Thursday, October 16, 2008

THE LAST DANCE

I spent the evening of the most recent and last McCain/Obama debate from Hofstra University in New York at the home of an absolutely delightful Democrat-leaning couple (homemade soup and great company!) in Dallas, Texas. I subconsciously expected an enthusiastic Obama reception and attendant behaviors. While I did find pro-Obama folks, they certainly appeared objective in their perceptions of the candidates and their debate performance. They gave both McCain and Obama high marks for some of their statements and even chastised Obama for his almost smug grin when McCain went on the attack.

I was bored with most of the candidates’ rhetoric and though an eager - almost anxious - McCain made some relevant points about ACORN’s admitted voter registration irregularities and some of Obama’s supposed previous (we hope) associations, the debate appeared to be another draw though I would give a slight nod to McCain. Both threw allegations at the other which were summarily dismissed by each as distortions. NBC validated later that both candidates at times strayed away from the facts. The bottom line is that there are some substantive differences in approach by both the candidates, especially as relates to economics and health care, though they don’t appear to be enough to alienate any one class of sincere voter.

McCain looked to all the world that he was not comfortable being there. His overall demeanor was pained and maybe that’s part and parcel of his horrific Viet Nam past that‘s permanently altered his posture but not his attitude. At times he was like an exasperated, arm waving school boy who was the only one in the class who knew the answer to the teacher’s question. On occasion he huffed and puffed, gesticulated and rolled his eyes while Obama maintained his calm and composure, his smile aside.

One of the great tragedies in this election is that the greater majority of African-Americans (led by the Afrocentrists) are going to vote for Obama for no other reason than he has associated himself with the Black Community (no intellectual process here). There are many others who are also agenda driven such as the Christian faith based, right wingers who will vote for McCain for no other reason than he is White and Christian. Many young voters (perhaps guilty over their grandparents perceived racism) will vote for Obama for no other reason than to show the world how liberal the US has become – that we can Kum By Ya vote a Black Man President of the United States (yes, we are over the 1960’s). It would appear, however, that despite the aforementioned groups, the greater majority will be voting based on what they feel are pertinent issues and for the greater good of our country.

Aside from the predictable “Legalize Marijuana” signs carried by some Hofstra students and a small anti-war protest, the more ascendant of the issues was brought up by McCain - the effect of Obama’s economic policies on small business and the hardships facing average Americans as defined in the personality and situation of one “Joe the Plumber” aka a surprised and almost chagrined Joe Wurzelbacher of Toledo, Ohio. You see, Joe wants to buy a plumbing business that will annually gross over $250,000.00 subjecting him to a higher 39% tax rate under the Obama economic plan. When pressed the day after the debate Joe would not divulge who he was voting for.

I don’t feel that anyone who witnessed this last debate will be swayed to change their vote or migrate to either candidate as both McCain and Obama seemed to be playing to their acknowledged supporters. It would appear that many independents are still undecided and that may be the case until they ultimately occupy the booth and cast their vote.

The Vice-Presidential candidates still appear appropriately rogue with Biden appearing to be mostly opaque though he is the obvious foil for those who cite Obama’s lack of experience. That, of course, conjures up ghastly images of a very likable President Sarah Palin should the Republican ticket prevail and MacCain succumb to his seniority. That scares the hell out of a lot of folks.

Please know that I truly respect and admire John McCain and the tremendous sacrifice and stalwart service he has given our country. I will follow him anywhere… The real tragedy here is that McCain is a truly great Man and American who is probably the better man in this election. It appears, however, that he couldn’t conjure up the fire in the belly or capture that lighting in the bottle that would allow him a more dynamic public demeanor and general acceptance by the populous. Maybe if John had been attired in his dress whites…. But, it’s all about time and space and today it’s Obama’s race to lose.

