Sunday, October 31, 2004

I never thought I'd say this...

...but thank God the Packers won. The Redskins lost to the green and gold which means that John Kerry will win the election.

The Bears won too. So that's good.

And that's all I got to say today.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Just in time for Halloween...

You are a Resident Evil Zombie. You were infected
with the T-Virus, and now you wander through
abandoned buildings looking for living flesh to
munch. Sometimes you mutate into more horrible
things. You can be killed, but it ain't easy.

What kind of Zombie are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Friday, October 29, 2004

Best friends

Rachel, my four-year-old daughter, has one best friend. Her name is Kate and she's the same age as Rachel. They met at music class. Something just clicked for the two of them right from the start. They insisting on sharing a carpet square and were inseparable throughout the class. We've had lots of play dates and the bond between the two of them is very clear. The thing is Rachel hasn't made friends with anyone in her preschool. And while she plays with other kids we meet at the park, she forgets them easily enough when it's time to go. Kate is different. She wants to tell Kate about her latest toy or what happened at preschool. She wonders if Kate would like the candy she's eating.

When I was a kid, I didn't have a lot of friends, but the ones I had were very good friends. Twenty-five years later I am still close to two of my childhood friends. So I wonder if it's hereditary. Maybe Rachel will just be very choosy about her friends. And when she finds someone she likes, she'll stick with her. The two of them are darn cute together. Hopefully, they'll be friends for a long time.

On another subject... poor Sami. At the park together, she had her eyes locked on Rachel, Kate and Kate's little brother Bradley as they ran around playing on the slides, the swings, and the sand toys. I could tell she really wanted to get out there and run around with the bigger kids. Gotta learn to walk first, Sami! Next summer ought to be a trip with both little girls running around playing. Sami is growing so quickly. She climbed all of the basement stairs last night. She can walk around tables now. Soon she'll be walking by herself. And then watch out, Rachel! Sami'll be right behind you.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

100 Facts...

I found this article through the dad blog I read regulary. It's a list of 100 facts that make it clear we should vote George Bush out of office on November 2nd. Each fact is fully backed up with a source. I know Bush has been a terrible president, but this list really states the case clearly and succinctly. Check it out.

Electoral Vote Counter

As we move through these last few days of the campaign season, I thought it might be nice to have a daily idea of where the electoral votes are supposedly going. Therefore, I put an electoral vote counter on my side bar over there. It links to a good site called

Check it out if you like.

Survivor update

This week and next week were spoiled last week by So it's been a boring spoiling week in the Survivor world. If you want to know who goes, go here.

I look forward to a week from next Thursday when maybe we'll have a chance of being surprised again. And maybe we'll have something to do the week leading up to then.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


I mentioned back here that Rachel and Sami were going to be a pumpkin and a bat respectively. Sharon's mom did a great job as usual and the kids look darn cute in their costumes! (Who knew bats could look cute??)

Rachel in her pumpkin costume:

Sami in her bat costume:

Hobbits existed

I know, it sounds crazy. But read the article. Thanks to James and Dieter for informing me of this discovery.

Funny thing is, there's no mention of a ring of power. And they lived in trees, not holes in the ground. But still. Hobbits, I tell you! Hobbits!

Quizzes! More than you can handle!

Well, okay, just one more courtesy of greenman.

You are Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy!
You are The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy!
People may not count you as "classic
literature" but you and I both know you're
very important. You're fun and British, or
pretend to be anyway. You live in the future
and rarely make any sort of sense. You'd also
enjoy the rest of the Hitchhiker
"Trilogy", and the Dirk Gently
Holistic Detective books.

Which Piece of Classic Literature are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sweet tooth

Remember Bottlecaps? I loved them when I was a kid and they came in this green packaging.

Nowadays, they look like this, but they're still just as tasty.

I think the cherry flavor is the best. Rootbeer is good, but only in small doses. Sharon got a mixed bag of Halloween candy last night that included Nerds, Runts, Sweetarts, and Bottlecaps. No kids will be getting Bottlecaps from our house this year.... Yum!

Iowans blog a lot

Another Iowa blogger! Check out The Midwestern Position.

Lesser of two risks

Here is an interesting endorsement for Kerry from someone who is not thrilled with the Senator and frankly likes Bush far more than I understand.

I am enjoying finding endorsements from those for whom this is not a slam dunk, easy decision. People who see both sides of the race, and they appear to be few and far between, often make the most compelling arguments.

For Greenman...

Anthony Hope
You are Anthony Hope, the hot-blooded sailor boy.
You're a true friend to Sweeney, even if he
takes advantage of it. Your passionate love
for Johanna, even if it's a bit sudden and
shallow, will lead you to do anything (even
kill?) to save her. Still, you come about as
close as anyone to living happily ever after,
at least as far as the play goes.

Which Sweeney Todd Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Farenheit 9/11

We watched his movie a couple of days ago. Michael Moore is kind of an ass, isn't he? He's basically just like Rush Limbaugh except from the left point of view. Still, we were able to separate the information from the obnoxiousness.

Obnoxious: Michael Moore creating an inner monologue for George Bush as he sat in that classroom after hearing about the attack on the World Trade Center.

Information: It took George Bush seven minutes to act after hearing that we were under attack from terrorists.

Now some people have said that they give Bush a break for his seven minutes of inaction. One friend of mine made a pointed case by stating he was dumbfounded and shocked by what happened. He sympathized with Bush. I understand that. And I would never criticize a person for their reaction to 9/11... except if that person were the Commander in Chief. And still I am not criticizing Bush as a person, but as the president of the United States. We expect more from our leaders. We expect them to be able to react better than the rest of us. We expect them to lead us. Bush failed as a leader when it counted most. And that's what that scene meant to me.

Obnoxious: Moore's attempt to hint that Bush might have wanted 9/11 to happen to give him a reason to attack Iraq which would help his friend's and family's business interests.

Information: Bush's friends and families greatly benefited financially from the war against Iraq.

I don't think there is any doubt that Bush used the war in Iraq to help his big business friends. Did he start the war in Iraq for purely monetary reasons? I don't think so. I think it was just a side benefit for him. Bush believes in a black and white world. He believes he is on the white horse and the his enemies ride the black one. He probably really believes that attacking Iraq will make the United States safer. But there is no question that money was a part of the war.

Information: Bush's administration arranged for 23 members of the Bin Laden family to leave the US on September 13. None of them were questioned by law enforcement as to the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden.

There's no obnoxious side to this one. This is crazy. In any murder, you ask the family of the suspect questions. I imagine part of the reason they were flown out was because the family was scared of reprisals from the American public. Well, sorry, but you know what there are a lot murder victims and if the family knew where to find Osama Bin Laden, they needed to be questioned. Bush chose to safeguard the members of the murderer's family instead of doing everything possible to find the murderer.

Update: Turns out this is not correct. Moore makes you think they left on September 13, but really the family left on September 20 after air traffic had resumed mostly normal operations. Also, they were questioned by the FBI. *sigh* I hate being manipulated. Source:

There's a lot of painful scenes toward the end where Moore uses the grief of a mother of a slain US soldier to attack Bush. I found much of that distasteful. The woman's grief was palpable, but Moore's use of it for purely political purposes was disturbing.

Overall, I am glad I saw it. It certainly has to be taken with lots of salt, but there is truth there and anyone who won't admit that has their eyes closed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Hi, Mathman

Thanks to greenman's blogroll, I discovered another Iowa blog to add to my list. Check out Mathman's blog.

Kids are smart

According to this news story, kids have picked John Kerry to be president of the United States. And they've correctly predicted the result for the last four elections.

Of course, according to this story, a different group of kids have picked George Bush. This poll have often predicted the next president, going all the way back to 1956. However, it failed to predict Clinton's defeat of Bush Senior in 1992. Let's hope history repeats itself for the younger Bush.

Miz Quiz

My lovely wife Sharon found this quiz.

I'm Enjolras!
A person with a cause, I charm everyone around me with my revolutionary ideas (not to mention my natural charisma). Unfortunately, I don't have very good social skills, and my impulsiveness is liable to get me in over my head.

Which Les Miserables Character Are You?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Five to go...

