Rebutting “Obama’s 1st QTR Report”

I love my family (on both sides) very much, but unlike myself, they are all very conservative. I’m not exactly sure how I eventually came to lean so far left, but I like to think it’s because my parents always taught me to “do unto others” and that no one was better than anyone else.

So when I recently received the “Obama First Quarter Report” chain email that has been going around from my family, I was compelled to respond to it. Many of the items here are outright falsehoods. Some make some good points. Most are too biased to even be considered seriously. If this post helps you to respond to your own family, or just helps stop the spread of lies about the 44th President of the United States, then I’ve done my duty.

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Do you have any questions on the below? Agree or Disagree. How about health care?

My parents have Medicare and my father has veteran’s health care. Both government run health care systems. They love them and think they are much better than their privately run HMO’s.

My company’s biggest expense after salary is health care. One year rates from our private insurance company rose 15% the next year 33%. And you’re telling me that conservatives are content to sit and do nothing to reform health care in this country, let alone try and cover the now over 50 million people who don’t have any coverage what-so-ever?

It is estimated that some 1.5 million people will go bankrupt in the United States in 2010 due to illness thanks to insurance companies who are unwilling to cover them. Is that the kind of health care you want for you and your children?

Some facts vs right-wing claims on health care reform.

Observations on YOUR President’s Early Days:

1.  Offended the Queen of England.

The only ones “offended” were right-wingers. Obama gave the Queen of England the gift *she requested*. An Apple iPod filled with Broadway musical numbers, and video of her previous trip to the US. In addition, she also received a signed, rare edition of a Rogers and Hammerstein manuscript. The queen was not offended, she was actually quite pleased.

2.  Bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia.

Is that better or worse than Bush kissing him and holding his hand whenever they met? I forget.

3.  Praised the Marxist Daniel Ortega.

If by “praise” you mean cutting $64 million in aid to his country because of his posture and remarks, then yes, Obama praised him. Obama knows the difference between words and actions. In addition, at a speech given by Ortega in Spain in April, Obama is reported to have “endured” it. He didn’t praise Ortega, nor did he rebuke him.

4.  Kissed Hugo Chavez on the cheek.

Obama and Chavez shook hands (as did George W. Bush) and had a joking conversation.

5.  Endorsed the Socialist Evo Morales of Bolivia.

Obama initially pledged co-operation with Boliva because of long-standing trade agreements with the country. Unfortunately, the United States doesn’t always get to pick and choose the leaders of various nations (that doesn’t go for Iraq and Afghanistan obviously).

But on July 1st, the US halted $25 million in annual trade benefits to Bolivia, prompting Morales to say “Obama “lied” about cooperation”. So much for that so-called praise:

6.  Announced we would meet with Iranians with no pre-conditions.

Yes, you’re absolutely correct. I happen to think the President is right for doing so. You may disagree, but we tried it your way (not talking to Iran) for over 8 years and it got the USA no where. You’re guy lost, it’s time to give a carrot a try instead of a stick.

7.  Gave away billions to AIG also without pre-conditions.

Actually there are many measures in place to protect tax payer money with the bank bailout, but I agree there could be more accountability in this area.

8.  Massively Expanded the bailouts.

What was the alternative? Let unemployment drop at an even faster rate? Sink even deeper into recession faster? Would you have not attempted to stimulate the economy at all and just “stuffed money under your mattress”?

Again, this was tried for 8 years. Tax cuts for the rich, huge spending in Iran and Afghanistan (foreign nations, not the US). Didn’t work. I’d rather go into debt for money spent in our own country than giving away billions to other countries to wage war.

9.  Insulted everyone who has ever loved a Special Olympian.

Wow, the President is human being who makes mistakes! Imagine him making an in-appropriate remark about the Special Olympics! Was it bad, sure. Did it offend everyone associated with the Special Olympics? No. Plus, unlike Bush who could not, EVER admit a mistake, Obama later apologized for the remark

10.  Tripled our national debt in his first 100 days in office.

Completely untrue and a lie. Most of the current debt (over 80%) is due to Bush policies and bailouts that was started BY HIM. In addition, Obama removed the traditional “let’s hide all the debt” accounting used by presidents in the past to give the American people a true picture of the federal budget. Sometimes reality is a tough pill to swallow.

Conservatives seemed fine with it for 8 years while the country was going deeper and deeper into debt fighting 2 wars and cutting taxes. Now, that money is being spent on America and American programs, you have a problem?

I suggest you go read this excellent piece by the NYT and then reconsider this unfounded accusation.

11.  Announced a termination of the space defense system the day after the North Koreans launched an ICBM.

Everyone agrees that missile defense is important, but not when it doesn’t work. The so-called missile defense shield has been plagued with problems from day one.

In addition, other, newer systems are now being tested.

12.  Despite the urgings of his own CIA director and the prior 4 CIA directors, released information on intelligence gathering.

Sometimes transparency can be a good thing. That being said, I don’t know enough about the subject to speak with any authority regarding if the United States should or should not be announcing how intelligence is gathered.

13.  Accepted without public comment the fact that five of his cabinet members cheated on their taxes and two others withdrew after they couldn’t take the heat.

I never agreed with Obama’s willingness to post people who hadn’t completed their taxes correctly. He should never have appointed those people in the first place. I agree with this point.

14.  Appointed a Homeland Security Chief who quickly identified as “dangers to the  nation”, groups including veterans of the military, and opponents to abortion on demand….and who ordered that the word “terrorism” no longer be used but instead referred to such acts as “man made disasters”.

Like it or not, the department of Homeland Securities report on disgruntled veterans is right on the money. Levels of extremism have been rising in this country since Obama’s election and some of them have to do with ex-military people who seem to think it’s their right to take up arms against the President of the United States.

Two Atlanta area police officers were even suspended for doing an unauthorized “background check” on the President.

Gun owners have been stockpiling weapons and ammo for fear that Obama is “about to take away their guns” although, historically speaking gun owners enjoy more rights now than they did under President Clinton. Not only that, but Obama recently signed a bill that makes it EASIER for people to carry guns in National Parks. Reagan opposed such a measure. Obama backed it.

15.  Circled the globe so he could openly apologize for America greatness.

This one is soooo slanted it’s difficult to reply to with a straight face. The right pulled what they wanted to out of Obama’s trip around the world, regardless of context, tone or actual words spoken. If you want to believe that Obama put down the US at every stop, that’s your right. I actually listened to the speeches and heard a fair, even handed assessment of the history of this country’s actions abroad. Like it or not, we’ve done some bad things over the years. You can bury your head in the sand and try to ignore this fact, or you can try and rebuild relationships with other nations that was destroyed by George W. Bush. Take your pick.

