Thursday, September 30, 2004
I give Kerry the nod in tonight's debate. He made his points more clearly than Bush, and he showed much more poise than Bush both when speaking and when not speaking. Also, Bush loses points for saying "It's hard work" thirty times.

Biggest Kerry mistake: when asked about safety issues and 9/11 early in the debate, most of his answer centered on Iraq. Uh, dude, the two are unrelated, right?

Best Kerry line: "It (Iraq) was not even close to being at the center of terror....before the President invaded it."

Even though Kerry's performance was better than Bush's, I doubt he swayed many undecided voters to lukewarm Bush supporters to his side.

Once again George Bush has won the pre-debate expectations game. The premise of this debate is that the pressure is squarely on John Kerry to show something special tonight.

If Kerry can give a coherent and concise statement about Iraq, on his first try, he has a chance to take control of the debate. And if he gets traction on Iraq, the debate will take on a serious tone that will make Bush's nervous cackle and prepared zingers seem inappropriate and desperate.

The undecided voters and lukewarm Bush supporters are waiting for Kerry to show that he is a serious leader for a serious time. Tonight is his last best chance to establish himself as that leader.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004
From Paula Zahn's interview with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on September 24, 2004:

Paula Zahn: Is the world a safer place because of the war in Iraq?

President Pervez Musharraf: No. It's more dangerous. It's not safer, certainly not.

PZ: How so?

PM: Well, because it has aroused actions of the Muslims more. It's aroused certain sentiments of the Muslim world, and then the responses, the latest phenomena of explosives, more frequent for bombs and suicide bombings. This phenomenon is extremely dangerous.

PZ: Was it a mistake to have gone to war with Iraq?

PM: Well, I would say that it has ended up bringing more trouble to the world.

How have we not already seen a 529-sponsored ad for Kerry with this footage as the centerpiece?

John Edwards - "I don't believe you can trust George Bush. I mean, here's a guy who has flip-flopped - to use their term - to the ultimate degree."

Is Edwards finally ready to get into the game in this campaign? Will Dana asks that question in the current Rolling Stone.


"Oh Yeaaaah"

I don't recall any cool school lunches like this.

Monday, September 27, 2004
Back to my trip to New York over the weekend...

Kristen and I celebrated our fifth anniversary by having dinner at The River Cafe. This world-class restaurant is situated at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. We had a spectacular sunset view over the East River at Lower Manhattan.

The food and service were amazing, but just right for a marriage that has been wonderful for five years (and a partnership for 14 years).

Tonight's debate between Erskine Bowles and Richard Burr featured two earnest men competing to succeed John Edwards in the US Senate. The debate was skillfully moderated by NC native Carl Kasell, allowing both candidates to get their points across and their licks in at their opponent's expense.

At times, each candidate sounded nervous. Bowles referred to helping 20 million North Carolinians getting health care (he quickly corrected this to Americans), and Burr erroneously referred to Bowles' previous tenure in Congress.

Burr made effective points about Bowles' role in passing NAFTA and a 15 cent per pack tax increase on cigarettes. Bowles painted himself an independent thinker and noted that Burr votes with his party 96% of the time.

While no single moment stood out strongly, I thought Bowles best moment was saying that today's deficits "are little more than a tax on our kids." I was also impressed that Burr acknowledged voting one way on an issue in contrast to a previous campaign position, noting that peoples views can change over time.

All in all, the candidates acted maturely and sincerely, and I would call it a draw.

NBC has announced that Conan O'Brien will succeed Jay Leno as the host of The Tonight Show in 2009. This change is long overdue, and five years is way too long to wait.

Sunday, September 26, 2004
On Friday in New York, we hung out at South Street Seaport, a cool area for shopping, dining, and watching local acts. When we were there, we saw a yogi contortionist wrapping himself into positions you would swear were not possible. We knew at that point we weren't in Kansas anymore.

That evening, we hooked up with our dear friend Paola for dinner. There may be a cooler chick in New York than Paola, but I seriously doubt it. We ate great Cuban food at Son Cubano in Greenwich Village, followed by rooftop drinks looking out at the city skyline. That was a great evening.

