Sunday, September 17, 2006

And with that...a Smoky Hollow hiatus

Well, I've been doing this blogging thing for almost a year now, but I have to take a break. I'm taking a job that won't allow me to post for a while. But I'll be back soon.

I'll leave all of the current content up, so if you feel the need to read, please enjoy the Smoky Hollow archives.

I'll leave you with a brief message: We need your help to ensure Democratic victories in November. Visibility is important, so get out there and put up a yard sign or bumper sticker. Volunteer at the local level. And, of course, VOTE.

Huddle


Here's a shot of Senators Harkin and Obama with Chet and Mari Culver.

Here are some of my favorite people

Here's a good photo of Obama


I like this photo of Obama that I took with the long lens. This guy has a smile worth a million bucks.

Senator Harkin enjoys the day


Senator Tom Harkin sure knows how to organize an exciting rally with his annual Steak Fry. The weather turned out to be beautiful, almost perfect. The place was so packed with people, it was kinda difficult to move around. But that's not something to complain about. All in all, I'm sure everyone involved with today's event was very pleased with the results.

Mark Warner works his way through the crowd


This one is Gov. Mark Warner visiting with people in the crowd at the Harkin Steak Fry. Warner is on my short list for 2008 presidential candidates. He only spoke briefly, but he was well received by the crowd.

A few photos from the Harkin Steak Fry


I took quite a few photos at the Harkin Steak Fry. They had invited lots of bloggers, and allowed us to go wherever we wanted. I'll just post a few of the photos I liked best. This first photo is Sen. Barack Obama giving a rousing speech.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Rockstar: Lukas Rossi

Exciting finale tonight to Rockstar: Supernova. Didn't go exactly as I expected, but Lukas Rossi was an obvious frontrunner for a long time. I didn't watch every episode, but Lukas was always a great performer every time I saw it. His best performance that I saw was his version of "Creep" by Radiohead.

He'll fit in well with the band. The way he struts around, he sorta reminds me of Scott Weiland.

So now the interesting thing will be to see how long they can actually last as a real band, or if they fizzle out immediately.

New poll shows Culver surging ahead of Nussle

Great news for today for Iowa! Tonight on Channel 8 they showed the results of a new poll on the 2006 elections. Chet Culver has surged further ahead of Jim Nussle.

The poll shows 48 percent supporting Culver and 43 percent supporting Nussle. This leaves only 9 percent undecided, and puts Culver in a strong position to close out the election with a victory.

Digging a little deeper into the full poll results--there's a downloadable PDF version on the KCCI site. If you look closely at the PDF version of the poll results, you'll notice that among Independents polled, Culver has a nine point lead over Nussle. 50 percent of Independents are with Culver, and only 41 percent are with Nussle.

There's a whole bunch of other good news in the poll as well. In the Third District U.S. House race, Congressman Leonard Boswell has a commanding lead over Jeff Lamberti. The poll shows Boswell with an 11-point lead of 52-41.

In the race for Iowa Secretary of State, Mike Mauro holds a big lead over his opponent. Mauro leads 43-31 in that race.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Rockstar: Supernova

I don't know why I get drawn into these silly TV shows.

But I did. I didn't start watching until about halfway through the season, but I gotta say I have really enjoyed Rockstar: Supernova. The show is actually in its second season, hosted by former Jane's Addiction guitar hero Dave Navarro. Last year the featured band was INXS, but I didn't watch it.

On the surface, this show sounds to me like it would be really lame. I'm sure some of my friends will make fun of me for watching it. But it's actually turned out to be very entertaining. Supernova is a newly-formed supergroup featuring Tommy Lee (Motley Crue), Gilbey Clark (Guns N' Roses) and Jason Newsted (Flotsam & Jetsam, Metallica, Voivod). The contestants have to battle it out by performing rock cover tunes and some originals. It's like American Idol but the winner gets to be the lead singer of Supernova. You get the idea.

There have been some really good and really, really bad contestants, but it's actually been a lot of fun to watch.

So anyway, the final performances were tonight, with the winner being named tomorrow. My wife really likes Lukas. I can't decide if I want to vote for Lukas or Toby.

Once they have their new lead singer, Supernova is going on tour with a road show that promises to be a lot of fun. They will be coming to Des Moines at Wells Fargo Arena in February.

Harkin Steak Fry is this weekend

Hey, it's time to get ready once again for Senator Harkin's big fiesta in Indianola. I've been to a few of them over the years and they're always interesting and fun, but this one is going to be extra cool.

With all of the excitment about the Culver-Judge campaign really moving into full swing..along with the prospects of Democrats taking back the Iowa House and Senate..AND all of the potential 2008 presidential candidates testing the waters in Iowa, well this is going to be a Harkin Steak Fry to remember. I highly recommend coming to Indianola this Sunday.

One of our party's rising stars, Sen. Barack Obama, is going to be the featured guest at the event. There aren't a whole lot of politicians out there who can match Obama on the soapbox. He's an exceptionally gifted communicator who I am really eager to see in person.

I'll be there all day, and I'll have my camera with me, so check here Sunday night for a report.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Dragonforce

So there's this band from England called Dragonforce. From what I understand, they're getting to be very popular with the kids these days.

What's odd about this is the fact that they are an all-out full-on-shred power metal band. Bands like this have long been the subject of ridicule, but apparently it's cool again. I've always thought music like this was cool, but I do admit I am a nerd.

As I get older, over and over I see examples of how the things I loved as a young person always become uncool, then all of a sudden, they're cool again.

Anyway, I was flipping through the channels yesterday as I was waiting for the local news. I stopped on the channel "G4TV," which is a channel dedicated mostly to video games and stuff like that. The program on G4 at the time was "Attack of the Show." The guy on there said the they were about to present a live performance of Dragonforce. Ooh, that sounds awesome, I thought. Better set the TiVo to record.

I watched it, and was underwhelmed. I daresay, it was embarrassing to watch.

They obviously didn't give their best performance. Within the first few seconds, the guitarist playing an Ibanez Iceman tripped over the bass player's leg and fell over!

It made me think...jeez, if kids these days think Dragonforce is cool, they really ought to take a listen to some truly awesome power metal bands from the good old days.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mark Warner in Des Moines


I went to the Michael Mauro campaign event today in Des Moines. The event featured special guest, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner.

I saw lots of familiar faces in the crowded room. I introduced myself to several people and said hello to some friends. It's awesome to see so many people so excited about this year's election and the 2008 presidential season.

Mauro is going to be a great Iowa Secretary of State. He was really in his element today, as he talked about making voting more accessible to the public. He's got a ton of experience in the election process as Polk County Auditor, and he'll be ready to run the SOS office on Day One.

