Sunday, January 27, 2008

U.S. Citizenship, voting and family politics (ouch!)

A co-worker of mine just received his American cititzenship. The rest of his team made note of it by presenting him with an American flag and congratulating him on the achievement. I think everyone in the room (all natural-born citizens, I believe) agreed that we probably couldn't pass the standard citizenship test without a considerable amount of studying beforehand.

It was a good reminder for me of the most important part of U.S. citizenship, and that is our right to vote. Marc just earned his own U.S. citizenship in 2001 and voted in his first presidential election in 2004. Now, with a very interesting election season upon us, I found a great piece on the details of how our presidential election process works. If you have any questions, this is a great resource:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22544471/

My sister Anne and I have always debated the merits of the rationale she and her husband use to support their non-voting habits: since one is Republican and the other Democrat, they don't vote because they feel their votes cancel each other out (for those who know them, it's pretty clear which one is which, so I'm not sure why I'm being cagey and not labeling them). My point has always been that it's the critical right of citizenship to be able to vote so no matter how the votes fall, it is about exercising your voice in casting a vote for your choice.

As an interesting aside, Anne has taken a new position with her broadcast group (she sells radio advertising) that put her in a category management role for the news-talk stations, which means she is coordinating all the advertising for political candidates leading up to the election in November. Since it's a two-party election this year, she's been a little busy -- oh, and she lives in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (SC is one of the early primary states for both parties). The night of the Republican debate in Myrtle Beach, which was about 3 weeks ago, provided her with an opportunity to meet and observe Sean Hannity as he broadcast his show from one of her stations. She even has a photo with him.

She's always been a firmly-planted Democrat (okay, there's the label).

Just goes to show you what a little charisma, star power and the energy of a locally centered political campaign can do to sway votes. She's discussing her opportunities to perhaps select a Republican candidate this year.

Her husband, her in-laws, and my father are dancing in the streets!

Now, if they could only get through to me....

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Family fun with snowshoes

I think it was one of my first winter outdoor activites when I moved to Utah (which, incidentally, was 11 years ago next month). I remember renting snowshoes for a group outing with my uncle and his friends and then, because I was the youngest of the group by oh, say 20 years, I was "invited" to cut the trail up a 30 degree slope. The reward was the floating glissade down the backside...it really does feel like you are sliding along with nothing more than air under your feet.
Until both kids can ski, we're doing more snowshoeing than anything else (well, okay, maybe sledding at the hill down the street has a higher convenience factor -- but not by much).
Muggsy is very happy to be in the backpack, which doubles the workout for Mr. O, and MiniMe has her own little stompers so she happily leads the way.
video
Even Squid gets into the act, and she and Mr. O make frequent trips to Emigration Canyon together when the kids and I have other plans.

The other day he called me from Corner Canyon, which is the open space and trail system adjacent to our house (1000 acres of wide open, protected-from-development mountain paradise for hiking and biking in the summer and snowshoeing in the winter). He was a little out of breath and had that "I am going to blow your mind with what I have to tell you" lilt to his voice. He told me he had come up on a group of several deer on the trail and was studying them from a short distance. Then a movement caught his eye and a few hundred yards away he saw a mountain lion running back up the canyon. Apparently he had interrupted the lion's hunt for dinner and the deer were blissfully unaware that one unassuming human had changed the course of the food chain -- at least for that moment. Good sport that I am, I congratulated him on the sighting, peppered my side of the conversation with an appropriate mix of ooohs and aaahs, and then said thank you to whatever power decided that it just wasn't his time yet!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I'll watch, but only for the commercials...

:: sigh :: I've reluctantly agreed to attend a friend's Super Bowl party. Maybe.

Packer fans are just now moving from shock to mourning. I have to give credit to my dear old dad, though, for channeling Basil T. Throckmorton to help us get through it all. Basil's timing is impeccable as he bursts upon the scene with acerbic observations that cut to the chase:


Let's Play Jeopardy!

Alex Trebek: Welcome everyone, Contestant #1 please select a category and amount.

Contestant: Uh, Alex, I'll take NFL players for $500.

AT: And the answer is, James Jones and Nick Collins.

Contestant: Who should be banned forever from the entire State Of Wisconsin for losing the first Bears game and for giving away the Giants playoff game, both through stupidity.

AT: Right! Please select again.

