Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thanks Tera

It is ridiculous how many gifts we got they year. Tyler alone was incredibly busy making his family tons of beautiful art work, all of which is wonderful and well appreciated. Connor worked very hard as well. You should see the beautiful necklace he made Mommy. In fact, you can... just look to the left. Not only is it beautiful, but when she is wearing it, we will never lose her. In case you cannot tell, those are beads and bells on it.

And, it just seems wrong that I was the one who got the most gifts, and every one of them was fantastic. I am really lucky. It probably should not be that the dad gets the best gifts, but I am not going to complain.

Remember the big box I mentioned my sister sent months ago? It was a home brewing kit. As you may or may not know, I like to drink micro-brew type beers, and am fascinated by the chemistry of the process. I cannot really think of a better gift for me. So, if you are reading this, Tera, thank you so much.

But, that is not all she got me. Oh no, that is not all. She also got me a cool marble run toy. She knows from last time we visited the Blauwkamps, how much I enjoy playing with it. Of course, she disguised the fact that it was for me by sending it to Tyler and Connor, and they do LOVE it. I mean, who would not enjoy something you can build up and run marbles down? But, quite frankly, everyone knows who loves it the most (me).


video

And, as I said every single one of my gifts this year is fantastically wonderful. But I have to say, Tera gets the prize for most coming through with perfect gifts (at least for me).

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

N.O.R.A.D.

Tyler and I have been tracking Santa most of the night at the NORAD Tracks Santa Site on the web.

One thing I never really thought about, but because Lt. Commander Something-or-Another mentioned that across Eastern Europe Santa does not make many stops tonight, it now clicks. Poor Santa actually has to make two trips. Of course, he makes the one tonight. And then for the Orthodox Christmas on January 6th, he has to make the trip again. I do not know if Norad tracks him for the Orthodox Christmas, but I do know there are people who celebrate the January date not only in Eastern Europe, but also all across the country.

It is amazing to me that Santa is able to make this trip once a year. But, the fact that he has to do it twice just blows my mind. There were several times tonight when Tyler and I were amazed about the ground Santa covered. He was way down in Southern South America, and then up in Canada. It was amazing. Crossing the Atlantic was a thing of beauty.

And now I find out that he does this again in about a week and a half.

I always was amazed. But now the big man has my complete awe and respect. Next time deadlines pile up ... just think what Santa can accomplish two nights a year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

More Pictures

Well...

I've been on FaceBook a little over 2 weeks. It is still sort of neat, but not nearly as addictive as it was 2 weeks ago. There are some people on it who are actually addicted. Those people scare me a little bit. But, for the most part they are harmless; I think.

Anyway, I posted some facebook pictures out there at this URL:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4527&l=12811&id=1626836064

The boys just cuter and cuter every day.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Golden Geocaching

We have been holding on to the travel bug that we got just before Thanksgiving (see Boy's Day) a little bit longer than we wanted. As it was our first travel bug, it did not seem very polite to keep it in our house too long. We did some geocaching last weekend, but the ones we found were too small to hold the bug, so I figured we should try to get rid of it this weekend in another geocache.

I found a couple of good candidates on the geocaching site (http://www.geocaching.com) around Golden. Golden is a nice little drive for us, and is a nice little town in which to walk around. Plus, Tyler and Connor really like eating at the Capital Grill because they serve mini-ice cream with their kid's meals.

Anyway, the first geocache was one called "The Toy Box" in an open-space park just North of CO58. Actually, I never realized this little park was there. It appears to be a hot-spot for rock climbing, because all the people there (except us) were hiking up the trail with rock-climbing equipment strapped to their backs.

Tracy was the holder of the GPS unit and brought us up the trail in the wrong direction. Eventually she mentioned to me that the distance was going up rather than down, and we went all the way back to the parking lot and then the opposite direction. I guess she knows now how the directional arrow works. Maybe.

It was a nice sized cache full of good toys. It took the boys awhile to pick out what they wanted to take, and we left the travel bug there for someone else to take. I feel sort of guilty that I keep the bug for more than two weeks and it only traveled a couple miles. Oh well.

The second geocache was off a bike path down by the Golden Railroad Museum (which is another great thing about Golden). This time, Tracy brought us the right direction. It was called "Steps to Nowhere" and right where the GPS brought us were little steps going down ... basically into nothing.

It did not take us long to find the Foldgers Coffee Can full of more nice treasures. The boys traded a couple more nice little toys. We have to remember to add more toys to trade for next time.

After this geocache, we went to a little park a few blocks from "Downtown Golden" to park, and walked up the Clear Creek bike / walking path to Washington Avenue (which is basically the main street through down town Golden.) We walked to the Capital Grill and had ourselves a nice little lunch.

We walked back up the creek, and took the picture below in the middle of the creek. Then, we played in our favorite Golden playground.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

If you blog it ...

Exciting news on the http://blog.ericshepard.com front!

Over the past couple days, I've gotten anonymous comments on some of my older blog entries.

A few days ago I got a comment on Falling Pennies (http://blog.ericshepard.com/2005/07/falling-pennies.html). Apparently, I helped some young lad with with Physics homework. Or maybe his homework was some sort of sociology paper on random idiots who blog. Regardless, I helped someone with his (or maybe her I guess) homework. What a nice feeling. Just my little contribution to youth education. I'll try to let everyone know when I get nominated for a Nobel Prize of some sort.

Today, I got a couple of comments on "Eat Pig" (http://blog.ericshepard.com/2005/08/eat-pig.html) and "Good Day to Die" (http://blog.ericshepard.com/2005/06/good-day-to-die.html). I think it was from the same guy. I don't think english is his first language and I think he practices the Islamic Faith.

I was pretty excited about seeing that I got a comment on the "Eat Pig" blog entry. I figured some brilliant religious scholar out there had a profound explanation for me as to why Christrians are allowed to eat ham and pork (or any other pig products). But unfortunately, I was disappointed. I think the comment was telling me to look in the Coran (I think he means Koran ... part of the reason I think English was not his first language) for an explanation as to why eating pig is banned. Unfortunately, I understand (pretty much) why eating pig was forbidden. My confusion has more to do with why the Christrian faith is allowed to disobey that particular commandment from the Bible. But, I must say it was nice to know my blog is not completely ignored from everyone besides my family members. I'm not sure why I care, but it makes me feel good that SOMEONE out in the big wide world reads what I write.

I did not really understand the comment on the "Good Day to Die" blog entry. Again, I think the point is probably that I need to read my Koran. Maybe someday I will do that. But, chances are not real high. I don't even read the Bible as much as a church-going-lutheran such as myself should. I should probably make more of an effort to read my own religion's book before I try to tackle the Koran.