I am only 5 more visitors away from 1000. That's amazing to me. Thanks to all of you of who visit this blog and read a few words. It's appreciated.

Crazy, crazy Matt

Did you know that November is National Novel Writer's Month? I am going to attempt to write a novel in the month of November. Wish me luck because God knows I'll need it. Do I expect to finish? Probably not. But I'm going to give it a shot. I have two very different novels in my head and I can't decide which one to write. I may take some notes on each and see which one seems to have more juice in it.

Here's the scoop straight from the NaNoWriMo:
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over talent and craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and -- when the thing is done -- the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

In 2003, we had about 25,000 participants. Over 3500 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

So, to recap:

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month's time.

Who: You! We can't do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let's write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era's most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from your novel at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: Sign-ups began October 1, 2004. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

Civil war and more bad news

The Iraqi insurgents are executing their own people. Civil war is the ugliest of wars.

Also on the Iraq front, we have tons of missing explosives. Greeaaat.

How about some good news from the home front?

Nope. And more nope. The latter story is really chilling for me as my first job was at an Arby's restaurant. There were many, many times that I was there very late at night with just one other employee. That could have been me.

I need to find something out there to cheer me up. Anyone got any ideas?


Last night I dreamt that my family was part of the mob. My brother David and I stole some money from the family. We headed out to the garage to make out getaway and discovered that our cars had been blocked by the cars of the other family members. We knew they knew and we were in trouble. I don't know what happened to David, but I went inside and my Dad yelled at me for endangering the family. It was a weird dream. And for the record, despite our last name being Falduto, my family has no connection the mob.

Oh, and I am sure this has no connection to my plan to watch the first season of the Sopranos.

Saturday, October 23, 2004


I voted early today at the Coralville Public Library. I know that voting on election day would be tough with the two kids in tow, so this worked well for me. It was pretty fast and efficient, but I found it strange that no one asked to see my ID. All I had to do was tell the nice woman my name and address. She found me on her computer and gave me a few things to sign. Never once did I have to produce a picture ID or my voter registration card. Sharon, who is reading over my shoulder, says Iowa does not require picture ID because the requirement discriminates against people who don't have a driver's license. Who, besides transplanted New Yorkers, doesn't have a license?

I am sure it will come as no surprise that I voted for John Kerry. I also voted for Dave Franker over Jim Leach. Probably he doesn't have much of a chance, but what the heck. However, instead of voting for Art Small, I chose to vote for the Green Party candidate - Daryl Northrup. There was no doubt I wasn't voting for Chuck Grassley who was largely responsible for bringing the moronic Iowa Pork Forest to my town. Small doesn't have a chance to unseat Grassley, so I figure I'd vote for the third party candidate. Heck, the Press Citizen endorsed Northrup.

So VOTE EARLY! Why not?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Corn on the ....

Because I am such a follower, I also took the test that Kris and greenman took.

1. Your ideal theoretical candidate. (100%)
2. Cobb, David - Green Party (74%)
Nader, Ralph - Independent (74%)
Brown, Walt - Socialist Party (68%)
Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (66%)
Badnarik, Michael - Libertarian (26%)
7. Bush, President George W. - Republican (16%)
Peroutka, Michael - Constitution Party (14%)

What's most interesting to me is that no candidate got more than 74%. And the Green Party guy is the one I agree with most? Really? Maybe I should look more closely at their stance on the issues.

Of course, Kris agrees with Kerry even less than I do (according to the test) and he's her highest match.

We need a third party. And maybe a fourth and fifth, too.

Gotta love the underdogs

As I am sure you know, the Red Sox completed the most amazing comeback in baseball history. Maybe in sports history. You just don't win a best of seven series if you're down three games. You realize, of course, that I can't stand baseball, consider it one of the most boring sports (second only to golf), and yet even I was excited for the Red Sox.

Go Red Sox!

Now send some of that good karma to the Chicago Bears, would ya?

A rational opinion

I read this today at Oxblog. Josh Chafetz has an extremely well written and thoughtful examination of his reasons for reluctantly voting for John Kerry. What's comforting about his opinion is that it's not coming from a Bush hater. He's clearly someone who is straddling the fence and has made his decision after carefully weighing all the factors.

There's only one part that I disagree with:
I don't think he shares my view of the transformative power of liberty and democracy, and I worry about how that would affect his administration's policies. I worry that he would tip the scales too much towards creating order and not enough towards creating democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I think John Kerry believes in the transformative power of libery and democracy. The big difference, as I see it, is Bush is willing to use force to create democracies. This does not work. The people have to choose democracy - it cannot be imposed upon them. You can't create freedom by forcing freedom. It just doesn't work that way. So I am not as concerned as Mr. Chafetz about this difference between Kerry and Bush.

Anyway, check it out. And if you know people who are straddling the fence, it might be a good idea to point them to Mr. Chafetz's post.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Voting reform

I was introduced to Vote Pair by a friend of mine. The idea is if you, as a swing state voter, don't want to see Bush win, but still want to support third party candidates for any number or reasons (My reason: I find the two party system to be an anathema to democracy), you can pair with a voter in a safe state. That person votes for a third party candidate which allows you to vote for Kerry. You support the idea of ridding the country of the two party duopoly that has forced so many of us into voting for the lesser or two evils over and over again.

In reading some of the Vote Pair website, I found this about Instant Runoff Voting. Personally, I think it makes a lot of sense. I am curious to know what the arguments against the idea are. Off to Google. Unless someone knows of one - please fill me in.

Terrorists for Bush!

I am all over the Yin Blog today. We've heard a lot about the idea that the terrorists want Kerry to win because he'll be weaker than Bush on terrorism. Check out this post about a terrorist supporting Bush.

I'll quote the important part of the article:

The statement tells American voters that Abu Hafs al-Masri supports the re-election campaign of President Bush: "We are very keen that Bush does not lose the upcoming elections."

The statement said Abu Hafs al-Masri needs what it called Bush's "idiocy and religious fanaticism" because they would "wake up" the Islamic world.

Idiocy and religious fanaticism. That about sums it up.

Liberal media? Give me a break.

Check out this post at the Yin Blog.

The author makes really good points: a) the fact that the media is not a liberal machine (God, I am tired of hearing that nonsense), and 2) Bush lied in the debate and no one calls him on it. You have to read his reply to the person who commented to get the whole point.

On the whole idea of the media being liberal and biased against the Republicans... you gotta be kidding me. The main thing driving news coverage in America is the same damn thing that drives everything else - MONEY. The media covers the stories that will bring ratings because bigger ratings mean more advertisers means more money. Look at how Clinton was attacked in the news because of an extramarital affair. Was it a news story? Sure, he's the sitting president and it speaks to his character. Should it have been the leading story for months and months? No, of course not. But sex sells. And media outlets don't discriminate between conservative and liberal when they're talking about money.


It ocurrs to me that I haven't written too much about Dreamwell.

Apart from my children and my wife, Dreamwell is the central activity that provides meaning to my life. We (Sharon, Paul Chakrin, and Ali Zimmerman) created Dreamwell in 1997. This spring marks eight years of bringing theater to Iowa City. Eight years. That's twice as long as Rachel has been alive. Since 1997, we've produced 32 shows. Number 33 opens in a few weeks. We've done some shows I am really proud of, like Someone Who'll Watch Over Me, Corpus Christi, and Rosenstrasse.

But the thing I am most proud of?


Let me explain what it's like to run Dreamwell Theatre. This is not my career, unfortunately. I don't get paid to do this. For most of the time I've been running Dreamwell, I've had a day job. So after working 40 hours (or more) a week, I usually work at least 20 hours a week doing various Dreamwell tasks. Now that my job is being a stay at home dad, I don't have the guilt of not seeing the kids very much because of work and Dreamwell, so that's better. But I still feel like I'm working two jobs. Fortunately, both of my jobs right now are labors of love. That makes it all a lot easier.

But you want to know the one reason I have been able to keep doing this all these years? Her name is Sharon. She's always supported my desire for Dreamwell. That has made all the difference.

