Archive | November, 2014

Thankful

30 Nov

By now, Sunday morning of Thanksgiving weekend, most people will have spent the long holiday period (not exactly a weekend) getting hammered (Wednesday night – AKA “Black Wednesday” – the drunkest night of the year – even worse than New Year’s eve)j, overeating (Thursday, natch), overspending (Friday), overwatching football (all weekend long), drinking even more, etc. etc.  Many people approach Thanksgiving weekend with both excitement and dread and the dread comes from a variety of sources – time spent with family you don’t care to see, travel worries and hassles, dividing time among various family members (Thanksgiving is considered to be the most complicated holiday for that), etc.

Notice the key missing element of the above is what the core of the holiday is supposed to be about? Giving thanks?

It seems like in our efforts as a country to over-program everything (admit it, we do) is extracting the basics of this holiday. The “first official shoppng day” of the Christmas season is now the day where everything USED to be closed, and people were home with family. Black Friday was officially usurped this year by Thanksgiving Day, according to the National Retail Federation’s tracking.

I have to admit to participating a lot in the overindulgence – but at least I think it is focused on family and friends. Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Professor Troutstream and I, plus our families and some select close friends gather at a pub for our annual “Burgers, Beer and Bourbon (and Tots)” fest. We do get a wee bit, umm, happy there, but the biggest feature is just great stories and tons of laughs.

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, Robin and I hosted 22 for dinner at our house Thursday evening. We choose to do our big TG dinner in the evening – and that conveniently allows those who are having to split time, to hit multiple Thanksgiving celebrations. Most of our crowd was family – my mom, Robin’s parents, her aunt and uncle from Ohio, their kids and spouses – but we also had two couples that are among our best friends there – both couples are empty-nesters with no local family to go to. Happy to be their “local family”.

Friday was a chill day – I used it to get some house projects done, the most notable was getting my music studio organized in the way I have been planning to organize it since we redid our basement 2 years ago. Have a small PA system set up, a dedicated computer for playing and recording music, mutliple amps for visiting players, etc.  Pretty sweet. Still need to get all the guitars on the wall, but step by step. Friday evening, my inlaws hosted a wonderful dinner for the whole family plus a few more at a local Greek restaurant – and it was a huge treat and much fun.

Yesterday, on the idea of son #1, I got The Fanbulance out of storage, piled the three sons into it, and headed to Evanston IL to pick up Professor Troutstream and watch the Illini of U of Illinois play the Wildcats of Northwestern. The Prof and I enjoyed a bit more Kentucky “brown water” at the tailgate (goes great with Egg McMuffins!), and then left the game about halftime and headed to a pub where his wife joined us and we waited out the rest of the game and the arrival of the sons.  Last evening, was just a chill night – my mom made a delicious gravy to accompany the leftover turkey and we made “stuffing waffles” (heat up stuffing in a waffle iron – best idea ever!) to put all the good stuff over. Our local high school, Stevenson, was in the state championship football game and I watched them win that – enjoying the 4th quarter from bed.

Today, it’s just another chill day although we need to put the house back in order from the bash Thursday night as well as I need to put away our patio, run the gas out of the power lawn tools, etc.

So, now that I have bored you with a rundown of my weekend, I’ll return to the point of this post. I spent the entire weekend in the company of all of those I love the most – family, closed and dear friends, and more. Did we overeat and overdrink? Bet your ass we did. To me, that’s what Thanksgiving weekend is all about though – spending the time in the company of your friends and family.

And I have so much to be thankful for – my wonderful wife of 28.5 years, the three amazing young men that are my sons, my mom, and the fact that at 78, she is as sharp as ever and in generally good health and able to travel to us, live on her own, etc., Robin’s family and how they all travel in to make this such a fun weekend, my great pal Professor Troutstream, all of our other close friends, the fact that I have a challenging and rewarding career with a continued upwards trajectory, a nice home, a loyal dog, etc. etc.

Overindulge I did. Did I gain a few pounds this weekend?  I’m sure of it – back onto track with my Weight Watchers program this week. Do I creak and ache like a typical 50-something person? Sure do. But that’s how I know I am alive.

If you follow my blog, you most certainly know that my focus is on living life. It is entirely too short. I’m thankful for the opportunities I have to be able to live life so well with people I love.  There’s the sentence I was looking for.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

As you were,

Stew

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Just Vote. It is your commitment to America.

4 Nov

Today, just in case you’re the most oblivious person in America (or are one of my overseas readers) is election day in the USA. It is considered an “off” year election as it is not a Presidential election.  Nonetheless …

  • Every single member of the House of Representatives is standing for election – this happens every 2 years.
  • One third of the Senate, including one of the two Illinois senators, are standing for election – the term in senate is every six years.
  • Many Governor seats are up for election – the typical term in most states is 4 years.  Key races in the midwest include Wisconsin and Illinois.

The bottom line is there is something important going on right where you live. Off year or not.

The only way to participate in this process is to vote.  Those that know me know that I am a strong liberal, and proud of that. So you can figure out who I’m voting for.  That is not what this is about – do I hope more people vote in my direction than the other guys?  Of course – everyone likes to win.

That said, we are under a representative democratic system of rule in our country. We elect people through democratic process who are then entrusted to enact laws and policies that are in line with the needs and desires of their constituent.

Unfortunately, there are many politicians that play bait and switch – and they exist on both sides.  They’ll say anything to get elected, and then they do what they want, or more likely, what their rich benefactors want them to do. We have to avoid people like that if we are to retain control of our government and not give it over to those that want to use it to benefit themselves, not benefit the many.

I probably should have written this a few days ago but I didn’t. If you haven’t voted yet, please think about these things:

  1. Are the Candidates I’m about to vote for genuinely going to do what they say they will do, or do they have a track record of saying one thing and doing another?  If yes, don’t vote for this person.
  2. Are these Candidates being heavily contributed to by those, through their monetary influence, seeking to control our country for their own gain?  I would encourage you to not vote for anyone like that.
  3. Are these Candidates I’m about to vote for in touch with the real needs and the real desires of their constituent district, whether it is a small state congressional district, a US House district, a county, a township, a city or a whole state?  If you can truly answer yes, vote for that person.
  4. Is this someone you honestly believe you can trust?
  5. Has this person demonstrated poor behavior – corporate bullying, being investigated while in office, bad business behavior, poor judgement, etc?  Run as far away from them as you can?
  6. Has this person been caught saying things to select groups that they either have had to “walk back” in public or apologize for (for example, Romney being recorded giving his “47% speech”).  Don’t vote for that person. Ever.

If you’re not sure who to vote for, ask friends. If you are having trouble getting to the polls for time, babysitting, lack of transport, whatever, be resourceful and call someone. But don’t sit out your commitment to America by not participating in the democratic election of representatives.

If you are not sure where to vote, or who is on the ballot, then go to this site:

https://2014.votinginfoproject.org/

If you live in Illinois and you aren’t registered to vote – you can register right at the polls – you simply need two forms of ID showing your address – they suggest a driver’s license or other ID card and a bill of some kind. Don’t let that be an excuse.

Vote, friends.  VOTE!

Our country depends on it.

As you were,

Stew

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