And as if news about blogspot readers actually coming to and commenting on my blogs is not enough ... are you ready for this? Facebook members have been commenting on my last blog entry (http://blog.ericshepard.com/2008/12/blago.html). Sort of by accident, I have gotten my Facebook to subscribe and pull my blog into Facebook "Notes". I thought I was doing a one-time import of a blog entry which I was planning on just deleting, but it turns out that facebook pulls my blog on a regular interval (I am not sure what the interval is, but it is automatic and regular).

So, I have basically increased my potential regulars from family members and random stalkers to my 49 facebook friends! I'm going to leave it and see who else responds.

Yes, I am a geek. Sorry. But, as another facebook member told me recently "we are who we are".

By the way, I was going to beg for someone to let me borrow a friend to push me to the 50 friend plateu, but I see now that I now actually have 50 friends. It is great to have such validation.

It is disgusting what a geek I am.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Blago

I'm sitting on the train trying to come up with something brilliant to write about on my phone.

I have nothing.

I could rant about how bad Denver drivers handle snow. Not very original. I've done that before. Don't need to do it again.

No one cares about my difficulty with Tweedle Beetles. Besides there is really nothing new on that front.

Did you know that Siberian tigers eat bears? They do. Want to know how I know that? My son told me. He read a book about siberian tigers. The boy reads more books than anyone I know. He almost always has a book in the car and quite often asks us to be quiet or turn down the radio (or both). I now know more about penguins than I ever knew before thank to a book about Antartica that he has been reading in the mini van. Actually it is quite likely, most of what he tells me are facts that I knew at one time. It seems like you could fill several books with things I once knew but have since forgotten.

I am saddened by Rod Blagojevich's behavior. What an idiot. Most of the reaction I have heard on his arrest is amusement. There is certainly no shock. People are not even surprised. Unfortunately, the stereotype of the corrupt politician being a redundant phrase, seems true here. Oh well. I wonder who appoints a replacement for Mr. Obama now that there is no governor in Illinois. Probably the Lt. Governor.

Of course, until the 15th, Mr. Obama is not really the president elect, so it is still possible that his Senate seat might not be empty. It only takes 90-some democrats to vote against their state totals. Boy, wouldn't that make Rod look the fool?

Why do they have to keep it so hot on the light rail trains?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Facebook

Monday, I joined facebook because my sister-in-law "invited" me to be her facebook "friend". Of course, I've heard of facebook, but mostly figured it was mostly for immature teenagers. Well, it is not just for immature teenagers. Or at least, quite a few people from my graduating high school class seem to be using it, and the may be immature, but they are certainly not teenagers anymore.

If you are one of my facebook friends from high-school, I do not mean to say that you are immature. I am saying you might be immature. Don't be offended.

I have more than 20 facebook friends now. Most of these are the high-school classmates I mentioned above. Some of these friends are people I do not remember much or anything about, but I went ahead and added them when they requested me because I need all the friends I can get. I don't want to look too pathetic. Most of the rest are family members... at least one of which seems to be addicted to the thing. I am a bit addicted as well, but I can tell my addiction will pass with time.

A surprising number of my high-school classmates look exactly how I remember them looking in high-school. Or at least close enough that I would recognize them on the street. A disgusting number of them are health-nuts. They compete in iron man events and half marathons all the time (or at least a couple of times since they have been on face book). Tammy McCormick in particular is in better shape than she was in high-school. And, even a bunch of the ones who are not obvious health nuts do not look like they have added much weight to their frame. They all look better than I do.

If you are not on facebook, I am not sure how to describe it to you. It is a way to connect with people you have not seen in awhile. Basically, you put together a profile of yourself and go out finding "friends". To become a friend with someone, you have to request that they be your friend (or they have to request you be their friend). Your profile includes as much or as little information as you want to share with people. You can customize certain kinds of information to share with more people, but for the most part, only friends can really see anything subtantial about you.

Once you are a friend, you can post something on their "wall", which is like a public bulletine board, or you can send them a private message.

That is the basics, but that is not all, oh no that is not all. But, you almost have to be a member with facebook nuts as some of your friends to get a sense of what is going on. I am still not sure I understand a significant percentage of the whole experience.

I do suggest you give it a try. Its free. If you don't like it, you can always just quit. Be careful, though, it is easy to become adicted.

If you join (or are already a member), add me as a friend. I need all the friends I can get.

And even if you don't join, take a look at these photos: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=3214&l=8401c&id=1626836064 if you read this blog regularly, all two or three of us, you have probably seen some of them already. If nothing else, this facebook appears to be good at is sharing pictures.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Boys' Day

Tyler got off school yesterday, but it being a Wednesday, Tracy had to work. Being the lazy worker that I am, I decided to spend the days with the boys so Tyler would not have to spend his holiday in La Petite. We decided to have a "Boys' Day" in Golden. Most of our trips to Golden involve the Colorado Railroad Museum, but this time we decided to try a couple more Geocaches. (see my entry Geocache if you are wondering what geocaching is).

Our first stop was in the "Historical District", full of old historical looking houses. The geo-coordinates brought us to "Golden City Brewery", which as you can tell from the sign is Golden's 2nd Biggest Brewery. You probably know this, but in case not, the Coors Brewery is Golden's Biggest. This 2nd one is a distant 2nd. It is about the size of our house. I think it actually IS someone's house.

The cache had a bunch of stuff to trade. Tyler grabbed our first Travel Bug, so we are now in possession of troop1013 Little Buggie. Now, of course, Tyler wants to start a Travel Bug of his own. I think we will buy 4 and have a little contest to see which one moves the farthest. I think we are also going to have to set up a cache of our own. Gosh this is addictive.

After the Brewery, we walked down to Washington Avenue, the main road through downtown Golden, and across the bridge over Clear Creek.

We walked about half a mile to our next set of coordinates which brought us to a park with a pretty good sized pond. We were unable to find this cache. It looks like from the log, the last person here was unable to find it too. I hope Muggles did not get it! (Isn't it exciting... I am calling non-geocachers muggles already) It is listed as a micro-cache, so it is pretty small, so it might just be we missed it. I think the boys were itching to throw things into the pond and maybe hit the playground. So, that is what we ended up doing.

After the park, we walked down the Clear Creek bike path towards down town where we had lunch at the Capital Grill.

After lunch, the kids played down by the creek some more.

So, we had a good day before Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Geocache

Do you know about geocaching? I know at least 33% of my blog regulars know about it. Apparently, my sister sent my wife something about it some time ago. Of course neither my wife nor my sister thought that telling me about it would be worthwhile. I guess it is ok because a co-worker told me about how he does it, and I signed up on http://www.geocaching.com/ a few months ago, but we have never taken the time to try one.... until this weekend.

So, Saturday morning, I thought I would look around some of our usual weekend haunts for easy geocaches. After awhile, I found a couple of them in Idaho Springs. Beautiful. That gives me an excuse to take the family to TommyKnocker Brewery.

So, really, if you have kids and need an activity to do with them on a nice weekend day, two or three geocaches is a great idea. Whoever came up with this idea is a genius. Basically, a geocache is a treasure hunt. You need a GPS receiver. The web site is just full of GPS coordinates of little hidden containers all over the place. Your job is to go to the GPS coordinates and find the treasure.

