Thursday, October 30, 2008

For My Brother

Thought I'd write the first part of a story in honor of my brother Gene. You may want to get a tissue, this may bring out some emotions in some of you...

Part 1
"Leaving Home"

A decree was written and delivered throughout the land.

"Hear Ye, Hear Ye. By proclamation of his royal highness the King of Odoriferous, all males in the kingdom over the age of 14 years are hereby summoned to the service of the royal army of the land and are to report to duty at first light."

Now Gene, a retched little peasant with a severely deformed face, was to say the least, anxious about marching to the appointed destination and starting his new life. Well, at least he would have one more night with his beloved mother to comfort him.

Upon returning home she announced, "Early to bed, early to rise Gene me boy!"

His mother, a once beautiful maiden, that is until raising Gene took its toll, and who had unfortunately transformed into a mere shell of her former self, could hardly wait for the first sign of the coming dawn. She would now be rid of this life-sucking, puss-oozing, hemorrhoid of a lad that the villagers insisted in calling her son.

She reflected back to that fateful night when her hamlet had been overrun by the blood thirsty marauders from the Shire of the Stench. The leader of this band of mongrels, Sir Osis of Liver, was the one who'd taken away the purity of who would later become known as Gene's mother. In an instant, her hopes and dreams of being wed to her Prince Charming were dashed. She would instead be cast into a life of raising little Gene. . . until now that is.

When she caught word of the decree it was as if a weight, much like that of a rotting corpse, had been lifted from her shoulders. In a few short hours her little bundle of joy?? would be marching out of the door and if Ala was willing, for the last time.

She hardly slept a wink that night. Instead, she lay there praying, nigh, willing the dawn to somehow come earlier this day. The long hours of night seemed to pass painfully slow however and at one point she even went outside and tried to get the rooster to crow in hopes that her sleeping boy would rise a bit earlier. It was of no use though, she would simply have to tough out these last few hours.

Just when she had given up all hope that the sun would ever rise again, a single beam of light shown through the tree tops outside. Like a flash Gene's mom rousted him from his straw bed and guided him toward the door. "Nothing like a brisk walk to start your day honey. . . Don't let the door bump you on the way out. . . And don't worry about writing, I'll be fine." she assured him.

Still wiping the sleep from his eyes, Gene stumbled out into the dawn. As he made his way down the pathway, he noticed several mothers in tearful embraces with their sons. He quickly thought to himself, "I didn't give mom a goodbye hug. She's probably devastated!" With a tear welling up in his good eye, he turned and raced back toward the ramshackle shack they lived in. Upon reaching the door, he pushed on it, but soon realized that it had been bolted shut from inside. Pressing his ear to the door he could hear his mother inside. It sure sounded like laughter, but he knew better. "She must be sobbing uncontrollably." he thought, "Ya, that's it."

He pounded on the locked door and for a moment the noise inside calmed, and then it continued at an even louder level than before. Figuring she was too distraught to see him again, he turned and headed back down the path, ready to face his new quest.

"Funny," he thought, "That sure sounds like music and dancing coming from my house. . . naaaaaaay."


I don't have anything on the books for part two yet, but I'm sure something will come to mind in the near future.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Family Fun

Yes, I am alive.

I needed to take a bit of a break and it ended up being a bit longer than I anticipated. About a week and a half I guess. Sheesh! (It was actually quite refreshing though.)

Thought I'd share a couple of photos of our recent trip to the pumpkin patch. We decided to pick a new destination this year, a place called Sauvie Island. It turned out to be a great choice too. there was a huge corn maze to navigate among other things. Here is a picture of the boys in the middle of it. . . hamming it up of course.

There was this really cool pumpkin sling-shot thing there. Four large bungie cords held a nylon pouch in which you would place a pumpkin about the size of a Bocce Ball. You then pulled back as far as you could and let it fly towards a plywood target a couple hundred feet away. If you were lucky, your "ammo" would land with a splat and a thunderous applause from all the onlookers would ring out. We weren't so lucky, but had fun doing it anyway.

There were several of these plywood cutouts around to take silly photographs at. Lisa and I had to get into the act on this one.