16.  Told the Mexican President that the violence in their country was because of us.

It partly is. If America didn’t have such a demand for illegal drugs, the violence in Mexico wouldn’t be at the levels it is at today. I find the President’s honesty in these matters to the leaders of other nations, refreshing.

17.  Politicized the census by moving it into the White House from its Department of Commerce origins.

Robert Groves, Obama’s nominee to head the US Census Bureau has said on several occasions that he is opposed to sampling or so-called “politicizing” the 2010 census. Until there is actual evidence of this happening (like the massive politicizing that happened under Bush with the Attorney General’s department), simply moving its organizational structure isn’t setting off alarm bells for those of us not wearing tin-foil hats.

18.  Appointed as Attorney General the man who orchestrated the forced removal and expulsion (from America to Cuba ) of a nine-year old whose mother died trying to bring him to a life of freedom in the United States.

A wonderful example of the right’s “situational outrage”. Elian Gonzalez was just a boy looking to escape economic and political oppression and so he should be allowed to stay in the US. At the same time, the thousands of aliens that cross our borders every day looking for the same exact thing as Gonzalez are “destroying the country”. Which is it? Is the United States a nation of laws or not? Why is one boy allowed to stay but not those who cross the border to try and help feed their families or who need health care?

19.  Salutes as heroes three Navy SEALS who took down three terrorists who threatened one American life… and the next day announces members of the Bush administration will likely stand trial for “torturing” a terrorist who had played a part in killing 3000 Americans by  pouring water up their nose.

Yes yes, these two instances are exactly alike. Let’s compare the systematic deconstruction of the Constitution and rule of law that was issued by Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney over a period of 5 years to the necessary killing of 3 pirates.

I’m sorry that we disagree about water boarding, but anyone who has experience with it, John McCain included, has called it torture. The United States doesn’t torture. That’s what George W. Bush said. And yet we did. On multiple occasions and for purposes that had nothing to do with “ticking bombs”, but to justify the illegal invasion of foreign nations.

20.  Air Force One over New York City with a fighter close behind.

Equating this as the work of President Obama is offensive. Obama knew nothing about the flyover and was “furious” about it when he learned of it. People in the defense department will likely lose their jobs because of it.

21.  Sent his National Defense Advisor to Europe to assure Europe that the US will no longer treat Israel in a special manner and they might be on their own with the Muslims.

It is true that Obama has been more heavy handed with Israel than any President in recent memory. It is also true that Israel likes to think they are the only “valid” nation in the region. They are not.

Israel also has one of the strongest, most well run militaries and can handle themselves more than well when it comes to their conflict with Palestine. That being said, I don’t doubt for a second that if Iran were to become involved, the United States would back Israel up to the very end. They have been, and will always be an ally of the United States, no matter what right-wingers would like us to believe about the President.

22.  Began the process of nationalizing the Auto Industry and the Insurance industry.

The auto industry hasn’t been nationalized. Like many other industries in this country, the government has been forced to take a stake in its survival so that you don’t end up eating tuna fish for dinner every night and heating your house with kerosene. The government doesn’t own the auto industry, it doesn’t even have a controlling portion of it. Same goes for the insurance industry although I’d say that I wouldn’t mind some government control of them. They are crooks and unfeeling liars who refuse health care for things like acne and foot odor.

23.  Announced that for intents and purposes the Health Insurance Industry will be nationalized, despite the fact that such a thing is a miserable failure everywhere it’s been put in place.

Everywhere except in the 36 countries that rank higher than the United States in world heath coverage.

Or in the national programs of Medicare and Veteran benefits (US government run programs) that conservative columnist William Kristol recently admitted are “the best” in the world.

And people are paying more attention to Michael Jackson than to defending their own liberties.

The same was true while Bush was passing the Patriot Act and setting up “free speech zones” during his presidency. Wire tapping American’s phones, bank and medical records. Letting thousands drown in New Orleans, letting the drug companies screw over senior citizens time and time again, turning a huge surpluses into massive deficits and appointing crony after crony to government run positions.

1360 more days to go… God help us all!

Yes God help us because Obama seems to be doing okay for a new President 6 months into his position. So let’s not forget all the good things that the President has either succeeded in passing or is in the process of passing while we’re at it. Things like:

• Direct military leaders to end war in Iraq
• Create a foreclosure prevention fund for homeowners
• Establish a credit card bill of rights
• Expand loan programs for small businesses
• Expand eligibility for State Children’s Health Insurance Fund (SCHIP)
• Expand funding to train primary care providers and public health practitioners
• Extend unemployment insurance benefits and temporarily suspend taxes on these benefits
• Reverse restrictions on stem cell research
• Appoint at least one Republican to his cabinet
• Signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
• Grant Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send money to Cuba
• Release presidential records
• Create a $60 billion bank to fund roads and bridges
• Close the “donut hole” in Medicare prescription drug plan
• Create a small business tax credit to help with health premiums
• Push for enactment of Matthew Shepard Act, which expands hate crime law to include sexual orientation and other factors
• Create a White House Office on Urban Policy
• Support increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts
• Appoint the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer
• Work to overturn Ledbetter vs. Goodyear (equal pay for women & minorities)
• Weatherize 1 million homes per year
• Enact tax credit for consumers for plug-in hybrid cars
• Provide grants to encourage energy-efficient building codes
• Enact the single most successful stimulus program “Cash for clunkers” which has helped sell an estimated 220,000 cars in a little over a week


Losing Control

Anyone who’s worked for themselves knows the satisfaction of being in control of your own destiny. The perception that by sheer force of will and hard work, you can be successful at what you do. Those who take on the challenge of owning their own business are often considered “control freaks” and more often than not, perfectionists. I never really realized just how much of a control freak I was until this past weekend when, completely without warning, I had none.

Last Friday, the Iconfactory’s popular Twitter client, Twitterrific, fell victim to the so-called Twitpocalypse bug, which caused the mobile version of our application to suddenly stop working. Thanks to the efforts of our talented engineer, Craig Hockenberry, a fix for both versions of the client was submitted to the App Store within a day. To Apple’s credit, the free version of the fix was approved swiftly and allowed the majority of our users to continue tweeting with minimal interruption. And although the Premium version of the application was also approved in record time, the displeasure from our user base, not surprisingly, came even quicker.