Now, I'll just say it flat out: After today, Mark Warner is now one of my clear favorites out of all of the possible 2008 presidential candidates. I really dig what he's saying. Warner is a very engaging speaker, funny, articulate and sincere. He has a great story, and he has a great record of executive leadership.

Chris Woods at Political Forecast is bugged by some of the things Warner has said, but I have to respectfully disagree. Warner understands the frustration that many Democrats are feeling about our somewhat fractured party. I won't dwell on this subject, but I do know how I feel personally and I know I like what Warner said about it.

Anyway, I am going to be paying very close attention to Mark Warner in the 2008 campaign.

Nussle losing, resorts to using first negative TV attack ad

For all his whining about negativity, Jim Nussle shows us all once again that he is a great big hypocrite.

Apparently, Nussle has launched the first negative TV attack ad of the general election season in Iowa. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm guessing it will be on the news at noon.

The fact of the matter is this: Nussle is losing. Chet Culver clearly has the momentum in this race. The Culver campaign has the best ideas about moving Iowa forward into the future. Nussle is working his tail off just trying to run away from his record in Washington as the chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee.

Here's more info on Nussle starting the first TV attack ads of the general election campaign.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Photo of Restoration Days Parade in Albia


A good friend just e-mailed this photo of Mom in the Albia Restoration Days Parade on Saturday.

The weather for the parade was very nice, and there were large crowds of people all along the parade route. If you look closely in the picture, at the far left...that's me with the dark green shirt. I was making sure there were many, many people sporting Culver/Judge stickers on their shirts. At the far right is my sister-in-law with the two "grand-dogs" all dressed up in Culver shirts. If you look closely in the crowd by the yellow truck, you can also see my brother Joe.

We were followed in the parade by The Boz himself, Congressman Leonard Boswell. Boswell's crew was really working hard. It was hard for me to keep up with Boswell's crew with the stickering.

If you've never been to Restoration Days in Albia, I strongly encourage you to check it out next year.

Mark Warner travels in Iowa

Presidential contender Gov. Mark Warner is currently traveling around Iowa, helping out Democratic candidates all over the state. I haven't yet had the opportunity to hear Warner speak in person, so I will definitely check this out. I'm going to plan on attending the event in Des Moines tomorrow, and I'll take my camera with me.

Here's the schedule of events for the rest of the day today and tomorrow:

3:00pm Meet & Greet in Onawa for Local Candidates

Location: Oehler Brother's

22815 Filbert Avenue

Onawa, IA



6:30pm Woodbury County Democrats --Win in 2006!

Location: Woodbury Democratic Headquarters

809 West 7th Street

Sioux City, IA 51103



Tuesday, August 29th, 2006



8:00am Event for Iowa Democratic Party

Location: Home of Rep. Helen Miller

1936 15th Avenue N.

Ft. Dodge, IA



12:00 Story County Democrats – Win in 2006!

Location: Lucullan's Restaurant

400 Main Street

Ames, IA



3:00pm Meet & Greet For Secretary of State Candidate Michael Mauro

Location: The Plaza

300 Walnut Ave.

Des Moines, IA

Friday, August 25, 2006

Albia Restoration Days

It's time once again for Albia's big community celebration, Restoration Days!

Restoration Days is a celebration of Albia's beautiful historic town square. There's a ton of fun stuff to do, especially on Saturday, Aug. 26.

The events actually started last night at the Albia Theater, with the first performance of the annual Restoration Days Follies. The Follies is like an old-time Vaudeville show, with a variety of different live acts by talented local performers. My brother and I are running the lights for the show this year.

The Restoration Days Parade will be held on Saturday at 10 a.m. It's usually a really, really big parade.

One of my favorite things about Restoration Days is the fact that there is always a fantastic art show. This year there are 40 artists coming from all over the Midwest to display their work. It's always worth a look.

So, if you feel like coming to Albia on Saturday, there's no shortage of fun things to do. Everybody's welcome!

Republican candidate for Congress criticizes current budget mess


In case you haven't heard, Congressman Jim Nussle is the chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee. He is the chief architect of the federal budget in the House of Representatives.

To make a long story short, Nussle has used that leadership position in Congress to recklessly waste what was once a huge budget surplus. He has been at the helm as the federal budget has spiraled into the worst deficits in the history of the United States of America.

But it's not just Democrats who are criticizing Nussle's work in the House Budget Chair. A Republican running for Congress agrees that the federal budget is a mess. Jeff Lamberti criticized the budget mess at the Iowa State Fair, and you can now watch it here.

My mom has been traveling around the state this week, highlighting Nussle's poor performance in the budget chair. I caught up with her in Osky yesterday and snapped this photo.

Of course, Lamberti is trying to pin the blame for the deficits on Leonard Boswell. Let's see...Leonard Boswell is in the minority party in the House. Jim Nussle is in the majority party and actually writes the budget...I think it's safe to say that the budget mess is on Nussle's hands.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Harkin visits Albia, chats with constituents


Senator Tom Harkin stopped in Albia on Tuesday to discuss issues with Monroe County area constituents.

The event was held at the Highway Restaurant, which used to be an A&W. The restaurant recently changed ownership and has been remodeled. The food is pretty darn tasty and everything on the menu is affordable. So if you're ever down in the area, I recommend stopping by. It's the kind of place where you can order breakfast food any time of day...biscuits and gravy, pancakes, bacon...good stuff like that.

Anyway, Harkin had a good discussion with the people in attendance. He talked a lot about education...making college more affordable, providing federal funds to improve our school facilities, and a lot of discussion about the problems with the No Child Left Behind Act. There were lots of questions from the crowd.

KTVO TV from Ottumwa was there, but I can't get KTVO on my DirecTV. If I can find a story online about it, I'll edit this and add a link.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Political events in Albia

Sorry, I haven't posted much lately. We've kept ourselves busy over the last week around here. We went to the fair, which is always lots of fun. We also traveled out to Harlan and then on to Omaha to visit my wife's grandmas.

And then there's the garden, and we finally had a whole bunch of rain so I had to mow and...you know how it is.

I meant to post about Rep. Leonard Boswell's visit to Albia last week, but I just didn't get it done. It was kinda funny, I was in town taking care of some errands, and I happened to see Ottumwa Courier reporter Matt Milner hanging around on the Albia square. I thought there must be something interesting going on if the Courier sent somebody to Albia. As it turned out, Rep. Boswell was walking the square, visiting with people. I also saw my old boss Dave Paxton from the Albia Newspapers covering the story.

I caught up with Boswell at Benton Avenue Antiques and said hello. I know for sure he is well on his way to a solid victory.