Anthony and Matthew had fun climbing on a lagre pryimid of hay. They decided to strike a pose for me again. Hmmm, wonder where they get that goofy streak from...must be from Lisa's side.

Well, a good time was had by all. Lots of other fun stuff to do there as well. Oh, and we even managed to see my brother Gene there too. It was so nice of him to pose for this picture for me. He always was such a ham growing up!

By the way, if you haven't been by his place recently, he is back in the blogging zone again. Yeah!

OK, that's it for now. I've got a ton of catching up to do now on my reading. Hope to get by to see you all in the next few days.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sounds Like Wall Street

I'm still trying to recover from a lack of sleep over the past couple of days. We had a night job out at Intel on Thursday and Friday nights. Started at 5pm and worked until 5am and 4am respectively. If you haven't seen me at your sites that's why. I've got one more day of back breaking work tomorrow and then it'll calm down for a bit.

Thought since my brain is still in neutral right now, I'd leave you with this bit of Texas wisdom that was sent to me. Hope you enjoy.

How the bail out works....

Young Chuck moved to Texas and bought a Donkey from a farmer for $100. The farmer agreed to deliver the Donkey the next day.

The next day he drove up and said, 'Sorry son, but I have some bad News, the donkey died.' Chuck replied, 'Well, then just give me my money back.' The farmer said, 'Can't do that. I went and spent it already.'

Chuck said, 'Ok, then, just bring me the dead donkey.' The farmer asked, 'What ya gonna do with him? Chuck said, 'I'm going to raffle him off.' The farmer said You can't raffle off a dead donkey!' Chuck said, 'Sure I can
. Watch me. I just won't tell anybody he's dead.' A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked, 'What happened with that dead donkey?'

Chuck said, 'I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and made a profit of $998.' The farmer said, 'Didn't anyone complain?' Chuck said, 'Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back.' Chuck now works for Goldman Sachs.

Friday, October 17, 2008

November POW Photos

Time for the photographs for our November Portrait of Words. If you would like all the details for this writing challenge please click here. The simplified version is as follows: Check out the pictures, interpret them and then write a story based on what you see and/or feel.

Thank you to all of you who have either written a story during the first two of these or have read them and left a comment. You certainly have made this fun.

This month's stories will due to be posted between November 18-20


Photo Credits:
(From commons, unless otherwise noted)

Main Character- Trekguy
Backdrop- tootsie 14
Purpose- Uncle Phooey
Item- vodainghia_takeshi
Wild Card #1- oberazzi
Wild Card #2- charliebay
Wild card #3- unknown- (was sent via an email)


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Portrait of Words #2

Well here we are, time for the second installment of the POW writing challenge. I'm considering doing this twice a month in the future. A month seems like a long time in between to stay energized about it. I also wonder if it would give you all an opportunity to write stories more often if you choose, or give you the choice to join in when time permits without feeling like there is only once a month to do so. I do know that I don't want to make it a weekly feature. There are already dozens of these such weekly goodies floating around the blogsphere and I know that some of you currently participate in them. My goal for this writing challenge is to keep it creative and fun, not something we feel like has to get crammed into an already busy life. What do you think on the matter? Monthly or twice a month? Please let me know in the comments.

For anyone new to this challenge here is the quick run down on how it works. I supply a variety of photographs along with corresponding categories for them. (Main Character, Backdrop, Purpose, Item and Wild Card) From these five prompts, we weave stories as our imagination dictates. If you'd like the full blown details please click here. For all of this month's current photos, please click here.

If you're considering joining us...please do! Everyone is welcome to participate.


"The Alibi"

There I was, sitting in the airport terminal casually reading the days paper. In a couple of moments I'd get up, fold the paper, neatly tucking it under my arm, grab my bag and make the short walk across the isle way to the men's room. Once inside I would find an open stall to occupy while I waited for the incoming call.

