Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Not a bad day for democracy

"Democracy is the USA." - Leonard Cohen

Tuesday night was quite the time. Mike Byerly was re-elected with a convincing 54% of the vote. It seems like the majority of the folks in this town still don't want this town steamrolled over in the name of progress. Hooray for that.

Eileen Roy also triumphed big as expected, getting two-thirds of the vote to be re-elected to the school board. Barbara Sharpe was newly-elected as well, beating a pretty well-established encumbent.

Ed Crapo remains our property appriaser. The judge runoff will be between Denise Ferrero (who nearly won outright) and Sherman, although only about 60 votes separated her from Rob Groeb without the early and absentee votes being counted yet (yes, that includes my own, but I voted to Stroman, so that won't make much difference). I'd be surprised if 10,000 people show up for this runoff election, so it will be all about these candidates getting out the vote.

Sadie Darnell will also remain our sheriff for another term. I feel bad for Lonnie Scott, but I'm sure he knew it would be an uphill battle with little chance of success. At least he will remain with us on the streets on Gainesville, where he will also be doing a WORLD of good.

Next up (besides the runoff, of course), the general election in November!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Aiden goes berzerk over pasta!

My wife took this video on her phone at dinnertime this evening and I just had to share. It's our son showing his adeptness at sign language followed by his true love of pasta. Included is paternal commentary from yours truly. Enjoy!

How I Voted: the Importance of Tuesday's Democratic Primary Election in Alachua County

As an early voter (I vote at the earliest opportunity afforded to me. always. in person.), I'd like to share the logic behind the way I voted a week ago last Friday. This is an ever-important primary, so I encourage everyone who has not voted by mail or voted early to GET OFF YOUR ASS AND MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!

With that out of the way, here's now I voted for each candidate up for election:

COUNTY COMMISSIONER - DISTRICT 1: Although this is not the first thing on the ballot, it is first in my mind. I cannot stress the importance of this vote enough. It will be a close race, and the winner will no doubt put a drumming on the Republican trotted forth in the general election. I urge everyone to strongly support the candidacy of encumbent MIKE BYERLY. Mike has long championed the conservation angle on pushing our county forward. He had fought tooth and nail, often alone, against developers and others who would have our county turned into another South Florida, with strip malls and urban blight. You may have recieved a mailer a couple weeks back from his challenger, Rick Bryant, talking about his "plan" for Alachua County. If you'll notice, there are no concrete solutions offered in this mailing about this "plan." I'll tell you what Rick Bryant's plan is: to put the business-owner first, no matter what the cost or the size and impact of their business. Our way of life is at stake here, folks. Please don't mess this one up!

SHERRIFF: This is a tough one. Although I believe encumbent Sadie Darnell has done a satisfactory job in her debut half-term as sheriff, I voted for LONNIE SCOTT this time. I work at the Alachua County Jail on a daily basis, so I see the systematic actions of the prison-industrial complex firsthand. While Darnell has brought down the jail population a bit, the same attitude there still remains. When Scott first announced his candidacy, he talked about how he wanted to be the Andy Griffith figure of Gainesville: someone the citizenry would have no problem saying hello to -- or even to approach about a problem, rather than someone with a gun and a badge that instills intimidation and ultimate authority. That speech was really moving for me. Without trying to sound like Joe Biden, let me say that Lonnie is a great family man with upstanding kids that deserve the utmost respect. Darnell just seems a bit distant to me for some reason - but like I said, it's a bit of a toss-up here.

PROPERTY APPRAISER: First of all, I can't believe that this office even has a challenger. What would cause someone to think, "gee, I think I'll challenge the longtime encumbent for the job of property appraiser!" Maybe there's some money to be made in this job because it's certainly not the most high-profile public service job in the county. Needless to say, I voted for ED CRAPO here again. Personally, I don't think our house has been unfairly assessed for property tax purposes. Plus, Ed seems to have done a more-than-competent job thus far. If you want to read what challenger Alonzo Victor Perkins has to offer, please be my guest.

