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Location: Joliet, Illinois, United States

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Happy Birthday Emma!

My baby is seven today. Where does the time go? I can still remember going to the hospital around 4:00 a.m. to bring her into this world. She was an eight pound nine ounce bundle of joy. It's been a fun seven years. Here's to many more.

Have a Great Birthday Emma!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

My favorite albums of the year

I wanted to find some new music this year so I listened to many 30 second clips from I-tunes and E-Music. Some of these I found on my own and some I gleaned from other peoples recommendations.

10. Big Iron World by Old Crow Medicine Show
I first heard these guys on A Prairie Home Companion a few years back. They are a very good modern blue grass band. I really like James River Bues and Down Home Girl.

9. Good Night, and Good Luck Soundtrack featuring Diane Reeves
If you liked this movie then I believe the music had something to do with it. Dianne Reeves is so good.

8. Eighties by Grant Lee Phillips
Grant Lee Phillips has a cool haunting voice and his versions of these songs from the eighties are great. I especially like his versions of REM's So. Central Rain and New Order's Age of Consent.

7. Passover by The Black Angels
I like garage bands. The Black Angels have that great fuzzy guitar sound that I love. Check Out their song The First Vietnamese War.

6. Magic Potion by The Black Keys
The Black Keys are another garage rock band that kicks major glute. Like the White Stripes, its just guitar and drums but with a grittier blues sound. I like all their albums. Check the them out on Conan.

5. Sincerely Black Lipstick by Black Lipstick

Yes know I have three bands with Black in the names. And yes I know that this album came out in '05 but I just discovered this band and I want to promote them. Like The Black Angels, Black Lipstick hale from Austin, TX. Now there are, at the very least, three good things that have come out of Texas. (The 3rd being me. I was born in Ft. Hood)

4. Return to Cookie Mountain by TV on the Radio
I have no problem with bands who have similar sounds to other bands. If I did have that problem TV on the Radio would be my band.

3. Boys and Girls in America by The Hold Steady
The Hold Steady are a great rock and roll band. They crank out a very solid song and they do it with some of the best lyrics I've heard in a long time. This live acoustic version of Stuck Between Stations showcases their Springsteenesque writing. The album version really rocks.

2. Rather Ripped by Sonic Youth
I have been a huge Sonic Youth fan for a long time. Daydream Nation is one of my all time favorite albums. Sonic Youth have always been experimental which is great but I don't connect with all that they do. The guitar interplay of Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore is really at its best. Steve Shelly, as always, lays down a good beat. The band sounds best when Kim Gordon does the singing as in the track Reena.

1. Fox Confessor Brings The Flood by Neko Case
I really like this album. I had heard of Neko Case but it wasn't until I heard Hold On, Hold On on the radio that I became a huge fan. I downloaded the song as soon as I got home. It didn't take long for me to get the whole album. Neko has a timeless almost haunting voice. The sound of this album could have come out of the sixties yet it also has a modern quality. Maybe Sparrow has the same qaulities that some of the great songs from the American songbook have. I thought of the song Skylark by Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael when heard Neko's birdsong.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tagged again

I thought I called no tag backs. Oh well. Trackrick tagged me so here it goes...

1. Eggnog or Hot Chocholate? None. I am a coffeeholic. I do enjoy a cup of the peppermint coffee they come out with at holiday time.

2. Does Santa wrap Presents or just put them under the tree? It depends on the gift. How do you wrap a pony? Oops I hope Emma doesn't read this.

3. Colored or white lights on the tree or house? Colored. I don't have strong feelings about this.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No. I have coffee breath. No one wants to kiss me.

5. When do you put your decorations up? Right after Thanksgiving. They come down a day or two after Chrismas.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Linda.

7. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I was six when I saw Santa Claus is Comin' to Town. Before that I didn't realize he used to be a redhead.

8. Snow! Love it or leave it? Love it on the weekends. Hate it on the weekdays when I have to drive in it.

9. Can you ice skate? They don't call me Scott "Eric Heiden" Stratton for nothing.

10. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Checking to see if my mom hung up the Santa walnut I made back in first grade. She hasn't let me down yet.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


I can't talk politics all the time. People will think that's all that I'm about. The reason that there are big gaps between my posts is that the most important parts of my life are not politics but as a husband and father.

One of the other things I love is music. I don't get out to see shows but I still try to keep up with what's going on in music. I've always been lucky to have friends and relatives who are into music like me. I'm really glad that my buddy Ken has his blog. I like the recommendations on the sides of his page.

I have my uncle Phil to thank for for getting me to listen to Tom Waits. I remember checking out Small Change from the Iowa City library. The scratches and pops just seemed to add something to the album.

I also remember listening to my uncle's, Bob and Chuck, albums in their basement bedroom at my grandparents house in Wheaton. They had all the Cheap Trick records. They were also into Elvis Costello which made them pretty cool.

My father-in-law recently gave me his whole celluloid collection. I am really having fun going through his classical records as well as his blues collection.

It all started while listening to my parents records. My dad was in the Army and we were stationed in Germany. I was one. The only entertainment they had were records and books. They were into the Beatles, Crosby,Stills, Nash and or not Young, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Chicago and others. As I got older I wore out the grooves on those discs. I remember my dad bringing home Steely Dan's Aja record. I loved that one. Of course I have those records in my pile now.

Can you remember when and where you first had a really good listen to a favorite album? I was staying with some people I knew at University of Wisconsin, Madison. While very hungover Sunday morning, I first had a good listen to The The's Soul Mining album. I remember Chris B. explaining to Dar, Jeff, Todd and I his theory of the story going on in the album. It is a top ten album for me.

