Monday, December 22, 2008

Rudolph & Stagefright

Owen & Gus had their Christmas/Holiday singalong at their preschool on Wednesday. It did not turn out how Amy and I would have anticipated.

Gus, normally the ham of all hams who never met an audience he didn't love, was struck with stagefright as the cameras from a couple dozen parents flashed. He proceeded to try to disrupt the song by pestering his brother which promptly warranted a removal by his teacher. Gus was so distraught that he began to break down and the teacher quickly moved him back into place. Owen then comforted his partner in crime.

The funny thing was, if you would have asked Amy or me a hundred times which one of the two boys would have broken down at the sight of all the cameras, we would have said Owen (because of his more reserved personality) 99 of those 100 times.

Kids surprise us.

It's a pretty cute little scene to mark for them regardless. Cheers!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tis the Season

The Christmas spirit is alive and well with our crew these days. Much like our birthdays and Halloween, the anticipation and excitement from the boys is contagious and takes Christmas to a whole new level for Amy & me.

Last week we started by going to the Apex Christmas parade. We enticed the boys there with the possibility of seeing Santa. When we got there the MC announced that there were a record 108 floats in the parade this year, meaning we had a long time to wait for St. Nick. After an hour & a half of the cold, Amy & I persuaded the boys to table Santa with the promise of a milkshake. But the parade was fun nonetheless.

This past weekend we made up for missing Santa with a Saturday for the ages. We started off with a birthday party for one of the boys' buddies from the neighborhood. Then we drove down to New Hill, NC for the New Hope Valley Railway train ride. Complete with a real live train ride and a decked-out Santa Claus, we had two excited little boys. Owen gave it the Roger Ebert special.


One morning last week the boys were dreadful trying to get ready to go to school. I think I ended up carrying one under each arm out of the house to the car. On the drive to school I pulled out my phone and "called" Santa's office to ask what the guidelines were for him to stop at our house on Christmas. It was dead silence in the car and both boys conceded that they had to be good.

So on Saturday after Santa had his picture taken with our crew and had moved on to the next family Owen had to make sure that Santa knew the episode earlier in the week was a behavioral aberration. He tugged at Santa's waist and after getting his attention said, "Santa, I've been good."


Tess was a trooper. Our train was open air and it was 42 degrees outside. No matter for Baby T. She was up next to Mom and happy as a clam....er, a pink piglet.


Two thumbs up from the Owenator.
video

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Caption


Gus: "You know, I think you'd make a pretty good Robin, kiddo."

Tess: "You do know that mask is supposed to be over your face there, don't you chief?"

Monday, December 08, 2008

Doghouse

To all the guys out there preparing to shop for the wife, mom, or girlfriend, stay out of the doghouse this holiday season.

Enjoy!

Monday, December 01, 2008

O Christmas Tree

The Rutledge crew concluded Thanksgiving week by conquering a cold, gray, dreary Sunday with some Christmas cheer. We hoisted a Fraser fir up on top of the van in the misty rain, came home, cranked up the Vince Guiraldi, and unpacked Christmas gear to get into the spirit.

The boys are tremendously more excited about Christmas this year. Owen insisted that "we keep the Christmas tree for a very, very, very long time and not let the vacuum truck take it away." (Last year, Amy & I took the tree to the curb the day after Christmas while the boys were napping, and apparently Owen's elephant-like memory still bares the scar.)

After assuring Owen that the tree would be up for several weeks, we proceeded to decorate the tree with lights and ornaments. We put out the Advent calendar, and the first thing out of the boys' mouths this morning was the question on who got to put up the first ornament for December 1.

Meanwhile, Tess enjoyed the lights, the hustle and bustle from her brothers, and any spare paper that she could get in her mouth before one of us grabbed it away. Amy & I chuckled at the kids' enthusiasm -- and we haven't even really brought up Santa Claus yet.

Cheers!


"I know I've seen those boys take this horse and make it fly some way or another."


At last count the bottom branches of the tree had 26 ornaments courtesy of Owen & Gus while the top branches had 3.


Rutledge boys show off their decorating prowess.


Apologies for the darkness, but you get an idea of the energy and the skill de decor of 2 three year-olds.
video

Wrapped Around the Finger

Tess is methodically gaining control of the men of the Rutledge house. Over the past couple of weeks she has made inroads with Owen, who now takes very seriously the responsibility of keeping small objects away from her vicinity. Obviously Dad has been smitten with his baby girl since minute one.

Now she is solidifying her place in the pecking order with brother Gus.

"Worship me, big brother!"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gobble Gobble

Amy borrowed an idea from our friend and fellow blogger Amanda Moore, co-author with husband Jason of the wonderfully witty Vance/Moore family blog, for a turkey made out of cantaloupe, pear, cheese & grapes for a Thanksgiving treat. We crafted this with the boys so they could take it to their preschool class on Monday, where it was a tremendous hit with the kids, teachers and parents.

Owen & Gus beamed as they showed off their creation to their cohorts. Later that night at home, the boys talked about how they were thankful for Mom, Dad, their friends and teachers at school, and their pajamas.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving -- from our turkey range to yours.

Cheers!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Baby Bjorn Tess


Baby T is a huge fan of the Baby Bjorn. Being in the carrier is still #2 to being right next to Mom -- hey, Tess knows where her bread is buttered. But being hauled around with Dad and peering down at those two brothers instead of up at them gives Tess the giggles. So I pretty much eat it up with a spoon that Tess gets excited to be with Dad, even if my back pays the price after a while and I have to use a gimmick like the Bjorn carrier to get my child to want to come to Dad. So be it.

The other thing that Tess has embraced is waving "bye-bye." At everything. Dorothy, who takes care of Tess in the mornings while Amy works, has even taught Tess the "princess wave." So now our child waves non-stop -- to the high chair when she's done eating, to Mom when she's done nursing, and to the plumber as he left the house today.

My hat is off to the Swedes for this brilliant invention. Cheers!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Chuckle

Battle of the Network Stars, 1976. Gabe Kaplan, Robert Kaplan, Telly Savalas, a track & field relay controversy, Howard Cosell narrating, cigarette smoking on camera, and a run-off.

They don't make television like this anymore.

Happy Friday. Cheers!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Carolina Blues



I had the good fortune of getting a phone call from my buddy Mike Mankowski this past weekend with a ticket offer for last night's Kentucky/North Carolina basketball game at the Dean Dome. The reasons against attending were numerous.

