Saturday, October 31, 2009

You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown

I had been hoping for the past year that Karsten's hair would not grow too much so that he could be Charlie Brown for Halloween. As you can see, everything worked out very nicely. Karsten even won the costume contest at our local Fred Meyer.

After visiting just a few houses on Halloween night, Karsten was extremely sticky and just too exhausted to actually stay upright in his wagon as I chauffeured him around. Don't tell him, but I skipped past several houses when he wasn't paying attention. Everything you can see in this picture, with exception of the sidewalk, has a thin layer of Karsten's candy-saliva mixture spread all over it. At one house he couldn't even manage to hold his hand out to accept the candy offering because his hand was quite literally stuck to his face.

Here's a courtesy link to the real award-winning prime time special, "You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown."

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Something Stingks

I am republishing this short piece from the Associate Press in its entirety because I think my 'summary' would be longer than the original.

NEW YORK – Sting isn't a religious man, but he says President Obama might be a divine answer to the world's problems.

"In many ways, he's sent from God," he joked in an interview, "because the world's a mess."

But Sting is serious in his belief that Obama is the best leader to navigate the world's problems. In an interview on Wednesday, the former Police frontman said that he spent some time with Obama and "found him to be very genuine, very present, clearly super-smart, and exactly what we need in the world."

"I can't think of anyone better qualified because of his background, his education, particularly in regard to Islam," he said.

Still, Sting acknowledged the president had a "difficult job" ahead of him.

The British singer, who released the seasonal album "On A Winter's Night" this week, said he's fascinated by American politics, Obama, and also by Obama's opponents on the right.

"It's aggressive and violent and full of fear," he said of the backlash against Obama. "They don't want change, they want things to feel the same because they feel safe there."

Sting, 58, said he's hopeful that the world's problems can be dealt with, but is frustrated that "we seem to be living in a currency of medieval ideas."

"My hope is that we can start talking about real issues and not caring about whether God cares about your hemline or your color," he said. "We are here to evolve as one family, and we can't be separate anymore."

President Obama made time in his schedule to meet with Sting?

Do people really look to Sting for guidance on stuff like this?

How many other candidates did Sting vet before arriving at his conclusion that Obama is best qualified?

What is it, specifically, about Obama's "background [and] his education, particularly in regard to Islam" that makes him a more appropriate president than, say, Lee Iaccoca, or Snoopy?

And why does the media seem to think that any meaningful number of people even care what actors and musicians have to say about politics?


On a similar note, did anyone see that our old friend Sean Penn, "personal friend of U.S. President Barack Obama" was in Venezuela meeting with Hugo Chavez? Yeah, he went there directly from Cuba where he was doing some investigative journalism for an upcoming Vanity Fair article about "how the Obama administration has affected Cuba," and was to meet with Fidel Castro.

Were there not any actual qualified journalists that could have paid some bills by virtue of that job?

Isn't travel to Cuba highly restricted? Should Penn be barred from reentering the U.S.?

Is anyone else disturbed that within the first two sentences of the story, Sean Penn, communist dictator Hugo Chavez, communist dictator Fidel Castro, and current U.S. president Barack Obama have all been linked to one another?

Does Obama have one single associate that is not currently or has not previously been involved in shady or highly suspect behavior? Tax cheats; convicted terrorists; communist sympathizers. The list goes on and on and grows by the day.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater

Tonight was pumpkin carving time in preparation for Halloween. You may recall my disdain for pumpkins from last year's pumpkin post - "Jack"-o-lantern. I don't know whether something had changed chemically within my being to make me like pumpkins or if I've simply become a broken man. But there were several small details which indicate I may actually be learning to enjoy the process.
  1. We bought multiple pumpkins
  2. I specifically selected a pumpkin with a bit of character, instead of seeking out the perfectly round specimen like I always have in the past
  3. I proactively sought out some potential ideas (thanks Google Images!) and let the kids vote on their favorite
  4. I initiated the event with the kids - Sara wasn't even home (she was grateful for that)
  5. Halfway in I realized that I had forgotten to don a pair of latex gloves to protect me from actual contact with the pumpkin guts - and I just shrugged it off
  6. The pumpkin didn't smell nearly as unpleasant as past experience had suggested
  7. I couldn't find any of our special carving tools but I persisted anyway with a paring knife
The winning design? Daddy's pumpkin eating Brookie's pumpkin!

