And then there were two…

Obama and HillaryIt’s been quite a day in politics. Less than a week before “Super Tuesday,” John Edwards announced he is dropping out of contention for the Democratic Presidential candidacy.  In less than two months, the field of candidates has gone from five to two, and the primary season has only just begun.   And on the Republican side, Rudy Guliani has quit his campaign for his party’s nomination, leaving that slate to three front-runners: McCain, Romney and Huckabee, with Huckabee barely hanging on by a thread.

I’m disappointed that Edwards dropped out so early. I’ve always liked him, even when he ran with John Kerry in 2004. I felt as some others did that the ticket in that election should have been reversed. Kerry’s cardboard appearance was no match for Bush’s “Good ol’ boy” representation; and although Edwards came off as young and maybe a bit too “pretty,” I think he would have been a much better counter-balance to Bush’s tired act. But the argument at the time was that Edwards was “too young.” “too inexperienced.” “too new.”  This is his second failed attempt at the White House and although I would love to see him as a vice-presidential candidate; I fear his chance has now passed.

I don’t want to bash Edwards, but his reluctance to continue shows me he wasn’t cut out for the campaign from the start. I just never felt like his heart was in it like it should have been. His performance in the South Carolina debate was strong and I thought he would somehow rally and stay strong through Super Tuesday. But now as it approaches quickly, I, and the rest of us voting on February 5, are forced to make a decision.

Obama or Clinton?

I choose Barack Obama.

Obama is the best choice for a number of reasons. I believe in his ability to lead our nation. I believe he can restore the image of the USA to that of a good neighbor instead of a bully. I believe he can affect policy decisions to best support the wishes of the population. I also believe he can assemble the strongest group of administrators to support his vision to bring about these changes, improvements and directives.

Obama’s greatest weaknesses, in the eyes of some media and many of his opponents are that he is “young, inexperienced and new,” but I view these things as strengths as well. He doesn’t have years of experience in US office, but he has many years in state office. How many governors were elected to president after serving for years in their states, never having served in the US Senate? Experience is experience. It’s all about having the ability to serve the nation and do it with clarity and dignity.

And those are the things I like best about Obama. He is articulate, poised, and impressive. He is educated and astute. He represents to me the true face of America. The face of America that I want represented to the rest of the world.

As for Obama’s ability to address issues of the GLBT community, I believe that whatever he isn’t clear about now he will grow to understand in the future. He has historically been highly supportive of GLBT issues, and while he hasn’t been clear about gay marriage, I believe he will listen to his constitutents and make the right decision when it matters most. This is a huge difference in so many ways from what we’ve experienced in the last eight years. Instead of a president who listens only to his advisors, we would have a president who will listen to us. He is open to change because he believes in change. It’s that kind of open-minded thinking that belongs in the White House.

As to his electability, I really believe in my heart that this nation will stand behind him. The color of his skin is invisible to me. It always has been and always will be. I’m beginning to sense that this is becoming true for most of the rest of the nation as well. Of course there will be some staunch bigots that can never be changed, and that’s unfortunate– but it’s always been my belief that one has to look beyond the outside and see what’s inside. That’s what matters in the end.

Truth be told, I like both Obama and Hillary Clinton. I think they both represent an amazing sense of change in what the office of President represents for the country. The fact that two of the strongest candidates are a woman and a black man is downright thrilling considering this country’s history.

But I belive Barack Obama represents the President of the future, while Hillary Clinton represents a step backward. I can’t help but believe that by electing Hillary we are also re-electing Bill. And while I liked Bill Clinton, it just seems to me like it’s another George Bush all over again. Granted, of course, I much prefer another Clinton over another Bush; but all the same, enough is enough. Had she been anyone else, she might have had my vote; but it’s time for the dynasty-style stranglehold of the presidency to end. No more Bushes. No more Clintons. It’s time for something new. Obama is that something new we need.

I welcome your comments and opinions on this. It’s the most important election in our nation’s history, so no matter who we elect, we have to make sure we elect the right person.

I believe Barack Obama is the right person for the job. I’m proud to endorse him as my choice for President in 2008.

The first climb is the steepest!

Help Me Hustle!Yesterday I did my first practice climb for the 2008 Hustle up the Hancock.  It went really well, considering I hadn’t climbed stairs like that since last year’s event. 

When I did my first practice climb last year, I could barely finish 20 floors.  My face was hot, my head was spinning and my legs were on fire.  This year I finished 37 floors easily.  I felt pretty good the whole time and even feel fine today.  I don’t know if that means I’m in better shape this year, but needless to say I’m encouraged!

