Friday, October 31, 2008


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.


Friday, October 24, 2008


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.



Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Live Blog: Debate #3

See you tonight...

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.

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....

Here's 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.

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.

: 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.


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

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?

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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...

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.)

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

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.)

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


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.

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

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.

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.

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?

Brokaw with a good question:

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

McCain: Responsibility
Obama: Right

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.)

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.

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

Oh really?

12 minutes to go....

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

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.

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.)


Homer Votes

Pre-debate humor for Simpsons fans among us.


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

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.

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.

Some Veep debate drinking games.


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."

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.

Gwen calls them to order. Here we go...


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

Both seem very practiced. Palin attacks with a smile.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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


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."

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.


Live blogging here.