Saturday, we saw Toxic Audio, an avante gard a cappella group. They covered everything from singing in Pig Latin to scat to singing with sounds a la Stomp. These guys were great, and I highly recommend you put them on your list for your next trip to NYC.

Kristen and I spent the last four days in New York City celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary.

We stayed in the brand new Millenium Hilton, and our room directly overlooked what is left of the World Trade Center complex. Nice hotel, but it is still pretty somber across the street at the WTC.

As I posted earlier, our Yankees tickets were rendered useless by the rescheduling of Thursday night's game. Luckily, we thought, they scheduled a makeup game for Thursday afternoon. Although the first pitch was scheduled for only two hours after our plane was scheduled to land, we thought we would could make it.

Since the makeup game was scheduled hastily, the Yankees offered a promotion to bring out the fans. Tickets cost only $5, but were only available at the door. Hot dogs and sodas were half price.

They sold out the entire stadium in less than thirty minutes, so we did not get in. On the plus side, we got to ride the green 4 subway line for 90 minutes for only $4 each.

I will post more on our trip, which got significantly better, later on.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Off To Gotham

Kristen and I are off to New York City for four days. Damn, I wish I had a notebook, so I could blog while there. Instead, I will report on my trip when I return on Sunday.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Pat Buchanan Rips President Bush

Pat Buchanan appeared on NPR's On Point yesterday with harsh commentary on the Bush administration. Buchanan contends that Bush has gutted the conservative soul of the GOP and has been a failure in all the important areas.

You can listen to the entire interview here (advance to 8:30 mark).


Joanne Bowie Has The Right Stuff

I had the pleasure of meeting NC Representative Joanne Bowie yesterday for lunch with our mutual friend, Craig. We discussed a wide variety of issues, political and otherwise. Joanne is clearly a thoughtful and candid person, two positive characteristics for a politician.

Joanne evaluates each issue based on its merits, not based on what her party or a powerful member of the legislature tells her to think. She has the right stuff to continue representing our district in Raleigh.


Don't Make Me Tell You Again

Let me tell you up front that I accept the outcome of the 2000 Presidential election. I did not necessarily like the outcome or the process that produced it, but that is another story.

However, higher powers might still have something to say about all this politics stuff. As first noted locally by Lex Alexander, Mother Nature may get the last word on this topic.


New Kid On The Block

There is a new blog in Greensboro called Gate City. The author is well connected in town and a thoughtful guy. Click over to him and give his blog a look.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Campaign of Misdirection

The Bush camp has controlled the agenda in the presidential campaign so far by attacking Kerry in areas that its own candidates are weak.

Bush and Cheney dodged service in Vietnam. Rather than allow that to become a character issue for Bush/Cheney a la Clinton, they have repeatedly attacked Kerry for his service in Vietnam.

Bush frequently misuses the English language. The Bush campaign and its outlets have misattributed several idiotic quotes to Kerry. Most of these quotes belong to Dan Quayle. Here is an example (see the 9/21/04 header in red type).

And worst of all is how they have handled the many disingenuous statements made by Bush in his campaign and early on as president. Their diversion is to call Kerry a flip-flopper.

This campaign of misdirection should have backfired on them. Instead, it has been extremely effective. That is a sad commentary on the apathy, disinterest, unresponsiveness, and lack of caring among voters.

UPDATE: After the misattribution of a quote to John Kerry was pointed out to Guilford GOP News, the quote was removed.


Poor Babies

The Yankees moved their Thursday night game to Monday, specifically to keep me from going, I am sure. They got beat, while in the middle of a division championship race.

Poor babies.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Damn Yankees

Kristen and I are going to New York City this weekend to celebrate our fifth anniversary. We never could find a show that is a must-see, so we bought tickets for the NY Yankees game on Thursday night.

I got a recorded message from Ticketmaster late last week telling me that Thursday's game has been moved to tonight (Monday), but never fear - my tickets for Thursday can be used tonight. Woohoo! That's real helpful.

Luckily, they have another option for me. We can swap our Thursday tickets for tickets to any other game during the next year, but there is a catch. We can only exchange the tickets at the Yankees box office, so that is pretty convenient.

Of course, the one option not offered by Ticketmaster is a refund. No way they will part with over $15 of fees on $70 of tickets. Oh well, maybe we should look at those Broadway listings again...