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

End of an Era

The day I hoped would never come has arrived. The man - the legend - master carpenter Norm Abram is retiring from the New Yankee Workshop. Turns out it actually takes Norm much longer than 30 minutes to build each of his museum-quality projects each week. All of that work has finally gotten to him.

Norm will use his extra time to work on his home and personal projects. But don't worry, we'll still get to see him on episodes of This Old House.

I'm still searching for the photo of when I met the cardboard Norm at a Portland trade show I attended. I'll post that here if I can find it.

UPDATE - Found the pic. I only asked him one question and then like, a week later, he finally shut up.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

For Your Neflix Queue - Hogfather

I have no idea where this movie came from, or even how it ended up at the top of my Netflix queue, but it is absolutely brilliant. The timing of its arrival was also quite appropriate as we enter the holiday season.

Basically, the Hogfather is Santa Claus, only in some fictitious world that is remarkably like our own. The premise is your typical gotta-save-Christmas adventure, but that is just about the only thing typical about this film. For starters, it is over three hours long. The cast is full of fresh faces - new to us, but obviously not new to the craft as they are all excellent. Also, when the Hogfather (i.e. Santa) goes missing, it's none other than Death that steps in to fill his boots.

The film is not rated (I think it was made for TV), but I would guess it is a PG. There is no language or sex to speak of. There is some violence, but it is more like Goonie-thug violence - not silly, but not graphic or too serious.

Great cast, fantastic costumes and sets, unique cinematography, and a satisfying ending to boot. Consider adding the Hogfather to your holiday movie viewing schedule this year.

And Happy Hogswatch to you and yours.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Not One Shred

Perhaps you've heard the metaphor of one bad strand having the power to destroy the beauty of an exquisite tapestry?

What happens when all of the strands are bad or ugly? Well, my friends, we are finding out right now. The latest element of the Obama tapestry to unravel is that iconic (and pretty cool-looking) stencil artsy piece by a guy name Shephard Fairey.

So what's all the fuss about? Well, turns out the photograph that Fairey used to design his piece did not belong to him. He did not have permission to use it. It is owned by a photographer who at the time was freelancing for the Associated Press. Apparently the AP and the photographer are not too keen on somebody else becoming rich and famous through illegal use of their image. Makes sense. That's ultimately why Jay and Silent Bob struck back, no?

Earlier this year one of Fairey's attorneys, Anthony Falzone, stated, "We believe fair use protects Shepard's right to do what he did here." Well, that was until the attorneys found out Fairey was putting them on about the source photograph. Today Fairey's legal team filed documents in federal court to withdraw from the case, stating that Fairey misled them. That's gotta be a bit embarrassing. If I've learned anything at all from television courtroom dramas, it is that, guilty or not, your attorney can't represent you if you don't tell them the truth.

To the AP I say, "You made your bed..." or maybe, "When you lie with dogs... ."
To Mr. Fairey I say, "Way to go."
To the president I say, "You need to surround yourself with better people -generally speaking. I am not aware of one single shred of honor or integrity within your administration. Everyone has an angle, an ugly past, a dirty little secret, a criminal record, or likewise. When E.F. Hutton spoke, I listened. When you speak, I cringe and change the channel."
To Mannie Garcia, the photo's copyright holder I say, "They're going to get all of us one way or another. If this is the worst of it for you then you got off easy."


The title of the AP article today read: Obama poster artist admits error. Yet the second sentence in the story is a quote from Fairey which reads: "In an attempt to conceal my mistake I submitted false images and deleted other images."

I'm sorry AP, but if you think blatant deceit and lying are the same as admitting an "error", you guys have some fundamental issues that need to be addressed to protect your longevity as a player in the global news industry.


Lest you think I only have this one example, I was in Target this evening and while browsing the $5.00 DVD rack I finally figured out why Obama's "yes we can" chant resonates so strongly with America's young voters that got him elected.

While I highly doubt that the Obama campaign has been secretly indoctrinating children for the past ten years - many of whom were of voting age last November - I certainly wouldn't put it past them to intentionally hijack that catch phrase and thereby the minds of millions of young people.

