It’s Great Being a Kid!

Wow!  Nick is having a terrific time flying his kite – look at that guy run!  Even though Brian recorded this on a surplus WWII cell phone, the joy and enthusiasm come through loud and clear.  Pro tip for Brain: you definitely should have flipped the phone over because vertical videos are the devil’s handmaidens.  But it’s fantastic anyway – great job grabbing it Brian!  Makes me want to go out and fly a kite – oh wait, it’s pouring rain.  Never mind.

A Day at the Beach

ronbrendafranniebeachHere’s a “selfie” of Brenda, Frannie and me on the Beach.  The day was beautiful; sunny, mid 60′s, with lots of happy people walking around.  You’d think spring was right around the corner if they weren’t predicting 5 inches of snow tomorrow.  I may weep.  Damn you Al Gore and your stupid global climate change! <shakes fist at sky>  After beaching, we shopped a bit, then went over to Leslie and Peter’s new house in Lewes.  They had just moved in the day before.  The house is wonderful, very cleverly designed, and Leslie’s artistic touches can be seen everywhere.  After the tour we had dinner  at a nearby restaurant.  Add to all that the fact that Michigan State beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament, a great day all around!

Happy 5th Birthday Nick!


Here’s Nick holding a birthday gift, this one from Grandma and Grampa. Nick turned 5 years old on Saturday, February 15 – the day after the Full Snow Moon and the ides of February!   Whatever that means. Nick, like all my grandchildren, is the coolest kid in the world, and I really wish we could have come down to Florida to help celebrate. Happy birthday, Nick! Hope your day was great!

Olivia is Here!

oliviaTake a bow, Olivia!  She arrived yesterday, December 1, 2013 between 2:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon.  Isn’t she beautiful?  She weighed in at 6 pounds, 11 ounces.  Mother and daughter are doing just fine.  And, as Brenda pointed out, she looks exactly like her brother Julian when he was born.  All I have are cellphone pics.  Sorry.



Here’s Gabe, Erin and Olivia immediately after the birth:







Julian meeting his new sister:

olivia and JulianJulian holding Olivia













Olivia with her mom and brother:

Erin Julian Olivia








Here she is with her grandma and brother:

Brenda Julian Olivia








Olivia sleeping:







And here are a couple of Olivia and her Aunt Amanda:

530529_10153593238990473_205976612_n IMG_20131201_182107








Julian’s 3rd Birthday

JulianCakeHappy Birthday Jules!  We celebrated his third birthday on Sunday (AKA “The Day the Lions Beat Dallas”).  We all went over to Gabe and Erin’s for birthday festivities.  Here’s the classic cake picture, although that happened nearer the end of the party.

The big event was roller skating.  Julian got skates, helmet, pads and gloves from Erin’s Dad and step-mom, and then we all went to the skating rink that is only about a quarter mile from Gabe and Erin’s house.



Here’s the birthday boy and his parents at the rink.




And next we have Julian with his Aunt Amanda and his dad skating on the rink.



Turns out roller skating is pretty difficult when you’re 3 years old.  He did okay with hands to hold, but it’s a whole different thing when you’re on your own.  I’ve never roller skated before.  I’ve ice skated quite a bit, but roller skating is very different.  I probably should have rented in-line skates, but I wanted to try the roller skates.  Here’s a pic of me trying to roller skate:


Ha ha.  Funny, right?

Gabe and Amanda did much better than I did. Here they are flying by us in one of the few pictures where they weren’t a blur.



Although Julian is bit young for this kind of thing, there was a great padded climbing maze that he and his friend Tristin took to right away.  They both spent most of their time in there.  Here’s Julian taking a break to hydrate.






He is, of course, in gloves and pads for maximum thrashing.  He and Tristin had a great time in there.





Then we went back to Gabe and Erin’s for pizza, cake, and more gifts for the birthday boy.  Here he is with the shirt that Tristin’s sister Bree made for him.  It says “I’m the big brother.”  But it’s the look on Julian’s face that makes this picture art.







And here’s Julian with the firetruck that Brenda and I got him.  Julian and Tristin spent most of the rest of the afternoon playing with it, so I think it was a hit.  But how could it not be since it shoots water – whoa!  That’s what I said – shoots water!  Anything that shoots water is uber-cool.  Everyone knows that, right?  They went through about 10 tankfulls of water out in the backyard before we put it up.  All in all, it was a great birthday party.  I think Julian really enjoyed it.  I know I did.



