Saturday, February 6, 2010

Olivia is coming!

Last Friday, Karen and I had the beautiful experience of having our 20 week ultrasound. Like the two other appointments before, this one was amazing. But this time, they told us we are having a girl! We had secretly been hoping for a girl because Karen's brother David and our sister-in-law Amy have two boys, Blake and Avery...

... and we thought it would be nice to add a little femininity to our Thanksgivings with the Bostons. We are so excited and happy. She is right in the middle of the size range for this point in the pregnancy, appears the be healthy and sprightly. Her name will be Olivia Makenzie Fain. We will be so blessed to have her.
Here is the latest ultrasound picture...

We are considering doing the 3D ultrasound in a couple of months. We are so anxious to meet our little girl, we might want a little sneak-peak! We'll keep you all posted.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Venue of Public Discourse... Who Knew?

This week, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, which changed key provisions of the 2002 McCain-Feingold Act, clearing the way for unlimited and unregulated corporate and union contributions to political candidates. Before this ruling, companies and unions would have to set up Political Actions Committees (PAC's) and could only use funds that were donated by membership, shareholders or employees but could not use funds directly from the company's earnings or a union's membership dues . So basically, the Supreme Court found the PAC provision in McCain- Feingold unconstitutional.

So after this encouraging sign that the entire act, which abridges the freedom of speech of all Americans, will be struck down, the following discussion was held on facebook of all places.

The names of the parties have been changed to keep from embarrassing the ignorant...

Ingrid Hippieton No no no no no! This can't be happening! The Supreme Court just ruled that companies are allowed to give as much money to each candidate as they want, and pay directly for ads for political candidates?!?!? I'm in public right now, but mentally I'm swearing loudly.

Thu at 5:44pm · ·
William Shakespeare
do the candidates have to wear the logos on the back of their suits? that would be fitting
Thu at 5:52pm
Jeremy Fain
Jeremy Fain
so even companies have freedom of speech? Shocking.
Thu at 8:19pm ·

Ingrid Hippieton
They're calling it "freedom of speech" as they allow companies to buy political candidates. Does Exxon or Phillip Morris really need the freedom to pour money into candidates' pockets? We all already live with the reality that our government is for big business, by big business instead of for the people, by the people, but DUDE. Can it be more transparent?
Fri at 12:42am
Jeremy Fain
Jeremy Fain
So who owns, works for and buys the poducts of "big business"? Last I checked, "the people" do. Whether you or McCain/ Feingold like it or not, freedom of political speech is a constitutional RIGHT.
Fri at 3:12pm ·
Fidel Pelosi
Freedom of speech != freedom to throw unlimited money at politicians. There's 20 years of Supreme Court precedent to back that up and the only reason it's at issue now is because Bush spammed Roberts and Alito - two supremely unqualified right wing loons - into the court.

It also wouldn't be an issue if we didn't have the absurd 14th Amendment which gives corporations the legal rights of citizens. It's incredibly stupid and incredibly harmful. The premise of the current decision is that corporations = people (essentially double voting with massive additional resources since the executives in these companies are doubtless donating everything they can personally, and can now spend corporate coffers as well) and spending = speech. You could jump over the moon with that leap of faith.

Corporations 1. did not have free speech for the first two centuries after this country was founded and 2. used to have a corporate charter which made them work in quantifiable ways first to improve their industries and only second to generate money, rather than simply being legally beholden to generate maximum profit in minimum time.

This decision is a joke and it will be dealt with as such, even by Obama's spineless administration.
Fri at 3:18pm

Jeremy Fain
Jeremy Fain
Your entire arguement became moot when you show your ignorance by calling two Supreme Court justices "Right Wing Loons". And how is Obama going to "Deal with it". Luckily, we have something called separation of powers, so Obama can't do anything.
Fri at 3:26pm ·

Fidel Pelosi
Nice ad hominem, especially useful when you don't have a meaningful counterargument. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people."

Court justices are appointed by the President and approved by Congress, and you probably remember the huge fiasco during Bush's term because he was picking poor candidates. Naturally, a poor president will pick poor justices and naturally, a poor congress will approve them.

