Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Memorial Day Pics

I've seen several blogs that lament the Memorial Day holiday as superficial and  disrespectful of the sacrifice our veterans have made for this country. I disagree.

While it's important to remember the fallen I don't think there's anything wrong with celebrating the weekend as a holiday. For me, the idea of traveling hundreds of miles just to eat and visit with family doesn't diminish their sacrifice; it highlights just what they fought and died for

Enough of the soapbox:

This year the family met up at my mother-in-laws house, where we spent nearly the whole day basking in bright sunshine (for a change).

Aside from great food there was a pool for the girls

and a baby swing for Parker (yes, I know: he doesn't look happy - trust me, it's just a bad pic) [er, actually, despite trying three different ways, the pic won't load right. I'll tinker with it later and try again.]

 

but this pic makes up for it. Not the greatest quality, but I chose this over a 'better' pic because it shows just how happy they were (YaYa had confiscated the baby swing for herself)

On a seperate tack, I couldn't resist putting up this pic of Billy the Cat with my Dad. It gives you some idea of his size (the cat, not my Dad).

Before I forget, check out the new features in the 'about me' section, including a link to an 'intro' page, a guestmap, and (old news) my graphic. Btw, I should have a reader survey up in the next 48 hours as well.

Hope your holiday was a happy one

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Sunday, May 29, 2005

Whoo-Hoo! 100 Mystery Credits!

Tidbits from Blogdom

Here's a chilling report about a blogger that was murdered. His killer was identified through the last post he ever wrote, in which he mentions the unexpected arrival of his sister's ex-boyfriend.

Perhaps only minutes later, the boyfriend took the lives of the blogger and his sister.

The brief mention in his post was enough to blow the ex's alibi and bring him to justice.

You can check out the blog here. As of this writing, more than 250 comments have posthumously been added to the post expressing condolences for the writer.

* * * *

On a less serious but equally creepy note is this widely-circulated report of a lake in Russia that vanished (yes, vanished) overnight.

Naturally they blame the U.S., even though its perfectly obvious Canada is at fault. :)

* * * *

And on a much more lighthearted note, Random did a write-up on the USPS Photo Stamp program.

Thought the web link she provides you can add a picture or graphic of your own to legal tender U.S. stamps.

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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Police Department at a Crossroads May 28th

On Friday an inquest jury unanimously recommended a Milwaukee police officer be cleared in the shooting death of William Javier Prado.

 
Prado had allegedly engaged an off-duty officer in a traffic encounter in March, tailing the officer as he drove home from work. While many of the facts seem contradictory, and even the officer admits to being confused about the chain of events, two things are not in dispute:


First, that the officer fired nineteen times, hitting the unarmed Prado eight times in the back and killing him.

Second, that no inquest jury has recommended charges in an officer related shooting for more than twenty years.


Like most of this city I paid scant attention to the Prado case. I barely remember hearing about it, and I certainly couldn’t have recited any details until the inquest made headlines this week.

Some of that is, shamefully, because it didn’t seem all that important of a story to me. By nature and by upbringing I tend to trust the police, and so I gave them the benefit of the doubt without much thought.

But some of it was because another case was crowding the local news outlets.

On October 24th, 2004 several off-duty police officers accused Frank Jude, Jr. of stealing one of their badges at a party.

When he denied it he was dragged out of his truck, beaten, kicked, stripped naked, and threatened with a knife - allegedly by as many as a dozen off-duty officers.

On-duty officers who responded - and who found no badge among Jude’s belongings - didn’t call an ambulance. Instead, after letting the suspects converse and wander around the crime scene, they arrested Jude.

The charge? That he had resisted and fought the officers, a charge denied by witnesses and rejected by prosecutors who refused to file charges.

It wasn’t until four months later that the case progressed, as the investigation was stopped cold by a ‘wall of silence’ - officers who refused to speak against their own.

This Tuesday - seven months after the beating - nine officers were fired and four others disciplined for the events of that night.

This follows a year that’s seen Milwaukee officers accused of evidence tampering and extortion, falsifying reports when injured sledding on the clock, and other abuses of their power.

In all, 21 officers have been fired since Police Chief Nannette Hegerty took office in November of 2003.

Eighteen officers were fired in the seven years her predecessor was in office.

The temptation, of course, is to hold the uniform in contempt and distrust those who wear it. That’s understandable, but near-sighted.

Someone said to me last night that 95% of cops are good people, and the other 5% ruin it for them.

I’d go one step further: I’d say 95% of local cops are good people who’ll spend their career avoiding a front page headline or the glare of a TV camera .

Another 3% are good and honest people who’ll have the same mistake filled workday we all have from time to time - only in their line of work, mistakes cost lives.

The final 2% have no business wearing a badge.

Truth be told, I have friends who are Milwaukee officers. While I’m a little old to idolize anyone I’ve had over for a barbeque, I respect them for the dangerous work they do.

I hope that the past eighteen months are an anomaly, and the Department rights itself before it’s reputation takes another hit.

Both the citizens of Milwaukee, and the officers that risk their lives to protect it, deserve no less.

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Milwaukee Art Museum May 26th

Today was a heck of a day. After a scheduled half-day at school, Lisa took YaYa to the Milwaukee Art Museum's Degas exhibit. Lisa took some postcard-like pics while she was there.

The Art Museum is the newest archetictural jewel here in Milwaukee and so popular it's the only image on the new city logo. It's the first U.S. design by Santiago Calatrava, and along with a 90 foot high glass reception hall its highlight is the Burke Brise Soleil.