Meanwhile, back at the cafe things were unfolding just as we had planned. Tessa walked in and was greeted by Frank who was dressed in his usual attire: hounds tooth pants, white button up the front uniform shirt and a soiled apron that barely tied around the girth that was his mid section. She was also met by the aroma of Frank's gravy simmering away on the stove in the corner. If you were the average patron, this co-mingling of tomatoes, garlic and Italian sausage would likely beckon you in all the way from out on the sidewalk, but for Tessa it had absolutely no appeal. She knew all too well where some of the ingredients came from for Frank's homemade sausage. After all, they didn't call him "The Butcher" for nothing.

Sitting there waiting for confirmation in my makeshift office wasn't exactly the most comfortable place, but I knew it'd be in my best interest to receive the phone call away from the prying eyes of the ever present security cameras outside.

Frank gave the gravy a gentle stir and asked Tessa if she was hungry. He of course, already knew the answer to the question, but couldn't resist asking anyway. As expected, Tessa politely declined his offer and asked if she should wait for him in the back room. With a wink Frank said, "Be there in a minute sugar." Christ she hated his sexist remarks.

Tessa made her way past the empty tables just as the linen truck pulled up out front. She managed to suppress a smile as she heard Frank mumble, "It's about time." Stepping into the store room, she was greeted by two of Frank's boys. Neither of the men spoke, but one did pull a chair out for her indicating she should sit down. Hearing a buzzing sound coming from her denim bag, she reached in and grabbed her cell phone. Holding it up she asked, "Do you mind?" Almost in unison they each extended out one hand motioning her to take the call.

"It's occupied!" I shouted, "Damn!"

From the other side of the stall door I heard, "Sorry."

No sooner did our exchange of words take place, then I chuckled. "If you're going to have a guy scare the shit out of you, what better place than the crapper for it to happen?" I thought. Come on phone, hurry up and ring!

"It's Pauly." Tessa said while looking at the text message displayed on her phone. "He's just making sure every thing's on track."

Neither of Frank's goons gave it a second thought. They were used to their runners communicating with each other before a big drop like this, in fact, Frank insisted on it. Tessa fired back a quick text that simply said, "WE'RE A GO." Although she did show the guys the outgoing message, neither of them bothered to verify the number she was sending it to. If they would have been a bit more observant, they'd have realized it wasn't going to Pauly at all.

The guy in the linen truck outside had no difficulty in receiving the message though. This was his cue. Without hesitation, he brought in the weeks delivery and took out the bags from the previous one. Frank let him go about his business and stepped into the back room carrying a silver case. He set it down in front of Tessa and proceeded to barrage her with detailed instructions on what to do and the consequences that she would meet if she deviated from them in any way. She and the two men had heard this speech numerous times, but not one of them dared interrupt Frank during his lecture. Instead the men stood on either side of Tessa totally void of emotion, while she nodded in agreement with everything that was said to her.

Once Frank was satisfied that Tessa understood both the instructions and more importantly, the threats, she was on her way. As she made her way to the front door she noticed that the linen truck was now gone, but a lone green cloth napkin was draped over the parking meter where it had been moments before. She knew this meant that more than just clean linens had been delivered this afternoon.

The clock on the wall above the mirror in the bathroom showed a few seconds past three-thirty in the afternoon. Unless something had gone terribly wrong, my phone would be ringing any second.

Tessa knew she only had a matter of minutes until Frank's boys would be out the door. He always sent a detail to track his investment to its destination, but he also liked to delay them slightly in case anyone else was following. He figured this way if that happened, he could follow the follower. Rather than continue down Central, Tessa turned the corner and ducked into the 440 Club, a noisy neighborhood bar with a couple of pool tables in the back. She wasn't here for the cocktails or the games today. All she needed to do was to make a phone call.

She picked up her phone and dialed. --RING-- I answered my phone and heard only one word from Tessa, "GO!"

Time was of the essence now. Without answering I hung up and immediately dialed the number.

Three loud beeps sounded from within the stack of freshly laundered table clothes at the cafe. "What was that?" one of the men asked. All Frank was able to get out was, "Oh Shit!"

The explosion rattled the building a block and a half away where Tessa was. Pandemonium broke out as everybody flooded out onto the street to see what had happened. Well, everyone but Tessa that is. She had one more phone call to make.

--RING-- My phone rang a second and final time. This time I heard two words from her, "It's done!"

