National Novel Writing Month: November

November is National Novel Writing Month. I have changed my settings on Facebook, deleted many political bookmarks and started thinking about a plot. I’m not trying to change the world, win an award, prove my genius or impress you, but simply do something in a set amount of time that I’ve decided is worth doing.

For the past several weeks I’ve felt my self-looking backward a bit, thinking about my past and maybe experiencing a bit of the middle age feeling. Hard not to when you’re 37, unemployed and caring for a 1year old who isn’t much for conversation.  Have I done the best I can? What choices did I make.  What does the future hold for me?

I know that I’m happily married to my best friend in the world, that I have a beautiful daughter who is cuter than the dickens and my best buddy, but am I spending my free time in the most “productive” way? Self-doubt is like a cleaning lady, it shows up weekly to attend to all your toilets, cabinets, nooks and crannies of the mind. What can I say? I’ve got it good but I feel like I owe more to myself — not that I’m doing a bad job, just that being a stay at home dad is an opportunity to do more. You’re free from the commute, the shitty lunchtime banter, the meetings, the whole bullshit facade that workings stiffs experience every day.  You know, you’ve been there, stuck in traffic or a meeting you didn’t want to attend — thinking, what could I be doing?????

I don’t suppose NaNoWriMo is any sort of salve to my doubts or anxieties of self worth, but it may be a minor kick in the pants that gets the transmission going and the gears into up-shift.  That said, I’m not going to be blogging much this month after the election and I hope you understand. Most of you are my friends and other bloggers that I’ve grown to know over the past several months discussing parenting and politics.  I don’t want to lose you, but I can’t do it all during naptimes — despite my extreme typing skills.

Hopefully I’ll find my late nights and early mornings amusing and can pass that on to you.  I hope that I learn something from the experience. I find this akin to the challenges I gave myself to run two marathons despite not having a runners’ physique. Far from it. I could have manufactured running shoes in the time it took me to complete those marathons. But, the simple fact is that I did them and in the end, as Woody Allen says about showing up, it’s 80% about finishing despite your time.

Of course, if Obama wins it will be the icing on the cake. If McCain wins, it will be the last resort of a desperate ego that drives my typing. Only time will tell.

Right now, the title of the book is Snow on Sunset Blvd. and it is as much the story of a man who is a fish out of water as he is in the right place at the right time. It incorporates the things I know; Alaska, California, politics, parenting, psychology and human emotion. What more do you need? Shit, people have written much more about less.

Finally and again, I want to thank my wife, Punditmommy.  Without her support and friendship, I would be a shell of a man. Although I’m not terribly religious, I feel truly blessed to be her husband and the father of her child. Hopefully, in some of this work, I will continue to earn her love.


Punditdad Book Review: An American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

Why did she marry that idiot? Find out!

Why did she marry that idiot? Find out!

Punditdad went to a hippy college which taught people to drum in circles and talk about books in a square. The take-aways were that drums are for indigenous peoples, not long haired freaks, and that books should be respected as tools to change how we view the world and the people in them.  Especially people we don’t understand.

Since this is my blog I want to talk about recent readings and my thoughts. I won’t bore you with books that suck but rather books which provoke thoughtful comments and consideration.

An American Wife is a historical fictionalized account of the life of First Lady Laura Bush.  Since my knowledge of the First Lady is limited, I had to read a Wikipedia article on her to find the consistencies and similarities. The names have been changed, the locations have been changed and the sex is probably not motion to motion but an observer of current events and the back cover will know this is Laura Bush. But not just what happened in her life, but how she went from being an elementary school librarian to being married to the President of the Untied States.

To start with, the character of the First Lady, Alice Lindgren, kills her high school sweetheart in an automobile accident on the way to prom.  Now, if you didn’t know that Mrs. Bush killed a young man, you’re not alone. Neither did I.  The anguish and self-loathing created from this terrible accident affected Alice forever. Her life was dramatically altered; she would never know if the teenage boy killed was meant to be her true love or if the life she eventually chose was the right path. That type of event, one that marks a clear delineation between “before” and “after” in ones’ life can happen to us all, but how we react to it is what makes us what we are.