Here's how Matt Milner covered Boswell's visit. I've always thought Matt Milner was a really good political reporter and I have always enjoyed his articles in the Courier.


Tomorrow, Senator Tom Harkin is traveling to good old Albia to visit with Monroe County residents. The event is Tuesday, Aug. 22, at 4:15 p.m. at the Highway Restaurant out on Hwy. 34.

I'll make sure I have my camera with me this time and I'll be sure to post something tomorrow night.

George R.R. Martin is coming to Iowa

Exciting news...one of my favorite authors is coming to Iowa!

George R.R. Martin, the writer of the awesome Song of Ice and Fire series, is going to be doing a book signing event in Dubuque on Sept. 26. I am so there.

Martin is perhaps the greatest fantasy writer in the business. His Ice and Fire series is already an astounding masterpiece, and it's not even finished yet.

Martin is so cool. He is not only a great writer of medieval fantasy, he's also a part-time blogger...although he calls his blog Not A Blog. He doesn't post on Not A Blog very often, but sometimes he shares some very thoughtful commentary on the politics of the real world.

I could go on and on, but I know I'm a total nerd about this so I'll spare you any further geekiness.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Culver and Harkin visit Ottumwa


This morning I went to Ottumwa, where Chet Culver and Sen. Tom Harkin visited for a discussion focusing on the minimum wage.
There was a good crowd on hand, with lots of familiar faces from Ottumwa. And I wasn't the only one who drove over from Monroe County. I saw my neighbor there, and I didn't even know she was going.

State Sen. Keith Kreiman did the introduction, and he noted that next year, when the Legislature is controlled by Democrats, the very first bill that will be passed will be an increase in the Iowa minimum wage.
Culver and Harkin both discussed at length the importance and impact of raising the minimum wage during their speeches. They also discussed how many times Congressman Nussle has worked against raising the federal minimum wage.
Harkin talked about the sham that the Republicans recently tried to pull when they attached an increase of the federal minimum wage to a huge tax break for rich people.

And I heard a new theme that really has a nice ring to it. Culver versus Congressman Nussle: Iowa common sense versus Washington D.C. nonsense.

Culver Crew marches in the State Fair Parade


I joined up with the Culver crew yesterday for the Iowa State Fair Parade. It was quite a sight to see all of the green shirts surrounding the Culver truck, marching down Grand Avenue chanting "I-O-W-A...Chet Culver all the way!"

Just after we crossed the river, we were joined by Mom and Chet. They shook hands with folks in the crowd all the way through the rest of the parade. We received lots of cheers and applause all the way through the parade. It's a great feeling to know we have the support of so many people in this campaign.

Special kudos to Scott from the campaign, who created the awesome signs that were attached to the truck.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Potato Salad...for the masses

So I made this potato salad for the Fourth of July. It was a really big hit. We had about 25 people show up, and they ate it all right down to the last morsel.

I got the recipe from a cookbook printed by my grandparents' church. The recipe was submitted by Cheryl Chambers.

So anyway, it was such a success, I'm making the potato salad for my brother's wedding reception this weekend. The only problem is I need to multiply the whole thing to feed a huge crowd of people. Here's what I came up with...

Potato Salad for the Masses

25 pounds of russet potatoes (I'll be using 20 pounds of potatoes I harvested from my garden, plus five pounds from our friendly Hy-Vee)
4 dozen eggs
3 white onions, diced (also harvested from my garden)
3 cups pickle relish (nothing fancy is necessary)
2 quarts + 1 cup mayonnaise (absolutely, positively NO Miracle Whip, only Hellman's REAL Mayonnaise here)
1 cup + 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (pardon me, would you happen to have any Grey Poupon?)
4 tablespoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper

Gotta hard-boil the eggs first, then get them refrigerated. Then boil the potatoes, don't peel 'em. Refrigerate the potatoes until they're cold. Get the shells off the eggs, then chop 'em up along with the taters and then the onions.

Everything else gets mixed up for the dressing, then poured onto the potatoes, eggs and onions. Refrigerate, but do not freeze.

I hope it works! I may need to make some minor adjustments, but I think it should be good. I start boiling eggs tomorrow.

New poll: Culver winning, Nussle losing

There are some new poll numbers out there for the Iowa governor's race, and our man Chet Culver is winning!

The poll was done by Rasmussen, which is one of the most reliable pollsters out there.

Here are the numbers:
Culver - 41%
Nussle - 38%
Not Sure - 17%
Some Other Candidate - 4%

Political Forecast has some good analysis of the poll here.

Here's my spin on the poll numbers:

Jim Nussle has outspent Chet Culver by a huge margin so far in this campaign, and Culver continues to lead.

Culver has accomplished this by assembling a great team, by being direct and honest about his beliefs and goals, and by putting forward a bold vision to lead Iowa forward.

To his credit, Nussle has also detailed a lot of ideas and plans. Good for him. But Nussle is on the wrong side of a lot of important issues. Real issues that matter, like properly funding public eduction. And, obviously, Nussle's biggest drawback is the fact that he's a Bush crony at a time when lots and lots of people are getting really tired of George Bush.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

RAGBRAI fun


Yesterday my wife and I traveled to her mom's place, just outside of Adel. Preparations were being made for RAGBRAI to pass by my mom-in-law's house today.

We got up this morning and the bicyclists were already going by on their way toward Waukee. A steady stream of bikes continued by all morning. Quite a few stopped in the yard to enjoy some wonderful Bluegrass fiddle music and a break in the shade.

The riders were welcomed with chairs, free water and a nice clean portable toilet.

There was also a tasty spread of home-made pies and baked goods for sale, thanks to the Bear Creek Friends group.

I enjoyed the day by sitting in the shade and chatting with bike riders. I brought a box full of Culver campaign materials, and distributed stickers and stuff.

One of the highlights of the day was when the KCCI TV news crew stopped by and filmed some stuff for the news. If you happened to have been watching Channel 8 at 5 p.m. today, you may have seen Cynthia Fodor interviewing my Mom-in-law, Nancy Plagman.

This photo is of Cynthia interviewing with some bicyclists in the yard as we listened to the fiddlers.

Friday, July 21, 2006

What in the world did Nussle do with all that money?

Geez, did you look at the campaign fundraising numbers this week?

Jim Nussle has raised 4.2 million bucks, and he only has 1.5 million left! What the heck did they spend all that money on? He didn't even have an opponent in the Primary!

We all know he's really good at wasting money, considering his record in Congress. But this is amazing.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Evan Bayh in Des Moines


Sen. Evan Bayh gave a speech today in Des Moines. The room was full, and there were lots of familiar faces in the crowd.