Lately, things are better than ever. We have such a strong group of people working behind the scenes these days. I know that if it weren't for those people, this theater would have fallen apart years ago. They give so much and I assume that's because they believe in what we're doing. Believe in the intrinsic worth of artistic expression. But you know, it takes a special person to do the grunt work behind the scenes. Actors, directors, tech people - they are all doing something they love. Affixing mailing labels, discussing procedure in meetings, selling lollipops for a fundraiser - this stuff is not really fun. That's why I am so grateful to the people who work behind the scenes, the board and the various volunteers who have given so much. They are the heroes of the theater world. So the next time you go to a local community theater in Iowa City or anywhere else, thank the woman at the box office - she's probably a volunteer. Thank the guy who hands you a program. Thank the people behind the scenes. Without their work, you wouldn't be seeing theater.

Which House decides?

So if we end up with an electoral vote tie, which is not impossible, then the House of Representatives chooses the President. A letter to the editor in the Press Citizen today suggests:
Imagine this: An Electoral College tie between Kerry and Bush at 269-269. Then what?

Then the new U.S. House of Representatives selects the president. Republican Jim Leach? A vote for four more years of Bush-Cheney. Democrat Dave Franker? A vote for a new direction with Kerry-Edwards.

So this made me ask the question. Is this letter writer correct? Is it the newly elected House that chooses the President? Or is it the current House that makes the call? I did a Google search, but didn't find an answer. Anyone know? James? You reading this today?

Gee, Bob, better grab that Bush sign so Kerry will win...

Idiots are stealing the Bush-Cheney signs in my town. This pisses me off more than you can possibly imagine. Let me make it really clear.


I mean, really, do you think that people drive through the neighborhood counting the signs? Do you think at the polls, people say, "Well, I saw more Bush signs, so that's who I am voting for!"

Or maybe you think that by stealing someone's sign, you'll change their mind? "Well, honey, I was going to vote for Bush, but someone stole my sign. I think maybe they were trying to teach me a valuable lesson. I have seen the error of my ways. I better switch to the Democrat side before it's too late!"

Stop stealing the signs. You're making Democrats look bad.

Monday, October 18, 2004

If we only had brains...

So Rachel, my almost four year old daughter, ran up to me and said,

"Daddy, I have to blow in your ear!"

"Um, why?"

"To see if the air comes out the other ear."

I allowed the experiment. At first, she thought the air had, in fact, come out the other ear. I informed her that was not the case.

"Why not?"

"Because my brain is in the way."

"Oh, I don't think so, Daddy. Let's try my ear! Do I have a brain?"

Turns out she does have a brain. I figured as much seeing as how she takes after her mom. Then she tried here sister's Sami's ear and her dog's Shadow's ear. According to Rachel, Sami has a brain. Shadow? Not so much.

Livin' in Bush's world

I found this via Joshua Marshall's Talking Points Memo. It provides proof of George Bush's megalomania. He believes he is always right and will do whatever it takes to change reality to make his vision of the world the real one. No matter what anyone else thinks.

"In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'

Ron Suskind, "Without a Doubt", New York Times Magazine

Search for a Tattoo

I want a tattoo. Not this Tattoo:

I want some sort of artistic representation of my being living forever upon my body. I decided by the time I was 35, I would have a tattoo. I have exactly 668 days to decide what sort of tattoo I should get and where I should place said tattoo.

For the record, this is not any sort of mid-life crisis. I am not trying to be cool or recapture my lost youth. I believe in the intrinsic indescribable value of art and want to make my body, at least in a small way, artistic. I figure I could either lift weights and mold myself into a perfect physical specimen of man... or I could have someone stick a lot of needles in my body. Amazingly enough, I choose the needles.

Location, location, location.

Where do I place this art? My friend, Paycjeck, has two tattoos, one on each shoulder. Shoulders are very much the manly place to put your tattoo, I think. Not that Paycjeck is overly manly. I'm not saying he's underly manly either. Anyway.

From what I have noticed, a lot of women go for the lower back, with part of the tattoo teasingly hidden beneath the waist of the jeans. I can't go this route because a) I am not a woman and 2) I want to be able see the thing.

I guess I could do the leg. Or the stomach, but I bet that hurts a lot. Upper back has that same I-can't-see-the-damn-thing problem. I would like it to be in a place that is not readily visible, but not in a place only my wife would see. I have a feeling I am going to end up with the shoulder.

What the heck should it be?

I have considered a sword. Or a dragon. Maybe a lion. All of these have some meaning to me. And that's important. I don't want to just have some cool art on my body - I want it to mean something to me. I bet there are tattoo sites out there I could browse. Anyone know of any good ones?

I suppose I could do something to honor my children. Or Sharon. Or family in general. Family means everything to me, so maybe that's the direction I should head.

Well, if anyone has any ideas, feel free to throw 'em out there.

No pity television

One of the TV shows I am watching this season is Lost. It's a great show, full of mystery and good story and interesting characters. And today I discovered a way to add to my enjoyment. Check out Television Without Pity. They provide hilarious recaps of lots of shows, including Lost. I used to read their Survivor recaps long, long ago, but at some point I just stopped. I can't remember why.

Anyway. Check it out. Great site.

A survey

A bunch of my college friends who now have blogs through LiveJournal have done this survey, so I figure I will, too. You bold the things you've done. I think at the end you're supposed to reflect on how empty your life is. Or not. What do I know?

01. Bought everyone in the pub a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone (Probably should have done this before we had kids...)
08. Said ‘I love you’ and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Done a striptease

11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Stayed up all night long, and watch the sun rise

15. Seen the Northern Lights
16. Gone to a huge sports game (What constitutes huge?)
17. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
19. Touched an iceberg
20. Slept under the stars
21. Changed a baby’s diaper (Just this morning!)
22. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
23. Watched a meteor shower
24. Gotten drunk on champagne
25. Given more than you can afford to charity
26. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
27. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
28. Had a food fight
29. Bet on a winning horse
30. Called in sick when you were not ill

31. Asked out a stranger
32. Had a snowball fight
33. Photocopied your bottom on the office photocopier
34. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
35. Held a lamb
36. Enacted a favorite fantasy
37. Taken a midnight skinny dip
38. Taken an ice cold bath
39. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar
40. Seen a total eclipse
41. Ridden a roller coaster
42. Hit a home run

43. Fit three weeks miraculously into three days
44. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking (This is how I always dance...)
45. Adopted an accent for an entire day
46. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
47. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
48. Had two hard drives for your computer
49. Visited all 50 states
50. Loved your job
51. Taken care of someone who was shit faced and have been taken care of
52. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (briefly)
53. Had amazing friends

54. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
55. Watched wild whales
56. Stolen a sign (So many traffic signs...)
57. Backpacked in Europe
58. Taken a road-trip
59. Rock climbing

60. Lied to foreign government’s official in that country to avoid notice
61. Midnight walk on the beach
62. Sky diving
63. Visited Ireland
64. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love

65. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
66. Visited Japan
67. Benchpressed your own weight (This is not so hard when you don't weigh much...)
68. Milked a cow
69. Alphabetized your records
70. Pretended to be a superhero
71. Sung karaoke
72. Lounged around in bed all day

73. Posed nude in front of strangers
74. Scuba diving
75. Got it on to “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye
76. Kissed in the rain
77. Played in the mud
78. Played in the rain
79. Gone to a drive-in theater
80. Done something you should regret, but don’t regret it

81. Visited the Great Wall of China
82. Discovered that someone who’s not supposed to have known about your blog has discovered your blog
83. Dropped Windows in favor of something better
84. Started a business
85. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
86. Toured ancient sites
87.Taken a martial arts class
88. Swordfought for the honor of a woman
89. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight (So many times...)
90. Gotten married
91. Been in a movie
92. Crashed a party
93. Loved someone you shouldn’t have
94. Kissed someone so passionately it made them dizzy

