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Friday, October 29

Endorsement Time 

Again, I'm not big on the politics on this blog and I'm not going to go overboard with reasons why this blog is endorsing Sen. John Kerry for U.S. president. Instead, I'm going to link to the Orange County Weekly's Oct. 4 article entitled "59 Reasons Why Bush Sucks". There's plenty of reasons why America should not return Bush for another term in office (even if I don't agree with all the reasons the OC Weekly article states).

I know that the article doesn't state why Kerry would be a stronger president. Watching the debates has shown candidate Kerry to be strong debater and eliminated many of my concerns about his ability to lead. The senator seems to be willing to work with other nations to accomplish the U.S. government's goals abroad while not conceding America's sovereignty at home.

That's all I've got to say for now. Regardless of the outcome on Nov. 2, I do encourage everyone to vote.


Monday, October 25

Celine Dion overload 

HANCOCK, Mich. -- I've been out of some loops for two weeks, but apparently the big joke on the CBC's comedy shows (Air Farce, 22 Minutes) last week was Air-Canada's hiring Celine Dion to be a part of its new ad blitz. We'll see if Rick Mercer's Monday Report mentions it in a few minutes for the sweep. Edited to add -- Yep, first joke on the programme.

They just announced the deal and Air Canada has already started the new commercials. I saw one tonight during The Greatest Canadian. I was surprised about how quickly they started the ads.

The ads were alright -- nothing too astounding. A bunch of people doing their thing around the world with clear "airplane" window frames floated around them. Dion's song is pretty typical of her other work. Apparently, the airline's message is that Air Canada is the best service for travelers of all sorts.
An aside -- Although I'm just getting acquainted with the Top 10 list of the Greatest Canadians, I don't think CBC personality and former NHL coach Don Cherry merits the top spot. Cherry's certainly a dynamic and vibrant commentator who stokes Canadians' emotions on and off the ice, but he simply doesn't compare to historic figures who have innovated or led the nation through periods of tremendous strife.

I'm sure I'll change my mind a couple of times, but right now I'm leaning toward former PM Pierre Trudeau or telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell (yes, he's Canadian).

Home again... 

Late at night, the lift bridge can be a welcome sight after a two weeks on the road.

Portage Lake Lift Bridge at night

Although I've loved all the places I've visited and the people that I've met, it was nice to sleep in my own bed.

That photo, by the way, is from Pasty Central, a nice site that provides a good insight on the U.P. They also sell pasties to boot.


Saturday, October 23

To briefly go ... 

this is an audio post - click to play

In the latest segment in my series -- "Briefly Exploring Other Nations" -- I travel five miles into the great nation of Canada for about three hours.


Thursday, October 21

Stoking political flames 

HOLLAND, Mich. -- I've been going back and forth a little bit about the fact that President Bush doesn't seem capable of admitting actual mistakes (see his responses during the debates and during one of the two or three press conferences Bush has held in the past three years). I have an idea, but it may be a little incendiary.

If I ever cornered the president at a White Castle or something, my question for him would be "When you go to church and ask for God's forgiveness, what do you seek forgiveness for?"

I don't think it's a question that would ever be asked. I don't even know if it's appropriate -- it might even be a little disrespectful. However, if Bush is such a good Christian man (as depicted by the media and embraced in the hearts and minds of many Americans across the country), I think he honestly would seek forgiveness for something.


Monday, October 18

Touring the Midwest 

JANESVILLE, Wis. -- I'm in the Hedberg Public Library printing some documents out. During the next few days, I'm going to be driving around the Midwest checking some things out.

There's a saying that you can't go home again, and that's true to some extent. Although things change, there's new experiences to be had. The last week with the family was a total blast -- my sisters are growing up so quickly and I was glad to see some portion of their lives.

I can't believe that they replaced the stadium turf at Poway High School with Astroturf. It's so green and springy and fake. I guess I liked marching and running on good ol' fashioned grass.