With a wingspan greater than that of a 747, the fins open and close in a 'flapping' motion, creating a vibrant moving sculture.

Combine that with a world-class art collection, and I'd say it's a must see if you're visiting this neck of the woods.

           

As for YaYa, she loved it! I was suprised (to be honest) but with a guided tour from her Aunt (a longtime Art Musuem employee) she came back raving about the place. Not just the obligatory "It was fun" but a genuine enthusiasm for the museum.

I'd say the place has a new fan.

Afterwards we all went out to dinner at Chili's, spent an hour at the library for storytime, and caught a movie at a friend's house. A very relaxing, fun day.

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Yay!!

Just now my pics popped back onto my storage space and are once again showing up on the site. Thanks to everyone who offered their voice on my behalf and (for once) thanks to AOL!

Lost Season Finale - spoiler warning

I taped Lost while I watched AI, and thank God I did. Not only did it almost balance out the Carrie disaster, it lived up to the hype and offered up a host of goodies and plot twists.

1. Charlie seems doomed to resume his heroin habit, since he swiped one of the smuggler's statues.

2. The 'defense system' seems mechanical, not animal. You could hear the sound of a chain while Locke was being pulled along the ground.

3. If the smuggler's plane was from Africa, and the Black Rock was allegedly a slave ship from the east coast of that continent, I'd say it places the island (if it's physical) somewhere between Africa and Australia.

4. The others could care less about the baby; their goal all along was the boy. More on this point later, but that explains some of his odd comments in the last few weeks.

5. There's a strong possiblity someone from the raft didn't survive the fight.

6. Anyone catch the significance of the 'bad' numbers on the hatch cover? They were the same numbers that appeared on the terminal gate, the soccer team jerseys in the terminal, Kate's ransom amount, etc.

7. The island is huge - remember the comment "how can something this big not have been discovered?"

8. The ladder they discovered could stand for Jacobs Ladder, a bridge between heaven and earth (and it was severed at the bottom, you'll notice). I can't claim credit for this insight, I saw it on a message board.

9. Jack has finally accepted and verbalized a leadership role in the community, and anticipates a showdown with Locke.

10. The baby's name is Aaron which means:

Origin: Hebrew Meaning: Lofty; exalted; high mountain. Biblically, Aaron was Moses' older brother (and keeper by God's command). He was first high priest of the Israelites, remembered for the miraculous blossoming of his staff or rod.

 

All along I've fallen into the camp that says the island isn't physical but purgatory, a place where the dead (the passengers) atone for their sins before journeying to heaven or hell.

It fits for a number of reasons:

The passengers who survived did so with superficial wounds, if any.

They all seem to have complicated and often bloody pasts. Atthe very least, all seem to carry a great burden of guilt for past sins.

The island is too goofy to fit, in geography and events, our world.

Children seem to be 'collected' by the others, which would seem to point towards the fact that the innocent don't belong (but then why were they there in the first place? perhaps as a fulcrum to shift the hearts of the adults - the baby changed Charlie, and the boy has certainly changed his father)

The baby was rejected, true - but didn't we once hear that the child was destined for evil? Perhaps he isn't 'pure' enough yet, despite being an infant.

Note also the recent talk on the isle about 'destiny' 'punishment' 'fate', etc. Coincidence?

Now I think that is where the writers were going when this began, but with fans guessing at the 'truth' they may just be tempted to shift gears and make this some alien world.

Who knows?

What I do know is that this is one of my favorite shows of all time, and one of the very very few I'll purchase on DVD.

 

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Carrie Underwood is a no-talent hack

Mere moments after the travesty that befell American Idol tonight - with Carrie Underwood beating out the much more interesting/talented/personable Bo Bice - my mother called to gloat.

She is, to put it mildly, a Carrie Underwood fan.

Two words Ma: Jimmy Carter.

Ya voted for him too didn'tcha?

 I love ya, but I can't say I envy your track record.

Trust me, in two years you'll see Carrie guest starring on whatever schlock takes the place of Life on a Stick, just like Reuben "I beat Clay Aiken" Studdard.

And Bo will be pecking Kelly on the cheek and shaking Regis' hand as they congratulate him on his next gold record.

Just my slapinion.

But I am right.

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Yet another reason to move away from AOL

Begining last night, pictures have been deleted from my AOL storage space, apparently by some unknown glitch on their end. Three yesterday, seven so far today.

I've contacted AOL and they seem genuinely concerned but have provided me no means of fixing or arresting this problem. Their service reps have filed two reports  to their technical department on my behalf but admit I won't be contacted when/if the problem is diagnosed or fixed.

If nothing else, having a bunch of blank boxes on my site makes it a wee bit less impressive to first time visitors.

How crappy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Furry Cats and the Kids that Love Them

Here's a pic of Billy, our cat of eight years. We called him the girls 'brother' for so long YaYa's school once scolded her for making up imaginary siblings (this was pre-Parker).

Here's one of Parker in his momma's arms:

Oh, and to give you some standard by which to measure Billy's girth, there's this pic:

To give you some perspective: YaYa is only three and a half, but already wearing 4T Slim pants because of her height. Despite years of a cup of diet cat food a day, Billy still probably cracks the 20 pound mark.

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Famly Update - avoid at all costs

YaYa: aside from an upcoming Spring Concert Tuesday, not much going on with her. My wife did notice that she appears to walk a little pigeon-toed. While I think it may have just been a fluke, it'll be on our minds as she approaches a doctor's appointment.