96. Had sex at the office
97. Gone without food for 5 days
98. Made cookies from scratch (Chocolate Crinkles!)
99. Won first prize in a costume contest
100. Ridden a gondola in Venice
101. Gotten a tattoo (I will in the next two years.)
102. Found that the texture of some materials can turn you on; velvets, silks, leather.
103. Rafted the Snake River
104. Been on television news programs as an “expert” (I'm an expert on Survivor, dontcha know. Heh.)
105. Got flowers for no reason
106. Masturbated in a public place
107. Got so drunk you don’t remember anything
108. Been addicted to some form of illegal drug
109. Performed on stage (Many, many times.)
110. Been to Las Vegas
111. Recorded music
112. Eaten shark
113. Had a one-night stand
114. Gone to Thailand
115. Seen Siouxsie live
116. Bought a house
117. Been in a combat zone
118. Buried one/both of your parents
119. Shaved or waxed your pubic hair off
120. Been on a cruise ship
121. Spoken more than one language fluently
122. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone
123. Bounced a check
124. Performed in Rocky Horror (Does audience participation count?)
125. Read - and understood - your credit report
126. Raised children (I am currently doing this - well, actually I've stopped doing it to take this survey....)
127. Recently bought and played with a favorite childhood toy
128. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
129. Created and named your own constellation of stars
130. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
131. Found out something significant that your ancestors did
132. Called or written your Congress person
133. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
134. ...more than once?
135. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
136. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking

137. Had an abortion or your female partner did
138. Had plastic surgery
139. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
140. Wrote articles for a large publication
141. Lost over 100 pounds (I'd be dead if I did this.)
142. Held someone while they were having a flashback
143. Piloted an airplane
144. Petted a stingray
145. Broken someone’s heart
146. Helped an animal give birth
147. Been fired or laid off from a job
148. Won money on a T.V. game show
149. Broken a bone
150. Killed a human being
151. Gone on an African photo safari
152. Ridden a motorcycle
153. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100mph

154. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
155. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
156. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
157. Ridden a horse
158. Had major surgery

159. Had sex on a moving train
160. Had a snake as a pet
161. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
162. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing
163. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
164. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
165. Visited all 7 continents
166. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
167. Eaten kangaroo meat (Does not taste like chicken.)
168. Fallen in love
169. Been a sperm or egg donor
170. Eaten sushi
171. Had your picture in the newspaper

172. Had 2 (or more) healthy romantic relationships for over a year in your lifetime
173. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
174. Gotten someone fired for their actions
175. Gone back to school
176. Parasailed
177. Changed your name
178. Petted a cockroach
179. Eaten fried green tomatoes
180. Read The Iliad
181. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
182. Dined in a restaurant and stolen silverware, plates, cups because your apartment needed them
183. ...and gotten 86’ed from the restaurant because you did it so many times, they figured out it was you
184. Taught yourself an art from scratch
185. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
186. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt
187. Skipped all your school reunions
188. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
189. Been elected to public office
190. Written your own computer language
191. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
192. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
193. Built your own PC from parts
194. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
195. Had a booth at a street fair
196: Dyed your hair
197: Been a DJ
198: Found out someone was going to dump you via LiveJournal
199:Written your own role playing game paper-based, not computerized
200: Been arrested

What happened to the $87 billion?

Over the weekend, this story broke about troops in Iraq refusing to drive fuel trucks that were not armored through a dangerous area. The vehicles were considered "deadlined" which basically means it isn't safe to drive 'em. If it had been one guy who said no to the mission, you could figure we're talking about irrational fear. But there were 17 soldiers who refused to make the run. So what I would like to know is what happened to all the money Congress approved? Why do our troops not have adequate supplies? Well, President Bush? You got an answer for that?

Ban Smoking

This article was in my local paper this morning. A 14-year-old kid proved that passive smoke has a detrimental effect on non-smokers. Come on, now. If a kid who hasn't even started shaving yet can figure this out, so can the tobacco companies, so can the local and state governments, so can anyone with half a brain. It is way past time to ban smoking in public places. People have the right to kill themselves through cigarette smoking, but they don't have the right to kill me, too.

For a brief time, Iowa City banned smoking in some restaurants. I can't begin to tell you how happy I was. Then the City Council removed the ban when it was discovered they didn't have the right to make that law. It has to be decided at the state level. My understanding is the tobacco lobbyists are fighting it hard at the state level.

You know, people talk about tobacco companies as evil these days. But these companies are made up lots and lots of regular people. How do those people live with themselves, knowing that they are selling an addictive substance which will eventually kill most of the people who use it?

I don't blame the addicted smokers. I know it's damn hard to quit. But the people who work for tobacco companies... you should be ashamed.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

A Haircut Adventure

What is it with me and haircuts? First I had this issue with MasterCuts in the Coral Ridge Mall. By the way, the corporate office never responded to my email. Bastards. So yesterday, I went to this new mall in the Des Moines area. I needed a haircut. It was getting a little shaggy and besides, I know I want to let it grow long enough for my role as a hostage in the upcoming Dreamwell show Someone Who'll Watch Over Me. So if I cut it short now, and just let it grow, it ought to look right for the show in late January. The only place to get one's hair cut at this new mall is MasterCuts. I don't really want to give them my business, but I also don't want to wait til next weekend. So I figure what the heck, I'll give 'em another chance. Besides, it wasn't the same MasterCuts.

I swear I will never go to MasterCuts again.

First of all the woman who cut my hair had no social skills. She couldn't carry a conversation to save her life. Now, I can ignore that because it's the haircut that matters, right? Let me list her mistakes. First, she sprayed water in my face not once, but twice. And I even said "Ahh!" the first time and she said, "Sorry about that." Didn't stop her from doing it again. Use your hand to block the person's face when spraying, you nitwit! Second she almost cut my ear. She was using one of those shaver things and as she's bringing it up, the corner of it gets snagged on my ear. I feel a slight tug. I didn't have time to worry because she realized her mistake and pulled it away from my ear. I did flash back to my childhood when my mother snipped off a piece of my earlobe during a haircut. Post-traumatic stress flashback. It's a burden I live with. So anyway she's cutting and cutting and at one point she asks me if I wanted my bangs shorter than what she'd done. I put on my glasses so I could see them. It was hard to tell what the heck she was talking about since half of my bangs were really long and half were really short. I said, "Um, shorter than this, of course," indicating the long bangs. She seemed put out.

These three things by themselves, I could have forgiven, especially since there was no blood loss involved in the ear mishap. However, the final strike is not so easily forgiven. I told her I wanted my hair short. She asked me, "Short so you can spike it up or short so it lays down?" I replied, "Short so it lays down." I am not 16. I don't spike my hair. So she's all done and I put on my glasses again and see... spiky hair. I said, "Wow, that's pretty spiky." She said, "It'll lay down once you wash it." Not sure exactly what she's getting at there. Is she suggesting that my hair is so dirty that it's standing on end all by itself? My guess is that's what hairdressers are instructed to tell you when they screw up. "It'll look better when you wash it."

So after all this, you might be wondering if I tipped her. I wasn't going to. Let me make it clear, I had no intention of tipping this woman. But as I was removing my credit card from my wallet, Sharon and the girls showed up. And the hairdresser said, "Oh what lovely girls. And they both have such beautiful eyes!"

So that was worth a buck fifty.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Slap Bush

I was just visiting Garfieldt's blog and discovered a Bush slapper. Go to his blog and check it out.

Gimme the water

The other night, Sharon and I watched Supersize Me, the documentary that chronicled the physical effects of eating only McDonald's for 30 days. I don't think we needed a documentary to tell us that eating McDonald's for 30 days is a bad idea. Still, it was interesting to find out just how bad an idea it really is. The guy looked horrible at the end of the run. The doctors were worried about his liver. I don't eat fast food very much anymore because it's more expensive than making dinner at home. Of course, I've always known how bad the stuff is. I used to work at Arbys. Ever seen that meat before it was cooked? Not pleasant. In fact, it's downright gross. You can stick your finger right through it. It's mashed pieces of meat and god knows what else. Of course, that doesn't stop me from eating it because it just tastes so good. Ah well.

The one change I am going to make is the amount of pop I consume. (Pop, dammit. Not soda. And don't go referring to all pop as "coke" either. It's pop. It's fizzy hence the term "pop". I'm a Midwesterner, what can I say?) I have a can of pop, usually Coke, with my lunch. Then I often have one with my dinner. And sometimes another can or two in the evening. That's too much. And you know what kind of scared me the other day? I was feeling grumpy and then I had a sip of Coke and I just felt so much better. It tasted so good. Too good. So yeah, need to cut down on that. I am switching to bottled water in the evenings. I'll just have a can of pop with lunch and leave it at that.

