Saturday, September 30, 2006
I have been watching closely the events leading up to the 2006 midterm elections. Just yesterday, it appeared the Democrats moved one seat closer to taking over the house, when Representative Mark Foley resigned his seat in Congress under allegations he engaged in improper correspondence with a former page. It now looks like democratic challenger Tim Mahoney will take the seat for the Democrats.
But today, I want to look at some of the Senate races around the country. The Republicans are defending 15 seats of their 55. Tennessee is an open seat for the Republicans, with the retirement of Majority Leader Bill Frist. The Democrats have 18 seats of their total 45 to defend, including three open seats, with Paul Sarbanes (MD), Mark Dayton (MN), and Jim Jeffords (VT) retiring.
Let's look at the Republicans first. Most pundits are calling a total of seven seats safe for the Republicans. Dick Lugar in Indiana is running unopposed, and the other six cruising to reelection: Olympia Snowe (ME), Trent Lott (MS), John Ensign (NV), Kay Bailey Hutchinson (TX), Orrin Hatch (UT), and Craig Thomas (WY). Add John Kyl (AZ) to the safe column as he continues to hide in the shadow of John McCain and will easily win reelection.
Of the remaining seven seats, the first to look at is the Commonwealth of Virginia. George Allen, he of the cowboy boots, the confederate flag, and now, the yarmulke, is stumbling through his race against former Reagan Secretary of the Navy, Jim Webb. This race is fun to watch as Allen is hoping his reelection will propel him into a run for the presidency in two years. I think that ship has sailed. I really think that Webb has a chance to send Allen home and this race will tighten in the next few weeks. It's not over. But for now, the edge is Allen's.
In Tennessee, the retirement of Frist has brought the former mayor of Chattanooga, Bob Corker into the race against House Representative Harold Ford. Ford is trying to become the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction. I think he is going to do it. This race has been flying under the radar and it is definitely one to watch. I like Ford over Corker.
The other five seats all look like they could be democratic pickups. In Missouri, Jim Talent looks like he will lose his seat to Democratic challenger, Claire McCaskill. Tune in to Meet the Press next Sunday see these two debate. Mike DeWine is facing an uphill battle against Democratic House member Sherrod Brown and the Republican establishment has abandoned the middle of the road Republican Lincoln Chaffee in Rhode Island after helping him secure the nomination. Expect him to lose to Sheldon Whitehouse. The final two are Pennsylvania (Rick Santorum) and Montana (Conrad Burns). Burns is a surprising loss for the Republicans but expect Jon Tester to become the Junior Senator from Montana. In Pennsylvania, Santorum is way too far right for the democratic Pennsylvania and Bob Casey should be able to partake in the Democratic swell in the state.
This result would give the Democrats the seats they need to be in the majority, a total of 52 seats. But why are the Democrats worried? New Jersey, for one. Jon Corzine, who was elected Governor of New Jersey last year, appointed House Member Robert Menendez to fill out his term. Menendez is now running for a full term of his own. His opponent is Thomas Kean, Jr., the son of the former governor and co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission. Polls in the state are showing the two neck and neck. New Jersey politics are notoriously nasty and this race will most certainly go down to the wire. Watch closely.
Eleven of the seats the Democrats are defending are considered solidly democratic. The Dean of the Senate, Robert Byrd is poised to win another term as the Senior Senator from West Virginia. He will become the longest serving Senator and the oldest Senator at some point in his next term. The other ten contests are: Herb Kohl (WI), Hillary Clinton (NY), Jeff Bingaman (NM), Kent Conrad (ND), Ted Kennedy (MA), Daniel Akaka (HI), Bill Nelson (FL), Tom Carper (DE), Joe Lieberman (CT), and Dianne Feinstein (CA), who are all expected to cruise to victory.
In Vermont, the retirement of Independent Jim Jeffords is giving the opportunity for Socialist Bernie Sanders to run for the Senate. Sanders has pledged to caucus with the Democrats if elected and is expected to win the three way race in Vermont. Three of the other five races are all leaning toward the democratic candidates. In Washington, Maria Cantwell is expected to win reelection. Ben Nelson (NE) and Debbie Stabenow (MI) are also keeping ahead of their Republican opponents.