Alito refused to state opinions during large portions of his confirmation process, which was an obvious attempt to avoid painting himself as a biased conservative. He also lied to Reagan about his affiliation with the Concerned Alumni of Princeton and then disavowed the lie (and the group) during his hearing. Roberts has his own issues, but that's not at issue here

Obama can deal with this absurd by working with congress to create an amendment superseding the Supreme Court decision. He can voice his support for congresspeople working on the amendment, and he can put pressure on obstructionists both by traditional media outlets and because he has a powerful, effective web-based group called Organizing for America that contributed significantly to his campaign and remains active in day-to-day issues. I could lecture you on the details, but the takeaway is that there are plenty of ways he can deal with the problem that don't violate separation of powers. Your assertion that "he can't do anything" because he can't write and push through his own amendment is absurd.

Heck, he could even start pushing to overturn the 14th amendment and nip this crap in the bud. Obama doesn't have the spine for that, but he could levy massive support for the issue if he chose to.

Dissenting opinion on the Supreme Court case for anyone interested:
Fri at 4:21pm

Jeremy Fain
Jeremy Fain
I didn't bother to read your entire diatribe, I have a job, but let me start with you quoting Eleanor Roosevelt... That's the first problem, secondly, YOU "discussed people" by calling Alito and Roberts "Right wing loons", so by by a dead president's wife's definition, you are a small person. Third, are you really advocating a Constitutional ... See Moreamendment for campaign finance reform? Thankfully for those of us who love free speech, even if we don't like it or who it is coming from, that will NEVER happen. I quit reading after that because if I wanted to listen to more liberal poppycock, I would watch Keith Olberman... He's much better at it than you. You probably also think the World Trade Center was an inside job too... I don't have time for ignorance.
Fri at 5:17pm ·

Fidel Pelosi
You're a hostile little pecker aren't ya?
Fri at 5:20pm
Jeremy Fain
Jeremy Fain
Not hostile, right. I love arguing with liberals... you always resort to name-calling. It makes you look immature and small. I think you have an inferiority complex and you are envious of anyone who takes the opportunities that this great country provides to everyone... that's right, I said EVERYONE, and earns a lot of money and power. You ... See Morewant to punish the rich for being rich, tax large and small businesses out of existence even though they employ ALL of us. You think that siding with the "downtrodden" and championing the poor and helpless of America makes you better and cool and hip. No, it makes you a phony and it is disingenuous. The truth is, there are no oppressed or downtrodden, there are lazy, stupid and mentally ill. I will champion mentally ill, but never the lazy and stupid. If Barack Obama listened to the likes of Jesse Jackson, he never would have had the self esteem to achieve such heights. I should be able, in a free country, to give as much money as I want to, to whatever political candidate I want to. I should be able to keep more of my money, I earned it, not the government, and I shouldn't have to pay for my healthcare and everyone else's too because they are lazy and have too many kids. I borrowed money, went to college and make enough money to pay for my own. I have waited 10 years since I got married to have kids because we couldn't afford it, yet welfare recipients get even more money to have more kids. This countries priorities are wacked. If you believe nothing in the bible but this, believe "He who does not work, neither shall he eat". A country based on that would never be in recession.
Fri at 5:41pm ·
Ingrid Hippieton
Jeremy, I don't think you realize just how corrupt our capitalistic system is. Everyone knows that large tobacco companies hid evidence that their products were harmful for years, and everyone knows the government colluded with them in the cover-up. When a tobacco company contributes large amounts to a candidate's campaign, that candidate cannot ... See Morereasonably be expected to pass laws in the best interests of his or her constituents, and that candidate can reasonably be expected to protect the company at all costs.

What most people don't realize is that the corruption plaguing tobacco companies is the usual method of operation in a capitalistic society. Right now, at this moment, large food companies are behaving the same way, selling us food that hurts us and often kills us. (ConAgra, Kraft, and Phillip Morris are all the same company.) Right now, factories and coal plants are polluting areas around them so badly that everyone in the area gets sick, and their usual response is to donate money for a cancer wing of a hospital instead of cleaning up their byproducts enough to stop giving people cancer. (My hometown is a perfect example of this.) Large corporations behave in evil ways, and sweep the evil under the rug by throwing money at the problem, and our politicians continue to let it happen because large corporations pay their bills too.