The Tar Heels are the preseason consensus #1 team in the country. Kentucky is still in rebuilding mode and was an overwhelming underdog. The Cats had just suffered a humiliating season-opening home loss at the hands of Virginia Military Institute (!!). I would be sitting amongst 23,000 Tar Heel fans. The game was a Tuesday night game that would force Amy into childcare duty for all three kids at bedtime and put me at home well past midnight.

The reasons for it? Ashley Judd was going to be there -- in the Carolina student section wearing her UK gear no less. And I would get to see my beloved Cats live and in person -- no matter how down they are.

Naturally I threw reason out the window and trekked over to Chapel Hill, sat amongst the powder blue contingent, got some razzing from my friend, and watched the Cats fall behind early and never dig themselves out of the hole thanks to 28 turnovers.

Despite Kentucky's lackluster performance, the game was a fun experience. Hanging out on Franklin Street and catching up with Mike over pizza and Bells beer at Pepper's before the game is an all-too-rare occurrence for both of us dads these days.

And getting to see Carolina at its peak is a guilty pleasure for a basketball junkie. Tar Heel fans are riding the wave of success right now and it is fun to watch. Carolina's success is reminiscent of my time in school when Kentucky was at its peak in the mid nineties. UK fans were on top of the world, and Rupp was a raucous place to see a game.

There are some differences between the two most storied programs in college basketball. North Carolina's atmosphere is more "refined" than Kentucky's. The fans sport more sweater vests than flashy logo sweatsuits. And the Dean Dome has a banner for everything, including a national championship from a year (1924) when national championships weren't even awarded.

But despite the differences the passion is the same. It is what makes a fan like Ashley Judd sit in the middle of the opposition's student section with UK gear and makes a dad raised on Big Blue drop everything for the chance to see his team when they are in town.

College basketball -- gotta love it.

Cheers!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Grinner

On those stressful days when things get hectic and chaotic, there is a certain little girl that has a way of bringing a smile to our faces. Tess is quite a happy little baby, and her little personality is slowly starting to creep through.

Tess is a giggler, with her "huh huh huh" laugh that (as bad as this may seem) is reminiscent of Butthead's laugh on the old MTV show Beavis and Butthead. She is very alert and goes from gazing at brother to brother, especially at the dinner table. Amy & I talk about how she looks like she just wants to jump in there with them and mix it up.

Our little one is a good little eater. For the most part she eats fruits and veggies out of the jar unless her "do-it-myself" streak causes her to push the spoon away and clamor for finger foods that she can feed herself. Cheerios and fruit puffs are easily at the top of her favorite foods list.

Tess still isn't crawling at 9+ months, but we have been saying any day now for a few weeks. She will rock back and forth on all fours, and she has perfected the roll & scoot method. In reality she doesn't have to move too much when she has two brothers to watch and laugh at.

Owen has started to slowly but surely warm up to her. He will bring her a toy, and I even left him "in charge" of her for a minute yesterday while I ran downstairs to get something. The boys proudly boast that Tess has not put anything small in her mouth when we relieve them of their supervisory duties. Given where Owen was the past few months on the jealous scale, we will chalk that up to definite progress.

Finally, Tess got a great checkup at the doctor last week. She is where she should be on the growth curve and with all the gross & fine motor metrics the doctors measure. She is a little light for her age but nothing to be concerned about. The doctor just told us to enjoy her, which we certainly do.

Cheers!


Tess with a slight mischievous little grin....



....showing off how she sits up.....



....and is sporting some choppers.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why Did I Have the Bowl?

So a few weeks ago, Gus was really a handful for about a week when GJ was visiting. Amy & I think it was because he was used to the grandparents giving him his share of attention without having to share it with his sister. One day at a pumpkin patch he ran away from Amy and nearly ran out on the highway into oncoming traffic. Needless to say there was a heart-to-heart that night with two parents and a certain three year-old.

Owen, on the other hand, had been very good during that period so we decided to reward him with a fish (and by not getting Gus one we hoped that denying him a reward would teach him a lesson about listening).

Owen was all about his fish. For about a day. After a couple of days it came time to change the water in the little bowl. So I had set some water out to get to room temperature. I placed the bowl cleaning solution by the pitcher of water and Amy was going to change the water later that day.

The problem was that Amy thought I had already put the drops in the water. So she changed out the water, and you know where this is going....

Owen's little betta fish lived 3 days before going belly-up and getting flushed down the toilet. Amy & I were then faced with a dilemma: Do we try to replace the fish with another one that looks just like it before Owen notices? Do we use this opportunity to teach a 3 year-old about dying? Or do we just put the bowl up on top of the refrigerator and hope he doesn't mention the fish again?

Of course we picked the easy route. So far Owen has only mentioned feeding the fish one time and changing the water maybe once. But other than that, the kid is focused on the bag of Halloween candy that is still sitting on top of the fridge.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Color of Fall

Fall has arrived in central North Carolina. The trees are changing colors, and leaves are beginning to fall. You wouldn't know it by the temperature -- today is supposed to be a record high 80 degrees. But you can definitely see the changing season.

The boys are all about the yellows, reds, oranges, and browns. Owen remarked on the way to school, "Look dad, a bright yellow one -- that tree is beautiful." Then he went on to tell me how the little girl, Hannah, in his preschool class is beautiful as well. It's already started.

Gus took several leaves to his school today for show-and-tell -- or as he calls them, "leave-es." It is pretty fun watching the boys become aware & experience these things. The changing season is pretty interesting from a three year-old's perspective.

Now if I could just get them to pick up a rake when all these leave-es start to fall....

Cheers!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A New Day

The moment Barack Obama walked out on stage last night in front of 70,000 people at Grant Park in Chicago, my daughter Tess woke up crying. Amy & I looked at each other with the same dejected look on our faces:

"Which one of us was going to miss the victory speech?!?"

Amy hit the record button on the DVR, and I grabbed my headphones on the way upstairs. As I sat in the dark rocking my nine month-old back to sleep I listened to Obama's speech on the radio. I could not help thinking about my little girl and my boys and the challenges that their generation will face as they grow up. And I was truly grateful that our country had just elected a unifying, inspiring President in Barack Obama to lead us through the challenges ahead.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To those - to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we've already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.




Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Pick the Electoral College

Predict the Electoral College here.