Unfortunately for Alice, in the early 60’s, people didn’t have psychotherapy or heart to heart discussions about these types of events. Her family simply pretended it never happened.  Enter the George Bush character, Charlie Blackwell.  A well-thought out and surprisingly sympathetic character.

—- Personal Aside: I have a doctor friend who knew a person, a champion bass fisherman, who spent the day fishing with George Bush a few years ago. Although the bass fisherman was no screaming liberal, he was certainly someone who wondered how Bush got elected twice.  The fisherman swore up and down that Bush was the funniest, most personable and fun-loving guy he ever spent the day fishing with. Just the type of guy you would want to have a beer with!—-

Charlie is fun loving, hard drinking rich boy who attended Princeton and is one of the heirs to a Wisconsin beef empire. Charlie doesn’t fit in with the rest of the business school blue bloods and has a hard time fitting in with the Blackwell Meat company. His family are loud self-regarding Wisconsin aristocrats. Charlie meets Alice while beginning his losing campaign for Congress and they immediately fall in love. He is a lazy drunken lout. She is an intelligent well read librarian.

So begins a tale of life and marriages, slowly unraveled in a meticulous and thoughtful manner. My wife and I always talk about how you can never really understand another person’s marriage – that you can’t understand the inner workings of it. One of the partners might be a weirdo or a jerk, but somehow that person is a source of love to their partner. It’s unknowable.

Alice helps Charlie find his way through the maze of politics and the pull of the bottle which he eventually rejects in favor of Christian devotion. Mostly she just survives while becoming a victim of her husbands’ struggle for power. How she reconciles her life and justifies her role in the political arena is thoughtful, intriguing and well written. It’s why I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Alice rarely has to make tough choices. Her husband runs for Governor then President and she is dutiful and supportive. Only until the book is nearly finished is Alice confronted with hard questions about her role as First Lady and as a “political wife”.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Laura Bush but she’s certainly not Public Enemy #1. She was never elected and she’s got different polices that the President. I don’t hold her responsible for the atrocities of the Bush Administration but of course, I’ve always wondered how issues like Katrina, the war in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay prisoners go over when being discussed at the pillow…if they are discussed at all.

I know if I were president I couldn’t enact policy that I knew my wife fundamentally disagreed with or had serious moral reservations about.  I wouldn’t want to disappoint her, quite frankly. Maybe I don’t have the meddle to make the tough choices? Are tough choices, open to argument in a marriage, part of leadership?

I recemmend An American Wife as a discusion of how we make choices in our lives regarding love and politics and more often than not, let circumstances direct our life paths rather than direct the circumstances to our own will. Here’s the link to the book on Amazon to the book and the link to Laura Bush on Wikipedia if you have glossed over her as I have in the past 8 years. Happy reading.

Not Doing the To-Do List

Life is more than getting things done!

Life is more than getting things done!

Stay at home dads always have to do lists. I mean, I don’t have a job other than keeping a baby alive between 8:00 AM and 5:30 PM so it’s tough to defend against. To do lists are a pain in the ass and rarely do they have something fun on them like, “Google fart” or “lounge on Facebook and laugh at people’s Interests” or even “make turkey sandwich”. No, to do lists are filled with things that HAVE to be done, not WANT to be done. Since I’ve been pretty open about my life, and mind you, since most of you readers don’t leave comments, I’m assuming you’re skulkers rather than faithful fans, I’m going to share my to-do list.

10. Finalize 529 Plan — Darling Daughter will be going to college in 17 years and PunditFamily will need probably at least $4.5 Million dollars to send her to some community college for her associates’ degree. Maybe if she’s smart she’ll become a welder or a nurse because those people in 17 years are going to be like the Goldman Sach’s investment bankers of the 90’s- paid like gods and just as rare.