Bayh has a great resume for a presidential candidate. He's a former two-term governor and currently a two-term senator from Indiana. He has proven his ability to win elections in a Midwestern red state, which will be an important factor to voters in Iowa.

I really liked what he had to say. I met him after the speech, and he's a very gracious and friendly guy. If he can make that personality come forward in his oratory, he'll be a contender.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Invited to an Evan Bayh event

I received an e-mail tonight from Sen. Evan Bayh's All America PAC, asking bloggers to come to a major speech on Monday in Des Moines.

I'll be planning to attend. I don't have the capability of live-blogging, but I'll go and probably take my camera. I haven't had the chance to see Sen. Bayh in person before, so I'm eager to attend.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Conjoined squash


I don't know if this is a common thing or not. This is the first time I've grown squash. I just thought it was kinda cool.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Broccoli and baby carrots

Well, we harvested our first broccoli, carrots and some cabbage from the garden tonight. The broccoli is just a small little bunch, but the plants are promising a lot more.

The cabbage and baby carrots will soon be transformed into cole slaw for this weekend.

As for the rest of the garden, it survived a brief hailstorm earlier this week. No damage, but I was worried. The hailstones were almost dime-sized.

The corn is looking kinda weird. Some of it looks great, but some of it is stunted. I don't know why. The tomatoes are looking good. There are several small green tomatoes on some of the plants. The pepper plants aren't growing very tall, but I still think they'll rebound if we get some more nice rain. The squash and cucumbers are really doing well. Tomorrow I'll post a picture of a really cool double-squash.

In other news, I received a nice note from Sam Garchik, the editor of Blog for Iowa. Apparently he knows my brother Joe, he went to school with Joe at the University of Iowa. So I've added Blog for Iowa to my recommended reading list.

I've spent most of the last week or so avoiding political blogs. Just needed a break from it. And I have friends coming from far away this weekend to visit, so I've been busy preparing for their arrival.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Jim Nussle's record reveals a consistent lack of support for public education

While Jim Nussle likes to go around saying he supports public education, his record in Washington as a member of the Congressional Republican leadership shows that he is no friend of public schools.

This is one of the most important issues to Iowans, and Chet Culver is clearly the candidate for Iowans who want to improve our public education system.

But it looks like some Republican pro-Nussle bloggers are trying to smear Chet Culver again.

I won't promote their crap by providing links. But to clarify any confusion out there, I'm going to post this AP story:


Culver gets teacher union nod
Associated Press

Friday, June 16, 2006

DES MOINES, IA - The state’s 32,000-member teacher union endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver today, declaring him "one of us" and warning that Republican Jim Nussle’s record doesn’t match his campaign rhetoric.

"As a former classroom teacher and coach, he has a deep understanding of the challenges and frustrations facing educators and a keen grasp of current education issues," said Linda Nelson, of Council Bluffs, president of the Iowa State Education Association.

In accepting the endorsement, Culver said he wants "to be a champion for teachers, a champion for kids."

Nelson said the board running the union’s political action committee -- made up of six Democrats and six Republicans -- interviewed both candidates Friday morning, and recommended Culver. The board’s recommendation was ratified by a larger, 76-member governing committee and by the union’s executive board, Nelson said.

Both Culver and Nussle have called for raising teacher pay, with Culver saying it should be increased to "at least" the national average while Nussle wants it even higher.

"Both candidates spoke about raising teacher salaries and that was what we wanted to hear," Nelson said.

While Nussle voiced support for many of the union’s goals during the interview, Nelson said "his congressional voting record reveals a consistent lack of support."

"What he did say didn’t match at all his congressional voting record," she said.

In a statement issued today, Nussle said he’ll continue to push for raising teacher pay.

"My priority is to have Iowa set the standard for world class education and that starts by raising teacher pay above the national average," he said. "As governor, I will work to ensure more reliable and more predictable funding for education so we have the best and brightest teachers in the classrooms teaching our children."

The last time the teacher’s union endorsed a Republican gubernatorial candidate was Gov. Terry Branstad’s 1990 bid for a third term in office.

The endorsement gives Culver a cadre of foot soldiers in every corner of the state. Teachers are traditionally politically active and are also respected in their communities. It also opens the union’s coffers to Culver, resources he needs after an expensive primary fight.

In addition to pointing to Culver’s call for higher teacher pay, Nelson said union leaders liked his support of increased spending on preschool programs, boosting basic state aid to local schools and putting in place new loan programs for college students.

"Chet Culver is truly one of us," Nelson said.

You never know what you'll come across when clearing out the memory card


Here's a pic I came across on the memory card in the camera. I took this photo a few weeks ago at the community gathering for Chet Culver in Davenport. Should have posted it then, but I didn't come home directly after the event and things got a little hectic during that time.

Pictured are, from left, my dad, John Judge; my mom, Patty Judge; our friend in Davenport, Dau Truong; Chet Culver and Mari Culver.

Future Youth Delegates?


Now that the convention is over, I have been going through a large batch of photos taken at the event. This one is my favorite. At left is my niece Annie, in the middle is my niece, Caty, and at right is their dad, my big brother Doug.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Lots of great speakers

Well I must say we have some great candidates running this year in the Democratic Party.

I decided to pay attention to the speeches and try to take some photos rather than mess with the blog. Check Political Forecast for a better report from Chris Woods.

I should have some good photos of today's events. I'll try to get some of them posted tomorrow, probably tomorrow night.

Back to business

We've re-convened and we've gone through the election of members to the DNC. Now it's time for the youth caucus members to be recognized.

Time for some speeches

There is a person speaking right now on behalf of Denise O'Brien, the candidate for Secretary of Agriculture.

Attorney General Tom Miller just sat down next to us and said hello.

And now, we have Michael Mauro taking the stage. He is running for Iowa Secretary of State.

Tom Miller spoke next, followed by Mike Blouin. They both gave very good speeches, focusing on party unity. Ed Fallon is up next.

Fallon: "The bottom line is this: Jim Nussle must not become Governor of Iowa."

Debating amendments to the party constitution

Lots of discussion and debate on a number of amendments to the party's constitution. This process can sometimes be long and difficult, but things are moving forward fairly quickly.

Live at the Iowa Democratic Party State Convention


I'm here at the Polk County Convention Complex liveblogging with by brother's Mac Powerbook G4.

Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson is speaking now.

Now we're discussing a special resolution on ethanol. I like this resolution. I'll get the text of it later and post it.
Next it's a resolution on deficit and debt, followed by a resolution on education.
And now a resolution thanking and recognizing Gov. Tom Vilsack for his leadership as governor.