The final two are open seats for the Democrats. Maryland, where Paul Sarbanes is retiring, pits Congressman Ben Cardin against Lt. Governor Michael Steele, who may or may not like puppies. Steele is expected to do well, particularly with the minority population, but Cardin should emerge victorious in the heavily democratic Maryland. In Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar is facing Congressman Mark Kennedy and Klobuchar should retain the seats for the Democrats from the retiring Mark Dayton.
Gut Check Prediction - today, October 1 - Democrats 52, Republicans 48.
However, there are a large number of blogs out there that I just can't read. Italian, French, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, you name the language, it's out there. There are a number of subject specific blogs out there as well, from ones promoting high school football, football pools, pregnancy, adoption, cancer, politics of all parties and countries. I have seen many, but I know that I am only scratching the surface.
Occasionally, you even get the extreme blogs (read: SEX), with pictures that you don't want to be bringing up on your work computer. I even get uncomfortable when they show up on my home computer.
It is amazing. It just goes to show how the international community is trying to get together through this relatively new medium. I have friends who have been blogging for a long time, I am very new to the world, but am having a good time.
Sit down, relax, take a tour. See what's out there.
From there, we went over to the Children's tent, which was sponsored by PBS Kids. My son got to meet Miss Lori, the new host of the PBS children's morning lineup. After that, we were treated to a visit from Snook the sloth, who is on one his favorite shows, It's a Big, Big World. From there, we wandered over to the Pavilion of the States, where we collected stamps and stickers from every state in the Union.
The event was very well attended, despite the uncertain weather. Many authors were there talking about their latest works, which were all on sale in the book sales tents. I bought a new book for my son, called Dooby Dooby Moo, written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin. Ms. Cronin also wrote Duck for President, which is one of my (and my son's) favorite books.
It is certainly an event worth going too. Be on the lookout for it in 2007!
Friday, September 29, 2006
I hate diabetes. It's a horrible disease. In my opinion, there is no disease that is so invasive and attacks so many systems. I am overweight and am surely susceptible to getting diabetes. I should be taking better care of myself, eating better, and getting more exercise. But I will work on that, I promise.
I have made a decision to walk for my mother in the America's Walk for Diabetes. The event I will be participating in will take place on November 4, here in Washington, DC. I sent out an email solicitation to friends and family, asking for support in the walk. I am so moved by the support that I have received and can't believe that I have raised more than $600 already.
There is a cure out there somewhere and this is one step toward finding that cure. Under the links section is a link to my personal page for America's Walk for Diabetes. Every little bit helps. If you would like to sponsor me, please do so. I would be forever grateful. Thank YOU!
I view this blog as an outlet. It gives me an opportunity to let people know what I am thinking about. It's also an opportunity to record for posterity things that happen to me (the recent vacation posts). I am a notorious list maker and like to be organized. Perhaps that is why I am an archivist. It's also why the blog is titled the way it is.
It also allows me to let people know about the way things happen and my opinion on them (the driver's license issue). I just like to talk, too. Watch this space for my thoughts about sports (the World Series is coming up, the start of the NHL season, and though I don't follow it as others do, the trials and tribulations of the NFL); politics (I am a Democrat, living in a very blue state, and firmly believe the Democrats are going to take the House AND the Senate back in little more than a month); and anything else I can think of to talk about.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
I now live in Maryland. According to the renewal form, I can renew my license by mail if:
- I have not been diagnosed with a physical or mental disability, other than vision, which may affect my driving.
- My license or privilege to drive has not been suspended, revoked, refused, canceled, or disqualified in Maryland or any other state, Washington DC or Canada.
- My name and address printed on the renewal application is correct.
- My current license is not a Provisional driver license or a "Valid Without Photo" driver license.
- I have not renewed by mail previously.
I will admit to not being the best driver. I have had more than my fair share of accidents. I have long thought that people should be required to periodically take driving classes, another road test, a written exam, or some measure to ensure that people still know how to drive safely. In New York, there was always an option of taking a class that reduced your insurance costs and would remove points from your driving record. I don't know why such classes are not more widely available.
My father, who still lives in New York, is an instructor for an AARP driver safety course. I really believe that drivers, as they get older, should be subjected to more rigorous guidelines for driving. Not to be ageist, but senior drivers have their fair share of accidents, which might be averted if they were required to more frequently polish their driving skills. My mother, who passed away in February, was able to renew her drivers license late in 2005, even after she had long stopped driving and had part of her leg amputated (she constantly reminded us that it wasn't her driving leg).