9. Buy PunditMommy a Replacement Coffee Mug – Dumbass dad put her favorite mug in the dishwasher which gets up to core temperature of the sun and melted the cup into a slightly obscene shape which makes it difficult to drink out of and incompatible for commuting with a good cup of joe.  For some reason this is the one on the list I’m completely uninspired by. Go figure.

8.  Get Jacked up on Sittercity — We’ve been dawdling about getting a regular dependable sitter for nights and days.  Since I’m blanching at the interview process, I rarely, if ever got to to see all the Education Majors who are looking for work at UCI and need extra dough to pay the lease on their Jettas.  I need to start thinking of this as my key to freedom instead of a chore. When in doubt, throw money at it!

7. Oil Change/Car Wash — I’ve already destroyed one engine in my ’98 Toyota Corolla and there’s no excuse for doing it again.  There’s a Jiffy Lube as close to my house as Russia is to Sarah Palin’s house (closer). Additionally, my car has a weird smell like old formula, thousands of coffee cups and coffee stains and it looks like a real clunker going down the road compared to the moving Mercedes slideshow that is the OC.  Not to mention the fact that Punditmommy exploded a canister of Cheerios on the PunditCar floor this weekend. I’ve ben forced to feed the Bean with those though. Handy.

6. Sell Green Lamps on Craigslist — We’ve got some hideous lamps that need to go but PunditFamily has the drugged up belief they are worth dollars.  I’ve posted them on the ‘List before but no takers. Should I pay someone to take them or just take them to Goodwill. Christ, a trip to Goodwill is another addition to the list.

5. Buy Running Shoes — Punditdad is going to run the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll Marathon and made this claim like Joe Biden makes “rhetorical flourishes”. Now all I need to do is hit the racks for a new pair of New Balances. I keep putting off the training because of the shoes.  Notice how one mundane thing creates a roadblock to a difficult task? Hello!

4.  Read book for Book Club — Just joined a book club on Meetup and the people are quite nice. We picked “An American Wife” by Curtis Sittenfeld (Author of “Prep”) and I’m enjoying it. I’m 250 pages in and barely half way, the club meets next Tuesday night so I’ve got some reading to do. Hate coming without having finished the book. You thought book clubs were for wussies right? Wrong! They’re for deep intellectuals and philosophers who tend to spend hours thinking about modern man’s challenges as a slave to technology while still finding the true meaning of his or her soul. Damn right. I’m not reading the Secret Life of Bees or some shit like Tuesday’s with Morrie. Gag me.

3.  Make Bean’s Carrots – I’ve had about 20 pounds of carrots in the fridge waiting to be “baby prepared” which means softening them in hot water and putting them in the blender for course chopping. Big mess and not that fun but Beanie loves carrots. What am I waiting for?

2.  Research Summer House Rental in Michigan – We’ve got an idea to rent a house on Lake Michigan next summer, spend a week or two and let family rotate in while we hang on the beach, visit relatives and generally have a family vacation.  Unfortunately I have no idea what is availabe in South Haven so need to get on this.

1. Vegas Baby! — Nana and Bapa are the kind souls (Punditdads’ parents and frequent readers of this site) coming to the OC to visit for Xmas this year. They have agreed to watch the baby for 3 nights while PunditDad/Mommy live it up in Vegas losing money, inspecting Hoover Dam and getting massages.  Need hotel and a nice dinner somewhere. As usual, I’m a big believer in Priceline, mostly because they’ve never steered us wrong with hotels or rental cars.

That’s my list! Not bad, no home construction or building. No carpentry or plumbing or test taking or anything too difficult just plain good old American procrastination and laziness.  Maybe I’ll make a deal with myself — if Obama wins I’ll do the list in  day. If he loses I’ll burn the list and never think about it again!