The UCSD Pep Band has changed a bit too. Most of the familiar faces I remember have moved on with young sprites taking their places. Still the band has the same ol' spirit that I'm used to. Bowling was fun too, especially once I figured out how to bowl the Mira Mesa Lanes. So sorry about the recommendation to eat at the 'bertos knock-off on the corner though.

Heading to Kenosha, Wis. on Saturday, I got to meet Olivia and her family. Olivia's taking a new job in Connecticut and it may be one of the last times I get to see her for a while. Her family is extremely personable and polite although the conversation drifted toward politics more than a few times (BTW, be sure to vote "No" on the casino. ;) )

Wisconsin in the fall is a beautiful sight with all the corn fields drying out and getting ready to be harvested for feed. One enterprising farmer has a "Bush vs. Kerry" corn field maze. Too bad I didn't have time to stop -- I bet it would've been interesting.

Time to hit the road again. Ciao.


Friday, October 15

For posterity 

this is an audio post - click to play

Just taking a quick tour through the house, talking to family members to get their voices down "for posterity."


Thursday, October 14

'Bulge mystery' solved 

POWAY -- While discussing President Bush's "bulge problem" with a maternal source who declined to be identified, she pointed to a likely hypothesis. She said the Secret Service placed an anti-theft tag on Bush that would trigger an alarm if the president left the area.

Taking it from there, my theory is that the president is equipped with a Lojack which the Secret Service can activate to track Bush if he turns up missing.


Wednesday, October 13

Debate tidbits 

I'm just going to touch briefly on tonight's debate, and not launch a liveblog like last time. Still I noticed one thing watching this debate between Bush's bad jokes and lying -- both Kerry and Bush are wearing the same tie. Did anybody else notice this?

It's true that Bush's tie is a little lighter than Kerry's, but the red color and dotted pattern are the same. I would think there would be people from both camps looking out for something like this.

Election static 

POWAY -- Thanks to Kerry's strong lead in California, the airwaves in San Diego seem to be clear of any presidential ads. However, this void seems to be more than filled by ads for other races including state office as well as the countless state, county and city propositions.

Going into the 5 o' clock news tonight, I saw one political commercial after another. Since I haven't been following local politics since I live hundreds of miles away, everything is just so darn confusing. Why do people want to close a landfill that was overwhemlingly approved by voters a few years ago? What's up with this lawsuit reform proposition?

I'm generally a supporter of the proposition system, but I'm disappointed by so many issues that confront the voter every two years -- especially when there's two similar-looking propositions that do two totally different things. Another thing I don't like is when voters approve initiatives that strip rights away from others.

Like many people, I think I would vote "no" on any proposition unless there's a really, really good reason for it.
Note:I find it pretty funny that the state of California hasn't taken my name off the voter rolls since I moved away in January 2001. I wouldn't want to try it, but I guess the old saying "vote early, vote often" could apply to me.


Monday, October 11

The cat and I 

POWAY -- There's a lot of things I like about coming home. The family, the bright warm climate, home cooking, getting a morning newspaper, etc. There's only one minor downside to this Norman Rockwell picture of SoCal living -- the family's new cat Nika.

Alright, it's not a new cat -- it's been around the house for about three years, but the female feline took my room when I moved out. In a living accommodations sense, Nika replaced me.

The problem isn't the cat. It's trying to live with the cat when I'm allergic to some types of cat fur including hers. When I come home on vacations, I get along fine for a couple days then it starts. The running noses, the sneezing, irritated eyes, etc. For the first couple of times, I chalked it up to coming down with a cold -- a cold whose symptoms disappeared when I left the house.

"But she's very lovable," Mom says. I can't help but agree. Nika has a great attitude -- for a cat. But the point remains that the cat invokes a bad physical reaction in me that is a slight downside to returning home.

In the end, I can live with it (as long as there's plenty of tissue paper and some anti-histamine drugs around).


Saturday, October 9

Hitting the road 

this is an audio post - click to play

I'm setting off for Chicago. I'm ready to see new sights and take in the best of America in autumn.

