Archive for January, 2008

Time to stop thinking, and act

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

After watching everything that’s gone on in January, it’s time to commit. I just sent a chunk of cash to Barack Obama’s campaign and signed up to see how I can volunteer in the last few days before the California primary.

For the first time in my adult life, there’s a viable candidate that lets me proudly say “I want this guy as my next President.” Not the lesser of two evils, or a merely acceptable choice, but someone I believe can, and will, lead the country effectively in a time when we desperately need it.

As someone who has voted Republican or Libertarian more often than Democrat over the years I haven’t gone soft and converted to all of his policy preferences, but after reading his books, his policy papers, many of his advisors’ policy papers, a metric craploade of political analysis, and of course, listening to his once-in-a-generation oratory, I’m convinced that He Gets It.

He understands, as no other national-level politician I’ve ever seen does, how to solve problems, and has a clear vision of the most important problems the next President will be faced with. He also has the integrity, charisma, and force of will necessary to lead effectively.

I had about three more paragraphs explaining why I think he’s the right guy for the United States and why I think the most common criticisms of him are completely unfounded, but then I realized I can type out arguments all day and still not make the point a tenth as well as he already has:


Geeks These Days

Monday, January 21st, 2008

I made a Dr Who reference at work today and the engineer I made it to didn’t get it. Aarrgghhh! What is this world coming to?

Fortunately as I was lamely attempting to explain, another engineer popped over and said “Oh, Dr. Who” and I ended up having a very geeky conversation about the relative merits of the new versus the classic series and of course the ever-pressing “who’s your favorite Dr.?” discussion.

The original engineer still looked baffled when we were done. <sigh>

Am I just geekier-than-thou or is there something wrong with this guy?

Just wondering…

Oh, and Aaron pointed this little treasure out to me. Enjoy!




Where to Next?

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

OK, an update on our latest travails. We have decided for various reasons that Vietnam is just not an option for us. I really got my heart a little bit broken on this one because I really wanted it to happen. But with 20-something NOIDs (Notice of Intent to Deny) being handed down by the USCIS to PAPs IN VIETNAM AT THE TIME (in the space of about 3 months!) and with major changes in how USCIS is dealing with Vietnam adoptions, we really hat to examine the program again. We have opted not. Just too much opportunity for ethical violations, despite the best efforts of agencies. Also the agreement that allowed Vietnam IA to begin again to the States is due to expire soon and who knows what those negotiations are going to do to the folks now in line.

So, no go on Vietnam.

We’re looking very hard at a different program now that is not in Asia. I’m not going to say where (although some of you already know) or make any predictions on when whatsoever. Just not going down that emotional rocky road for a little bit. When we have signed contracts or are closer to getting a dossier off to the country in question I’ll talk more about specifics.

Suffice it to say we still need to come up with boys names. And whatever it is has to work with Darren as a middle name (a family tradition in naming boys that goes back many generations.) We had always joked that if by some amazing alignment of the planets we actually got referred a boy from China we would have to name him Connor (actually the Irish Conchobar just ’cause we’re evil that way.) But I don’t really like the combination of Connor Darren. Plus on his side of the family we already have Karlee, Kendal and Kyle. Seriously, no K or hard C names… it would just be too much. All due apologies to my sisters-in-law…

Current contenders: Victor, Alexander, Michael. I like Patrick, too, but Darren doesn’t.

Oh, and while we have not turned our backs on China, the current trend means it is likely to be at least another 18 months before we’d have even a remote chance of seeing a referral. But we’re not abandoning hopes for our Lorelei. She’ll probably be a second child rather than a first though.

So, that’s all that’s fit to print for now.

As always, many blessings to you all,



Juno (Warning: Contains Some Spoilers)

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

I just went to see Juno and decided to post a review. I know, two posts in one day. I may break the Internets if I keep this up. 🙂

In case you haven’t heard of it, Juno is a movie about a teenager who gets pregnant and decides to make an adoption plan. It is intelligent, witty and laugh out loud funny. It’s a lot quirky and off-beat and soooo not PC. Diablo Cody’s has put together a wonderfully snarky script and Jason Reitman’s direction is as skillful as in his previous offering. If you like Kevin Smith movies – minus all the fart jokes but with the dick jokes – “pork swords” – that’s all I’m gonna say – you’ll probably like this movie.

