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Happy Holidays!

We've been enjoying a quiet Carolina Christmas. We spent Christmas Eve doing what has become a tradition for us - tracking Santa with NORAD. Bruce also worked on some computer projects while Katy scrapbooked. We exchanged gifts shortly after midnight before going to bed. On Christmas Day we drove out to Bear Creek to have a holiday feast with our friends Wayne and Shannon Bates and Shannon's parents, Dot and George. Yummy and delightful. Katy was also thrilled to get a new Gambit action figure (for the collection) and a beautiful handmade necklace from Santa Bates. Sunday night Mom and Dad Loebrich will arrive with Mom Stahl, they're carpooling from the Midwest. We're looking forward to extending our Christmas holiday by celebrating with them over the next several days.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all our friends and family, near and far, at this time of year and always. May each and every one of you be surrounded by those you love this holiday season and into the coming year. Joy everlasting.

Santa Claus is Coming, NORAD is Watching

It's that time again. In fact, the Jolly One is already in flight. And, for the 50th year, the good boys and girls at NORAD are tracking Santa's trip, for safety and posterity. As always, NORAD has made their Santa Cams available through the internet, just visit their special site, read about Santa's history, see his travels, and enjoy holiday music from Ringo Starr, the Canadian Navy band, the Air Force Academy band, and more. But be sure you pay attention and get to bed before St. Nick reaches your neck of the woods! Have you put out the cookies, milk, and carrots?

Catching Up

With the Holiday Season in full swing we've been pretty busy. Even though we played D&D nearly two weeks ago, it's taken until now to find enough time to write up the events. So, here's the latest installment in the adventures of Badumchish, Miranda, Tryksey, and Weebellina.

"Geeks Ultimately Win, So Bite It, You Cool Kids"

(This is Katy writing) The title of this post comes from VH1's new program, "My Coolest Years," by way of Wil Wheaton's website. Yes, that Wil Wheaton. Now a recognized author and columnist, as well as a blogger and tech guy, the former Star Trek ensign appeared on the VH1 program. I wish I'd seen the show, I just read about it in his blog.

You see, during the run of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I rarely admited that Wesley was my favorite character. I would have received a lot of flak for it since he wasn't too popular among the aforementioned "cool kids." But my friends have always known I liked him best. So, when Wil Wheaton was a keynote speaker at ApacheCon 2004, I sent my Wesley Crusher bookmark (gift from my friend Alisha) along for an autograph (thanks to my friend, ApacheCon organizing guru, Ken).

I'd been meaning to start reading Wheaton's website for a long time. Finally got around to it the week before last and immediately bookmarked the site. When I read the "Geeks Ultimately Win" quote, which is a segment title from the VH1 show, I thought it was the perfect lead-in to the synopsis of our D&D adventure...played on the day I received my autographed Wesley bookmark. Read on for the latest installment in the tale of Badumchish, Miranda, Weebellina and now Tryksey, too!

Things That Go Bump

That would be me. On Sunday afternoon I headed out to get the bins of Christmas stuff from our outside storage shed. While there are only 3 steps between our porch and the ground, when I stepped off the last one I discovered that someone had moved the ground. Down I went, wrenching my ankle severely and landing hard on my right hip. Did I mention that our porch sits on a concrete slab? I landed on it.

I squawked as I fell, but our neighbors were not home and Bruce was inside taking a shower. I've noticed over the last few months that our current apartment is much more soundproof than the last one. Oftentimes I do not even know if it's raining until I open the front door to head out. So, the answer to the proverbial question, "When Katy falls in Durham, does she make a sound?" is "yes." But the answer to the follow up question, "Does anybody hear her?" is "no."

I had been carrying a broom, in case I needed to sweep away cobwebs in the shed, so I threw it at the house in the hopes of hitting the storm door and "knocking." I missed. The broom sailed in a long, graceful arc and landed on the far side of the porch, never having touched the house. So I levered myself up onto the porch and crawled, slowly, back into the house.

We immediately began the rotation of: rest, ice, compression, elevation. For the last several days I have been wearing an ace bandage and limping rather like Igor or Quasimodo. The swelling has gone down significantly, although my heel and the side of my foot are still gloriously purple, and it doesn't hurt very much anymore. My coworkers have been great about swapping duties with me or lending me an extra hand so I can do as much of my job while sitting as possible.

Needless to say, I haven't managed to get the Christmas stuff out yet, and a lot of other chores and errands have fallen by the wayside, too. Time to get back at it!

Rivalry Weekend

OK, boys, two years ago you stormed up the field and became National Champions. Last year, you barely squeaked by but, as defending champs, at least you merited national tv coverage. This year, your season has been lousy and marred by allegations against your staff. So much so that ABC Sports apparently considered the 101st meeting of Ohio State and Michigan to only be a regional rivalry. Here in the Southeast, we got Virginia vs Georgia Tech.

To add insult to injury, our internet service crashed about 11:30 this morning, leaving me not only unable to follow the game online, but also unable to call family or friends to find out how it was going. If I weren't already feeling homesick, the potential of missing THE game would certainly make me feel it. Thank goodness for ESPN-2.

More Photos Have Been Added

We recently (finally) added pictures of the jack-o-lanterns we carved with Kristin for Halloween. Also new to the site (sort of) are pictures from our 6th annual trek to the Carolina Renaissance Festival. We actually went to the fest back in October and even added the pictures fairly soon thereafter, there just hadn't been a lot of time to post a notice here on the front page until now.

As always, you can access the entire catalog of pictures simply by clicking on the More Photos link underneath our picture on the upper right of the front page. Happy viewing!

I’m So Glad to See Your Big Beef Stick!

Surely it was that perennial Hickory Farms snack – supplemented, of course, by left-over Halloween candy and our traditional order from Papa John’s – which kept us going through nearly 11 hours of D&D this weekend!