Iowa Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald has now taken the stage and he's talking about the state's college savings plan and the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt.

Now a resolution honoring Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson for her tireless work for the Iowa Democratic Party.


Whoa, here comes Tom Harkin! I'm going to sign off for a while and listen to this. Added a photo above.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Rubbermaid to close plant in Centerville

This is another devastating loss to our area. Rubbermaid is closing its plant in Centerville, leaving at least 500 people out of a job within 90 days.

Lots of people from Albia worked there. I have several friends who worked at Rubbermaid after we got out of high school.

This area of the state is really in desperate need of some good economic news, and we're just not getting much. We're looking forward to the big development of Honey Creek State Park at Rathbun Lake, but it can't possibly replace 500 manufacturing jobs lost in Centerville.

This is just more evidence that the state of Iowa needs a new direction in its economic development efforts.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Rain needed


We need rain badly. I'm going to have to do some serious irrigation soon.

But overall, the garden has been very successful this year. I think we've finally found the best location for it.

So far, we've enjoyed lots of nice radishes, spinach, green onions and a very tasty variety of leaf lettuce.

Tonight, I harvested the very first pepper of the year. It's small, but promises to be spicy.

We currently have 18 tomato plants growing nicely, a large patch of potatoes, a row of broccoli, a row of carrots, some cucumbers, lima beans and green beans. We've had some serious bug problems on the beans, but I'm avoiding the use of pesticides.

We also have a nice variety of peppers, including green and yellow bell peppers, jalapenos and some little red hot ones. There's also an experimental row of garlic, which I really hope is successful.

And I can't forget the most important plant in the garden: sweet corn. I have built a three-wire electric fence just to protect the corn from the horde of raccoons that reside just beyond the edge of the woods.

Anyway, the dirt is bone dry. I'm going to do a rain dance tomorrow, and if that doesn't work...the Rathbun Regional Water Association is going to be getting a lot more of my business.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Disgusting

I just have to say, I am really disgusted by the viciousness that has been posted on a particular Iowa Republican blog by anonymous cowards. Republicans are apparently going to be even more cruel and vile during this campaign than ever before. I guess they didn't learn their lesson when they did the same thing to Leonard Boswell and it backfired on them.

Krusty Konservative...whoever you are...you ought to delete that crap and apologize. You brag about the traffic on your blog when you ought to be ashamed of the childishness you're promoting.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Bee On A Bachelor's Button


Here's a photo I took with the new camera (well, it's not brand new, it's a hand-me-down from Dad).

The photo shows a bee enjoying our flowers out by the birdbath.

The flower is called a bachelor's button, or so I'm told.

I still haven't been able to make the camera focus to my liking. I should have been able to make the bee the primary focus of this shot, but I didn't quite nail it.

But it's a great camera and I'm sure I'll get it figured out. It's a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT.

When I was at the newspaper, we used a Fuji and a Nikon I was very used to them and comfortable with all of their functions. I'm still discovering how to make this Canon do what I want it to do.

John Edwards


Here's a photo of John Edwards speaking at the Iowa City event.

It's obviously not my best work as a photographer, but I have a nice digital camera now so I hope to be adding a lot more photos to my blog posts. I just need to work with the camera a little more to get used to it.

John Edwards visits Iowa City with Chet Culver


I just got home from Iowa City, where I attended a rally with our gubernatorial candidate, Chet Culver. The special guest at the event was John Edwards, who is truly an inspiring speaker. He also has some very, very strong supporters all over the state and he'll be a heavyweight in the 2008 caucuses.

At the event today there were a whole bunch of Johnson County officials in attendance, as well as Congressional candidate Dave Loebsack. Loebsack is running for the seat held by Rep. Jim Leach, and I think he's going to give Leach a very serious challenge.

The food at the event was fantastic. Some of the best barbecued pork I've had in a long time. Tasty sauerkraut made for a delicious side dish.

I had the honor of meeting one of Iowa's most distinguished political bloggers, John Deeth. I gotta get myself a laptop like he has.

The event was held at the Larew law office, which is located about a block from where I used to live. For a considerable amount of the time I lived in Iowa City during the 90's, I lived with six other dudes at 332 North Van Buren, in a house that was famously dubbed "The Metal House." The place got the name because we were all fans of heavy music and several of us were in local bands that played at Gabe's and other local venues.

Just walking up the street to the event brought back a million memories. I used to walk on those sidewalks almost every day. The neighborhood hasn't changed much, which is a good thing.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Yep, that's me


It's really weird to see myself in the paper.

This photo appeared on Page 6 of Wednesday's Des Moines Register. It features our governor and possible presidential candidate, Tom Vilsack, and our future governor Chet Culver.

At the far right, half cut off in the photo is my wife Steva. Next to Steva, right behind Chet Culver, is my future sister-in-law Allison. I am the dorky bald guy in the back. It was a really unexpected exciting moment, which is obvious by the silly expression on my face.

Oh, and that photo that is posted on John Deeth's blog? The dude with the beard is my little brother Joe.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Thank You

Sorry this has taken so long to get a thank-you posted, but I couldn't get connected to Blogger for most of the day.

Last night was an awesome evening for all of us who have worked so hard on this campaign.

I have to say that the staff and volunteers who assembled for the Culver campaign are a force to be reckoned with. I want to extend my gratitude to all of you. With a crew like we have, we should have no problem in November. We just have to keep up the intensity and never back down.

And I can't say thank-you enough to all of my friends out there, all over Iowa. I believe you guys made a big difference in this thing. Oh, and by the way...I'll be bugging you guys again later this summer, cause this thing ain't over yet.

The Primary phase of the election is now finished. The Iowa Democratic Party has chosen its candidate and its message. Now we have to get our party unified. We have to work together to make sure Congressman Jim Nussle never takes up residence at Terrace Hill!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Gov. race analysis

This is from yesterday, but hey, I've been busy. The Hotline has some really good analysis of the race for Governor. It's definitely worth a read.

Here is the part that really stands out to me:

"Blouin's fundraising got off to a slow start and given the name I.D. disadvantage he had, that wasn't a good sign. Blouin needs to be outspending Culver almost 2-1 to make up the gap, something he probably won't be able to do."

The whole article gives a really complete look at this race, I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

X-men was pretty darn good

Well, we had some nice R&R over the holiday weekend, despite the fact that we traveled halfway across the state and back.

On Saturday we hopped in the car and headed for Davenport for a community gathering with Chet Culver and my mom and dad and lots of supporters.

I was really surprised at the turnout for the event, considering it was on a Saturday afternoon on a holiday weekend with the temperature in the 9o's. The room was packed. Our friend Dau Truong was there with his family and quite a few friends, so it was more than just a political event for my family.