How I Voted & Why

Punditdad recently voted in California mail-in ballot style. Get ‘er done as the rednecks say and make sure you count in the final tally. There’s a thousand ways you can not get counted but not showing up or being late are the most likely ways. Punditdad, being new to California and it’s clusterfuck of a ballot initiative system needs a bit more time to think through the best choices for local government and the propositions so he does it in the comfort of his home with fast internet access and a cup o’ joe.

How Punditdad Voted:

Obama for President – Obama is up by like 50000% in California so this is no big deal. If you’re voting for McCain you have a different worldview than I. You see America as a place under siege by enemies who are invisible and visible.  The media, the terrorists, the anti-Americans.  Many Republicans I know believe that Islam is not a religion to be dealt with but destroyed. I just think that inevitably, we’ll put enough Coke and McDonald’s in their countries that people will be too complacent and fat to be religious extremists. Barry Obama is the future of our country whether you or I like it or not. He could be the finest president we’ve ever had or a complete disintegration of democracy. I guess we’ll find out.

Steve Young for Congress – Young is an attorney with no chance running against John Campbell. Campbell is the fascist dipshit that rules the OC area of Irvine and is a one trick pony for fanning the flames of hate regarding immigration and terrorism.  I have no doubt that Campbell will win but I feel that there is generational change that may slip by him in the next coming election cycle where he can’t count on older, wealthier white people to be his base as the Hispanic/Asian population will have increased in a more middle class way.

Sukhee Kang for Irvine Mayor – As far as I can tell, there is a war going on between the Republicans and the Democrats on the Irvine City Council despite the fact that these seats are non-partisan.  While the R side appears to be a bit obstructionist regarding the building of the Great Park (totally huge park bigger than Delaware that will take over the El Toro Air Force Base and be totally awesome), Kang and his cohorts appeal to my left-center sensibilities, stressing education (Irvine has the best schools in the country), safety (safest city in the country) and the environment.  Christine Shea, running for mayor as well, has a “Negative Campaign” going and she hasn’t asked for my vote so she’s not getting it.

Irvine City Council:

Larry Agran – I don’t really know this guy but he supports the Great Park, is willing to put Irvine on the line for the cost of it and I think that takes guts. Besides, despite having tons of parks, you can never have enough parks.

Todd Gallinger – I voted for Todd because he came to my door and asked for my support. He’s got a green agenda and is part of a new generation of public servants who appear home grown and knowledgeable about local issues. He’s married and has a young kid. So do I. We have the same priorities. Also, he looks kinda dorky and I like that.

Beth Krom – This could be my most dubious vote. Beth Krom is termed out of being Irvine Mayor and since moving here, I don’t really know her record. She wants to stay on the Council so the assumption is she has done a good job. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt because of the quality of life in Irvine and the plans for the Great Park. I suppose people have voted on less but I still wish she had sent me a bio, come to my door or called.

Irvine Ranch Water District:

Mary Matheis, Darryl Miller and John Withers: This was tough. All these people have been sitting on this board for years and I have no way of telling what kind of job they’ve been doing. I get water every day and there are a number of innovative things going on in Orange County with regard to water recycling but I don’t know if these people are part of that. The only other guy, Boyd Shultz, who is on the ballot didn’t send info, doesn’t have commercials and apparently things this is a Hail Mary to get a job which appears clouded in secrecy.  As far as I know, Boyd Shultz could be anybody. In those cases, I tend towards the incumbents.

California Props:

Prop I — Yes: This is a lot of money, nearly 10 Billion dollars but if SoCal is to get serious about it’s transportation problems, it might as well be now.  This is a bond so it will be paid over many years.  It will provide rail service all over the place, probably go over budget and take years longer than anyone will like but you gotta start somewhere.

Prop 2 — Yes. Standards for Confining Animals. I don’t care about the farmers of CA saying we’ll get our eggs from Mexico if we have to increase the cage size for hens. Globalization happens and America can be competitive and humane on the world stage.  Will we pay more for eggs? Yes. Are we just a bit better in terms of our own humanity because we didn’t treat caged animals like machines. I hope so.

