Friday, September 26, 2008

Foreign Policy Debate

It will likely be called a draw, this presidential debate we witnessed this evening. And draw is what I do while digesting debates. I study their faces and draw until I get one good likeness of each (admittedly McCain's ears are a bit large but I drew them while he kept saying the word "earmark"). My drawings made Obama the winner.

My sketchbook ended up with two baseball cards. I began adding words as I sketched. For instance, McCain said "I know" defiantly numerous times while Obama tends to mumble the conversational "y'know" before saying anti-McCain things, and these ended up on their cards.

However, as they kept talking I found myself writing above McCain "I'm your dad. I supported you. And now I will act like I can tell you what to do forever." (For the record, my dad does not have that attitude...that is another sort of dad McCain sounded like.) I wrote the word "pork barrel" on his chest, I couldn't help it after he said it so many times. Across the top of his card I wrote what seemed to be his saying for the evening "You just don't understand." Or more accurately, "Senator Obama" (as though he wasn't standing right there) "just doesn't understand."

I wrote "I am earnest and responsible" across Obama's chest. I wrote "I am your professor, and I will work very, very hard," above his head. I wrote "I just want to make this point" across the top of his card.

I listened as McCain said his personal anecdotes and squinted at his notes. I saw him nearly derail talking about veterans. I heard Obama say sharp things like "take them out" and "kill him." I noted that McCain made anti-other country remarks numerous times and that Obama was polite to the moderator and his opponent. I thought McCain is better at speaking to Joe Citizen in less contrived way than George W but that he wasn't winning in Normal vs. Smart Guy mode the way Bush could bumble around and still come out ahead against earnest smart guy Gore in a debate. I think it's because McCain is too enmeshed in his world and when he referenced obscure things or people or deals, Obama then explained them.

In summary, looking at the top of each card I wrote my analysis. Above "You just don't understand" I wrote "REACT." Above "I just want to make this point," I wrote ACT. I believe in choosing a president, ACT would win over REACT. So I felt Obama did a bit better in the debate.

However, I was startled by the ineffective discussions about energy. I have been able to list the names of various kinds of alternative energy since I was about 12. I'm glad they can to. Could we be more useful in our discussions? And truly: I don't understand how in this day and perilous position we are in as a planet a discussion of foreign policy did not include how we will work with the global community to work on global warming. (And I was confused by how someone could be for nuclear power with safe disposal of the waste. We don't have safe disposal of nuclear waste.) And what the hell was McCain thinking referencing Reagan's ludicrous Star Wars plan in the talks about missiles. That didn't seem very wise.

Oh I drew a third, worse picture. It's is of our dear moderator. It simply says, "I look pained by my position." They should use him on Excedrin commercials.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Judging a Neighborhood by its Playground

I have spent a lot of time exploring the playgrounds in my city with my daughter this year. Some rules seem to apply to all of these: nannies talk to other nannies more than to parents, ethnic subgroups of nannies talk to each other before other nannies, babysitters are more likely to talk to parents than nannies, men are often looked at with suspicion by everyone (even other men), and based on things I see you should Always wash your kids hands before they eat or leave any of these parks.

However, the cultural differences at the parks seem to really well illustrate the nature of the neighborhood the park is in. While many of these you might guess by the cost of houses in the neighborhood, some are surprising. In one direction from me people almost never speak to each other at the park. In another they even apologize if their kid touches yours. In another the sandbox is like a giant ashtray full of cigarette butts. In another the donated toys are all broken beyond use and there are never other kids there. In another, the toys are so nice that its hard to believe they don't get stolen, and it's clear they get used regularly. In another it is always so busy that Lyra is just too little to hold her own. In another the young kids are there without their parents and yet give me (often sound) parenting advice and want to hold Lyra (I try to avoid this...she's 20 lbs of quicksilver).

Anyway, it occurred to me that today that whether you have kids or not you should consider spending some time closely observing the environment at the closest playground to any house you're considering buying to get some idea of some of the nuances of the neighborhood culture.

Labels: ,


This is a funny, and yet scary article. I love the combination of column, travel and political writing. It's Steve Lopez from the LA Times. He visited Wasilla, to get a better sense of Sarah Palin's background.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lyra, Dancing Queen

Easily one of my favorite moments from our vacation to Copenhagen and Tallinn was at an art museum in Copenhagen on our last day. Lyra had been spazzing around the museum looking at sculptures and keeping a running commentary. She was a bit over-tired and extra silly. We passed by a cordoned-off area where a curtain separated us from a classical music concert and tried to hurry Lyra along so she didn't choose that location to start shrieking. Instead, she stopped, tipped her head and listened to the music for a moment and then started doing a wild interpretive dance that drew several appreciative onlookers. It's hard to happen to have a video camera in your hand the moments she dances, so here's just a little example. It does capture one of her habits of noticing some part of her is dancing (her hand at one point) and then going with it.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Danish Heritage

Lyra has a bit of Danish heritage. Her late grandmother was a Nye, and she is an Ericson as well, and fit in rather well in Scandinavia, to the point that tourists took her pictures about six times while we were in Copenhagen, sometimes holding their cameras at arm's length to take themselves in the picture with her. I think all of these times were while I had her on the bike. (I did own up to not being native when the tourists spoke English, but they still seemed equally charmed by her. As well they should.)

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 04, 2008

hi from denmark

hi from copenhagen. having a little trouble with the keyboard differences, so lets just ignore the typos, shall we? i can easily type æøå however...can you?

we're all well. lyra is not eating much - refusing much besides cheerios i brought and bananas. she finally ate a bunch of felafel last night and yogurt this morning but then no lunch. i think she's on a different time schedule still for eating. she did great on the flight. stayed awake longer than expected since Air France served dinner at midnight just after we got into the air, but she gets punchy and silly mostly so did okay. the kids meal she got was about twice the food of the adult dinners. i might order myself one next time, lol.

we have had a major hindrance care of air france. they lost our stroller. they got it here but then their courier service keeps screwing up getting it to us. glenn has made 8 phone calls and we've been promised our stroller 4 times. last time it was to be an urgent delivery at 10am. now it's promised between 5 and 9pm. if we call them again they are not hearing from my very nice husband. they are getting the full wrath of an angry mother. we luckily also brought our ergo carrier so we can get around, but it means we're always either carrying a backpack full of our gear or a 20lb baby. it gets a bit heavy after awhile.

we spent today eating open faced sandwiches, the danish specialty. gorgeous selections of various types of herring and salmon, and caviar and cured meats and raw meats and pates and smoked potato. delicious, though lyra was not happy to be sitting there. tomorrow or the next day we'll rent bikes and visit Christiania since I imagine it will be disbanded before long. I also want to go see some of the ancient viking stuff at the national museum. we're having an nice time exploring. i love the bike culture. And i have never seen so many blonde people at once. the crowds of kids coming into the youth hostel from denmark and sweden (i think) with all the sleek long haired girls and spikey gelled blonde boys are so fun to watch. the fashions are looking very eighties with pants tucked into high top sneakers, laced halfway. i appear naked here without a scarf. they are worn by both genders all the time. and danish people have such way better rain coats with wonderful patterns. maybe i should be out shopping now. :)

if we manage to be online again, we'll check in.