January 2009

A new favorite site of mine, Govtrack.us, is a portal into the happenings in our U.S. legislature. The site subtitle is “a Civic project to track Congress”. From this site you can track and research bills, and get information on legislators and their voting records. Super sweet! A great feature is that each bill has it’s own page, with it’s progress throughout the legislative process tracked, and an RSS feed attached. Now I get daily updates on the course of ARRP at it makes its way through the Senate. You can check out the GovTrack H.R. 1 page here.

Doesn’t ARRP sound like something a chihauha would say as he’s biting your ankle? I really hope this stimulus plan bites more like a pit bull. I feel like I should know more about the new Stimulus Plan that is set to be voted on in the House of Representatives today (dubbed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan). A cursory Google search reveals very little specific info. I’d like to know exactly what is in the bill. How is this stimulus money going to be spent? You’d think there would be a lot information on the internet about this, but it’s harder to dig up than I’d expect. One link that came up during my search that has future promise is the site newsy.com. Their tagline? “Connecting You with Multiple Sources to help provide the Real Story” Oh, I hope so, because the Real Story would be nice. Newsy offers short video clips on current news topics (2-5 minutes), with a sidebar of sources for each story. They have a short clip here about today’s events, although no specific info as to what the bill contains.

A few more minutes, and I finally found the wording of H.R. 1 here. It’s 258 pages long. Too long to even skim. A more edible report to accompany the bill (78 pages) can be downloaded here. I’ll try to chew through some of it and post a summary later tonight or tomorrow. Even better, a 13 page press summary here. A few more clicks and maybe it’ll be down to a well written paragraph 🙂

Another site that might prove interesting is the Bailout Report, a blog that gives weekly updates on the American recovery. Biased, but interesting!

Additionally, House.gov is the official site of the U.S. House of Representatives, and offers links to schedules, hearings, U.S. code, Bill information, and past votes.

While searching last year for Condor Air deals, I stumbled across Scott McMurren’s Alaska Travel Gram site. McMurren’s blog lists deals for both in state and outside travel. I subscribe to his weekly email newsletter and e-column emails. Not that I actually do a lot of traveling, I just like to keep up on how other people travel 🙂 Some highlights from this week’s e-column:

my friends at Alaska Travel Industry Association have launched a new “deals” website: “Alaska’shottestdeals.com” with bargains around the state.

There are five categories for the discounts, including packages, transportation, accommodations, activities and “50th Anniversary” specials–a curtsey to Alaska’s 50th anniversary of statehood.

On the accommodations front, there are bargains all around the state. Even RVers can take advantage of the deals. Up in Chicken, Alaska on the Top of the World Highway, there’s a 50 percent discount on any RV site.  They also have cabins and rooms, which are available at 25 percent off.

The Knik River Lodge is a great place to visit. Spend two nights between May 15 and June 15 and you’ll get a free Glacier Tour. This is a great trip–a $100 value.

Transportation specials include a 5-10 percent discount on Alaska Airlines. Enter this discount code: EC16408 at alaskaair.com . Travel between April 1 and May 31 and save 10 percent. Fly between June 1 and Sept. 30 and save five percent.

Alaska Tour and Travel is offering a free bus ride from Anchorage to Seward when you also make a reservations to sail in Kenai Fjords National Park.

Lifetime Adventures is offering a 50 percent discount as a 50th Anniversary Special on bike rentals and kayak rentals at Eklutna Lake near Eagle River.  To qualify, bring an item with Alaska’s date: 1959. A coin, a newspaper, a license plate–even a letter with a cancelled stamp!

The Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau also has a site  (www.anchorage.net/specials.html ) with specials, including:
a. Cruise West discounts of up to $675 per person on the Gold Rush Inside Passage Cruise.
b. The Ascending Path, a guide service in Girdwood, Alaska, is offering $40 off their Snowshoeing Tour in the Chugach Mountains.
c. 2-for-1 Admission to the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum over near the airport. This is a great museum!