COUNTY JUDGE: First of all, this is an office that lies near and dear to my heart. I will likely have to hear this person on an almost weekly basis at some point because of my occupation. This judge will initially be in the civil division, but they're certainly subject to be moved over to criminal court in the coming years. Since I don't work with private attorneys, I know very little about most of these candidates, but I cast my vote for RHONDA STROMAN. As the youngest candidate of the four, I believe she'll put a fresh perspective on an occupation often seen as dusty and archaic. Another completely competent person for the job would also be Lorraine Sherman, who has supported many progressive and fair causes in the past. With four candidates here, this will no doubt result in a runoff (boy, I'd love to see the voter turnout for THAT election!). I just hope that one of these two candidates makes the cut. I honestly don't have any strong opinions against any of these candidates. These are the two that I've heard the most positive things about, though. The other two candidates are Denise Ferrero and Rob Groeb.

SCHOOL BOARD: I'll keep this short but sweet: EILEEN ROY over Jeannine Murphey Cawthon in District 2 and BARBARA SHARPE over Janie S. Williams in District 4. Why? First, Eileen Roy has fought the tough fight on our school board for education to be done the right way as opposed to the by-the-numbers, no-child-left-behind bullshit that many of the other members feel comfortable in pushing. Sharpe would likely be a staunch ally of Roy's in this endeavor. Plus, the teachers I know that teach in the county recommend both of these candidates.

Don't take my word as gospel by any means, though. I'm just an average joe that strives to be well-informed on these candidates. I put the campaign websites (or at least their respective pitches from the Gainesville Sun) of each candidate above if you wish to do further research. Either way, PLEASE GET OFF YOUR ASS AND MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD! Thank you.

Music Reviews for the Satellite in September

You lucky dawg! By reading this blog, you get a sneak peek at my reviews for the next edition of The Satellite, which won't be out until next week.


Our hometown groove machine has finally released its debut album after thrilling audiences for some time with its bumping live shows. On this eponymous disc, the party is always on while the musicianship remains in fine form. Although this quintet wears its influences on its sleeve, there are times when the borrowed sounds are uncanny.
“Dance Hippies Dance” grabs the guitar punch from 311’s Tim Mahoney. Likewise, singer Cooper Nolan cops Anthony Kiedis on “That Funky Girl.” Hogtown MC Pra-Spect lends his rhymes to a couple of tunes here, kicking up the b-boy boullabaise. Musically, there’s almost everything but the kitchen sink here (including steel drums!) – just supply the drinks and the crowd and you’re on your way.

Yellow & Elephant
Fearless Records

The accompanying press release with this disc describes this band’s musical style as “cinematic rock.” From the tempo and vocals of the opening track, “I Knew You’d Never Fly,” I’d be more pressed to call them “extreme emo.” The big synthesizer sound at the song’s introduction may hint at melodrama, but the vocalist sounds like the dude from that Evanescence song. This EP does have its moments, though. “Roll Right Over” recalls some of Was (Not Was)’s more soulful moments – which was a pleasant surprise. That’s not to say that you’d find these guys out of place at the Warped Tour next summer, though.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama: Biden his time

So, I woke up this morning to the following text message:

"Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee. Watch the first Obama-Biden rally live at 3pm ET on Spread the word!"

It was the pick I would have predicted out of the names being bandered about the past few days. I would've liked to have seen Sen. Jim Webb (VA) get the nod, but Joe's right up there. I'm not gonna lie...I haven't agreed with everything Joe Biden has done over the years, but he'll be an invaluable asset to Barack's campaign. As one pundit put it earlier this week, Biden will "chew up and spit out" any VP candidate McCain will put up for debate against him. Joe's a fiery guy -- almost to the point to being too fiery. He's stuck his foot in his mouth plenty of times (wasn't he the one who said he was amazed at Obama's eloquence and literacy or somesuch thing during the primary season?), but overall, I think he'll be a far bigger asset than liability. Time will only tell, of course.

On to Denver! By the way, my friend WMD (woman of mass discussion) will be doing video blogging here from the DNC Convention this week. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Obama rallies in Gainesville!