Amy's pick -- Obama 320, McCain 218
  • Obama wins the Kerry states plus Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, & Florida


Derek's pick -- Obama 318, McCain 220
  • Obama wins Kerry states plus Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Virginia
  • I think North Carolina is an election cycle away from turning blue. The state has the same influx of transplants from other parts of the country like Virginia. But the Tar Heel state has a million more people so I think VA will go blue this cycle and NC potentially the next.

Yes We Can


So we are finally here. Election Day 2008. It has been such an incredibly long campaign, stretching nearly two years. The Republicans started out with so many candidates -- Guiliani, Romney, Thompson, Huckabee, Paul, McCain -- before John McCain emerged as the nominee. The Democrats saw a long battle between Obama and Hillary Clinton before Obama finally clinched the nomination in June.

The interest level of the American people this election cycle has just been enormous. Much of the interest has to do with the unpopularity of George W. Bush and the desire among an overwhelming majority of Americans to move in a new direction. And regardless of which candidate the electorate decides is the best agent to bring forth that change, getting the American people engaged, motivated and participating in the process to select its leaders is a huge positive step forward.

Obviously on a personal level I am moved by the potential of a Barack Obama presidency. He appeals to me on an intellectual level as a man who thoughtfully takes in multiple points of view before making a decision. Although he lacks experience on an executive level, I admire the way he has managed a $700M campaign and stuck to a consistent message of how he will lead. On the issues I share his view for helping out the middle class with tax relief, ending the war in Iraq responsibly, and investing in our children's future with infrastructure, renewable energy and education. I do not believe that we can continue to saddle our kids and grandkids with debt and have nothing to show for it besides a corrupt winner-take-all economic system, a tax system skewed to the wealthiest 2% of Americans, and a tattered image across the world.

Barack Obama is not without his flaws, and his task would be enormous. His record is not dotted with examples of reaching across the aisle to form bipartisan legislative solutions. He will not be able to deliver on all the promises he has made in the campaign -- most notably universal health care. As a liberal, Obama cannot succumb to the temptation of the familiar -- to dust off decades old liberal policies in order to dig us out of the ditch we are in. And the path ahead is going to be extraordinarily difficult given that we face a mountain of debt with the $700B bailout plan and rising costs of entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.

That said, what will it take to lead us through the tough challenges in the future? The answer is the one thing that we have been so starkly missing the past eight years -- leadership. Leadership is not surrounding yourself with ideologues who share your view of the world, sticking with decisions when they have been proven to be the wrong ones, working to undermine the Constitution so you can get your way, or using fear as a powerful political weapon to secure power.

Leadership is having the temperament, judgment, intellectual curiosity, and skill to carry out difficult decisions that face us. It involves talking with people that do not agree with us, trying to bring people into the fold instead of building walls around us to keep people out. And that is not an easy thing to do. Naturally we are more comfortable with people who think like us, look like us, and share most if not all of our values. But in this flattening world that we live in, opening ourselves up to the diversity of thought and ideas is something to embrace, not reject. Barack Obama has shown throughout the campaign that he possesses these qualities.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend Obama's rally in Raleigh where people waited outside in the freezing cold for hours to get a chance to see him. The cross-section of people who have felt inspired by Obama's promise was unbelievable. At least half of the crowd was African-American, and I was blown away at the enthusiasm that the black community feels for Obama.

But beyond race, it was inspiring to see people of all walks of life unite around Obama's message. Young and old, complete strangers were talking, engaging, dancing, laughing -- all of them united not by fear of what they perceive the other side would bring but by the hope that their candidate could bring.

I for one hope that America chooses hope over fear.

Yes We Can.

Obama in Raleigh:

Roadrunner

Before I immerse myself in the election today I have to give a huge congratulations out to my wonderful Amy, who last week overcame the work week from hell, scarce (if any) personal time to exercise & train, the responsibilities of three small kids, and an annoying head cold and still managed to run the IBM 5K on Saturday.

Amy ran start to finish without walking and to this day amazes me with the load she manages to shoulder. Way to go Amy B!

A special note of gratitude as well to Ms. Ann who entertained Owen, Gus & Tess on slides, swings, and jump houses so Mom and Dad could run the race. Amy & I are certainly grateful for all the help and friendship that she shows to our family.



Cheers to the strong women that keep us all going!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Super Dragon Turtles

Halloween is just an enormous event in the life of a three year-old. That's probably stating the obvious. But the enthusiasm of little ones leading up to the day where they get an endless supply of chocolate and sugar is just contagious. Owen & Gus woke up ready to seize the candy. Luckily we held them off until dark.

Amy got twin red dragon costumes for the boys. The costumes fell slightly in the "cutesie" column with the ears, wings and big tail. But as this is probably the last Halloween that cutesie could be pulled off, even I have to admit they were pretty doggone cute.

Gus switched gears though at a Halloween party earlier in the week, choosing Woody (from Toy Story) over the dragon. With his brother altering the costume plan, Owen then took a detour as well by declaring he was going to be Spiderman for that same party. Mom was somewhat crushed that her boys had thwarted her plan. But whatever made them happy. (Luckily for us, the boys have a closet full of hand-me-down costumes thanks to our next door neighbor with three older boys who has already been through this stage.)

So when Halloween came Gus settled on Superman, and Owen wouldn't reveal his choice until right before Trick or Treating. Luckily for Mom, she got her dragon as Owen decided he would "breathe hot fire" on people for candy.

I took the boys trick-or-treating and walked them all over the neighborhood. By the end of the night the little guys were absolutely worn out. Gus even said to me, "Dad, I want to go home and take a bath and go to bed" when we finished our last house. I think that's the first time those words have ever escaped those lips.

Tess was dressed up as a turtle -- the same turtle that the boys spent their first Halloween in. She stayed home with Amy and gave away candy to the neighborhood kids. We probably had 150 kids come by -- not as many as last year but still a good turnout.

I have spent an insane amount of time the past few weeks on ripping up bermuda grass in my front yard & re-seeding it. With the constant care required to get the good grass to come up I roped off my yard with flags and stakes to prevent the kids from walking through it that night. Amy gave me a hard time that I was being the grumpy old man (insert Presidential candidate here) -- "Stay off my grass!!" But I didn't care -- I'm not about to have all those hours of watering, tilling, & seeding go for naught. At least I used orange rope between the stakes & orange flags for Halloween. I'm festive, right?

Now we just have to unload all of this candy before too long. Owen & Gus have zeroed in on Kit Kats and Snickers; Amy on the Snickers; on all the above. We will hit our limit pretty soon, and I'll take the rest into work to donate to sugar fixes among software developers.

