Sunday, March 30, 2008

Grand Central Market

Grand Cental MarketGrand Cental MarketRachael was in town for the Kids' Choice Awards so we hung out over the weekend. The chosen adventure...visit Downtown -- specifically, Grand Central Market.

After a bit of coordination (not to mention several cell phone calls), we met up in the Market's parking structure. Once in the Market, it became evident that that was were we were going to catch a bite to eat...most likely, Mexican food. After circling the Market twice, we settled on one stand where we ordered way too much food.

Disney Concert HallDisney Concert HallDisney Concert HallDisney Concert HallDisney Concert Hall
Afterwards, we headed uphill to check out the Disney Concert Hall. What a great day to see it. The city's beautiful blue skies made an awesome backdrop for the structure. Rachael walked Parker up and down the steps. Parker definitely got a kick out of exploring new places.

Sweet BreadAfterwards, we headed by to the Market to get something sweet to eat before heading our separate ways. Parker chose a pink Mexican sweet bread, which got all over him. No matter. So long as it reached his mouth, he was happy.

And so ends a great day.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Rockin' the Gogurt

Rockin' the Gogurt
Rockin' the Gogurt,
originally uploaded by Car2nGrl.
I'm wondering if the parenting books capture this stage of development -- when they learn to roll the bottom of the Gogurt (Otterpops in my day) to make sure you get every last bit out of the tube. Well, we've achieved a milestone here.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Man of No Pants

Man of No Pants
Man of No Pants,
originally uploaded by Car2nGrl.
So I was informed this evening that Superman doesn't wear pants. Go figure. I guess you learn something new every day.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter 2008

Easter 2008Easter 2008Easter 2008Easter 2008
As usual, we spent Easter in Tehachapi at Chris' Mother's place. This Parker a chance to run around with Josephine and Carli -- look for Easter Eggs, gorge themselves on chocolate, and jump on the trampoline. As for me and Chris...we'll we partook in the bounty that was the Easter meal -- ham, lasagna, scallop potatoes, ice cream, oh yeah, there was also salad. :o)

This year, Chris' Mom also got chick...four of them! First lesson on chickens...they poop. Everywhere. There's no warning. There's no stopping. It just happens. It reminded my of the chickens my sister had as kids -- Henry (who later became Henrietta when he laid an egg) and Wilber (who later became Wilma when he laid an egg). Lesson #2, it's really hard to figure out if chicks are boys or girls so pick a name that's flexible. We tried to get Parker to help name them but he seem more interested in eating chocolate and counting the change in Gram's change bowl. Silly Parker!

Since we were picking up the new car that morning, we opted out of bringing Frankie, which was too bad because I know he would have loved playing with Popcorn. Popcorn's a Labor-doodle but he looks nothing like either breed in my opinion. Rather, he seems to be some sort of Euro-hound that you'd find basking by a roaring hearth in a cold castle. Go figure.

So to sum it up...Easter 2008 for the Trillos = New Car Smell + Ham + Chocolate + Family.

Easter 2008Easter 2008Easter 2008Easter 2008

New Car

Yup. The deed is done. I have a new car. In the end (after an aggravated Chris offered to take my car and get a new one if it truly doesn't meet my needs -- BONUS!), I decided to get the Honda CR-V. The mileage is a little less then my last car but of all the cars I saw, it was the only one I visualized us using -- specifically, the mid-section of the rear seat flipped down and Frankie sticking his head out as he chilled out in the back.

As for the actual car buying's a good thing Chris has no aversion to uncomfortable situations because he was in there, going toe-to-toe, wheeling 'n' dealing. In the end, we got a pretty good price. Plus with the insurance settlement and the additional $$ I was willing to put down, the monthly payments will be less then what I had to make for my last car.

So, that said, let's see where we netted out:

  • Automatic -- CHECK!
  • Cruise Control -- CHECK!
  • Good Gas Mileage -- Not Bad...CHECK
  • Seat 4 plus Dog -- CHECK!
  • Tinted Windows -- CHECK!
  • DVD Player -- NOPE! Looks like we'll have to use the old one a little longer.
  • Light Exterior -- CHECK! It's light blue.
  • Dark Interior -- Sort's grey.
  • Roof Rack -- NOPE! But Chris thinks we'll find something better for our needs elsewhere
  • iPOD Ready -- YUP. Not the swank set-up I had in the Saturn but it'll do for now
  • Bluetooth for Phone -- NOPE! This is probably the biggest disappointment. Can you believe it that Honda doesn't offer bluetooth in any of it's CR-Vs!
  • Navigation -- NOPE! Actually this was more of a ''Want'' for Chris but in the end, we'll have to go with an aftermarket variety...which we hear is the better move, anyway.
  • AWD/4WD -- NOPE. I decided to forgo the AWD for the extra bit of mileage.
  • Concealed Storage -- YUP!
  • Sunroof -- Couldn't avoid this. I guess it's standard with the model we chose.