I removed the SIMM card from inside my phone and flushed it down the toilet, then wiped the phone itself clean and deposited it into the trash can as I exited the restroom. I then walked back into the airport terminal in full view of all the surveillance cameras and proceeded to the bar. I ordered a whisky straight up and made sure I paid with a credit card baring my name. This was an airtight alibi if I'd ever seen one!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Egg Zackley

First a reminder that this months Portrait of Words writing challenge stories are scheduled to be posted this coming Mon-Wed, Oct 13-15. Guess that means I better get my butt in gear and get my own story done! Ahaaaa, procrastination, how I love thee, let me count the ways... Hope to see some of you all joining in again this month.


*Parental Warning*
No you don't have to rush the little ones out of the room just yet. This warning is for my mom - Psycho Mom. The following is a true account of your dear sweet, albeit mischievous little boy.


After reading this post by Sandi, I immediately remembered spending a summer afternoon many, many years ago with one of my very best childhood friends, Chris Smith. (ya, that really is his name)

He and I were running out of things to keep us occupied and boredom had set in. The hundreds of games of Monopoly, Risk, Dungeons and Dragons, and Rail Baron as well as countless others had effectively run there course. We were pretty much board game freaks back then, spending hours and hours rolling dice and moving game pieces around their paths. Well, even the best designed games eventually lose their excitement and apparently this was one of these times.

We were frantically searching for something to occupy our insatiable appetite for entertainment when the light bulb went on. We started to formulate a well thought out strategy. (or so we thought) Little did we know that spontaneity would rule the day.

The plan was quite simple. There was a supermarket, Albertson's I think, about a half a mile away, where in the corner of the dairy case we would find our prize. Perhaps "our ammunition" would be a more accurate description. You see, what we'd decided to do was a good old fashioned egging.

OK, go ahead and get it out of your system. "Jeff, how could you do such a thing?" or "Jeff you ornery little turd!" There, feel better? . . . no not yet. Alright try this, "You should be ashamed of yourself you mean and dastardly little shit!" There, that should about cover it. Now let's get back to the story shall we?

Next we had to muster up the courage to walk into the store and purchase the eggs. No big deal right? Maybe not, but let me ask you, how many twelve year old boys, two at a time, walk into a store in the middle of summer without an adult present and buy four dozen eggs?

You'd think we were planning some sort of enormous bank heist with all the tactical maneuvers we prepared. Proceed to the dairy case and discretely obtain the contraband. Now in complete stealth mode, navigate the isles avoiding anybody who might recognize us. Once up front we would have to carefully select just the right cashier. By no means could the person behind the black rolling conveyor belt have any previous knowledge of who either of us were. God what we would have done for one of those self-serve check out stations like they have today.

Finally we had made our selection and hoped beyond hope that she would prove to be an ally and not rat us out. I remember walking up to the counter with my buddy and placing all forty-eight of our neatly packaged chicken embryos onto the platform. We watched as they inched their way towards the checker, and then it happened. I did the unthinkable. I looked at the lady directly in her eyes! It was at that very moment that I knew that she knew that I knew, that we'd been caught!

Chris and I then looked at each other and immediately knew that lights and sirens were about to go off and that security was going to come rushing in to hall us off into a back room to begin the interrogation process. Our mothers had probably already been notified somehow. This was going to be on our permanent record wasn't it? No college would ever take us now. Yes, this would mark the beginning of the end of life as we knew it.

Instead, she smiled, said something clever like, "Making an egg salad?" and then took our money.

Whew! We were safely outside the store with our loot and as best as we could tell, there were no FBI agents following us. It was now time to head back to Chris's house and find a place to stash the eggs until later that night when we would sneak out and wreak havoc on our unsuspecting prey.


There was a large field between the supermarket and Chris's place, probably about a five minute walk from one side to the other. Nothing but rocks, sand and scrub brush at first glance. Pretty typical for this desert area in a town near Palm Springs. On closer inspection there were plenty of lizards to chase, jack rabbits to scare and road runners to watch zip from one spot to the next. There was also of course, the ever present danger of a rattle snake lurking in the shadows, so we were sure to keep our ears tuned in for any hint of hissing or rattling sounds.