After the event, we headed back west and stopped for an overnight stay with friends in Iowa City. As always, there's lots of fun to be had in Iowa City.

We spent the rest of the weekend right here at Home Sweet Home, except for brief trip to Ottumwa to see the new X-Men movie. It was good, but I'm still not sure if I think it was great.

I'm just not enough of an X-Men scholar to know for sure, but since when was Jean Grey so dang powerful? I guess I don't mind, since it really was a cool plot. The most amazing thing about the movie: lots of very important X-Men characters were snuffed out.

As I think about the movie, I'm liking it more and more. But darn it, STILL NO GAMBIT.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Gotta get to the X-Men movie!

I've been looking forward to the new X-Men movie for quite some time. Hopefully there will be a little down time this weekend and we can get out and see it.

The first two X-Men flicks were very good, though I absolutely hated Halle Berry as Storm. Terrible casting. But all in all, they are great movies.

I'm patiently waiting for Gambit. I sure hope they finally put him in there, he's one of my faves.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Culver holds commanding lead in Channel 8 poll

Great news today about the campaign. I was just watching the news on Channel 8 and they released the results of a poll.

Not only is he the front-runner, but Chet Culver is 13 points ahead of his closest rival in the Democratic Primary race! And the election is only two weeks away!

I'm really not surprised. I have heard so many good things from people lately about how they are solidly behind Chet in this race.

Here are the numbers from the poll:

Culver 38
Blouin 25
Fallon 20
Undecided 17

Chet has raised his support by five points since the last time Channel 8 did a poll. Blouin and Fallon, who were basically nobodies when this started, have also gained support, by nine points and seven points respectively.

Blouin's running mate was on there and she said she was thrilled. Thrilled to be losing by 13 points?

She was trying to spin the story by saying that they were gaining support the fastest or something. (Update: After seeing this in the online version of the story and analyzing the numbers a little more closely, I think it looks even better for the Culver campaign...I mean, Mike Blouin has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on positive and negative ads, and he remains locked in a contest with Ed Fallon for third place...they are still within the margin of error of each other!)

The best news of the whole poll story was the General Election matchup. Chet is beating Republican Jim Nussle by an even higher margin now than in March. Chet gets 49 percent of the vote compared to Nussle's 41 percent.

Blouin and Fallon would lose to Nussle if the election were held today.

The least surprising part of the story was the fact that they said Blouin does not receive much support from women in the Democratic Party. We all knew that already.


Here's what they're saying at Political Forecast.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Interesting story

I was reading the news sites tonight and something I saw reminded me of a lesson I learned when I was little.

Long ago when I was a kid, I had a wooden gun that would shoot rubber bands. If you shot somebody with it at point-blank range, it would really hurt.

One day I went up and shot my big brother with it at point-blank range. He was wearing shorts, and I hit him right in the part of the leg behind the knee. It swelled up and turned red immediately.

He turned around and punched me really hard, right in the stomach. I was a big weenie and I started crying and ran to my grandma (who is the nicest, most caring person in the world).

She said to me: "I saw what you did to him, so I'm really not feeling very sorry for you right now."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Final Debate

After many, many forums and debates over the last year, the candidates seeking the Democratic Party's nomination for governor of Iowa faced off today in one last debate. It was the big one, so to speak.

I was there to do my part: waving signs at cars near the parking lot entrance.

For me, the highlight of the morning was when I was approached by a reporter from WOI Public Radio, I think it was Joyce Russell, who asked me if I would like to be interviewed about the race for governor. She asked me several questions, and I think I gave good responses. I haven't heard it yet on the radio, but I'll listen for it again tomorrow. Maybe they'll put the audio file on their website? I couldn't find it there yet.

I didn't have tickets to go inside, so I went with a group of Culver supporters to a comfortable location nearby where we watched the debate on TV. Afterwards, it was time to collect all of the signs and stuff.

As for the rest of the day's events...

To me, it was obvious that nothing really happened to change the dynamics of the race. Chet Culver came to the debate today as the clear front-runner. He communicated clearly and eloquently in the debate. The opponents did not score any knockout punches, therefore...Culver wins and cements his front-runner status in the final days before the election.


Oh, one thing I must mention that I found to be exceptionally ridiculous: After the cameras were off, the Blouin campaign staff attempted to make accusations of flip-flopping. No, I'm not joking.

I mean, Blouin is like the granddaddy of wafflers. In case you haven't heard, when he was in Congress he sponsored amendments to the United States Constitution that would make Bob Vander Plaats proud. And just last fall he went around bragging all the time that he was "pro-life." Then he abruptly changed his mind about it in November and now he's even using the word "veto" in public when asked about changing the laws on women's health care rights. Folks, that is not just a minor adjustment of nuance. That is an absolute 360 degree turnaround on one of the most contentious issues in the country, in a matter of a few short months.

That is a flip-flop. It goes way beyond the issue at hand. It's about trust. I have observed that voters generally tend to reject politicians who do things like that.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Road Trip -- Part 3

I rose fairly early this morning and had coffee with the guys. I said my good-byes, and it was back on the road.

I headed east, to Davenport, to meet with an old friend named Dau Truong. He is a close friend of our family, and has been helping us with the campaign in Davenport.

Dau is originally from Vietnam, and came with his family to Iowa in 1991. They are now United States citizens, and are part of a large community of Vietnamese immigrants in Davenport.

Dau has been helping his friends in Davenport get registered to vote, and I brought him a lot of campaign materials and information that he can share with them. We had a nice talk in his comfortable home about the campaign and politics, and we enjoyed some Vietnamese-style cafe au lait and egg rolls.

He then took me out for lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant called Pho 99. We had some flavorful rice noodle and beef soup and also some interesting herbs and bean sprouts.

We talked about Iraq and the problems they are facing in that country. He said it is a lot like how things happened with his country.

Dau served in the South Vietnamese military, and met my dad in 1968. Dad was a lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps at the time, and Dau was part of the Vietnamese forces that were supported by the Marines.

At that time, Dad had two very close Vietnamese friends: Dau, and a man named Dien.

Dien suffered serious injuries after an explosive device went off as he was investigating a tunnel during a patrol. Dien later died from those injuries despite the fact that Dad and others tried to save him.

And that is why I have this uncommon name.

After the war, Dau was imprisoned for many years. Fortunately, he was released and re-joined his family. He then contacted Mom and Dad by mail and a stroke of luck. Dad helped him get hooked up with an immigration program, and after a long process he was able to come to Iowa with his family and start a new life.

It was nice to see Dau and his family. I hadn't seen them since my wedding.