All in all,we're happy with the decision all around. And now we get to take it out on it's first road trip...Trillo Easter Festivities in Tehachapi.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Go Long Frankie!

Getting the hang of fetchGetting the hang of fetch
Frankie is loving the fact that Parker is picking up his favorite game...FETCH! Parker has a better time when he forgoes the chucker and throws with his hand. Parker's secret against a dog slobberred ball...mittens. And to get extra bang for his buck, I noticed Parker going out of his way to throw the ball over the hillside, forcing Frankie to leap over the retaining wall to retrieve the ball downhill. Believe it or not, Parker even tired out Frankie.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A More Perfect Union

Barack ObamaThis is why I'm for Obama. In the shadow of controversy, he doesn't sling mud or disown those who are inconvenient in his life. Rather, he approaches the problem like a leader who doesn't talk down to people but rather engages in an adult conversation. He sees a serious situation and finds a way to create a call to action to make way to a constructive solution.

If you didn't hear the speech, check it out now. It is something that people will be taking about years from now so this is your chance to be a part of history in the making.

In case the video goes away, here's a transcript of the speech.

''We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.''

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution -- a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part -- through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign -- to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together -- unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction -- towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners -- an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It's a story that hasn't made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts -- that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either ''too black'' or ''not black enough.'' We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely -- just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country -- a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems -- two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth -- by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

''People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend's voice up into the rafters....And in that single note -- hope! -- I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion's den, Ezekiel's field of dry bones. Those stories -- of survival, and freedom, and hope -- became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories tha t we didn't need to feel shame about...memories that all people might study and cherish -- and with which we could start to rebuild.''

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety -- the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity's services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions -- the good and the bad -- of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother -- a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America -- to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through -- a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, ''The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past.'' We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students.

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments -- meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today's urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families -- a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods -- parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement -- all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it -- those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations -- those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicia ns, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician's own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience -- as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committ ed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze -- a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns -- this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy -- particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction -- a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people -- that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances -- for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives -- by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American -- and yes, conservative -- notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright's sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country -- a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen -- is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope -- the audacity to hope -- for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds -- by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand -- that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle -- as we did in the OJ trial -- or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, ''Not this time.'' This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for President if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation -- the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I'd like to leave you with today -- a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King's birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother's problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn't. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, ''I am here because of Ashley.''

''I'm here because of Ashley.'' By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Black is the new President

Here's Tracy Morgan's AWESOME bit from last night's SNL in response to Tina Fey's pro-Hillary for President rant -- bitches ''got stuff done'' and that ''bitch was the new black.''

In case the video goes away, here's a transcript...

Tracy Morgan: ''Why is it that every time a black man in this country gets too good at something, there's always someone who comes around and reminds us that he's black? First Tiger. Then Donovan McNabb. Then me? Now Barack.

I have a theory about that. It's a little complicated, but basically it goes like this:

We are a racist country. The end.

It's not the people in this room, but if we're not a racist country, the how did Hillary convince everybody in Texas and Ohio that Barack didn't know how to answer the phone at three in the morning?

Let me tell you something. Barack knows how to answer that phone. He's not going to answer it like, "Hello? I'm scared. What's going on?"

He's going to answer it like I would when I get a phone call at three in the morning. "Yeah? Who's this? This better be good, or I'm going to come down there and put somebody in a wheelchair."

Some things just never change Seth.

People are saying that he's not a fighter. Let me tell you something. He's a gangster. He's from Chicago.

Barack's not just winning because he's a a black man. If that was the case, I would be winning! And I'm WAY blacker than him! I used to smoke Newports and drink Old English! I grew up on government cheese! I prefer it!

Now there's all this this stuff and all this talk about the pastor. Barack's gotta stay away from the pastor, because he's TOO black.

But just because he knows the dude, it doesn't mean he's going to think like him. Look, I have a friend who goes to strip clubs. It doesn't mean I'm going to go to the strip clubs.''

Seth Meyers: ''But you DO go to strip clubs.''

Tracy Morgan: ''Yeah, but I go for the girls, not because my friend is going, I have integrity!

Barack is qualified. Personally, I want to know what qualifies Hillary Clinton to be the next President. Is it because she was married to the President? If that were the case, then Robin Givins would be the heavyweight champion of the world. If Hillary's last name wasn't Clinton, she'd be some crazy white lady, with too much money and not enough lovin'. That's where I come in.

I know women like that, and you do NOT want them on the phone at three in the morning!

In conclusion...