Prop 3 — Yes. Bonds for more Kids Hospitals. As someone who knows the problems with Medi-Cal and the state of the uninsured in America, kids are on the short end of the stick when it comes to health care. Although this nearly 1 billion dollar bond will cost 2 billion, the well being of a lot of kids makes it worth it.

Prop 4 — No. Parental Consent for Teens. Uh, dad rapes daughter, then daughter needs consent to get abortion? No brainer.  Another hack job to take away our American right to privacy and a sad commentary on the part of the puritanical right to hurt the ones who have been hurt the most, at their weakest moment.

Prop 5 — No.  Foggy on this one but think it takes money out of the system to rehab more nonviolent offenders. Unfortunately it becomes a designated fund so the state can’t change the amount, it then becomes a static payment in the budget. Too much of that already.

Prop 6– No. Police and Law enforcement funding. Same as 5, taking money out of the system permanently to fund something good. While I agree with the need to fund more cops, I think it should be an individual policy decision on the part of the governor.

Prop 7– No. Apparently this is a T. Boone Pickens boondoggle to corner the solar energy market in California. All the Greenies AND the Union of Concerned Scientists have opposed it as well as the evil energy companies. Another no brainer.

Prop 8– NO! Take away a current right to marry. Terrible prop by the religious extremist right to yank away the right to marry for same sex couples in California. Wouldn’t vote for this in a million years, but that’s just how Punditdad rolls you know? Equal rights and shit cause the bible told me so.

Prop 9. — No. There already a very strong Victim’s Rights section in the California Criminal justice system and this would just take money to fund more parts of that. Like previous props, I support the idea but taking money out of the system ties the hands of governments.

Prop 10. — Yes. 9 billion in individual bonds to fund alternative energy in Cali.  Like Prop One, this is pretty expensive and I probably won’t live here long enough to pay for it or reep the benefits, that said, this type of funding for research and development into renewable energy is the type of New Deal 2.0 that we need.

Prop 11. — Yes. Creates redistricting commission to take the Legislators out of the gerrymandering equation. Deadlock in Cali is terrible because they essentially are not hampered by districts, thereby the most liberal and conservative representatives get elected and never can comprimise on anything.  A new system, however imperfect, would allow moderates to break the logjam and put some suspense into the elections that previously incumbents dominated.

Prop 12. — Yes. Veterans Bonds for farm and home aid. What we do to vets in this country is disgraceful and the rhetoric that people like McCain use as a weapon is even more sad as his record shows he’s one of the most anti-vet senators in the government.  If we don’t invest in vets, then their problems become our problems. If we invest intelligently and make sure they have support on farms and at home then, like everyone else they pay taxes and are innovators that our economy needs.

Summary: I dislike the propositional style of voting that California has embraced.  With so many corporate interests out there willing to pay people to get signatures, anyone with money can change the rules of government, put out ads that tell lies and then have the Constitution of California written any way they want no matter how much it ties the hands of the idiots in Sacramento.  Most voters don’t do their homework so catch phrases from commercials are all they remember when they go into the voting booth. That sucks. I think we should have voting by mail, same day voter registration and we move voting to a Saturday AND Sunday so people who work long hours can vote. Imagine how many MORE people would vote if it was on the weekend? Blow out.

Finally, I hope if you’re reading this you’ll send me your outrage, sympathy or antagonism regarding how I voted. I think if we are less secret about how we vote, we can understand ourselves better and the issues.

Hedging Political Disapointment

Although Punditdad has been a Barack Obama supporter since he ran for the US Senate in Illinois and his historic speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention,  he has refused to believe that Obama will actually win the race for presidency.  Why the lack of hope? Why the obvious refusal to see the polls? Because this song has been played before for Democrats.