Bush's lumber company 

The post-debate "debate" seems to conclude that this debate was a tie between Bush and Kerry with some commentators saying that Kerry perhaps had a slight edge. I know a lot of commentators are talking about Bush exceeding everyone's diminished expectations, but I think Kerry is still doing a good job debunking a lot of media myths about him (like long-winded, too wonky, too French, etc.).

One point that needed verification after the debate was Kerry's comment that Bush is a part-owner of a lumber company. Apparently according to, he is. Daily Kos has some details including a follow-up on an MSNBC article "scoring" the debate.

My thinking is that this lumber comment isn't going to help Kerry and it could help Bush. Most of the 62 million people who watched the debate saw Bush make a joke about the whole affair. I think that's what most debate watchers are going to remember -- Bush was personable during that moment in the debate. For the rest of the country that relies on media coverage of the debate, the fact that Bush ventured a joke on an $84 investment that turned out to be true will probably remove this point from play in most circles.


Friday, October 8


With the relaunch of the personal site, I've uploaded the pictures from my recent trip to St. Paul, Minn. with Garrett. The album can be found here. There was a lot to see and do in the Twin Cities and I wish there was more time to see it all.

The photo album covers the trip pretty well. The album doesn't show all the great people that we met during the trip. It also doesn't cover our epic late-night quest to find an open drug store to buy a toothbrush or the hunt for a White Castle on the way back through Minnesota just so we could say that we've gone.

There are placeholder pages for the More and Radio sections. There should be material on those pages shortly.

Debate in progress... 

I know I said that I wouldn't be talking too much about politics in this blog. However, tonight's debate was just a little too hard to pass up. I would normally watch this with someone else and talking with them about it. Because I'm flying solo tonight, y'all get to see my thoughts here.

10:34 p.m. - Wrapping up. I'm now totally convinced that this election's big issue is the "war on terror" and the Iraq war (and whether Iraq should even be considered part of the "war on terror." Kerry's closing statements seem to focus solely on this point.

Bush's closing statements center on the Are you better off now than you were four years ago? question. He didn't say it, but that's what his last words felt like. I think the president's points are "interesting," but I think a lot of Americans could answer that they're not doing better than before Bush was elected.

BTW, Kerry should've let Bush go first in the closing statements. Bush's simple points are relatively good sound bites and I don't think it should've been the last word.

10:20 p.m. - Did the president just go back more than 150 years in his reference to Dred Scott to dredge up some examples of poor judicial judgment? Wow, that's a bit of a stretch. Bush's other example (the Pledge of Allegiance case) isn't all that great either (separation of church and state is in the Constitution, Mr. President), but should help his base.

10:09 p.m. - Whoops! Kerry said something about Bush owning an interest in a timber company. It doesn't matter if it's true or not, Bush turned it around and made it into a pretty good joke. Score one for Bush.

Still, I think Kerry is doing a decent job of pointing out the shortcomings of the past four years. Bush is landing some hits, but some of his rhetoric seems a little off.

9:55 p.m. - I hope that Kerry didn't do his impersonation of Bush 41's take on "No new taxes." Of course, Kerry's statement had caveats, but I'm sure people would find examples of families earning less than $200,000 getting a tax increase. And Republicans can also bust out the old "expiring tax cuts are actually increases" argument.

9:53 p.m. - The tone of the debate has shifted a bit now that they're talking about the economy and tax cuts. Kerry and Bush seem to be doing well although I fear that people tune out the numbers. Bush's economic record hasn't been all that great during the past four years, and I don't think the president can entirely blame it on the six-month recession in his first year in office.

9:11 p.m. - Bush seems to be doing a lot better in this debate compared to last week's relative disaster. Bush keeps hammering Kerry on the whole "flip-flop" issue. I really wish Kerry or someone else would confront Bush on the wishy-washy things he's done over the past four years.

Homeland security, the Sept. 11 commission, UN assistance in rebuilding Iraq -- all those are issues that Bush has wavered on. He was opposed to all of those initiatives before ultimately backing them. The effectiveness of all those initiatives is debatable, but the fact that Bush went back and forth on all of those for the sake of politics is obvious. Bush's "flip-flop" comments are an obvious example of the pot calling the kettle black.

