too! :)

Apparently El Presidente has a picture that he loves greatly and associates with his personal religious beliefs. Without any reason to do so, he concluded that it shows a Methodist evangelist spreading the Good Word. Well, it turns out he couldn't be more wrong. Read the whole story over at Harper's Magazine.

Hat tip to Kottke.

Rasch on ND Ruling

If you hadn't heard, a fellow named David Ritz was ruled against in a North Dakota civil case earlier this month for finding information on alleged spammer Sierra Corporate Design. At the core of the case was Ritz's use of DNS zone transfers to determine the full extent of named servers within Sierra's network, which was ruled to amount to unauthorized access. The conundrum is this: in general, access to network services is presumed on the Internet to be implicitly authorized, unless labeled otherwise. Furthermore, even if the network service is misconfigured to provide more information than is desired, it is still generally assumed that the information is "public" by virtue of being available. Unfortunately, as Rasch explains, in the ND case, intent was also factored into the equation. So, just because Ritz could perform a DNS zone transfer does not mean that he was authorized to do so. This conclusion is somewhat specific to DNS zone transfers (we hope) because it is an area where there isn't necessarily a good case for demonstrating implicit permission simply because the query can be performed.

You can read the whole story here. Rasch concludes by saying:

Again, it’s a close call. Under other circumstances, a court could easily conclude that the use of a particular command was, in fact implicitly authorized. Security researchers use publicly available and widely used tools to probe Internet accessible computers all the time. Courts in the future are likely to look both at the motives of these researchers and the impact of what they do in deciding whether or not their actions give rise to civil or potential criminal liability. So we need to learn to play nice with other children.

This video is a few months old now, but I just stumbled across it on Dumb Little Man. It's actually very clever and makes many good points. I personally hate the car-buying experience, but have gotten better at it since I got completely hosed 5 years ago, with a great deal turned around into a complete screw job (a lease instead of a buy, among other things). Definitely worth the 5 minutes and 53 seconds to watch it. :)

"Don't Tell The Fuhrer The Cowboys Lost"

Hat tip to Off Wing Opinion

If you listen the mass media hysteria, you'd think the world were on the brink of total collapse. You'd think that we're about ready to sprint right past recession to depression. Certainly the global markets are jittery, as is the stock market, and even the Federal Reserve Bank. Any time the Fed cuts .75 points from a key rate, people sit up and take notice.

I received the DVD edition of Black Adder: The Complete Collector's Set for Christmas this year, and have recently completed watching all episodes. This is some darned funny stuff! I'm a big fan of British comedy already (Eddie Izzard is one of my favorites), and am likewise a fan of Rowan Atkinson (more often known as Mr. Bean here in the US), so this was just perfect. Add to the mix Hugh Laurie (aka "House, M.D." from the Fox series), and you get a fairly complete picture of humor and inanity.

The first season wasn't nearly as good as seasons 2-4, I think because it was a new series just trying to establish itself. But, Atkinson really gets going well in the Blackadder II, ending spectacularly with the introduction of Hugh Laurie in the last episode ("remember the sheep?" "oh, no, that was you?!?"). HL plays a marvelous counter-lead throughout season III as the Prince Regent, with lots of funny faces. Atkinson is by this point very classic. And let us not forget Tony Robinson as Baldrick and his famous line "Sir, I have a cunning plan."

The BBC has pictures and interviews on their site, which you can check out here. Overall, this collection is highly recommended, if you like that sort of humor. :)

I have a signed first edition signed copy of Oliver North's autobiography, Under Fire, that I've put up for auction on eBay. Would you like to buy it? Please? :) In all seriousness, I bought it after hearing him speak on his book tour, many moons ago, when I considered myself a Republican (before the betrayal of the so-called "conservative movement" that is anything but conservative). I found it while going through some old boxes of stuff in my parents' basement over Christmas.

So, come on, you know you want it. Bid Here! :)

Today's ThinkFast Has Some Gems

ThinkProgress puts out a daily news round-up called ThinkFast. Today's edition has some real gems in it, such as the ineffectiveness of Bush's foreign policies and his trip to the Middle East, or that former Senator Lott's appointed replacement may have committed a major ethics violation. Or, that a panel is recommending doubling the gas tax in order to fund major transportation initiatives, even though gas prices are going through the roof (kind of a catch-22, really - need the tax to pay for high-speed rail, etc., but it makes the problem worse in the short-term).

Anywho, my favorite is this behind-the-scenes video of Katie Couric during the NH primaries coverage. It's quite amusing - highly recommended. If it doesn't make you recoil and think "wow, she can be real b*tch!" then I don't know what will. :)

Point of Order: Universal Healthcare

I'm a big fan of the notion "if you're going to screw up, you might as well screw up in a major way, and at least you will have taken a chance for radical change." But, there is a limit, and that would be common sense. To that end, I'd like to cry "foul!" and declare a point of order in the so-called "universal healthcare" debate.