If I Only Had a Brain

Sometimes your mouth gets in a higher gear than your brain. That was the case for me this morning, as my wife and I were driving home from Raleigh. Here was the sequence:

Brain thinks "New furniture is due soon - living room could use a fresh look." Mouth says "I know I am supposed to play golf, but we could paint the living room."

I was seemingly transported to our living room with a fresh roller and two gallons of paint. It hit me so fast.

Anyway, it is only 12 hours later, and our rather large living room has two fresh coats of paint. Now if I just had that new sofa to collapse on...

Sunday, September 19, 2004

What Are We Talking About?

It is astounding that so much time, money, and effort has been spent examining and/or distorting what George W. Bush and John Kerry did 35 years ago, when this election should boil down to a simple referendum on Bush's first term.

The Bush camp has fully controlled the campaign agenda. Of course, this campaign agenda has neglected to talk much about the debacle in Afghanistan and Iraq other than chest-thumping generalities.

John Kerry should inititate and insist on a debate about 1) Bush's foreign policy and use of military forces; and 2) his economic policy of stimulus through tax rate reductions. Anything less from Kerry is a disservice to our country and voters of all persuasions.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Ryder Cup Update

The first four matches of the Ryder Cup are complete, and the US got its ass kicked. As I suspected, the US's opening pairing of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson proved extremely risky. Their defeat gave all the momentum to the European squad, who never trailed in any of the four morning matches.

American Captain Hal Sutton has a reputation for having guts, but I have always thought he was longer on bluster. He has paired Tiger and Phil together again this afternoon, further rolling the dice for his team. If Tiger and Phil are unable to win their match, the US will be very unlikely to win this year's Ryder Cup.

Friday night update: Tiger and Phil took the gas on #18 late today and lost their afternoon match. The Euros are taking the Yanks out to the woodshed so far in this Ryder Cup.


Brilliant Strategy

Wow! Why didn't I think of that when I got a ticket?



I have had BUCKEYE! screamed in my face many times by my good friend Rich (actually my former brother-in-law). He was born in Columbus, OH, so he is programmed to obsess about Ohio State football.

His #7 ranked Buckeyes visit my NC State Wolfpack tomorrow afternoon in Raleigh. This is a rematch of last year's triple overtime, one point win for Ohio State at their place.

This is a big game for head coach Chuck Amato. Wolfpack fans love Amato, and they have funded massive facility renovations and enhancements for his program. However, Amato has finished fourth in the conference each of his first four years, despite the contributions of Philip Rivers, the greatest player in school history.

Now, the post-Rivers era is dawning, and Wolfpack fans will get their first indication if there will be any return on their investment of dollars and loyalty.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Ryder Cup Matches

The Ryder Cup , one of the biggest events in sports, gets started tomorrow. The matches take place between 12 golfers from Europe and 12 from the US. As always, the US is a heavy favorite, although Europe has won three of the last four contests.

The real appeal of this event is that the best golfers in the world, who almost always play for just themselves, are thrust into a team situation and representing their countries. It causes a discomfort that raises the stakes and brings out the best and worst in the competitors.

The US is rolling the dice by sending out its two best players, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, as partners in the first match. These two are hardly pals, and a loss would give huge momentum to Europe. The result of this opening match should provide a good idea of which team will win the cup on Sunday.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


I get so many bogus emails each day. Most days, I just press the delete button. Some days, I am motivated to return the email citing a source that proves the email was bogus.

Today, I received one of those rare emails that was unbelievable, but true. It turns out that Denny's Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield, PA offers a six pound hamburger.

I guess Atkins devotees would say that sans bun, this is a perfectly healthy choice.


It's Not Just for Pros Anymore

Last night, ESPN showed the 2004 World Series of Poker No Limit Hold'Em finals, the grandaddy of all poker events. For the third year in a row, an amateur won the WSOP.

Technically, after you win $5,000,000, you are not an amateur anymore, but these three champions entered the event as amateurs. The last two winners actually got into the WSOP by winning internet-based tournaments.

It is pretty fun to watch the so-called expert players get cleaned out by beginners. It is becoming obvious that the pros are tired of being embarrassed on TV. It is also obvious that luck and guts play a larger role than experience in poker.