It was a long drive back to Albia from Davenport, but it was a beautiful spring day.

Aah, now I can sleep in my own bed.

Road Trip -- Part 2

It wasn't long before people began arriving at The Cottage. We had put about 50 or 60 chairs out, and we thought we had plenty of room. More and more people arrived, and the chairs began filling up quickly. A good showing of my old Iowa City pals arrived, and it was really nice to see them there.
Then the TV crew came in and it started getting a little crowded. It wasn't long before all of the chairs were taken and it was a standing-room-only event. I think we were getting close to having 80 people, and someone said that was the maximum allowed by fire code! (I hear Blouin had about 50 last week at his event in Iowa City, to me that shows Blouin has a weaker ground game)

Chet arrived with the crew and it was on. Chet was introduced and endorsed by Terrence Neuzil, a member of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors.

Chet gave his stump speech, receiving applause many times. The crowds always love it when Chet says, "If you like George Bush, you're gonna love Jim Nussle!"

Afterwards, as people were chatting and mingling, I introduced myself to Dave Loebsack, Democratic candidate for Congress. I was really happy to meet him and chat, even though I reside outside his district (by about three miles). I wish him the best in his campaign. He's going to be a great Congressman.

A little later I overheard a gentleman ask the Culver staff "Where's Patty?" (Mom was not in attendance, she was doing other campaign work in Des Moines)
It wasn't long and the gentleman and his wife were pointed my way. He said to me, with a grin on his face, "Is your mom a nurse?"

I said in response, "She worked for about 20 years as a Registered Nurse at the Monroe County Hospital and in Monroe County Public Health."

The man's wife said to me, "Once a nurse, always a nurse." The lady, who is a nurse as well, told me she saw that nasty attack and it made her mad and she called the union that was responsible for it and complained to them. Basically she said that if somebody is certified as a Registered Nurse, they should be proud of that for the rest of their life, especially if they worked as a nurse for that long.

I helped clean up a little bit after the crowd dispersed, and then I headed back to my Old Roomie's place, where some more old friends were gathering.

He grilled a delicious meal, featuring a flavorful grilled salmon steak with a tangy mango salsa. It was superb. I washed it down with a familiar and wonderful beverage made by the Pabst company. It was a nice contrast of flavors. A few more beverages and more friends made for a fun evening, just like old times.

But one cannot have too much fun and frivolity when there is official business on the agenda!

I had to call it a night early, because my road trip was far from over. To be continued...

Back Home Again -- Road Trip Part 1

I'm home from a nice long road trip.

It all started on Wednesday, when my wife and I made our way to Des Moines. She went to the Smart Talk Whoopi Goldberg show. I went to the campaign office and spent some time volunteering, making calls to Iowa City to invite people to a community gathering with Chet Culver.

We stayed the night in Des Moines, then I struck out on my own in the morning toward Iowa City. When I arrived in town, one of the first things I did was just drive around and look at the buildings that were damaged by the tornado a few weeks back. I had only seen photos until then.

It's just stunning to see those buildings and houses smashed like that. I have walked by many of those buildings and houses a million times before, thinking they'd probably just always be there. Amazing.

I spent the afternoon at my old roomie's place, it was nice that he was off work and we had time to just hang out for a while. He began making plans for a cookout, which was a really, really good idea.

Then I went downtown to the Cottage to help the guys get ready for the community gathering, which I will discuss in my next post.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Pop Quiz

A certain gubernatorial candidate said something this morning on "The Insiders" that has to be one of the most telling statements so far in this campaign. The host, John Bachman, was talking about compromise in politics, and asked the candidate on which issues the candidate was not willing to compromise.

This is the first thing the candidate said in response:

"I can't think of anything off the top of my head right now that would not be compromisable."

Here's your quiz: See if you can guess which candidate said that.
In all fairness, he did come up with one thing on which he would not compromise, but he had to think about it for a little bit.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Shortcut to Mushrooms

Finally, there is a fungus amongus.

We went out today for about two hours, and came back with just over two pounds of morels. We had a lot of rain over the weekend, and that's all it took to make the mushrooms pop. Steva absolutely loves mushroom hunting, and I have to say it is a lot of fun when you find mushrooms.
So tomorrow night, we'll have fried mushrooms. Here is the recipe, I like to keep it simple. No frills are necessary. Adjust the ingredients according to how many mushrooms you have:

Eggs, beaten
Flour
Butter
Salt

Pre-heat a cast iron skillet. Add plenty of butter, and wait until it is all melted. Don't allow butter to burn.
Cut mushrooms in half. Dip halved mushrooms in the beaten egg. Then dip them in flour. Fry them in the butter until golden brown. Turn only once. Remove to a rack to drain. Sprinkle with salt.
You will be tempted to eat large quantities, but do not eat too many, or you will regret it.

Culver-Judge TV commercials hit the airwaves

The first two TV commercials for the campaign are now airing on local TV stations. I am really happy with them, and I'm sure they'll be a hit with Democrats all across the state.

The first ad is called "Together" and it features both Chet and Mom, as well as Mari Culver and my dad, John Judge. It focuses on Mom and Chet's records of public service and experience.

The second ad is called "World." It focuses on the Culver renewable energy plan.

Both ads are very positive in tone. I hope you all enjoy them. If you don't see them on TV, you can check them out here.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

This is just great

Check this out. It's an interview with Jesse Harris, Field Director for the Culver campaign. He very eloquently answers questions from the Iowa Progress blog.

Third District Democratic Convention Report

We had a great day at the Third District Democratic Convention in Johnston. Sorry I didn't get this written and posted sooner, but I've been enjoying a few beverages and talking on the phone for a while since we got home.

So here's a quick review of the day:

We departed here in the wee hours of the morning, picked up the grandparents in Albia, and headed to the convention in Johnston.

After a quick stop to pick up my brother's fiancee in Des Moines, we arrived in time for Rep. Boswell's pancake breakfast. We sat down and were joined by Dodie Boswell for a nice chat. The Congressman then came over and sat down for a few minutes. Let me just say, he's looking fit as a fiddle.

Sen. Russ Feingold was the special guest, and I went up and introduced myself. We didn't talk long, but he was very engaging. I told him and his staffer about this blog, and asked them to send me any info that they would like to send. I'll make sure to post about anything they send my way in the future.

Then it was into the auditorium for the convention. The delegates gathered and were called to order by Third District chairman, Joe Judge (my little brother).

I won't bore you with all of the details, but there were the usual spats here and there about parliamentary procedure and all that. All in all, however, we participated in a wonderful excercise of democracy. And I was basically happy with the results.