We parked about 1/10 the of a mile from our first geocache. The GPS took us to a gas station in Idaho Springs. I felt a little self-conscious searching around the place, but it did not take long at all to find the geo-cache container. It had a few toys in it. On the advice of my co-worker we had made sure we brought little knick-knack type toys to leave in place of a couple of the toys in the container. So, Tyler got himself a little toy ostrich and Connor picked out a Rocky Mountain National Park pencil.


We took a picture of Tyler with a "travel bug", which is a special prize which is meant to be moved and tracked from Geocache to Geocache. As this was our first one ever, we decided we did not want the responsibility of recording this little thing, so we left it. If we ever come across another, we will probably take it and move it to the next one.

As we were walking back to our mini-van, a lady I think was an owner of the gas station asked us "did you find it?" Apparently, I did not have to feel self-conscious about looking around her establishment.

The coordinates of the second one took us to the parking lot we always use when we are visiting our favorite Idaho Springs establishments. Finding this one was a bit more of a challenge. The first one was out in the open. This one was under a smaller rock which was under the rock Tyler and Connor are sitting on in the photo below. The container was too small to hold anything other than the log book and a pencil.

So, our first two geo-caches were successes. And, more important than finding the treasures, now we have a pretty activity to do just about anytime we want.

It was too early for lunch, so we drove up into the surrounding mountains for a little hike and family photos. Here are a couple of the pictures we took up there:



So, if you have a GPS receiver and need something to do sometime, go out to http://www.geocaching.com/ and get yourself a few coordinates. It is absolutely a fun activity, especially for families with kids like ours.

Friday, November 21, 2008

7th Commandment

"You shall not commit adultery" -- Exodus 20:14

I am listening to the book-on-CD version of The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. I am about half-way through and so far I recommend it. It is informative and entertaining. Basically, it is about a year in Jacob's life where he tries to live a whole year in accordance with all biblical teachings. Some of God's laws are downright perplexing, especially as you go through the Pentateuch, and especially for Christians, or maybe I should say especially for non- Orthodox Jews. I have tried to communicate some of my confusion in my blog entry "Eat Pig", but the food laws are not necessarily even the strangest of the rules and regulations gave gave his people. And, in fact, my point of "Eat Pig" has more to do with the fact that Christians tend to ignore old-testament laws than the fact that the old-testament laws seem strange.

But, some of the rules that A.J. is following in his book do seem strange.

When God commands, "You shall not commit adultery", it is not strange at all. I think just about everyone with some sort of moral compass believes adultery is wrong. And, truth be told, like most of God's laws, following the no adultery commandment is for your own benefit. When it comes right down to it, all of God's commandments have little to do with what is good for God. He made rules for us for our own good. It is a lot like the rules we as parents give to our children. Only, on a much bigger scale. That is part of what worries me about the ham and bacon ban.

Anyway, while listening to the book, I learned something that surprised me. It probably should not have surprised me, but nonetheless, I was shocked to learn that in the Israel of the Pentateuch Bible, adultery for a man means sex with another married woman. A woman is not allowed to have relations relations with any man other than her husband, but a man is allowed to have make love with any woman as long as she is not married to (owned by) another man.

It makes sense. It seems that everyone back then had several wives and concubines, and God never seemed to have a problem with that. Yes, it was a double standard, but it was a socially acceptable and God-sanctioned double standard. And certainly, ancient Israelites do not have a monopoly on sexism.

I do not have a problem with sexism. I order my wife to not have a problem with it either.

So, when God told Moses the commandment, I assume God knew that he was talking not only to Moses but to all of Israel. He picked the word "adultery" when his audience understood the word to mean what it did at the time. In other words, he was commanding men to not have sex with married women and had no problem with married men fooling around with women not their wives as long as these women did not belong to someone else.

This is potentially freeing information. Here I was working under the impression that the rules for me were the same as they were for my wife. Apparently, God supports my right to have more than one woman. I asked my wife last night if I could have a concubine for Christmas. I carefully explained the old-testament definition of adultery, and pointed out that great biblical men like Abraham, Issac, and Jacob had many women in their lives. Not only did they each have several concubines, but most of them had more than one wife. The logical conclusion to the whole thing is that God wants me to have many women, or at least has no problem with the possibility.

So, when I asked my wife if I could have a concubine, do you want to guess what she answered? Apparently, she is not as God-fearing as I would like my possession (I mean wife) to be. Don't worry, I'll get over it.

In case you cannot guess, a summary of her answer would be "NO!" And in case you are wondering if maybe she just has already something else in mind for my gift and just does not want to get me a concubine for Christmas, the answer is no concubines whatsoever at anytime past, present, or future whether or not the concubine is given to me by her or anyone else or even if I find one of my own. There will be no concubines.

Please don't tell my wife this, but quite honestly, I do not want a concubine. I certainly do not want a second wife. I have enough of a problem understanding and controlling wife #1. For some reason, I just had a vision of Thing 1 and Thing 2 from Cat in the Hat (otherwise known as Candy Cane Hat Cat) running amok through my house with hair curlers and rolling pins. Running about with big bumps, jump, and kicks. Oh the things they would bump! Oh the things they would hit! This is not to mention all the other kinds of bad tricks.

I would not like it, not one little bit. Sure, it would be nice to have two women to cook my dinner and wash my dishes, but can you imagine the downside? Think of twice as many honey-do's. Actually, it probably is honey-do's squared rather than double the honey-do's. Think of every time I say or do something stupidly offensive (it might surprise you to know that this happens once and awhile) getting twice (or squared) the rebukes. Think of nagging squared. And, twice as many birthday's, anniversaries, gifts, flowers, chick flicks, and shopping trips. And, crying! There would be twice as many women crying (usually for some reason that I would be unable to understand), which would almost certainly be an exponential increase in the amount of crying. I am getting a headache just thinking about it. It was probably easier back in the day when the man basically owned his women and the women knew their place, but let's face it: those days do not exist anymore. Or at least they do not exist in my household.

So, I suppose the "freeing" information is not quite as "freeing" as I first thought.

Don't worry, I'll get over it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Leaves

These are my two favorite kids in the world. I can't help it. I love them so much. I always will.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Branch Rickey Photos

Here a a couple of pictures from the Branch Rickey Event. They are taken from my phone, so not that great, but ok for a web page I think.







I do not usually get much of a chance to pay much attention to much above and beyond the Silent Auction itself, but this time I listened in on a couple of the speeches, including quite a bit of Trevor's and some of Brad Lidge's. If you do not know, Lidge was the closing pitcher of the Phillies in the world series. Brad went to high school here in Colorado and he got to introduce Trevor.

The Rotary Club of Denver put on a great event and were a pleasure to work with.