Middle Daughter: as her second birthday approaches my wife began potty training her, and she'd done a heck of a job. While YaYa despised diapers (I remember a period where she would fight like a dog whenever anyone tried to change her) my youngest girl was the opposite.

Lisa finally cracked her of her diaper addiction, but it's been rough. Today she managed to go #1 three times on the potty, with only an accident or two, but for the last few days the floors have been bathed in her miscues. Thankfully, unlike when we trained YaYa, we have hardwood floors.

Parker: following a fierce week of constipation, Parker has resumed his normal eating habits (he passed 12# loonngg ago. He's been unusually cranky - reminiscent of our youngest daughter's entire first year - but coos quite a bit and takes in the sights. Now that I think of it, I wonder if he's teething? All our kids seem to break their first tooth very young . . .

Family: Sunday we attended a performance of You're A Good Man Charlie Brown at the Marian Center on the lake. To be kind, it sucked. Lousy even by amateur standards, although Lucy and Charlie Brown were talented. Youngest Daughter was a terror, everyone was bored, and we left at intermission - to the relief of everyone there I'm sure. The tickets were valued at $36, but I won them on the local PBS auction, so it was only a waste of $10.

Afterwards we made our own pizzas at home, which was a great way to get greens into the Youngest Girl: beneath the cheese was a solid layer of spinach.

Facinating, isn't it?

Of disturbing dreams and Divine Intervention?

Yeah, here's where you write me off as a quack.

On Thursday I loaded the kids into my two door hatchback to take YaYa to school. Three blocks from home - without any sign of trouble or warning - the car just stopped. It went kaput and wouldn't even clear the intersection.

[full disclosure: due to a wacky side effect of a long ago accident, the car occasionally has problems after a rainstorm. But this is forecast by a myriad of hints and oddities I know by heart - none of which applied here]

Anyhow, I got the kids out and walked home, which they at least thought was neat. YaYa, who's been through two flat tires in the last few months was confident in her diagnosis. "It's probably a screw or a nail in the tire. You should get the spare Dad."

I got my wife's minivan and finished the journey. The block around the school, however, was closed off by the police.

I later found out that a drunk driver had lost control and hit a woman who was getting out of her car, severing her leg before smashing into another car.

This happened at the same time I would normally pull up at the school and unload the kids, on the very same block that I've almost had my car door knocked off a dozen times by passing cars.

When I got home I tried the hatchback. Not only did it start, it's driven perfectly ever since - frankly, almost better than normal.

Now saying God was watching out for my family is a perilous path, one that implies the unwitting victim was less deserving of protection than I am.

I'm not saying the big J.C. was playing tricks with my itinerary, and I'm not saying the woman deserved to be hit.

But I'm also not saying it didn't happen that way; good sometimes follows from misfortune, and I'll never know all the particulars.

Either way, I feel a thank you is in order, and so here it is.

*  *    *    *

On a COMPLETELY separate tack, I've been plagued by extremely vivid dreams lately. I think it's a side effect of a medication I started a few weeks ago, so don't sign me up for the loony bin yet.

But if anyone is an expert on dream interpretation and cares to offer an opinion, here's two of the many dreams:

In the first, in what appears to be a grimy and gray England of old, a young woman is being blackmailed. She's instructed to place money in an envelope and leave it inside a 'secret room' behind a false wall in a manor house. 

The blackmailer, who appears to be a traditional English cop, meets her at the drop off and tries to include a sexual favor with the payment.

The woman agrees readily enough, but as they embrace she pulls a knife from beneath her dress and coldly hamstrings him. As he lays crippled on the ground she just as easily cuts his throat, retrieves her money, and leaves.

Nice huh?

Number two: my wife and I are in a church, one that I suppose is meant to pass for St. Peter's (but a darn plain one, I must say). The Pope is giving Mass.

On a silver platter next to him are two faces - think of the smiling and crying masks in theaters. These are real human faces however, and somehow I know they are the dead but still coherent faces of Pope John Paul II and another holy man (since forgotten). They moan pitifully, as if they are begging for the release of the hereafter, and their eyes roll back and forth in what could be a spiritual trance or (honestly) just a creepy look.

The line for Communion forms. My wife and I move forward, but as she is about to receive the wafer the faces begin to let out a guttural, animal scream. The Pope consults them, glares at us, and says my wife is forbidden to be there and has angered God.

We leave (duh)and I wake up.

Now, to aid any interpretation:

a) intense dreams are a legitimate side effect of this medicine (and yes I'm going to try to change it). So does its physical source void any potential meaning?

b)my wife's Lutheran and therefore not allowed communion in a Catholic church (a rule that has been not only ignored but actively violated by clergy). I would put that forth as the seed of the dream, but it seems too literal and easy an answer.

c)No, I'm not blackmailing or holding info over anyone's head, nor am I a victim of such a person. Frankly,my life is so damn boring that this blog is the most interesting thing I have going. So skip the skeleton in the closet theory.  

I think that's enough embarassing info for now.

 

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Why Revenge of the Sith is almost as good as an episode of Dr. Who May 22nd

Spoiler Warning: Minor plot points of the movie are discussed.

 

Like most thirty-something American men I saw Revenge of the Sith on its opening day, just as I did the first two Star Wars movies.

Which is odd, because unlike most GenX'ers, I’m not much of a fan.

Sure, I was as a kid, but that wore off before Jedi came out - and I was only nine at the time.

So why do I bother waiting in line in the rain, then sitting in a cramped theater for an hour before the movie begins, when I could take or leave what’s on the screen?