When we were kids, raw cookie dough was safe to eat because nasty bacteria were almost never found in eggs. Large egg companies have continued to use their leverage (paying off politicians) to weaken food regulation to the point that we can't safely eat raw eggs any more. The number of children killed by e.coli and salmonella continues to rise every year. If the free market were regulating corporations, we wouldn't buy eggs anymore, but the reality is that we do. The large egg manufacturers will have to create products so poisonous that people are dying in epidemic numbers before people stop buying eggs. As an alternative, the FDA could get its power back and regulate corporations instead of leaving the American consumer to be the whipping boy of the capitalistic system. And the ONLY way that will happen is if politicians stop cowtowing to big business and start keeping the average American's best interests in mind.
Fri at 5:29pm

Jeremy Fain
Jeremy Fain
I'm sorry, but the conspiracy rhetoric is tired. You mean to tell me that no one knew cigarettes were harmful and addictive even though the cigarette companies lied about it? You are lumping a few bad actors at certain companies into the same group with ALL CORPORATIONS, as if every corporation is evil, therefore their rights should be taken away and their constitutional protections should be taken away. NO. Every situation should be dealt with with a surgeon's precision, not with an atom bomb. Of course, if individuals at certain companies break the law, they should be prosecuted. If certain politicians are found to break the law, they should be removed from office and prosecuted. You are saying that you want ALL individuals who run a corporation's rights to free speech taken away without due process. They have the right to petition their leaders to make laws that are favorable to their point of view just as any labor union, the National Organization for Women, the NRA, a University, a homeowners association and an individual. We are ALL our own special interest group. It's unconstitutional and that's why the Supreme Court ruled the way they did.
Fri at 5:58pm ·
Fidel Pelosi
Quite the broad spectrum rant. You made it too short though, I've still got half a slice of pizza left. But hey, you should probably just be happy I'm extending the (un)common courtesy of reading it all, right?

To address your last point, the Bible is pretty good but I prefer Grimm's Fairy Tails. The Bible just requires too much suspension of disbelief.

You never addressed the point that corporations did not have personal rights (you know, because they aren't people) for the first 200 years since the country was founded. You also never addressed my point about the corporate charter being dissolved (you know, because the founding fathers knew a tiny group of people with tons of money could destabilize the balance of power). You just don't seem to have much respect for the founding fathers

I find it funny that you just called capitalism a conspiracy. It's actually true that people didn't know smoking was harmful - otherwise they wouldn't have been filling restaurants and planes with unventilated smoke, been allowed to smoke even in hospitals and delivery rooms, etc.

That whole thing about people who don't know history being doomed to repeat it, I guess. How's the Pat Robertson protein shake?
Fri at 6:16pm
Jeremy Fain
Jeremy Fain
That landed with a thud.
Fri at 6:36pm ·
Ethel Rosenburg
name calling is fun! Jeremy - with all due respect, any time there's a potential to buy political decisions, someone is going to abuse it. Donations should be capped or eliminated, by both corporations and individuals. No one entity should have a larger voice than a single vote, and the interests of a business are already represented in the ... See Morevotes of its people. if you look at what's happened in the current corrupt system I think you'll agree that there's a problem with interests other than the appropriate ones driving decisions.
8 hours ago
Jeremy Fain
Jeremy Fain
So give the leftist media all the power to sway elections.... you'd love that wouldn't you. You only want people YOU agree with to be able to "corrupt the system". The First Amendment prohibits Congress from abridging "the right of the petition the Government for a redress of grievances." In modern America, with 300+ million people, groups of people of like mind or special interest groups as John McCain calls them, use (here's the shocker) MONEY to buy advertising, lobby our leaders and work to elect people of like mind on whatever their issue(s) may be. How else are individuals supposed to take part in the system? Just use their one vote to vote for whoever the parties and the media decide will be running and never use our right of petition once they are elected? You are all wet on this one. You may be happy sitting on the sidelines of life and taking what is given to you but I will use my time, my money and my influence to make sure that my leaders are not corrupt and that they address my grievances... of which there are many.
26 minutes ago ·

Fidel Pelosi
Actually, liberals control the world through the Illuminati and MSNBC.