One of my quirks. I can't drink water unless it's in a plastic bottle. I mean, I am physically capable of drinking it if it's in a glass or a mug or something, but I won't. It's just not the same. Ever since I started hiking and I had only water to drink when in the mountains, I have this attachment to bottled water. So I bought a six pack of bottled water and when I'm done with that, I'll fill 'em from the faucet. I am not a water snob. I don't need to drink only the bottled water that they sell, but I do need the bottle. I don't know why.

Survivor prediction

Okay, so it's Friday. There's a lot of time before the next episode, but I'm going out on a limb today and post my prediction for the next boot.

The tribes didn't break down the way the Spoilers predicted. On Yasur, we now have five women (Ami, Eliza, Lisa, Leann, and Scout) and two men (Rory and Travis, who was booted last night). At Lopevi, the men dominate (Sarge, John K., Chris, and Chad) and the women are in the minority (Twila and Julie).

If Yasur goes to Tribal Council next, Rory is gone. And I think the Iowa Survivor is going to be around for a long time. He's getting the editing that we've seen many times before - you think he's going every week, but he ends up making it to the Final Four. He reminds me of Kathy from Survivor 4. No one liked Kathy in the beginning - she came across as bitchy and whiny. Sound like anyone we know? However, Kathy's character was softened and then we ended up rooting for her. Expect the same editing for Rory in coming weeks.

If Lopevi goes to Tribal Council, it seems obvious Twila or Julie will go. In the previews we see Julie sunbathing in the nude. She's working the hot girl card to save her neck on a tribe full of men. It might have worked if the Fat Five Alliance hadn't booted Brook, John P. and Brady. Unfortunately for Julie, Sarge will not be amused. Chris and Chad are not going to let a pretty girl keep them from getting the million dollars. John K. would like to keep her around, but he'll go with the crowd to save his own neck.

Bye Julie. Nice knowing ya. Too bad you didn't have a story.

(credit for the pic goes to

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Survivor spoilers... wrong!

I don't know if all of you know this or not, but every week the Spoilers of various internet sites work hard to figure out the boot. They do this by analyzing the vidcaps and the storylines and talking to people who know inside information. Generally speaking, ever since Survivor: Australia (season 2), you could find out who would be booted by going to the right spoiler site. Every once in a while, I mean like once a season, every spoiling website is wrong. Dead wrong. They just totally miss it.

And that's what happened tonight.

And I love it.

Not that I wish any spoiling sites ill. I belong to a number of them. It's just that for the past how many years, we've always been right. (And when I say "we" I mean the spoiling community.) It's gotten boring. The fun is in not knowing for sure.

Tonight was fun.


My oldest daughter has decided she wants to be a pumpkin for Halloween.

She also decreed that her little sister must be a bat.

So Rachel gets to be the cute pumpkin and Sami has to be the scary looking bat. This is Sami's first Halloween. Are we setting her up for a lifetime of freaky costumes? Will she ever decide she wants to be a princess? Or will she always choose the bats, the ghosts, the monsters because she subconsciously believes that's what she's supposed to want? Big sisters. Their influence is shocking and complete.

So what should I be for Halloween? Sharon shot down my Dr. Sam Beckett leaping into Matt Falduto idea. Seems to think I should put some effort into it.

Any ideas?

Hip parent?

Over on the right there in my links sections, there's one labeled "A SAHD blog I enjoy". This post is one of the reasons why.

This is my favorite part:

"...we need our children to be intelligent, not 'savvy'; independent, not 'sophisticated'; happy and caring and giving, not - most of all - 'edgy' (with, I might point out, its implication of double-edged swords).

Children are not supposed to be edgy any more than they are supposed to be jaded."

Raising kids is a difficult job. You're never really sure if you're making the right call. And you only get one chance really and then the moment is gone. I feel like I'm playing catchup all the time. But this much I know is true. Kids got to be kids. And they get to define what that means.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Ah! An enzyme!

Thanks a lot, Kris and greenman. Turns out I am evil enzyme.

You are an enzyme. You are powerful, dark,
variable, and can change many things at your
whim...even when they're not supposed to be
changed. Bad you. You can be dangerous or
wonderful; it's your choice.

Which Biological Molecule Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Go Packers?

I am a Bears fan. I know almost all the words to the Super Bowl Suffle. For example:

Well, they call me Sweetness,
And I like to dance.
Runnin' the ball is like makin' romance.
We've had the goal since training camp
To give Chicago a Super Bowl Champ.
And we're not doin' this
Because we're greedy.
The Bears are doin' it to feed the needy.
We didn't come here to look for trouble,
We just came here to do
The Super Bowl Shuffle.

Anyway, being a Bears fan means I am obligated to despise the Green Bay Packers. And I do. I loathe the color green. We don't "pack" a lunch in my house, we bag one. Cheese is the devil's food. Okay, I don't believe that's true about all cheese, just Wisconsin cheese. I would rather see any other team win the Super Bowl. Even the Cowboys. Ugh. Nothing has brought me greater joy this fall than the Packers 1-4 record.

And yet. This is so hard. But. I... am rooting for the Packers to win on Halloween. Ugh, I feel sick.

And of course, you're wondering why would I do this? How can I root for those demons in green and gold?

Go here.

Sure, it's snopes. Sure, it probably doesn't mean anything.

But we cannot take that chance!

Go... Packers!


Pudding Strike

Okay, there are some... unique individuals out there, but this guy takes the cake. Or the pudding pop. I wonder if he actually works for Bill Cosby and is trying to up the sales of pudding.

"Watching your favorite NFL team play on Sunday is essentially a fundamental right of Americans, which is a right the United States Virgin Islands do not have. Until the Tennessee Titans (and every other NFL team) are available each weekend, I will eat pudding and pudding alone."

Come on. The Titans? Pick a team that his some history, like the Bears, the Lions, or the Giants. And besides, it's not like every NFL team is available in my market. No Bears next weekend for this Bears fan.

Although I admit I do feel bad that people in the Virgin Islands can't see any football games.

Any medical professional out there? I'd love to know how long this guy can survive on pudding alone.

Hey Mom! I was on CNN!

So this is the picture on the main page of

It's a shot of some guy doing a lighting check for the debate tonight. Must be a slow news day. You think the guy knows he's on CNN? He probably sent off a flurry of emails to all of his friends and family. "I'm on CNN! I was just standing there so they could check light levels and some AP guy took my picture! And look at meeeeee!"

He's described as a worker. He's wearing a nice suit. I am guessing he has some other title besides "worker". And you know, standing there, shoulders squared, head back, grim expression... he looks kind of presidential, don't you think?

Quick someone figure out his name! We can vote for light check guy for president!


Presidential Debate Bingo! Thanks to Madonna for pointing this out to me. (Madonna, you don't have a blog, do you?) And thanks to Planet Socks too.

Ahhh! Giant Ants!

Check out this short play posted at McSweeney's. My friend, James Erwin, wrote it! Go James!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I guess this is old news...

But I just found it. Basically, Greg Palast reported that the Secretary of State's office had 57,700 voters, most of whom were black and almost all of them non-felons, removed from the voter rolls before the 2000 election. The election that Bush won because he got Florida's electoral votes by a margin of 537 votes. Would those thousands of voters made a difference? Who the heck knows?

Apparently, Katherine Harris hired a company to search for the names of convicted felons to be sure they were off the voter rolls. She was instructed to do so by the Florida legislature. The company was instructed to find "potentially ineligible voters". As Palast notes, this includes someone who was convicted of a felony in 2007. Amazing. Palast also claims the company was supposed to call these people and check to see if they were convicted felons. I can imagine that phone call.

"Hi, I work for the Florida government. Did you rob a jewelry store ten years ago? Because we think you did, but we're just not sure, and we really want to make sure we've removed all the felons from the voting rolls. No, we're not incompetent. Why do you ask?"

Apparently, someone decided calling all 57,700 voters would be too much work and so the potentially ineligible voters were just removed from the voter rolls. Wow. Even if it's not an intentional voter fraud, it's a mistake of incomprehensible proportions. Our right to vote is sacred. And someone in the Florida government just took that away from 57,700 voters just because they could.