What Now?

Consensus has it the Republicans won by energizing their base and getting out the vote. Exit polls indicate moral values as the top issue for the greatest number of voters and 80% of those voters went for Bush (And those numbers come from exit polls that underestimated the Bush vote by a significant margin). When possible, moderate Republicans are being replaced with those supporting the entire Republican agenda. The Republicans are abandoning the 'Big Tent' and are focusing on Evangelicals.

The Democrats are now a minority party looking to reinvent themselves to appeal to the electorate. They could hope for another Watergate. They could choose a candidate from Ohio, or preferably Florida. It just might win enough votes to gain back the White House, but doesn't address their underlying problems. Besides, the primary system doesn't really give Democratic leaders much choice in the matter.

It has been said by some that framing existing Democratic positions better could win more voters. It might, but I find it far more likely that voters will see it for the semantics game it really is. Real change is more difficult still. A shift to the left risks alienating moderate voters that have already been abandoned by the Republicans. A shift to the middle risks alienating the base and being left with a greater number of supporters that are just not enthused enough to vote.

Dan Gillmore suggests a third America, the Radical Middle. He is not the first to think about a third America. Seven men since the Civil War have tapped into it well enough get at least 5% of the popular vote while running for a third party. Except for being spoilers for the major party candidate with views closest to their own, none of them succeeded in altering the political landscape in any significant way. We are still a land dominated by only two parties, Republican and Democrat. A vote for a third party candidate in America has exactly the same effect on the outcome as not voting at all. If the only choice is to vote against the candidate you like the least, is it any wonder four out of six eligible voters stayed home even with this year's record turnout?

The way I see it, the only way a third America has a chance is to cooperate with one of the existing parties to get the system changed. Now may be the time. It is difficult to give up power or advantage, but the Democrats are an opposition party desperate to stay relevant. They need not give up any core principles to add a plank to their platform advocating a proportional legislature.

In the long term, it weakens them if they succeed by giving third parties more power, but it should weaken the Republicans in about equal measure. In the short term, they can energize their liberal base and attack the conservative right, while at the same time giving both the moderate middle and existing third parties something to vote for, their own voice.

Please Vote!

Whether your choice for President is Michael J. Badnarik & Richard V. Campagna, George Walker Bush & Richard Bruce Cheney, David Keith Cobb & Patricia Helen LaMarche, John Forbes Kerry & John Reid Edwards, Ralph Nader & Peter Miguel Camejo, Michael Anthony Peroutka & Chuck Baldwin or a set of candidates I haven't even heard of, please vote!

Antics in the Spooky Zone

Yesterday, we celebrated Devil's Night appropriately enough - playing Dungeons and Dragons. Badumchish, Miranda, Weebellina, and Taqiyya returned to Terryville where they began investigating ghosts, zombies, and a cemetery...oh my! Tricks there obviously were aplenty, but treats were present, too, in the form of cookies, crackers, the obligatory pizza, and the astounding holiday cupcakes covered with candy corn and other yummies. Happy Halloween!

Republican In Name Only (RINO)?

Katy and I both took advantage of North Carolina's one-stop absentee voting today. This no excuse option began October 14th and ends Saturday October 30th at 1:00pm. We only waited in line about fifteen minutes at the Morehead Planetarium on the UNC Chapel Hill campus. I highly recommend early voting, but even if you don't, or can't, take advantage of this option, please vote.

I'm a registered Republican while Katy is a registered Democrat, so you might think our votes would cancel each other, but you would be wrong. Neither of us voted a straight ticket and when we compared notes, we found we voted not only for exactly the same candidates, but identically on the issues as well. Apparently, even though I've consistently voted Republican my entire life and none of my core convictions have changed, I'm now a Republican in name only. In case you haven't guessed by now, I voted for John Kerry.

Previously On...

Due to various trips for work and pleasure, our D&D campaign is currently on hiatus. While Badumchish, Miranda, Taqiyya, and Weebellina don't expect to mount up again until later this month, they did manage to squeeze in one adventure before the break.


Well, I'm only human. Sometimes, when I get to typing too fast, I make mistakes. Thanks to the regular readers, and other kind folks who clicked through from Google, for their sharp eyes and gracious tips.

I have fixed the incorrect photo titles and captions. The corrected pictures are: Villagers, Miguel, and The Ceremony.

Pictures from my recent trip with the UNC-TV production crew covering Appalachian State University's Appalachian Showcase have also been added to the site and can be seen here.

Clopity, Clopity, Clopity, Grr, Argh.

If you've seen one of Joss Whedon's Mutant Enemy productions (like Buffy, Angel, or Firefly) then you've probably seen the company logo at the end of the show. A little cardboard zombie prances across the screen while the very deadpan voice-over says, "Grr. Argh." One of Katy's all-time favorite moments on Buffy happened when Giles decided to return to England and the gang was saying good-bye. Tara gave him a little plastic finger-puppet and said, "It's a monster, to remind you of Sunnydale. You know, grr, argh."

Anyway, Bruce has adopted that grr-argh mantra for his axe-wielding Irda barbarian-cleric, Taqiyya. You'll have to read on to figure out what the rest of this post's title means, though!

Some notes:
re: autodiscovery... some of the entries actually already have the rss link included... and I'm currently thinking about using a AmpetaDesk like bookmarklet to add geeds to my list

re: sorting of feeds:
The reader itself 'remembers' the feeds I've viewed and ranks them after the last time I accessed/viewed them. It's a very simple form of interst filtering. Feeds I don't view go down, the ones I'm really interested in go up.

alles Bild, Text und Tonmaterial ist © Martin Spernau, Verwendung und Reproduktion erfordert die Zustimmung des Authors

Martin Spernau
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