I was certainly proud of the effort of host Hofstra University and that great Fort Worth, Texas native and CBS icon, Bob Schieffer who most effectively moderated the debate. I was equally proud of my alma mater, Ole Miss, for hosting the first 2008 presidential debate and the outstanding moderation of PBS’s Jim Lehrer, Executive Editor and anchor of The News Hour on PBS. Hotty Toddy…

In closing it seems evident to me and many of my Friends and Family that unless something mind bending occurs, an Obama victory appears assured. CAUTION: There is a danger here and the Democrats need realize that any victory will be the result of a collaboration of Democrats, Republicans, Independents and other like signs, all mostly fed up with the status quo. Any attempt by the Democrats to reassert their traditional, entitled social agendas will set them back twenty years or more. The Republicans (or what’s left of them) will gleefully smack their lips in anticipation of that pendulum swinging back their way (it always does).

The past is prologue.

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Sunday, October 12, 2008

THE CAT DID IT - THAT'S MY STORY...

Last Tuesday I walked back into my house in Richardson, Texas and couldn’t find my cat, Ms. Sophie Baggins, at her usual perch. I went through the Family Room to the hallway that runs down the bedroom wing and was greeted with water - water, water, everywhere! The hot water in near sink in the middle guest bath was full bore on. The overflow wasn’t sufficient to handle the excess water which had poured out of the bathroom to the front bedroom down to the middle and then ultimately the master bedroom. I turned the water off.

As I walked down the Brazilian Cherry hallway installed only a few years earlier, water squished up through the boards. I figure that about an inch of water had been deposited through those areas and only became obvious when my footprint on the carpet was immediately filled with water. The presence of the water was also evident in the Family room and the prospects of dismantling the TV and attendant cabinetry made me depressed, all by itself. Where was the cat?

I telephoned good Friend and contractor John Healy who answered his cell in Boston whilst enjoying a New England leaves holiday. One down… Brother John came up with the idea to contact nephew by marriage Jeremy in Florida who is with SERVPRO, a company dedicated to mitigating water and fire and smoke damage. A quick telephone call to Jeremy who called SERVPRO of Richardson, set in motion a series of actions that found a team of SERVPRO professionals at my door within a couple of hours. They didn’t leave until after 3:00 the next morning…

They assessed the damage and started ripping out carpet and the luxurious, thick pad that had sucked up most of the water. Carpet and pad were summarily cut out of all the aforementioned areas and attention was directed to the wood flooring that seemed to be weathering the affects of the water. “We’ll know for sure in a couple of days, but you’ll probably lose the flooring too.” the SERVPRO Team Lead sympathetically intoned. At the end of three days a slight warping was evident so the floor will probably have to be replaced.

Five days later and it’s Sunday morning and the SERVPRO rep just left taking the remaining industrial blowers and dehumidifier relieving my home and the neighborhood of what was surely 110+ dbs of cacophonous, jet-like roaring noise that prevented sleep or any semblance of sanity. I have an idea about another grossly inhumane torture tactic that can be used at Guantanamo…

I had up to sixteen blowers in the house and with the general contractor, flooring and carpet company agents, State Farm adjusters and the ever present SERVPRO reps the house had been a beehive of activity for those five days.

The house is now dry and all that needs to be done is the carpet and flooring installation and the daunting task of putting together the TV and cabinet. I had several great neighbors who kept watch on the house to discourage those always at the ready to take advantage of this situation.

Wednesday AM before SERVPRO set up the blowers Sophie presented herself looking bedraggled and limping. She had sought refuge I know not where and had apparently been injured during what I now call the “water incident.” Unless someone stole into the house, turned on the water and then left without taking anything, there are only two other explanations for the incident.

I thought, well, perhaps I turned on the water for Sophie and forgot. You see, Sophie is a Maine Coon cat with an uncommon love of water. A full basin was always left for her refreshment and recreation. But, the hot water spigot was on and not done by these hands!

However, a brain trust now agrees that Sophie was the most likely culprit and in one of her affectionate water dances probably turned the lever precipitating (yes) the incident. My State Farm adjuster convincingly admitted to many such incidents…

For the five excruciatingly long, moisture mitigating days Sophie found sanctuary in my office and mostly lying behind the monitor of my computer or on her favorite Jacobean chair (she supported the Bonnie Prince in a previous life). She is no longer limping though was affected (as was I) by the antibacterial/antifungal agents that SERVPRO sprayed. She now has a whole new world to discover and assess and I wonder how she will like the new carpet (not really).