The Things You Learn Driving Home From the Beach

diddleSo I’m driving to work this morning from Rehoboth and my radio is telling me things.  Did you know that the nursery rhyme “Hey diddle diddle…” refers to the spring constelations?  Of course you did!  But I didn’t.  Turns out that this, which I always thought was just nonsense:

Hey, diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such sport.
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

is a specific reference to the stars overhead in April and May, and is suposed to indicate planting time in the spring, or something.  The cow is a reference to the constellation Taurus, and the New Moon of May is said to be in the sign of Taurus. So the cow jumps over the Moon. The Cat is a reference to Leo the Lion, which is chasing the little dog, Canis Minor, to the west and over the horizon. The fiddle is a reference to the lyre, or stringed instrument, which is overhead as the constellation Lyra, containing the bright star Vega. The dish and the spoon are the Milky Way and the Big Dipper. In May, Cygnus just starts to rise up in the northeast. Cygnus appears as though flying along the Milky Way, which is as flat around the horizon as it can get this month, like a plate, or a dish, and it seems to have “run away” from view. And while this is occurring, the Big Dipper, is straight up overhead: The dish runs away with the spoon!

Aside from this, my entire knowlege of the constelations I learned from The Simpsons.

homerconstelationsPepe: “Tell me more!  I want to know all the constellations.”

Homer:  “Well, there’s Jerry the Cowboy, and that big dipper looking thing?  Alan . . . the Cowboy.”

Happy Labor Day!

labor  The important thing to remember about Labor Day is that “labor” here does not mean work, it means organized labor, i.e.,  unions.  Labor Day was…well, let Professor Krugman give us a little history lesson:

It wasn’t always about the hot dogs. Originally, believe it or not, Labor Day actually had something to do with showing respect for labor.

Here’s how it happened: In 1894 Pullman workers, facing wage cuts in the wake of a financial crisis, went on strike — and Grover Cleveland deployed 12,000 soldiers to break the union. He succeeded, but using armed force to protect the interests of property was so blatant that even the Gilded Age was shocked. So Congress, in a lame attempt at appeasement, unanimously passed legislation symbolically honoring the nation’s workers.

It’s all hard to imagine now. Not the bit about financial crisis and wage cuts — that’s going on all around us. Not the bit about the state serving the interests of the wealthy — look at who got bailed out, and who didn’t, after our latter-day version of the Panic of 1893. No, what’s unimaginable now is that Congress would unanimously offer even an empty gesture of support for workers’ dignity. For the fact is that many of today’s politicians can’t even bring themselves to fake respect for ordinary working Americans….

(emphasis added).  I know that these days it’s not kewel  to speak well of unions.  And a lot of that of that is labor’s fault – some of them have become bureaucratic, some were taken over by organized crime for their juicy pension funds, but mostly they did not understand the relentless propaganda that the 1% would employ against them and they failed to rebut it.  They assumed, incorrectly it turns out, that reasonable people would ignore the nonsense.  People forgot that their income is my spending, and my income is their spending.  If I (or a bunch of us) stop spending because I’m laid off, or I lose my house, or I’m sequestered, then your income goes down too.  You’re better off when we’re all better off.  Even crusty old arch-conservative Henry Ford understood this.  When confronted by his fellow top hat wearing one-percenters over the $5 a day he paid for his factory workers, he supposedly said:  “I got to pay them $5 a day.  If I don’t, they can’t afford to buy a Ford.”

Back in the 1950′s and 1960′s about 35% of American workers were unionized.  It was not so coincidentally, the peak years of the American middle class. Union membership fell off in the 1980′s and the middle class has been dwindling along with it. The data is clear in these two charts to ruin Labor Day.  Wages as a percentage of GDP (the overall economy) are at an all time low.  Blame it on de-unionization, tax policy, or to a lack of investment of education, but gains in productivity haven’t translated into higher wages.

Here’s some Labor Day music from Irish union thugs Dropkick Murphys:

Kelsey Visit


Kelsey rode down to Va. with me on my way home from a great Michigan trip, primarily to visit mom. And as usual, thanks Amy, Jon, Gary, and Donnie for the hospitality. Sadly, I missed Sharyn who was taking care of her father up around Traverse City. Hope he is doing better.  And I missed Ruth who wasn’t feeling well.  Next time.  Kelsey and I arrived in the Old Dominion (God save it!) Tuesday 7/23, and she flew home Saturday 8/3. We miss her already. Hope she had fun. I know her grandma and I enjoyed her being down here quite a bit. Among lots of other things, we went to GMU and enjoyed the dog and pony show. We went to Rehoboth over the weekend for some beachin’. And as you can see from the picture above, we had dinner with Cammy and Shawn who both coincidentally happened to be in the area. Cammy and Shawn are of course, my favorite children born to friends who live in East Lansing.  It was great spending time with Kelsey and can’t wait to spend time with Austin and Alexis soon.  And in a few years with Dane and Nick, and in a few years after that, with Julian and ????.

Here’s  picture of the three bathing beauties at the beach.  Not to worry, the “no swimming” flag only meant no swimming around the jetty.  There was plenty of swimming in the rest of the ocean. Amanda thought it would be nice to have the flag in the picture.