The NAACP filed a class action suit which was settled in 2002, I think. The settlement requires the state or state agencies to take concrete steps to improve the voting proces. Check out that link for the specifics. I didn't see that any of the 57,700 disenfranchised voters were compensated monetarily.

So what do I think about this? Well, Jeb Bush is the governor of Florida. I mean, it looks bad, you know? Even if there wasn't a concerted effort to make sure Florida went Bush in 2000, it looks really, really bad.

Do I believe there could have been a conspiracy to make sure Bush was elected? And do I believe Bush himself could have been involved?

Yeah, I do. But there's no proof of that. Not one bit of proof.

Kerry landslide?

An Ole Miss professor think Kerry will win. And win big. Go here.

Basically, he sees parallels between Reagan's defeat of incumbent Jimmy Carter and Kerry's clash with incumbent George Bush. The second to worst thing that could happen would be a contested election. I remember when my daughter was born November 18, 2000. Eleven days after the election and we didn't know what to put in the baby book blank about President of the United States.

Here's hoping Curtis Wilkie knows what he's talking about.

Spoiling Survivor

The good folks at Survivorblows have figured out the probable tribal breakdown after the swap this week. Basically it'll be like this:

Lopevi (Men's Tribe):
John K.

Yasur (Women's Tribe):

So if Yasur goes to Tribal Council, it appears that a man is doomed. Unless Eliza jumps ship, which certainly wouldn't surprise anyone. If that happens, Lisa is gone. If they boot a man, I bet it's Travis. Okay, I'm just saying that because I don't want Iowan Rory to get the boot.

If Lopevi goes to TC, then we appear to have a tie. Unless John K. switches sides or Julie does. Actually, in looking at it, maybe Sarge and Chris convince Twila and Scout to join them and they boot cutie pie Julie. I could see Sarge and Chris respecting Twila and Scout's work ethic. And it would certainly follow their plan of booting the younger, physical players. And to add to that, according to this site, a cute woman was booted around July 9th, which would have been in this episode. So yeah, maybe Julie is the one to go.

Heck, I'm picking Julie this week. Probably wrong, but there ya go.

Hold what exactly?

I blogged about my poker playing past, so now I'll blog a little about the present.

The days of many different poker games are gone. One style dominates - Texas Hold 'Em. We used to play a similar game when I was kid, but we called it crossroads, and it was a little more challenging actually.

Skip the next paragraph if you know Texas Hold 'Em.

In Texas Hold 'Em, everyone is dealt 2 cards. The first round of betting commences. Then the dealer shows the Flop - three cards face up in the center of the table that anyone can use to make a good hand. Another round of betting and then one more card face up called the Turn. More betting. Finally, the last card, the River, is dealt in the center of the table. So you try to make the best hand you can with the cards in your hand and on the table. Last round of betting and whoever has the best hand wins. Go here for a ranking of poker hands.

In Crossroads, the five community cards were laid face down in a cross pattern. One by one they'd be turned over. You could use any three cards in a row from the table and the two in your hand. A fun game. Maybe I'll suggest we try that next time we play Hold 'Em.

The trick to Texas Hold 'Em is betting and bluffing. You can't just hope you get the right cards - you have to be able to make people think you have the right cards. Or make 'em think you don't when you do. I've been playing Texas Hold 'Em with a group of friends (mostly theater people including greenman and kris) for the past month or so. So far I am up $55 over all the games. In fact, Sunday was the first night I lost money. I've been pretty lucky. Which is good since it's easier to justify coming home at 2 am with money in my pockets than after having lost $20.

"I just believe God helped me catch that football so we could win the game."

Bob from Accounting makes me laugh again!


New Links

I added some new Iowa blogger links. Go check 'em out. They're over there. On the right.

"Five card stud, jacks or better to open"

Poker was a tradition in my family. When I was little and we went to Grandma and Grandpa's house, there was always a poker game going on after dinner. My father, Uncle Wally, Uncle Ray, Grandpa, Lee (a family friend), and others would sit in the kitchen and deal the cards. Sometimes my grandma would play too. They just played nickel-dime, never too much money because no one had that much. I loved watching them. I don't remember anyone actually teaching me to play. I just picked it up by watching. As my brothers and my sister got older, they were allowed to play. I am the youngest, so I had to wait. And wait. And wait. I wish I could remember that first day that I was allowed to sit at the table, but my memory is fuzzy. Still I do remember the pride coursing through me when I finally got to sit at the table and play cards. My dad or sometimes Grandma would bankroll me. I almost always lost. I was terrible at it. (Of course, I was probably 12 or so.) I didn't care. I loved playing the games. Seven card stud. Five card draw, jacks to open. No Peek Baseball. Crossroads. Crazy Wally. (Guess who invented that one?) And as I lost dime after dime, I watched my dad, my grandpa, Uncle Wally, and even my older brothers. I learned the game. I learned when to raise and, more importantly, when not to raise. I learned how to bluff. I learned to speak the language - suicide kings and one eyed jacks and roll your own. And most of all, I remember feeling a part of my family, feeling safe and happy, and wishing it would never end.

My grandparents and Lee have both passed on. Uncle Wally lives on the east coast. I don't think my dad ever got into it as much as some of the other players. My brothers aren't as interested in playing as they once were. Of course, John and my brother-in-law Daryl have a monthly game with friends with higher stakes than we ever played, so they don't miss the family games.) So we don't play cards at family parties much anymore. And I think one reason for that is we don't separate men and women as much these days as they did then. At Granpa's house, while the men were off playing cards, the women were... well, I'm not sure what they were doing. And it's not that the women couldn't play - Grandma played sometimes and so did Mary, Lee's wife. But is was a different time, and the men and women just naturally drifted into different parts of the house. These days, at family parties, there's no such separation. (Well, okay, maybe when the Bears are playing, but that's it.) So poker has passed on. Maybe it'll get revived with the new generation who range from 14 years old to a couple of months. One thing is for sure, Uncle Matt will always be ready to shuffle up and deal.

Poker memories:

Grandma, smiling and eyes a-twinkling as she gave me money to play the game.
Lee, so quiet in the corner, only breaking into a rare grin when he won big.
Uncle Wally, loud and boisterous, always laughing, always encouraging me.
Dad, slapping cards down when he had a good hand and quietly telling me what beats what.
Me, laughing and grinning and loving every minute of it.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Long live Superman

I was going to blog about the poker game last night and other things, but this morning I learned that Christopher Reeve passed away. He played Superman on the big screen, but I don't think any of us realized what a true superman he was until we watched as he fought against the paralysis that changed his life. He never gave up hope. He was truly inspiring to me. My favorite musical is Man of the La Mancha, which tells the story of Don Quixote, the man who dreams an impossible dream. I have long believed that true heroism comes from not succeeding but attempting even in the face of insurmountable odds.

Rest peacefully, Christopher Reeve. You deserve it.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Want some wood?

Okay, first of all let me just say I am getting sick of debates. Thank god there's only one more. I don't even think I'll watch that one.

So this debate was a tossup. If you like Bush, he won. If you like Kerry, he won. This is going to be a really close election and that's scary no matter which side you're on.

Fun moments in the debate:

  • Bush refers to Senator Kerry as Senator Kennedy. For the next five minutes, Sharon and I are wondering why Bush is dragging Ted Kennedy into the debate.

  • Bush cuts off Chares Gibson, the moderator. Just talks over him despite the fact that Gibson was just telling Bush that he could respond. Moron.

  • Kerry forgets what he was saying and stammers for the longest 5 seconds in the entire campaign run. Oops.

  • When asked what his plan was to fix relations with other countries around the world, Bush ignores the question and goes into his rhetoric about having to make tough decisions. Unfortunately, Kerry ignores the question too.

  • Bush says that there are rumors on the "internets" that there's going to be a draft. Would someone point me to this other internet because I've only heard of the one...

  • Bush attempts to crack wise by saying that Kerry's last answer made him want to scowl. The joke couldn't have been any less funny.

  • Bush elicits a snicker from this house when he asks Charles Gibson if he wants some wood.

  • There were probably some other good moments, but that's all I remember. It's past time to sleep. I wish it were November 2nd so we could vote and get this over with.