Bob the Builder's DVD "Yes We Can!" is available from Amazon for $9.98 and ships free with Super Saver Shipping. President Obama's documentary/horror, also titled "Yes We Can", is not optional. You will pay for it whether you want to or not.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Spending Money to Save

My wife's grandfather admitted to me what I'd long suspected: It is not unusual for him to spend several hours and waste a ton of gas driving all over town in order to pay a slightly better price on some insignificant product. "Spends $20 to save $2" is the cliché the family uses.

Well, "Spends $829 billion to save $81 billion" could well be the working title of the latest health care proposal. If you understand and can explain why this makes sense, please comment on this post and explain it to me (politely), because I sincerely do not understand. I'll also admit that I'm largely ignorant (I don't have time to read the 1,500+ pages of legal mumbo-jumbo).

The principle "problem" that this legislation attempts to solve (aside from Obama being able to claim his first victory) is to provide health insurance-type coverage for the roughly 50 million Americans citizens 'inhabitants' of the United States that currently only receive medical care by way of government-funded programs for the uninsured.

This latest solution, over which congressional Ds are practically wetting themselves, will reduce that uninsured total by half; meaning this huge solution that has been dominating the headlines for the past few months does not even solve the original problem. Originally, they were talking about $1.3 trillion to cover everybody. Now the bill is $829 billion to cover only half as many people (people, you'll recall, that are already 'covered' through government-funded programs).

Question #1: If the health care legislation will "save" us money, why does it "cost" so much money? Is this like how I can buy a $30,000 solar array for my home that will "save" me 27% on my monthly power bill and take 40 years to pay for itself - which is 15 years beyond its useful life? Or is it more like how us taxpayers each pitched in $4,500 to everyone with a 19 mpg car so that they could buy a 22 mpg car, a process which sparked the robust economic recovery we're now enjoying and saved the planet from cooking itself all in one sweet maneuver?

Question #2: What about the remaining 25 million people still left without health coverage? Will there be an additional piece of legislation in our future costing an additional $829 billion? I imagine their medical expenses will continue to be covered under the current plan. I don't know how much the government is spending on the 50 million people now, but I can't believe it amounts to $829 million billion over 10 years.

Here are the numbers: $829 million billion works out to $33,160 for each additional person (half of the 50 million people) covered during the 10 years of the plan. A family of five effectively gets $166k to cover its medical expenses. Does that seem like a lot to anyone else? Aside from some catastrophic injury or illness, how could any family spend anywhere close to that amount on medical care in 10 years? Major medical insurance policies are relatively inexpensive - like $30-$50/mo with a low deductible.

In other words, it would be a lot less expensive in the end if grandpa would simply pay the extra $0.10 for the loaf of bread at his local market than it would be for him to spend an hour driving 40 miles to a bakery that sells bread for less.

What would I do? My plan: If they want to control escalating health care costs (which is a worthy cause), go ahead and do it. But do it through laws and regulation - two powers actually granted to Congress (read: they are not appointed to provide services such as health care, auto manufacturing, etc.). I want to buy health insurance like I buy auto insurance. I want to be able to select coverage amounts, deductibles, and choose services from a menu. Why should a 55 yr old single man have to buy a one-size-fits-all plan that includes, for example, maternity care? Why should someone that does not consume tobacco or alcohol have to pay for services to treat those particular vices?

The real solution, as I see it, once again comes down to jobs. Most reasonable people will pay for their own health insurance when they can reasonably afford to do so. But when your choice is between food/clothing/shelter or health insurance, it is not a tough decision to make. Basic necessities. Unfortunately, jobs are currently disappearing at a 1/2 million per month clip. I'm not saying that everything was fine before Obama - it wasn't. But it is much more difficult to develop quality higher-paying jobs right now because all of the focus HAS to be on stopping the bleeding and then recovering the jobs lost already. Any jobs. We can't afford to be picky.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

YouTube Gems - Fun With Apple

Thanks Katie. This is great.

While we're here, may was well pile on:

Part I:

Part II:

For the record, I think Apple is fantastic.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

A Big Assumption

The headline that caught my eye this morning read, "GOP Rooting Against America". The author, one Glenn Thrush, does a decent job of presenting the facts of the story without injecting personal views. The premise is that a) Republicans called Democrats 'unpatriotic' when the Dems questioned the Bush administrations desire to defend America from what it viewed as threats (specifically: Iraq, intelligence, surveillance) and b) Democrats are now calling Republicans 'unpatriotic' for criticizing the Obama administration's extremely poor track record thus far on the economy (ineffective stimulus packages, continually rising unemployment) and the IOC's "snub" of Chicago as an Olympic host city despite Obama lending his star power to the sales pitch personally.