Peer pressure.

My best friend is a Star Wars fanatic, one who made the trek to Indianapolis for the convention this April. For the sake of our friendship, and because I didn’t want to be the one pal that turned him down, I went to all three movies.

And believe me, if waiting in line for Jar-Jar Binks and The Phantom Menace doesn’t prove the worth of a friend, nothing will.

This time I’m glad he dragged me along.

Sith wasn’t perfect, but as Star Wars goes, it came darn close.

Once you got past an awkward first half-hour, with its evil comic robots and superfluous battle scene, Sith almost proves itself the equal to Empire.

Sure, Natalie Portman’s acting is wooden, and what George Lucas’ knows about writing a romantic scene can fit in the eye of a Jawa. . .

But . . .

Hayden Christiansen gives an impressive and troubled performance as Anakin, Ewan McGregor all but channels Alec Guiness in his portrayal of Obi-Wan Kenobi, the plot is coherent and strong, and for once the special effects compliment rather than overwhelm the movie.

Two parts of Sith refuse to be ignored:

The showdown between Kenobi and his protégé is stunning and emotional, and much as I can’t believe I’m writing this, the sequence in which the Jedi are destroyed not only seemed plausible, but so tragic and well-crafted that it took my breath away.

Even Lucas’ alleged knocks on George W couldn’t ruin the movie.

If I had to put them in order, I’d rank Sith behind only Empire, with the original, Clones, JedI, and Phantom lagging behind.

I still thought the movie left some things unexplained.

¨ Why, in this advanced universe, didn’t anyone pick up on the fact that Padme was carrying twins? Didn’t she have prenatal care, or was all the ultrasound funding spent on that nifty white armor?

¨ Yeah, yeah, the Jedi are powerful. But they seem awfully casualty prone for such skilled fighters. And is it just me, or does the JedI Council come off looking like an ineffective and elitist bureaucracy that all but pushes Anakin to the opposite camp?

¨ Dying of a broken heart? Gag me. Okay, sure - the father of your babies is a future mass murderer/tyrant who cuts off your son’s hand. But don’t you think you might stick around for, oh, the sake of your twin babies?

¨ We’ve all said it before: what’s the obsession with amputation?

¨ Why did Yoda abandon his fight with the Emperor? On my fight card it was at worst a draw, and if I’m not mistaken, the fate of the universe was at stake.

¨ You join the dark side so your wife doesn’t die. Yet when you enlist your wife not only dies, but you think you’re the one that killed her. So why stay with the dark side?


When I saw Empire my father told me Lucas planned on nine movies - three prequels, the trilogy, and three sequels.

If the next three would match Sith, I’m game for another wait in the rain.

 

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ps. here's a link to a Sith  article by sci-fi writer Orson Scott Card. I think it's a bit over the top, and he takes the subject too seriously, but I agree with his ideas about the Council and the elitist nature of the Jedi. Or rather, since I wrote mine before I read it, he agrees with me. What the heck, give it a read.

ps2. just found this very good (negative) review here. I never thought about the Vader-Droid problem . . .

 

Thursday, May 19, 2005

How Lightsabers Work.

Screw Lucas' monopoly on Jedi technology. Courtesy of Pentavirate, here's a link to a site that explains just how those fancy lightsabers work.

It also shows the practical uses of the tool - such as saving time by slicing and toasting your bagel with a singe swipe of the blade. Enjoy.

 

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Egads! More Daddy Blogging.

Never fear, a normal post will show up in the next day or so. In the meantime, if you want a taste of grown-up schtuff, you can click here for a WWII post, or here for one on Marquette's name change.

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Subscribers: Check out the new graphics in the 'about me' section! Courtesy of a friend who wishes to remain anonymous (cough *Oftencold *cough) and via a trick learned from Patrick's Place.

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A slight change of pace: my wife took YaYa to the zoo with her class and took some great pics, three of which I'll include here.

I know, I know; I did a post on the zoo already, but two of these pics just downright rock (although at reduced 'best for web' quality they lose a little something).

Wonder if that trip counts towards the mind-boggling summer to-do list?

Oh, and in the small world category, a casual reader of this site turned out to have a granddaughter in the same dance studio, and at the same recital, as Ya Ya.  Neat :)

Ok, here goes:

 

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Monday, May 16, 2005

The Very Illustrated Dance Recital/Kite Flying Post May 16th

If you're looking for original and serious commentary, skip this post. I'm afraid this one is nothing more than online scrapbooking.

But, never fear! Loyal readers who hate daddy blogs may click here for a WWII post, and here for one on the lunacy of MU's (now abandoned) choice of a team name.

I received a few complaints (okay one) that my post on the baptism didn't have enough pictures.

In answer to that: a) I had recently used Slapinions as a reference for a writing gig and was loathe to daddy-blog and b) I wasn't the one behind the camera that day and no one - no one - seems to have taken even one decent pic of my boy on his big day.

Amateurs!

So, excuse me for going overboard today.

*                     *                       *

The recital went off without a hitch, even though we accidentally left my daughter's dance bag at home - meaning she arrived at the school without any dance shoes.

Thankfully, with a hundred or more dancers, there was an extra pair for her.

We also survived a late night that meant my tiny dancer was on short rest, and a near-bout with a flat tire on the way to the auditorium.

Whew.

The family was well represented from both sides, and we all managed to finagle second row seats. 

(tough sh*t award: to the lady behind me who whined that my height blocked her view, prompting her to move in a huff. Hope you enjoyed the seats in back.)