    America, land of the free... unless you're reading the wrong books

    I was visiting The Volokh Conspiracy and discovered a link to other blogs that are talking about this story.

    Basically, someone wrote a bin Laden quote in the margin of this book: "Let history be witness I am a criminal." Someone alerted the FBI who got a subpoena which ordered the library to turn over the circulation records for the book. The library fought the order in court and the FBI backed down.

    The scariest part of the article is this sentence:
    If the feds had demanded the records under the Patriot Act, the library would have had to hand them over without question and without help from the courts. (emphasis mine)
    This is one reason why the Patriot Act needs to be changed. I for one would like to live in a country where I have the freedom to read whatever I want without having to answer to the government.

    Jibbing and Jabbing

    Thanks to Kris at Random Mentality for linking to these hilarious videos at Jib Jab. I can't decide if I liked This Land or Good to be in DC better. Only $4.99 to download and keep 'em forever.

    Poll Question: Which did you like better?

    A) This Land
    B) Good to be in DC

    Twisted Survivors

    The tribes get twisted as I mentioned last night. There are vidcaps from the web promo that give us some clues as to who ends up on Lopevi (red) and who ends up on Yasur (yellow). Thanks for the vidcaps to Survivor Fever, in my opinion the best Survivor website out there .

    Twila and Sarge at on Lopevi after the twist.

    Ami, Eliza, Lisa, and Leann stay at Yasur.

    This one is a little bit tricky. It's a distant shot of Lisa, Eliza and Leann from the previous vidcap. But who are the other people? Based on what I think looks like a lot of hair when he dives, the guy in the water is Chris. He's got a red buff, so he's still at Lopevi. Now we just need to figure out Sitting Woman and Beer Gut Man (outlined in red below).

    Sitting woman could be Scout or Julie. I am guessing Julie since they'd probably sit Scout out of a deep diving challenge. But it's hard to tell. Beer gut man could Travis, Rory or Chad. The guy has hair, so it's not Chad. The guy's skin is dark, so I'm guessing that he's Rory and not Travis.

    So far we have:

    Yasur: Ami, Lisa, Eliza, Leann and Rory.
    Lopevi: Sarge, Chris, Twila

    Uncertain: John K., Travis, Chad, Scout, and Julie.

    So let's think about this. What other clues do we have? In the preview we have the native saying "One chief." to each tribe. Sounds to me like each tribe chooses someone to be their chief. That person is probably responsible for new tribe breakdowns in some way. This image tells us that Sarge is the chief for the men since he's wearing the tribal necklace and carrying the Horgon.

    Who is the chief for the women? Ami seems like a logical choice, but we can't be sure.

    So do the chiefs pick all new tribes? Or do they just choose one person from their tribe to go to the other tribe? Could be the latter since so far we're only certain of two people switching - Rory and Twila. And coincidentally, those two are on the outs with their tribes. It would make sense for Sarge to send Rory to the women's tribe. It would also make sense for Ami to send Twila, especially if you listen to the Survivor Insider from the last episode where it became clear that Ami's comments at the last Tribal Council really upset Twila.

    So maybe this is a pick one person to go to the other tribe kind of twist.

    Bush hearing voices?

    Was someone else debating Kerry last week? Check out this blog for the theory that Bush was actually wired and someone was feeding him his responses in the debate.

    All I know is whoever is telling Bush what to say is doing a really bad job. Maybe it's Jeb.

    Some Survivor thoughts

    Brady was voted out last night. So far the men have systematically eliminated the strongest members of their tribe. Most of the immunity challenges are physical. The men are setting themselves up to lose. Of course, they couldn't even win either mental challenge in the last episode, so really the bottom line is they suck. John K. is on the outside - he's probably gone if the men lose again. The women are doing better, but the divisions are still there. If they go to Tribal Council, either Julie or Eliza will go home.

    Except that next episode will be a tribe reshuffle and could change everything.

    Who knows who will end up where. There are three people who will definitely use the shuffle to their advantage if possible - Eliza, Julie and John K. I am actually finding myself liking John Kenney. I hope he gets lucky and sticks around for a while.

    The alliances as they stand now:

    Chad, Sarge, Rory, Chris, Travis --- John K.
    Ami, Leann, Twila, Scout --- Lisa --- Eliza, Julie

    Assuming that things go as they usually do, there will still be seven people on Yasur and six on Lopevi. Jeff said "Drop your buffs." That means everyone is changing. It'll probably be random. So on the tribe of six, you could have three men and three women. If John K., Eliza or Julie ends up over there in that situation, I expect they'll switch alliances.

    Here's my totally speculative guess.

    Scout, Lisa, Eliza, Chad, Travis, Rory on Lopevi.
    Julie, Ami, Leann, Twila, Sarge, Chris, John K. on Yasur.

    Yasur wins Immunity. Eliza joins with the men and makes Lisa pay for voting against Mia.

    Sounds good now anyway.

    Thursday, October 07, 2004

    Booty call girl!

    This made me laugh. In fact much of Bob from Accounting's site makes me laugh. Check it out.

    Ever know anyone like the booty call girl?

    And thanks to greenman for linking to it from his blog.

    Back to politics...

    Ugh. Apparently, rabid Kerry supporters are shooting up Republican campaign offices. What the hell is wrong with people? Don't these criminal idiots know they are just hurting the cause?

    Instapundit has the details.

    I mean, I'm mad that Bush and his administration have lied and lead us into a war that resulted in over 1000 American casualties, but how the hell can anyone justify attacking a campaign headquarters? Morons. F***ing morons.

    Wednesday, October 06, 2004

    Kids in Theatre

    So I'm getting a little tired of writing about politics. A while back I promised I'd write about one of my favorite directing experiences.

    During the summer of 2000, I co-directed the Hobbit with a friend of mine by the name of Mateo. Mateo had directed a number of children theater shows, but this was my first time. I can't remember how it came about, but I still feel I owe Mateo big time for including me in that project. So anyway, we decided to do things a little bit differently than usual. First of all, we held auditions and didn't cast everyone who came. This was not how this children's theatre usually operated. We got them to agree to this because this was a summer show, sort of an extra show, and there were plenty of other opportunities for every kid to be shows. For us, keeping the numbers down meant we'd be able to work with the kids in a more one on one way than was typical. There were two kids that stand out in my mind as I think back on it. The first was the kid who played Thorin, the Dwarf.

    wonderful drawing by "Thorin" of's fan art section. Check it out!

    He was a very likeable kid, smart, and really got into playing the loudmouthed dwarf. However, at the end of the show Mateo added some lines for him that weren't in the play, but they were in the book.
    Farewell, Bilbo. I go now to the halls od waiting to sit beside my fathers, until the world is renewed. Since I leave now all gold and silver, and go where it is of little worth, I wish to part in friendship from you, and I would take back my words and deeds at the Gate. There is more good in you than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. But sad or merry, I must leave it now. Farewell!

    I worked with the kid on this speech so much. And he wanted to so badly to get it right. He knew it had to be less gruff and over the top than he'd been the rest of the play. He knew it was his most important moment in the show. And when he nailed it opening night, I was so proud of him.

    There was another kid who played Gollum.

    Gollum is a fun character to play if you're willing to really throw yourself into it. This kid was. At first, he was hesitant. But Mateo and I encouraged him. So he contorted his body, his face, created a wonderful voice, and just attacked the role. He wanted to know everything there was to know about Gollum. So we told him the backstory - how Gollum had been a Hobbit-like creature once but had been twisted by the Ring. He got into the character; he understood him. And in the end he was amazing. When the curtain call came, he was the one who received the loudest applause. And damn me if he wasn't humbled by it. I remember looking at him after the first show and realizing that he got it. He understood what was so amazing about theater, about acting, about putting yourself out there. A lot people think it's the applause, and, yes the applause is great. But it's more than that. It's the opportunity to exercise your emotions. It's the chance to feel things that you might not have the chance to feel in your real life, to embrace those feelings, to make them part of you.

    To feel ultimate joy or ultimate sorrow even if only for a moment on stage - that's what being an actor is really all about.

    And watching that boy realize the magic of that for the first time was one of the best directing experiences of my life.