From the moment the bug hit, both Talos and I had begun monitoring tweets of users mentioning Twitterrific in their posts. What started as a trickle, soon turned into a deluge of upset and frustrated users. We began responding to individual tweets and Travis, our project manager, responded to support emails. The Iconfactory is a small company, we’re not Adobe or Google or even the Omni Group. All three of us did our best to let users know what was going on, and thanks to hundreds of RTs, word started to spread about the bug and our efforts to combat it. Unfortunately, Twitter is a very big community and it was impossible to personally respond to everyone. Even now, there are many people on Twitter who don’t know why their copy of Twitterrific isn’t functioning and there is very little I can do about it.

The best we could hope for was that the majority of users followed @twitterrific and would eventually receive news about the fixes. The troublesome part is that although I know the majority of users now have a working version, I still feel uneasy knowing there are potentially thousands that don’t even know about the fix. Part of this is due to the lack of communication channels, and part is due to the nature of the App Store approval process. As developers, we must turn control of our applications over to Apple to have our iPhone software published. This process can take days or weeks and until it runs its course, our hands are quite literally tied. By the time updates are published it may already be too late.

All of us at the Iconfactory count ourselves lucky that Apple recognized the seriousness of the bug we were facing and pushed through the Twitterrific updates as quickly as they did. We know we messed up and we thank the App Store team for helping to pick us back up off the floor. That being said, I didn’t sleep much in the days after the bug hit because there was a part of me that knew hundreds of tweets were flying by every hour from Twitterrific users I was powerless to help. As with most control freaks this usually means even more work, more testing and more diligence to guard against these kinds of catastrophic failures in the future. But that’s okay with me since I’m not anxious to give up this level of control, or sleep, ever again.


Take My Hand

Last night I watched our new President-Elect, Barack Obama, give his acceptance speech to a crowd of over 150,000 people gathered in Grant Park and millions more around the globe. I’ve been a strong Obama supporter from day one, but I really didn’t think I’d actually break down and cry. As Barack spoke to all of us, my mind raced and my heart slowed. I could feel the fear and anxiety that have been my constant companion for the last 20 months melt away.

Earlier in the evening I and a few friends exchanged tweets regarding just how nervous we were for Obama. When the news came that media outlets were calling the election in favor of Barack, I rejoiced but part of me didn’t believe it. The specter of loss sat next to me right up until John McCain gave his concession speech and quelled the boos of his supporters. In that moment McCain reclaimed much of what he had lost. I saw the man I had respected and admired break through the fear, uncertainty and doubt he and Palin had helped to sow. When McCain left the stage to return to his former life as an elder statesman from Arizona, it was then that I felt a wave of peace wash over me.

Like so many other Americans, I’ve been worried about Barack. Worried that harm would come to him. Worried that America wouldn’t step up and make the right choice. Worried that we would again choose the politics of fear instead of hope. All that worry had washed away as Obama took the stage in Chicago. Despite speaking from behind walls of 2 inch thick bulletproof glass, all I could see was the man. All I could hear were his words. He appealed to the “better angels of our nature” and reminded us that we have a steep climb in the days and years ahead.

Through all this I sat and listened. At the very end, after the on-stage goodbyes had finished, you could see Michelle hanging way back waiting for Barack. She was proud, but also calm. I saw myself in her and knew that her fear and anxiety had dissolved just as mine had. In this moment, she was all of us, waiting for him to take our hand. Barack walked to her and just then Michelle touched his face, gave him a kiss and they walked hand in hand into a new and hopeful future together.

That’s when I started crying.


I Voted for Barack Obama Today

I took off from work today to head to the early voting location near the Iconfactory. I arrived at the Leonard Recreation Center on Ballinger Rd. around 4pm. I went inside to find a line of about 100 people stretching from the voting room to the gymnasium, and so I took my place at the end of the line. As I settled in, I started the chronometer on my iPhone to see just how long it would take to get to the front. Although the line was long, it did seem to move right along. People were in good spirits and I saw many young and African American voters come into the gym and head to the back of the line.

While in the gym, I was able to check my tweets and email and generally stay busy playing games and surfing the web. As I got near the front of the line more and more people started to come in, presumably trying to beat the rush before 5pm. When I reached the voting room, the nice volunteers took my name, printed my voting confirmation sheet and then asked me to wait for a free machine. To my surprise, the gentleman who showed me to my station recognized me and said “I know you, you’re the “icon man!” I’m not sure if he recognized me from past years voting in Greensboro or from the Fox 8 piece that aired a few months back. Either way it was a pleasant surprise and he and I chatted for a bit before I actually set about the business of voting. He explained to me that the rec center had been processing about 900-1100 voters per day for the last week and a half.

He gave me my instructions and warned me about voting separately for the presidential candidates if I chose to do a straight ticket and then we parted ways. I was very proud to press the button that was labeled Barack Obama / Joe Biden for President and Vice President of the United States. I double, then tripled checked it was correct and then set about voting on the rest of the ballot. I skipped many of the local judges since I wasn’t familiar with them.

When I confirmed my choices and stepped out the exit, I looked at my iPhone’s chronometer and it read 38 minutes. Time had really flown by there in line and the poll workers knew their job very well so all in all I had no problems. I was pleased to see so many of my fellow North Carolinians voting early. But most of all, I was happy that for the first time in recent memory, I actually had a candidate that I was proud to cast my vote for as President. Many people in line were smiling while they waited, I could tell the mood was upbeat and positive. I think many of them were voting for Obama too.


Apple Freak

Lately I’ve found myself addicted to apples. No, not the kind that I usually write about, but an actual piece of fruit. You know, the kind you eat? I only recently discovered Gala apples and ever since I first had one at Panera Bread a few months ago, I can’t get enough of them. Ask any of my friends if I’m the type of guy that can be seen with a heart healthy snack in his hands and they would likely belly-laugh and tell you to go away.

Lately I’ve been warming up to the idea of eating more fruits and vegetables and the unassuming Gala apple has been leading the charge. If you’ve never had one, next time you’re in the produce section try and pick one up. They are softer than most apples with a thinner skin and a slightly sweeter taste than most. Developed in New Zealand in the 1920s by orchardist J.H. Kidd, Gala apples are a cross between a Golden Delicious and Kidd’s Orange Red. They resist bruising and are quite easy to eat. Even if you don’t particularly enjoy apples give them a try. They’ve easily become my new favorite snack and they could become yours too.


