Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Killing us slowly

The only suprise about this report is how long it's taken to get out there. The Surgeon General has stated unequivocaly what we've all known for many, many years: secondhand smoke kills people.

"The debate is over. The science is clear. Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance but a serious health hazard," Carmona said.

Seperate smoking sections in restaurants do absolutely zero good. The only way to protect non-smokers from the health risks is to prohibit smoking in public places. All public places, including parks. The most important part of this report is the information about the effects on children:

But the surgeon general is especially concerned about young children who can't escape their parents' addiction in search of cleaner air: Just over one in five children is exposed to secondhand smoke at home, where workplace bans don't reach. Those children are at increased risk of SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome; lung infections such as pneumonia; ear infections; and more severe asthma.

I understand how difficult it is to quit smoking. I understand that smokers have a right to smoke if they want to. What they do not have a right to do is smoke in a public place where they are endangering the health of others. I suppose there's an argument that restaurant owners should be allowed to determine whether they can have smoking in their restaurants. But I don't agree. We're talking about public health. Just as restaurant owners are responsible for serving food that won't harm people and assuring that people do not drink so much alcohol they get poisoned, they should be responsible for providing at atmosphere that will not harm the public. Allowing smoking will harm the public.

So I strongly support a ban on smoking in all public places, both inside and out. That's right - no smoking in public places outside either. If you want to smoke, smoke in your house. Or better yet, quit.

Monday, June 26, 2006


This weekend I decided to fix the slow draining sink in our bathroom. Now, I am not Mr. Fix-It. Sharon's Fix-It uncle came over this weekend and replaced one of the posts that holds up the walkway from our backdoor to the garage. I asked him if his father had taught him all the fix-it knowledge he possesses. He said his grandpa had actually taught him. He was his grandpa's helper starting at around age eight. I wish I had had that opportunity. I've had to learn all of that stuff as an adult. I took a class on electrical wiring and I am probably going to take a plumbing class in the fall (free since I'm a Kirkwood employee!). But my slow sink couldn't wait so I tackled it yesterday. It was pretty disgusting as a lot of muck had accumulated. But I got it cleaned out and enjoyed a strong sense of accomplishment. I always feel good when I do pull off these home improvement challenges, probably because I really don't know what the heck I'm doing. My biggest home improvement challenge involves tearing out part of the bathroom wall, fixing the shower head and pipe, and then re-drywalling. I may need to call in brother help on that one.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Brandon Ray

I just learned that an old friend from my college theater days passed away suddenly from a heart attack on Wednesday, June 21. I met Brandon Ray through West Side Players, the University of Iowa's alternative theater group that was filled with all the actors who weren't theater majors. He was a really nice guy and very smart. A kind soul. Unfortunately, I haven't seen him in years. I wish I had made the effort. He was only 46 - way too young to leave us. My hearfelt condolences go out to his family and friends. For those who remember Brandon, you can send condolences to the family through the funeral home's website.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Appalachian Trail Pics

Here are some pics from the Appalachian Trail hike.

I am on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina in the middle of the Smoky Mountains.

My brother Jim and I at Fontana Dam before we began our trek into the Smokies.

One of the many scenic views from the Appalachian Trail.

This snake was hanging out at one of the shelters, waiting for a hiker to throw down a sleeping bag. They like to cuddle up with hikers for warmth...

John and I pitched tents instead of sleeping with the snake.

This shelter was in the Smokies. It was the first time I'd seen one with a fence. That's to keep the bears out. There were signs up at every shelter warning us of "Aggressive Bear Activity". We chose to sleep in the shelter behind the chain fence instead of a tent that night. It was probably was a mistake as the other hikers in the shelter snored and snored and snored. I got very little sleep.


When I was a kid, I had strep throat many times. We talked about removing the tonsils but never actually did it and I guess it's a bigger deal to remove an adult's tonsils than it is to remove a kid's. I don't know why. Anyway, I haven't had strep throat in ... I don't know how many years. I think the last time was probably before I got married. I have had serious sore throats. It seems like that's the first thing that happens to my body when I don't get enough sleep, get too much stress or whatever. It's my weak point, my throat is.

Rachel was sick this morning with a sore throat and fever and lo and behold, she has strep. She's got meds and movies and is snuggled into the couch with her teddy bear. Hopefully, it won't be too bad for her. Her tonsils are huge, but she isn't complaining too much. My big girl.