(Note: I have a feeling the next dozen posts are going to be political. Election Fever is in the air at la casa de Rutl.)

Cheers!



Super Dragon Turtles.



Amy got her wish as her "Mini-me," Owen, decided to go with the dragon costume at the last minute on Halloween night.



Tess just chilled out as a turtle. She is simply a happy, mellow little reptile.

GJ & Pappy East Coast Tour - Leg 1

Taking a few minutes to catch up on some posts as last week was a nonstop zoo and the next few days are likely to be dominated by the election....

We had a great time with GJ and Pappy on their east coast tour before they headed down to Charleston to see Corinne and crew. Gus had a surprisingly tough adjustment period the first week GJ was here. He resorted back to Terrible Two Gus and threw several tantrums. The fits culminated with Gus running away from Amy at a pumpkin patch nearly running out onto the highway. There was a long heart-to-heart with a certain 3 year-old that night. I think he was acting up because he was having trouble with the fact that GJ was spreading her attention across three kids instead of the two he was accustomed to. By the second week Gus (finally) snapped out of it.

Pappy joined GJ toward the end of the visit. Luckily for him (and his back) there was no earth moving involved this trip. Pappy did give my lawn mower a makeover which should get me another year out of the old clunker -- much obliged there!


The two "Edwards" -- Charles and Gus -- pause at the park where grandson shows grandfather how to captain a ship.


Chow time...


GJ captains the U.S.S. Tess.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Boo!

The day started early at our house today. Two boys were ready to go Trick or Treating at 6:00 in the morning. Amy & I finally herded them into the van to go to school in time to make their little Halloween parade. The camera flashes were in full effect from all the parents. Fun times.

Amy got the boys red dragon costumes for Halloween. But Gus has discovered the superhero costumes in his closet that our neighbor (who has 3 boys of her own) passed on to us. So Gus decided he was going to be Superman this morning, all day, and tonight to Trick or Treat. Owen stuck with the red dragon this morning. But when I asked him at dinner who he was going to be he had still not decided.

"Is it going to be a gametime decision Owen?"
"Yep, gametime decision."




Tess is intently watching her brothers as they dress up and shriek about candy. She is biding her time for when she can go out begging for sugar.

Cheers!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Chuckle

Monday, October 20, 2008

Colin Powell

On the heels of Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama for President comes the onslaught of backlash from critics -- notably blowhard Rush Limbaugh who claims the endorsement is simply because both Powell and Obama are black. I suppose this is to be expected.

But the most interesting thing in my mind in Powell's endorsement was his criticism of how the GOP has run the Presidential campaign and its tactics for painting Obama as a Muslim and unpatriotic.

In the interview with Brokaw on Meet the Press, I found myself giving Powell an "Amen!" to his answer criticizing the Republicans for their response to those on the fringe that (falsely) claim Barack Obama is really a Muslim:
"But the really right answer," he continued, "is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?"
In the end I don't think the Powell endorsement (or endorsements in general) will sway voters one way or another. For Obama supporters the endorsement reaffirms their belief that despite Obama's relative inexperience on the national level that he possesses the judgment to be Commander in Chief. For McCain supporters the endorsement is just the opinion of one man (albeit a great man) and will not suddenly pull them over to the Obama column.

As for those that will now demonize Powell or insinuate that his endorsement was simply based on race, so be it -- let them retreat further into their own narrow little world and isolate themselves from the mainstream.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Straight Shooter

Our little guy Owen had a minor surgical procedure yesterday. Without giving our readers more information than they want or need, we'll say that the procedure was done to help "straighten the stream" and you can take it from there. The lead-up to the surgery was fine. At the surgery center Owen waited patiently with Amy, me and our minister Joanne in a 5x5 pre-op cube for over an hour despite growing anticipation for parent and child as the morning dragged on. Amy & I gave Owen several pep talks about being a big boy and not being afraid when the nurse came to take him in to see the doctor. Finally Owen's number was up and the nurse took him back to the room for the procedure. The little guy didn't even look back at Mom & Dad. He handled it as well if not better than his folks!

Owen selected bubble gum flavored gas, which was the anesthetic used instead of an IV. Before we knew it a half hour had passed and we met him in the recovery room where he got his popsicle, apple juice and a release to go home. Easy as cake.

Or so we thought. Later in the day Owen struggled to go to the bathroom yesterday afternoon as his pain medication had worn off. This set in motion a series of screaming resistances on his part over the remainder of the day to go to the bathroom. It got so bad that one parent dropped everything to leave to fill a Tylenol/Codeine prescription (which we were led to believe would not be necessary) while the other parent juggled bribing a shrieking Owen with candy to pee and repeated paging of the doctor to call us back. It is a tough thing to watch your child in pain.

We finally made some headway this morning as Owen again had a fit against going to the bathroom. Amy finally pushed on his stomach to force the kid to go to the bathroom. Once he saw that it didn't hurt anymore, the first thing out of his mouth: "Dad, I want my candy." He is like an elephant -- never forgets a deal when sugar is involved.

Today has been better. We are weening him off the prescription -- contrary to our thoughts, codeine makes a three year-old wired, not tired. Hopefully he will be able to go back to school tomorrow.

If we would have known what was involved Amy & I would have handled the situation differently -- at least starting him on the medication on the way home instead of waiting for the pain to set in. But we live and learn.

Buy stock in candy corn and M&M's.

Cheers!

owen
office

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Live Blog: Debate #3

See you tonight...

7:33
An hour & a half away. This has been quite the day. Amy, GJ and I are certainly ready for a diversion.

A brief plug for the Obama muppet that I snagged from the web. This guy Dan Lacey has all sorts of interesting portraits on his blog. As for Grandpa Simpson, Matt Groening doesn't need any more money. I can snag that with a good conscience.


8:50
What a day. Minor surgery for our son this morning in a "sensitive area" that was supposed to have a recovery so quick that he would be rough & tumble playing by the afternoon. After 2 hours of him screaming in pain because he doesn't want to go to the bathroom, two parents and a grandmother have some shot nerves. We are hoping that some Tylenol kicks in to help the little guy out tonight.

On a related note, tonight's live blog is sponsored by....




9:02
Here's Schieffer....here we go. Roundtable format tonight...

In a flip on the red state/blue state dynamic, Obama shows up with a red tie; McCain in blue.


9:05
How to save the economy?
McCain: Stop home foreclosures. Obama: Middle class tax cuts.

