Friday, November 18, 2005

a quick comparison

a quick comparison of two members of congress: one deserves respect, the other deserves a full-service stay at the guantanamo hilton.

rep. jean schmidt, (r-ohio) is the least experienced member of the house. in a prohibitively republican district she squeaked out an election win over democrat paul hackett. during the campaign, ethics questions swirled around schmidt and her campaign:
Controversy arose over whether Schmidt had failed to list gifts received when she was in the Ohio General Assembly on her financial disclosure statements. Another controversy was her ties to Tom Noe, a major player in the Coingate scandal. Schmidt initially denied ever meeting Noe, but Hackett produced minutes of a 2002 Ohio Board of Regents meeting attended by Schmidt. Noe was a member of the board at the time.
schmidt, obviously a student of the republican school of ethics, recently ran her mouth on the subject of rep. john murtha (d-penn).

on the floor of the house, schmidt recounted a conversation she allegedly had with a marine colonel:
"He asked me to send Congress a message: stay the course," Ms. Schmidt said. "He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: that cowards cut and run, Marines never do."
schmidt, incidently, never served in the military.

murtha's record in that regard is more substantial:

Marine Corps 1952 - 1955
USMC Reserve 1955 - 1966
Marine Corps 1966 - 1967
USMC Reserve 1967 - 1990

Combat Service: Korean War, Vietnam
Awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal

murtha, for better or worse, has been called a "valued ally" by the likes of dick cheney, "one of the pentagon's best friends", and "one of the most hawkish senior Democrats."

what did he do to incite the outburst from schmidt? he dissented from the bush administration policy in iraq. he called for pulling out american troops within six months, saying they had become a target for continuing violence in Iraq.

for that he is labeled a coward.

end of comparison.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

valuable lessons from victoria

photo | victoria

last weekend our kids had a karate tournament in victoria, bc. the event was, um, eventful.

the trip was supposed to begin friday morning, but it really started thursday night. preston, our 7 year-old, couldn't sleep. too excited, too wound up. eventually he crawled into bed with us, and we all got a short, restless night's sleep.

no big deal, but then came friday and the oh-dark-30 ferry ride. the seas were angry, my friends...both preston and my wife got seasick. oy, such trauma. but again, by itself no big deal.

we disembarked in victoria, checked into a nice hotel, and charged off to the pool so the kids could swim (and burn off some energy). all went well for awhile, but the pool deck was badly designed...slippery tiles with a curving slope near the pool edge. preston slipped and whacked his head on the deck. it looked kinda bad, but he seemed fine the rest of the afternoon and through the evening.

at 12:30 a.m., however, he was not so fine.

for the next 3 hours he woke up off and on, crying miserably and complaining of a "horrible" headache. he really was beside himelf, and we were certain he had a concussion. at 2:30 a.m. in a foreign country, however, there was little to do but work the tylenol, cold compresses, and eventually a warm shower. finally, three-ish, he fell asleep for the rest of the night.

the wake-up call for the tournament came ridiculously early. avery (our 5 year-old) was raring to go, but preston was a mess. big dark circles under his eyes, overly emotional, obviously exhausted. we told him he didn't have to participate in the tournament, that there'd be other times, that he could stay at the hotel with mom or go to the venue and watch.

but no, he wanted to participate. so off we went.

avery's division went first, and she did her little teno kata routine. about halfway through she lost track of what she was doing....and just kept going. the girl had no earthly idea what she was doing next, but she pieced together something the judges found appealing, and won a bronze medal.

preston wasn't so lucky. he got about two-thirds of the way through before blanking...and melting down. he just put his hands over his face and started crying. he walked toward us, and i wanted to pick him up and carry him out. but i didn't. we told him to go back to the middle of the ring and show he was done, and wait for his score, which he reluctantly did. crying all the while.

man, that was hard. but after crying in mom's arms for awhile we got him pumped up to do his sparring (kumite), which he enjoys and is pretty good at.

again, avery's group went first. she wanted to give preston her bronze medal, so she was determined to go out and win a silver or gold. girl was banging her gloves together like rocky balboa, ready to mix it up with girls much bigger, older and more experienced than she is. she's a tiny thing, but like rod tidwell she is all heart. on command she'd charge across the ring and flail away, absolutely no fear. she didn't win a match, but she scored a lot of points...and won another bronze medal.

meanwhile...preston was mis-registered and got closed out of his division. he got thrown in with some much bigger boys, and was ready to get after them. but we and the sensei thought it would be a bad idea for him to go out and get his clock cleaned.

so he didn't get to spar.

next day we went back home. and the boy got seasick again.

tough trip. valuable lessons.

i hope.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

young philosophy

"do you enjoy other people's misery, preston?"

"why do you ask?"

"do you?"

"why do you want to know?"

"just answer, do you enjoy other people's misery?"

"i'm not going to answer, because you know what the answer is..."

does this sound like a conversation between a five year old and a seven year old? it doesn't to me, either.

but it was. at dinner. tonight.

later there was a deep discussion about "knowing your threes."

three, six, nine, 12, a gazillion.

later, still: "you farted. i've got to get out of this room."

more things that will never be the same

photo | rose

months after the fact, death still sneaks up on you.

out of the blue, say around the holidays, you're jolted by the realization that important events in your life will never happen again.

today my wife was sorting through the mail, looking at the grocery inserts for thanksgiving. it reminded her, she said, that she would never again be able to go home for thanksgiving.

she's right, in a way. without joan, there's no one to carry on the tradition. other family members could cook the turkey, but no one makes sliders the way joan did. her dad could act as host, but no one could make you feel at home the way joan did. the wine would still flow, the conversation would range far and wide...but no one would bring people together the way joan did.

it would be comforting if we could find some things that would, somehow, be the same.