Bob Owen

Saturday, March 29, 2003

The new Northwest Airlines color scheme.

A sign of the apocalypse?

I can tell what my older son had for lunch simply by looking at his shirt. I'm expecting a bill from the school to replace all the playground sand that he has brought home in his shoes.

The other day he got dressed all by himself and combed his hair. Rumbles were heard beneath the earth.

Then he said to his mom, "Do I look okay?"

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Listening to the BBC this morning I hear the announcer hyperventilating at the report of two missiles that killed 14 or 15 civilians. Our breathless announcer tells us the UN is begging both sides to respect civilian populations.

The BBC makes no mention of what the Iraq government is doing, like firing artillery at Iraqis in Basra:

A British officer outside the strategic city of 1.5 million people said "there has been a civilian uprising in the north of Basra". He added: "We have seen a large crowd on the streets. The Iraqis are firing their own artillery at their own people. There will be carnage."
Andrew Sullivan is right.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Joe Soucheray, on the Academy Awards:

The people who do attend have been asked to wear a new ribbon this year to show their opposition to the war in Iraq. If they wear all their other ribbons — AIDs, breast cancer awareness, free the trees — they will look like the decorated soldiers they oppose.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

I'm back from vacation.

My wife and two sons and I went to Disney World and Cocoa Beach. I've never been to Disney World. I was told many good things about it.

It far exceeded my expectations.

The people who work there are wonderful. They are happy to serve and keep the place spotless. I wanted for nothing. Oh, okay, 50-cent beers would have been nice. But I’m picking nits.

There was so much to do. I think we could have spent a month there before we’d tire. And it wasn’t even all the glamour and glitter. My younger son was amazed by all the little lizards running around. “Dad, will they let me bring one of these on the plane?” He vigilantly watched the bushes and trees for the little critters. They were all too fast for him so none of them got to fly Northwest.

We went to one theme park in the mornings and another in the evenings. Lunch was punctuated by naps. Cries of “I’m not tired!” were quickly followed by the sounds of little bodies sliding into sheets and deep snores.

While we were there, the Orlando paper ran a story about how jitters of the impending war were hurting tourism. The lines for rides were long but not too bad. But there’s a little secret to even shorter lines.

"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” This is part of the poem by Emma Lazarus, inscribe at the Statue of Liberty. Coincidentally, it also seems to be the minimum requirement in most states to get a handicap-parking permit. Disney lets folks with handicap cards and wheelchairs scoot to the front of the line at some rides. I don’t mind that too much but when seven or eleven friends accompany the person in the wheel chair, you have to stop and wonder. I saw one young girl sitting in a rented wheelchair whining, “When can I get out of this.” I wanted to put my hand on her forehead and yell, “Walk, child! Walk, and be free!” It would have worked.

Transportation at Disney is free. It was easy to get around anywhere. The monorail is fun. The kids liked it, especially the time we got to sit in the front car with the operator. The buses are clean. At night, though, buses were just like any bus I’ve ridden at night in Minneapolis. On one ride, we had a group of drunken soldiers on leave. This was when we were waiting for the other shoe to drop on Saddam. The soldiers were a bunch of jerks but with the war looming no one wanted to say a word to them.

Another nighttime bus ride found us with a large contingent of cheerleaders in town for some competition. Riding a crowded bus, surrounded by many scantily dressed eighteen year old cheerleaders. How bad can that be? I found out. They practiced cheers on the bus. Loudly. Seeing them is one thing, hearing them is another.

After Disney, we spent a night in Cocoa Beach. It was spring break and we saw a good number of college students. I worried that we wouldn’t have any peace and quiet but my worries were unfounded. The students kept to themselves.

The jellyfish didn’t. A million of them died and washed up on shore the day we were there. They weren’t the kind that sting, we were told. We waded around a bit and the boys played in the sand, all the while avoiding the jellyfish.

The Holiday Inn had “Kid Suites,” a neat idea. Our room had a king sized bed and then a separate area with bunk beds. The kids had their own light and their own TV. They loved it. It was the perfect end to a perfect trip.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

I'm taking some time off. See you a week from today. Thanks for stopping by.

Human "shields" duly fisked.

This is news?

(CBS) (WASHINGTON) The Central Intelligence Agency has warned that terrorists based in Iraq are planning attacks against American and allied forces inside the country after any invasion, The New York Times says in a story on its Web site, prepared for its Sunday editions. The Times cites government counterterrorism officials.
Well, it is a war. That would seem like a no brainer. But what about the Iraqi military? Oh, they're already busy surrendering:
(Sunday Mirror) (via Instapundit) TERRIFIED Iraqi soldiers have crossed the Kuwait border and tried to surrender to British forces - because they thought the war had already started.

The motley band of a dozen troops waved the white flag as British paratroopers tested their weapons during a routine exercise.

The stunned Paras from 16 Air Assault Brigade were forced to tell the Iraqis they were not firing at them, and ordered them back to their home country telling them it was too early to surrender.

