Thursday, July 30, 2009

Beer Summit

At the risk of jumping back into politics for the first time in many months, I have to weigh in with my two cents on the controversy over the arrest of the black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates in his own home by the white policeman, James Crowley, and the unfortunate comments that followed by President Barack Obama about the police department "acting stupidly."

I think all parties involved overreacted, and this incident highlights the open wound that still exists in our society when it comes to black/white relations. But that is not the main thing I want to address.

President Obama proposed a meeting at the White House that is taking place today with Crowley and Gates. He suggested they all get together over a beer to talk about the issue and the greater issue of race relations in America. Great, I'm all for reconciliation and discussion. But there is a bigger issue at stake here.

My issue is over the choice of beers that have been chosen for this Kum Ba Yah moment of national healing.

Crowley, the policeman, has chosen Blue Moon as his beer of choice, which is a wheat beer owned by Coors most often served with an orange. And while I scratch my head that a working-class civil servant hero is drinking a beer garnished with a citrus and admittedly I am not a hefeweizen fan myself, kudos to Crowley for setting the bar with something a little bit out of the box with a Blue Moon.

For Gates he went with the trendy Jamaican beer Red Stripe, which is beer hyped more for its image than it is its flavor. But given that the guy is 5'7", 150 lbs, walks with a cane, and is a public intellectual from Harvard it's clear that the guy is not a beer drinker. To each his own. I'll cut the guy some slack. He was after all arrested for being in his own house.

Now for our President. After sticking his foot in his mouth by uncharacteristically dropping his guard and commenting on a story based on emotion instead of facts, President Obama has some ground to make up. Ok, he spoke without thinking. He's human like the rest of us. So here is his second chance. If he picks the right beer, he gets to have his discussion and then move on to the swamp that is health care reform. As the leader of the free world President Obama can pick any beer he wants to be his companion in this discussion.

There are endless possibilities. Help out the struggling California economy and pick a flowery India Pale Ale with cascade hops, say Green Flash West Coast IPA for example. Or go with a Brooklyn Brewing variety, made in the most multi-cultural place in America in New York City. Or pay tribute to America's colonial roots and to greater Boston where this controversy originated in picking a Harpoon -- heck, even a Sam Adams.

Obama's choice? Bud Light. The king of lawnmower beers. Not even owned by an American company anymore. A beer so lousy the company spends endless amounts on promoting it with goofy commercials, animals, and models to make it the best-selling beer in America.

Where has Hope gone?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Superhero Summer

Owen & Gus have had quite the summer for four year-old little boys. After having GJ & Pappy visit their house for 10 days, the boys rode back to Kentucky to begin their Bluegrass Adventure without Mom, Dad & little sister. What fun!

After spending a few days in Glasgow with GJ & Pappy the boys journeyed across the state to spend time with Nana, Granddaddy and the Paducah crew. While there, there were reports of a superhero sighting nearby -- more on that in a moment.

When their time in Kentucky came to a close the boys piled into the van with their Aunt Ashley, Uncle Scott, and cousins Mason, Gavin & Brooke for the long return trip back to North Carolina. The kids were all reportedly on their best behavior -- funny how being together can bring the best out of each other.

Amy and I were very happy to see the boys for the first time in 8 days. It was obvious that we missed Owen & Gus more than they missed us. Oh well, that's the sign of a great visit right there.

We were then treated to a few days hanging out with the Posey crew in North Carolina. After an unsuccessful badminton attempt (cheap plastic poles from China!), we rebounded with bocce, a trip to the swimming pool, a campout in the backyard while it thunderstormed, and a great trip to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the North Carolina History Museum.

It was a tremendous time getting to see the Posey crew. It took the boys a couple of days to recoup from their trip and the fun of the visit. Tess had to adjust to not having her cousins around to dote on her as well. We look forward to many return visits!



The first step in a successful museum visit is hydration.