In high school during a band trip in Tennessee, a student teacher approached a game I had started. I warned him several times not to join the game, but the insisted on playing. After I took every cent he had, he begged money from students for the rest of the trip just to eat. Maybe I need to go out to Vegas in 2005 and enter the WSOP.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Just Like Old Times

We just had my college buddy Jeff and his family over for dinner. Distance and busy lives have kept us apart more than we like, but we picked up right where we left off last time. That is to say we had lots of laughs, many about various nefarious activities during college.

Jeff and I were roommates for three years at NC State, where we both studied mechanical engineering. We spent almost every minute together dring those years - in class, studying, downing a few pitchers at Mitch's Tavern, or perpetrating a practical joke on some unsuspecting student or professor.

I overcooked the London broil, and Jeff brought some terrible wine from a recent trip to China, but none of that mattered. It was just like old times.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Can We Talk?

Leonard Pitts' opinion column in today's News & Record discusses a new book by Phillip J. Milano called I Can't Believe You Asked That!: The Ultimate Q&A About Race, Sex, Religion, and Other Terrifying Topics. The book is a follow up to the innovative and controversial web site, Y?, that Milano started seven years ago.

Politically incorrect questions and discussions are not only permissible, but encouraged at Y?. The web site's purpose is to create a discussion forum among people of every background, with the ultimate goal of dispelling misunderstandings among those peoples.

So much of the conflict in our neighborhoods and our world comes from a fear of that which we do not understand. Y? provides the rare opportunity to examine and discuss differences and questions in an open and safe environment.

I have been a fan of his Y? for several years, perhaps for its blog-like quality. Check it out sometime and join the discussion.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Sarah's First Shower

After I walked 18 holes at Sedgefield CC this afternoon, I was in serious need of a shower. After an evening walk around the neighborhood with my wife Kristen, our 14 month-old daughter Sarah, and Betty the super dog, I finally got that shower.

I had shampoo in my hair and soap on my face, but I could tell that I had company in the shower. I quickly washed my hair and face off to find Sarah standing in front of me. She has never been in a shower before, so I was a little surprised. Normally, she takes a bath (see below). Still, she was very comfortable in the shower and it was a sweet father-daughter moment.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Our Saddest Day

I am not quite old enough to remember when three good men were cut down in the 1960's.

I was still too young when earthlings stepped onto the lunar surface.

I was a college junior studying engineering when the first space shuttle disaster occurred. It was more of a Dilbert primer in the triumph of unethical management than a personal loss.

Then came September 11, 2001.

As the towers crumbled, one after the other, it felt more like I was watching a video game than a national tragedy. But during the three years since those attacks, I have felt an ever deepening wound.

Becoming a father 14 months ago probably has something to do with my sorrow. Seeing a happy daughter who believes that an empty sippie cup is one of life's great injustices reminds me that she has an innocence that none of us will ever know again. I look at Sarah knowing she will grow up in a less safe and crueler world than I did, and I grieve the true injustices that she will witness and experience.

I continue to feel a sadness that is difficult to understand and express. I had no personal connection to the attacks, but they feel deeply personal. Of all the stories and accounts I have read about 9/11 and its aftermath, the most poignant I have seen is a series of four columns written by Ed Cone.

9/11 was deeply personal to Ed immediately. Thank you, Ed, for finding the strength and words to describe something so personal to you, and to me.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Poker in the Pokey

You do the Hokey-Pokey and you turn yourself around. That's what it's all about.

Unless, you turn around and find the police. Let's hope no new verse is necessary for this guy.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Natty Greene's worth the visit

Last night, I went to Natty Greene's for the first time. The place was packed with both brew pub and restaurant patrons - pretty impressive for a Wednesday night.

The Natty Greene, their pale ale, is a smooth drink. The food is well above average measured against any typical brew pub, which this is not.

I was there with good friend Jay, who is chairman of Downtown Greensboro. That organization has done a great job promoting the redevelopment of downtown. What is most impressive is that they have worked with local investors to accomplish this face lift of a downtown that used to resemble a ghost town after 6pm.