The performance went pretty much like the rehearsal I described on Friday. While she wasn't the most adept dancer, she was easily the most at ease on stage, beaming at the audience and spinning like a top.

She earned a solid round of laughter when she missed a cue and launched into an unscripted and flamboyant spin. She got another when she paused when leaving the stage to soak up the audience.

She was a doll.

At the end of 31 dance numbers (it was the studio's 25th anniversary show) she appeared again in the finale. Afterwards we all met up outside to present her roses and a chocolate bar, along with hugs and kisses.

Here's the dancer herself:

 and her Nana and Grandma

her other Grandma

my Dad

her Uncle and Aunt

her Bad-hair-day Dad

and her Mom

(really, there was a better closeup of my wife, but I have to confess the pic has . . . other attributes I admire)

Afterwards Lisa took her to a 1st birthday party for my wife's step-sister's daughter. For the occasion she made the little one a homemade blanket.

Honestly, it was a great afternoon.

Oh, btw - Saturday Lisa took the girls down to a lakefront kite festival where she met up with brother and a friend.

Here's a pic of the homemade kite Lisa and Grace built together the week before:

and one of my youngest daughter at the lake:

There - was that enough pics for ya? ;)

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Alien Mortgage

The recital was a blast - I'll post pics and a short summary tomorrow.

Meanwhile, check out this link from MyUfo.com, a site listed in my 'favorite sites' to the left.

$1 Million Prize for 1st Extraterrestrial Home Loan

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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Was WWII 'worth' it? I think so

If you haven’t read Pat Buchanan’s opinion on the ‘worth’ of fighting WWII, I encourage you to do so before the day is through. In it he argues that the war wasn’t worth fighting at all, largely because it left much of Europe in the hands of the Soviets.

The five-page essay is well-written and cohesive, and he argues his points very well.

Which is why it’s a shame the whole thing is baloney.

Buchanan bases his theory on a simple premise. The war was started by the West to defend Poland and eastern Europe from tyranny and invasion (by Hitler). At the end of the war German occupation was replaced by communism, a political system whose leaders butchered far more people than Nazi Germany.

Therefore the point of the war - again, to free the East from invasion and brutality - was a failure, as, by default, was the war itself.

Under those criteria, the war was a waste.

Of course, if you think England and France went to war for the sake of my ancestral homeland, well then I have some Enron stock to sell you.

If left unchecked Nazi Germany was poised to become the sole continental power, one with a bloody historical rivalry with France. The immediate threat to France’s future wasn’t hard to see, nor was the inevitable face-off between a resurrected Germany and the British empire.

The barbarity of Nazi Germany, and the breadth of its early success, successfully made the war into the equivalent of an old Western, with clear cut good guys vanquishing dire villains.

Rightly so - but at its heart the motivation for the war wasn’t morality, but good old fashioned political necessity.

When that’s understood, Buchanan’s premise falls apart. (as do minor points that stem from it, such as the fact that Western Europe was never directly threatened until the west itself declared war) Still, there is lingering doubt. At some point the war did become a crusade. 50 million people died in that quest. Can it truly be called successful if in the end the east fell to another evil?

 Explain to me how we could have stopped it.

Go ahead, explain to an exhausted public that after six years of total war your Red ally is soon to be an enemy, and dire steps have to be taken to blunt their plans.

(Oh, you cut funding to stunt our ally, risking our son’s life on a drive east so you could grab more land for yourself? How noble Mr. Churchill.)

Direct engagement? Who’s to say it would have worked? Instead of just the east, perhaps all of Europe would have fallen to Stalin.

Lost in his argument is the fact that we did take on the Red Army. Once Germany fell, the US and the Soviets spent forty years as enemies and fought at least three proxy wars (Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan) over ideology.

Of course, Buchanan isn’t really arguing historical points. He’s gone on record denying the extent, if not the existence, of the Holocaust. In his mind there is no contest - we wasted 50 million lives to remove a buffer between us and communism, the “black death of the 20th century”.

I don’t relish the fact that the land of my ancestors spent forty years on the Soviet‘s leash. It was a tragedy, mitigated only by the fact that Poles played such a large role in Communism’s fall.

But I doubt that many of them, given a choice, would have asked for the Nazi’s return.

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My daughter's dance rehearsal May 14th

My oldest daughter had the full dress rehearsal for her dance recital Friday night. Only one parent was allowed to attend, so I didn't get the chance to see it. :(

Here's some pics I took of her getting ready:

Sadly, none of the pics from the rehearsal turned out, and cameras/camcorders aren't allowed at the recital.

Not to worry tho' - for a scant $45 I've put in an order for a DVD of her five minute performance. Captialism, sad to say, is occasionally a B***h.

Now, from what I hear my daughter, the youngest in her class by almost a full year, is the least technically adept of the group.

Meaning while the other kids are doing this or that (insert French dance term) move, she's more concerned with spinning as fast as she can, singing the loudest, and hamming it up.

From the crowd reaction, this ironically made her the favorite dancer in the group. And we're not talking one or two people - from what I hear the auditorium was half-full.

At one point her hair bow fell out and my visibly upset daughter stopped dancing and pouted. Again, to the delight of the crowd.

She also didn't want to leave the rehearsal when it was all done. She claimed that she had to stay for the finale.

"You did the finale," my wife said.

"No! Miss Barbara said there would be loud music in the finale and I shouldn't cover my ears. There was no loud music," she said.

It took the word of her teacher to change her mind.