Warning for PAPs, especially if you are adopting domestically: bring a sense of humor and lot of tissues. Because, damn! push a few more buttons, would ya? Several awkward moments that will be familiar to us all and there’s at least one genuinely offensive line that would have had me yelling at the screen if I were at home. However, it actually does fit in the context of the movie so just go with it.

The eponymous character of the movie (played with mad-skills by Ellen Page) reminds me a lot of myself in high school. She’s a bit geeky, tomboy-ish and oh-so-mature and above all the bs of her peers. Although she is way more witty than I could every have hoped to be at that age.

After learning she is pregnant (“There it is. The little plus sign is so unholy.” ) Juno initially decides to seek an abortion (leading to one of the most so-wrong-but-so-funny lines of the movie – “Hi, I’m calling to procure a hasty abortion…”) However she finds she cannot go through with it so she decides to make an adoption plan. She and her friend pick a couple out of the Penny Saver ads, generating several more wrong-but-funny lines. After making arrangements to meet the couple (the Lorings) and their lawyer, she breaks the news to her father and step-mother and presents the whole matter as a fait accompli. Yet another side-spittingly funny but fabulous scene.

I’m certain there’s going to be a lot of controversy about this movie – a lot of folks in the adoption community will probably hate it – because this is not an entirely realistic picture of adoption. At first it all comes together way too easily: she makes her decision seemingly with no angst or heartbreak, finds the “perfect” couple immediately, keeps the birth father out of it all, likes the Lorings from the beginning and – glory be! – she wants a closed adoption. And in the end she seems to move on with her life almost as if it all never happened.

But along the way you do see the scared, aching teenager break through the facade of detachment Juno presents to the world. Although she is opting for a closed adoption it is clear she wants some sort of emotional connection to the family she is placing with. She genuinely wants the perfect home for her child and is devastated when she realizes there is no such thing. And when she does go through with placement, it is clear how much she is hurting.

The film also spends some time with in a few other key issues in adoption. When the ultra-sound technician is clearly relieved that Juno is placing, Juno’s step-mom takes the tech to task for assuming that the child will be better off being adopted. We also see some of the awkward nature of the birth mom/adoptive mom dynamic – Juno’s insensitive comments to Venessa Loring along with Venessa’s obvious desire to respect Juno’s space but NEED to be involved in the pregnancy are captured well without beating you over the head. Even the too-predictable feeling-the-baby-kick moment is handled with sensitivity. I think they could have more explicitly dealt with the birth father. In the context of the film, you can understand why she leaves him out of it, but there are only passing references to his involvement in the adoption.

The film left me wondering what this child is going to go through a few years down the line when/if he decides to search for his birth parents. But I don’t think that the writer and/or director were concerned with that issue.

The ease with which Juno’s folks accept her placing their grandchild strains credibility in my book but I like that they are supportive and not overly judgmental. One wishes that more parents could be so understanding and rational about their children’s decisions. There are a few moments when they make it clear they are disappointed in her (“I thought you were the kind of girl who knew when to call a halt” says Dad.)

Overall it’s a great movie – an interesting take on a very sensitive issue. And while I think there is much left unexplored, the writing is brilliant, the characters worked for me and I really, really enjoyed it. It’s already won a ton of awards and will probably win a bunch more if there is any justice in the Universe.

So, tell me what you think. (But play nice: this is my house, remember?)




Fun With Scanners

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

Thought I would post some more ancient pics for fun:

Mom circa 1958

Mom’s senior portrait

Dad at a party in Thailand near the end of his tour of duty during the Vietnam conflict. As far as I know this was the closest he ever got to Indonesia again after leaving as a child. I remember him talking about being mistaken for a native while there and how pleased that made him and how he wished he spoke Thai. Sound familiar?

Mom and Dad – I think this was taken after he came home from Vietnam.

BTW: have I ever mentioned how my Dad proposed to my mom? According to Mom the conversation went something like this:

Dad: I have orders for Vietnam. Would you like to get married before I go or after I get back?

Mom: (after a moment of silence) Before you go.

How romantic, eh? My father, ladies and gentlemen. 😉

Dad, Mom, Paul and baby me! Taken shortly after Dad completed Officer’s Candidate School for the USAF – note the shiny new bar on his shoulder.

Many blessings all,



So, New Hampshire? Not so much.