It was nice to have a good event to close out my Auction year.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Branch Rickey

The Rotary Club of Denver is holding their annual Branch Rickey Award Banquet and silent auction tonight. I will be attending with Auction Automations. Fun will be had by all. Last year's silent auction raised a little over $30,000 which puts this event not quite in what we would call one of our big ones, but it certainly is not one of the small ones either. And, of course, the real money is made from ticket sales. All the proceeds from the event go to Denver Kids, Inc which is a counseling and mentoring program for Denver Public School children, certainly a worthy cause.

The winner of the Branch Rickey award is Trevor Hoffman this year. Trevor is the closing pitcher for the San Diego Padres and MLB record holder for most saves. Or at least he was the closing pitcher for the Padres. It looks like he is moving on to another club via free agency. Maybe he will come to the Rockies (ha).

Why did he win the award? Well, basically because he does nice, philanthropic, charitable things with his time and money. The Branch Rickey award recognizes individuals in Major League Baseball for exceptional community service. His list of baseball and humanitarian accomplishments is impressive. I am sure he deserves the award for all the wonderful things he does with his time and money.

It looks like Trevor made 7.5 million dollars playing baseball last year. One thing I wonder about millionaires like this is what their charitable contribution plan looks like. The bible tells you to give sacrificially meaning it should be a sacrifice for yourself. You should give more than what you think you can afford. You should give like the woman at the temple who gave not out of abundance but out of true generosity. Your charitable contributions should literally hurt a little bit financially. Most people don't.

The bible also mentions a Tithe, which depending on who you are can be sacrificial, but for those of us rolling in money (like Trevor and myself), 10% of your income really does not hurt that much. Tithing is my giving strategy, but it is not sacrificial, because it does not hurt me financially. I am still giving out of an abundance, and do not truly miss the money literally or figuratively. This year, my charitable giving will be more like a tithe and a half, and I am still not close to causing myself financial pain.

My pastor told me that he and his wife are trying a double tithe... meaning 20% of their income. I do not know exactly what they make, but I assume that really is a sacrifice to their secular standard of living.

But what does Trevor give to his church? His bio lists all kinds of things he gives time and money to, and I assume he does more than is on his bio. But, the biggest monetary amount on his bio was $81,000 to the Padres Scholars program since 1995. Trevor made 7.5 million dollars playing baseball last year. I assume he made something in endorsements. $81,000 is a bit more than 1% of his 2008 salary, and he gave this amount over 13 years. So, although $81,000 dollars is a wonderful contribution and I do not wish to diminish its importance, when compared to amount of money he made over that time frame, it is pocket change. $81,000 from Trevor does not really impress me much. $81,000 from Pastor Chad and his wife would impress me a whole lot more. And if I had to, I would bet PC has given more than $81,000 to various charities over the same amount of time.

But, I appear to be picking on Trevor, and I do not mean to. The time he spends with any one of his charities is probably more important than the money he gives, anyway. As I have said before and will probably say again "money is easy". Giving of yourself is much more important than giving of your money and possessions. And it appears Trevor gives of his time generously.

And I still wonder what the charitable giving dollar amounts look like from multi-million dollar athletes and other celebrities. What they give is their business, so I probably should not even think about it. But I do.

Listen to me, I sound like Obama, picking on the rich and telling them to redistribute their wealth. I'll shut up now.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Full Moon

I was attacked last night by a Siberian tiger. One second, my younger son was asking me if he could watch a DVD and the next second I was fighting for my life. For some reason, a smaller tiger was trying to help fight off the bigger tiger and that probably saved my life. Thankfully, my kids were smart enough to disappear when the attack began and so they were not hurt by the vicious fight for my life.

Eventually, the tiger decided I was not worth the trouble.

Almost immediately, my kids were back and somehow I was transformed into a slide. Being a slide is almost more terrifying than being attacked by wild animals.

Here is a picture I took of the full moon last night. With the clouds and full moon it was very pretty.







My photo did not quite turn out as I had hoped. I need to figure out how to take better night photographs.


My little one has recently been calling everyone in the family "Nacho". I have no idea where he got that or why. My child is tres bizarre sometimes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Cute Pictures

My wife recently blogged on http://blog.trashfund.com with a few cute pictures of and update on our boys:
Rather than re-post all the pictures, I'll let you follow the links above if you want to see them.

Note, the intent of the Trash Family Blog was to allow Tracy's Mom and Dad and all their kids (5 brothers plus Tracy) to be able to post things of interest to each other. Originally, it was created around information specific to a Family Reunion, but I was envisioning everyone using it like Tracy did in the two posts above. If you look through the posts, you can see my vision was not quite realized. Since the reunion, Tracy (BuckWheat) has posted 3 times; I (TrashyShep) have posted 3 entries; Big Jer has made one post and Tracy's mom has made one post (about a possible place for the next reunion).

Oh well. At least it gives Tracy a place to post things for her T.R.A.S.H. family to see.

I wonder if she would like to create one for her Dad's family. It shows what a complete geek I am that I am thinking about possible domain names for such a thing. At some point, I will probably even try some of them at GoDaddy (which is where all my current domains are registered).

Just what the world needs: more blogs.

I've tried to convince Tracy that we should buy a domain name for her. She does not see a need.

I've also talked to Tyler about getting one for him to blog on. He actually likes the idea.

Of course, I own ericshepard.com, so if I wanted to save a few bucks I could just go with tracy.ericshepard.com and tyler.ericshepard.com . But, I would hate to have someone come in and take any good domains right out from under Tracy, Connor, and Tyler.

Seriously, I need help. Normal, sane people do not think about this kind of thing, do they?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

My Cute Boys

Lately, Connor has been sneaking into Tyler's room after we put the kids to bed and Tyler has been reading to his little brother. It is so cute that I let it go on. Usually, I know about it and get Connor into his room after Tyler is done reading a story or three.

The other night, Tyler went to Connor's room to read books, and I had no idea about it until Tracy asked me if I knew Tyler was in bed with Connor. Tracy thought it was so sweet, and I had to admit it is very cute. I even took this picture of them sleeping together.

The truth is, I am glad to have boys who like each other so much, and I am very glad that my oldest son is willing and able to read books to my youngest.

And it is so cute!

More about the EC

Alright... I guess I have become obsessed with this whole Electoral College thing. I now know a bit more about the EC. I do not know a whole lot more, but some.

One thing that I did know yesterday, but did not mention in my blog entry, is that 2 states, Nebraska and Maine are not "winner take all". They have a system where two of the EC Reps are based on state-wide voting and the others are based on the Congressional districts. I guess that matches how they vote for the House and the Senate. According to my research, neither state has actually split the vote based on this system. Every other state gives all their Electoral votes to whoever wins the state.

Colorado has also proposed changing their system to split their votes based on a percentage of the popular vote. I do not think this will ever pass, because it makes Colorado less relevant in the whole presidential race. It would always (almost always) go 5 to 4, so no matter how hard a candidate campaigns in Colorado, the best they would hope for is a two vote swing. Personally, I think this is a great idea, but only if all the states (or at least the big ones with more than 3 or 4 votes) agree to do the same thing.