Sure enough, about half way across the field I heard it. Something was coming at me and I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up! But wait, there was something different about this particular sound. It wasn't coming from the direction of the warm sand like I had expected. No, it was more like something cutting through the air, and before it hit me as to what it was, it really did hit me. . . right square in the back! I instantly spun around only to see another projectile heading straight for me like an incoming SCUD missile. Before I could react, I took a direct hit to the torso. SPLAT! the second egg hit me perfectly centered in the breastplate. About twenty feet away was my buddy with one of the biggest shit eating grins I've ever seen.

I quickly set my grocery bag down and frantically reached for my own eggrenades. By the time I could fire off my first shot, I had already been hit three or four times. For the next several minutes it was all out war as we hurled our mucus like packed bombs at one another. Each time we made contact we would simultaneously yell out, "Ohhhhh...!" and break out into another fit of laughter.

There were clearly no winners or losers on the battlefield that day. Oh, I suppose you could say that we both lost, because by the end of our melee each of us was covered from head to toe in slime along with bits of shell stuck to various parts of our body. But then again, if you're one of those "glass half full" types then you could say we both won. I mean how could you not call an afternoon in which we laughed, giggled and carried on like the couple of twelve-year-olds that we were anything but a winner?

Yes our original intentions were anything but pure, but somehow the whole thing got turned around into something where no one got hurt, especially the innocent bystanders.


The only thing left to do now was to figure out how we were going to get back to Chris's house and get our sticky-gooey clothes cleaned up and dried without getting caught. I quite honestly don't remember how we managed that part of the puzzle, but I do know we succeeded.

So if there's a lesson to this story it would be this: The next time you gaze at that halo shinning so brilliantly above your child's head, you may want to run a comb through their hair to see if there are any horns sprouting up!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Enough Is Enough

"do dee do do,.. do dee do do,.. do dee do do,.. do dee do do,.."

Picture this; you're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. It's a place where cellulose and skin collide. Where fear resides in the truth hiding behind the shadows within the bathroom scale. Up ahead there's a sign post. You've just crossed over into the Blubber Zone.

"do de da dum!"

Over the past few months I've noticed my waist line expanding at a rather unsettling rate. It's not at all healthy and I've decided it's time for a change. I did this once before with success, but then I got complacent and let things slide. Mainly the things that started to slide were down my throat like chocolate chip ice cream and Dr Pepper (among others). These evil concoctions of sugar and high fructose corn syrup taste oh so good going down, but then decide to take up a permanent residence in the mid-section . . . not good.

I believe the diagnosis for this condition is called Dunlaps disease. That's what it's called when your belly has done lapped over your belt!

Well, here I am declaring in a public forum that I am going to make strides to reverse this not so pleasant look.

Here are my stats and my general plan to overcome the battle of the bulge:

I'm 5' 11" tall and just weighed in at 222lbs - Yikes!

1. Sodas and fruit juices are out (and what the heck, might as well put coffee in there too. The caffeine screws up other things anyway.)

2. I will drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water each day

3. At dinner time I will consume a reasonable portion.
( this may sound a bit loose, but I really do know what that amount should be. I just have to have the discipline to keep from going back for more)

4. I will not eat anything after 8:00pm

5. Junk food snacks are out. This includes, but is not limited to ice cream, potato chips, and candy bars.

I'll be honest, I'm not the type to get all fired up about an regimented exercise routine. I'm actually a pretty active person, so by reducing the amount of crap that enters my body, I will be able to start burning the fat with what I'm already doing. Now, with that being said, I know there comes a point when intake alone won't finish the goal. I plan to re-evaluate the dreaded "E" (exercise) word later. I know from past experience that in order to be successful at this one must be realistic about what one is truly willing to do. If I said I was going to start running five miles every day, that would simply be a bold faced lie and I would end up getting discouraged because I set an unreasonable goal.

At this point I haven't set my weight goals yet. I will do this over the next couple of days and will set weekly and monthly goals when I do. As I indicated earlier, I did the same thing a couple of years ago and it worked quite well. This time around I just need to make it a lifelong habit and not a one year only deal.