This means I get a day off from work. Which isn't good for work as my emails tell me two other people are out sick. I feel bad about not being there, but when you got a sick kid, whatcha gonna do? Sharon will stay home with Rachel tomorrow and she may be better by Friday - we'll just have to wait and see. We try to keep the sickie duty even for the sake of both of our workplaces.

I guess this means I can catch up on my blogging and such. I have some pictures from the AT hike that I'd like to scan and post. And I want to write about the FCC's outrageous indecency fines. So this may be a prolific blogging day. But first...


Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I am convinced I got this answer because I chose "d12" as my favorite die.

I am a d4

Take the quiz at dicepool.com

Monday, June 19, 2006


I am an uncle again. I love being an uncle - it's a great job. What's especially exciting about this newest niece of mine is that she's the first on Sharon's side of the family. She is a big baby - nearly eleven pounds! - but I am reminded how Sammi started out pretty big and ended up being a little on the small side, so you just never know how it'll all turn out. I can't wait to meet her but it sounds like I'll have to wait as there's a no-kid-under-ten rule in place in the household. That means Sharon will go by herself on the out of state trip while I stay home with the two under-tenners in this house. Hopefully, my sister and brother in law will come to Iowa for a visit before too long. I know Rachel wants to meet her cousin. Sammi would probably be excited to see someone smaller than she is, too.

Climbing Clingmans

I am back from my yearly Appalachian Trail hiking adventure. Compared to previous years, it was pretty uneventful. No one collapsed from exhaustion. No monsoon-like rain sent us swimming down the mountain. No knee problems, no major blisters, no problems at all really. It was, as always, the most physically challenging experience possible. This was my fifth year hiking and the first one where I actually completed the hiking we had planned. My first year, I wasn’t prepared for the physical toll hiking can take on my knees. I only completed about twenty miles that first year, I think. In the second year, my knees were good, but I got a blister the size of my entire heel. At the time, it seemed like too big of a deal to go on, although this year, I wouldn’t have let it slow me down. Live and learn. I think we only got about 22 miles that year. In year three, I got off the trail with my sister (she got bad blisters that year and was just tired of it, I think) so she wouldn’t have to hitchhike to civilization alone. I was supposed to meet my brothers on the AT the next day, but they called us that night asking to be rescued from the torrential rainstorm. They were done after that and I couldn’t go alone since they were my ride. Last year, my brother John got sick on the mountain, cutting that hike short. But this year… THIS year we hiked for five days straight, almost 50 miles up and down the mountains reaching the highest point on the entire AT (Clingman’s Dome in North Carolina at 6,643 feet). It was damn hard, but I have rarely felt as good as I did when we climbed that last hill and reached the summit. I am a skinny guy, never excelled at sports or anything, so pulling this off was just overwhelming. I conquered the mountain and it felt good.

Friday, June 09, 2006

One last meme before I go...

Hat tip to SideNotes.

Matt Needs Money....Always true.

Matt needs Tasks....I have plenty, thank you.

Matt Needs Spaz....I think that's supposed to be "is a spaz".

Matt Needs to Stay Awake....Oh, how true...

Matt needs to do my laundry....Matt does all the laundry in this house!

Matt Needs to not play every little blog meme that comes along....Ha! Got me!

Matt needs a blog....Um. Okay. Look around.

Matt needs help....Truer words were never written.

That's my girl...

In the truck today, I told Rachel that she had something at the corner of her mouth. She looks at herself in the mirror, removes the crumb, and then says, "Cute!"

There's that ego I know so well...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Hiking preparations

I am almost ready for my annual Appalachian Trail hike. (See my pic of the "week" to the left.)I’m driving to Chicago on Friday and then my brother John and I head south at the crack of dawn Saturday morning. Other older brother Jim will meet up with us on Monday. I couldn’t find my hiking poles which is really aggravating. I picked up a cheap one at Walmart for $10, but I’d really like to find my blue pole that I’ve had since year one. If I don’t find it, I’ll have to pick up another Walmart special. I need two for the descents to protect my knees, my weak points. I am borrowing a bunch of gear from my sister in order to get my pack weight down. I set up the tent I borrowed from her the other night. It’s pretty easy to pitch, although I admit I had four stakes left over so I may be missing something… Still, it rained and the inside stayed dry so that’s good. However, yesterday a strong wind storm and I found the tent had been pulled up and flown across the yard. Hopefully, the winds won’t get so strong on the mountain…

I was figuring out food and I’ve decided to go with my brother Jim’s mini-bagel and apple diet. I’ll supplement with some beef jerky, fruit rollups, and candy. I am brining a little stove and some freeze dried food as well as ramen noodles, but I don’t know how much I really need that. I find that while I’m out there, I’m even less hungry than usual. I eat because I know I should, not because I want to. Out there the drink is always water. I am not a water drinker usually. But when you’ve just climbed a mountain, there is no better drink than water from a mountain stream.