Contestant: I'll take NFL assistant coaches for $1,000.

AT: The answer is Green Bay Packers Defensive Co-ordinator.

Contestant: That's a trick answer, they obviously don't have one.

AT: Oooh, I'm so sorry, it's Bob Sanders. He's the guy that blew the Giants playoff game by not devising a pressure defensive scheme that would get in Manning's face and not let him think he was on a walk in the park. And he also let Al (Hairpile) Harris cover Plaxico Burress one on one the whole game, letting both Giant players have their one and only career game!

For those who know of my geographical roots, the pity party has begun. I'm not sure what I dislike more -- the pity or the gloating.

At least the Cowboys lost, too [insert wicked grin].

Monday, January 21, 2008

SNOW!

It's Martin Luther King Jr. Day today (no mail, no banks, and a day off for me), and we woke up to the first really big storm of the season. We've had a few storms that accumulated 4-6", but this one is measurable in FEET. At 9:00am, we measured the snowfall on our deck at 11" and it's over 14" now this afternoon.







Marc spent the morning snowblowing our driveway and sidewalks, plus those of our 70-something retired neighbors and friends across the street (they moved here from Alabama last year and haven't gotten a snowblower yet). Marc's little die-hard snowblower (12 years old? 15 years old? It's a Craftsman...!) made a valiant effort to dig us out, even when the snow was deeper than the snowblower is tall.

video
Even Catherine had to get bundled up to see how deep it was. I stayed inside, made chai and took photos. :-)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Preferred viewing - genetic predisposition?

Max has quickly taken to snuggling up in the laundry basket with blankets to watch one of his two favorite movies (Toy Story or Cars).












Catherine loved to do the same thing, so I had to sift through and find the photo of her in the same stage. Max is just shy of 2, and Catherine is 2 1/2 in her photo. Yes, that's the same laundry basket...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mr. Outdoors


The snowshoes, the mountain setting, the longer-than-normal hair, and the goatee...this is one darn good looking mountain man!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hardware Ranch

We've been talking about a visit to Hardware Ranch since Mr. O heard about it a few years ago. Since we live in the land of wildlife you can reach out and touch, we're fascinated by opportunities to get right in the middle of things.

Hardware Ranch is the Cache Valley solution to elk overpopulation. Farmers aren't so thrilled when the Cache elk herd comes a-callin' during winter months, so sometime around the 1950s the Department of Wildlife Resources started a winter range on property owned by the Hardware Company of Cache Valley. As commercialization and self-sustenance goes, the DWR figured out that folks would pay for sleigh rides to get up close and personal with the elk.

So now there's Hardware Ranch, which is able to pay for the majority of its expenses through revenues generated by its quick but proximal tours among the Cache Valley winter herd. On a sunny Saturday, you can plan to wait in an hour-long line for your sleigh ride (note to self: next time, have lots of ideas to keep two really impatient kids from melting down).


The elk cast a wary but accepting eye on the sleighs and horses, but as soon as an unexpected clank or squeal of delight from a child breaks the routine, the elk scatter and don't cooperate with all the amateur photographers hoping to get a shot featuring the whites of their eyes. Nonetheless, it was an experience to remember -- and the two hour drive home with both kids sound asleep was the most peace and quiet we've had in months.

Oh yeah.


This is the family. Guess a few years changes things a bit. The sassy blonde in the middle is Catherine, 5 going on 13. Hannah Montana, High School Musical and chapter books are the interests du jour. Max is that cute little monkey down front -- he's almost 2. He's mostly interested in cars, Woody & Buzz (think Toy Story), and anything his sister is doing. Other than a hormonal shift that requires glasses and not contacts, I'm still relatively the same. Marc is busy wrapping up the details of our now-defunct business and job hunting. Low-key and boring is good. Really.

Uh, HI.

Without a calculator handy, it looks to be around 750 days or so since I last posted to this blog. Interestingly, the dearth of extra time and words coincides with the business venture we just exited. Hmmmm.

My unflagging (some say sadistic) sense of optimism says 2008 will be better. It HAS to be. It cannot possibly be any more challenging than 2007.

What doesn't kill you certainly makes you stronger.

It's not the tough times that endure, it's the tough people who do.

These are the mantras tattooed inside my eyelids. You know, for those moments when an extended blink helps put things in perspective.