Alright, folks, as we sit around awaiting Barack Obama's text message about his VP choice, I figured I'd let everyone know about a couple local rallies for Obama coming up here in town:

1. This one I got today via text message: "Come rally for Obama with actor Kal Penn! (Sorry, never heard of him. --fs) Saturday from 6pm-8pm at Univ of FL in Rm 102 of Pugh Hall. Please fwd this msg"

2. Obama-Rama! It's Saturday, Sept. 9th from 10am-noon at Satchel's Pizza/Lightning Salvage. It's mostly stuff for the kiddies, but we'll go for the adult fun. Aiden should have some fun, too.

I hope to see you perhaps at both of these events. I'm not sure about going to event #1 tomorrow, but we'll certainly be at #2 since Satchel's is, like, a 3-minute drive from our place.

Go, gooooooBama!


On the road - Day 7

Okay, I know I'm really late in updating this. Again, much happenings. Friday morning, we awoke at the Days Inn and got on the road. We made a pit stop in Burlington, NC for some outlet shopping and we bought a bunch of stuff that is brought to you by the letter "s" (socks, Snapple, shorts, sweats, sunglasses, shirts, and sleepers [for Aiden]). Despite good weather, it was a slow slog through NC, SC, and into GA, mainly because of terrible traffic (hell, I felt like I was on a childhood trip with my parents, we were making such slow progress :-p).

Dusk saw us driving into Atlanta. Michelle suggested that we make a stop at Fellini's Pizza, which is an infamous joint in the Buckhead area that used to employ such notable musicians as Cat Power's Chan Marshall! While there, I spoke briefly with a guy wearing a Boris t-shirt and told him I caught them a couple months back in Gainesville. He explained that his band toured with them a few years back. I would've talked to him further, but the place was jumpin' and he was pretty busy. That's the great thing about Atlanta: so many people into so many kinds of music. The town would be a place I wouldn't rule out moving to in the future, especially if a nice job prospect opened there. (Ya hear me, Weather Channel? CNN?) We had a salad and calzone there, plus got a large pie to go. Great stuff! If you're in the ATL, go check 'em out. You won't be disappointed.

After that, it was a long drive into the evening, which saw us get home sometime around 3am. It was nice to be home, albeit for a mere 12 hours. After that, we were off to Orlando for about 36 hours for the state Down Syndrome Conference, which is always a great learning experience. But like I said, that's all over and it's great to chill back in the 'ville, even with the wind and rain from T.S. Fay. I think I may just thumb my nose at her this evening by checking out a show tonight at The Atlantic. We'll see. I do have to make up my mind soon, though.

See ya on the flipside!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

On the Road - Days 5 & 6

Well, so much has happened in the last couple of days, I don't really know where to begin. We made it up to Washington, PA without incident. We met my wife's friend (also named Michele, but with one "L") just before she got off work at Sears. Did I mention that she's a chatterbox, too? How did all of these women decide who would be talking at any given time, anyway?

After taking Aiden through a stroller ride through the entire mall, I got back just as Michele was getting off work. Somehow, four of us crammed into our car with all of our luggage and went to a nearby mall for dinner. We went to a Red Robin. I had never been to one of these restaurants before but have seen the TV commercials many times and have been intrigued. Pretty good food. Hamburgers are their specialty. (I'm amazed that there's only one location in all of Florida (Ft. Myers). I'm sure it'd be a huge draw in Gainesville.) As much as I wanted a cocktail, I held back since we were on the road. In retrospect, this was clearly the wrong move.

Once we got back to Michele's place, we hung out in her backyard and talked a bit, enjoying the nice evening air. Aiden took a little spill when he tipped over in the plastic garden chair in which he was sitting, but he was no worse for wear except for a few scrapes on one hand. Aiden did need a diaper change before we hit the road and continued on to NYC, though. My wife went to the car to fetch the diaper bag.

Upon her return, she nonchalantly said, "I don't want to alarm anyone, but I'm bleeding." This, coming from someone two months pregnant, is certainly impossible to ignore. (Where's that damn drink I wanted?) Both Michelles went into the house and I remained out back for a few minutes talking with Michele's mother, trying to act unalarmed. I'm sure I was doing a shitty job of this, though.