Yaz and I

They say kids can be cruel and that’s never more true than when you have an unusual name. Growing up, I knew my parents had named me after my grandfather, Gedeon Oliver Maheux. That being said, it was a little tough for me to appreciate my family heritage when neighborhood kids would call me all manor of strange and hurtful names. At some point in our lives we all get called mean things and if we’re lucky, it ends up building character instead of warping our “fragile little minds”.

But by the time I was seven, I disliked my name so much that when my mom and dad sent me off to 2 weeks of Catholic summer camp, I insisted they register me with my middle name of Paul instead of Gedeon. I had the brilliant idea that I would hide behind my dad’s name to avoid the inevitable onslaught of ridicule that would come with a cabin full of strange, new kids. All our clothes had to have name tags sewn on them for laundry identification, so for two weeks both my clothes and I were known as “Paul Maheux”. The clever charade worked great except that camp councilors thought I was going deaf since they’d call out “Paul!” and I wouldn’t even so much as turn my head in response.

Then when I was eleven years old, my father took me to my first big league baseball game. Living in New Hampshire, naturally it was the Boston Red Sox I saw that fateful day in 1980. Like most children, I can easily remember the first time I emerged from the concession tunnel to see the Green Monster. Although I had played baseball a bit at school, this was the first time I can honestly say I became interested in it. I sat with my father and watched the game unfold in unassuming fashion until a strange man took the field and the place went positively nuts.

Not being familiar with the players or the history of the Red Sox, I couldn’t understand why this scrawny guy was being greeted with such thunderous applause. Who was this man? What had he done to deserve this? Then the PA system blasted his name and quite literally changed my life. The announcer simply said one word as the scoreboard brightly flashed it over and over – “Yaz!”. Every fan in Fenway knew him to be Carl Yastrzemski, the legendary hitter and outfielder that fans lovingly referred to as Yaz. By the time I saw him that night, his profesional career was winding down, but I didn’t know that. All I knew was this man was loved and respected by thousands of people and to top it off he had a strange name, just like me.

After that fateful game, you couldn’t call me Paul if you wanted to. I was proud to be called Gedeon, but my smile grew if you called me simply Ged. I realized that it wasn’t a bad thing to have a unique name, in fact, just the opposite. Try a Google search for “Paul” and then one for “Gedeon” and you’ll know exactly what I mean. As I grew older I wore my name with pride and thanked my parents for setting me apart from the crowd. Today, I wouldn’t have it any other way and I have my family and a player named Yaz to thank for it.


Top Ten Things I Learned in NYC

David Lanham and I traveled to New York over the 4th of July weekend, 2008. We were invited by our friend Von Glitschka as guest speakers at the ICON5 Illustration conference. I had not been to NYC in years and it was great to meet talented artists, designers and see the city. While there I learned some important facts about the Big Apple that I thought I would share with all of my loyal readers.

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10. Everyone either listens to an iPod or talks on a cell phone.

9. If I lived in NYC, I think I’d like to live in Greenwich Village.

8. Yankees fans get really upset when you tell them “Go Sox!”

7. No one in NYC bothers to read signs.

6. The line for the Empire State Building is really, really long.

5. There is a place to eat every few feet.

4. I need to buy more Apple stock.

3. Tell your traveling companion to call if he’ll be out after 2am.

2. Despite what you see in movies and TV, the people are friendly.

1. A cab ride through the heart of Manhattan is just as thrilling, nerve-wracking and expensive as a trip on Space Mountain.

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Serenity Now!

To say things have been a little hectic at work lately would be an understatement. For the past several months, we’ve all been working hard to get you-know-what for the iPhone in ship shape. With the impending launch of the App Store, all of us have had our hands full and then some. In the midst of this massive effort, this 4th of July weekend, David and I travel to New York City to give a talk at the ICON5 Illustration Conference at the invitation of our friend and fellow artist, Von Glitschka. I can’t remember the last time I flew on a holiday and I can only imagine the travel nightmares that await us. My iPhone will be good and charged and packed with plenty of episodes of Futurama and Deep Space Nine.

Then there’s the little matter of day-to-day work at the factory. We’ve been snowed under at the office for months with a huge project that has kept us all busy every minute of every day. Having constant work is great, but it also makes it difficult to focus on internal projects like [REDACTED] and certain freeware releases that were only supposed to go on for a month, but due to forces outside our control, inevitably stretched into the future. If we could just get the R&D lab to perfect that cloning machine they’ve been teasing us with, everything would be peachy. However, as of this writing, there’s no word yet. Those bastards.

Somehow in the middle of all this madness, the gang at the Iconfactory managed to pull off an elegant punking of our dear friend and co-worker, Craig Hockenberry. See, back at WWDC Mr. Hockenberry came away with an ADA for his incredible work on Twitterrific for the iPhone and being the gracious man he is, he let Corey bring it back to North Carolina so the rest of us could get a fleeting glimpse of the “cube” before its return to Laguna Beach. Well, we thought it would be fun to create our own DIY ADA and mail that back to him just for kicks. We documented the creation process which you can find on the Iconfactory’s Flickr page. Needless to say the prank succeeded in putting a big smile on Craig’s face while relieving some stress around the office.

The good part of all this mayhem is that it keeps life interesting. There’s always a new challenge on the horizon, be it software, freeware or paying projects. Believe it or not, client work can sometimes provide a respite every now and then from the pressures we end up imposing on ourselves. Personally, if I can just get through July, I think I’l be just fine. Serenity now! Serenity now!


My Home Away From Home

It always fascinates me to see what people’s workspaces are like. I love getting an inside look at how artists, programmers and designers organize their desktops and select the tools they need to do their job. Some workspaces border on zen-like art, while others take on an air of controlled chaos. Some of us work in our homes like my friends Wolfgang Ante or Craig Hockenberry. But most of us spend the majority of our weekdays at “the office”.

And so, I thought I would throw my hat into the ring and give you a small peek at my workspace. My desk at the Iconfactory in Greensboro is where I do much of the pixel-pushing, writing, designing and illustrating that helps keep the bills paid and clients happy. Each and every day, I’m fortunate to work in a creative atmosphere surrounded by talented and dedicated people. Like many of us these days, I’ve tried working at home for extended periods, but it just doesn’t suit me. I love the bustle of the Iconfactory and the creativity our “open plan” offers the group (except when more than 3 of us are on the phone at the same time). I hope you enjoy this small behind-the-scenes look where I spend my days. Head on over to Flickr to check it out. Enjoy!