Like Taggart, we exist to hear libertarians scream because although we lack the motivation to do anything to help ourselves or change society, we have devoted our lives to the overthrow of society. And we're winning. Because despite our all-powerful laziness, we're still more than a match for rugged individualists with sunglasses and '57 Chevies.

Keith Olbermann and Noam Chomsky are molesting your pets every time you leave the house.... See More

We control the horizontal. We control the vertical too... but somehow we just can't control the diagonal.
39 minutes ago

Fidel Pelosi
Let's try a syllogism.

Premise 1: Liberals are lazy, self-interested mooches who lack the motivation to influence society or work to better themselves.
Premise 2: Liberals are destroying America and their voices are drowning out desperate Republican attempts to save our imperiled country... despite the fact that most news organizations, most of the wealthiest citizens, most of the biggest corporations, and most religious organizations are all staunchly Republican.
Conclusion: Republicans are either spineless weaklings with a victim complex... or there's a problem with the premises

Sorry, but you're not allowed to paint us as lazy mooches and then claim that we're overwhelming all opposition. Unless, of course, you want to be ridiculed back to the soft teat of your recently-defiled house pet.
25 minutes ago
Jeremy Fain
Jeremy Fain
You are a child. I will not speak in broad terms about liberals to you, because I believe that most liberals, like Ingrid I'm sure, are good-hearted, well-meaning and smart, but just wrong. You on the other hand are an immature petulant child who is "liberal" because you think it's cool to be like Janine Garofalo or Keith Olberman. Your parents are probably good people, but you are still trying to be rebellious so you defy the existence of God and make crude comments about bestiality to try to get a rise out of people. You made good grades in school, but you were picked on relentlessly by the cool kids because you were weird, played Dungeons and Dragons and collected comic books. You throw a football like a girl and speaking of girls, you didn't kiss one until you were 22 because then and only then did you find a girl who wears black fingernail polish and thinks she is a witch. You are interested in the occult because you can't fathom a religion of love, because no one loves you. You like to watch the Daily Show and laugh at people in power who wear suits and have jobs that are trying to make a difference in the world and contribute to the economy. You hate people with money and power. Instead of striving and working hard to attain power and money so you can do things differently, you are apathetic and in a Xanax haze. You need to grow up, buy a tie of your own and learn about the REAL world, not this fantasy land you live in.

There is an old saying, "If you're not liberal when your young, you have no heart and if you're not conservative when you're old, you have no brain." I don't subscribe to that. Stupid is stupid, young or old. Congratulations on being bitter, ignorant and unbelievably annoying. I'm glad I don't know you.
a few seconds ago ·

This is just one discussion with a liberal that ended just as I thought it would. For those of you who are worried about the direction of our country, this is what we are up against. And for those of you who think we are on the right track, acting like these people is not the way to sway the hearts and minds of America. There are too many apathetic and uninformed young people who get their news from Olberman and The Daily Show, that listen to Hollywood socialist cynics like Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon when they should be listening to serious people like Newt Gingrich, Justice Antonin Scalia or Michelle Malkin. When TV raises your kids, this is what you get.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Charley and the Chocolate Factory (Christmas Poop)

For those of you who don't know (and live under a rock) we got a new dog in August. He was a birthday gift for Karen and was the cutest little puppy in the world. I used to take him with me to the drive-thru just so all the girls at Whataburger would ooh and ahh over him. He is a puggle, which is the leading breed in a new fad of designer dog breeds. He is a mix between a female beagle ( who was only 12 pounds) with a black male pug (who was 14 pounds). He was 3 pounds when we picked him up and we were assured he would be no more than 15 pounds. He's 20 pounds now and wait, it gets better.

