Thoughts Gallery February 2003
February 1
Image of the Day
Found some nice ribbon on sale for 30 cents for 100 feet
Bruce, the world's longest goldfish, swims with regular-size goldfish at Shanghai Ocean Aquarium. Named after the late kungfu star Bruce Lee, the male Oranda goldfish measures 43.5 centimetres long (17.1259 inches) from snout to tail-fin end and is certified as the world's largest by the Guinness Book of World Records.
February 2
Image of the Day
Had a nice road trip to San Antonio with Erin and two missionaries.  A nice 2 hour regional conference in the Alamo dome center went quickly once we got out of waiting in the rain for 30 minutes for them to unlock the doors.  Very poor planing on the event organizers but everything else went without a hitch.  Spent the afternoon lounging at Grandma's Litofski's house and filled up on some fresh mexican food.
American flags and flowers mark the site of a piece of debris from the space shuttle Columbia, near Nacogdoches, Texas. Workers discovered key sections of the space shuttle Columbia , including wreckage from the fuselage and landing gear, which may help investigators determine why the space craft disintegrated over Texas.
February 3
Images of the Day
It's sad to see people looking for signs in all the wrong places and not paying enough attention to their own personal progression.  Stocked up on 50 liters of soda and several bottles of of various spirits for the reception next weekend.
A woman reaches to touch a fence post as near Coogee beach in Sydney's eastern suburbs. For more than a week devoted Catholics have been flocking to a vantage point about 1000 feet from the fence which devotees say looks like the Virgin Mary when viewed at certain times each afternoon through squinted eyes. 
February 4
Image of the Day
Why would you ever want to torture you body this way?
Cathie Jung of Mystic, Conn., wears a corset during the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show exhibition and sale in New York. At 15 inches she is the holder of the Guinness Book of World Records smallest waisted living person.
February 5
Image of the Day
Nothing like returning to the good old deficit-spending government structure.  Looks like my property taxes will continue to go up in the future.
Almost three-quarters of U.S. states, led by California, face the grim task of plugging budget gaps next year, even as the sour U.S. economy digs this year's fiscal ditches ever deeper, fresh data showed. The National Conference of State Legislatures said a survey of legislative fiscal directors showed at least 36 states would have to cover a collective shortfall of some $68.5 billion as they prepare their 2004 spending plans. 
February 6
Image of the Day
They are finally creating the perfect job for me, one with nice benefits, pay level, job security, and adventurous.  This is equivalent to a concealed weapons license for computers. Look how tall Yao Ming is (on the left) compared to Shaquille O'Neal (on the right) and Christina Aguilera.
Bush Orders Guidelines for Cyber-Warfare
President Bush has ordered the government to draw up guidelines for cyber- attacks against enemy computer networks, The Washington Post reported. Bush signed a directive last July ordering the government to develop, for the first time, rules for deciding when and how the United States would penetrate and disrupt foreign computer systems, the newspaper said. The secret national security directive had not been publicly disclosed until now, the newspaper reported.

       According to the report, cyber-warfare rules were being prepared amid speculation that the Pentagon  was considering some offensive computer operations against Iraq if the president decides to go to war over Baghdad's banned weapons programs. "Whatever might happen in Iraq, you can be assured that all the appropriate approval mechanisms for cyber-operations would be followed," an administration official was quoted as saying. The official declined to confirm or deny whether such planning was underway, the newspaper said.

       The Post cited unnamed senior officials as saying that the United States has never conducted a large-scale, strategic cyber-attack, but the Pentagon has stepped up development of cyber-weapons.  Military planners imagine soldiers at computer terminals silently invading foreign networks to shut down radars, disable electrical facilities and disrupt phone services, the newspaper said.

       Despite months of discussions involving the Pentagon, CIA, FBI and National Security Agency, officials told the paper a number of cyber-warfare issues remain to be resolved and that the president's directive was just an initial step.  A senior administration official told the newspaper: "We're trying to be thorough and thoughtful about this. I expect the process will end in another directive ... setting the foundation." 
February 7
Image of the Day
A Volkswagen coated with 150 liters of chocolate and topped with cakes is on display in Tokyo, ahead of Valentine's Day. Japanese chefs poured chocolate onto the beetle and decorated it with cakes for display at a shopping complex in the Japanese capital.
February 8
Image of the Day
What an interesting war protest, would a letter to your local government officials be more effective in the long run though....
750 nude women form a heart around the words 'No War' on a hillside near the town of Byron bay, 700 kilometers (435 miles) north of Sydney, Australia. The women said they wanted to send Prime Minister John Howard a message to recall Australian troops from the middle east. 