Embarrassing Auditory Confessions

They say confession is good for the soul, and since I’ve never had any problem with revealing my inner likes and dislikes, I jumped at the chance to join in on the fun of the latest group blog proposed by my friend Dave Caolo. This time around are songs that for one reason or another, you would be embarrassed to admit to liking in mixed company. I must say however that part of the reason I decided to throw my hat in the ring, was that it gave me the excuse to create the image you see above. What do Britney Spears and Bigfoot have in common? Well, read on my friends and find out!

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Merry Go Round

The Brady Bunch

I’m not ashamed to say that I have an entire iTunes playlist devoted exclusively to the perky tunes of those crazy Brady kids from my youth. Back in the 70’s the TV network suits figured the child actors of The Brady Bunch needed to compete with The Partridge Family and the Brady Six was born. Who among us can forget classics like Time to Change or Sunshine Day? Good times. Of all the Brady tracks I have however, Merry Go Round has to be the most sugar-coated piece of hippy jerky in the entire lot, and I love it! For some reason I can listen to Eve Plumb hit off-key notes until the cows come home and I just don’t care. Take a listen, but beware, the song is a total ear worm. Once I hear it, I usually can’t get it out of my head for days.

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You Drive Me Crazy

Britney Spears

Ah Britney! Back in the day, this familiar teen-pop queen commanded respect and actually worked her ass off to become successful. One day I broke down and bought You Drive Me Crazy for no apparent reason other than it was stuck in my head. To me, all of Britney’s songs sound somewhat the same (beat, rhythm, breathy lyrics), so I only own one… and this is it. I’m kinda ashamed to even have the one track in iTunes, but every time it comes up on random play, I relive a little part of 1999 and think back fondly on what Britney used to be. Ah Britney!

• • •


The Spice Girls

Everyone says they hate the Spice Girls, but I think secretly, everyone really loves them. I find the bulk of their songs incredibly infectious, bubbly and the perfect pick-me-up when I’m down. Their music is like watching a summer popcorn flick – a meaningless plot combined with a pulse-pounding soundtrack and dazzling special effects. It’s not academy award winning material, but it’s still a great time. I mean, how much more fun can it get than this:

“Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want,
So tell me what you want, what you really really want,
I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want,
So tell me what you want, what you really really want,
I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really
really really wanna zigazig ha.”

• • •


Neil Diamond

If there is a more idealistic, or emotionally manipulative song in this world, I can’t think of one. I first heard America when I was 11, right around the time the classic Saturday morning cartoon School House Rock became popular. I think the SHR connection helps explain why I find this song so darned great. After all, it was SHR that taught me to love catchy songs about history like The Great American Melting Pot and The Preamble. Diamond’s America is like a top 40 School House Rock song on steroids. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

• • •

Love Theme from Boggy Creek

Charles B. Pierce

Ask any of the guys at the Iconfactory and they’ll tell you I’m obsessed with bigfoot/sasquatch/yeti and have been ever since I was a child. This embarrassing music track is one of my own making since it was impossible to purchase the soundtrack to the movie from which it came – The Legend of Boggy Creek. The song tells the funky tale of the Fouke Monster (bigfoot) and his lonely plight among the other creatures of the swamp. The song, like the movie, is cheesy, low-budget and so bad it’s good. I bust it out every year around Halloween, much to the dismay of my patience-filled wife. And now you know what Britney Spears and Bigfoot have in common – my twisted sense of musical tastes.

• • •

Other blogger’s musical confessions:

1. Living in the Now – Get the Funk Up!
2. Sharp Corners – Sing a Song of Sixpence
3. Hardcore Geek – The songs I hate to love

Those 70’s Photos

My mom recently sent me a bunch of photos from our family album taken when I was just a kid. I’ve posted a few of them up on Flickr and will keep adding to the set as I find time to process them. This particular one of me stood out for a bunch of reasons, but mainly I’m drawn to the big pea green chair and matching phone receiver. I remember my parents loved this color when I was a kid and it was all over our house. This could be why I have an aversion to peas today. Also note the big sticker on the phone’s handset. You might remember this from your childhood as well. People used to apply these on their phones so they could quickly reference important numbers like the police, fire department and poison control. Ah, the days before speed dialing and 9-1-1. Gets me all choked up sometimes. Watch for more Maheux family photos soon.


The Best of 2007

I’ve been into writing “listposts recently, so I thought a year-ending ‘Best of 2007’ post seemed appropriate. The following list are simply things that for no other reason, brought me joy over the past twelve months. You may be familiar with some of the items on the list, and others you may never even heard of. Either way, I promise you they are all worth checking out. If this post lets people know there is a better way to clean their toilet or helps you find new friends, then I can die a happy man. Well, that’s not really true, but at least it gave you a legitimate excuse to put off paying those online bills or jumping on the treadmill for another few minutes. I do what I can.

• • •


Consumer Product

When my wife handed me a brush and a bottle of Kaboom Bowl Blaster a few months back and told me to get scrubbing, I did so begrudgingly. See, our toilets were dirty. I mean really dirty. Now before you go getting that look on your face, I don’t mean dirty like that, I mean dirty from hard water stains. Living in the country means that we’re on well water out here and don’t have the luxury of being hooked up to city water supplies. Our water is full of compounds and minerals like sulfur dioxide, zinc and calcium and it plays endless havoc on all of our plumbing fixtures.

I’ve scrubbed our toilets before with everything from Soft Soap and Comet to CLR and huge amounts of elbow grease and nothing, nothing has ever gotten the hard water stains 100% gone. That is until Kaboom came along. I’m not exaggerating or earning kickbacks when I say that, with only a minimal amount of scrubbing, Kaboom banished these unsightly stains to the infomercial netherworld from which they came. I’m not one who falls for late night commercial pitches, but I swear that this stuff works. If you have not tried it, next time you head to the grocery store, check it out. Your significant other will thank you.

• • •

Kid Nation


Even before a single minute of the first episode aired on CBS, TV critics, child welfare workers and over-protective parents were all doing everything in their power to make sure Kid Nation failed. The audience disagreed however and this unassuming little show about 40 kids unleashed on a New Mexico ghost town became an instant family hit and gave kids and parents everywhere a reason to cheer.