"The Battle for Joe the Plumber"
McCain: Ohio plumbers support me. Obama's tax rates would be higher than McCain's.

Obama
: Tax cut for 95% of working Americans making less than $250,000/year. 3x tax relief for middle class families.

Will be interesting to see the fact checkers on this one.

9:15

McCain & Obama are battling for the votes from this treasured demographic.



9:18
Who is it again that has been in power for the past eight years that racked up these huge budget deficits that McCain wants to take a "hatchet" to?


9:25
Schieffer with a pointed question to both: Are you willing to say to each other's face what you say in your ads?

Mr. Erratic: Obama wouldn't agree to my format so I got nasty. Hits Obama on the John Lewis statement.

Mr. Pals Around With Terrorists: Americans aren't concerned with our hurt feelings.

McCain looks like his head is about to blow off.


9:32
Obama trying to take the high road with this negative ad question. McCain absolutely looks like he wants to rip Obama's limbs off.


9:36
McCain brings up ACORN and "that washed-up old terrorist" Bill Ayers in 10 seconds....

Obama diffuses it well (yes, this is from an Obama supporter): Ayers is not involved with my campaign and will not have a role in my administration. ACORN had people paid to register voters fill out bogus forms -- they are not associated with my campaign.


9:40
Running mate question...oh joy.

Somehow painting a person with a 32% favorability rating and the worst interview in modern history with a major media figure in a non-threatening environment is a stretch, to put it lightly.

Schieffer: Is she qualified to be President?
Obama: Let the American people decide.
McCain: Biden is qualified but he has been wrong on major issues.


9:57
I am a diehard Obama supporter. I have thoroughly enjoyed his books. I am drinking the Kool-Aid. Yes, I am biased.

Ok, now that that's out of the way. John McCain is done. Stick a fork in him. He is coming across in this debate and in this campaign as a cranky, out-of-touch, frustrated old man who has sold his patriotic soul to the hitmen of the Republican machine all for a chance at the White House. He is striking out. The polls show it. This debate shows it.


10:07
GJ & Amy just brought up the great point that Schieffer has asked the best, most direct & pointed questions of any moderator in the 4 debates (including veep).

Abortion: Would you support a Supreme Court justice that opposes your view of Roe v. Wade?

Great question.

McCain: No litmus test. Tries to beat up Obama for not joining the Gang of 14.
Obama: Roe v. Wade was rightly decided.


Summary:
There was no knockout punch on either side tonight. McCain was certainly more aggressive than in the past. Personally I don't think McCain's challenges affected those in the middle/undecided (who in the world are these people anyway?). McCain's body language was very agitated. Like him or not Obama still comes off as cool, calm, & collected.

MSNBC watchers: Obama won 3 to 1.
Fox fans: McCain won 4 to 1....and Obama pals around with terrorists.

Probably just depends on which one of these guys you relate to in the first place.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fix It!

What a depressing week this has been.

Markets are tanking across the world. The stock market in the U.S. is down 40% over the past year. Governments around the globe are trying to step in to solve the credit crisis by lowering interest rates, infusing the capital markets with hundreds of billions of dollars, and taking over interest in banks to help free up money for lending. The cost to us Joe Sixpackers down the road in taxes is going to be enormous.

Meanwhile we are in the final month of a contentious Presidential election, and the campaigns have turned ugly. On one side the candidate that is behind is increasingly turning to character assualts, claiming that the opposition "pals around with terrorists." On the other side, the candidate in the lead released a 13-minute video digging up dirt on the opposition from a scandal that happened 20 years ago. Politics can be an ugly, ugly business, and these last days are certainly going down that path.

So as we watch our retirement accounts, college savings accounts, and savings accounts go in a southward direction and as we listen to our Presidential candidates attack each other relentlessly, laughter becomes imperative.

The "Oscar Rogers" character from last night's Saturday Night Live special sums up what I think all of us want to happen right now. Go the the 4:20 mark. Just "Fix it!!"

Cheers everyone!


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Town Hall: Live Blog

Here we go...

9:02
Got in late from a meeting. But I made it. We have Amy on the couch, GJ next to her with her knitting, pets glued to the tube, and yours truly.

Brokaw moderating. And the hands have been shaken.


9:04
Economics kicking off the night. How does the little guy get bailed out?


9:06
McCain: "Senator Obama, it's good to see you at a town hall." Good line.


9:08
McCain: Eight "My friends..." so far. Drink.


9:09
Warren Buffet for Treasury Secretary. Here we go with a difference -- does economic growth trickle down from the top or do you grow it from the bottom/middle up? I hope we keep talking about this and not about Ayers, Keating, etc.


9:11
Tonight's debate is sponsored by Avery India Pale Ale. 69 IBU's of tasty refreshment. Cheers!
(Shameless plug again. Brewers email me at my link on this page for my shipping address.)




9:17
McCain trying to come across as this great economic visionary -- it's not selling very well.


9:20
Both candidates are practicing empathy here -- trying to relate to the voter's cynicism about either party being able to fix the economic mess. And then they both attack...

McCain: Obama approved $1M for a planetarium projector. (No mention about a certain bridge to a certain island.)


9:27
Brokaw trying to keep these two candidates to 1-minute answers is like herding cats.


9:28

Great email question -- what should Americans sacrifice besides brave American soldiers lives?

Sigh, McCain missing the mark -- earmarks.

Need a bigger more transcendent answer here.


9:35
Obama: Good line about using a scalpel instead of a hatchet to cut the federal budget.

9:38
McCain just said he wasn't going to give tax breaks to the rich -- that he was leaving their tax rates unchanged and giving middle class tax cuts.

Not true.

He does support tax cuts for middle income brackets -- as Obama does -- but he gives a higher percentage tax break to the highest income brackets.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/06/09/ST2008060900950.html



9:45
Environment...
Obama trying to tie this to an economic breakthrough like the computer.

Tom Brokaw fussing at them for not sticking to time limits. Enough already. 1 minute isn't enough for these two ramblers.


9:51
Health care...Obama with a very wonk-y answer here.

McCain: Obama will fine you if you don't get your kids insurance under his plan. Huh?


9:55
Brokaw with a good question:

Is health care in America a right, a privilege, or a responsibility?


McCain: Responsibility
Obama: Right


10:05
Obama doctrine & McCain doctrine -- should U.S. Military be used when national security interests are not at stake? Good question from Brokaw.

