My Nominee for President

I almost forgot the best part of tonights State of the Union…the rebuttal will be given by the person I wanted to run for President, Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.

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Big Night Tonight – SOU

Tonight is a big night…at least in my world. It’s the President’s State of the Union. Of course, at the end of his term is not as exciting as it was in the beginning. ..but I still like to watch these “shows”! I call it a show because that is what it’s all about. It is not so much the content of the President’s speech as it is everything happening around him. What are important are things like:

  • Who is sitting on either side of the First Lady (shows what is important to the Administration for the next year).
  • Who is sitting as the Presidents guest (also shows importance going forward)
  • Are the R’s & the D’s sitting together (probably mostly not)
  • Is there booing (shows level of partisan ship..please God, no more “You Lie”)
  • Does the President use this speech as part of his re-election (only an idiot wouldn’t)
  • Does the President strike a bi-partisan tone or does he hit the R’s hard (It’s an election time – I think he says Game On)
  • Who claps on specific policy issues
  • Can Speaker Boehner keep a straight face sitting behind the President
  • Who will be the missing Cabinet member (someone stays behind in case of an attack? Continuity of government…someone has to run the place.)

Steve Job’s wife will be sitting with the first lady and I believe Warren Buffet’s famous secretary will be sitting as the President’s guest. That tells me we are going to talk about Innovation and Reforming the Tax code.

I heard that the speech is going to focus on Fairness. I don’t know why, but this just rubs me wrong. Maybe it is all those years of my parents saying “Life isn’t fair…get over it.” To me fairness points a finger at someone to say yours is better than mine or I am being wronged. I don’t think that is the right message. I think it should be opportunity. Do we have a level playing field for opportunity? Maybe that is fairness? I am not sure I just know that the Fairness Theme doesn’t resonate with me.

So, don’t forget to watch the SOU.

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Cool? or Not Cool?

You know how it is when you are in a new place and you have to meet new people.  Well, it is really important you don’t get in with the wrong crowd.  So, I have decided it is very important for me to look cool on my walks in the neighborhood…that way the other dogs will want to be friends.  I have decided to take my toys with me on the walk.  I mean…everybody likes toys.  I carry it with me everywhere we go (except I put it down to do my business and then pick it up when I am done).   Mom thinks I look ridiculous but she puts up with it.  What do you think?  Cool or Not?

This is my with Buddy. I love Buddy! I take him on our walks as well.

Another Toy

I love this guy too

Looking Good!

Looking Good

 

 

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A Day In The Life

 

Sleeping on the Bed

I snuck into Mom's bed in the middle of the night. I just love sleeping on a Pillow.

GOOD MORNING DC!!!!  It’s me Toby (don’t know who I am?  Check out my Page up above…the one that says Toby!), I am trying out my Radio Voice on you.  What do you think?  So, I have been with this lady for 6 weeks now (I call her Mom) and I am loving it!  I am spoiled rotten…it’s a nice change from life on the road.  Apparently I have family in Texas who sent me all kinds of toys for Christmas.  I have a grandpa who likes to video chat often just so he can check me out.   My Grandma keeps saying she is coming for a visit so she can meet me.

We have settled in a nice routine and I am pretty sure I am here to stay.   So now I think it is time for me to figure out what I want to do with my life.  I mean there has to be something beyond sleeping, playing with my toys, going to do the dog park and having my personal assistant Katherine take me for a walk.

I overheard my Mom on the phone signing us up for some dog obedience classes.  I don’t really understand why.  I sit, I stay, I even let her put the treat right in front of my nose and I don’t make a move to eat it until I hear her say, “Okay”.   So what if I don’t lay down when you give me the “down” command.  I hate that trick…it isn’t worth a treat.   But apparently we are going to go obedience class.  Mom said something about bonding.  I also overheard a reference to Therapy Dog Training.  That might be cool but I got to see what other kids are in that class.   It may or may not be cool.

I do have to tell you…I have one complaint…well maybe not a complaint but a minor issue.   My Mom takes LOTS of pictures of me…I mean I think she is obsessed. I am trying to not let it go to my head.  I know I am handsome…I can’t help it that I was born this way.  In fact, most of “my people” are good looking.  So I am used to having my picture taken or having people “oh and ah” over me.  But my Mom is over the top.  In fact, I bet if you looked at the photos on her phone…I am in 90% of them.  Here are a few I took off her phone:

Rough Day

You have no idea how exhausting it is to guard the house all day while Mom is at work.

The Cone of Shame

I am wearing the Cone of Shame - Kept pulling my Stitches out from the Surgery that Took My Balls!

Toby Reindeer2

Yes, I let her dress me up as a Reindeer. I look cute don't I? Don't worry, I never left the house wearing this.

