Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hannah, Taylor, and 2 Pumpkins...

A friend of mine and Tiffani's, Katie, is a photographer and is always taking pictures of her 3 cute kids. Recently, she took some pictures of Hannah and Taylor. I was going to just provide a link to her blog for everyone to look at but it's a private blog so that won't work... so I stole the pictures... Thanks, Katie!! =)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Just Hannah

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A challenge for you (and it will be a challenge)

By now, most of us know who our vote is going to in November. But, as some people have noticed, there are many people crossing parties in this election. The polls have been swinging in the past few weeks and the next President of the United States is still up for grabs. Consequently, personal attacks are flying around like crazy. This election, more than any I remember (which to be honest, this is only the third Presidential election I've paid attention to), the Vice Presidential candidates are largely a determining factor for many Americans as they decide who to vote for.

We all know where each candidate stands on many issues, or we can look it up if we don't know. We also know that they both are claiming to bring "change" if they are elected.

My challenge for you is this: take something crappy you have heard about the democratic candidate and the republican candidate (or their VP) and try to see the same information in a new light.

Here are my two examples:

1-Palin is being given a hard time because she was going to “build a bridge to nowhere” but then stopped it. Can't she make a decision? Well, maybe she got more information that she didn’t have before and that is what caused her to change her mind. As much as we trust the media, the government does have additional information that a newly-appointed governor gets access to upon getting sworn in.

2- Republicans are quick to point out that Obama has very little political experience and no experience running a business so their conclusion is that he is incapable of running our country. Well, I think we all know that while the Prez is the top guy, he has numerous advisors and confidants helping him make decisions. And if he gets elected, I think we all would trust that he would surround himself with many experienced people who can help him as he leads our country, should he be elected.

This exercise is not about whether or not your justification is right, nor is it about figuring out if these attacks are legitimate. It’s about being willing to accept that not all of the attacks on McCain and Obama (or Palin and Biden) are substantial, fair, or based on the entire truth. Nor should all of these “below the belt” attacks be considered when making a decision to vote for a candidate. This exercise is about rising above the childish attacks on the "person" and getting down to the nitty gritty of what they can do as a leader.

Think about your own life. Have you ever been inconsistent, immoral, uncertain about where you stand on an issue? Obviously, we all have. These are real people and while we may not agree with their stances on issues, they are still human beings and we certainly don’t know enough about them personally to “hate” or “love” them. We can just “hate” or “love” their stances on issues.

Like my other political post, I am not trying to draw out where you stand on issues. On this one, you are actually going to have to "stick up for" each candidate (I'm going to be honest, it's a bit painful and will take a strong person to stand up for your #2 choice... at least it was for me haha)

I am looking forward to hearing your responses.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Driving in MN??? Up your limits!!

So, I have always had a reputation of being a fairly aggressive driver. I prefer to call it "driving with a purpose." I feel like I have gotten to be way better, though; especially since I started working for State Farm. I have read countless "facts of the loss" in claim files that describe all the dumb things people do to cause accidents. I have also seen pictures of mangled cars... some with dead bodies in them... and I have even seen a slide show of an autopsy on a poor lady who was hit as a pedestrian. These types of photos and files are quite sobering.

Let's start with CA drivers. I think everyone can agree that it's just a faster pace out in California. Everyone drives pretty fast and has no reservations about cutting you off. Everyone does it, and you get used to it. Sometimes, it is actually a matter of survival. If you don't keep up, you get run over. If you don't cut someone off, you are stuck in the same lane for miles. No one will just "let you in" when you need to make a lane change. You will most likely be tailgated at some point during your commute, and motorcycles can whiz by between two cars going 65 miles per hour.

Here is my least favorite part of driving in CA: when slow drivers use the carpool lane JUST BECAUSE they have 2 or more people in their car. They clearly do not understand that the "carpool" lane does not cease to be the "fast" lane between the hours of 6-10am and 3-7pm. Just because you have 2 people in your car does not mean you must drive in the carpool lane, especially when the "non-carpool" lanes are going the speed limit - this happened to me all the time on my way to school!!

Driving in California is basically a death trap. Skydiving is safer.

BUT, after all of that, I would take the drivers in California ANY DAY over the Minnesota drivers. Here is the difference: CA drivers are predictable. You know that you are going to get cut off, run off, and flipped off on your way to work. If you didn't, you probably forgot to put your car in drive.