Obama: may not have national security interests but we have moral obligations to intervene in some but not all situations.
McCain: Obama was wrong on Iraq. (Reagan "my hero" -- drink.)


10:09
Should US invade Pakistan to pursue Al Queda?

Obama: Blames decision to go into Iraq for the reason AQ is building up again in Pakistan in the first place.

McCain is going to try to beat Obama up on stating that we could invade them. He did this in the first debate.


10:16
McCain: "I'll get Bin Laden. I know how to get him. I'll get him."

Oh really?


10:18
12 minutes to go....


10:20
I don't know why they are even talking about Russia. Palin has that one covered.


10:26
Would you wait for U.N. Security Council approval before sending troops to support Isreal if Iran attacked them?

McCain: No way.
Obama: Don't let Iran get the nuke. Won't take military option off the table. Have to work with other countries to prevent that from happening.


10:30
Last question...

What don't you know and how will you learn it?

Great question.

There is too much I don't know to list here. Things I do know: Avery IPA is a very tasty India Pale and Obama won this debate.

(Yes, I'm a shameless Obama supporter. At the very least, McCain didn't do what he had to do to erase Obama's lead in this campaign, and this debate was a draw.)

Cheers!

Homer Votes

Pre-debate humor for Simpsons fans among us.

Cheers!

Monday, October 06, 2008

La Cucaracha del Infierno

I do not like bugs.

When I was a kid I used to be terrified of just about anything that crawled on six or eight legs. If there was a crawling creature in my room, I simply could not go to sleep as I would imagine its little legs crawling on me as I slumbered. My parents were often called in to kill the vicious creature as I could not bring myself to face the fear of being devoured by something 1,000 times smaller than me.

Over the years I have -- for the most part -- overcome this fear. My first challenge of overcoming this fear was living in a fraternity house in college for two years where let's just say cleanliness was in short supply. You got used to creepy crawlies living amongst 30 housekeeping-challenged guys under one roof.

Then when I moved to North Carolina where I lived in an apartment by myself. One night as I was about to walk out the door to meet Amy (we had just started dating), there was a decent-sized spider crawling under the door into my apartment. I seized this moment to overcome my arachnophobia. I actually tried to scoot the spider with a broom back out the door instead of killing it. But my noble effort was soon thwarted as out poured dozens of baby spiders onto my floor. I was being invaded by a pregnant mother spider looking for a dark, dry place to have her offspring. A bottle of Windex and a size 11 foot prevented me from being on P.E.T.A's mailing list. But hey, at least I was not running scared from bugs like I did when I was a young lad.

As I have gotten older, gotten married, and had 3 kids my fear for the most part has subsided. When you are the man of the house you just take these bug invasion challenges as part of your role. And for the most part I don't even mind bugs anymore.

Except for the dreaded #$%@ cockroach. There is no more despicable creature on earth to me than la cucaracha.

These little hairy-legged boogers have roamed the earth for 320 million years. They were here before us, and they'll be here after we're long gone. They eat anything. They are quick as hell. And they are hard to kill.

I cannot stand cockroaches.

So last night I was awakened at about 12:30 when I felt something crawling in my hair. In my half-asleep stupor I swatted at it only to feel little legs crawling on my neck. As I felt this sensation begin to crawl down my shirt to my back I immediately sprung up out of bed shouting and fumbling for the light, scaring Amy half to death.

As the light filled the room the rotten little vermin scampered under the sheets. Amy shrieked and immediately began demanding that the man of the house take care of this nuisance of a visitor. That's when seven year-old Derek reared his head again.

I was not having any part of that cockroach. I have dealt with snakes, spiders big and small, ants, termites, ticks, fleas, wasps, birds, bees, you name it since my days of being terrified as a kid of bugs. But awakening in the middle of the night to the feeling of a cockroach on the back of my neck catapulted me not into a position where I would seek revenge on the creature for invading my bedroom, but into a stunned fog where I could not bring myself to do anything about it.

Throughout this ordeal my loving wife was shouting at me for my cowardice and berating me to emerge from my haze. There was nothing I could do. She chased that little insect from the pillows to the floor as it dodged shoes and books before seeking shelter in the air conditioning vent in the floor.

I summoned up the gumption to pull the hand vac out of the closet to give to Amy who at this point was completely disgusted and dismayed with my inaction. She removed the floor vent and tried to vacuum up the monster so she could go back to sleep. But la cucaracha proved to nimble and quick. She ended up taping Saran Wrap over the vent and covering it with large, heavy books to secure the room from another invasion. It was a humorous reaction to the situation, but it was much more than I was able to conjure up at 1:00 in the morning.

Amy made fun of me some more, but I didn't care. She even pulled the red cape off the boys' Superman costume in the closet and wore it back to bed. There was no question who had saved the day, and it wasn't me.

Somewhere in the A/C ducts in my house, a conniving little six-legged mutant is plotting his next attack.

I hope for the sake of my manliness that I will be up for the challenge.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Veep Show: Live Blog


8:20
40 minutes to showtime. I'm deliberately not watching too much pre-debate spin. I don't want to hear one side's opinion about Gwen Ifill being biased or the other side talking expectations up or down, depending on the moment. Just give me the show.

8:35
Speaking of expectations personally I don't think Palin is going to have as much trouble tonight as she had in the sit down interviews the past couple of weeks. Debates are a different animal than 1-on-1's. There are fewer opportunities to dig deeper on issues so she'll be able to play an attack dog role on Obama (as Biden will on McCain). Palin is an experienced debater from her time running for governor.

In other words I don't think there will be a repeat of Sarah's Greatest Hits collection.

8:40
Some Veep debate drinking games.

Palin:

When she leaves the g off progressive verbs or gerunds, e.g., "takin’," "leavin’," "changin’"

Every time she says "mustn’t," "maverick," "hockey mom," "Putin’s head," "pitbull," "lipstick," "thanks but no thanks" or "I’ll have to get back to you on that."

Biden:
When he mentions taking the train.

When he refers to Senator McCain as "John."

Every time he says, "Scranton" "Wall Street," "main street," "malarkey" or "Geraldine Ferraro," or refers to himself in the third person, or anyone else as his "good friend."

I don't have the liver anymore.


9:02
Gwen calls them to order. Here we go...


9:05

Biden: Bush = bad. Took him about 5 seconds to mention "middle class."
Palin: Fear that soccer moms & dads are feeling over economics.


9:10
Both seem very practiced. Palin attacks with a smile.