In regards as to whether or not a EC Rep has ever voted against their "pledge", the answer is yes. My dad left a comment on my last blog "338 to 161" pointing out that a Minnesota Electoral College Rep voted for Edwards for both president and vp. It is true, you can see it here: http://www.usconstitution.net/ev_2004.html . I want to know who is was and why they did that. That seems to me like some sort of careless mistake, but I do not know. It was one of these people:
  • Sonja Berg
  • Vi Grooms-Alban
  • Matthew Little
  • Michael Meuers
  • Tim O'Brien
  • Lil Ortendahl
  • Everett Pettiford
  • Jean Schiebel
  • Frank Simon
  • Chandler Harrison Stevens
But I do not know which one did it. If you know, please tell me. If you know why she did it (I am assuming it has to be one of the women ... or maybe the guy named Chandler), I really want to know.

In 2000, Barbara Lett-Simmons for DC cast a blank ballot for President and Vice President. I saw somewhere that she did this in protest that DC has no representation in Congress. If this is the case, it does not seem to have been a very effective protest. I do agree with her that it is unfair that this is the case.

Looking back in history (thanks to my dad's reference to the url), I found that:
  • In 1988, one rep for West Virginia ignored his (or her) pledge by voting for Lloyd Bentsen for President and Michael Dukakis for V.P.
  • In 1984, one rep for Washington voted for Ronald Reagan for President.
  • In 1972, one rep from Virginia voted for the ticket: John Hospers and Theodora Nathan.
  • In 1960 6 reps from Alabama voted for the ticket: Harry Byrd and Strom Thurmond despite the fact that the state voted for JFK.
  • In 1956, 1 Alabama rep voted against the state as well.
I did not look back much further. I do not why most of these people ignored their pledge, but based on this data, I would say that Electoral Voters can do whatever the hell they want to do. But, it does depend on the laws of the state you live in.

Electors in these States are not bound by State Law to cast their vote for a specific candidate:
  • ARIZONA - 10 Electoral Votes
  • ARKANSAS - 6 Electoral Votes
  • DELAWARE - 3 Electoral Votes
  • GEORGIA - 15 Electoral Votes
  • IDAHO - 4 Electoral Votes
  • ILLINOIS - 21 Electoral Votes
  • INDIANA - 11 Electoral Votes
  • IOWA - 7 Electoral Votes
  • KANSAS - 6 Electoral Votes
  • KENTUCKY - 8 Electoral Votes
  • LOUISIANA - 9 Electoral Votes
  • MINNESOTA - 10 Electoral Votes
  • MISSOURI - 11 Electoral Votes
  • NEW HAMPSHIRE - 4 Electoral Votes
  • NEW JERSEY - 15 Electoral Votes
  • NEW YORK - 31 Electoral Votes
  • NORTH DAKOTA - 3 Electoral Votes
  • PENNSYLVANIA - 21 Electoral Votes
  • RHODE ISLAND - 4 Electoral Votes
  • SOUTH DAKOTA - 3 Electoral Votes
  • TENNESSEE - 11 Electoral Votes
  • TEXAS - 34 Electoral Votes
  • UTAH - 5 Electoral Votes
  • WEST VIRGINIA - 5 Electoral Votes
As far as punishment for breaking the law, obviously, this varies by state as well. I tried to figure out the penalty for Colorado, but was unable to find a reference that I understood.

There is all kinds of information on the EC at:
http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/index.html

My sister left a comment on my last blog ("338 to 161") basically asking "why do we still have an Electoral College". The quick, simple answer to that is that the Electoral College is in the Constitution of the United States and it is not easy to amend the U.S. Constitution. All it takes is agreement. Two thirds of both branches of Congress and then Three Quarters of the States have to agree. Getting that many people to agree on something that for the most part has remained unchanged since the founding founders wrote it down is not easy. Not only do you have to get agreement that the system should be changed, but also as to what it should be changed to.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

338 to 161

For those of you who have lost hope because Barrack Obama won and John McCain lost. Don't worry. There is still hope.

Until December 15th, it does not matter what happened last night. Until December 15th, technically there is no president elect, and technically there is a possibility that McCain will still win. Technically, it is possible that Obama will be president and McCain or Sarah Palin will be vice president. Technically, Michael Jordan could be leader of the free world with Oprah as his Vice President. I might be wrong about M.J. I do not know if the EC has a write-in option.

Practically speaking, I think that is a lie. I think state constitutions are for the most part (or maybe completely) set up so that the results last night have to be honored December 15th. But, technically speaking, we did not elect a president yesterday. Technically speaking we all elected a number of nameless, faceless people to the Electoral College who have pledged to vote as instructed by their state. Those people don't vote until December 15th.

I do not know what happens to someone who does not vote in the electoral college as their state instructed them to vote. My guess is that it varies by state. Texas probably shoots the guy. California probably whines and gives him (or her) a slap on the wrist. Actually, I think maybe it is totally legal for the Electoral College Representative to vote as they wish.

I also do not know if it has ever happened that an Electoral College representative has gone against the wishes of his or her state. It seems in the dark, lonely fringes of my memory banks I remember from high school history class that it happened before, but I might be thinking of people who won the college but not the popular vote, which not only has happened, but happened as recently as 2000. Didn't one of the Washington DC votes go to the wrong person in 2000 as well? I do not quite remember.

What sort of surprises me is that today, when I mentioned the election not being official until December 15th to people, they have no idea what I am talking about. I understand not knowing that December 15th is the day, but based on the context, I would think their answer would be more like "Oh... is that when the electoral college votes?" Instead of, "what do you mean?"

One guy I was talking to as we were looking at a map and I mentioned that it is not official yet was shocked that the College actually casts votes. He thought because all the maps on the Internet and on T.V. showed which states had which electoral votes, that meant they had already been cast. It took me awhile to convince him that those are actually projected based on what should happen. Incidentally, this is a guy who did not vote and as I mentioned in my blog yesterday, I do not think he should have voted because he is sort of clueless. He is a very intelligent, highly talented C# developer, but did not really take time to get informed, and so that means to me he should not vote. Of course, in my opinion, he should have taken a little time to figure it out so he would have been prepared, but that is not really what I am blogging about.

This same guy said something about it being theoretically possible for someone to win the electoral votes but not the popular votes. It turns out he did not remember or did not ever know that this happened as recently as 2000. Sometimes I wonder about this guy. He also says stupid things about sports, which to me is even more annoying than not knowing much about how our country works. But I digress again.

As we were looking at the map, someone wanted to see Wyoming's county by county map. (Most of Wyoming was red by the way... I am thinking of moving up there or to Montana to get away from all these damn liberals ... just kidding ... sort of). Another guy asked "how many electoral votes do they (Wyoming) have ... one or two?" When I said, "Well, it has to be at least 3." He did not believe that it was that many until he saw it was 3 on the website. He asked how I knew it had to be at least 3, I told him that each state get the same number as total Senate seats plus total house seats, which is at minimum 3.