Amnesty International, Department of Irony:

(Star Tribune/AP) A terror suspect in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, tried to commit suicide, a military spokesman said Saturday.

It was the 21st suicide attempt at the camp since it was set up in January 2002. The detainee, who attempted suicide Friday, was treated at the U.S. naval base hospital and was under medical observation, the spokesman, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, said by telephone from the base.

Amnesty International has demanded an inquiry into whether U.S. interrogation methods were contributing to the suicide attempts. U.S. officials insist the questioning is humane.
AI could have just asked Jimmy Fallon: "They're suicide bombers. They hate living conditions."

The best explanation of why an invasion of Iraq is necessary. It's long but well worth reading.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

You don't need to make a federal case out of it, do you? Oh, I guess you do.

Always room for a new good acronym. In Tim Blair's blog today:

AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER John Howard was this morning confronted with the views of human shield Donna Mulhearn, the STUPID (Short-Term Utility Pod - Iraq Division) currently in Baghdad awaiting personal installation of US military hardware.

My boys and I went out to dinner the other night at the Shanty Town Grill. Why that name, I don’t know. The building was constructed with materials that I would expect to see in a modern American structure: wood, glass and masonry. I detected no hint of tarpaper, cardboard or corrugated steel.

The kitchen provides the usual American fare: burgers and fries. The bar provides the universal fare: drinks.

It was snowing lightly as we walked in from the cold. We had never been here before. My eight-year-old son was amused by the screen door that preceded the wooden door. “Just like a house!”

We found a booth. The place was quiet. The kids were hungry. They never seem to mind waiting for menus or sodas but the time between “I’ll have…” and “Careful, that plate is hot” is an eternity to them. When they’re really hungry it’s two eternities.

And yes, they always touch the plate as soon as the server tells them to watch out.

But they were patient that night. I kept waiting for the dam to break and the complaining or fighting to start.

It never happened.

The food arrived in short order. As we ate, we talked. The six-year-old carefully unwrapped his straw. I thanked him for remembering for not blowing the wrapper off and having it land who knows where.

I remembered a time when my brother and I rode our bikes to Arby’s when we were young. I must have been around fourteen years old at the time and my brother ten. He carefully unwrapped one end of his straw then promptly blew the wrapper on to the table next to us. A mom with two little daughters was quite irritated with us.

I told this story to my boys thinking it was a good lesson as to why you don’t blow straw wrappers around in restaurants.

They grinned and said, “Tell us more about when you were young.” My older son wanted to hear stories of mischief.

I told them how my brother loudly called another woman at Arby’s a “deadbeat.” She had ordered fruit punch with her meal. Apparently, she had made reservations at this fast food place that included a guaranteed serving of fruit punch. When the teen-age cashier broke the bad news that Arby’s was out of fruit punch the woman reverted into a two-year-old and pitched a fit.

I had missed the beginning of this exchange and quietly asked my brother what was going on. As he was in line behind this scene, which only delayed his order, he loudly announced, “This deadbeat can’t get any fruit punch!”

Shades of E.F. Hutton – the place got very quiet. Other customers had avoided eye contact with the whining adult but the sound of a boy loudly saying what everyone was thinking turned heads.

Seeing she was now the center of unwanted attention, the woman regained some composure, quickly switched her beverage selection and found a seat. A round a smiles on the house.

My boys loved that story.

Then I told them about the time my friends and I played commandos and snuck through neighbors’ yards at night. It was summer and windows were open so it could have been easy to get caught.

“Oh, you mean Special Ops forces, right” the older one asked.

Uh, sure. Have you been watching CNN?

“Did you get caught, dad?” the younger one asked.

At first, no. We were having so much fun we figured it would only be smart to invite others to join us. Two’s company but five’s a loud group of kids. I explained how we had almost made it through a backyard on our stomachs in the dark when one of our new recruits banged into a fence. The couple that lived in the house turned on all the outside lights and proceeded to chew us out.

My younger son couldn’t contain himself.

“Dad, dad, let me tell one!”


Younger son: “One time my brother and I were walking on the hill behind our house.”

Older son (very quickly): “I think he only wants to hear true stories. Dad, we’re just telling true stories, right?”

Younger son: “This is true.”

Older son: “No it’s not.”

Me: “Hey, how do you know? He hasn’t even told us the story yet.”

Younger son: “So my brother and I were walking. I was following him. There were some flowers. We walked through them.”

Older son: “I’m not sure this really happened.”

Me: “When was this?”

Younger son: “This summer.”

Older son: (very quiet but displaying a small grin)

Me: “And what happened?”

Younger son: “Oh, this man came out and yelled at us to get out of his flowers.”

Me: “Really?”

Both of them are giggling uncontrollably. The man who owned the garden is retired, drives a huge Lincoln Town Car and chomps on unlit cigars all the time. He must have seemed larger than life to two boys.

He’s also a very nice guy. I had to laugh. They laughted.

We told stories for two hours.