We then walked back to the house. My wife called her doctor for advice and she told her to go to an OB immediately to be checked out. At this late hour (it was now after dark), the only place an OB would be found would be the emergency room at Washington Regional Hospital, which we promptly visited. Despite a fairly empty waiting room, the wait was still excruciatingly long. The hours clicked by as we watched Olympic coverage on one TV while the audio from another airing an old episode of Letterman with Neil Young as a guest blared from over my shoulder.

I finally asked if I could go back where my wife was to see what was going on and was allowed admittance. As I approached her room, a nurse suggested to me that a miscarriage was imminent. Not good. I hung out for a few minutes and my wife seemed to be in pretty good spirits. I did head out to see if Michele, who was still back in the waiting room with our very sleepy son, wanted to go back as well. I grabbed Aiden and began going back to the room, but when I turned around, Michele had mysteriously disappeared. Odd. My wife wanted to see her son, though, so I proceeded back to her room. She reminded me that her bag with her purse was under the chair that she was sitting in in the waiting room, so I had to return there to take it out to the car. On the way back, I called our friend Lenny in New York City. Although it was about 1:30am by this time, Lenny was out playing in a pool league. I told him the dire news and that we were probably going to be heading straight home after this development. He said he felt really bad but wasn't sure what he could say. "Just kiss [your wife] Michelle for me and we'll see you soon," was his response. (This was indeed true since he would soon be visiting Gainesville later this fall when the Gators host the Steve Spurrier-led South Carolina Gamecocks in football.)

I found Michele (she had to use the restroom, she said) on the way back in and both of us proceeded back to my wife's room. She informed us that they were going to take her upstairs for an ultrasound. We followed her up there and Michelle and I waited in an empty room next door. The TV here was showing Batman & Robin, an apparently awful movie with Arnold Schwartzenegger playing "The Freeze." I had never seen this movie, but the 5 minutes I saw here were enough to convince me of its sheer suckitude. We switched the TV over to the Olympics and we talked music for a bit. A couple more hours slipped by while Aiden finally became a bit more content as he snoozed under a blanket draped over two armless chairs. Then, assistant Miguel (who was a former co-worker of Michele's at Sears) came over to tell us that everything was finished.

We met my wife in the hallway, who was holding a collection of 3 ultrasound images. It looked like the little bitty one was just fine after all! It was still about a size of a jumbo peanut and they were able to tell her that she was exactly 8 weeks and 4 days along. With that news, we were finally able to hit the road. NYC was still off the table. We're headed home!

Michele called her mother so she could come by and show us the way back to I-79 South (and for which I'm certainly thankful!). By the time we left the hospital, it was well after 4am. I continued to drive and we got an early morning meal at a 24-hour McDonald's in Morgantown, WV. (Thank heavens for college towns!) The food revived me a bit, so I continued to drive a bit longer (I insisted on driving the entire way home while Michelle rested.), but fatigue got the best of me and we all napped out for a couple hours at a rest stop.

We woke up and it was after dawn. After restroom trips to refresh ourselves, it was back on the road. Since we missed out on the scenic route up US 33 before, we decided to take this way now. A pretty ride with the exception on the scamming bastards at Seneca Caverns. These people had billboards up all over the road advertising a restaurant with great mountain views. We even had to drive over 3 miles off US 33 to get there. After all that, the place was closed and had been since January. All this to lure people to sift though running water for "precious gemstones" and take tours of their "caverns" that require a hardhat to be worn. At least the giftshop lady was nice enough to give us directions to the next closest restaurant, where we enjoyed a nice breakfast.

After that, it was back on the road, rolling through Richmond and down near North Carolina. After being up almost all though the night before, all I wanted was dinner and a long-ass sleep in a king size bed. We saw a Budget Inn near McKenney, NC, but this was one of the most worn-down squattervilles we've ever seen in our lives. Truly frightening. We pressed on.