February 9
Image of the Day
So how many nuclear reactors startups does it take to trigger a response from our military.  Obviosly one is not the answer theses days.
The guided missile frigate USS Ingraham (FFG 61) takes on fuel from the starboard (right) side of the fast combat support ship USS Sacramento (AOE 1) while the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson receives cargo via Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP) during a Replenishment at Sea (RAS) operation. The battle group is operating in the Western Pacific Ocean maintaining a carrier presence within striking distance of North Korea 
February 10
Image of the Day
I find this as amusing as telling people to duck under their desks at school to be protected from a nuclear bomb.  This is the wrong message to be telling the public to do for protection of the events to come.
Jorge Mendoza, an employee of the Home Depot hardware
store in Falls Church, Virginia, uses a ladder to reach boxes of plastic sheeting to sell to customers waiting in line. A day after U.S. officials urged Americans to prepare their homes in case of a biological, chemical or radiological attack, and four days after the nation's threat level was raised from yellow to orange, many Washingtonians found themselves scurrying to hardware stores to stockpile plastic sheeting and duct tape.
February 11
Image of the Day
Went to the cheesecake factory restaurant up in the aurboreatum this evening.  The restaurant is comparable to the one in the Houston galleria district.  Nice marble floors, painted walls, glass trim etched lighting, and a 40 page menu to choose from.  Now all it needs is some waiters in something other than white.  Cleaned up the house a little after getting home, need to figure out what to do with my animals, as the house is always smelling like dot or cat fecees.  Time to just have some nice simple fish to deal with feeding every day, gain a backyard, and have mud-free, urin-free, flea-free carpet to walk around on.
February 12
Image of the Day
Only 3 more days of freedom.. the clock continues to tick
 Early morning light bathes the Washington Monument as a U.S. soldier talks to colleagues manning an 'Avenger' anti-aircraft missile system deployed in Washington D.C. The nation remains in a heightened state of alert against domestic attacks following various intelligence reports. The Avenger is an air defense missile system that employs a pedestal or vehicle mounted 'Stinger' missile battery.
February 13
Image of the Day
Oil Hovers Just Below $36
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil prices were poised to scale to new 28-month highs on Thursday as U.S. fuel stocks fell to the lowest level since the 1970s Arab oil embargo, while Washington kept up efforts to build support for a war against Iraq.  U.S. light crude touched an early peak at $35.95 a barrel, the highest since October 2000, but eased back to $35.82, a gain of five cents from Wednesday's settlement in New York. "Balancing bullish fundamentals with political factors, we'll probably see a trading range between $30 and $40 a barrel over the next month," said Gordon Kwan, oil and gas analyst at HSBC in Hong Kong.  "Even without the threat of war in Iraq, there's still upside for crude prices. Despite talk of Venezuela increasing production and more Middle East barrels, it's not feeding into the United States yet and we're still in the depths of winter," Kwan said.
       Figures from the government department Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed U.S. crude inventories falling 4.5 million barrels to 269.8 million barrels in the week to February 7, the lowest level since October 1975. Stocks are now below what U.S. authorities recommend as the minimum of 270 million barrels -- roughly 14 days of domestic consumption -- to keep up with the nation's energy needs.
The EIA said inventories of heating oil, gasoline and jet fuel were also running at a deficit to year-ago levels. Crude prices are less than $2 under a September 2000 peak at $37.80 when the Clinton administration ordered the release of reserves from strategic stocks. The Bush administration has so far shied away from using emergency oil. "We are continuing to monitor the situation," U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said.
       Along with healthy demand for winter heating fuels as parts of the United States have been blasted with Arctic temperatures, U.S. fuel stocks have been severely dented by a two-month anti-government strike in Venezuela.  Venezuela, the fifth-biggest oil exporter, normally supplies 13 percent of U.S. oil imports. Output in Latin America's biggest producer is making a slow recovery but is running at less than half of pre-strike levels at three million barrels per day. Crude prices have shot up more than 30 percent since December on the Venezuelan outage and as the United States has pressed on with its campaign to disarm Iraq of banned weapons. Iraq is the eighth-largest oil exporter, sending some two million bpd overseas.