In 2000, when people’s job security, income, home ownership and general pocketbook health was on the rise, American’s made the choice to bring in a uniter, not a divider. People can chalk that one up to Clinton fatigue but I suspect that the previous 8 years of relative prosperity had made people a tad spoiled.  Although we were sick of moralistic political squabbles most people were giving Bubba 80% approval.  I’ll be the first to admit that Gore is stiff as a plank, condescending and sometimes a lecturing bore but it doesn’t take much of a stretch to know that his government would have been far less controversial, idiotic, embarrasing and deadly than Bush’s. We just couldn’t see what was important at the time since times were good. Gore had flaws that were not his to control, his persona, Bill Clinton and the state of the nation.

2004 was an election 4 months too early. Had it been held in March of 2005, I suspect that Americans would have given Kerry more of a chance. Needless to say, John Kerry was a complete and utter dolt who couldn’t get Bozo the Clown excited about his candidacy.  Kerry was asking Americans to make a choice at too difficult a time in their lives, 9/11 and the Iraq War were, I think, too close in the past to feel safe about switching presidents.  Was Kerry uninspiring and suck the life out of the party? Far too much.  But I can’t help but think that his campaign was often caught flat-footed in the knife fight of elections and that he didn’t want it bad enough.  If the election had been in March, the Iraq War would have been more of a problem, more of a morass, more of a Gordian Knot and Bush would have seemed less like the person to figure it out.

2008 has been a long time in the making and as I see Obama with the most sophisticated ground operation in American history, I can’t help but feel he has done everything right and nothing wrong. Sure, he’s made some boneheaded remarks ’bout the guns and bitterness, but compared to the number of gaffes and mistakes the Clinton/Rommney/Guiliani/McCain campaigns have run, they’ve pretty much run the board. What most people don’t understand is that the campaign is a strategic war designed to put the winner into the position of most powerful person in the world. Voters think they are the “deciders”, but I believe that campaigning, for the most part, has such a potential to alter public perception and voting outcomes, that a campaign is ultimately responsible for it’s destiny. You win because you ran the best campaign, controlled the circumstances and the rules better than your opponent.  Will that be true in 2 weeks.

That said, something deep inside my gut wonders if America will turn to Obama on Nov. 4th to solve it’s many problems. Will they see him as the person to turn the page? People vote for many different reasons and what thier votes mean is a subject many a thesis has been written.  Right now, I believe that Obama’s best chance with independents and swing voters is the message that the Republican party has blown their opportunity to be the party that fixes our problems.  They can’t be given the tools to power to oversee our buget, troops, departments and many social programs; they can’t be trusted to lead.

Will he make it? If he does, I’m going to be blown away, along with the rest of America and the world.  An African American President with a funny name and big ears. Holy Shit!

Finally, if you’re reading this, make sure you vote and vote early.

BTW, I do think, along with some of my Republican friends that Obama should keep Henry Paulson and Secretary of Defense Gates on for a few months to keep the “tiller steady” during this economic crisis and the two wars. But shit, announce it before election so you can get some extra credit before you do it.

Gouge Out Your Eyes With the Snack Box

Parents never get this shit on a plane. You'd be wearing that coffee in 3 seconds.

I reject your snack box United Airlines!

Well, the family travel is over and Punditdad has never been so pleased to be ensconced in his quiet little townhouse in his safe little white suburban city in sunny OC, far from planes and airports.  Two weeks ago Punditmommy flew to our prior home, Chicago, for work. This left Punditdaddy with the yeoman’s work of watching the Bean 24 hours a day for 4 days.  Now, remember, Punditdaddy is eternally grateful to his beautiful, super-hot wife who brings home the bacon, the cheddar and all the other kinds of dough that keep Punditdad in the lifestyle that he’s become accustomed too.  But do you remember what happened to the yeomen who beamed down to planet’s with the crew of the Starship Enterprise? Yup, zapped by a lizard face alien or sucked into a pile of intelligent goo. That’s what happened to me schlepping my baby to Chicago from the Orange County at 5:00 AM last Friday.