Finally, in South Hill, we found a Day's Inn with all the amenities. We stopped there at 6pm. King bed. Pool (Aiden and I tried it. Not heated. Frigid.). Denny's on premises for breakfast. We had dinner at a nearby buffet. Good stuff. Sleep. 'nuff said.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

On the Road - Day Four

There’s something I forgot to mention so far on this trip. I’ve decided that North Florida has some of the shittiest summer weather on the planet. This is not an exaggeration. Since we’ve been up here in the Appalachian Mountains, the highs have generally been in the mid- to upper-70s (F) and the lows have gotten down as low as 50 (F)!!!

Yesterday saw us hanging with Michelle’s college friend Jamie and her family just outside of Lynchburg. Her eldest son is autistic and is prone to pretty violent seizures. As she said, it takes a strong and responsible parent to take care of a disabled child. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, it kind of makes Aiden’s Down Syndrome seem to pale in significance in terms of the sheer maintenance involved. Her son has to wear a helmet to shield his head when seizures throw him violently to the floor and has to be hand-fed every meal. He still wears diapers even though he’s almost 14 years old. This, in my opinion, is parental dedication at its highest level.

Another thing I must mention is that Jamie is an even bigger chatterbox than my wife, which I didn’t think was possible. They would talk nonstop throughout the morning and afternoon, as well as the night before. Many times I thought of blurting out something absurd like, “Look, there’s an elephant in the driveway!” just to see if they would even take notice. This was fine, though, because I can always go for a walk through the woods and look for rocks for Nancy with this fine summer weather up here.

Last night, we hit the road around 7pm out of Rustburg, VA. After about 2 ½ hours into our trip, my wife reminded me that we would have to stay in a motel once we reach Pennsylvania. After wondering why we didn’t discuss this further, I mentioned that it would probably be best to find a motel as soon as possible and get a good night’s sleep. We can then hit the road in the morning, refreshed, and see some great mountain views. The alternative would have been to drive all night, reach PA when the motels aren’t available (it would be between checkout and check-in times) in a sleepless state and have to wait around with our thumbs up our cracks until my wife’s friend gets off work that afternoon. The first option sounded far better than the latter, so we stopped at a Microtel in Beckley, WV. Yes, this is about 10 miles or so from my sister’s place in Fayetteville, but I know she goes to bed with the chickens and I wouldn’t want to bother her around midnight to ask if she could put us up again.

We had a room with a handicapped, roll-in shower which absolutely terrorized our son when it came to bath, er, shower time. Other than that, we had a nice restful sleep and a free continental breakfast in the morning. Here’s to carbs! Pennsylvania here we come...

Monday, August 11, 2008

On the Road - Days 2 and 3

Well, we had connection issues in West Virginia (surprise!), so I was not able to update as much as originally thought. We were roaming in most of WV, so I didn't want to rack up a huge phone bill while blogging. Not a good idea.

Anyway, West Virginia was great. I was able to stay with both my sisters Lynne and Kaye and got to caught up with family stuff. I did contribute to the roadkill popultion of Virginia on the way up as I hit something resembling a groundhog on I-81. I aimed it between my front wheels, but unfortunately it kept moving and it clipped my rear tire. Oh well. It's probably been eaten in stew by now.

We had some great barbeque in Glen Jean thanks to my brother in-law John. He LOVES to cook. We then went onward to Fayetteville and stayed with my sister Kaye. Although this is whitewater rafting central in WV. Our eastern US tour is taking us to so many places that we were unable to take it in.

Now, after some traveling on some pretty narrow roads, we're not just south of Lynchburg, VA staying with Michelle's friend Jamie. Big thanks to the Mackey family for allowing us to connect and do this type of stuff. On the docket later today, a long, scenic drive through US Route 33 through the most mountainous part of WV on our way to visiting another of Michelle's friends in Washington, PA. Yes, Lenny, we're headed up your way to NYC after this stop. See ya soon!

Friday, August 08, 2008

On the road - Day One

Good morning, all!

Right now, I'm blogging as we are rolling up I-85 headed towards Greenville, SC. We just finished breakfast at one of the countless Cracker Barrels scattered up and down the US Interstate Highway System, and now we're back on the road!