I'll keep you all updated on my progress, but don't worry, I'm not going to turn this into Jeff's diet blog. I figure some periodic updates will be good encouragement to anyone else contemplating something similar and in a selfish way will be good for me to share in some victories too.

I won't ask you to wish me luck, just perseverance!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Really? A Whole Year?

One year,

A couple of hundred posts,

and a whole bunch of great friends!

❦ ❦ ❦

Thank you all for being a part of this fun journey.

I considered doing a long retrospective post, highlighting a few of the things that stuck out in my mind over the past year. I thought about writing a short paragraph about each of you that make up the "worth checking out" list on my side bar. I thought about some of the people who were a part of this community days, weeks or even months ago and are no longer. Ya, I considered many things as I sat down to the keyboard, but when I got ready to write today, I just felt like saying thank you.

Not terribly elegant, and perhaps much too oversimplified, but those two little words carry a significant amount of feeling in them.

I've had the privilege to sit across the virtual coffee table from some mighty fine people. (That'd be all of you) We've laughed a bunch, cried at times and had some good discussions. We haven't always agreed on things, and that's ok. (Wouldn't that be boring?) Most importantly, we've become friends.

I'm looking forward to what another year behind the keyboard and screen will bring.

You gals and guys rock!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Don't Stew On It

I enjoyed the interaction with you all yesterday. It really was nice to have a civil discussion on the matter of politics. It's not an area I tend to delve into very often, but as I'm sure you know, it's nearly impossible to avoid this time of year.

Well, it appears that Fall has made its grand entry to the pacific northwest. It's raining outside, the wind is blowing leaves out of the trees, and the air is a bit chilly this morning. We decided a bit of comfort food was in order for dinner last night. Lisa made a small pot of beef stew. Yum-O Lots of groceries in it, just like mom used to make. . . well sort of. And what's better with a bowl of hot and hearty stew? Scratch baked cornbread with a little butter and honey on it! Yep, a simple dinner that tasted like a meal fit for a king.

Here, I saved you some.

Now you didn't think I was going to forget what day it is did you? It's Saturday, and that means round these here parts, it's time for a Wordzzle or two partner. Don't ask me why the sudden need to go western speak there. Do ask me where you can find the others playing along with this writing challenge. That'd be at Ravens place, found here.

This week we had the following words to work with:

Mini: washing machine, cholesterol, blatantly, Birdman of Alcatraz, poltergeist

Ten Word: tattletale, homogeneous, flighty, cornucopia, plethora, militant, lovelorn, myopic, digitalized, mute

Oi vey!

~~~The Mini~~~

He slammed the lid on the washing machine, popped his cholesterol medication and blatantly declared, "We're not watching that movie about the Birdman of Alcatraz again!. Tonight we're watching something completely mindless like Poltergeist!"

~~~The Ten Word~~~
"Nanner Nanner Nanner"

"If you don't stop bugging me, I'm going to tell mom you did something bad." Maria's little brother didn't stop though.

"That's it you little brat!" and with that she swept her arm across the dining room table and toppled the centerpiece to the floor. "Let's see what mom has to say about this!"

"But I didn't do it!" Danny replied.

"Ya, but mom doesn't know that." his sister snidely said.

"MOM! Danny just destroyed your cornucopia!" Maria really enjoyed playing the part of the household tattletale.

Making her way up the stairs, she continued firing off a plethora of other accusations, almost militant in her determination. Poor Danny, he was lovelorn. He wanted so much to be liked by his older sister, but she was too myopic to see that his sometimes flighty behavior was only a childish attempt to gain her attention.

Continuing her homogeneous string of of hurtful insults and outright lies about the afternoon's events, she made her way into the laundry room where her mother was folding some clothes. With one eyebrow raised, her mom asked, "What is it this time dear?"

"Danny won't leave me alone and then for no reason at all he destroyed your..."

Cutting her off, Danny reached into his pocket and pulled out a small digitized voice recorder he'd found on his father's desk. Hitting the play button, Maria had no choice but to stand there mute as the "real" conversation that had taken place a few minutes earlier was replayed for their mother.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Did You Take De-Bate?