Wasted Real Estate

Just in from the annual Rotary District 7690 golf tournament played at Tot Hill Farm outside Asheboro. This tournament features some pretty good golf with great fellowship among service-oriented citizens in central NC.

What a misuse of real estate Tot Hill Farm is. The course is designed by Mike Strantz, who is well known for designing courses that are beautiful to look at, but terrible to play. This course is built on a magnificent piece of property, but it is not much of a golf course.

Brick walls in the middle of the fairways. Three-tiered greens. Blind shots. When you tee it up at this course, you find out what golf on shrooms is like.

Sunday, September 05, 2004


George W. Bush is a hypocrite.

During his nomination acceptance speech four years ago, then Governor Bush said "I have no stake in the bitter arguments of the last few years. I want to change the tone of Washington to one of civility and respect." Less than one year into his Presidency, President Bush had the unmistakable opportunity to accomplish his stated goal. If ever the citizens and Congress were ready to work together, it was on and immediately after September 11, 2004.

The President had received a windfall of goodwill and political capital. Instead of setting a new tone for Washington, he and his administration bumped the divisive rhetoric up several notches. When faced with criticism from the left and the right, Attorney General Ashcroft characterized opponents of the Patriot Act as "aiding the terrorists."

In his address to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001, President Bush said "We will direct every resource at our command -- every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war -- to the destruction and to the defeat of the global terror network."

Soon after the initial invasion of Afghanistan, President Bush quickly shifted his focus and the great majority of the country's military resources to Iraq. Some Bush apologists continue to try to make the case that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks, but the facts never supported that claim. Even President Bush finally admitted that Iraq had no involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Meanwhile, senior Al Queda leaders remain at large, and the President has reversed course regarding Osama bin Laden. After proclaiming that Osama bin Ladan was "Wanted: Dead or Alive," , President Bush later said (Q #14) "I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him..."

Another central campaign theme for President Bush four years ago was the promise to avoid unilateral military action and nation building. During his debate with Vice President Gore on October 3, 2000, then Governor Bush said "If we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road."

While a few other countries signed on (some under duress) for the war in Iraq, the US for the most part went into Iraq alone. The US military remains in Iraq still trying to secure peace and rebuild a nation. In addition to Iraq, the President also issued direct threats to Iran and North Korea during his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002. Another empty promise from the President.

President Bush knows that promises of a civil tone in Washington, devoting full resources to track down those who attacked the country on 9/11, and avoiding sending our soldiers into harm's way for nation building all sound like good ideas to most people. He is quick to say what people want to hear, and his inner circle is quick to call him a man of conviction. While I have no doubt that he has convictions, they do not appear to include backing up his words with actions.

President Bush likes to call Democrats who change their minds flip-floppers. I wonder what he calls the face he sees in the mirror, Hypocrite-in-Chief?

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Up, Up, and Away

Today, I got a call I have been waiting for. Afer only six years with Southwest Airlines, my close friend Mark Grant finished all the requirements to become a captain.

Mark had a humble start in aviation that included pumping gas at a private airport, flying traffic reporters, and flying charter flights to Atlantic City. He moved to Greensboro for a corporate aviation job around 1993. Mark volunteered to stock the plane with sodas and snacks, he brewed coffee for the passengers before take off, and he carried and loaded bags for the executives that were his passengers. Mark is a talented pilot, but his dedication led him to outwork every other pilot.

In 1998, Mark joined Southwest knowing that its pay structure is not quite as high as other major airlines, but its management is top notch and treated its unions well. His decision proved wise, as every other pilot in the country with three years experience was furloughed soon after 9/11/01.

Mark is a fine pilot and a great friend. No one has worked harder for his success, and Mark is proof that nice guys can finish first.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

More good news

Justin Catanoso of the Business Journal (Triad edition) was a guest on WUNC's The State of Things today. He noted the large net loss of jobs in the Triad over the past five years, but he also was quick to point out that the Triad's business prospects have started to rebound nicely. Justin also mentioned the revitalization of downtown Greensboro and Winston-Salem as good indications the region should be hopeful.

While more regional in scope, Justin's comments fell right in line with my post earlier this week and Ed Cone's article in the Sunday News & Record. You can listen to Justin's interview. Advance your player to the 31:45 mark.

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