Five Obama Pieces

I can’t say I’m much less elated now – 48 hours after Election Day – than I was then. I am, however, immersed in media related to what is now being called the Obama Administration.

I. A lot of Obama headlines.

II. Global reaction to Obama’s victory in the Times and on MPR.

III. A quote from a great piece in the Times from Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, which sums up why I voted for BHO:

People went to the polls and elected Barack Obama because they believed the fact not only that he could do what he said, but that he would try to do what he said.

IV. A funny op-ed piece on the importance of having a Skinny Black Guy as president.

A lot of bigots woke up yesterday to the reality of our modern world. To them I say, just because you have a high metabolism, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a fierce moral vision and the right ideas to fix this country. It just means that you don’t gain weight easily.

V. A great graphic from Patrick Moberg’s graphics blog:

All the Presidents

(Via my friend Matt – who’s using his blog to put up audio from the Grant Park rally.)

And one on Palin: a schadenfreude-filled story on the infighting that weakened the GOP’s ticket.

Live Obama Blogging

6:58 am: The final electoral-vote map shows a near-landslide for Obama: 338-161 or 63%/37%.

6:36 am: It looks like Coleman has won the senate race by 1,118 votes, or 0.046% of the vote. That’s an automatic recount.

12:09 am: Okay, I think that’s enough for tonight. The Franken-Coleman race is still chugging towards something like a conclusion, but my main hope has been realized. The Times is showing a 334-155 electoral vote count.

Now comes the hard part.

12:06 am: A sweet realization: that vicious Obama-Wright ad that the GOP started running on Sunday had no effect.

12:02 am: Great editorial in the (yes) Times: “He saw what is wrong with this country: the utter failure of government to protect its citizens.”

11:49 pm: I love the “Election Wordtrain” on the Times website, showing readers’ one-word summaries of their current mood. Clicking on the McCain tab to see what my fellow citizens was enlightening. They’re bumming.

11:47 pm: Rice County had 87% turnout. We love our elections down here in the windbelt.

11:45 pm: Ah yes. Palin: worst VP pick ever? Yes or yes?

11:44 pm: I can’t stop refreshing the SoS website to check the Franken-Coleman numbers, but they’re telling me on the teevee that the actual numbers don’t matter: in a race this close, a recount is (all but?) mandatory.

11:41 pm: Fired up! Ready to go! To bed.

11:35 pm: The election has broken the internet.

11:33 pm: Franken and Coleman are giving dueling speeches. The latest SoS numbers have Franken down again…

11:27 pm: Those chumps at the local NBC station are using old numbers for the senate race. Jeebus, check the damn Secretary of State website. Here’ the URL: You’re welcome.

11:26 pm: The true believers at Coleman HQ are chanting, “Yes Norm Can.” Wha?

11:23 pm: Franken in the lead by 105 votes with two-thirds of the precincts reporting! One one-hundredth of a percentage point separating them.

Continue reading Live Obama Blogging

Skies of America

It’s been a warm, overcast, humid day here – more late May than early November. Around two, the clouds thickened and cast a dusk-like pall over the campus. Around then, I clicked on some link somewhere and watched this incredible bit of an Obama speech last night. No lie: as the video culminated with the riveting call-and-response (around 4:30), the clouds parted and a golden beam of sunlight came right through my office window.

E-Day Minus 1

I rode over to the playground this afternoon to meet the girls and let Shannon head out on her run. The weather was beautiful – high 60s, a slight breeze, clear golden light. The playground was buzzing with at least twenty kids – a cluster of tween girls talking by the swings, some rambunctious boys climbing over things that weren’t meant to climbed, a lot of elementary-age kids going up and down the slides. Gigantic flights of geese trailed overhead every few minutes – one had at least a hundred birds in it.

The happy activity in the beautiful setting seemed like a fitting end to what had been a hellacious day, and an almost cinematic start to what I hope will be a wonderful 36 hours.


Julia and Genevieve are presently running around the upstairs, from one room to the other, playing the “comb game” (1. Grab the comb or brush from the extra bathroom. 2. Run back and forth with it, yelling, “I don’t wanna brush my hair!”) and enjoying being naked – or as Vivi adorably says, “Date-en.” Ask her, “Vivi, do you want to put on your pajamas?” and she’ll yell delightedly, “No, Date-en!”