The Hustle up the Hancock event is exactly a month away today.  I can scarcely believe it’s coming up so quickly, but I think I’ll be ready.  I have another practice climb scheduled for tomorrow and I plan on doing all 50 floors of this building.  By next week I’ll be doing this building twice — 100 floors.

I don’t know what took me so long to start my training.  It’s a huge challenge, and I guess I just wanted to be completely ready — physically and mentally. 

I’m excited about this year’s event because we have a lot of people from my department climbing.  At last count there are 8 members of our staff making the climb.  We train together, encourage each other and kick each other in the butt when we slack off.  It’s working really well and we’re all going to be very successful.

Money-wise, I’m doing well but I still need help!  So far I’ve raised $630 and my goal is $1,500.  So if you saw my initial post about the Hustle, but couldn’t make a donation yet, hopefully you can help out now.  It’s easy to do, and every penny goes to the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago to help fight, prevent, and support those with lung disease; so every penny is well-spent.

Finally, a BIG thank you to those of you who have already contributed… I owe you all big hugs!

Gregg Vanicek
Scott Goldner
Jason Ott
Fine Point Face Painting
Jamie Guajardo
Quenten Schumacher
David Long
Jeff Kosin
Brian Kowalski
Stephen Murphy
Cliff Dix
Tom Myles
Barbara Drumm
Maia Wright
Ricardo Torres
Eric Boberg

Just a few quick things…

I felt like a celebrity this weekend!

I went out with friends on Sunday night after chorus rehearsal in celebration of the three-day weekend. Even though it was freezing-ass cold, that didn’t stop us from having a great time.

We started at North End, where I quite literally bumped into a handsome stranger (who looked familiar to me) and was instantly smitten. Unfortunately he was with his friends and I was with mine, so it didn’t go much further than that. I just hope he answers my Craigslist “Missed Connection” ad. 🙂
After that we went to Sidetrack, spent a couple hours there, then grabbed our coats to head over to Roscoes to finish the night off. As I left the coat check, someone stopped me and said, “Hey, are you Rocket Man?”

“Yep, that’s me!” I said. “I read your blog!” he replied. And then he told me his name…

…And now I have to BEG his forgiveness because I totally wanted to mention his name right here and now but “Thing about me #35” states that I am absolutely HORRIBLE at remembering names! I even tried repeating it to myself at least 10 times while I crossed the street after meeting him, and I STILL forgot it. So… if you are out there, please comment and make yourself known again. And please accept my apologies!

Still, it was kinda cool being recognized for my blog! 🙂

Who’s supporting whom? Now you can find out!

The Huffington Post has created a simple search engine so you can find out who your favorite actors, actresses, celebs; or even your co-workers and neighbors are supporting in the 2008 Presidential race. Fundrace 2008 is an easy-to-use applet that shows just which side of the fence these people really are riding.

For instance, the President and COO of News Corp, Peter Chernin, has donated to the funds of three different candidates– but you’d be surprised which three candidates received his donations. And Lorne Michaels, Executive Producer of Saturday Night Live, has donated to the funds of two candidates — but Lorne likes to go both ways– so to speak.

Heath Ledger 1979-2008

Heath Ledger

Wow. I totally did NOT see this one coming. Blind-sided me like a Mack truck.

My co-workers and I have a thing about celebrity deaths and dead pools and stuff like that. It’s a weird thing, probably a somewhat grotesque thing, but I guess we’re just fascinated with it and what happens when celebrities die. Well this month has been a bonanza of celeb deaths: Brad Renfro, Suzanne Pleshette, Bobby Fischer, Christopher Bowman, and now Heath Ledger. They say these things happen in threes, but this is getting to be a bit much.

Obviously, Heath Ledger’s death is especially poignant due to “Brokeback Mountain.” My friends and I went to see it the week it was released and while some of us loved it and others were a little more lukewarm, we all agreed that Heath and Jake Gyllenhaal did an amazing job with the characters. Especially Heath. There was just something electrifying and heartbreaking about the way he brought that character to life. I thought this then and I think it now — he is and was the James Dean of our generation. Whether that means he’ll be lofted into the mythical stratosphere with the likes of Dean and Monroe and Elvis is doubtful; but to me, he represents that sort of magical quality that James Dean had. An amazing, talented actor, taken away much too soon. Truly, a tragedy.

January sucks

I hate the month of January.  Plain and simple.

It’s a cold, gray, bleak month with nothing good going for it but a three-day-weekend on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  The rest of the time is spent hoping that February is a little less blah; a little less dreary.

