Sunday, August 24, 2008

God I hate politics

When my son and daughter are napping, we turn on CNN just to here something besides nursery rhymes and Barney. I'm not sure it is any better. There is nothing like a Presidential election to bring out the political pundits and the minutia of politics.

Senator Obama attended a barbecue in Wisconsin today as his wife arrived in Denver to get ready for the Democratic Convention. CNN neglected to tell us what Obama ate at the barbecue and in what order, but since it was in Wisconsin, I'm willing to bet there was cheese involved and he was well briefed before he made his choice.

I'm not sure where McCain was, but he appeared to be shaking the hands of larger dock workers in overalls. Meanwhile his "people" have launched a couple of commercials attacking Obama's choice of Biden as a running mate instead of Hillary Clinton. They are hoping to woo the Clinton supporters who feel slighted by Obama's dissing of the former First Lady. Call me wacky, but it would take more than that for a committed Democrat to vote Republican. I'd personally rather vote for a weed whacker for president than vote Republican.

So the big question now is who McCain will choose for his vice presidential candidate. Some think it will be Romney, but my money is on Walt Disney's frozen head. If McCain and Disney get elected they could pump big federal bucks into cryogenics and figure out a way to bring Walt back to life (and McCain for that matter). Plus, if you can get Mickey Mouse on your side, you may actually convince some Democratic fence sitters to throw out their entire belief system and vote for McCain.

CNN did note that bloggers are playing a bigger role in this election. Some have even been given press credentials to cover the convention in Denver. This disgusts me beyond belief and not just because I wasn't asked to cover the thing. I've been to Denver and though it is a nice city that gave us John Denver, it's not high on my list of places I want to go to again. I'm really disgusted that so called professional journalists are selling out to a bunch of blowhards with laptops who high on their 15 minutes of fame and the fact that some one is reading their crap.

Okay, I am not thrilled with the choices for President. I don't believe Obama offers change and I think McCain has been eating soup with a fork for a bit too long. I have tried to figure out what each candidate plans to do about the war, the economy and global warming, but as near as I can decipher, all they do is shake their heads and talk about how sad it is that the average family can't afford to fill up the tank of their Hummer any more. I don't look forward to three more months of political analysis and polls that are about as effective as studying bowls of the candidates poop for signs (but very similar).

But at least the freakin' Olympics are over.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A test

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Maybe it was growing up Christian Scientist, but I have never liked being in hospitals. I suppose no one really likes them (except maybe doctors). But having spent several days at the hospital this last week witnessing the birth of my son, I realize there are parts of a hospital that aren't tinged with the despair of illness. It's hard not to be uplifted when you are on the floor with the Maternity Ward.

Of course, I was buoyed with the optimism of my son's birth and the enthusiasm of my 22-month old daughter as we walked the hallways of the small maternity floor at Stevens Hospital in Edmonds, Washington. People couldn't help but smile as they looked at her beaming face and her "Big Sister" t-shirt. It was one of those hallways that stretched in a circle around the floor passing 13 birthing suites, a nursery and a small operating room where c-sections were done (and my son was born).

We walked the halls for several reasons. One, EM, like most toddlers, has a short attention span and a long need for stimulation. Much as she craved her mother's presence, she needed movement. The other reason was for both of us to get out of the way during the seemingly constant influx of nurses, doctors, dietitians, lactation specialists, and photographers.

They were short laps for me, but I'm sure they were pretty challenging for EM. She didn't seem to find any of it boring. I resorted to reading the plethora of signs on everything. One door was labeled: THIS DOOR MUST REMAIN CLOSED AT ALL TIMES. I mused at the oxymoron. What is the purpose of a door that should never be opened.

EM always took a detour when we passed the waiting area near the front desk to peer into an aquarium that had very few "fishies." Still, ever the optimist, she watched and babbled at the ones that peered back at her from behind fake coral and mock pirate ships. Then we'd wave goodbye and continue our rounds.
We passed several pregnant women and their dutiful husbands and dazed looking husbands walking in the opposite direction. I resisted the urge to call out, "Pregnant woman walking" every time we passed one. Discretion is the better part of humor, especially when in a Maternity Ward.

But it was when we'd pass the nursery that I'd be filled with a strong sense of the importance of where we were in the hospital. This was where the journey began for hundreds of babies a year. This was the center of life. I could feel the positive energy. I could feel the sensations of my daughters small hand clutching mine as she soaked in the newness of everything and I could only imagine the flood of sensations that were washing over my newborn son back in my wife's room.