Pack up the van so there are enough seat belts and car seats to go around.

Throw in some sea horses and plenty of fish.....

....and the occasional 50-foot long plant-eating dinosaur.....

.....a stuffed pelican going after its prey.....

......some sea turtles......

....a few minutes to rest & catch our breaths.....

.....some peanut butter & jelly on the concourse.....

......a little fun goof-off time by the pirate ship at the history museum.....

.....and out comes two extremely happy superheroes.
(Nana took this picture across the river in Metropolis, Illinois. An instant classic for us!)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Welcome Stella

Congratulations to Chris & Pam LeDuc on the birth of their daughter, Stella Caelin. This is Chris & Pam's first child so they are about to start the awesome journey of parenthood. This little girl will eventually take Nels Cline's place as guitarist for Wilco, so Jeff Tweedy be warned.

Amy & I are so excited for you all. Cheers to you!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Key Cats

So the boys are back in Kentucky about to finish up their Bluegrass Adventure in Glasgow and Paducah. Meanwhile, Amy & I have discovered what it was like to have one child -- a different experience than the chaotic house we normally inhabit, but it's still parenting.

In her brothers' absence, Tess has filled up the attention vacuum. Part of it may be Tess relishing her chance to shine and get attention. The other part may just be a (near) eighteen-month-old seeking out her independence.

Either way, Tess will probably be happy when her brothers return to North Carolina. In the meantime, Harper has gotten some more (unwanted?) attention.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Week of Independence

In what is becoming an Independence Day tradition for our crew, we were joined over the holiday week by grandparents as Pappy & GJ made their way down from Kentucky. As Amy is back to work full time, the July 4 weekend represented a busy quarter close time for her at work. So Pappy & GJ agreed to come down & help out with the kids. We all ended up having a tremendous time.

The hit of the week was the swimming pool. With the weather in the low 90's and moderate humidity -- by far the best July 4th weather we have had in our 12 years in North Carolina -- the pool became a destination on several days.

Owen is definitely a natural water bug. Even the life guards were laughing as they would talk about how excited he got as he winded himself up before jumping off the side into waiting arms.

Gus was slower to get comfortable with the water and getting his face wet. You can see the progression from the first day when his apprehension level was high to the last day when he was putting his whole head under water and holding his breath.

Little Tess was very mellow in the water. Amy, Pappy, GJ & I passed her around and around as we took turns catching the boys as they jumped off the side and she didn't mind a bit. Once I took her out to deeper water where I threw her up and caught her, she found the joy that is the swimming pool. She kept putting her fingers together which is her sign language for "more." Kids, swimming pools, and summer -- quite a combination.

Once Tess finally wore herself out from the sun & water, she found happiness in Mom's arms.

Another fun part of Independence Day week is Wimbledon. This year's tournament was terrific with a Williams sister final on the women's side and an incredible five-set match on the men's side between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick.

Amy & I even got out one night and dusted the old tennis racket off up at the neighborhood courts while the grandparents hung out with the kids. As much as I tried to safety pin Roger's talent to me, I just don't measure up.

After camping in Mt. Airy the boys brought back a taste for roasted marshmallows. So one night we gathered around the fire pit and made S'mores. Just when they thought it couldn't get any better than fluffy white sugar on a stick, the boys were thrilled as chocolate bars & graham crackers were added to the mix.

A sporting goods store close to us had a great sale on tents. So I picked up a 6-person tent and put it up in the backyard. Gus & Owen immediately wanted to sleep in the tent so after devouring some marshmallows the boys & I piled in for a good night's rest. Serta mattress not included this time.

Finally our last night together we borrowed a Raclette grill from our friends the Learys and cooked up a great dinner of bread, cheese, apple sausage, pepperoni, peppers, onions & potatoes. The boys -- excuse me, Batman and Robin -- were not impressed as they quickly begged for PB&J. Oh well, the adults and Tess enjoyed the heck out of it.