All this talk of driver's licenses makes me think of Safety Town. You are from Long Island if you know what I am talking about. I vividly remember the class trip to Safety Town and driving around the town learning the rules of the road. Maybe I should have gone back more often. It might have made me a better driver.
In looking for Safety Town information, I found the following website. Drop me a line if you know more than half of the list!
Monday, September 25, 2006
(4 to 6 servings)
Preparation time: 8 hours or more, largely unattended
Super-crisp outside, light and tender inside, with the complex flavor of yeast-risen batter, these are the best waffles you can make, and they're no more work than any other waffle; you just have to think ahead.
- 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups milk
- 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
- 2 eggs
- oil or cooking spray for the waffle iron
In the morning, brush or spray the waffle iron and preheat it. Separate the eggs and stir the yolks into the batter. Beat the whites until they hold soft peaks. Stir them gently into the batter.
Spread a ladleful of batter onto the waffle iron and bake until the waffle is done, usually 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your iron. Serve immediately or keep warm for a few minutes in a low oven.
Friday, September 22, 2006
You may note on my perpetual to-do list that it is my goal to get my golf score down into the 90's by the time I turn 40. That gives me little more than 15 months to make that goal. Earlier this week, with my wife and son away at the beach, I was able to stop at a local golf course, which I play frequently, on my way home to play golf in the fading daylight. I matched my personal best on the course, shooting 45 for nine holes. My main problem is inconsistency, i.e., one good shot, followed by several bad ones. There are many kinks in my game, but the main thing is that I am having fun on the course.
Upon arriving at the beach, I announced that my main objectives for my Rehoboth vacation was outlet shopping (tax-free in Delaware) and golf. I had done a little research and located a few good public courses close by and inexpensive. My game is not such that I need to be paying through the nose for greens fees.
So this morning, I headed off to the Old Landing Golf Course, a beautiful course that is very forgiving. Wide open, just a little water and not too many trees. (But somebody will still need to explain to me why I lost four balls over the course.) Upon arriving at the course, I paid my greens fees, picked up my key for the golf cart (I'm on vacation, I didn't want to walk) and headed for the first tee. It was a beautiful day here in Delaware, although a little chilly on the beach I was told. So I teed it up and sent it down the fairway (to the right side, but that too, is not unusual). The course was empty. I teed off in front of a foursome, caught up to a single who let me play through, passed a threesome on the turn, and then caught a twosome on the back, who let me play through again. The best part about playing golf is doing it quickly. I managed to get around 18 holes in just over two hours. By comparison, weekends on a public course at home can set you back four or five hours.
I suppose it could be said that I got around rather quickly because I did not have to take as many swings as I normally do. On a course I had never played before, playing by myself so I had no on-course advice, I managed to shoot 101. On the leaderboard of any normal golf tournament, that would put me down near the bottom at +30. I would most certainly not make the cut to play on the weekend. But as I said earlier, the goal is did I have fun - and I did.
Plus, since I managed to get around so quickly, I stopped at the outlets on my way home. Mission(s) accomplished.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
I had decided to do more than dip my toes in the ocean and my great friend decided to join me. As it was late in the day, the lifeguards had gone home for the day and the beach was "unsupervised." We had seen signs cautioning us about riptides, but we decided we could handle it. However, the beach at Rehoboth has a rather nasty drop-off just as you are getting in. You go from knee-deep water to water over your head. So you spend most of the time treading water. Not that you want to put your feet on the bottom as it is littered with rocks and not much sand, at this "shelf." Getting out of the ocean proved to be a challenge. Basically, it involved letting the wave carry you up on the shelf and then running like hell, before the next wave pushed you over and/or carried you back out into the deep water.
Seeing the signs about the riptides, reminded me of a time many years ago, when my sister and I were on vacation with our whole family in Amagansett, New York, on the east end of Long Island. My sister and I were on a raft and we found ourselves sucked out into very deep water. That year, we had rented a house on the beach. My father came out of the house and noticed us on the raft, seemingly headed for Europe. He began to dash across the sand and as he headed for the surf, two other men noticed my father, spotted us on the raft and jumped up to help my father. With the help of the three of them, we managed to return safely to shore.