Another top ten album moment for me is back at the University of Iowa. I was hanging out with my buddy Matt H. and some others when he put on the Pretender's debut album. I had heard most of the songs before but had never really listened to them together. I never realized how cool and sassy Chrissie Hynde was until I heard the songs Precious and Tattooed Love Boys. They also had a great soft side too as in song's like Stop Your Sobbing, Kid and Brass in Pocket. It is one of those LP's I listen to all the way through. I also think of Matt when I listen to Harry Nilsson's Point with my kids. He put that record on one night and I haven't been the same since.

What are some of your favorite records and momements?

Monday, January 23, 2006

I've been tagged

Thanks to my buddy Ken (we'll talk later) I have to answer these questions. Here goes.

Four Jobs I've had in my life

caddy (nothing like the movie Caddyshack)

dishwasher (where I met my wife)

fish cutter and gutter at a cannery in Alaska (nasty)

food service in the dorms

Four Movies I could watch over and over

Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Apocalypse Now

Office Space

Holy Grail

Four Places Where I've Live

Memory Ct. Glen Ellyn (first house as a kid)

Ft. Hood TX. (I was born there)

Clark St. Champaign (two different houses)

Briarbrook Villiage, Wheaton (our first apartment after marriage)

Four Tv Shows I Love To Watch

*I don't watch any current show with any regularity but I do rent shows from netflix so i am a little behind. These are shows I have recently enjoyed on Netflix.

Freaks and Geeks




Four Places I've Been on Vacation


Ashtabula Ohio

Southern California

Post Lake Wisconsin

Four Blogs I visit Daily



Focus and Distracted


Four of my favorite foods


Bagels with lox, cream cheese, tomato and onion


chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream

Five Albums I can't live without (like there is just five, gimme a break)

A Love Supreme by John Coltrane

My Favorite Things by John Coltrane

Ode to Freedom Beethovens Ninth Symphony-Leonard Bernstein (recorded in Berlin right after the Berlin Wall fell)

Music of America, Copland-Cinninnati Pops

Small Change-Tom Waits

Five vehicles I've owned

1993 Geo Metro (don't laugh, it may be the best car I ever owned in some respects)

1994 Ford Ranger

1995 Buick Century

1998 Dodge Gran Caravan

2002 Honda Civic (to the dismay of some of my union brothers and sisters)


if your blog blog is named below you have to do this on your blog. If you fail to comply the NSA will know and you will go on their sourpuss list.

Focus and Distracted


Trackrick's Self Indulgent Ramblings

I don't know any more friends with blogs. What a loser I am.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Balancing the Scales of Power

As we know by now, President Bush has green lighted spying on Americans without warrants. We know this because he says he has. He says he is going to continue to do so. He says these actions are in the interest of national security. Maybe it is. He might have our safety in mind. I don't think there is anything wrong with spying on potential terrorists. The only problem is that there is no need for him spy without a warrant. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows the President to do what he says he has been doing with a warrant. In fact FISA rarely rejects a request for a warrant. The FISA court also doesn't slow the spying down. You can spy and then ask for the warrant up to 72 hours later. So why is he bypassing the legal process? Bringing up 9/11 isn't going to cut it this time.

Yes it is true, everything changed after 9/11. We need to be smarter with our intelligence. One good aspect of the Patriot Act is that it allows the different intelligence agencies to share there findings. Sharing of intelligence is one of the things we did not have before 9/11 that could have prevented the attacks. This sharing of intelligence doesn't take away from our civil liberties. Spying on American citizens without a warrant and holding American citizens without due process does affect our civil liberties. Ben Franklin said,"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor saftey."

He is right. There is a balance between the 3 branches of government. President Bush thinks that the executive branch has the most power. He is wrong. When he bypasses the FISA court and spys without a warrant he is saying that he doesn't have to answer to the Judicial branch. When he holds Americans as enemy combatants for three years, as in the Jose Padilla case, he is saying that he doesn't trust the Judicial branch of our government to a good enough job trying terrorists. The problem with this is that he doesn't get to decide this. The events of September 11 didn't give him the ability to usurp power from the other branches.

We haven't been able to know about this because we have been living in the fog of 9/11. The media has giving the Bush administration a pass in the last few years. Now the fog is being lifted. We need to let the President know that he has to protect us but not at the cost of our civil liberties. If we let the President continue to abuse the priviledges of the exective branch we will lose one of pillars of our democracy. The balance of power.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Wesley Clark

Former NATO General Wesley Clark wrote a great piece in today's Washington Post. There are many anti-Iraq war writings that criticize our President but don't offer solutions. Wesley Clark presents some valuable ideas on how to win peace over there. He calls on a change of policy in our war in Iraq. He also suggests pulling out if the President continues to stay the course.

The growing chorus of voices demanding a pullout should
seriously alarm the Bush administration, because President Bush and his team are repeating the failure of Vietnam: failing to craft a realistic and
effective policy and instead simply demanding that the American people show resolve. Resolve isn't enough to mend a flawed approach -- or to save the lives of our troops. If the administration won't adopt a winning strategy, then the American people will be justified in demanding that it bring our troops home.

Many of the reasons we were given for going into this war have turned out to be based on lies. The war has been run poorly to this point through no fault of the men and women fighting it. We owe it to our troops and their families to do the what is best for Iraq. There will probably always be turmoil in that region. There always has been. We need to leave Iraq in a state of turmoil they can handle themselves.

I believe change starts with getting rid of Rumsfeld. The Neocon agenda has failed in Iraq. His replacement needs to be an experienced Military man or woman. We need someone who has been in combat. Lets learn from our mistakes in Vietnam and let the military do what it needs to do. Then lets get out.