Toby Reindeer

I will do anything for a Treat!

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The Best Christmas Gift Ever

I have been volunteering with an animal rescue organization, Lucky Dog Rescue.  http://www.luckydoganimalrescue.org/   I have been fostering rescue dogs taken from high kill shelters in the Carolinas and brought to the DC area.  It has been great. These poor dogs have been through so much and I open up my home to them, help them work on their manners, and then get them into a forever home.  Its not easy, but it is extremely rewarding.  It also tends to be time consuming…but again worth every minute.  I knew there would come a time when I would have a foster dog that I just could not give up.  That time came on December 3, 2011.

I was supposed to pick up a 3 year old male Yellow Labrador Retriever off transport and just OVERNIGHT the dog.  When you overnight the dog you just get the dog off transport, clean him up, feed him and take him to the adoption event the next day.  I was only going to overnight this dog because I was fostering a basset hound named Cooper and he had not been adopted yet.

I arrive at Transport and the most handsome Yellow Lab gets off the bus.  He is well behaved, sweet, and very good-looking.  I load him up in the car and within one hour I was thinking, “Crap…I might want to keep this amazing dog.”   So I check with our adoption people to find out what I might need to do if I wanted to keep him.  It turns out he already had 6 pre-approved applications in for him and he was definitely being adopted by someone the next day at 11 a.m.  So, I was told if I wanted him I had to make a decision ASAP.  I immediately said, “MINE!”  And that was how I got the best Christmas gift ever.

I really feel for someone because they must have almost the most amazing dog.  He is 3, so he is passed the puppy stage.  He is completely trained…walks great on a leash, great with other dogs, loves kids, believes he should sit on the couch, rides wonderfully in the car, never had an accident in the house, knows basic commands….  What else can I say? He is perfect!

I forgot how much I love having a dog.  We are having a blast.  The only minor complaint I have, and I know it is my own fault, is that he hogs the bed.  I am going to have to kick him off…I just haven’t brought myself to do it yet.

He is about to get his own blog page, just like Carson had.  He is definitely not as stubborn and defiant as Carson…at least not yet.

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Ho Ho Ho – The Spirit of Christmas

ONe more time…Gonna try to start blogging again.  Got a lot of flack from friends at home.

 

Over the Christmas Holidays I was lucky enough to deliver stockings to the patients stuck on the Melanoma floor of MD Anderson over the Holidays on behalf of Julie’s foundation, JMKL Foundation. The stockings were amazing.  Julie’s mom made them and then Julie’s daughter’s Girl Scout troop decorated them.  We then took donations from friends to stuff them with lots of goodies.  I rounded up several of our good friends and we spent an hour handing out the stockings.  

I had seriously underestimated how hard this act of kindness would be.  First of all…I was blessed to have my good friend Kathy go with us.   But Kathy is also fighting a terminal cancer and you can tell because she has lost all her hair.  So, to spend time with her delivering these gifts to other people in a similar situation…well it was eye opening.  She had a smile on her face the whole time and held up much better than I did.  I also think the patients appreciated her upbeat happy attitude.

The problem with delivering the stockings was…it was on the Melanoma floor.   I had spent some time on that floor when Julie was sick.  We got off the elevator with two boxes full of stockings and headed to the nurses station.  I couldn’t make it down the hall. I was completely not prepared for my reaction…but every memory came flooding back and I couldn’t breath. I saw the room where we ate pizza and hung out while waiting for Julie to die.  I was in the Hall I had walked all the time…the hall I would walk to bring her kids to see her.  I was immediately taken back to that last day, Nov 24, 2007 and I was completely unprepared for how hard it would be. 

Eventually I pulled it together and we started delivering the stockings.  The patients loved them!  Here they are stuck in the hospital and we were bringing them just a little holiday cheer.  Plus, my friend Angie was dressed up like Santa’s helper looking all cute…I know people appreciated her Santa hat and big smile.  We were doing great until we arrived at the room where Julie died.  I couldn’t go in and I could not deliver that stocking.  As we moved on I peaked into the room.  It seemed so much smaller than I remembered in my mind.  How did we fit all those people in the room for the final hours?  Then, I passed by the room and the area I had stood just after she passed.  It was the spot her where her Mom walked out of the room, looked at me and said exactly what I had been thinking: “And then there was 3.” (Children/Siblings).  I don’t know why that memory is burnt in my head.  It was also the location where I stood and called a few good friends to let them know it was over.

It’s funny how we remember things.  Delivering those stockings was hard but therapeutic.   Julie would have loved getting a visit from a group like us.  It was great to put a smile on everyone’s face and I look forward to doing it again next year.  I plan to not cry next year.  I am also looking forward to having Kathy deliver them with us again.