Three weeks ago, my girl Tina Fey, she came on the show and she declared that bitch is new black. And you know I love you Tina. You know you're my girl. But I have something to say...

Bitch may be the new black, but Black is the new President, bitch.''

March Snow!

March Snow!March Snow!March Snow!March Snow!
Yesterday, it started to snow for about an hour. However, it didn't stick so that was all we thought of it.

This morning we woke up to a blanket of the white stuff. I hope the fruit trees can handle the cold surprise, not to mention the poppies that didn't come last year due to lack of water.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Piñata Man

I saw this today and had to share it with you just in case you Tivo'd past it. Absolutely hilarious! I'm surprised they didn't air this closer to Cinco de Mayo. Then again, it so good, why hold it back.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Everyone Loves π

...Just don't give it away. It makes you look cheap!


Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Hybrid Option

So, since Chris was still ''in town'' after Parker's check-up, we decided to check out the Ford Escape Hybrid.

Overall, I think the Escape was fine...better than the Rogue. From the outside it seemed big (by my standards) but driving it it was manageable. The idea of owning a hybrid intrigues me but not sure how relevant it is based on my normal driving needs -- dominated by mountain/highway driving. Of all the cars I've seen so far, the Escape is the most expensive and I'm not sure it's worth the money. Interior-wise, it's very basic which doesn't provide any boost to the mentally perceived value.

So here's another car for the notebook. I also got the stats on Saturn's VUE hybrid, which is more in line with the pricing CR-V pricing. The curious thing about the VUE is that it doesn't ''reverse'' mileage stats that you see with other hybrids (higher city mpg than highway). Weird. Something I'll have to ask the dealer if we decide to actually check the VUE out in person:

2008 Ford Escape Hybrid
Base 4dr Front-wheel Drive

2008 Saturn VUE Green Line
4-Cyl Base Front-wheel Drive
MSRP * $26,505
Invoice * $24,879
Engine 2.3L I-4 133 HP
2.4L I-4 172 HP
Transmission 2-spd CVT w/OD
4-spd auto w/OD
Fuel Economy City 34.0 mpg
25 mpg
Fuel Economy Highway 30.0 mpg
32 mpg
Bumper to Bumper Warranty (months/miles) 36/36,000

Once again, the CR-V is still at the top of the list but I want to check out the Saturn. (Yes, I know this aggrivates Chris. If it makes him feel any better, though, I've decided to take the Subaru out of the picture as I haven't seen one on the street that I like.)

Once again, holler with your car opinions.

Gone Baby, Gone

So today was a super crazy day, lots of meetings and not enough time to get everything done. But I decided to take some time to STEP OUT*. Today, I had two errands to incorporate in our trip -- drop my Netflix movie off at the mailbox and return a DVD I checked our from the company library.

Do you see where this is going? Yeah, I was so wrapped up in my conversation with Aimee that I opened the mailbox and deposited my library DVD. DOH! And I had a meeting to get to real soon!

Luckily, Aimee was my She-ra and offered to wait by the mailbox for mailman as she ate her lunch. In the end, she had to call the post office and they sent over. PHEW!

BTW, the name of the movie...yes, ''Gone Baby, Gone.''

*Aimee and I started what we call STEP OUT, which is our chance to get in some exercise for the day. Basically, around 2:30 we take a walk around the block, usually dropping off mail at the corner mailbox or picking up a coffee before heading back to the office.

3 Year Check Up

Well, I had to go to the dentist at the same time Parker's 3-year check-up was scheduled so Chris took over as primary caregiver. That said, I don't have the normal stats that I obsessively collect. According to the paperwork, he's 30.8 pounds and healthy. It looks like, percentile-wise, he's running in the 40-50%, which means Parker's head had caught up with his body. (I guess we have to stop with the big head jokes.) Good job, Parker!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Two More Cars

After Parker's birthday party yesterday, we headed over to Valencia to check out a couple more cars.

We definitely wanted to see the Rav4 since everyone seems to compare it to the CR-V. Of course, things started out a little tense when we turned into the parking lot and we encountered a salesman who thought he'd be cute and direct us into a parking space like an airplane coming in for a landing. Chris was definitely not in the mood so he parked in the space directly in front of us (not the one the guy was directing us to) then proceeded to tell the guy that he didn't want to talk to him (among other things). On the bright side, we did get a very nice salesman in the end.

Seeing the Mazda dealership at the end of the row, we also decided to check out what they had. Initial impression -- crappy mileage. But the Tribute Hybrid did catch my eye. Even though most of my driving is highway -- which doesn't get the benefit of the electric engine -- the vehicle does have a slightly better mpg compared to the other cars we've scene. Plus, I guess there are various credits associated with a hybrid purchase -- more research needed on that one.