Other than hitting Atlanta at the beginning of rush hour (about 6:30am), it's been a pretty uneventful trip. Getting in a two-hour power nap before we hit the road at 1am really helped out a lot. Michelle is suggesting we take an alternate route through the mountains that will allow us to see a lot of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This will certainly be a more scenic drive that our usual path that we take through Charlotte. Instead, we'll be seeing Ashville, NC, which neither of us had been through in YEARS! If we see John Edwards, we'll offer to give him a cheap haircut and certainly send our regards. Hopefully he will be our next Attorney General.

Well, I'm off to check some email and perhaps get a nap in since I've been driving most of the night. We should arrive in Glen Jean, WV to meet up with my sister and her family for a BBQ later today. Good times. See ya soon!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A chicken in every pot...

For those that don't know, I was trying to raise chickens over the last couple months. We bought four chicks at the Waldo Flea Market when they were just a few days old. One died after having a strange thing with its legs that made it unable to walk, another mysteriously died while we were out of town on the Fourth of July weekend, and the final two disappeared out of their coop in the middle of the night early last week.

Needless to say, I've had it with raising chickens from birth. Our fortunes took a strange turn this afternoon right before we left for vacation, however. My wife Michelle called me when she was on her way home from work. She was right down the street, but wanted to let me know that there was a "rooster" running wild in front of someone's house down the street. I thought this pretty bizarre since there are no roosters allowed in city limits (only two hens per household). After she got home, she looked out the front door and noticed the bird was just one house down across the street. After making dinner, I decided to go have a look myself. By then, the chicken was at the house right across from us...and it wasn't a "rooster." This was a fully-grown, light brown hen. I tried to lead it across the street to our house initially with little luck. Then, I grabbed a long board that GRU had used as a concrete form when they had to dig in our driveway. This gave me enough leverage to scare the hen across into our yard. After chasing the bird briefly into our crazy neighbor's yard, I was finally able to get the hen into our backyard, where we have chicken feed, water, and a coop! I guided ol' Henrietta over to the feed and she promptly began pigging out. That should keep her! Once a chicken knows where there's food and water, it rarely leaves.

The only problem was later this evening when I went to find out where it was roosting. It was nowhere to be found. I think perhaps that it might have found a well-hidden place, maybe within the thick air potato vines along our back fence. Either way, I asked Pete to see if he sees any signs of her this weekend. We'll see if we still have this hen when we get home in 10 days. Interesting developments indeed.

Blogging on the Road - Begins tonight!

Hey all,

We're getting ready to head out on vacation in several hours. Our travels will take us to southern West Virginia, western Virginia, New York City, and perhaps Washington, PA and Silver Spring, MD. Our trip will wrap up next weekend in Orlando at the Florida Down Syndrome Conference. I'm going to try to blog as much of our experience as possible.

Tonight, after a power nap, we head to southern WV, where we will visit with family this weekend. I hear a BBQ is planned tomorrow, so that should be fun. A few days later, following a stop to visit my wife's friend in Lynchburg, VA, we'll most likely be heading up to NYC to visit with Lenny, Dave, Jason, Chez, Kelsey, Randie, and the rest of my crazy friends. I'll also try to update things more frequently via Twitter as well.

Like Jack Kerouac, we're ON THE ROAD! See you there...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Thanks to all for a fine time Saturday!

Despite the rain, we had a great party last Saturday. Special thanks for Kamau for throwing down the quality tunes all afternoon; Pete, Nancy, Atlantia, and Kai (PNAK) for bringing the extra food and acoutrements; Mark for making a RARE appearance; Sharon for the food and conversation; Amy for the awesome jalapeno cornbread and good vibes; our neighbor Kim for being the sassiest crafter in the group; and of course my wife Michelle for keeping a handle on everything. You all rock! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO EVERYONE! We gotta do this again in November...

Friday, August 01, 2008

Bridget and Timmy took a break last night at Satchel's

The workhorses of the local music scene laid everything down for a few moments. This is certainly a first. Discuss.