Guess I have to stop playing my music so loud in the car - the kid's losing perspective.

I'll give my review of the recital post-Sunday.

 

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Introducing The Season

Rather than wait for the 'anniversary' post, I thought I'd introduce you to a new site of mine, The Season.

It's a writing blog that follows the progress of a novel I'm working on in my spare time.

The first post essentially introduces the idea of the novel itself; later entries will deal with the characters and their relationships, and with the everyday process of writing.

The site is brand new and in need of some redecorating, but I hope you enjoy it and visit again.

Also . . . if you have a mind to, take a look at the web version of Slapinions. It's brand new and not open to the public (it too needs some mucho redecorating) but one day it'll probably replace this site. As of now, it simply mirrors the entries on this one.

Enjoy, and thanks for your readership.

 

Dan

Friday, May 13, 2005

Do De Do

Just a quick, useless post to tell you that listening to Garth Brook's "The Dance" while down in the dumps is not a wise life decision.

Oh, and I suppose you're still waiting for that anniversary post? So am I - I still don't have the graphics in hand, and posting without it feels like having a birthday cake without candles.

No one's fault. As it is I'm imposing on the spare time of a friend that's doing it for free.

So I'll wait. In the meantime, check out this link to an article by Pat Buchannan. Forget your opinions of the man - I'm not a fan myself - and read it for the actual content.

Is he right, wrong, or something in between? 

If I find the time I think I'll post my response here.

And on a lighter note . . . (well, hardly that; after all, it involves drug addiction and murder). Never-the-less, this story of a homeless man who died defending a woman gives you some proof of the goodness of humanity, even in tragedy.

Both were taken from the Drudge Report.

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Monday, May 9, 2005

The best laid plans . . ./Blog Soldiers

This being the six-month anniversary of my blog, I was going to introduce some new graphics, some hoity-toity links, and a recap of my glorious online history.

Yeah, about that . . .

The graphics are behind schedule, I have a day packed with appointments and a meeting at work, and I haven't even started writing the post.

So, I guess we'll celebrate the "six month and a day or two" anniversary in the near future.

Meantime, I came across a new traffic exchange. Depsite it's alarmingly militant name, it seems on the up and up and mimics BE and BC. Check it out:

Blog Soldiers

Saturday, May 7, 2005

Clearing out my mailbox

When I find something interesting online I send myself an email to remind myself to eventually put it on the site.

Here's a site that'll give you the #1 song on the day you were born - in my case Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks.

The Wayback Machine is an internet archive. Punch in a url and see how the site looked in years past.

I saw this on another AOL Journal. It determines what religion or christian denomination best suits your individual beliefs about God and morality.

Despite answering honestly, even when I felt it was in opposition to the dogma I was taught, I got the following results:

1.  Eastern Orthodox (100%)

2.  Roman Catholic (100%)

3.  Mainline - Conservative Christian Protestant (86%)

4.  Orthodox Quaker (77%)

5.  Seventh Day Adventist (77%)

6.  Mainline - Liberal Christian Protestants (64%)

7.  Orthodox Judaism (55%)

8.  Islam (50%)

9.  Hinduism (48%)

10.  Sikhism (47%)

What a shocker.

Here's a neat little site with an obscure subject: Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary.

And finally, because I'm sick of seeing it in my mailbox, here's a potential opening line for a story idea of mine:

For the first time in his life, Calvin Elworthy felt something akin to hate.

Friday, May 6, 2005

The Post about the Name change that made MU fans say FU May 6th

On Wednesday Marquette University changed its nickname from the Golden Eagles – a lame and almost universally hated moniker – to something fresh and new.

Ladies and gentlemen, just in time for Marquette’s entrance into the Big East, I present to you the Marquette Gold.

Yes, you read correctly. Gold.

As in the color, the metal, dental caps, pansies, Dial soap, and the last name of 30% of the world’s porn actresses.

Gold.

In the interest of full disclosure I have to point out that I’m not a big fan of Marquette. I’m an alumni of UWM, a cross-town university who’s basketball team actually qualified for the NCAA tournament (and made it to the Sweet Sixteen to boot).

I thought their wish to permanently close downtown Milwaukee’s busiest street - for the sake of a school common area -was pretentious and arrogant, and I despise the way they jaywalk in rush-hour traffic as if they own the world.

I don’t owe Marquette any allegiance.

But on the flip side, I will state that their women are pretty hot.

None of that matters now. Fan or rival, this name change cannot stand.

This whole thing is a freakin’ embarrassment to the city.

The old nickname, the one they earned a national championship under, was the Warriors. I have to agree, group that name with a mascot named Willie Wampum and you’re pushing the limits of good taste.

Willie was dumped in the early seventies, and the name lived on.

Then in 1993 the university decided, on strictly PC grounds, to change the name of the team. Introducing the Golden Eagles, and a decade of alumni and students asking for a return to the Warriors.

Bowing to pressure, the university leadership caves in and dumps the Eagles – for the before mentioned Gold.

Alumni reaction has been scathing, local talk show and radio hosts have ridiculed it, and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, while endorsing it in an editorial, also spent considerable time thinking up gold-related puns for its headlines.

Marquette, for it’s part, has said the decision is final and not open to debate.

[Guess it’s okay for them to drain your wallet before and after graduation; just don’t dare ask for your voice to be heard. ]

I know about Syracuse, Stanford, and the handful of other schools associated with a color. Fine forthem. Not fine for a university where more than 60% of the student body identifies with the name Warriors twelve years after a name change.