So here are two more cars for the notebook:

2008 Toyota RAV4
Limited Front-wheel Drive

2008 Mazda Tribute Hybrid
Touring 4dr Front-wheel Drive
MSRP * $23,505
Invoice * $21,742
Engine 2.4L I-4 166 HP
2.3L I-4 133 HP
Transmission 4-spd auto
2-spd CVT w/OD
Fuel Economy City 21.0 mpg
34.0 mpg
Fuel Economy Highway 27.0 mpg
30.0 mpg
Bumper to Bumper Warranty (months/miles) 36/36,000

So far, the CR-V is still at the top of the list but the idea of a hybrid still intrigues me. I want to check out the Tribute sibling -- the Ford Escape Hybrid -- plus the selections offered by Subaru before I make a final decision.

Once again, holler if you have any car opinions.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Happy Birthday, Paarrrrker!

Happy Birthday, Paarrrrker!Happy Birthday, Paarrrrker!Happy Birthday, Paarrrrker!Happy Birthday, Paarrrrker!
So another low-key family event to celebrate Parker's 3rd birthday. This year, I figured I couldn't go wrong with a pirate theme. Parker was dressed as Peter Pan and basically challenged everyone who came over to a sword fight.

I lucked out and found an easy pirate ship cake online and made it out of Parker's favorite -- chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. YUM!

Parker is scheduled to see the doctor this Thursday for his 3 year check-up so say tuned for his latest stats.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

First Looks

Well, we did our first round of car shopping today. Talk about tiring. We only hit two dealerships -- Honda & Nissan -- and we were spent. (Having to wrangle Parker didn't help. Not to mention, we also need to get goods for his birthday tomorrow.)

Here are the two cars we checked out...

2008 Honda CR-V
EX-L w/Navigation System Front-wheel Drive

2008 Nissan Rogue
SL 4dr Front-wheel Drive
MSRP * $27,200
Invoice * $25,285
Engine 2.4L I-4 166 HP
2.5L I-4 170 HP
Transmission 5-spd auto w/OD
Xtronic 2-spd CVT w/OD
Fuel Economy City 20.0 mpg
22.0 mpg
Fuel Economy Highway 27.0 mpg
27.0 mpg
Bumper to Bumper Warranty (months/miles) 36/36,000

Of the two, so far, we're favoring the CR-V. It was a lot nicer than the Rogue. Plus, the Honda dealer didn't do the hard press sell that we got at Nissan.

If we have time tomorrow, we're going to try to head over to the Toyota dealership in Valencia (because there's not one in the AV...go figure) to check out the Rav4.

There's still time to weigh in if you have any other car suggestions for me. Here's my criteria:

  • Automatic Transmission
  • Cruise Control
  • Good gas mileage
  • Seats at least 4 adults and a dog
  • Deep tint windows (no more vinyl clings to shade Parker
  • DVD Player (Lil' P has his needs.)
  • Light on the outside, dark on the inside (essential to hide dirt)
  • Roof rack (for snowboards)
  • iPod hook up
  • Phone bluetooth (got to be hands free in July)
  • 4WD/AWD
  • Concealed storage
  • Sunroof

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Word's In

Looks like the insurance company has decided to total the car. The question is, though, how much will we actually get for it...and, I guess, what car should I think about getting. Here's my current criteria -- good gas mileage, tinted windows, and DVD player (my baby has needs!). A plus would be all wheel drive (which will hamper gas mileage), which could be countered if it happened to be a hybrid. My Saturn has lead me to the discovery that I have no need for a sunroof. (Too noisy!)

But what are your thoughts?

In Case You're Still Worried...

...about Parker. Don't be. Here's what the little guys said this morning when he saw my car, ''Mom!* What happened to your car?''

*Yes, he's 2 going on 3 and he's already started calling me ''Mom''. Next year, he'll be calling me ''Catherine''.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture?

What's Wrong With This Picture?
What's Wrong With This Picture?,
originally uploaded by Car2nGrl.
Well, obviously, my side view mirror is gone. And so is my hubcap. Oh yeah, and my door! Yes, I was sideswiped on my way home and it was a hit and run. How can you drive off with someone's door and not know it? And should I even be embarrassed about the little fuzzy thing stuck on antenna? Yeah. Totally.

More importantly, Parker and I are fine and we made it home safely. Now we wait in anticipation to find out what our insurance company will do -- fix it or junk it? You make the call.

On the bright side (after the Parker being safe and sound, of course)'s a good thing I decided to pass on the car wash today.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Don't Be Late!

I always seem to know when daylight savings is approaching because my body seems to anticipate the change. I've been waking up a lot earlier than normal, giving me a chance to actually have a cup of coffee at home. Go figure.

I guess mentally, I can't wait for the time change because it just means more daylight, especially at the end of the day. (Traffic seems to be better when it's light out.)