As we rounded the corner and returned to mom and brother, I let EM run screaming to mommy. I went to my son's crib and reached for his hand. He clutched it and confirmed my new perspective on life.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Random dreams

Q: If you dance with a cow, who leads?
A: The one with the tie

I made this stupid joke up in my sleep (obviously). I am beginning to believe that listening to the Wiggles (an Australian based children's group) is taking its toll on my brain. I'm assuming this joke stemmed specifically from one Wiggle's song with lyrics that go something like, "I'm a cow. I'm a cow. I eat green grass and I give white milk, I'm a cow. I'm a cow." There is some mooing that goes with this song, but I'm not in the mood to transcribe them.

See what I mean.

For those agriculturally impaired people, the cow joke works (although weakly) on a couple of levels. Cows are female for one and generally don't lead while dancing. You can lead a cow around with a roped "tied" around her neck or if you are male wearing a "tie" you traditionally lead while dancing.

I'll be the first one to admit that if you have to explain a joke in that much detail it isn't much of a joke. But for a joke conceived while in a dream state, I'd say it is pretty good.

For a cow joke.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Maybe Blackbeard the Pirate was just misunderstood

Play name that pirate and nine out of ten times people will probably bring up Blackbeard the Pirate. He is probably the most famous pirate there is (before Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow). The peculiar thing is, although everyone knows of Blackbeard no one really knows about Blackbeard.

Oh there are plenty of stories about Blackbeard. But you scrape the surface on most of them and you discover that they are fourth hand stories told to the barber of Uncle Ernies third cousin. And his barber read about it in a magazine written from an eyewitness account. Only the eyewitness only overheard the story on the bus. As the pirates say, "Arrrgh." Wait, no one really knows if pirates said, "Arrgh," all the time either. It was something a 50s actor developed when he was playing Blackbeard in a movie.

When you get down to the facts of Blackbeard, the only thing for sure was that he had a beard. I'm not convinced that it was truly even black. Bathing wasn't really fashionable back in 1717 when Blackbeard career was at its two-year peak. So he may originally been Blondebeard.

No one really knows where Blackbeard came from in the first place. Some papers suggest England, others Jamaica and still others Philadelphia or North Carolina. His seafaring career may have begun as a privateer in Queen Anne's war between 1702 and 1713. Since a privateer is basically a legalized pirate sanctioned by a government to rob ships of the enemy, it isn't a stretch that Blackbeard took up being a pirate after the war ended because it was the only thing he knew how to do. He just stopped quibbling about which ships he robbed.

Some people think Blackbeard's real name was Edward Teach. But that could of been Thatch, thach, Thache or Drummond. Anyone familiar with genealogy understands how this could happen. Spelling and accuracy in written records didn't come into vogue until recent times. And the modern phenomenon of texting is taking spelling out of favor again.

Even Blackbeard's legend as a bad ass is questionable. Legend has it he was slashing off fingers, making people walk the plank and drowning puppies and kittens at the drop of a hat. However, there is no documentation that he actually killed anyone. He'd take your rum and pieces of eight, but apparently he'd then let you go about your merry way.

Much of Blackbeard's legend seems to stem from his appearance. He was apparently tall for his time and he is said to have stuck lit fuses in his braided beard, stuck a burning piece of rope under his hat (supposedly he thought the smoke surrounding his head made him look fierce) and pranced about his ship deck brandishing a cutlass and musket. This was obviously quite a spectacle, but he sounds a bit like a modern day heavy metal singer to me. I think Blackbeard was a poser.

Even Blackbeard's death was exaggerated. On November 21, 1718, British navel officer First lieutenant Robert Maynard of the HMS Pearl tracked Blackbeard to his hangout off Ocracoke Island off North Carolina. After many drunken taunts from the pirates Blackbeard boarded the Pearl and was killed after much belly bumping and clashing of swords. Although legend has it he had taken five musket balls and 20 sword cuts, the official record suggests he bled to death after nicking himself breaking Maynard's sword in a fight. Maynard then cut off Blackbeard's head so he could get a hundred pound bounty the governor of Virginia had offered. Blackbeard was a ripe old 28-years old when he lost his head.

To give you a little insight into Blackbeard's character, here is a excerpt from one of his ships logs aboard his captured ship, the Adventuress after he was killed:

"Such a day, rum all out: ? Our company somewhat sober: ? A damned confusion amongst us! ? Rogues a-plotting: ? Great talk of separation ? so I looked sharp for a prize: ? Such a day found one with a great deal of liquor on board, so kept the company hot, damned hot; then all things went well again."

Doesn't that suggest history's most famous pirate was just party animal looking for an open 7-11 to score beer for his next party? My rambling point here is the once again history teaches us that nothing is as it is presented to us. This is an important thing to keep in mind as we prepare to be inundated with ads for the November election.

And yes, I know that was a long way to go to make a political statement. Arggh...