The great lesson here is the absolute reality and more firm understanding of the great loss and mental anguish experienced by the victims of the floods in Gainesville and Sherman, Texas in 2007 and those affected by the floods precipitated by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike most recently in Louisiana and Texas. Wind damage aside, the losses resulting from the flood waters was more the failure to immediately mitigate the moisture and water damage that soon spawned molds of all varieties that doomed many homes. Would that they had the services of SERVPRO…

I sure wish that I had video of my water incident that would allow some confidence in the speculation about the cause of overflow. Alas, Sophie’s water games will not continue in the basin in the guest bath. Thanks to a good Friend who suggests that the shower off the utility room might offer some potential water recreation for Sophie without any attendant risk.

Common sense, eh?

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Saturday, October 4, 2008

HOCKEY MOM FOR PRESIDENT?

I thought that Sarah Palin did one hell of a job in the debate with Joe Biden. Did she win or so dramatically influence the Independents or undecideds on both the Republican and Democratic side so as to prompt a reversal of the current sentiments? I think not… Alaskan Governor “Can I call you Joe?” Sara Palin recovered a lot of dignity for herself and the Republicans though at times her responses seemed canned and the product of the intensive tutelage that she received in the last several weeks. That’s OK too as she is obviously a quick study… Bottom line is that she didn’t change or redirect sentiment to the Republicans because of her performance. The sigh of relief by the Republicans is that despite her lack of experience and fact that she has never been tested in national/international politics, she probably didn’t cause a mass exodus of Republicans. Her supporters will stay firmly in place as Joe Biden’s will.

Biden also had inestimable pre-debate counseling to eliminate some of his verbosity (What’s wrong with that?) and his God given talent to fully stuff both his feet well beyond his tonsil and adenoids. He did not appear condescending to Sarah and was, indeed, deferential to her persona and position. A couple of times he could have gone for her jugular and didn’t. He showed a class that I didn’t think he possessed and suspect that he won a lot of confidence in the process.

I thought (along with many Republican strategists) that Biden was articulate without being haughty, maudlin or extra-political or nearly as predictable as Sarah was in her responses. Biden seemed willing to go anywhere or talk about any issue while Sarah did not wander far from her comfort zone. Again, to her credit Sarah demonstrated that she wasn’t the one dimensional Saturday Night Live character played by the very talented Tina Fey in her recent most extraordinary virtuoso performance as Palin. Frankly, I can’t tell them apart and I wondered later with Friends who was satirizing who? One thing’s for sure - Palin now has no control over her own image.

Fey wasn’t kind to Palin and that was OK by me though Fey’s career (if she persists with her characterization of Palin) may be so remarkable as to throw her in the company of George Reeves the ultimately tragic actor who was typecast as Superman, the role he played for many years. Yes, her characterization was that good…

I was drawn back to the Canadian (CBC) Red Green Show or even Fargo to capture what many feel – that Palin is a caricature of the archetypical Alaskan and Northwood’s culture that is seemingly out of touch with world politics. Palin’s earlier attempt to reinforce her foreign policy credentials by invoking Alaska’s proximity to Russia was incredibly na├»ve and inappropriate.


As a former Amazing Maize Maze, Maze Master for the Catawba Valley Scottish Society in Huntersville, NC I was chagrined when Duke Wheeler of Whitehouse, Ohio recently created a 16 acre corn maze that features the likeness of Governor Palin replete in her 60’s hairstyle and distinctive eyeglasses. Gads there go the corn mazes!

Frankly, I don’t want a self-styled “Hockey Mom” as my president, rather someone who has the dimension, experience and erudition to relate to all the challenging foreign and domestic issues we will surely face in the next few years. I want someone who can make the tough and sometimes unpopular decisions about these incredibly sophisticated and complex challenges. I honestly don’t feel that she has a clue about our current banking and finance crisis though that puts her squarely in the company of the greater majority of those in government and many of our citizenry.

I do think that she is very attractive, has a lot on the ball and probably much more than she’s letting on. Doggone it, I would like to be her Friend, share a moose or caribou burger (no pork re. pig with lipstick reference) and an Alaskan Amber in Wasilla and celebrate all that is right with our country and that great state from which she hails. Maybe we could watch a hockey game or two and talk about icing, two line passes or even some goaltending moves.

Aye,

Ned Buxton