9:13
11 minutes, 2 "Darn right"s from Palin.

I hope Biden hammers the point home about which candidate would actually lower middle class taxes more.


9:18
Taxes:
Biden obviously feels comfortable talking taxes and impact on the middle class.
Palin's response takes issue with how to redistribute wealth.
Again, as with the first Obama/McCain debate, just depends on what your worldview is.


9:24
Neither candidate wants to take anything off the table after the $700B is committed. Obama & McCain didn't want to touch this one either when Lehrer asked the question.

9:26
Ok, we're one-third of the way through. Palin is clearly much more prepared for this than a 1:1 with Katie C.

As for JoeBi, he knows his s**t.


9:32
Palin obviously feels comfortable talking about energy.....I would argue regardless of what question Ifill asks her.

Global warming -- manmade (Biden) vs. cyclical temperature changes (Palin).


9:37
Debate shifts from taxes and energy to social issues: First up, same sex benefits. Palin gracious and tolerant in her response but clear that she does not support gay marriage.


9:47
Jumping to foreign policy to Iraq, Iran & Pakistan. I was hoping we'd get one more domestic policy question for Palin -- either her opposition of abortion even in the case of rape or incest or her thoughts on teaching creationism in public schools.

Palin calling Obama "naive." Um, that seems a bit of a stretch.


9:55
I disagree that "every administration makes blunders" quite like the last eight years.


10:00
Homestretch...2/3 of the way through.

Biden says 3 times that we spend more in 3 weeks on combat operations in Iraq than what we've spent in 7 years in Afghanistan. That's a pretty simple fact for Joe Sixpack to get his head around.


10:04
Amy's done. Disappointed in Ifill's questions. There does seem to be too much of a format where Ifill throws out a topic and lets each one ramble on to the camera. I'm an Ifill fan (even wanted her considered for Russert's replacement on MTP), but I have to agree w/ the wife.


10:15
Palin tries to rehash Reagan's successful "There you go again" line he used against Jimmy Carter in 1980.


10:17
Biden: "Dick Cheney has been the most dangerous Vice President in the history of America."


10:18
What is your Achilles' heel?
Palin talking about energy independence again.


10:24
Final question: Single issue where you had to change a long held view to accomodate circumstances....

Yawner.


10:29
Closing statements...

Palin: "I like to answer these questions without the filter of the mainstream media." Huh? She & McCain will fight for freedom so we dont' have to tell kids & grandkids about the good old days of freedom. Cold war-ish.

Biden: "Most important election you've voted for in your entire life."


Summary
I think both candidates where strong in presenting their views and their candidate's positions. In short, I think this Veep debate had a lot of pregame hype but in the end won't change anyone's positions one way or the other. It simply reinforced support for both sides.

Veep Show

Vice Presidential Debate
We'll be live blogging it here at 9pm tonight. In the meantime, here are some great moments in Veep debate history:

Lloyd Bentsen's "You're no Jack Kennedy" dismissal of Dan Quayle:


George Bush dismisses Geraldine Ferraro's lack of foreign policy knowledge:


Al Gore pokes fun at himself in 1996 debate with Jack Kemp:


And the king of Veep debaters, Admiral Stockdale, loses his train of thought...


....and his hearing aid.



Cheers!

Live blogging here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy Birthday

I need to sign off with an upbeat note since I am too worked up reading about the bailout collapse.

On that note, today is Granddaddy's birthday.

Happy Birthday Billy!

Cheers!

Frank Criticism

Barney Frank in his trademark bluntness in response to the alleged 12 representatives that supposedly changed their vote to oppose the bailout because of an (admittedly misguided) partisan speech by Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

$1.1 Trillion Loss

Here's an understatement. Today was a really bad day.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress failed to come to agreement on a $700 billion bailout for Wall Street investment banks as the vote failed 228-205 in the House. Reacting to the unexpected stalemate, the stock market plunged a record 777 points in two hours. How big is that? A 7% drop that we saw this afternoon is a $1.1 trillion loss in wealth. Everyone with 401k's, IRA's, individual stocks, bonds, mutual funds in the market -- we're all affected. And the bloodbath is sure to continue tomorrow.

There is no shortage of blame to go around here. Investment greed is part of it -- from Wall Street banks to irresponsible mortgage peddling to individuals that bought homes they could not come close to affording. I'm not going to pretend I understand derivatives and complicated mortgage backed securities that fell like a house of cards. But that is why I, Joe Average American citizen, rely on elected officials to appoint people to positions to understand this and oversee it. So lack of regulation was a part of this collapse too.

So while I want the causes of this collapse to be investigated so we learn the lessons for the future, I am even more disheartened by the vote today. First of all no one wants to sign up for a $700 billion bill. It is a mind-boggling sum of money on top of all the problems we face and our kids and grandkids will face.

But when two of the foremost financial minds in the country -- the Treasury Secretary and the Federal Reserve Chairman -- beg and plead for bipartisan action to be taken to avoid certain impending financial hardship for the country, it is deflating when politicians fail to take action. No wonder people think so little of their elected government in Washington D.C.

Politicians from both sides have to shoulder the responsibility of this not passing. From the Republican side this vacuum of leadership from the President to push this through is the single biggest reason why I want a change in November. The President's capital is so bankrupt from all the failures and missteps for the past eight years that he cannot rally a majority of his own party in Congress to support the bailout his Administration put forward.

Enter the Democrats. To their credit they got 2/3 majority of their Representatives to support the buyout. But what does the Speaker of the House do right before the roll call vote? She takes the opportunity to lecture the Republicans with a snotty partisan "We told you so" speech that added a degree of divisiveness that completely could have been avoided if she would have taken the "This is for the greater good and unfortunately is the medicine we have to swallow" approach.

So while I understand the Republicans' frustration with her pettiness and I somewhat sympathize with the reluctance of many not to support government intervention in the free market (I'm a free marketer myself), the majority of Republicans in the House refused to put the needs of the country ahead of either pure ideology or childish partisanship. It is just completely disheartening and frustrating.

How bad is it going to get? We are about to see. This piece from Steven Pearlstein's is the best summary I have read on the situation in one page -- "They Just Don't Get It."

The basic problem here is that too many people don't understand the seriousness of the situation.

Americans fail to understand that they are facing the real prospect of a decade of little or no economic growth because of the bursting of a credit bubble that they helped create and that now threatens to bring down the global financial system.