Each week kids like Sophia, Anjay, Greg and yes, even Taylor, gave us new insight into how children think, their resourcefulness and how much respect they deserve. I’ve written about Kid Nation before and with good reason. The show single-handedly reaffirmed my faith in television. Kid Nation proved that a reality show could succeed without all the back-stabbing, elimination voting that made shows like Survivor and Big Brother household names. Producers smartly structured the series around rewards rather than punishments and the result was a breath of fresh air for all of us watching at home. I sincerely hope there is a second season of Kid Nation, but if you missed it the first time, you can wait for the DVDs or check out the free downloadable episodes available from the Kid Nation website.

• • •

Super Mario Galaxy

Video Game

I’ve only been playing Super Mario Galaxy for the Nintendo Wii for a short time. I can already say that it’s become my favorite video game of 2007, and that’s coming from a certifiable Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess freak.

It never ceases to amaze me how Nintendo can continually make video games feel original and fresh as Super Mario Galaxy does. The story is the usual “Save Peach from Bowser!” narrative that we’ve come to know and expect. Just about everything else feels new. Game mechanics, play style and some of the best music ever written for a video game, all combine into another fun and surprisingly addictive winner from Shigeru Miyamoto. SMG is another feather in the cap of the Wii platform that some incorrectly predicted would be trounced by both the PS3 and XBOX 360. A year after launch, the Wii platform is still in high demand, and Super Mario Galaxy has helped me rediscover my love of video games. To top it all off, Mario is set to mark his 30th anniversary in just a few years. Not bad for a plumber who couldn’t tell a monkey from a donkey.

• • •

No Country for Old Men


No Country for Old Men is an odd tale that centers around a case of $2 million dollars that goes missing after a drug deal gone bad. Tommy Lee Jones plays Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, who, on the eve of his retirement, has the task of tracking down not only the money, but one of the scariest villains ever to hit the big screen. As is the case in most of the Coen brother’s films, location becomes an integral part of the story, so much so it’s almost like another character. The brother’s attention to detail and skill in building suspense, weaves a story that completely pulls us in and never lets go. The writing is sharp, the dialog is poetic and the cinematography is simply gorgeous. Take all of this, add mesmerizing performances from Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh and Josh Brolin as Llewelyn Moss and you have yourself the best picture of 2007.

• • •

AmeriCone Dream

Consumer Product

You really have to hand it to Steven Colbert. One minute your one of Jon Stewart’s flunkies reporting from the green screen version of Iraq, and the next you’ve got Captain America’s shield hanging on your wall and an ice cream flavor named after you. Colbert’s meteoric rise hasn’t really come as a surprise to those of us who admired his hilarious nightly performances on The Daily Show, but I never would have guessed he had such a fantastic sweet tooth.

Ben & Jerry’s AmeriCone Dream ice cream features bits of waffle cone dipped in fudge, surrounded by a creamy, but conservative vanilla ice cream and swirls of all-American caramel. To top it all off, proceeds from Steven’s product go to The Stephen Colbert AmeriCone Dream Fund, which supports causes like aid to disadvantaged children, veterans, and the environment. About the only way it could get better would be if they managed to get the carton to make that shrieking bald eagle sound every time you opened it.

• • •

Apple iPhone


I bet you thought the iPhone was going to be number one on my list didn’t you? Well guess again all-knowing swami! While it may not be my very favorite thing of 2007, it only lost out by a few ill-timed Mobile Safari crashes and a badly needed clipboard app. To say that my iPhone has improved my life might sound like the meaningless drivel of an Apple fanboy, but as someone famous once said “I cannot tell a lie.”

Before my iPhone, I never wanted to check my email on the go, or was able to effortlessly look up a destination in Google Maps after getting lost in some obscure corner of Greensboro. I can instantly add people and businesses to my phone’s address book with the press of a single button and browse my favorite websites just as they appear on my desktop computer. Before, I never could figure out how to use custom ring tones or have wallpapers I didn’t have to pay a monthly fee for. The iPhone opened the door to all of these small, but fun things for me.

Perhaps most important of all, it makes me feel good about carrying my phone all over the place. Before, my cell was just something I had to have in case I needed to call my wife or had an emergency. Now, I’m connected and able to look for information, tweet thoughts at random and have my iPod with me all the time. Anyone who tells you the iPhone is “just another cell phone” doesn’t have the first clue about what it represents or what its potential is. It changed the face of the cell phone industry for the better, forced cell carriers to “think different” about their business models and captured a big slice of the U.S. smartphone market in the process. Pretty good for a company that never made a cell phone before.

• • •


Social Networking Service

When it comes to Twitter, people invariably seem to be divided into two groups. The first group, let’s call them the “Eloi”, embraces the free and fascinating microblogging service. They make friends, send tweets about what they are eating, make interesting observations and find people with similar online interests as themselves. They live in the daylight and take Twitter for what it is, a place to feel connected with those around them, enjoy the fruits of the digital age and generally co-exist with others in virtual harmony.

Then there are the Twitter “Morlocks” who shun the technology, lash out against it and write blog posts saying things like “what’s the point?”, and “who in their right mind would use this stupid thing?”. They have Twitter friend lists of anywhere between 2 and 5 people, never venture out of their cave and prefer to dine on the recycled entrails of Blogger.com or Facebook. Poor, lost souls.

I count myself firmly in the Eloi camp and my life is far better for it. Twitter has allowed me to stay in touch with dear friends from college that have long since moved away. Twitter gives me a sounding board to bounce ideas off peers, is a reliable source for general knowledge, and lets me stay on top of the latest breaking news from around the world. But perhaps more than anything, it allows me to connect with like-mined individuals. For example, watching the World Series in 2007 was an amazing experience thanks to Twitter. Fellow Red Sox fans were able to joke and share thoughts and feelings with each other like we were in the same room. I’ve also expanded my network of designer and developer friends significantly. I feel like I know many of these people first hand and I look forward to meeting them at MacWorld at some point in the future.

Twitter has given us a way of interacting that is new, unique and intimate. It provides a glimpse into the lives of people that, for one reason or another, you find interesting. In a world where we are all becoming more and more like those isolated, underground dwellers the Morlocks, Twitter lets in just a touch of the much-needed sunlight.


My Christmas Card to You

When I was a child, one of my very favorite Christmas albums was A Partridge Family Christmas Card. My mom bought it for me when I was five and I just loved it to death. Even now, I can remember lying on the floor of my room and listening to that LP over and over. I always imagined that the Partridge kids were singing their jazzy carols to me and my family.

Every year at Christmas I load up the iPod with my copy of this album and listen to it when I’m out and about Christmas shopping, or just commuting to and from work. Mindy looks at me like I’m crazy whenever these songs come on our car stereo, and in a small way I don’t really blame her. By today’s standards, the tracks are somewhat cheesy and overly sentimental. She grins and bears the dulcet tones of David Cassidy crooning “Frosty the Snowman” because she knows how much it means to me.