Moral of the story, be aware of rip currents. If you get caught in one, let it take you out and then swim parallel to the shore and then in.
Tomorrow on the vacation agenda: Golf!
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
To the south shore were Jones Beach and Robert Moses State Parks where you could enjoy the waves of the Atlantic. The goal was always to get there early, avoiding the traffic on the causeway bridges and always head for West End lot 2. A good day would always involve deli sandwiches enjoyed on the beach and for a treat, ice cream delivered to your blanket by the many college students who would troll the beach selling "Fudgie Wudgie" bars (fudgsicles), "Creamy Weamy" bars (creamsicles), and of course, Italian Ices.
As a result of my childhood, I developed a love of the ocean and live for the opportunity to spend time with sand between my toes, dealing with skin hot and red as I eschewed sunscreen yet again, and pruned fingers from too much time in the ocean waves.
Earlier this year, my wife and I had the opportunity to spend a long weekend in Savannah, Georgia, specifically Tybee Island, to celebrate the 40th birthday of our great friend. This was gravy on top of the mashed potatoes as we already had plans for the five of us (me, my wife, our son, and our two great friends) to spend a week at a rental house in Rehoboth Beach, DE. That week finally arrived today, although it arrived on Sunday for my wife and son, and Monday for the great friends.
I had the disadvantage of having started a new job in June, had little leave to spend on a vacation and training that I needed to attend Monday through Wednesday. So I have escaped to the beach and will spend the next two and a half days soaking up as much sun and sand as I can.
The shore in the offseason is an interesting place. After arriving tonight and having a nice dinner at the rental house, my wife and I headed down the boardwalk for the essential beach staple, soft serve. I am sure that tomorrow will feature Thrasher's fries and other essential beach culinary delights. The boardwalk was very quiet and the waves crashed off in the darkness. My wife and I walked on the beach after ice cream and quickly determined that summer is rapidly receding from the area. Nonetheless, sand between my toes always feels good. And as my wife will always avow, a cloudy/cold/rainy day at the beach is always better than a day at the office. Now I will have the opportunity to enjoy the remaining days of summer with the best people I know.
On a related note, tonight's Powerball drawing is $179 million dollars. Much of the conversation around the dinner table tonight revolved around how to spend the money we haven't won yet and on what beach we would be living and approximately how long we would spend at work before starting our "early retirement."
Saturday, September 16, 2006
There is a period of time in the fall, when sports nuts can go crazy, particularly this one. Today, in most places, tickets for the NHL season went on sale. I purchased tickets this morning to see the Washington Capitals take on the New York Rangers at the Verizon Center here in DC. Having grown up in New York, I am a diehard Rangers fan. Even growing up on Long Island, I refused to be a fan of that other New York team, even after their several Stanley Cup wins. Islander fans tend to be fairweather fans, anyway, having created their fan base when they won all those cups, while they now wonder if they even still play hockey on Long Island.
I have vivid memories of going to games in Madison Square Garden to watch the Rangers. I have sat in the "good seats" where you can almost feel the checks being made along the boards. I have sat in the self-proclaimed "family section," the "blue seats," up in the rafters of the Garden, where Rangers are praised and Denis Potvin will always suck, being offered whiskey and Italian pastries by the fans. I toiled along with the Rangers in the 80s, watching dreams of the Cup fade away, and rejoiced in the 90s, when the Cup finally returned to the ice of New York.
Even the Garden is an icon unto itself, playing host to the Rangers and the Knicks, and other sporting events. The circus always stops at the Garden (but that is a story for another day), the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and countless concerts, including Billy Joel, who played a record number of sold out shows there in early 2006. I find it interesting that the "World's most famous arena," as it is often labeled, has never taken on a corporate sponsorship and changed its name. For that matter, ditto for all the sports arenas in the NY area.
Recently, the NHL lost an entire season, when management and players could not compromise. In the sports world, hockey players are grossly underpaid, especially considering the punishment their bodies are put through in a season. I don't begrudge them anything, and feel they should be paid proportionately better than the prima donnas that play on the baseball field.