I suppose one could attempt to make that argument - if recklessly borrowing trillions of dollars to fund fruitless, ineffective ideological programs, systematically dismantling the world's greatest military, subsidizing ill advised home and auto purchases, perpetuating the entirely unproven fear of global warming solely for the purpose of consolidating power, refusing to wear an American flag lapel pin, and failing to salute the American flag during the National Anthem - if those activities are in fact patriotic, then I suppose opposition to such would have to be considered unpatriotic.

It was also silly to presume the city of Chicago was somehow the de facto front runner in its bid for the 2016 Olympic games. A "snub", as I understand it, is when the obvious choice is not made - like how Pee Wee Herman was somehow overlooked for the 1986 Oscar. To suggest that Madrid, Tokyo or Rio were less deserving than Chicago is, I think, an insult to those great cities. Why do the Olympics have to be in the US every time? That's not un-American of me to say. If I've learned anything at all from the Opening Ceremonies it is that the Olympics are about one world; one people. In my modest lifespan the US has already hosted four Olympics - two Summer and two Winter (Lake Placid, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Salt Lake). These Rio de Janeiro games, which are still seven years away, will be the FIRST time ever that ANY country in South America has hosted. How can anyone be upset or bitter about that? I'm happy for Rio. Brasil is an up-and-coming world power.

As a potential Olympic viewer, what backdrop would you rather see? a tropical paradise in the exotic, legendary land of Samba that most people have only read about? or Chicago, the scenery of which can be seen daily on WGN - the local Chicago television station that for some reason broadcasts to the entire nation on basic cable.

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Gooooooooool - Brasil

Parabens pra meus amigos brasileiros! Parabens mesmo.

Rio de Janeiro won its bid for the 2016 Olympic games. This will be the first time the Olympics visit South America, believe it or not. The Brazilians will be outstanding hosts, of that you can be sure. I'm excited for all of the NBC vignettes that will bring the marvelous beauty that is Brazil into the world's living rooms. At a minimum, I hope to be able to buy Guaraná Antárctica at my local supermarket when all is said and done.

Let me know if you're interested in a translation of the music.


Almost as gratifying is the humiliating beatdown received by President Obama and Omarosa. They flew into Denmark with all of the swagger and the cameras and the press to personally ensure the games would be awarded to Obama's "hometown" (I thought he said he was from Hawaii), Chicago, only to be eliminated in the very first round of voting. That means it wasn't even close!
To have the president of the United States and his wife personally appear, then this should happen in the first round is awful and totally undeserving.

I'm shocked. The whole thing doesn't make sense other than there has been a stupid bloc vote. 

- Kevan Gosper, Senior Australian IOC member
What's the problem? Obama has lambasted "American arrogance" and yet the assumption was that he need only show up in order to win the vote? That his presence would somehow matter to the IOC? Is that not arrogance? Erick Erickson of put it this way, "So Obama's pimped us to every two bit thug and dictator in the world, made promises to half the Olympic committee, and they did not even kiss him."

On the other hand, any day that Obama spends doing something other than presidenting (TM) is a good great day for America. That's one less trillion dollar expense he was able to conjure. One less non-elected and unaccountable czar put into a position of extraordinary power. One less non-reciprocated concession that weakens our national security. One less naive, wasteful commitment to "fight global warming." 


I find it hilarious and incredibly dishonorable how at every opportunity, Obama feels the need to take shots at President Bush. You've all heard it. Said one journalist, "Obama had held out the enticing prospect of a Chicago games helping to reconnect the United States with the world after the presidency of George W. Bush," - John Leicester, AP sports writer

Obama is like the insecure girlfriend: I'm prettier than her, right? I'm smarter than she is, right? I'm more fun to be with, right? You never loved her, did you? You're happier now, right?

Like it or not, George W. Bush was the president for eight years, which is at least four more years than you [this is directed at President Obama, whom I'm told follows this blog religiously] will "serve". That means Bush won two elections. Aside from the odd person that claims embarrassment at having voted for Bush, there are still many millions of Americans that would prefer Bush and all his warts to the legacy you are building (or destroying, depending upon your perspective). May your successor treat you with a bit more dignity than you have shown your predecessor.

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