       Traders fear that with inventories already tight, war could trigger wider disruptions to crude supplies from other Middle East producers, which account for 40 percent of globally traded crude oil.  U.S.-British aircraft attacked a ballistic missile system in southern Iraq for the second day in a row as top U.N. weapons inspectors prepared to report on Friday on their efforts to assess Iraq's weapons programs.  Allied aircraft have been increasingly attacking Iraqi air defense missiles, radar and communications in the north and south, but strikes against surface tactical missiles are rare.  U.N. diplomats said on Wednesday that missile experts called in by arms inspectors believed that the range of Iraq's Al Samoud missile might exceed U.N. limits, a claim that could boost the U.S. campaign against Baghdad.  Russia, which with France, Germany and China is opposed to imminent military action, called for more study on the missile.  The United States has called Friday's report by chief weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei "pivotal" in deciding whether to go to war. 
February 14
Image of the Day
My family invaded my house today, claiming couches, spair beds, and floor space around the house. Bring boxes of food, lights, and trinkets gallor.  We had a big dinner with everyone at Fuddruckers, enjoying the atmosphere, and making last minute adjustments in the plans.
About 30 naked women lay down in the snow in Central Park forming the words 'No Bush' in an event described as a 'nude political action photo shoot' in New York. The protesters are opposed to U.S. President George Bush's policies and possible U.S. led war against Iraq. 
** February 15 **
Image of the Day
 The Mayfield Nature Preserve sits next to the Laguna Gloria Museum in Tarrytown. After spending all the day setting up for the wedding adn recption we were ready for the magic hour of 4:00 pm.  Check out the wedding reception pictures from the galla.  After the reception we returned home to discover our wedding gifts and then retire to a local marriot hotel.
February 16
Image of the Day
Bright and early at 6:00am we headed off to Austin's airport for a flight to Dallas, and then to Belize.  Unfortunately American Airlinees decided to bump us once we reached Dallas, as they had overbooked the plane.  So we camped out in a hotel room for the day, watching pay-per-view movies and enjoying room services.
February 17
Image of the Day
 We arrived in Belize today, 30 hours after leaving Austin.  After a quick 20 minute hopper flight to Amberguise Caye we arrived at our resort destination of Ramon's Village.  After a brief stroll on the sandy beach of Ramon's we enjoyed a nice casual dinner and wandered the local town. Here's some pictures from our Belize adventures.
An Albanian man smokes a cigarette as his wife carries hay alongside the national road in near Elbasan, near the capital of Tirana. In rural Albania, tradition dictates that women to do all the house chores with men never helping as this is seen to be a sign of weakness.
February 18
Image of the Day
 One quickly discovers that the hordes of golf carts being driven around by tourist are the only way to travel around the island.  For a mere $30 you have the power of a electric/gas golf cart under your feet. The day trips for the day was snorkling along the local reefs which are visible about 1 mile offshore.  We visited the Ho Chan Marine reservation, and Stingray/Shark Ally.  It was interesting as they collected fee's from boats visiting the area, and had it patrolled as a protected marine park. Here's some pictures from our Belize adventures.
A wooden boat modeled after a Ferrari by Venetian artist Livio De Marchi passes a masked crew past some gondolas on the Grand Canal during the traditional Carnival festivities in Venice, northern Italy.
February 19
Image of the Day
Today's day trip I have been waiting for a while to see.  We visited the Lamanai mayan ruins, the only maya site found to date that retains it's original name.  Would love to meet somone oneday to reconnect the dots, and find out the historical ancient names for the ruins we have found to date. After a boat trip, a bus ride, and another boat trip we arrived, our 4 hour trip to see the ruins buried in the Belezian jungles.  It was interesting to see the various temple pyramids and structures of the city.  It seems that this site was occupied from 1500 BC until the 1800's.  The temple of the Jaguar, the temple of the Masks (crocodile), the temple of the sun, were all partially restored with glyphs in excellent condition. We wandered around, someone needs to donate some money, for the local museum, as it was a site for sore eyes.  Some local robber could easily make off with most the valuable archeological items if they truely wanted to. 
       Imagine standing atop the High Temple, peering over the forest canopy, as the sun sets and flocks of parrots blur by near your feet. You are facing south, and immediately before you is a Maya ball court enshrouded by trees. Just to your left is the New River Lagoon, and in the distance, the low mountains…you glance up to watch a black howler monkey in the tree tops above you. She has a baby on her back, and as she moves, suddenly you see the top of a thatched roof cabana. 

      Locals told us about the constant attempts to steal the largest jade ceremonial mask found from Belize City, and how the actual one is up in a Canadian bank for security reasons now. There have to be numerous undiscovered ruin locations all over Central America.  11 hours in the sun is definitely draining on the body, locals call is slow baking, as even with sunscreen you feel the heat moving around your body. Here's some pictures from our Belize adventures.