The trick is figuring out how much date-en fun is enough. You want to get in there with a diaper before post-bath usual.

Roman Around

There’s some sort of Rome theme here today. First, on our morning walk, both girls evinced great fear of something they called the “sun god,” which I eventually figured out was some sort of sun-faced decoration on a house along our usual walking route. Needless to say, today’s route did not include a trip past this house. Sol Invictus, indeed.

And now, as I try to write some stuff for a proposal that’s due on Monday, Vivi is doing a world-landmarks puzzle which includes a picture of what she calls the “Non-eeum” – the Roman Colosseum. It’s her favorite picture in the puzzle, the one which she always puts in place first.

Mnemonics: Comprise vs. Compose

I’ve struggled, lo these many years, with a serious issue comprising two interlocking problems:
1. The distinction between “compose” and “comprise” (which are not synonyms, no matter how those hacks at the New York Times use them) and
2. A mnemonic device for remembering that distinction.

Finally, Saturday, subconsciously inspired by multiple readings of this usage post and certain child-induced nocturnal stressors, I woke up in the middle of the night with what appears to be (2), thus perhaps dissolving (1) with a laser-like beam of certitude. Forthwith:

The synonyms “comprise” and “contain” both contain the letter “i” whereas the synonyms “compose” and “make up” do not.

I know; I know. It’s no “every good boy deserves fudge” or even a “Roy G. Biv.” But it works for me, and maybe it’ll work for you. Now, where’d I put that mnemonic for the amendments to the Constitution?

The Natural World

On a walk last weekend, Vivi looked up at the sky to try to find the moon. She’s usually disappointed when she can’t find it, but this time, she did spot it, and was so excited that she yelled, “Noom! Noom! Play wif me?” This was hilarious, most of all for Vivi, who almost tipped over from trying to laugh and look straight up in the air.

While having a little snack at the downtown coffeeshop on Saturday, Julia discovered that she had an Asian beetle on her jacket. Deftly, she got the little bug to climb up on her finger, very proudly showing it to me and to Vivi and then watching with complete fascination as the bug wandered around her hand. She almost fell out of her chair when it suddenly extended its wings: “Look, it grew a tail!” “Actually, honey, those are its wings; it just stuck them out because it might be getting ready to fly away.”

The bug didn’t fly away, and in fact clung to Julia’s hand while we finished our scones, cleaned up our table, and then walked down the block to the library. Though I worried that Julia was going to accidentally squish the bug, she was immensely careful, ferrying the creature all the way to the library (a five-minute walk, when you’re with a preoccupied preschooler and a short-legged toddler) and even showing it carefully to Vivi whenever she wanted to see the “wady-buck.”

As we went up the steps to the library, Julia asked, in her “now announcing something serious” voice, “You know why I like this ladybug so much, Daddy?” I said, “No, honey, I don’t. Is it because it’s so little and cute?” She replied, staring at the bug, “No, I like it because it’s science.” On the way to the children’s area in the libe, I had to steer Julia around a few things that she didn’t notice, since she was holding her ladybugged hand about three inches from her face. Then, just as we sat down at the puzzle table, the ladybug extended her wings and really did fly away. Julia was so disappointed, I thought she was going to cry. But then she got very excited about trying to find the library’s bug puzzle. We never did it, but she’s been talking about “my Asian beetle” ever since.

A clear marker of the generation gap is whether you call this

Lady Bug - or Asian Beetle?
Lady Bug - or Asian Beetle?

a “ladybug” or an “Asian beetle.” <fogey voice> When I was a kid, they were ladybugs, and by gum that’s good enough!</fogey voice>

11 Moments

Like I said, the solo-parenting weekend went very well for everyone. A few highlights from the domestic scene:

  1. At the “Enchanted Forest” event at River Bend Nature Center on Saturday afternoon, we went on two hayrides, both pulled by immense Belgian workhorses like the ones my grandpa used to have. The girls were duly impressed by the sheer size of these “neigh-neighs,” but were still willing to go around the front of the team to pet them on their massive noses.
  2. Belgians at Work
    Belgians at Work
  3. In keeping with their penchant for bizarro games, the girls have invented a funny chase/tag game which can only be played in the living room and which is initiated by Vivi walking up behind Julia, tickling her shoulder blades, and saying, “Opie nonnie, opie nonnie, opie nonnie!” Julia laughs and runs away; Vivi laughs and chases, reciting “Opie nonnie” the whole time.
  4. With the weather turning cold and windy on Sunday, we didn’t even bother to try any outdoor activities, but instead headed to the indoor playground at Menards. The girls had a great time running around doing “Halloween Olympics” (“Ghost Race”: run twice around the play structure while moaning like a ghost and waving your arms – “Witchy Slide”: climb up the ladder and go down the slide, cackling), but were mildly traumatized by the possibility of seeing the really horrible-looking life-sized zombie statue that lurks in the store’s seasonal decoration area. I’d accidentally walked with them right past him the last time we went to Menards, and though I avoided that area like, ahem, the undead on this visit, they were still deeply worried about seeing him. Vivi bit her fingers and murmured, “Die! Die!” – “Guy! Guy!” – over and over, which was actually kinda fitting.
  5. The girls knew that Shannon wasn’t home, but they didn’t really understand it. Overall, this was fine: nobody broke down in missing-Mama tears, but there were a few poignant moments. On Sunday night, Vivi thought her messy post-bath hair was so funny that she ran off down the hall, calling out “Mama, dook!” (“Mama, look!”), but then came back, eyes downcast, when she realized that Mama wasn’t in fact anywhere to be found.
  6. The bad weather meant that the girls had to wear their winter hats, which takes their inherent cuteness and turns the dial to 11.
  7. Horizontally-blown ice is an excellent first snow of the season.
  8. Except for certain fantasies about mimes, I never even thought about face painting until it became The Thing at all kid-oriented public events. I know I already blogged it, but the “Enchanted Forest” face painters were pretty good:

    Vivi, Face Painted
    Vivi, Face Painted
  9. Over the weekend, Vivi really started saying, “Yeah do!” when replying to questions. “Vivi, do you want to put your clothes on/have peas with lunch/read this book with me/go for a walk?” “Yeah, do!” She says it so brightly, happy to be able to finally express herself. (Of course, there’s also, “No do!” but that’s another blog post.)
  10. While cleaning up after dinner on Sunday night, I asked Genevieve to take her bib and the napkins down to the laundry room and put them on the washing machine. She chirped, “Oh-hay!” (“Okay!”), grabbed the stack of things, raced off, and came back an appropriately-long moment later. After Shannon got home, we discovered that Vivi had actually – surely by accident – put everything, and a random fork, in the laundry-room garbage can. Oops!
  11. In keeping with their penchant for bizarro games, the girls are now playing “Sea Otter” in the tub. This entails biting a little toy crab by the tail while saying (or trying to say), “I’m a sea otter, eating a crab!” Everyone else must then mishear the sentence and offer all kinds of incorrect guesses – “You’re eating a chair? You’re seating a dad? You’re peeling a dab?” until the otter is laughing so hard that she spits out the lobster and the other otter can pick it up. The fun only ends when someone needs to actually get bathed.
  12. The event on Saturday ended after the sun went down, so the girls had the novel experience of driving in the dark. As we finally turned onto our subdivision’s streets, I mused aloud, “Boy, these streets look really familiar… I wonder where we are?” Immediately, gullibly, Julia piped up from the backseat, “Yeah, they do, Daddy! Maybe you took a wrong street and now we’re in a town that looks just like Northfield!” Thank goodness the resemblance was so strong that a house exactly like ours was just around the corner.

In short, the girls and I had a blast. I fully endorse the idea of Shannon going on a little break at least once a year!

Pop Quiz

1. Name the person who, when asked in 2000, “Are we getting closer and closer to, like, socialism and stuff?” responded, “Here’s what I really believe: That when you reach a certain level of comfort, there’s nothing wrong with paying somewhat more.”

a. Karl Marx
b. Eugene Debs
c. Leon Trotsky
d. John McCain 

2. Name the person who, in summer 2008, defended her home region’s unique wealth-spreading mechanism by saying, “We’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively [we who] own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.” [sic]

a. Karlotta Marx
b. Eugenia Debs
c. Leonora Trotsky
d. Sarah Palin 


Halloween Cats

More on this later, but the girls and I went to River Bend Nature Center today for their annual Halloween event. Facepaining was one of the many activities. By coincidence, both girls wound up as kitties. First, Vivi revved up by the experience:

Vivi as Cat
Later, on a dusk hayride, the two of them showing off their worn-outness:
Hayride Cats
Hayride Cats