Thursday, November 17, 2016

Pumpkin Carving with Junie

Back in mid-October I took Junie to a pumpkin carving event at a nearby park. You carve a jack-o-lantern, leave it behind for a few days as the park celebrates Halloween, and then pick it in time for the actual holiday. 

 I didn't want to go. I was salty as heck about the 2015 event, when some folks in the neighborhood took it upon themselves to decorate their homes with (literally) dozens of jack-o-lanterns they swiped from the park. 

I don't cotton thieves. 

But obviously I went. Someone's taking the pictures, right? Unlike prior years the pumpkins were precleaned, which robbed us of the seeds, which ticked me off even more And it was pitch dark, and we had to carve it under the light on my cell phone. Which also annoyed me. But Junie had a blast. 

She carved a face on one side, her initials on the other.

Some of her friends were there and they "dabbed" and showed off for the camera. 

A few days later we picked up the pumpkin, avoiding the pumpkin grabbers, and proudly displayed it on our porch!

Monday, November 7, 2016

My Ballot for the 2016 Presidential Election

This election isn’t the first to win my attention. This blog started as a response to the ’04 Presidential contest, and twenty years before that, having been raised in a household of Democrats, I remember my Grandmother comforting me after Mondale’s defeat. I’ve followed every contest since that (then) bitter Reagan win, and been fascinated with the workings of Presidential elections, from the time of the Founders until today. There’s not much that I thought could surprise me.
This election has turned into a circus, a free for all between a blowhard celebrity and a ruthless member of the political machine. It’s a farce, a down and dirty tussle in the mud; there is no line that cannot be crossed, no allegation a step too far, no behind the scenes machination that is ruled unethical. Unquestionably the worst ballot in my lifetime, it is a mess, a travesty, and nothing short of a schoolyard brawl.
I love it.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I believe everything I wrote in the last paragraph, and I think this is a near perfect example of what an election should NOT be. But, on principle, I enjoy the tussle of an election year: it is the one time when Americans discuss something more important than celebrity gossip and fad diets, when debates on the direction of our country take place in offices, homes, and online – even if discussions are shallow and revolve around memes and talking points.
You might hate to hear it, but the 2016 election is the American political experiment in action, and it is to be celebrated.
Alas, neither candidate is worth the hoopla.  
I dismissed Trump early, convinced that more experienced, thoughtful Republicans like Jeb Bush would carry the day. I misjudged the anger of the common man, and Trump barreled through the primaries. I thought he would moderate, if not his views, than his approach, once he had the nomination. Wrong again. I understand the gut appeal of a candidate that speaks his mind, that isn’t handcuffed by the rigid and empty scripts most politicians regurgitate. But a nice bit of Presidential decorum would have been nice to see.
And then Hillary. My word. She’s the unwelcome guest at dinner that just never leaves. For thirty years she’s been despised by the Right, barely tolerated by the Left, and repeatedly passed over by the center.  She’s on pace to become the first female American President, yet the resume of this “most experienced candidate ever” is an unimpressive carpetbagging stint in the Senate, a deeply flawed run as Secretary of State, and a marriage to a former President. She could barely knock out a 74 year old Socialist in the primaries (and then, only with a little help from the DNC), and has stumbled and bumbled her way into almost losing the general election to a much disliked television star.
My word, THIS is the best American female we had to offer? 
We really should be allowed a mulligan on this election.

So they’re both awful, awful candidates. But you have to vote for someone, and assuming you correctly believe voting 3rd party is about as valuable as staying home and watching bread mold, whom do you choose?
(Disclaimer: Here in Wisconsin the state’s electoral votes will almost certainly go to Hillary, relieving me of any obligation to vote one way or the other. Alas, with a crucial Senate race at stake, I’ll be in the voting booth, but with a conscience free ability to vote 3rd party if I desire)
I’ll give you another disclaimer at this point, and I won’t even hide it in parenthesis. There is one part of me, the part of me that is contrarian, the part of me that’s blunt by nature and appreciates it in kind, the part of me that recognizes the duplicity and ignorance of the media . . . well, that part of me would love to see a Trump victory just so I could collect and drink the tears of the Left. The very thought gives me shivers.
Alas, so does the prospect of a Trump win.
He wouldn’t be the worst President ever. You’ll never convince me that a man of his great and long lasting business success would somehow surpass Millard Filmore and Andrew Johnson on that score. I don’t care how many bad words he said, or how many millennials he triggered into running for their safe spaces, or how many people somehow equate protecting our border with racism. I don’t buy the propaganda, sorry.
But I think that Clinton would do a better job at managing the ship of state. I think she’d govern from the center, with occasional veers to the Left for show, ala her husband, and that overseas she’d continue in the vein of a closeted warhawk, just like Obama. I believe she’d do a decent job, with most of her egregious errors being unrecognizable in the short term, which is what a President needs to maintain a decent poll rating. No big snafus like invading Iraq only to come up empty on WMD’s – no, her mistakes will be subtler, like the Arab Spring she promoted. It led to ISIS, and Syria, and God knows what else, but at a comfortable enough distance that it’s rarely (but properly) laid at her feet except by the partisan opposition.
The problem is, she’s dishonest. Not dishonest in the vein of all politicians, or dishonest in a “I’ll lie in my campaign promises” way. She’s dishonest in a manner I’ve never come across in a politician, the consistent and pervasive lies of someone that’s skated on thin ice for decades but come out with nary a scratch, and assumes that streak will continue into the future. A crook properly caught and punished may change their ways; a crook that constantly avoids conviction is just emboldened. If she isn’t indicted for her perjury to Congress over her email snafu, then mark my words: at some point, probably just when the administration is going well, she’ll screw up anew, and the lies will catch up to her. We’ll watch another Clinton Presidency become bogged down in an impeachment, and unlike Bill (whose impeachment I thought was undue) she won’t come out a winner.
I don’t want to see the already much tarnished reputation of the Oval Office roughed up even more. I don’t want this nation, at a time of turmoil, when our traditional enemies are rising yet again, to be preoccupied with bulls**t and scandal.
I can’t, in good conscience, vote for her. I’ll acknowledge her as President if she wins.  I’ll root for her general success, as it is America’s success, when she’s in office. But I know what trouble awaits, and I can’t mortgage this nation voluntarily. I can’t.
You want an answer as to who to vote for? Who *I’m* voting for? Good luck, because the best I can give you is this: I won’t vote for Hillary.
To those who fret  and panic over this election; to those who label it “The Most Important Election of Our Lifetime,” (as opposed to the last “Most Important Election,” and the next), breathe easy.
This might be the least important election ever. The country is starkly but civilly divided, and whichever candidate takes office will face a determined and obstructionist foe in Congress. We’ll get bogged down by bureaucracy and the status quo. Critics will cite this as proof the system is broken, but critics are morons. The system is designed this way. It’s built to put a check on the President, to avoid a rubber stamp on Executive Power. It was designed to lumber along, and that’s what it will do.
The Republic will survive. Will it be the better for it after this fiasco? That’s not up to me. That’s up to the voters of the 2020 “Most Important Election Ever” to decide.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Smiley and Junie go roller skating 10-6-16

