Monday, February 22, 2010

Redefining Republican

As we begin 2010, we also start campaign season for the mid term elections in November and the Republican Party's inner turmoil is center stage. The rise of the Tea Party movement within the Republican Party is haunting. These right radical voters (who disassociate from both parties) have the power to win a Senate seat in Massachusetts (I'm happy for the win, but...) and hold their own convention with Sarah Palin (shudder) as their keynote speaker. At least Scott Brown isn't a Sarah Palin crony (yet). And I say yet because I worry to what degree the Republican Party will court these voters for more wins in November and the looming 2012 election.

The Tea Party Nation are those folks at political rallies yelling "get rid of the Fed" or "Secede!" and other radical idiotic statements. Now, not all Tea Party followers are Ron Paul nuts - some I think are just independents who are excited to finally have a unifying group identity. However, the majority of these folks have no idea about the consequences of policy change - they are angry over the Obama stimulus bill (understandably) and the national debt (validly) - but they lack knowledge of how to create effective change and just want to see action, whatever that may be.

The fear clincher for me was seeing Ron Paul win the straw poll at CPAC. I consider myself a conservative - both fiscally and socially. However, I am not a Tea Party supporter. I can understand somewhat favorably the basic ideology of the Tea Party movement, but I completely disagree with the actual policy and opinions of the group. And I fear for the future of the Republican party and intelligent, well educated political thought.

Henry Olsen argues that "If the Republicans do not resolve their internal tensions and adjust to demographic shifts and changing public attitudes, they could easily resume their decline and perhaps even go the way of the Whigs." Which is worse - possible death of the party by not bending to the Tea Party or certain death of the party by becoming the Tea Party?

I argue that Republicans in Congress need to stop playing minority party "poor me." Republicans need to articulate their policy plans clearly (without worrying about driving away Tea Party supporters). Let the crazies be crazies - Republicans, don't drink the Kool Aid!

Monday, February 15, 2010

De-constructing Art in the Kitchen

I'm not going to complain about PC (the reason this post comes after midnight), but before Darth Powell and Darth Wren ruined my life I redid our kitchen. The only thing I have left to do now is paint the cabinet doors. (see below for before and after pics). The total transformation has been a fun/sad project. Fun, because it already looks much better. Sad, because each cabinet door used to display a little piece of folk art a previous owner painstakingly created with acrylic paint.

Every single one of our 25 cabinet doors boasted a bouquet. They were nicely done if you're into that sort of thing, but way over the top for most people's taste. I like to think they were done by a nice old retired lady named Rose. And I've destroyed them.

Sanding each painting revealed progressing (regressing?) layers of color. I even found stencil lines in pencil--Rose's guide as she painted. These cool little touches remind me how much time she must have put into her kitchen. [click pictures to enlarge]

Here are the before pics. Note the sloppy wood stain, dated range hood, and WTF light fixture over the sink.

Now here are the after shots, without the doors (still working on them--did I mention PC?). New paint, new wall color, new range hood, new switches and outlets, and new recessed light over the sink.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Idaho. No, wait. You da....

Ok, ok, so we have fallen a tad behind in blogging. Since Jesse promised photos/updates from our Christmas adventures (and he is currently balancing the PC work load), I will give it a go:

We were able to spend nearly 2 weeks in Coeur d'Alene, ID at Jesse's grandparent's "cabin." I say "cabin" because the airport shuttle driver said that anything bigger than 2 rooms or that has central air/heat is a house. And she's probably right. However, this house built with logs is affectionately called the "cabin" by Jesse's family - complete with larger than life Native American statue, longhorns, and bear skin rug.

This was the view from our bedroom window:

And the view from the back porch:

Also, a couple of views from the neighborhood road:

Other than lounging at the cabin, reading, and drinking strong coffee, we also took a couple of side trips - skiing in Montana, visiting Wallace/Idaho's silver mining capital, and Spokane.

Skiing was the most entertaining part of the trip, by far. Jesse's younger brother and sister opted for snowboards and they immediately set off for the blue slopes, while Jesse, myself, and Jesse's mom (Laura) all headed to the bunny slopes to refamiliarize ourselves on skis. Luckily, I had been skiing quite a bit when I was a kid, and was very pleased that skiing came back quickly. Jesse and Laura struggled a little bit more with gaining control - Jesse couldn't stop and Laura wouldn't get out of the "pizza" position (going about an inch a minute down the slope). And the day pretty much continued this way - when we finally got on the green slopes, on every downhill Jesse would come swooshing by yelling "I can't stop!!!" and I'd see him intentionally wipeout at the bottom in order to avoid crashing into the trees. These wipeouts were epic. I'd see him coming within about 10 ft of the trees, then all four limbs would be up in the air, then his skis and poles would be thrown and spread out across the hill. One fall was so bad that Jesse's mom got out of her skis (because she could run down the hill faster than ski) to make sure he was ok. Needless to say, Jesse walked away some solid war wounds.

Coeur d'Alene is also a nesting ground for Bald Eagles migrating south - driving to the cabin we would see 5 or 6 just in one tree! Jesse got some great shots:

Of course all I could think about was that scene from 1776:

We were definitely sad to leave...