Last night, I went to Scheels and learned all about the Therm-a-rest self inflating pads. One of the biggest problems I’ve had while hiking is getting a good nights’ sleep. I’ve brought these foam pads, but they don’t do enough to cushion the rocky ground. My sister had used a therm-a-rest pad and liked it, so I borrowed hers. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it to self inflate. It’s supposed to be stored unrolled which she hadn’t done. So I went to Scheels and talked to a very helpful salesman who explained how they worked and advised me to pick a particular pad that he had used and liked a lot. I bought it, but I decided I had to check to see if I could get my sister’s pad to work. The guy explained that even if it didn’t self inflate anymore, it could be manually blown up. The pad I bought was $90. Ack! When I got home, I found I could blow it up quickly and easily, so I’m returning the one I bought and will use Jane’s pad. This should lead to a good night’s sleep and better hiking next week.

I can’t wait to get out there!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Lots of random political thoughts

I will admit before this post even gets started that I am not delving deeply into any of these issues. These are just some thoughts that are floating around and I want to get 'em down.

So, about this congressman whose office was raided by the FBI. I think it's absolutely ridiculous that THIS is the issue the Dems and Republicans can agree upon. And I think the Congress's position about how it's a violation of separation of powers is bogus, too. Why? Because they had a warrant. Which means both the executive branch and the judicial branch were involved in this. Checks and balances, people. Both parties of Congress are really annoying me on this issue. They are more willing to look the other way or make weak, ineffectual protests when the executive branch okays torture, taps international phone calls, get phone records of domestic calls, and who knows what else... until it affects them directly. Hypocrites.

About Iran... looking at from an Iranian's point of view, of course they want nuclear weapons. If I were Iranian, I'd want my country to get 'em too. Of course, from our point of view, we have to do everything possible to stop them from acquiring them, because, well, their leader has said he'd like to see another country wiped off the map. And that doesn't show a stable government capable of possessing nuclear weapons. So I guess my point is... we can't really blame the Iranians for wanting them or working to get them, but we still have to do what we can to stop them.

I just read today that Bush is going to push for a screw-you-gay-people ammendment. It has no chance of passing, thank God, but it just perfectly demonstrates what a jerk Bush is.

And now onto state politics. I am voting for Ed Fallon on Tuesday. I've met Ed, he's a reasonable guy, has a strong affinity for the arts, is going to work for election reform, and well, he seems like the outsider of the Democratic party and, not being a big fan of the party, I like that. I am certain I don't want frontrunner Chet Culver to win. Come on, the guy's name is Chet. What kind of name is that? Is it short for Chester? Blouin is popular where I work as he used to be an administrator here. I don't know too much about him, but I'll take a Mike over a Chet any day. And there's a glimpse into my political decision making process.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Dancin' on the ceiling

I haven't posted for a while because I am suffering from brain lock. I have too many subjects I want to write about. Stuff like Iran and the war on "terror" and the search of Congressman's office and much more. But I am overwhelmed by all these serious topics so I am going to ease back into blogging after my brief hiatus by writing about getting old.

My brother turned 40 last week. I have two other brothers who are into their 40s, but this brother is only five years older than I am. Which means 40 is not that far away for me, too. Honestly though I think it’s going to be easier to accept 40 than it was to accept 30. I went kicking and fighting into my thirties, but my forties… Well, I am feeling much more satisfied with what I’ve accomplished in my life so far. That was the issue with turning 30. I kept saying, “I’m turning 30 and I haven’t done half of things I want to do!” I’m enjoying my 30s a lot. Sharon and I very happy together… I have two great kids… there’s the Dreamwell accomplishments… I hike the Appalachian Trail every year for a week… I have a job I enjoy. So yeah, forty. No big deal.

We’re heading to Chicago this weekend for my brother’s big birthday bash. It’s apparently 80s themed and we’re supposed to wear appropriate clothing. I don’t think a lot of people are going to be doing that. Sharon is talking about doing 80s makeup. I told her she needed to do one of those ridiculous big hair bangs that girls had when I was in high school. She said she couldn’t figure out how to do that when she was in high school. At least she doesn’t have any embarrassing big hair photos floating around. I, on the other hand, have my junior year picture. My hair was combed up in a spikey fashion and, well, it was the only time in my life that I actually hit 6 feet tall.

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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