When we’re kids, we never know what kinds of memories are going to stick with us throughout our lives. For me, A Partridge Family Christmas Card is an album that instantly takes me back to the home, and Christmases of my youth. I don’t think there could ever be a better present than one that helps keep you young at heart, and for that, I am grateful. So taking a cue from the Partridge clan, here is my Christmas wish to you:

“To you and all your family, your neighbors and your friends, may all your days be happy with a joy that never ends. May peace and love surround you at Christmas time and all the whole year through.”

I wish you and all of yours a joyous and peaceful holiday season. Merry Christmas!


Welcome to gedblog

It’s my pleasure to welcome you to the newly designed gedblog. After my friend and co-workers, Craig Hockenberry and Anthony Piraino launched their own blogs, each with a custom and rather nice look and feel, I thought it was finally time to break free of the default WordPress themes and do the place up right.

Although the look and feel of the site echos some of the colors of the Simpla theme by Phy Lu over at WordPress, the layout, secondary elements and overall feel are all me. This new design would not have been possible however, without the generous help of my friend Anthony who slaved away for weeks to turn my raw Photoshop templates into CSS reality. I owe ya big time my friend!

Likewise thanks go out to Craig as well who has been instrumental in getting the new blog up and running smoothly. Even though I’ll still be tinkering in the days and weeks ahead, I couldn’t have gotten the new site in place without Craig’s help, so once again, the Foreman sends his thanks.

If you’ve come here from my old WordPress blog, please update your bookmarks accordingly. The old site won’t be updated further, so this is now, as Frank Costanza says, “The place to be!”. I hope you enjoy the new site, be sure to tell all your friends, family and complete strangers to come and visit. Onward ho!

Giving Thanks

As families across this nation sit down with each other and give thanks for all they have, it seemed like a good time to put together a little list of some of the things I’ll be giving a nod to the big guy upstairs for. Maybe this will catch on. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I’m thankful for…

• my loving wife, wonderful home and my crazy, adorable animals.

• the most kick-ass parents a guy could ever have.

• the return of Futurama on DVD.

• the small amount of rain we’ve gotten in the Triad lately.

• my health.

• the people who invented TiVo.

• all the wonderful people I hear from every day on Twitter.

• the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

• the talented, creative people I work with.


• the brave men and women fighting abroad this holiday season.

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Lean On Me

My long-time friend from college, David Miller, has written a wonderful post about Twitter, the internet and blogging in general. His post goes to the heart of why so many people enjoy sharing their thoughts and experiences online. I’ve often read that some people don’t “get” why individuals blog or why someone would express themselves on Twitter in 140 characters or less. Dave hits the nail on the head with this bit:

“I think that it helps us not feel alone in the situations whether they are good times or not so good. That there are others out there who have had these experiences that make us human. It’s also cathartic for me to help express whatever feelings I’m having at the time.”

In a world when people can sometimes go days or weeks without talking or interacting with friends and family face to face, it’s comforting to know that you can reach out via the “tubes” and feel connected instantly. Blogging allows people to express themselves to those who might never have ever met in real life. Twitter goes one step further and distills these expressions down to ultra-concise nuggets of internet gold. It parses whole conversations into manageable chunks that we can either pay attention to or completely ignore.

I liken it to when I was in college, hanging out in the dormitory lounge for hours on end. People would come and go, things were happening all around me. I could either choose to participate in the discussion by throwing out my own occasional 2 cents, or I could sit back, watch TV, and eavesdrop on those over my shoulder. I knew friends like Dave were only an arm’s length away and would be there for me if I needed them. In a very small, and important way, Twitter is a lot like that. Think of it as a social, technical and professional support system for the digital generation. What’s not to “get”?


I Believe

… 8 days of rest are bad for professional baseball teams.

… I never want to have to choose between fires, mudslides or earthquakes.

… in Bigoot Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster & the theory of Atlantis.

… Apple is the most valuable computer maker in the world.

Scott Moritz couldn’t “analyze” his way out of a paper bag.

… there is only one OCTOBER!

… Halo 3 is overrated.

… Digg is a double-edged sword.

… Hiro is his own father.

… chemists know their puns.

… people regret re-electing George W. Bush.

… watering golf courses during a historic drought is a mistake.

… “Deal with it!” is my new favorite TV catch phrase.


… Kirk > Picard.


The Rainstorm

I had never really known how much something as simple as a phone call could change one’s life. In the early morning hours of September 29th, 2005, I picked up the phone and got news that no one should ever have to hear. My wife and I huddled around the speakerphone to listen to my doctor tell me the results of my biopsy were in. The growth I had felt on my right clavicle, was in fact, a malignant lymphoma. Mindy and I had been bargaining our fears away for a week leading up to the results. We thought it was an abscess, a fatty deposit or Cat Scratch Disease. When the doctor told us that instead I had Hodgkin’s Disease, my world quite literally crumbled all around me.

“Then the rainstorm came, over me and I felt my spirit break. I had lost all of my, belief you see and realized my mistake.”

Tears came as we spoke to the doctor as he recommended I meet my new oncologist as soon as possible. The call to my mother that morning to inform her was one of the worst things I’ve ever done. Her only son had developed cancer, and I could feel the pain in her voice as we spoke. Fighting back sobs, mom, dad and Mindy all comforted me, and I did my best to assure them that I would fight this thing. I would make it through with their help. The more I learned about Hodgkin’s, and the support system I had in place to help me beat the disease, the more my fears turned to hope and resolve.

“But time threw a prayer, to me and all around me became still.”

Everywhere I turned, from the gang at work, to prayers offered up in my name by those in my home town of Laconia, N.H., to the supportive and loving words of Mindy’s family, I knew I wasn’t alone in this fight. Mindy’s mom, Ann, had battled against a far worse form of ovarian cancer and won. My own mother had won her fight against breast cancer, as had my Aunt Lucile. I was turning out to be just the latest member of our family to come up against this disease and damned if I was going to be the one to kick it in. Any lingering fears and doubts vanished after I met my oncologist. From the moment I met Dr. Kahn, I knew I was blessed. She explained to Min and I what Hodgkin’s was, how she was going to treat me, and what I could expect from chemo and radiation. From my PET and CT scans, Kahn was able to diagnose me with stage 2A Hodgkin’s. While serious, it was still a highly treatable form of lymphoma. When she told me that she was going to “cure me” of the cancer, I could hardly believe it. Over the course of the next year, I learned Dr. Kahn was a woman of her word.