My two youngest went roller skating on the sixth. There's not much to write about it, but they had a blast and I'm always happy when my kids bond together over activities. 

Junie gets glasses! 10-21-16

Junie got some bad news at the optometrist this month. From perfect vision last year, to an entire point drop in one eye this time around, necessitating a pair of glasses. 

She was not amused. 

But, by the time they arrived, she seemed eager for them. I drove her to pick them up. 

And to help ease the transition, bought her this classy carrying case, and a cleaning cloth and liquid cleaner. 

Alas, she loved it so much she took the case everywhere, including to Grandma's, and during her time with her she left it behind at a KFC and it was stolen. 

Two days after I bought it. 

C'est la vie. I've already inquired about ordering another, but we'll see if she even continues to show interest. It's not really a necessity, and she's doing fine without it. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Our 20th Wedding Anniversary

Twenty years ago today- that's five days less than my wife had spent on the earth at the time - this happened. 

 Anyone that says their marriage has been free of conflict, and immune to periods of turmoil is either a liar or single.  For us, the good days have far, far exceeded the bad. In twenty years we've made four great kids, but even if God had chose not to bless us with them, I still married my best friend and a heck of a hottie; I think we would have been just fine. 

I had big plans for our 20th anniversary, but (typical Pisces) it didn't pan out. No matter. For the 25th, we go all out.

You heard it here first. 

Happy Anniversary Sinatra!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

YaYa's Homecoming 10-7-16

Earlier this month YaYa and her boyfriend attended the Homecoming Dance at their high school. She asked me to accompany them to the Art Museum first to photograph them, and I happily obliged. 

Unfortunately, most of my pictures sucked, although YaYa was kind about it. Plus a security guard kicked us out, saying they don't allow their site to be used for "commercial enterprises." Huh. As far as I know, I've never made a dime off of this blog, but allrighty. 

She looked happy. Like, really, honest to goodness, genuinely happy, and that, in turn, made me very happy for her. 

By all accounts the event went well and she had a blast. I'm proud of that girl. She's growing up into a fine young woman. 

I love you YaYa!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Grasshoppers

Three times this summer we headed over to a local park and collected grasshoppers. Whenever we got a new batch, we paroled the old ones by releasing them in the backyard. 

I love grasshoppers by the way. The drink, and the insect. 

Here's Junie releasing the last batch of the year with her friend Tia. 

Afterwards, I took them to the park. I spent most of the time there sitting by the playground reading a book on Jack the Ripper, which I'm sure wasn't alarming to anyone at all. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Community Center Food Pantry Walk 2016

Earlier this month Team Slap participated once again in the charity walk for the local food pantry. It's one of the ways we try and give back to the community, and it's become an annual tradition. 

The night before I took the kids to the store and allowed them to each buy five dollars worth of food to donate, in addition to our cash gift. 

Early the next morning, under a cloudy sky threatening rain, we met up with friends at the Community Center. 

Grace's friend Nick walked with us, and very kindly offered his condolences on the loss of Jaspare. 

And then we were off, sticking to the longer 3 mile course. The organizers claim it's only 2.6 miles, but even the map they hand out betrays that white lie. 

For the second year my friend Tre and his family joined us!

Smiley spent much of the walk watching over my Godson. Cutest moment of the day: seeing the two of them skip, hand in hand, near the end of the walk. 

Alas, the skies broke open near the start of the walk and we spent the majority of it wading, undeterred, through a big rainstorm. 

Afterwards, soaked to the bone, we (well, everyone but me) dined on ice cream at the community center before walking home. 

I look forward to participating again next year, and hope to enlist even more people into joining us!