    The Prophet Bush

    I just found this opinion piece from a few weeks ago.

    Some quotes from the piece:
    Bush's fusion of a religious outlook with administration policy is a striking shift in modern presidential rhetoric. Presidents since Franklin Roosevelt have spoken as petitioners of God, seeking blessing and guidance; this president positions himself as a prophet, issuing declarations of divine desires for the nation and world. Put simply, Bush's language suggests that he speaks not to God, but for God.

    The writer compares other's presidents use of God in their speeches:

    Consider just one example: Roosevelt in 1941, in a famous address de-lineating four essential freedoms threatened by fascism and Nazism, said: "This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women; and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God."

    Contrast that with Bush's claim in 2003 that "Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity." This is not a request for divine favor; it is a declaration of divine wishes.

    Such rhetoric, consistently emanating from this president and administration, has transformed Bush's "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists" policy to "Either you are with us, or you are against God." To the great detriment of American democracy and the global public, the president's view looks and sounds remarkably similar to that of the terrorists we are fighting.

    This is what scares me about President Bush. He strikes me as a religious fanatic. Is he as crazy as the terrorists we're fighting? No, because he was raised here, in the United States where freedom is a given. Had George W. Bush grown up in Afghanistan or Iraq or Saudi Arabia, would he have grown up to be a terrorist? Who knows? But he definitely possesses the fanatical religious attitude necessary.

    More VP Debate

    Edwards took the last thrust in during the actual debate (before closing statements). He said:
    [The Bush administration] had a choice on allowing prescription drugs into this country from Canada, of being with the American people or with the drug companies. They were with the drug companies.

    They had a choice on negotiating discounts in the Medicare prescription drug bill of being with the American people or with the drug companies. They were with the drug companies.

    They had a choice on the patients' bill of rights, allowing people to make their own health care decisions and not having insurance companies make them, be with the American people, be with the big insurance companies. They're with the insurance companies.

    John Kerry and I will always fight for the American people.

    That worked for me.

    The VP Debate

    Tonight during the debate, Cheney said:
    And Senator, frankly, you have a record in the Senate that's not very distinguished. You've missed 33 out of 36 meetings in the Judiciary Committee, almost 70 percent of the meetings of the Intelligence Committee.

    You've missed a lot of key votes: on tax policy, on energy, on Medicare reform.

    Your hometown newspaper has taken to calling you "Senator Gone." You've got one of the worst attendance records in the United States Senate.

    Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session.

    The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight.

    Sharon and I looked each other.

    "Ouch," said Sharon.

    UPDATE: Apparently, Cheney lied. He's met Edwards before and it's all over the net this morning. Go to Talk Left for more information. This administration will say anything to get ahead, won't they?

    But still I think it went pretty well. Edwards really nailed Cheney on the Halliburton stuff. Nailed him on the lost jobs. Nailed him on prescription drugs.

    The problem for the Dems was Cheney didn't come off as a jerk the way Bush did. Cheney sounded really good at times. And, at times, Edwards sounded like an angry yapping dog. Still, as the debate wore on, Cheney lost ground. Edwards stuck to his message and I think he ended up looking pretty good. I do wish he hadn't used an emotional personal anecdote in his closing statement. Cheney's closing was simple, straightforward, and, if I didn't know better (and trust me, I do), I'd have believed that Bush and he could do the job.

    I don't think the debate hurt Kerry's chances at all. And it might have helped him. So that's good.

    Tuesday, October 05, 2004

    Bush not supporting troops

    In looking into various Iowa blogs, I came across The Yin Blog which has this interesting post. I will quote from the same article Mr. Heller did.
    The disability benefits and health care systems that provide services for about 5 million American veterans have been overloaded for decades and have a current backlog of more than 300,000 claims. And because they were mobilized to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly 150,000 National Guard and reservist veterans had become eligible for health care and benefits as of Aug. 1. That number is rising.

    At the same time, President Bush's budget for 2005 calls for cutting the Department of Veterans Affairs staff that handles benefits claims, and some veterans report long waits for benefits and confusing claims decisions.
    I have nothing to add to Mr. Heller's point so I'll just echo his comment that the man in the White House is a hypocrite.

    By the way, I heard something about families buying body armor for their sons and daughters in Iraq because the US Government wouldn't supply it. Anyone have some information on this?

    Finally, go check out the Yin Blog. I liked it.

    Survivor thoughts

    I have no idea what's going to happen on Survivor this week. However, I have some speculation I'll share.

    First of all, on the women's tribe, Eliza, Julie and Lisa are on the outside. The alliance of Scout, Ami, Twila and Leann is strong. Lisa tried to ingratiate herself with the older women, but I don't think it's going to help her in the long run. Eliza also tried to play both sides. Julie may not be with the older women's alliance, but at least she's stayed loyal to her group. If I were in the older women's alliance, I'd take out Eliza, who has been annoying with that mouth of hers, or Lisa, who clearly can't be trusted. Of course, Survivors always do the wrong move, so they'll probably boot Julie.

    Last episode, John Kenney showed that he has some game playing skills by dividing the women by alliance. This was a shock to everyone and puts a bigger target on his back. He shouldn't have announced his actions at Tribal Council, but instead used his information to slide into the powerful alliance. Both John and Brady are in trouble. The editors want us to believe Rory is in trouble, but I don't buy it for a second. Rory is this season's Kathy from Marquesas. He'll be the one we keep expecting to get the boot, but never does. At least, not til waaaaay down the road.

    We've seen no vidcaps of the IC this week, so I am thinking it's probably a boring one. Question and answer thing or something like that. It could go either way, but I think I'll give it to the women which means a man goes home. My guess: Brady.

    Dr. Phil, you disgust me

    Dr. Phil did something absolutely sickening a few weeks ago and I keep meaning to write about it here. I have never been a fan of these daytime talk shows which basically involve people telling the world how messed up their lives are. But you know, if adults want to participate in this insanity, what can you do? People have the right to make fools of themselves.

    Kids are another matter.

    A few weeks ago, Dr. Phil told a family on national television that their son has 9 of the 14 traits of a serial killer. You probably heard about it or saw a commercial for the show as it was heavily promoted. What were this child's parents thinking? Let's label our kid in front of the whole world. Let's give him no chance of being accepted anywhere in his hometown. Let's destroy his life for the sake of being on TV. And what kind of doctor diagnoises a child on national television? Someone take his license away! Please.

    I see one organization agrees with me. Check out this story.

    I'm not arguing that Dr. Phil was wrong about the kid being a potential serial killer. But something as serious as that does not belong on TV. He's already drastically hurt the child's chances of being helped by making him a public spectacle. When Dr. Phil was done filming this segment, he should have realized that it had no place on TV and consulted with the parents privately.

    Dr. Phil, you made a sick and destructive choice for the sake of ratings and money. If you're a real doctor who took an oath to save lives, you'll do what you can to fix this.

    Monday, October 04, 2004

    Child prodigies

    I love Wikipedia. It's so useful. I looked up child prodigies and came up with the following:
    Prodigies are masters of a specific skill or art, a talent which manifests itself at an early age. One generally accepted definition of a prodigy is a person who, by the age of 10, displays expert proficiency in a field usually only undertaken by adults. Some of the fields more common to prodigies are mathematics, chess, art, and music, but prodigies occur in a variety of areas.

    Wikipedia discusses cognitive studies on child prodigies. This bit is most interesting to me:
    Mathematical prodigies, so-called “calculators,” achieve blood flow to parts of the brain responsible for mathematical operations six to seven times the typical flow.

    So why does extra blood to a particular part of the brain lead to amazing cognitive ability? And if it does, is there some way to create this effect artificially? And if so, why aren't people working on this? I am not a scientist, but doesn't this seem like a subject worthy of research. I suppose I'll have to keep looking into this. Perhaps this is a study out there somewhere which examined this idea. If anyone knows of one, let me know.

    My Survivor blog has the latest news and speculation as well as some spoiling about the show.
    About Me

    Name: Matt
    Location: Coralville, IA
    I am a Dad and a Husband. An Actor. An Administrator. A Hiker. A Writer. Probably a bunch of other things too. Read my blog and you'll find out more.
    Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

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