Unfortunately, saying something is so sometimes creates the perception that it's true. Bush's simple arguments do a decent job of making people feel all warm and fuzzy. It would be nice if reality matched the so-called optimism of the Bush White House.

Jump for joy 

I don't read the massive amount of spam that gets put into my account, but I do skim the headlines in case there's some legit mail that slipped through the cracks.

Today I noticed the spammers of choice trying to pedal the "soft tab" versions of erectile-dysfunction drugs like Viagra. The only thing I'm going to say is -- if you have ED, would you really buy a drug that comes in "soft tab" form?


Thursday, October 7

Now more personal than ever 

The frequent visitors to my Web site (all two of you) may have noticed something new. I've relaunched the page to include more graphics and information than before.

Some of the buttons on the right aren't working yet. I've got some new photos, radio material and more so those links will become active in short order.

As intended the personal page is supposed be symmetrical yet different from the main Professional site. The pro site's main content area is on the right side of the page, whereas it's on the left for the personal site. The navigation images on the pro site are horizontal while those on the blog are vertical. See? It's the same yet totally different.

Other additions include adding a search box from Google so people can find what they're looking for. I've also grouped the archive pages into a pull-down menu so it's not as unwieldy. I'm still trying to figure out what the heck CSS does for Web design, so I'm relying heavily on tables for the site.

I hope that this new design is easier to use and more pleasing on the eye. Any comments or questions? Please direct them to ryan -at-


Wednesday, October 6


Over on the Pro blog, I've got some information on awards I've won. I've known this for about a week, but I respect embargoes. ;)

These birds don't scavenge 

HANCOCK -- One of the nice things about traveling to the Twin Cities is that I can listen to Minnesota Public Radio's News and Information service while driving through the state. We only get the classical service in Houghton with a smattering of news shows like All Things Considered, Fresh Air, etc. Please give me the BBC World Service over Classical 24 any day.

Leaving Duluth heading back to Houghton Sunday night, we heard the last 15 minutes of a good This American Life episode. Then the vultures swooped in.

There's a new 30-minute program called Pop Vultures. During this episode, they started with a talk about the Neptunes and progressed over a free-wheeling conversation to get to musical epiphanies the host and her friends had (including Garth, let us never forget Garth). The show strikes up a conversational tone, but there's very little meat on the bone.

Yes, the Neptunes are an interesting group. In addition to getting the hosts' impression why this group is important or interesting, why don't we get to know a little bit more about these guys or the music that they play? That sort of knowledge is lacking in pretty much all media these days -- including the so-called Music Television (MTV). Unfortunately, these Pop Vultures didn't quite pick the good meat, as it were.

Garrett and I were incredulous that this show made it on the air. We (meaning Garrett) are reasonably knowledgeable about the material (pop music), but we didn't really take anything new from this episode. It's an interesting concept, but we weren't given a reason why we should care about the opinions of the host and her friends. The musical epiphany part toward the end was interesting, but only marginally so.

The show's conversational tone is similar to one a group might have a party. It's a bit of fun, but nothing of substance is ever discussed. Heck, I had a conversation about Star Wars at the Chinese buffet Monday. Does that mean it should be taped and aired on national radio? Probably not.

They definitely get points for trying something new and daring, especially for public radio. If they kept the conversational tone and added musicians, critics or anyone with something resembling factual knowledge to the mix, I think they would have something more relevant and listenable.


Sunday, October 3

Twin Cities -- Double the Fun 

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- Just wrapping up a weekend of fun in the Twin Cities at The Apple Store in the Mall of America. The weekend included visiting A Prairie Home Companion and catching the last regular Twins game of the year.

I should probably get going -- I'm waiting for some digital photos to be burned on CD. There's going to be a lot of good memories to reflect on during the seven-hour drive back to the Copper Country.

I'll be posting those photos and some other thoughts later.



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