Now, apparently, I am the resident electoral college expert. Pretty much all I know about it is here in this blog entry, so being the expert says a lot more about the ignorance of the people around me than my lack of ignorance. What is sort of funny is that I consider at least a couple of these people way more politically aware than I am. But, apparently, I know more about the Electoral College than they do (or at least I did before I told them everything I know).

And again, practically speaking, it does not matter that technically Obama has not yet been officially elected. The people have spoken. The only possible scenarios I can think of that would cause the college to not cast the appropriate votes as appropriate are actually horrifying enough that I will not even bring them up.

But, wouldn't it be interesting if the college just decided to go in their own direction and ignore "the will of the people"?

Maybe interesting is not the word. Chaotic would be more appropriate.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Our Weekend

Today is election day. It looks to me that Obama will win. That is a shame, but I'll get over it. Hopefully we all will.

I do not completely agree with those who make the call for everyone to go out and vote. It is a right, a privilege, and a responsibility, but in my opinion, making an uninformed vote is worse than not voting at all. If you are not going to take the time to understand what you are voting for, stay home. Just my opinion.

And, personally, with mail-in ballets an option, I do not understand why anyone would go to the polls at all. It just seems so inconvenient to stand in line and have to fill out the ballet at a certain place at a certain time. If you have the opportunity to fill out the ballet in the comfort of your own home with a laptop and the internet in front of you at your own time an pace, I do not understand why you would not take advantage of that option.

Anyway, we have had unusually mild weather lately. This weekend was very nice. Almost what you would call hot. Considering that it is November, absolutely I would say it was very warm out.

Saturday, we decided to go for a bike ride. Tyler decided he would like to ride up Waterton Canyon. Waterton Canyon is a very popular place to start mountain biking. It is the beginning of the Colorado Trail which runs almost 500 miles across the whole state. The first 8 miles or so go up the Waterton Canyon on a nice wide trail along the Platte river. For the most part, it is pretty flat or at least only a slight uphill grade. Once you get past the first 8 miles, it becomes a single track and one of my favorite mountain biking trails.

But, the wide, only slight-uphill part of the trail is part that we were obviously going for. And, considering what a rookie Tyler is at bike riding, he did a really good job. We made it a bit past the 3-mile mark, so the round-trip was a little longer than 6 miles. Tyler was very proud of himself for making the ride, and quite frankly, so were Mommy and Daddy. Even Connor was pretty impressed.

And, it was very very fun.

On Sunday, we raked leaves. Tyler and Connor were actually very helpful, especially the bagging part. I actually do not mind the raking part. I do not like bagging all that much, but this time I had my two helpers doing most of that. Tracy helped out a bit as well, and not just with the camera. We all had fun raking and bagging.

Of course, half of the leaves are still in our trees, so we will have the opportunity to do this a few more times.

It was a great weekend.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Tyler's Goal

video

This is a video of Tyler playing soccer. It is the only video we have of Tyler actually scoring a goal. It is the only game-goal I've seen him score actually. Unfortunately, I do not get to all his games, and missed this one. They are on Wednesday afternoons before I am usually home from work. This one I was setting up for an auction. I feel pretty cheated out of the experience.

But, Tracy did get this one on video. One sort of funny thing about this video is that I had to remove part of what Tracy said. Don't worry, she did not swear or anything, she just did not think he scored, and said "ohh.... so close". And of course, you do not hear her cheering and going wild. So, she made me take out the "so close" comment. I wonder if she will mind that I am putting it in the blog.

Just to explain a little bit, this video (most of our videos) is taken on a little itty-bitty digital camera and the LCD display is not very big. Plus, she did not have her glasses on. Plus, the woman next to her was the goalie's mom, so when Brian's (Brian is one of Tyler's good friends and so his mom is usually cheering for Tyler) mom said something like "oh no" it probably did not register to Tracy that she was saying "oh no, my baby let in a goal" and not "oh no, Tyler missed". So, I had to doctor the video a little bit because Tracy feels bad about not realizing her son scored.

Now, she is going to be angry at me because I mentioned it in the blog.

Here is a better quality, non-doctored video of the actual goal:


video

He he.

Tracy told me today that she is a bad aunt because she did not send (or even buy until last night) a gift for her nephew, Caleb. I told her that is not something bad enough to get the "bad aunt" label. Forgetting to send a gift to a one-year old (who probably does not have any clue what birthday really means and who will be just as happy playing with the box Tracy sends the gift in as the toy she got) is not all that bad. In fact, I'm not completely sure sending a gift at all is necessary (does that make me a bad uncle?).

One thing I do not understand about moms is why they want to feel guilty about these sorts of things. Quite frankly, Tyler is a 6 year-old playing soccer. He is out there so he can expend energy. He has no clue what Mommy is or is not doing on the sidelines. He does not really care if he wins or loses or if he ever scores a goal, let alone whether or not his mom reacts correctly on the sideline. And, every one of our nephews and nieces have plenty of toys and not one of them would have any problem with a late gift from their Aunt (or even not getting one at all). But Tracy has this weird sort of sense of responsibility (which I think is ingrained in all moms and even women who are not mothers) that makes them feel bad when they "fail" at these little things.

After-all, at least she was at the game (unlike Tyler's good-for-nothing-deadbeat father) and at least she realized it was Caleb's birthday and will send a gift (unlike Caleb's good-for-nothing-insensitive uncle).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Haunted

Tyler is fascinated with Halloween decorations. Because of this, so is Connor. There are a couple of houses in our general neighborhood that really go overboard on Halloween decorations, and the boys call these "the haunted houses". When we drive out of the driveway, I get requests from Tyler, "Can we go by the haunted house?" and then almost immediately a "Yeah Yeah, can we go by the the haunted house?" The haunted house closest to us is "the haunted house". There is one a bit farther away which is referred to as "the other haunted house".

The picture below is one I took with my phone of "the other haunted house". The picture does not really do it justice, but this is actually two houses right next to other that obviously coordinate their Halloween decorational (decorational is not a real word) strategy. In fact, they go overboard like this for all the major holidays, but at the moment, it is obviously Halloween. The whole scene is like an army of goblins and ghouls and other evil creatures of the night.

What bothers me the most about this is that there are two people or sets of people who live next door to each other and coordinate this together. In fact, the two houses have a fence around the two front yards. There is no fence between the two front yards. My guess is that the two families are either very related (parents / children? brother / sister?) or some sort of freakishly friendly people. The other possibility is that both houses are owned by one person and as part of the lease, there is a clause that requires shared decorations. Actually, this is really sort of disturbing, but given the number of large decorations for EVERY SINGLE major holiday, I would not be totally shocked if one house was just storage for the decorations.