Which brings me to that time of year again. After purchasing my tickets, I was able to turn on the TV in the afternoon and catch the Yankees and the Red Sox face off in the house that Ruth built, Yankee Stadium. As is right and fitting the Yankees sit atop the AL East with the Red Sox appropriately out of it. The aberration of the Red Sox World Series victory is fading into the past. When I moved to the DC area, I found myself going to Orioles games, particularly when the Yankees would come to Baltimore. It is the only time that Camden Yards would sell out.
When the Nationals arrived in DC from Montreal, I found a new team to root for. I could console myself with a National League team to cheer for, having never been a Mets fan (see the Islanders, above). This season has not been kind to either the O's or the Nats, so it will have to be a chorus of "wait 'til next year" once again.
Of course, football season is also upon us. The Redskins are off to a stumbling start, having lost every pre-season game and the first game of the season. They face the Cowboys tomorrow in Dallas. I have also secured tickets for a Giants-Redskins game at FedEx Field in DC on December 30.
So for the next few months, the days will grow shorter, the weather will turn crisp with the advent of fall, and sports fanatics can enjoy the overlap of seasons as "the Boys of October" take the field for the World Series, the gangs of the gridiron will battle each week, and men with sticks will lace up the skates to face off against one another for another season of the NHL. Enjoy!
Monday, September 11, 2006
Today the nation and the world observes a somber anniversary. Five years ago, I was working in
My girlfriend was living here in
I finally left my office in the early afternoon, after talking to my girlfriend and learning she was safe. I was unsure how I would get home and how long it might take me. As I traveled south on the
I sat in my parent's house and watched the endless coverage on the TV. I could not believe what I was watching, it was just too surreal. Even now, five years later, the memories are still so vivid in my mind. A month or so later, I had the opportunity to visit lower Manhattan and viewed Ground Zero, with pieces of the World Trade Center still standing on the site. Fires still burned in the wreckage, and recovery efforts continued around the clock. I wept as I looked at memorials, especially the one outside the chapel that had become a rest station for the rescue workers.
So five years later, the mantra has become, "
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Next Tuesday, September 12, is Primary Day in the state of
The gubernatorial race is set, with Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley set to face off against incumbent Governor Bob Ehrlich. It is expected that the brief tenure of "Bobby Haircut" will come to an end with an O'Malley's victory in November. The Senate race will be more interesting with current Republican Lt. Governor Michael Steele prepared to face off against the winner of the primary next Tuesday.
The two main contenders for the Democratic nomination are former Congressman and NAACP President Kweise Mfume and Congressman Ben Cardin. Cardin is the choice of the democratic establishment here in the state, with Mfume running a "grass roots" campaign, as the anti-establishment candidate. I would like to see Mfume win, but it may not happen. Whoever the nominee is, I do believe that Steele will lose and the Maryland Senate seat will stay "blue."
At the state level, there are a number of interesting races to watch. Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, a former Governor and
Yesterday I picked up some signs for my polling place for the primary. It was interesting to see which candidates were present and, whose signs were available for picking up. Some were shoved off to the side, or missing altogether, rather damning evidence that the party establishment may have made its choices. Tuesday holds to be a very interesting day here and around the country. Stay tuned!
Wednesday, September 6, 2006
Au contraire, dear reader. Of the many reasons I might come up with for starting this blog, being unhappy would not even appear on the list! I am quite possibly at the happiest point in my life. You want unhappy? Most recently, I weathered an extended period of unemployment and the loss of a family member. But now, things are back on track, I have a great new job and a wonderful wife and child. In case you were wondering? The special person is my wife.
The object of the subtitle, is simply (as I explained to my wife) that there are so many unfinished projects in one's life and no one has the time to get through everything. I'd like to be thin and rich, but those two things aren't coming to visit with me anytime soon.
Tuesday, September 5, 2006
This picture is certainly not distinctive enough but it is a clue nonetheless. Is there anyone out there who wishes to take up the challenge? I'll conclude with another clue (and a fine piece of movie dialogue), "Houston, we have a problem." Although, I'll give you that last one is a stretch, insofar as one has to make a stretch to get from Apollo 11 to finding the answer you seek.
I have several friends who have blogs and it certainly seems to be a good outlet for one's frustrations. So, I will stop by here on occasion and let people know what is going on with me and my life.
Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to your comments.