Oh, you say we’ll never take the baby on a plane again, then someone hatches a plan that sounds very mild and safe. I take the baby and meet up with Punditmommy and Pundit-Inlaws in Chicago for a week of fun and frolicking. Well we had fun and frolicking (see Rhino Ass/Baby Face in Lower Left at the BEAUTIFUL Lincoln Park Zoo) but it’s the getting there not the being there.

Up at 4:30 AM for Punditdad with that,  “I didn’t really sleep much ’cause I’m terrified of oversleeping feeling because who the fuck gets up at 4:30 AM except the LA Times delivery guy”? Get all the bags in order, then trudge into the Bean’s room and wake the baby. Stick bottle in mouth. Pray there is no yelling. Change baby. Thankfully baby is completely docile because baby is used to sleeping for 13 hours and that includes the hours we’re in now dumb-shit daddy!

Transitions to cab, airport and security are in stunned silence for both Bean and Punditdad. The cabby doesn’t want to talk and neither do we.  Surprisingly, the other patrons at the John Republican Wayne Airport are helpful in waving, smiling and generally helping out this poor dad who is up at a ridiculous hour by himself with a baby. Thanks humanity, I owe you one! Security becomes an even greater delight. TSA minions help move our BabyCrap through the Oscillametaterization Checkpoint and into the waiting area so Punditdad can get dressed and not drop the infant.

United Airlines however has had a serious change in policy that should be addressed. Remember when you were able to get your kid or senior on first because they have a ton of shit/equipment/toys/heavy burden? Not now cowboys and cowgirls. I expected the “All those with children or those needing extra time may board now,” announcement to come. It never came. Of course, being the a-hole that I am, I went to the front 2 seating areas ahead of the one on the boarding pass. The biotch at the gate informed me that if we waited for all the children to get on we’d “never leave”. I firmly stated I didn’t care, it was easier for me. Isn’t that what this is about in America? What’s easier for me? Hello.

45 minutes into the flight I have used Supreme Daddy Powers to put baby to sleep in arms. We are in flight. All is good. 45 minutes later, ego is huge because what kind of awesome dad can put his 1 year old to sleep and live to tell the tale?  Suddenly, the flight attendant came barreling down the aisle with her cart and her sleazy sales pitch for the inhuman gruel they call a “snack box” for only $20.  Screaming “Anyone want a snack box” right over our aisle caused my darling daughter to rise from the dead and curse the rest of my trip.  I wanted to smash the snack box into the flight attendant’s throat, with whatever crap they include in their shitty excuse for a meal.  Who the fuck wants a snack box at 8:00 AM in the morning? People want coffee or they want to be left the fuck alone to sleep.

Baby squirms and yells. Repeat for 3 more hours. Seething on the part of Punditdaddy as flight attendant lives in a world unaware of her sins.

Landing and the return of mommy are welcomed and the trip to Chicago is a reminder that it’s one of the best cities in America bar none.  The urban areas, the sprawl, the lakefront and the culture are some of the best the world and I’ve got 5 years of living there to prove it.  It was a bit chilly and Punditdad had to wear pants and socks rather than shorts and Vans.  Sacrifices.

Return flight to the OC was a different take on the Hobbes quote, “nasty, brutish and long“. The Bean slept for 30 minutes but became an overpowering tornado of squirming, yelling, screaming, grabbing and more squirming. What do you expect a one year old to do sitting on someone’s lap for 4 hours? As we left the John Wayne Republican Airport, we swore we would never fly again until the Bean was able to zone out to a DVD player of Barney, Teletubbies, Texas Chainsaw Massacre III or whatever she wanted to watch.  I don’t care just as long as she doesn’t do the same staccatos of high pitched yells and hollers.  Don’t get me wrong, the kid was exhausted and that’s what kids do and I don’t blame her. I love her to death.