Politicians worry less about preventing a financial meltdown than about ideology, partisan posturing and teaching people a lesson. Financiers have yet to own up publicly to their own greed, arrogance and incompetence. And leaders of foreign governments still think that this is an American problem and that they have no need to mount similar rescue efforts in their own countries.

In the coming weeks and months, all of these people will come to understand how deep the hole really is and how we're all in it together.

They'll come to understand that the giant sucking sound they hear is of a massive deleveraging of the global economy and the global financial system as households and governments, businesses and investment funds adjust to living in a world with less debt and more inflation.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

SNL

"Katie, I'd like to use one of my lifelines."
"I'm sorry?"
"I'd like to phone a friend."

Funny stuff.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Live Blog: Debate Numero Uno

8:48
12 minutes to debate time. McCain chose to go forward with the debate, which was the right call. Regardless of what people think about the bailout -- and frankly I'm not completely onbaord with either position myself -- voters deserve to know what each of these guys think, especially in a challenging time such as the one we find ourselves in this week.

8:50
Tonight's live blog is sponsored by Wolaver's India Pale Ale. (I'm hoping that the Vermont brewers will see this plug and fill up my fridge accordingly.)


8:51
On a sobering note, Ted Kennedy was taken to a hospital tonight for a seizure related to his brain tumor. No matter the ideological differences people have with the man, he's one of the admirable figures of all time in politics.

8:59
One minute to go. The spinsters have already started. McCain's people saying he could be tired so don't expect much. Obama's people are tampering down expectations by admitting that their candidate rambles professorially.

Huge Jim Lehrer fan. He's a down the middle guy. Here we go!


9:04
Lehrer points out that the financial crisis is fair game tonight. Indeed.

9:05
It took Obama a minute to try to tie McCain into Bush's policies. McCain touts bi-partisanship.

9:08
Lehrer: "Let's go back to my question. Do you favor this plan?"

Just answer the @#%$ question.

9:10
McCain ties in Eisenhower (?!).

Ah, he's getting at accountability. Hard to argue with that. Yawner so far.

9:15
McCain recycles a stump line about pork barrel spending with the money for the study of DNA of bears. Interesting that a certain bridge to a certain island wasn't mentioned.

9:18
McCain points out that he didn't win Mr. Congeniality in the Senate. Amy points out that Sarah Palin won Ms. Congeniality in her beauty pageant days.

9:19
Obama attacks McCain directly for his tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans. Good move.

McCain jumps to the business tax & Ireland. Answer the #@%# question.

9:22
Obama, responding to the criticism that he wants to raise taxes: "95% of you will get a tax cut." This directness is exactly what he has to do. K-I-S-S, Keep It Simple, Stupid.

9:25
Potential testy exchange over who is the bigger champion against wasteful spending. Bad night for oil companies. Both accuse the other of being in bed with them.

9:28
Obama doesn't address Lehrer's question about priorities given the cost of the buyout. He's also falling into the Al Gore sighing trap by laughing under his breath and mumbling catty comments towards McCain.

9:32
Lehrer tries to rope them back to commit to what each candidate will cut in the face of the financial crisis one of them will inherit in January.

Obama: Get out of Iraq.
McCain: Tries to tie pick on Obama re: offshore drilling in nuclear power.

Not sure what offshore drilling has to do with spending cuts.

9:34
Lehrer tries to ask the effect of the bailout question for a third time. He's persistent.

9:37
Obama: "It's your President that presided over this orgy of spending." Bam.

9:39
Sarah Palin is going to be pissed if McCain keeps dissing Miss Congeniality awards.

9:41
Amy just points out (via Chuckie Todd) that Obama is wearing a flag pin on his lapel; McCain is not. Funny.

9:43
Obama: $600B in Iraq, 4,000 lives, "we took our eye off the ball." He's doing better on his long-winded tendencies.

9:44
Good line from McCain: "The next president is not going to have to make the decision of whether or not to go into Iraq."

9:45
Obama just hammered McCain on judgment -- 2003 vs. 2007.

McCain: Obama cut off funding for the troops.

Lehrer can't get it off this back and forth.

9:50
Iraq is just a cesspool of debate....moving to Afghanistan. In theory this one should not be as contentious.

9:51
BTW, when bathing the boys tonight I asked them who we wanted to be President. Knowing that I like Obama, they shouted in unison, "John McCain!!" So I did what any responsible father would do.

I explained to the boys that John McCain wants to take their gummy fish and chocolate away.

I have twin three year-old Obama supporters now.

9:56
The body language is noticeably different between these two. Obama seems to be addressing McCain more when he speaks. McCain is looking away toward the moderator more.

9:59
The problem with foreign policy debates is that at the core, this is re-fighting Vietnam.

Both of them have bracelets from family members of soldiers. I hate this "Who loves America more" garbage.

10:01
McCain's temper is visually showing.

10:03
Moving to Iran....

McCain: No nukes. No argument there. A "League of Democracies?"

Obama: Policy on Iraq contributed to Iran's rise.

10:11
McCain hammers Obama on meeting with dictators (Iran, Cuba, Venezuela) without preconditions.

Obama completely fumbles this answer away. I agree with his premise that you have to keep diplomacy at the forefront. But Obama has GOT to be able to net his arguments out.

10:13
The "preconditions" argument is a complete difference of world views. Do you talk to your enemies or does giving them an audience legitimize their positions just by entertaining the discussion?

I agree with Obama, but he has to be able to explain this in a clear, concise manner for the average voter.

10:16
On to Russia....

Obama is really backed into a corner b/c unfortunately for him he can't see Russia from his house.

10:25
This debate spiraled downward. He said, he said.

Last question....

Chance for another 9/11-type attack on the United States....

10:27
McCain: America is safer than it was on 9/11, but we have a long way to go.

10:28
Obama: Safe, but a long way to go. Biggest threat is nuclear threat in a suitcase, not a missile.

10:31
I don't think either McCain or Obama tanked it. No major gaffes. Some good lines and points from both men. But so much of which one of these two appeals to voters depends on a person sees the world.

For me the nutshell of the two candidate's foreign policies is that McCain favors a stronger, more aggressive approach to dealing with those countries that have differences with the United States. Show them our might first, discuss with them second.

Obama on the other hand favors a more subtle approach where diplomacy is the first and second option, choosing to try to shore up America's image in the world as the best foreign policy tool to guarantee security.

Next Thursday, JoeBi and Tina Fey.

Cheers everyone!