Let's just say, it's been an interesting couple of weeks. We took him to Kansas with us for Christmas. We were really proud of how well he acted. He has a tendency to act out a little bit at home, but only if he's been couped up in our laundry room all day while we are at work. We hated keeping him in there, but we just didn't trust him yet to roam the house all day. While we were in Kansas, we caught a glimpse of how it might be if left him that way because he jumped over the gate my mom uses to keep her dog Jake in the kitchen while she is at work. He did pretty good. He just laid on the couch and waited until we got home. Didn't pee on the carpet, didn't chew up the couch... nothing. We thought it was a positive sign. Maybe it was time?

So we got home after our trip, and I had the following week off from work, I left him alone in the house twice that week for a couple of hours at a time. He did great. He seemed not as anxious when I got home as he usually did when he stayed in the laundry room and he didn't tear anything up either. Monday came and he was ready for his big day. The first day when Karen and I were at work all day.

Week One: Christmas Poop to Maple Hardwood Floors

Monday: New Favorite Desert
So Charley, having done so well, so far, it was time for the real test. I left the house after Karen so I made sure to remove every temptation from his reach. The pillows were removed from the couch, nothing but Charley's toys were left in the floor and I walked him before I left to make sure he was "empty" before I left. All systems were a "go", or so I thought. I had forgotten that he could do this...
I had also forgotten that we had a candy dish with a holiday favorite in it, Hershey's Kisses. We came home to find an empty candy dish, gold, silver, red and green foil candy wrappers all over the ground and a dog who was running circles around the couch. For those of you who are worried that Charley died or at the very least got sick, not to worry, for a 20 pound dog, it would take 95 or so Kisses to be lethal and he only had about 15. He was, how ever bouncing off the walls until about 3am!
I took the blame for that one, so I thought, if we make sure to remove everything from the counter, he should be ok. I was wrong.

Tuesday- Wednesday: Christmas Poop
He did ok in the house these couple of days, other than the occasional shredded toy, the footprints on the counter, the nose prints and the window and what I coined "Christmas Poop". Every time Charley had a movement for a couple of days after the chocolate incident, it was chocolate mixed with gold, silver, red and green! If it hadn't been feces, it may have even qualified as beautiful! At the very least, Christmas-y.

Thursday: The Berber of Seville
We thought that maybe by now, we had cleared all the obstacles to success and we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Alas, no. We hadn't seen anything yet. Karen beat me home on Thursday night and I got an angry phone call. From her tone, thoughts went through my head about what could have been wrong. She was so mad she could spit nails. All I heard was the faint sound of barking, muffled as if it was coming from outside. "He's outside, and he's not coming back in", she shouted into the receiver. I knew he must have done something really bad for Karen to kick our dog out of the house on the coldest night in Houston in 25 years! He had pulled a snag in our berber carpet and pulled. He pulled and pulled until there was a strip of carpet missing about 3 inches wide and a full yard long. Not only was it not repairable, it was in a place that not even a rug would be able to cover it. With the baby coming, we really didn't need to replace the flooring right now, but there is no way Karen could live with this. It was really bad.

Friday: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
Charley finished the job. Now there are two more places in the carpet that match the first. Now we absolutely have to replace the carpet. I had wanted hardwood flooring since we moved in to the house, but not right now. But now it would have to be. Karen said Charley and I were in cahoots. That I somehow coerced the dog to tear up the carpet so I could put in new flooring!

Today (Saturday): Hardwood for Hard Times
I won't bore you with the details of our day shopping for hardwood flooring, but tonight, we picked some out and bought it. So, in a few weeks, we expect to raise our resale value (or at least that is the silver lining I sold to Karen!) By the way, Charley is still alive and we are still keeping him... for now :) How can you not love this face?
This is a picture of the puppy we fell in love with and the carpet he destroyed, in better days!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Where did you come from? ....

... or more correctly, "from where did you come?" I've always been a stickler for good grammar (except for the excessive use of parenthesis)... to a fault most would say I'm sure. That's a question I could never answer. That is until today.