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Simple Things

The older I get the more the important things in life start to smack me in the face.  Gone are the days of the easy problems…so and so broke up with me…I don’t know if I should break up with so and so…I don’t know what I am going to do with my life.    Now we have friends facing terminal diseases, infertility, questions about marriage and divorce, addictions.  Serious problems.

This weekend I celebrated a friend’s 40th birthday and hung out with a friend fighting cancer and I am reminded life is all about the simple things.  We have to stop and smell the roses.  That 30-minute conversation in the pool worth a life-time…simple.  Laughing with friends over dinner about things you did at 16…simple.  Watching you try on hats before the Chemo takes your hair…simple.  Brunch…simple.  Laughing on a hotel bed with friends….simple.  Cooking you dinner…simple.  Playing Charades…simple.  Sitting in the spa pool with friends…simple.

But these are the things we rush through. These are the things we sometimes say we are too busy to do.  But in the end…these will be the things I remember and cherish.

No matter how busy my life gets (or yours or anyones) we have to remember the simple things are all that matters.

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10 Years Ago

Ten year ago I went on an annual vacation to Captiva in early October.  It was 3 weeks after 9/11 and it was the 1st day Reagan National Airport had been reopened.   I had one of the first flights out of that airport.  It was an emotional trip because I was going to see my family for the first time since the terrorist attacks.  I think everyone wanted to be with family after 9/11.

The thing that really sticks with me from that vacation was a guy we met.  I went to breakfast Friday morning with my Mom and Brother.  My brother, a firefighter paramedic, was wearing one of his firefighter shirts.  We were sitting next to another table with a guy wearing a New York City Firefighters T-shirt and his wife.  (I am not sure if you know this…but when two firefighters are with in a few hundred feet of each other they have to talk and they must surely be friends…it really is a brotherhood…no matter where they work.)  He was actually a police officer and this was the first day he wasn’t working since 9/11.  He started telling us his story and you could see the pain and hurt on his face.  He had spent the past 20 days at Ground Zero digging out bodies; many of them were his friends.  He was stoic as he told the search and rescue stories but he broke down crying when he talked about the first 12 hours after 9/11 and his inability to find his wife.  She worked near the Trade Center and he didn’t know if she was alive or dead.  Here was this big, strong man, crying with perfect strangers at breakfast.  I think it was a release of his past few weeks of work.

It was also the times…we all felt like one family 10 year ago.  I didn’t like watching all the coverage on TV today because it takes you back to that day.  It was a scary sad day…no matter where you are.  It is also a reminder that we much remain vigilant and alert.  We have been lucky these past few years.

(If you want to read about my day 10 years ago you can click here.)

 

 

 

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Republican Presidential Debate

Tonight was the Republican Presidential Debate.  I live for this type of thing!  In fact, one of my dearest friends called me tonight and we had not spoken in a few weeks.  I had to cut her short by saying, “You know I love you and I would love to chat but we are 40 seconds away from the Republican Presidential Debate so I will have to call you back.  I am live tweeting the debate.”  She of course agreed knowing the kind of person I am.

Of course I think the 2012 elections are do or die.  As you would suspect, I have not been happy with the current administration.  As Governor Romney said tonight, it is a perfect example of why you can’t have a career politician with little previous leadership or management experience run the country.  I am not here to bash the President.  He is very good at inspiring people and making them believe.  But, the economy is in the toilet and I am scared to death about the future.  Congress stinks, the Administration stinks and I am slowly realizing I am working in a cesspool called Washington, D.C.  My friends are bailing right and left.  Nobody wants to be a lobbyist and nobody wants to work with the government.  So, I am putting all my Hope and Change on 2012.

First, I have to say that I am a Texas, Republican who attended Texas A&M University.  So naturally you would think that a Texas Republican who attended Texas A&M and is running for President would be my pick for President.  WRONG!  I worked in the Texas Leg when Rick Perry was Lt. Governor and I was not impressed.  As we say in Texas…he was all Hat no Cattle.  But, people change and gain on the job experience in 12 years…so he may not be the same man I knew.  He is the longest serving Governor in Texas.  He has done wonders with the economy in Texas.  He has actively sought businesses and brought them to Texas.  That takes some sort of savvy.  So I can’t rule him out.

Frankly, there isn’t anyone who “Wow’s” me in the Republican field.  I wanted Mitch Daniels…he declined to run (Smart man…who would want to go through all of this?)  It is also no longer just enough to wow someone…you need to bring more than that to the field.
The debate showed that Romney is ready for a fight with Perry.  I think Perry did a good job, but I think his Social Security answer is going to hurt in down the road.  I also think some of his advance folks did not properly prepare him for some of the questions.  (And I believe the most important thing for a leader is his ability to surround himself with good people.)  He definitely is not as smooth as Bill Clinton on the fly.  Perry’s major problem is he can’t carry the swing states (Florida, PA, VA, Michigan, and a myriad of others).   Perhaps that can change, but I don’t think so.  Also, I don’t really like party switchers so I can’t forget that Perry used to be on the other side of the isle.