To those idiot politicians, such as from the grand states of Massachusetts and California, please take note: Requiring people to buy health insurance IS NOT universal healthcare coverage.

I mentioned this earlier in my blogroll post on politics and economics, but Shawn provides a much more in-depth critique of how scary this Huckabee joker really is. I mean, it's not that I'm opposed to someone with religious convictions being president. It's just that when he argues that the US Constitution needs to be amended to align with a specific religion (in this case Christianity), then it becomes painfully clear that he simply does not get it. The whole point in the Constitution about freedom of religion is that the State should not be sponsoring/promoting one religion over another, specifically because this practice of having an official state religion caused many centuries of hardship in Europe. It's History 101, really, and it's apparently a subject that the ol' Huck-meister seems to have missed.

As if that weren't enough, check out his fantasy pipedream idea for immigration. It's really quite a lovely notion, don't you think? Sheesh...

And now, my third and final blogroll post, this one primarily focused on politics and economics. A number of interesting things today, such as the recession starting to go full-bore as the stock market tanks, Citigroup writing off more than US$9b in losses only to receive more than US$12b in fresh capital, and more examples of the Bush administration oppressing dissent and relying on FUD to further their mindboggling agenda to undermine and destroy the US Constitution (in other words, business as usual for those chaps). Articles here include:
* Huckabee: ‘amend the Constitution’ to ‘God’s standards.’
* Citigroup Posts $9.83 Billion Loss and Will Cut Jobs - New York Times
* Citigroup raises US$12.5b in fresh capital - Channel News Asia
* U.S. stocks tumble; Dow industrials drop more than 200 points
* Stocks tank on recession fears
* Court Limits Shareholder Suits Against Vendors, Banks (Update2) - Bloomberg
* Protestors Should be Seen and Heard
* How to Rig an Election? Ask the Author
* 'War on Terror' Allies Form Information Consortium
* Fratto’s FISA Fearmongering: In 3 Weeks, Terrorists ‘Can Be Free’ To Make Calls Without Surveillance

What I've Been Reading: Security

Alrighty, my second blogroll (of three)... this one is focused on security (multiple aspects), ranging from aviation security to faulty bridge design (physical security) to threats from the plague to commentary on compliance and PCI DSS. Also, a collection of very entertaining videos of Derren Brown performing his "mind hacking" tricks. The links are further on, but the full list of articles is:
* Refuse to be Terrorized
* Source: Design flaw caused bridge collapse
* Plague: The new Black Death
* Patrick Smith on Aviation Security
* Demos Report on National Security
* From Monitoring To Prevention: Switching To Debix
* US Policy Would Allow Government Access to Any Email
* Cloned animals are 'safe to eat'
* An Assertion About PCI & Risk Management
* IT Security Compliance: What are the Critical Success Factors?
* Bayesian Truth Serum
* OWASP London Chapter December 6th Presentations Now Online
* Mind Hacking.

What I've Been Reading: Miscellaneous

Starting out my blogroll styled posts (first of three)... here's a miscellaneous collection of links ranging from a cartoon salute to recently departed Sir Edmund Hillary to a few sports-related notes of interest (such as the history of the NHL requiring helmets) to a couple MacWorld-related notes. The full list of stories linked here:
* Cartoon For Jan 13, 2008 - Tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary
* NASA embosses space images for the blind
* Report: 4 major studios cancel TV writers contracts, giving up on current season
* Did "Fake" Simpson Derail Dallas? - ABC News
* North Star player's death 40 years ago changed the game of hockey forever
* Steve Jobs Speaks. Twitter Goes Down.
* Steve Jobs Finally Announces Apple iTunes Movie Rentals at Macworld
* DIGITAL DIALECTS.
* From Rif's blog: This is video of a young man setting some new records...
* It was the MacBook Air subnotebook

A Few Pending Posts...

Due to being out sick a good chunk of last week, I'm way behind on posts. As such, I'll be putting up three (3) separate posts later today summarizing some of the things I've been reading over the past week or so. The posts will be blogroll style, listing an item, with a link, and a quick summary or comment on it. So, now you have something to look forward to! :)

Great Expectations

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I'm very happy to introduce you to the first spawn of Hanna and me. For now, we'll dub this wee one "Baby Tomhave" (ok, fetus is probably more accurate, but for the sake of consistency). This sonogram was taken on Friday, 11 January 2008. We don't have an official due date yet (too early), but we personally estimate it to be around the end of August. Yes, my poor, lovely wife will be enduring the third trimester through the core of the hot, muggy East Coast Summer. Ah, well. More updates will be posted as they're available. Suffice to say that Hanna is doing quite well thus far, if not a bit tired. Hopefully the first trimester will be smooth, and then we'll be good to go.

baby_tomhave.jpg
( click the picture to see it full size )

Pasta That's Good For You!