Personally, barring any hokey/stereotyped mascot to go along with it, I think Native Americans should be proud of their association with the term ‘warriors’. At least they get some recognition.

What do my fellow Poles and I get? Meathead on All in the Family, that’s what.

After hearing that nickname for thirty years I’d applaud a team named the Polacks.

Of course, that’s not my call to make. It’s not my race up there on Marquette’s marquee, and so I’ll bow to the Native American’s point of view.

So here’s an idea. Disassociate the Warrior nickname from its Native American past. Throw a European on the logo, or Xena, or any generic figure that moves the logo away from a Native connotation.

The Belgians might object, but screw ‘em.

Or better yet, it’s a Catholic University: why not put an Archangel on the logo? Not only is it true to the warrior image, it’s biblical and therefore bypasses any hint of conflict with the university’s philosophy.

It’d solve the problem and save Marquette hefty loses from their alumni backers.

But I repeat: anything’s better than Gold.

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More boring Daddy blogging

A minor miracle this morning.

I fed and changed Parker, dressed both girls, gave them their vitamins and the youngest her medicine, packed a lunch for YaYa and put her hair in a ponytail (but botched a braid), made girl #2 her breakfast, had the girls play on PollyPocket.com, took them all with me to drop YaYa off at school and then to my Mom’s house to complete a favor for her.

All in a day’s work for the Mrs., but a primo accomplishment for me.

And (drum roll please) . . .

When I noticed her overnight diaper was dry I asked my youngest daughter if she wanted to go pee on the potty. She said yes, and after one false alarm FILLED the training potty, proudly marched it in to show her sleeping momma, then back to the bathroom where she herself flushed the toilet and waved ‘bye bye’.

You know, if I read this on someone else’s site I’d gag.

Fortunately, my kids never seem to bore . . .

The swingset continues to be a hit. The kids ask to use it before school, after school, in the dark, the rain, and the cold.

They’d use it in a tornado if I’d let them.

Also, I sense a nickname coming for Parker: Baby B.

I wanted to make its source known because I’ve been disputed on these things before.

My youngest daughter’s name for her sister is “Ya Ya”. I’ve heard talk that this is some corruption of her name, or maybe a mispronunciation of ‘sister’.

Wrong.

When we had our station wagon I’d load the kids from the passenger side. Inevitably my oldest would hem and haw with some excuse for not sliding over.

“Yeah, yeah. Move over,” I’d say.

And the name was born.

Yesterday afternoon I fed the baby outside while the girls played on the swingset. The almost two-year old, with her mothering instincts, rushed over to help me.

I was fine with it for a minute, but when she tried to take over Parker started crying.

“Let baby be, “ I said, annoyed.

And it dawned on me how often I say that to her.

Look for more adventures of YaYa, Baby B, and their (as yet un-nicknamed) sister in the days to come.

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Thursday, May 5, 2005

The Post where I waste an afternoon defending Paula Abdul May 5th

Last night was this couch potato’s dream day. A brand new episode of Lost, and American Idol, and to top it off, the hour-long Primetime Live special on Paula Abdul, “Fallen Idol”.

The special accuses Paula of having an affair with a former contestant, Corey Clark, who in addition to more biblical rewards received special coaching, cash, and a cell phone.

Now I could waste 700 words on why, even if true, this didn’t affect the result of the show. Corey Clark had enough talent to make it to the top ten by his lonesome, viewers do the actual voting from that point on, no one listens to Paula’s too-lenient judging anyway, and ‘twas nobody that was about to outlast the tag-team of Reuben and Clay.

Of course that doesn’t change the fact that in theory, the show’s integrity was breached.

I don’t know if the allegation is true, but if it is, I didn’t see the proof of it last night.

For starters, Corey’s motives are pretty transparent. He has a CD coming out and managed to con ABC into showing him in the recording studio more than a few times. He has a beef against the show (he was kicked off after it was revealed he’d lied about his arrest record), and has stated he’ll refuse to aid any Fox investigation. One minute - one minute - after the show ended his tell-all book appeared for sale online.

So he’s an opportunistic creep, and at best a not very trustworthy lover.

But is he a liar?

Five years ago I’d have had more faith in the research of a major network, but after Rathergate those days are past. Remember, AI is burying the other networks (like ABC) in its timeslot.

Long on story but short on evidence, with leading questions and cheap theatrical stunts, it reminded me more of Inside Edition than anything put out by ABC News.

The facts, as presented in the story:

Phone records from Clark’s home to a number purported to be Paula’s Whether it was her phone number or not was never mentioned; I guess we’re supposed to assume they checked into that.

A cash receipt from a clothing store. Yikes, that’s the nail in the coffin.

A clerk(s?) at a Sprint PCS store, never seen on camera, alleges that Paula accompanied Corey to activate a phone. Corey says numerous times the affair was top-secret, and that no one could know they were seeing each other. So why risk it all for something as simple as getting a phoneturned on?

With AI’s exclusive contract with Sprints competition, why did/would Paula bother with a different company when odds are she had phone service for free? Remember, Corey implied she had Sprint prior to getting his phone - not to avoid detection.

(personal note: as a Sprint customer, let me just say: I trust the word of a typical Sprint clerk as much as I do, oh, that drunk on the corner who swears the money he’s asking for will go towards a good meal)

A liquid prescription bottle with Paula’s name on it. Assuming he didn’t go dumpster diving, I’d like proof it was hers. I can go to a clinic and get a prescription in the name of Genghis Khan if I pay in cash.