Home was like the welcome bosom of the first spike of opium, the cheating drag off a cigarette or the first sip of a cold beer on a hot day.  Felt real good. Our family fell into our beds and slept and relaxed that weekend in ways we never thought possible. Newspapers cluttered our living room and we ate take-out with pride. Naps aplenty. Home is where the heart is and where our energy cells got replenished.

Having been plenty of places, I know travel is the seasoning that expands your horizons and can connect you to people and places unknown and not previously understood. With the Bean, it was a chance to be with a special part of our family and that can’t be replaced or delayed or cheated. Would do it again in an instant, but damn, next time can’t we do it first-class?

Baby, with Rhino

Baby, with Rhino

Debate My One Fluttering Eye

Gov. Sarah gets her SUPER HOT winking style from the old man!

Gossip: Gov. Sarah gets her SUPER HOT winking style from the old man!

With all the winking last night, Punditdad thought that Gov. Sarah was making a move on him through the TV! I hope the Guv knows Punditdad is a happily married man who, despite many rumors, is not turned on by people who believe that dinosaurs and man used to live in peace 10,000 years ago or that witches are out there causing trouble for oil pipelines.  Witches and dinosaurs oh my!

What’s the good news? Joe Biden won the debate. Unfortunately, debates aren’t about winning these days they are about perceptions so sayeth the media. But I have my doubts. My feeling is that the Obama campaign is a well run machine that has sent both members of the ticket to debates and demanded they look confident, truthful, factual and credible.  It worked. What more do you need when you are running with the incumbent president incurring the lowest popularity in recorded history? Obama’s Achilles Heel has always been that people doubted his experience and “presidential gravitas”. Biden ups the ante twofold and held up his end of the bargain last night.  I sense that this will send people looking hopefully at the Obama/Biden ticket for reassurance the right messages.

On the other side, Palin did look nervous in the begining but who can blame her? She warmed up and got going in the end. I don’t suppose many partisans will switch sides because of her performance but she did prove that, under the gun, she could act her way out of a corner.  Does she understand foreign policy? Hell no. Is she an expert in energy policy? Hell no.  Does that matter to “low-information” voters who feel angry about their guns and the economic injustice in the world? Hell no.  People who believe the world is flat don’t look to politicians for answers, they look for rationales and enemies to make sense of a world they don’t understand.  And yes, I’m a fucking judgemental elitist. It’s my new thing. Get used to it.

Both George Will and David Brooks, generals in the conservative army, know Gov. Sara is a neophyte to policy and about as qualified to be president on Day One as Punditdad is qualified to play quaterback for the NY Jets. Not even close. Though I might look good in a jock and a helmet.

All bullshit aside, the polls in battlegrounds states are trending towards Obama. McCain has pulled out of Michigan and apparently didn’t run that by Palin, she wants to go back and win one for the gipper. Message to Sarah: you can’t win in a state of unemployed autoworkers when you only give tax breaks to the rich.  In fact, you can’t really win in a lot of Rustbelt states when now one knows what your economic message is except that Obama will raise taxes.  Those taxes are like Putin in AK, just keep rising and appearing when you don’t want them.

As Punditdad has said before, there is still over 30 days left in this election and despite the fact that Obama would win handily if it were held today, never underestimate the hatemongers, racists, bigots and troublemakers who would rather destroy democracy rather than live in one that doesn’t suit their ideological mindset.  Expect hate mail, race baiting and other tragic hijinx to go down in Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina sooner rather than later. Florida too if it keeps giving Johnny Mac such a headache. My god, you put Florida in Obama’s column and the whole thing is over faster than Charlie Crist’s spray on tan!

PS if you would like to see an EXCELLENT site for polling and the current electoral count situation then there is only ONE site for you: . This site is run by Nate Silver, an analytical force of nature who has vowed to run an exemplery site devoted to compiling a REALLY fair and balanced look at the hundreds of polls that are coming out every day. Read it. Impress your friends.