I can't tell you how many times I have been driving down the road here in MN and have had someone cut into my lane, but then literally just stop to make a turn. One time I came inches from hitting a lady in a minivan when she literally stopped when entering a highway on the on-ramp. I thought I had missed something (maybe a bunch of cars were coming and I missed it... nope, not a car in sight). People cut me off to come into my lane all the time going about half the speed limit. Usually, I am the only car around and if they just wait, they'd have the whole lane to themself. Like CA drivers, people here drive 10 mph over the speed limit, but unlike CA drivers, people drive 10 mph below the speed limit on freeways JUST as often. It's inconsistent, unpredictable, and annoying.

You have all heard the term, "Minnesota Nice" - I would like to change that too, "Minnesota Oblivious." I was driving down a road the other day (a street with businesses, about a 30-35 mph speed limit) and I was the 3rd car in a line of 4. We were all driving along and suddenly the guy in front slams on his breaks. Again, I was thinking maybe I missed something. No, I missed nothing. He apparently saw a pedestrian on the side of the road and decided to let him cross. There was no crosswalk, stop light or stop sign. Neither was there a sense of urgency in the pedestrian; he appeared totally content waiting for the only 4 cars around to pass before he crossed the road. The oblivious driver had no idea that while he was being "nice" the other 3 cars behind him were about 4 inches away from exchanging insurance information.

It really is scary. I can't really describe how annoying it is to not know if the guy who just cut you off is going to speed off or slam on their breaks. I am on edge when I drive here. It's no wonder that the medical limits on auto policies in Minnesota START at $20,000!



Weekend Pics

I went up to Grand Rapids last weekend to celebrate Taylor's 2nd Birthday! Here are a few pics from the weekend:

This is basically the happy face Taylor had after she got to eat Chocolate cake!
She kept saying "Chocolate!"
Hannah was the biggest party animal of all with her party hat!

I was asking Taylor to say "Cheese" but she said "no" Eventually she said "cheese" though =)

I have a few new posts so be sure to see the one below this.... big news =)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Charlie loves Hannah

Yesterday Charlie proposed to his girlfriend, Hannah, and of course she said "yes!"
They don't have a date set yet; their plan is to wait until the summer after their junior year
of college before they get married. Tiffani and I think it will be sooner =)

(Charlie's friends knew what was going to happen so they somehow took pictures from afar;
that is how there is a picture. If you have facebook, there are actually 2 videos, too)!
(I am trying to catch up on blog posts... I have a few topics in my mind. Blog Topic Coming Soon: Why I am thoroughly convinced MN drivers are the worst)

Monday, September 1, 2008

What influences your vote?

Most of us all are aware of the recent developments in Barak Obama and John McCain's race for President of the United States: Obama chose Joe Biden as his V.P. runner and McCain chose Sarah Palin.

I know that people vote for various reasons: Many people vote party line and they don't vote for a person, but rather, they check the box where the name is followed by "Republican" or "Democrat" (once a republican/democrat, always a republican/democrat). Others vote for the person whose values are the same as their own (even if it means voting for a "green" or independent" etc. rather than a Republican or Democrat). Sometimes, people insist on voting D or R so they choose the person they dis-like the least. And I am sure there are many other reasons as to why people vote the way they do.

I am curious why people vote the way they do. If you wouldn't mind, I would like to know what issues influence your vote (just 2 or 3 of them) and if the candidate's party (Republican, Democrat, etc) weighs in on your decision at all. Also, no need to say where you stand on the issues, just which issues are the most important to you. For example, one of the issues that is important to me when I choose a candidate to vote for is where they stand on the issue of abortion. By stating it that way, it doesn't say whether I am pro-life or pro-choice (although if you know me well, you probably know which side of the issue I stand on). It simply tells you one issue that I place value on when choosing a candidate.

I hope that everyone feels comfortable sharing what issues, etc. influence your voting decisions or other insights on how you determine which box to check on election day. I would encourage you to leave your comment as anonymous if you want to. Also, the point of this particular post is not to facilitate any discussions on politics, it is just to satisfy my curiosity of learning why people vote the way they do.

It is important to realize that everyone values different things and that is ok =)