“Through the rainstorm came sanctuary and I felt my spirit fly. I had found all of my reality. I realized what it takes.”

Mindy and I drew strength from each other, as husbands and wives often do. She made me laugh, helped me take care of myself and led me to her mom & dad. Through their unwavering support and experience I was prepared for what lay ahead. Everyone at the Iconfactory did their part too. As I worked at home on the re-design of the company’s website, they took on my client projects so I could focus on getting better. As chemo progressed, and I watched the tumors melt from my body, the support from those I loved raised me up to a place I had never known before. Friends, family, neighbors and community had all come together for the benefit of me. It was a humbling and remarkable experience that I will never forget, nor be able to fully repay.

“Oh I, don’t bend, don’t break. Show me how to live and promise me you won’t forsake. ‘Cause love can help me know my name.”

I have been free of cancer now for two years. As I head for my semi-annual PET and CT scans this Thursday, I am proud to be counted as just one of the millions of people who have fought and survived their battle with cancer. I beat Hodgkin’s thanks to the love of my friends and family, the remarkable staff at the Wesley Long Cancer Center and good old fashion faith. Initially, I had never wanted to be defined by my illness. I resisted telling casual acquaintances about it for a long time. I knew that someday I would be able to help others through what had happened to me, but I wasn’t sure if that time was now. Today, I write this to tell you I am a loving husband and son, loyal friend, artist, geek, and now proudly, cancer survivor. Let me help.

UPDATE: I received word from my doctor today that my scan results are still negative. A clean bill of health for another six months. Thanks to all those who wrote or tweeted with words of encouragement. It means a great deal to me.


Behold the Power of Kids!

One night when I was five years old (as the story is told to me), I sat at dinner with my parents. Aside from mom’s wonderful cooking, was the typical helping of cigarette smoke from my parents’ ash trays which were perched on the dinner table in their usual spots. That night, out of the blue, I asked mom and dad to quit smoking. I’m not sure if mom had smoked while she carried me, but both her and dad had smoked all through my first years in our home. Right up until that night at the dinner table. One simple plea from their only son did what multiple doctor visits, a modified diet and even a hypnotist could not do… change their behavior for the better. After that small request from me, they got serious, worked hard and threw away the cigarettes forever.

So when I read an article in last week’s Wall Street Journal about how kids are starting to influence their parents in matters related to the environment, I knew exactly what was going on. Our public school system has stepped up and is teaching kids beneficial practices like remembering to turn off lights when you leave a room, or how to switch from wasteful incandescents to compact fluorescents to help lower carbon emissions. Children all across the country are mobilizing families to help do their part for the future. Parents now think twice about not recycling or buying that big SUV. According to the article, one boy even convinced his family not to just replace their failing roof, but to upgrade it with solar panels. I say, if it takes your kid to convince you to do the right thing when it comes to how to treat the environment, so much the better.

Parents have always wanted what’s best for their children. It’s the reason why my mom and dad quit smoking when I asked them to, and it’s the reason why so many parents are now re-insulating, recycling and reusing around the house. We want our kids to grow up in a world that is just as good, if not better than the one we got from our parents. We all want to do what’s best, not just for our children, but for our friends and neighbors as well. It makes perfect sense to plant a tree, turn off extra lights or promote alternative energy sources, but all too often things like these are overlooked. Sometimes all we need is a gentle nudge from those we love to make everything crystal clear once again. Call it kid power for the 21st century, and just in time too.


Going Home Again

The more things change, the more they stay the same. All the familiar sights, sounds and smells of home jumped out to greet me as I got out of my parent’s car and stood in the driveway of my childhood home. “She’ll be 100 years old in just a few years.” dad said as he helped mom out of the car. My grandfather had build our home back in 1917 for the huge sum of $2,000 with help from his family. Complete with a granite walled basement (that floods most every spring), and an old fashion pass-through from the kitchen to what used to be the dining room, my parents have done a remarkable job of keeping the house up, despite being in their late seventies. “I’m home again.” I thought to myself as I settled in for a week of relaxation, visiting relatives and exploring old haunts.

Growing up in the small New England town of Laconia, NH meant beautiful foliage in the fall, endless hours of sledding in the winter and beaches packed with tourists in the summer. Nestled along sprawling Lake Winnipesaukee, Laconia and her surrounding townships, are a classic destination for anyone looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Vacationers from Massachusetts to California all come to enjoy good food, the White Mountains and crystal clear lakes. One of the favorite local eateries is the Tamarack Restaurant. Located on Route 3 in Weirs Beach, the drive-up style diner proudly serves its 100% fresh lobster roll each summer, that some say, is the best in the entire lakes region. Lobster roll, YUM!

Despite all of this, it is a truism that kids seldom appreciate the place where they grew up. Looking back now, I’m a little ashamed to say that I didn’t fully treasure my home and all it had to offer. I think I can chalk this up to simply being a kid who was too wrapped up in school work or playing in the brook to realize what was happening all around me. Visiting my parents this past week brought to mind everything they gave me while I was growing up – a safe place to play and learn, friendly neighbors who looked out for each other and the love and support of our huge family. When I was a kid, it always seemed like my dad would point to someone and say “See him/her? That’s your cousin.” So although I was an only child, I always had plenty of help getting into trouble. One of my notorious side-kicks was my cousin Judy. You always remember the good times it seems, and my memories of her and the rest of the Maheux/Groleau clan bring smiles to my face. Judy has a family of her own now, a loving husband and two sons and I couldn’t be happier for her. Visiting with her reminded me that I have to do a better job of staying in touch.

Things have changed around Laconia now, but thankfully not much. Some businesses have closed, but others have sprung up in their place. Sacred Heart Parish where my family attends mass is alive and well, the beaches are still crowded and the drive-in movie theater at the Weirs manages a double feature every night in the summer. Kids still pump quarters into the video and skee ball games at Funspot (more on this later), older streets are still a wreck from nasty frost heaves, and children still come home to visit their folks from time to time. Some of those children sit and enjoy a Red Sox game with their parents and quietly think to themselves how lucky they’ve been. Lucky to have been raised in a place so wonderful, by people so generous and loving. Thomas Wolfe once said “You can’t go home again.” Thanks to my trip this past week, I know now that nothing could be further from the truth. May we all be so blessed.