I think maybe next time we go by, I'll take my real camera and take a proper photograph of this abomination.

Anyway, because of their fascination with Halloween decorations, the boys have been busy with paper, canyons, markers, and scissors, busily making their own decorations and taping them ALL OVER THE HOUSE. Every few minutes there is another skeleton or witch (or whatever the weird frightening things that Connor draws are) somewhere. I guess it keeps them off the streets and out of gangs and stuff... but really... enough already. I am ready for Halloween decoration season to be over so they can move on from this phase.

To the Thanksgiving decoration season.


I've had a good couple of days for strokes to my ego.

I had a Silent Auction last night. Every time we do Silent Auctions, we get tons of positive comments on the software system that we created. Last night, we got more than usual I thought.

Also, last night, the lady running the arc-thrift silent auction that I was working asked me "what are you, 23?" ... as in she thought I was 23 years old. I don't think she was being sarcastic. I think she honestly thought I was much younger than I am. And, she is only 41 herself (I'm 38), so it is not like she is some old woman whose perspective is of an ancient woman who just thinks everyone is a kid compared to her. As far as I know, there was no reason for her to "suck up" to me.

This morning, I was forwarded an email referring to the project that I am currently working on for CHFA as "the extreme upper limit to what is possible to technology". The comment came from a group from another HFA (New Hampshire's) who had come by yesterday to talk to CHF about this solution. I am not sure I can think of a better compliment than "extreme upper limit to what is possible to technology". The extravagance of the compliment probably has a lot to do with the lack of technological sophistication in their custom development environment, but still that is quite a statement for the resulting software product that I had a huge part in developing. And, for the time being, I have decided to ignore the questionableness (is that a real word?) of the source.

AND... this morning, I read a blog which is completely dedicated to me being right http://bluefield5.blogspot.com/2008/10/my-brother-was-right.html. Well, maybe it is not completely dedicated to that, but it is titled "My brother was right" and in this case "My brother" is me. I was right about something !!! It does happen every once and awhile, but even when it accidentally DOES happen, I rarely get blogged about. (this might be the first time there has been a blog entry about me being right about anything).

I'm not sure what processed me to do so, but I went to Classmates.com the other day. I thought I had signed up for their free service years ago, but apparently I was mistaken. I signed up and looked at some people from ZBTHS , class of 1988. The free version of the service is a fraction of what you get if you pay. Some of the people I read up on had some interesting things to say. Most (like me) really do not say much.

But, today I got a message in my email telling me that 2 people had signed my classmates.com guestbook. "Wow," I thought, "I didn't realize I got a guestbook with the free service". Well, it turns out you have a guest book, but can not look at it unless you pay. So, two people have signed, presumably saying "hi" or "how are you doing" or maybe "hey don't I owe you 1.2 million dollars ... here is my phone number ... call me and I will write you a check". But, now I will probably never know what they had to say. Part of me really wants to know what someone put in my guestbook. But, I cannot bring myself to pay for something like that. Google's BlogSpot (basically all of the Google products) sort of spoil people like me. Why would I pay for something like Classmates.com when google gives all these great things for free? If one of the comments is someone wanting to give me the 1.2 million dollars, of course I better pay Classmates.com, but there is a slightly higher probability that it is someone I don't even know from Waukegan East saying "ZBTHS Sucks" or something else completely uninteresting.

I tried updating my "story" to point people to my blog so that anyone who comes across me on Classmates.com can end up here and leave me any comment they want. The site prohibits any web urls in the profile, so I could not do that. I left a couple of keywords to "google" to find the blog. So, maybe someone will see that and try leaving me a not here. Probably not, though. Anyway, even though it probably should not be, this is a slight ego boost as well. Someone loved me enough in high school that after just a day or two of being on the thing, I got two messages (one of which is likely someone who wants to give me money).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Reformation

I came across the 95 Theses Website on the blog Ask the Pastor. It is nice that the website includes lyrics, because it was not easy to follow on them on the video. I did enjoy the video. It is not often that I see a Lutheran based rap video. Unless I am forgetting one, this is probably the first.

Those of you who are Lutheran probably know, this past Sunday was Reformation Sunday. I think most people know what the Reformation was (I am sure at least 75% of the people who read this blog know), but in case you do not know (if you are one of those people, leave me a comment and let me know how you got lost enough to join the 3 or 4 other people who ever come by), the Protestant Reformation began in the 1500's when Martin Luther (after whom the Lutheran church is named) , troubled by several of the practices of the Catholic Church, wrote up 95 theses and nailed them to a church door. These were mostly criticisms on how the Pope and the church had lost track of the church being more about God than for humans (such as the Pope). The act of nailing the piece of paper to the door is basically what started all Protestant Churches. Obviously (or maybe not so obviously) the desire for reform started long before this act, but this is the "shot heard round the world" type event that gets credit for starting things off.

Reformation Sunday is sort of a big deal in our Lutheran church. I honestly don't know if other Protestant Churches celebrate it as a special Sunday, but Lutherans sure do. I actually do not recall it being that big of a deal in my child-hood Lutheran churches, but that is probably has more to do with my poor memory than anything else.

Regardless, it is a celebration in our church. Obviously, it is not as important as any of the bigger festivals / seasons, but it is considered special. One thing our church has as a tradition is for everyone (most everyone) in the congregation to wear red. I guess it is sort of like a sports team trying to band together for a sporting event. The red matches the liturgical colors of the day. It is sort of cool to see. I suspect visitors and those who forget feel a little uncomfortable, which supports one of the points, my sister made in one of her blog entries (So....are you Catholic). But, I do not think it would make feel too terribly bad. Plus, it certainly gives someone who does not know an excuse to ask the Pastor: "So, what's the deal with everyone wearing red?" I wonder if there is some deep reason I am unaware of. Maybe I will ask sometime.

And, of course, between services we had a Reformation Breakfast. In my opinion, our church does not do as many breakfasts and other meals together as other (smaller?) churches do, so any excuse to do so is probably a good thing.

So, I hope everyone out there had a great Reformation Sunday. Don't forget All-Saints-Day is coming up soon.

Here is the video in case you want to watch it without going to http://www.95thesesrap.com:




Friday, October 24, 2008

Barack

I'm sorry... I cannot do it. I just can't.

I will not be able to vote for Obama / Liden. As my sister points out in her blog, it is just too easy to read it "Osama Bin Laden".

Despite the fact that I usually consider myself way more conservative than liberal (and Obama is absolutely liberal), I want to like Obama. I really do. I checked out his book on CD version of "Change We Can Believe In" and listened to it.

How can you not like someone who WILL:

click to show list

And actually much much more wonderful absolutely noble home-of-the-free land-of-the-brave corp-to-the-spirit-of America action items. If this man can do this all in 4 years, he is super man. Better elect him for at least 2 terms. It is no wonder the people who love Barrack REALLY REALLY love him.