The grumpy train has left the station and hopefully won't be back around for a long, long time!

So why the snit? Honestly...I don't know in specifics, just the overall combination of life's crap being flung in my face for an extended amount of time I suppose. No different than what I'm sure each of you has felt or dealt with at one point or another. Anyway, no point in dwelling on the junk right? Movin' on.

I'm sure there will be posts of all sorts today referring to last night's Vice Presidential debate. My apologies up front to those of you in other countries who aren't as interested in this. Thought I'd weigh in with a couple of thoughts and then turn it over to all of you in the comment section to offer up your two cents worth.

Four years ago I had some pretty rigid political blinders on, and wasn't looking past what was straight ahead. I had been inundated with the message that one candidate was the clear choice for my value set. That although deep within my heart I wasn't sure he was the best choice to lead this country, he did have a job to finish and I would give him my support by checking the box next to his name that November.

Four years later. . .(actually sooner it hit) I asked myself, "What the hell was I thinking?" and then it dawns on me. I wasn't thinking for myself. I was being led by others who I felt had a better handle on what my decision should be. Feel free to call out whatever expletive you would like to at this point, I can take it.

So here we are a month away from the next opportunity to voice our opinion on who should be deemed the Commander and Chief. I vowed that this year I would not be led by a group of people (or an individual for that matter) telling me which direction I should go. "Be open minded, be objective!" became my mantra. I'm quite proud of the fact that I have followed that principle up to this point.

With that mind set I've sat down and watched both debates thus far. I'll admit, I was already leaning one direction prior to them, but wasn't going to commit 100% until I'd had a chance to see and hear from both sides of the podium.

In the first one, body language and posture, seemed to resonate with me as much as the words themselves. Strange thing to base an opinion on you may say? Perhaps, but the words each of them spoke were, for the most part, things I'd heard from each of them before. With that being the case, I was looking for a sense of which of the two I would most trust. As a small business owner, I viewed each of them as if I were entering into a contract with them. "Who would I trust with the largest transaction of my well being?" I asked myself.

Obama made eye contact with his opponent, the mediator and the camera. He seemed confident in his responses and well prepared. McCain looked straight ahead and would not engage. He seemed almost nervous and unsure of his answers at times. In an oversimplified synopsis, there was a clearly a difference in who I would go into business with out of the two.

Last night was an opportunity to see the VP nominations square off. Again, I was leaning in a particular direction, but was not ready to color in the oval on the ballot just yet. Remember that part about being objective? Ya, I did too.

In this debate, the words that were spoken are what I focused in on. "What were they saying?" I asked, and perhaps equally as important, "What were they not saying?" The media hype of course, had Palin set up to fall flat on her face. An expectation she didn't completely make I felt. Sure, she had her moments, like the "Joe six-pack" reference and the general "by gosh and by golly" way in which she spoke, but overall, I think she did a decent job of hanging in there. What I didn't appreciate about her, was the way she kept avoiding the question put in front of her and going on to what she had been prepped for. It seemed like she had a list of about a half a dozen items she was comfortable talking about and no matter what was being asked of her, she would spin the conversation back to one of those topics.

Biden, on the other hand, oozed of politician. He did manage to offer up what he and Obama would stand for, but he did it more through attacking McCain than anything else. By the end of the ninety minutes, I was so sick and tired of listening to him go on and on about McCain, McCain, McCain I was about ready to throw-up. The school yard name calling was completely lost on me. Quit telling me what an asshole you think the other guy is and focus on what your guy can and will do!

Well, in the end I came up with the following conclusion: Palin didn't make a compelling enough argument to make me want to vote for McCain, and Biden didn't piss me off enough to want to not vote for Obama.

I'm curious what you all thought about it, especially if you are or were undecided in who you'll vote for. I'll be honest, I'm not really interested in hearing vile hatred spewed about either of them. I'd much rather hear a civil discussion about why you're bent one direction or another. I say this not to attempt to squash your input, but to keep it as something we can all glean insight from. With that I will turn over the comment section to you.