I was watching TV (for a change) on my couch the other day. (For those who don't know, that was meant to be a joke because I have a 47" TV and a DVR that will record 4 channels at once, so I watch WAY to much TV.) BTW, I have a "3 parenthetical phrases per blog quota and I just met it. Anyway, I saw a commercial for and was mesmerized. OK, not mesmerized, but intrigued. So I started tapping away at my already open laptop (I multitask by watching TV and surfing the web at the same time... crap, there goes another set of parenthesis!), over to I went. 8 hours later and most of today as well, I know the answers I've always wanted to know. For a nominal fee, this website alows you to search public records, census data, birth certificates, social security death reports, marriage liscences and periodicals to build your family tree. It was difficult at first, finding out maiden names of women 3 to 4 generations down was the most challenging, but after a few phone calls to grandparents I got on a roll. Once your tree gets going, you share geneology with hundreds and thousands of people whose trees are already done and accessable as a member of the website. It was really eye-opening.

At first, I was able to trace my lineage on both maternal and paternal sides back to colonial Virginia for the Fain side and colonial New Jersey on the Wright side. It was great, but I wanted more information. By upgrading to "premium" membership or something like that, I was able to access European records as well. That is when things got really interesting. On one direct lineage, on my dad's side of the tree, I was able to trace my ancestry 28 generations all the way back to the 1148, the DeStoke family in East Stoke, Dorset, England! Most of my lines ended in England, but the Fain's were from Ireland. I also found ancesrty in Germany, France and Wales. I also found a possible relation to Barack Obama on my mom's side. His mother, who was from Kansas like mine, has a line of Wrights in his geneology. I found no one common ancestor because It could take months to wade through all of the children of every Wright ancestor on both side for a common link. Although it would me interesting, I'm not sure I would ever brag about it to anyone.

We took a stab at Karen's family tree as well and found that lines on both sides, Boston (Borsdorf) and Poss, point to Germany.

I recomend everyone who is interested in their ancestry to do this, or if you are lucky enough to still have living grandparents, ask them. Soon you will lose that resourse, forever.

Well, that was my vacation. How was yours?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Here's a red-letter day in the history of science, December 29, 2009

For the last 3 years, Karen has worked for Houston Independent School District. Working for HISD afforded her a luxury. Two weeks of paid time off every December. I saved my vacation so we could be off together this week. It was not to be because we got great news in November. Karen got a new job! She started working for Chevron Philips Chemical. It's a great oppurtunity, but does not come with a Christmas vacation! So here I am, sitting on the couch with my sleeping dog, watching Dexter on the DVR and starting my blog.

For my first blog ever, I wanted something epic. Other than the random, obscure movie quotes and references I will use in nearly every post (including the title of my blog... $.25 prize for the first person to recognize what movie that is from!), I'm sure this blog will fall short of epic, but since 2010 will prove to be the most important year of my life, 2010 will be epic. My goal here is to document the next year, and the following years as to never forget what these milestones feel like to mark and to share them with our friends and family. In June 2010, Karen and I will mark our 10th year of marriage. In the same month, our first child will be born. My life will forever be changed... and I can't wait. Stay tuned, this should be fun.

On Sunday, we got home from the last 9+ hour drive we plan on having for at least 2 years. In November, we made our annual trip to Alabama for Thanksgiving. It was great seeing everyone, especially our two nephews, Blake and Avery. Last week we made a trip to Mulvane, KS to see my mom, my sister Erin and her husband Josh. It was a good trip, we had snow (for the second Kansas Christmas trip in a row), and we had fun taking the dogs out in it. So we drove 0ver 2800 miles in two road trips in one month. The best part, I have to say, was coming home. I can't remember when I last felt a true sense of home, and it feels nice. I don't have a childhood home to go home to for the holidays, no house I grew up in, no childhood bedroom to sleep in, or a two-parent household anymore for that matter, so the holidays only seem to remind me of that fact. I hope to make that for my children, here. That is why I am excited at the prospect of starting our own traditions for the holidays starting in 2010. Thanksgiving is at my house next year. The plan (as of today) is for the Boston clan to head west in November for baby's first Thanksgiving. As for Christmas, I don't know if we will have company or not, but I do know that Christmas morning we will wake up in our own bed and open presents together with the baby and Charley in our own house. That sounds perfect.