Laman'ai (a corruption of "Lam'an/ayin", Mayan for "submerged crocodile") is an ancient Maya center known to have been continuously occupied for almost three millennia beginning in approximately 1500 B.C., one of the longest known occupation spans of any Maya site.
February 20
Image of the Day
Today we roamed over to go snorkling again on the local reefs.  This time the boat engines were working, and our guide brought along fish to feed the sharks and sting rays.  We roamed around the island again in our golf cart, and ventured to the southern tip of the island to claim some conch shells for souveneirs. Here's some pictures from our Belize adventures.
More than 300 women use their naked bodies to spell out 'No War' on a sports field in Sydney, Australia. The second nude protest in as many weekends is in opposition to the growing tensions against Iraq.
February 21
Image of the Day
The ruins called to us again, this day trip we visited Altun Ha mayan ruins.  A much closer mainland trip was nice, through the mangroves with a quick stop at the village of Bomba.  Here I managed to strike up a conversation with a local wood carver, admiring his personal carvings he also had on display and by the end he wanted to show me his skills.  When we returned at the end of the day I had a nice little carved Rasta-man statue waiting for me, and I also picked up a nice 4-heart carved dish.  The trip back across the bay was much harsher as we had 3'-4' waves, and much less enjoyable than all the other trips.  Here's some pictures from our Belize adventures.
February 22
Image of the Day
Today we played tourist in our golf cart, roaming around the local stores of San Pedro.  After scouring the stores we ended up filling an entire duffle bag with items to bring back home for friends and relatives. Here's some pictures from our Belize adventures.
Pioneer 10, the first spacecraft to venture out of the solar system, has fallen silent after traveling billions of miles from Earth on a mission that has lasted nearly 31 years, NASA said. What was apparently the spacecraft's last signal was received on Jan. 22 by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Deep Space Network. At the time, Pioneer 10 was 7.6 billion miles from Earth; the signal, traveling at the speed of light, took 11 hours and 20 minutes to arrive.
February 23
Image of the Day
We slept it today for the first and only time all week, was nice to not have to make a 7am boat ride out across the ocean.  Our last day in Belize was relaxing, and we went trinket shopping with our last few hours remaining.  After a long delayed hoper flight on Tropic Air from San Pedro to the mainland, we boarded our plane back to the US, with a cold fronts waiting for us in Austin. Here's some pictures from our Belize adventures.
A motorist passes a Shell gas station as another one pumps gas, Saturday, March 1, 2003 in Menlo Park, Calif., after an unidentified person put up this sign about their feeling about the raising gas prices. Regular gas sold at this station for $2.27; Plus for $2.37; Premium for $2.47. 
February 24
Image of the Day
Spain's tourist board has temporarily withdrawn this advertisement bearing the slogan 'Spain marks,' after a deluge of complaints that it was sexist. The ad was pulled after protests by political and women's groups, a spokeswoman for the tourist board Turespana said. A meeting of regional government and tourist authorities will decide whether the poster should be banned altogether
February 25
Image of the Day
The cold front has disabled Austin for the day, as ice has made most the hills, bridges, and roads too dangerous to drive.
A Tibetan monk wears a traditional mask during a ceremony to celebrate the Tibetan New Year at Beijing Yong He Gong Lama Temple in China's capital. The ceremony is held annually during the Tibetan New Year to expel evil spirits from the monestary.
February 26
Image of the Day
The cold front ice kept the city of Austin at bay for a second day.  Kind of shows how unorganized the county transportation system is when mere 25* weather can shutdown a city as large as Austin.  Where's all the snow tire advertisements, like the hail damage repair signs that pop up everywhere?
A private plane pulls a banner as sailors man the rails of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz as it departs from San Diego. The Nimitz and its eight-ship battle group of 8,000 sailors will bolster U.S. forces already in the Middle East region as the United States continues it's military buildup for a possible war with Iraq
February 27
Image of the Day
How is it the the most capital intensive country in the world cannot afford to build larger buildings, while our neighbors keep reaching to the sky.  Why aren't more large buildilng going up outside the NE corridor of the US.
A rendering of the revised plan of the Shanghai World Financial Center building (L) is shown next to China's tallest building Jinmao Tower (R). Shanghai is set to house the world's ultimate symbol of capitalist success by 2007, as work restarted on the 101-story, 492-meter tall skyscraper that its Japanese builders hope will be the tallest on the planet.
February 28
Image of the Day
 Sounds like the government is making a lot of good tax revenues alcohol and youth.  So why not just start taxing the drug trade with duty stamps and add some regulation to the industry.