Of course what struck me as I listened to all this is how the hell are we going to pay for this? Well, don't you worry. I don't expect you to remember the whole list, but one of his items is "Pay for All Proposals and Cut the Deficit". I am sure if he did not have a way to pay for all this expensive stuff he would not claim to be able to cut the deficit. He even gives details: "Cut Spending and Reduce Government Waste". Based on the list, I am not sure how it is at all possible that spending is going down. There is a lot of government waste, so I am sure he is fine there. And, of course, as President he has complete control to eliminate wasteful spending. I'm sure as a Senator, he was never took part in Governmental waste himself. Boy, it is too bad George Bush never thought to reduce waste. Barrack better hope McCain does not get hold of his book and figure out that maybe he too could reduce waste.

By the way, I am being sarcastic. Yes there is a bunch of governmental waste, but 90% of the items on the list are adding more (much much) more to the government than is already there. The more you add, I personally think the more waste you are going to add on. So, I do not think paying for all his programs with the money we are saving from "waste" is going to happen.

Luckily, he provides a couple more ways to pay for all this:

"Eliminate Special Tax Breaks for Corporations" and "Make Oil Companies Share in the Sacrifice".

Well, not to sound too Republican, but Corporations provide jobs. A lot of corporations are already cutting head count because they are need to cut spending to stay in business. By getting rid of tax breaks, many corporations will have to cut more jobs and therefore lower governmental revenue potential at the same time you are putting additional burden on Mr. Obama's unemployment system.

Even so, let's assume no jobs will be lost because tax breaks are gone for corporations. Cutting governmental waste and adding in what you can get back from corporations is not going to pay for everything. Did you see the list? I am sure big oil has tons of money to help out, but you know every penny big oil is able to pass along to consumers, it will. I guess I am all for oil companies helping out, but I do not see a lot of potential there either.

The other way Obama proposed to help pay for his extra governmental programs is something he says a lot in the book. People (families) earning more than $250,000 a year will be taxed more. Well, actually, he never really comes out and says that people earning over $250,000 will be taxed more. What he says is no one making under $250,000 per year will be taxed more. To me, it is pretty obvious that he is expecting to tax the HELL out of the "wealthy". Personally, my family income is not quite at that level. One thing I wonder though, is if there is not enough to be made increasing taxes on those over $250,000, how far down will he end up having to try to go? If those who make all that much money can give away so much, what about people like me who have never made a huge salary, but saved responsibly and accumulated wealth by foregoing expensive toys and vacations etc... I probably have more in savings than lots of those who make tons every year but spend it away on their expensive cars and stuff. Why not tax me more?

Again, at the risk of sounding too Republican, I am afraid singling out "wealthy" people as somehow not participating enough up until now and therefore due to pay more than their share is a dangerous concept.

By the way, I was kidding about the "Osama Bin Laden" thing, but honestly, didn't he have some sort of advisor who at least brought up the question: "Hey Barrack, do you think Obama / Liden is really what you want on campaign buttons?"

And, I am not saying that I am not voting for Barrack Obama. Truth be told, I have not decided, because there are things I hate about McCain as well. I looked at all the main independent choices today and was not all that impressed with any of them either. Let's face it, I just hate all politicians.

The beauty of this country (one one of the many beauties) , of course, is at least we have a choice. And it is probably a better choice than most countries have. Neither candidate will destroy the country. Whoever gets this presidency will probably get credit for the economic recovery that will most - likely start to happen. That is how things go: the economy goes bad, it gets better. The economy booms and then busts and then recovers.

My opinion is that Barrack Obama will just bury McCain in the election and become the next president of our country. He has a bunch of great things on his list. There is no way he is going to be able to accomplish everything on the list. I just hope he along with his advisers and other leaders he chooses the right ones to implement.

And I will say this for Obama, at least he took the time to write a book like this. I wish I could find one by McCain. Maybe I just missed it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Miles & David

This past weekend we had double the regular number of boys in our house. In case you don't know (or can't do the math) that means we had a total of 4. I guess you can say we had 5 if you include Daddy.

One of Tracy's friends (Gretchen Reid) just happens to have a little boy (Miles) a couple of weeks younger than Tyler and another little boy (David) a couple of weeks younger than Connor. Tracy and Gretchen have the same sort of work schedules (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday with Monday and Friday off) so our boys and their boys get together quite a bit. Unfortunately, they live a pretty good distance away, so it is not every day, but it a fair amount.

Anyway, back in August, Gretchen and her husband took care of our boys over a weekend while Tracy and I stayed in a cabin in Evergreen. And this past weekend was payback.... I mean we happily returned the favor.

The boys had a great time together. The two bigger ones were a little loud at times, but nothing too out of hand. The two little ones spend hours together in Connor's room playing quietly with toys, and for long periods of time I had to go up to check on them to make sure they were still here. I always knew where Tyler and Miles were.

Saturday, we went to Clement Park to play on the play ground and have a picnic. After the picnic, Tracy deserted me for awhile to take care of some work, so I had to keep an eye on the four. Again, the two little ones were extremely easy. Miles, and Tyler however did not understand the order "stay where I can see you" or "stay in the playground area". Eventually, I brought Tyler and Miles back and had them do wind sprints for the rest of the time Tracy was gone. First they raced against each other but after a couple of races, they took turns and raced against the stop watch. One interesting thing was that Miles always won the head-to-head races, but when they were doing individual races against the stop watch, Tyler for the most part got all the fastest times. I am sure that says something about the two kids. I'm not sure what. Anyway, the time trials not only let me keep my eyes on all four boys, but also got rid of a bunch of energy. The were at it for probably about half an hour.

After the park, we came home. Connor and David "napped" while Tyler and Miles quietly looked at books. I also let the big boys watch a Discovery channel show on my computer (using the 50 inch monitor). It was one of those "Walking with Dinosaurs" shows where Nigel was looking for a dinosaur with huge claws. These "Walking with Dinosaurs" are very good I think. Most of the scenery and the narrator of the show (Nigel) are filmed like a regular documentary and they do a pretty good job of adding in the computer generated dinosaurs as if they were in the same spot. Very entertaining and educational.

After the little ones got up from their "nap", the boys went outside and did various things in the back yard. Tracy got out the bubbles which was a hit as always. My weird older son and his sidekick decided to try eating bubbles. I am not sure who decided to try that. I would like to say it was the weird Reid boy, but it could have been either of them.

Then, we had dinner and played the rest of the night.

I read to the big boys. Tracy to the little ones. Then Tracy and I watched a movie. Tyler and Miles were still up after the movie was over. We forced them into bed and they were asleep soon after.

The next day was more of the same. Tracy had crafts for them to work on. I got to watch part of the Bears game. I left Tracy with the kids while I went to one of my auctions.

Before we knew it the weekend was over.

Here is a little "Slide Show" Video I put together on Sunday to keep the kids somewhat entertained:

video

What a great time. It makes me wish we had four boys of our own.

Well, maybe not.
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