Do you like pasta, but are disinclined to eat it because of all those carbs? Now there's an alternative that might just make you take notice. Barilla has the Barilla Plus product line that has whole grain pastas fortified with extra protein, vitamins, minerals, and Omega-3 fatty acids. And, 1 out of 1 Hannas agree - it tastes yummy! :) Just thought I'd pass this little tip along. Check out the nutrition chart for it on the right.

The illegal detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been in existence for 6 years. It continues to be a shining example of the injustice of this prolonged war on democracy and freedom, and demonstrates with clarity and certainty that the Bush administration has no respect for the rule of law. Join with the ACLU and protest this ridiculous facility by wearing orange today.
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I've just completed reading Greg Conti's well-written work Security Data Visualization: Graphical Techniques for Network Analysis. It's very important to note the subtitle there: "Graphical Techniques for Network Analysis" because, after introducing the topic of visualization in the first couple chapters, the book turns into network analysis full-bore. In general, this seems to be a good, useful book. Specifically, I think that it would be a very good textbook for a network security course, as the text spends a considerable amount of time in the earlier chapters introducing the reader to the basics of networking and network analysis, including providing high-level coverage of port scanning and network assessment with tools such as Nmap, Nessus, and Metasploit.

MadTV Parody of iPod "Feist 1234" Ad

Most excellent hilarity to be ensuing forthwith... :)

Hat Tip to Macenstein

Contrary to moron Bryant Gumbel (ala the NE/NYG game play-by-play), if the Patriots don't win the Super Bowl, then this year will have been a waste. I mean, come on, get serious for a moment, and consider this: does it matter how good your regular season was if you don't win the championship in the end? That's right, I didn't think you'd disagree. Of course it matters how you end the season.

That being said, here are a few thoughts...
- If your offense is really clicking, then Randy Moss is a good WR to have on your squad. For reference, see the 1998 Minnesota Vikings.
- Tom Brady is a very good quarterback.
- Wes Welker has really blossomed as a clutch receiver. He's open at uncanny times, and really takes the pressure off some of the other receivers.
- The New England linebackers demonstrate every week that age can be trumped by experience and desire.

So, do I think they'll go all the way and win the big game? Yeah, probably. There is, however, a significant risk of choking under the pressure. It's one thing to go undefeated in the regular season, when nothing but records are on the line. It's another thing entirely to make it through the playoffs to win the championship when it will determine how your team is forever remembered. Sure, the '98 Vikings are remembered for a good offense, but that's about it, and they went 15-1 in the regular season (only the 3rd team to do so).

As for whether or not the Patriots compare to the '72 Dolphins... that's hard to say, since the modern game is so much different from that era. Free agents, salary caps, etc., have made building a dynasty very difficulty. Pound-for-pound, I would imagine that the Patriots would make the Dolphins look rather small by modern standards. Could their running backs run all over the Pats? It's hard to know, but it seems unlikely.

In the end, though, it'll all come down to the playoffs, and whether or not the Patriots can survive to true greatness.

What I've Been Reading...

In keeping with my pattern of alternating between fiction and non-fiction, my next reading project is the non-fiction work Security Data Visualization: Graphical Techniques for Network Analysis. Thus far it's fairly interesting and, despite how heavy it is, seems to be a rather short, brief read.

Fiction Review: The Bourne Ultimatum

I recently completed reading The Bourne Ultimatum, the third book in the Bourne Trilogy by Robert Ludlum. Overall, the book was fine, though it seemed like it was reaching a bit too much. I mean, honestly, how many times can Jason Bourne and Carlos the Jackal foil each other and avoid death? So, in the end, I guess, it was rather a boring, repetitive end to the trilogy. If you've read the first two books, then I suppose you might as well finish the trilogy, but it's not absolutely necessary. The first two books are much better than this third attempt.

wwh.jpgIf you're as fed up with the present White House administration as I am, and if you believe as I do that the VP seems to be the root of most evil these days, then I encourage you to join this cause. If nothing else, take 5 minutes to sign the online petition. If you're really feeling active, then you can contribute to the cause. Click the image at right for more information.

30-second Thought: Obama-Edwards '08?

Sounds like a winning combination to me. Especially if they're running against a scary, screwed up guy like Huckabee.

Happy New Year!

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Here we come 2008! It's hard to believe that 2007 (or 2006, 2005, 2004, etc.) has already come to pass. We were able to get back to our traveling ways this past year, but do not foresee being able to continue these ways as we shift our plans to starting a family. It will, however, be anything but a dull year, as we buckle down financially, finally getting some old debt paid off, and beginning to put money into savings and investments. The predictions of a recession in 2008 actually play very well to our hand in this regard, providing an opportunity to reduce some of our interest load, while also reducing investment costs to below what may be their actual value.

If you're anything like me, you're probably exhausted here on the first day of the year. For me, there are a few reasons. The first reason was work-related. While AOL was very good to me, it was also extremely stressful. Since returning from vacation in August 2006, when I had a huge case dropped in my lap, things just went berserk from there, with a major restructuring, major layoffs, a complete change in executive management, and so on. That stress has been relieved by changing jobs, and I fully expect to recover.

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