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

A very bipolar week for politics. After the elation of last week, the shock of Hillary and McCain both coming back has me fairly depressed. That’s the matchup I’ve feared all along — two viable candidates for their own party, neither of whom I’d ever vote for.

I’d love to see a woman in the White House, just not this woman. And McCain, despite all his adulation by even the left-leaning press, creeps me the hell out.

And while I don’t normally go in for blog memes or silly polls of this sort, I was fairly impressed by the results from this new Electoral Compass from a group of Dutch researchers. It put me on a line between Obama and Paul, with all the Democrats within my circle of agreement, but none of the Republicans.

That seems about right, especially considering the poll doesn’t cover areas where Ron Paul is a complete loon, or factor in confidence in a candidate’s leadership ability (which is what rules out Hillary, and most likely Edwards if he were more of a factor).


Some morning-after thoughts

Friday, January 4th, 2008

Darren here.

Yes, I know I don’t post here or at LJ much these days. You all really don’t want to hear about the intricacies of Windows networking APIs, corporate org chart roulette, my attempts to fix range-overcompensation issues in rapier fighting, or the never-ending drama of running a World of Warcraft guild, I assume.

I suppose I could, and probably should, post more about food. And I probably will once I figure out how to steal the pork roast recipe we had last Friday at Ad Hoc.

I will, however, start commenting on politics now that the ’08 Presidential primary season is officially underway. Especially since I believe something extraordinary happened last night. Feel free to skip with extreme prejudice if you’re just here for the adoption saga. I won’t mind. Really, I won’t. I’ll just sit here. In the dark. Waiting for the phone to ring. You never call, but it’s OK.

First, if you haven’t already, watch this:

Now I still haven’t completely made up my mind who I’m supporting this year, but this was an impressive accomplishment from an increasingly-impressive candidate. I certainly don’t agree with him on some of his policies, and he’s got a long, long way to go to get nominated and elected yet, but still, last night feels very important.

Normally I prefer to use my own words in reaction to something that moves me, but today I’ve found a few quotes that I think are more illustrative:

From South Africa

Damn, I love Americans. Just when you’ve written them off as hopeless, as a nation in decline, they turn around and do something extraordinary, which tells you why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on earth.

Also from Andrew Sullivan’s blog:

A reader writes:

My phone has been ringing off the hook, with nothing but screams from my Black friends and family: a “HE WON”, and then an “I’ll talk to you tomorrow”.

My mother, born in Jim Crow Mississippi in 1930, just shook her head – she couldn’t believe it.

Believe it. In snow-white Iowa. This moment has been a long time coming. And the wheel of American history just moved forward.

Even the neo-cons can’t help themselves:

….as we parse Huckabee, Obama’s immense victory. Yes, it’s early, yes, a lot could happen. But a man who could not have used certain restrooms forty years ago is in the center ring, not as a freak in the manner of Alberto Fujimori or Sonia Gandhi, nor even as a faction fighter in the style of Jesse Jackson, but as a real player. One of our great national sins is being obliterated, as the years pass, by the virtues of our national system. I don’t agree with Obama and I don’t particularly like him, but I am proud of this moment.

And on the viability front, an anecdote from James Fallows:

* The truly startling one was a conversation just now with a very close family friend who, through a lifetime of voting that began in the Harry Truman era, has always and only gone Republican and still refers to G.W. Bush strictly as “The President.” The friend said: “If Obama is the nominee, I’ll vote for him. I’d never vote for her” — meaning Hillary Clinton. This friend lives in a swing state.


Happy 2008!

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

Not going to make any comment on what I want really for this year – you know this anyway. And as per usual it’s kind of a raw nerve… But again, you’re already aware of that. Don’t want to be a downer today.

Holidays we OK. Went to Napa with Bill and Lynn this weekend, which was incredibly cool. Drank lots of wine and ate lots of good food. I’ll try to get pics up soon. “New York New Year’s” at Albra and Hans’s. A good time was had by all and Hans didn’t kick us out till 10pm. LOL! Kissed in the official New Year with the hubby and went to bed. Are we getting old?

Now that the new year has begun, you’ll have to indulge me in another moment of politicking. Please, please, please VOTE this year! In the Primary and in the General election. This is an extremely important presidential election (and in California there will probably be a bunch of BS propositions that need to be defeated…) and if don’t make your voice heard, then you have no right to complain afterwards. 😉

If you haven’t already, go here to register to vote. Do it now!