Perry scored major points right off the bat with his fighting spirit.  I aappreciated his response on the death penalty.  I am so tired of all these people being outraged by the Texas execution rate.   We are a large state, and we don’t put up with crap.  I often have people question me on the Texas death penalty.  I just tell them don’t move to Texas if you don’t like it.  There are plenty of states that don’t have a death penalty.  That is the beauty of States Rights.   You can live in a state that fits your viewpoint!  I also appreciated Perry’s acknowledgement that he might have done things differently regarding the cervical cancer vaccine.  I have to give kudos to Romney for backing him on that as well.  But when Perry was questioned on global warming and immigration…he was not as prepared as he should have been.

I am unsure Perry can recover from his Ponzi Scheme Social Security belief and that hurts him in Florida.  However…lets really talk about what he means by that statement.  He is saying that the money I am paying into Social Security will not really come back to me for my social security.  Does anyone disagree with that?  I look at my social security tax on my paycheck and I call it my donation to Mom and Dad’s retirement. I am not getting that. And if I get lucky and actually get a portion of that it is going to come from taxes my kids are paying.  My money is spent.   I am planning on paying for my own retirement!  So..is that a ponzi scheme?  Not exactly, but you understand the point he is making.

Romney – I just haven’t been a Romney fan.  I don’t trust a Massachusetts Republican and I am sure there are many other southern Republicans that feel the same way.  For some reason I get a used car salesman feel from Romney.

Romney did well tonight.  He is well versed on policy issues, seems to be at ease in front of the camera (except for in the beginning when he was stiff and doll like looking!)  Romney has good business and government experience which is something I think is important.  It is also something I think that hurts Perry…he is a career politician.  I think Romney has the best chance to beat Obama.  I think a Romney-Perry ticket could be strong.  The problem with Romney getting the Republican nomination is that it makes it more likely for a third party candidate (tea party/libertarian, etc) to run and split the Republican vote.  Then we have the Ross Perot effect and Obama wins.   Perry can’t win today, but he will stop the 3rd party candidates from entering the race.

There were two people in tonight’s debate that really shined for me.  Jon Hunstman and Newt Gingrich.  I love Huntsman. He is a moderate, with strong foreign policy skills and I thought he came off very well in the debate.  I can’t figure out why he doesn’t have more of a following.  (Although I was concerned about his bad tan.)  I also liked Newt in the debate.  Now I say that cautiously because I would never elect Newt President.  But I loved his fire and I loved his point about the candidates should not be fighting each other but focusing on running against their opponent.

When I was home in Texas I was completely surprised at how many people thought Michelle Bachmann’s was a good option. They said they didn’t know a lot about her but they liked what they heard.  I had to do a double take and then politely ask them to wait on making that judgment call.  Folks Ms. Bachmann is just crazy…certifiably crazy…for real…not media created crazy like Sarah Palin.  Based on tonight’s showing it won’t be long until she drops out.

Ron Paul…well Ron Paul is waiting for a strong libertarian party to move him forward.  We are years away from that.  But I understand and agree with his basic belief…less government.  Its just not Mr. Pauls’ time.

The problem is…we don’t have a strong Republican candidate today…. which his just sad.  This President is easily beatable by a good candidate.  But, there is nothing prohibiting one of these guys from morphing into the candidate we need.  I guess it is a wait and see game now.

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Another Cancer Fight on the Horizon

You know we aren’t supposed to ask why, we are just supposed to trust in Him.  But sometimes it is hard.  Another dear friend of mine is battling cancer.  She actually ad successfully battled cervical cancer 2 1/2  years ago.  But its back, and I have to say it is way more aggressive then I like.  Kathy’ cervical cancer has spread to her lungs, kidney, breast and esophagus.  It is now stage IV.  She has two children (13 and 9 years old).

She was featured on this video, Classmates with Cancer that chronicled the story of my best friend Julie, Kathy, and another classmate, Michelle.  Kathy is the lone survivor.  I feel like I am overdue for a cancer success story and I think it is going to be Kathy’s story!  She has started a blog, www.kathykickingcancer.com.  I think she was inspired by Julie’s blog.  She has a fantastic attitude, very positive and optimistic. She is a very strong woman so I don’t think this Cancer has a clue what it is in for.

As Julie would say, Yay God.  (But I have to admit…I am saying that with a little  less energy than I normally would…I just don’t understand why Kathy has to go through this.)

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