Finally, keep an eye on cruise prices. Already, May departures from Whittier are available for less than $500 for a seven-day cruise on Princess Cruises. It’s fair to say we’ll see more specials between now and summer. Be prepared to act fast when you see the deals appear. Folks still are going to travel to and from Alaska this year–perhaps with a sharper eye for bargains!

A seven day cruise for less than $500? Who cares if I used to live in Southeast, I’d be tempted to steal my hubby away for a week if we didn’t have two kiddos under three. Of course, that $500 doesn’t include airfare back from the point of debarkation (likely Vancouver). Or, you could just plan the dates to cruise back on up to Whittier. Wouldn’t that be the life?!

You might remember last Fall when I posted about Ravi Zacharias coming to Anchorage. We bought our tickets last month, and I hope you’re considering going as well. It’s bound to be a brain-stretching, good time. This from a recent a recent Alaska Family Council email (the group bringing up Ravi):

There is still time to get tickets for the upcoming Ravi Zacharias Benefit Lecture but with more than 600 already sold…less than 300 remain.

Tickets for the benefit lecture, taking place at 7:00pm at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium at the University of Alaska Anchorage on Thursday, March 5th, are $25 for the general public, $12.50 for students and free to active military members with a limit of two per military member.

Tickets are available on-line here and through Radio Espresso, located at the corner of Northern Lights and Boniface Blvd.

Ravi’s lecture is titled, “The Intersection of Faith in the Public Square” and there will be a question and answer session for those interested in probing the mind of one of the leading Christian apologists and theologians of our time.

I just ordered my free cards. It took a couple of tries because their servers are being bombarded. Follow this link to Scrapbooks Etc. by Better Homes and Gardens, and you’ll be able to personalize your choice of of a 6-pack of Valentine’s cards. Enter “valentine” in the coupon code box at checkout and it will zero out your order (including free shipping). We’ll see if the orders actually get fulfilled, but it’s worth a try! This promotion is good though February 1st. I don’t usually send out Valentine’s cards, but I’m actually this late on getting out our 2008 newsletter, so I think I’ll just send that out with these cards. Sad, huh?

In honor of our new President, a little history on “Hail to the Chief”, the song played when the President appears in public. Taken from Wikipedia.

The music was written circa 1821 by James Sanderson, conductor of the Surrey Theatre in London. The lyrics came from Sir Walter Scott’s The Lady of the Lake, a narrative poem set in Scotland that was highly influential in the 19th century. The song is sung by two Scottish clansmen as they are crossing Loch Katrine in a boat, heading for the island hide-out of a Highland chief.

Hail to the chief, who in triumph advances,
Honored and bless’d be the evergreen pine!
Long may the tree in his banner that glances,
Flourish, the shelter and grace of our line.
Heav’n send it happy dew,
Earth lend it sap anew,
Gaily to bourgeon and broadly to grow;
While ev’ry highland glen,
Sends our shout back again,
“Roderigh Vich Alpine dhu, ho! i-e-roe!”
Ours is no sapling, chance-sown by the fountain,
Blooming at Beltane, in winter to fade;
When the whirlwind has stripp’d ev’ry leaf on the mountain,
The more shall Clan Alpine exult in her shade.
Moor’d in the lifted rock,
Proof to the tempest shock,
Firmer he roots him, the ruder it blow;
Menteith and Breadalbane, then,
Echo his praise again,
“Roderigh Vich alpine dhu, ho! i-e-roe!”
Row, vassals, row for the pride of the Highlands!
Stretch to your oars for the evergreen pine!
Oh, that the rosebud that graces yon islands,
Were wreath’d in a garland around him to twine!
O, that some seedling gem,
Worthy such noble stem,
Honor’d and bless’d in their shadow might grow!
Loud should Clan Alpine then,
Ring from her deepmost glen,
“Roderigh Vich Alpine dhu, ho! i-e-roe!”

The song was first played to announce the arrival of the president at James K. Polk’s inauguration on March 4, 1845. It now announces the arrival of the president at most public events. The lyrics are rarely sung. Understandibly 🙂

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