Of course it doesn’t help that about 90% of my friends are all going on a cruise to the Carribean this weekend.  You may remember that as the same cruise that I almost went on last year but backed out when common sense got the best of me and I realized there was no way in HELL I could afford it.  Probably one of the smartest things I’ve ever done — though I really could use the sunshine, warm air, sunshine, hot boys in speedos, sunshine and… well you get the picture.

The problem with hearing all about this cruise is it only makes those of us left behind even more depressed that we have to be stuck in this shit-hole weather.  They practically thumb their noses at us on the way to the airport.  Gee thanks.  Hope your ship doesn’t run into a tidal wave and flip upside down.  Which, as you know, unless you’re Shelley Winters, you ain’t gonna survive!  And trust me, most my friends are not Shelley Winters-sized individuals. 

Adding insult to injury, this weekend the temperature is expected to plummet to single-digits or lower.  Oh GOODY!  Let’s make it gray and blah AND frigid!

You may note a slight tone of sarcasm to my words today.  Well, yeah, I’m just a little down in the dumps.  There are other reasons for this that I don’t want to write about right now, so I’ll just blame everything on the weather and maybe that will help.

I need a vacation!

Holy CRAP! I REALLY AM going to be an UNCLE!

This past Sunday my mom and my sister’s mother-in-law planned a mini baby shower for just the family so that my sister could get a jump start on all the things she needs for the babies.  Since Beth was put on bed rest so early, they had to cancel the plans for a big, all-out shower with family and all of her friends because there was simply no way she could attend it.

But as the days and months went on, Beth suddenly realized that she needed those things.  Baby clothes, baby towels, blankets, bibs, bassinets, bowls, bottles… everything in twos (or more), and just about anything and everything else that starts with the letter “B” and then some.

So the Grandmas went into full panic mode, which means they calmly contacted all of our cousins and my brother-in-law’s cousins and family and got the word out that a “mini” shower would be held at my Beth and Geoff’s house.  Thankfully, everyone came through with flying colors.

Now usually baby showers aren’t my thing.  I may be gay, but the whole process of opening gifts and everyone going “Awwwww it’s another blankie!” or “Awwww isn’t that cuuuute?  A breast pump!”  gets a little weird for me.  So I initially didn’t plan on going to the mini-shower because, for one, I figured it would be like that; and for another, I kind of wasn’t invited.  (The original intention was to have all the female members of the family there.)

But then reality hit me like a sledgehammer:

“Hey dumbass, you’re these babies’ uncle.  You need to be there.

Which was followed by the shining realization:

“HOLY CRAP!  I REALLY AM GOING TO BE AN UNCLE!”

Granted, I’m not the ONLY uncle, but I AM the ONLY uncle on my sister’s side of the family.  And that carries a hell of a lot of responsibility.  Which included getting my uncle-butt over to my sister’s house to be at her shower, with a gift in tow.

I wanted to get her something she really needed, so I called my mom for guidance.  She told me they still needed a second bassinet, so I placed the order and scheduled it to be delivered to their house.  It didn’t make it in time for the shower, so I printed out a picture of it and put it in the card I brought, with a note saying it would probably be delivered very soon.  It arrived today.

The shower itself was really nice.  I saw some of my cousins that I haven’t seen in quite a while and a few other people I hadn’t seen in a very long time.  Mom made barbeque beef, which was delicious and there was a lot of food for everyone to go around.  My cousin brought her daughters and everyone enjoyed playing with and holding the baby.

Beth stayed in her recliner almost the whole time.  She’s a 30 weeks now and is starting to get uncomfortable very quickly.  The babies are moving around a LOT, which of course is wonderful news.  They’re healthy and very much on schedule.   At their last ultrasound, Baby “A” was determined to be just over three pounds and Baby “B” was just shy of three pounds.  Six pounds of baby and more to come.  Yikes.

It’s just amazing to see this happening to my little sister.  It’s been such a difficult road to get to this point– from failures to successes to scary moments to hopeful happiness.  She’s so ready to have those babies, and we’re all excited to have them, too.  But we want to have them when they’re ready– and not a moment sooner.

And when they do arrive, their Uncle Rick will be there with Grandma Jill, probably crying our eyes out with joy.

I probably won’t be having any kids of my own, so these little girls are all I have.  I want them to know that their Uncle Rick is going to love them unconditionally and will be a big part of their lives.

It’s still hard for me to wrap my brain around the idea that I’m going to be an uncle very soon.  But I think when the moment arrives, I’m going to be the best darn uncle those little girls could ever have wished for.  They deserve it, and so does their Mom and Dad.  And with their Grandmas here on earth and their Grandpas in heaven watching over them, they are going to be so very loved.

Pretty lucky little kids, I’d say.