[And what was with those seven AI cast-offs that were brought it and nudged and prodded towards embarrassing themselves on TV? Note to crybabies: you lost because you weren’t as good a singer as the rest, not because of any scandal. Geesh. Their self-pity and inflated egos match, well - my own.]

Maybe the thugarific Corey, his equally thuggish friends, and his fine upstanding family (who agreed to ‘cover up the affair’ but allege they were dead-set against it from the start) are telling the truth.

Maybe they are. It’s possible - it may even be probable.

But 60 minutes of poorly done fluff did nothing to prove it to me.

ABC should be embarrassed.

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Idiot of the Day

Ugh. How embarrassing is this: I was all pumped up to see a Vatican art exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum.

I drove my daughter to school, went across town to pick up my sister, braved horrible downtown construction to find a parking spot, blah blah.


I get to the ticket window and hear "I'm sorry sir. That exhibit is next year."


Yup, it runs from Feb to May of 2006.


Why they've had flyers and ads out since New Years is beyond me, but yes, I qualify for 'idiot of the day'.

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Parker Smiles!

As promised, here's two pics of the future Hall-of-Famer as he grins at his Mom and Dad!

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An Email From the Wife

I came home from work to see this awe-inspring list in my mailbox. It's gonna be a busy summer to say the least. :)

This summer I want to...  

take Grace to Great America

...take the girls to the zoo...maybe twice ..

.take the girls to the children's museum, at least four times .

..take the girls to IKEA, get breakfast and buy something ..

.take the girls to a water park WITH YOU ..

.go to Friday night flicks down on the east side again ..

.go to state fair ..

.childrens fest (maybe) ..

.be in the fourth of July parade with kids with a kick ass decorated stroller or wagon...

 ...watch fire works downtown, AND somewhere else ..

.visit my g'grandpa or invite him over

go to lots of parks

grill outside a lot

start working out again

take walks around the neighborhood when the sun is setting with you and the kids  

 hmmmm...I guess that's it....  

what do you want to do this summer?

  xoxo, me

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A Testament to my Songwriting Skills

To entertain the troops in the car I've composed a little ditty to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Fear not, I'll post new verses as they come to me:

Mustard and boogers on a breadstick

tastes so dan-dy

I think it just might be

my favorite type of candy

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Monday, May 2, 2005

The Post with The Exorcist, Roots, and The Godfather May 2nd

As we're a 'mixed' family - I'm Catholic, the Mrs. is Lutheran, and most of our friends fall in one camp or the other - a few folks asked me what to expect at my son's baptism.


"It'll be like the end of The Godfather," I told them, "but in English and minus the killing."


But it started out a little more like Miracle on Danny's Street: we retrieved our daughters from their sleepover at Grandma's, dressed everyone in their Sunday best, and made it to the church with a half hour to spare.

Even with that head start we got there after Lisa’s brother and sister-in-law, the Godparent’s to be, both of whom seemed excited and honored.


There we discovered that one of the associate pastors would be leading the mass. This was fine by us; he’s a friendly, entertaining priest who, to continue the movie theme, has more than a passing resemblance to Fr. Karras from The Exorcist.


He introduced himself before the mass and asked that we all accompany him to the sacristy. There he completed the naming ceremony in private and gave us some instructions.


"Don't worry about the choreography," he said. "I'll take care of that. We’ll do the ceremony after the homily. You follow along, and when it's over I’ll hold Parker up like Kunta Kinta and introduce him to the congregation. Simple."

It was simple, and at the risk of being sappy, it was beautiful. Throughout the mass Fr. referenced Parker, offering prayers and best wishes for his future. His homily centered on the idea that Parker was now a brother to everyone in the church, and would never be abandoned or alone with Christ.

And then it was time for the ceremony itself. Throughout the blessing Parker, as he had throughout the mass, was alert but quiet. He showed a little concern when the priest poured water on his head, but kept his cool.

“Good boy,” said Father. As he stepped forward to bless him again, my son sneezed in his face. The congregation laughed, and Father recovered nicely. “God bless you,” he said. “And how appropriate that is.”

Then, as promised, Father took Parkerand held him aloft. “I’d like you to meet Parker, the newest member of our church.”

I couldn’t suppress a smile when the whole church applauded.

Afterwards we headed to the hall. There was a dilemma over the food we’d ordered; either someone would’ve had to skip the ceremony to pick it up, or we’d grab it after mass.

We decided on the second option. Lisa went to get the food, and I went to the hall to greet the guests.

I guess we’d dallied too long at a short pit stop, because the place was packed when I got there.

Oops.

To make matters worse, I was now the sole host to fifty very hungry people who expected at least a smidgen of hospitality from me.

Let’s be clear: I’m not a social butterfly. I tried , and I think I did okay, but I all but bowed to the Mrs. when she finally walked in.

The party lasted most of the early afternoon. Lisa’s family showed up in full force, as did the usual roster from my side. Some of my friends and co-workers showed, as did Gracie’s teacher.

And, brother, we are breeders: there were a half dozen kids there under the age of four and three more under eleven. We’d thought ahead and brought a kid sized picnic table, a bag of toys, and coloring books. Even so I’m thankful to Lisa’s aunt, who thought to buy each of my girls a toy - which naturally became their favorite of the day.

It wasn’t Six Flags, but it was a fun and enjoyable afternoon. Not even an overcast and rainy day could change that.

And try as I might, I can’t remember Parker crying once all day.

Now if the bugger would just sleep more than an hour or two at night . . .

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