Rep. Boswell was the featured speaker. Joe had a minor goof when he didn't notice that Boswell was already up on stage. He got on his walkie-talkie and then on the microphone and asked if Leonard was ready. We could all see that Leonard was sitting right there, but Joe didn't see him. Joe said "Oh, you snuck up on me!" We all had a good laugh.
Rep. Boswell then delivered a moving talk about Iraq, and forcefully declared that "It is time for us to be involved in a planned drawdown." I was really proud to be a long-time supporter of our Congressman.

The next speaker was Gov. Tom Vilsack. Great speech. He has honed his speaking skills well and has near perfect timing. Well done.

The governor was followed by Attorney General Tom Miller. I like him, but I had to go to the bathroom. When I returned, he was still talking. Then he started talking about Mike Blouin and I got quite bored. Sorry, I'm just not down with that.

Fallon time...He gives a good speech. Money is bad and all that. Then he said his hero was Howard Hughes. Whoops! Harold Hughes. This is the second time I've heard him make that slip. I think Ed has watched The Aviator a few too many times. I liked that movie, too. Howard Hughes was actually a very interesting person. Kooky...different...odd. But I wouldn't say he's a hero of mine. Kinda like Ed Fallon.

Michael Mauro...Nice speech, discussed the philosophical difference between Democrats and Republicans in regard to voters and their rights. I think he's going to be a great Secretary of State.

Dusky Terry...I liked what he said about bringing young people into the Democratic Party. Strong support of ethanol and biodiesel.

Time for more business. Some minor parliamentary snafus, but we got through it. People were ready for a break for lunch.

But first...Sen. Russ Feingold! This guy really got the crowd energized. The highlight came when he was discussing his proposition of censure of President Bush. One mention of the great Senator who joined him in his call for censure, Tom Harkin, and the entire crowd erupted into a standing ovation. All in all, Feingold is an impressive speaker.

Then it was back to the school cafeteria for a tasty lunch. Well, it wasn't that tasty, but I ate it. Actually it wasn't too bad. A ravioli tomato soup and sandwich, and pie. I love blueberry pie, even if it's not particularly good blueberry pie.

After lunch, we re-convened and it was back to business. And then...in walks Chet Culver! I swear, Chet gets better every time he gives a speech. He was highly energized and kept the crowd pumped up throughout. Lots of great applause and cheers from all around the room. We in the Monroe County delegation had to really work to be his loudest cheering section. Again, I felt very proud to be a supporter.

Chet was followed by Denise O'Brien. She gave a really good speech. Make sure to watch for her green school bus powered by biodiesel.

We did some more business throughout the afternoon. We began the process of electing representatives to the State Central Committee, and had one more candidate speech...

Mike Blouin...Nice speech. I'm obviously not a supporter, but he gave a good speech and I shook his hand afterwards as he walked by.

There was more to do with our representatives to the central committee. But before we were done, we heard from Mary Compos, who helps organize the Brown-Black Forum. The event will be held on Saturday, May 6, from 6:30-8 p.m. at North High School in Des Moines. There are no tickets, and everyone is welcome to attend. I think I'm going to try to get to Des Moines that evening.

That's it for now. I'll make another post tomorrow.

Update: I talked to Mom on the phone tonight and she said everything went very well in her travels and her message was well received at the district conventions in Peosta and Mt. Pleasant.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

What forum was Yepsen watching?

I watched the Democratic Gubernatorial Forum on Tuesday night, and I watched it again this morning (I love my TiVo). It seems that David Yepsen must have been half asleep when he watched it, because he's way off in his column today as he assesses the forum. Way off.

Here's my take on the debate:

Even if I wasn't involved with this campaign, I'd definitely say that Chet Culver was the clear winner of the debate, and Ed Fallon performed very well, too.

Chet's delivery was clear and he looked in charge. Oh, and if anybody needs to control their "temper and scowl," it's Mike Blouin.

The clear loser in the forum was Sal Mohammed, of course. I like the guy, but it's just too hard to decipher what he's saying. And when you figure out what he said, it still doesn't make sense.

One of the highlights of the event came after Blouin had said that there would "ultimately be a federal solution" to the health care crisis.

Chet said he disagreed with Blouin, and offered his ideas for solving the health care crisis here in Iowa. Blouin then accused Chet of being "confused." Chet then delivered a brilliant riposte, and in the end, Blouin was the one who needed to control his scowl.

Chet also hit one out of the park with his closing comments. He looked cheerful and got his message out almost flawlessly.

I think it's funny that Yepsen is working so hard at making this race seem more competitive than it really is. He has to write about something, I suppose. But every measure shows Chet Culver as the clear winner of this Democratic Primary. And his lead is growing all the time. Yepsen's right about one thing: Chet is getting better, and forums like the one on Tuesday really show it.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Extreme Gardening

We're going to have lots and lots of veggies this year, or at least that's the plan. We're all set to have the largest garden we've ever planted.

We've chosen what I think should be an excellent location, situated in a spot with some really nice black dirt. I't was once a barnyard and feedlot for my and my brother's 4-H steers when we were kids, so you know it's fertile ground.

So far, we've planted seeds for radishes, cabbage, lettuce, jalapeno peppers, green bell peppers, an assortment of other colorful bell peppers, eggplant, lima beans and green beans.

Tomorrow I'm planning to plant corn, potatoes, peas and more green beans.

I've got some seeds starting in pots by the window in the garage as well, just in case. And to absolutely ensure that I will have tomatoes, I also cheated a little bit and bought a few pre-started peppers and tomatoes, just in case our seeds don't sprout.

Oh, I also have some garlic sprouting in a pot that I'll soon plant somewhere in the garden as well.

If things go well and these things grow I should have a great plenty of veggies to share with my friends and family. And I may even sell some at the farmer's market this summer.

On similar note, we've almost totally struck out on the morels so far this year. It's just too dry out there, I think.

My friend Jamey and his brother Damon came out a few days ago and we went for a quick hunt, but the three of us found nothing. Steva found four tiny little gray ones, but that's it. We gave two of the little gray ones to Jamey and Damon, so they didn't have to go home without any mushrooms.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Judge for Yourself

During my time at the newspaper, I would sometimes write an opinion column.

It wasn't often, but if there was something I thought I needed to write about politics, or something else that interested me, I wrote it.

And my boss always let me print them. Another reason why I will always appreciate him as a boss.

I wrote columns about Social Security, the 2004 election, about John Edwards and John Kerry, and the caucuses and stuff like that.

And one time I wrote a column about Halo 2, which was a real hit with my friends. My columns were titled "Judge for Yourself," a title that I never liked. But I couldn't think of anything any better. Now that I think of it, I should have called it "Smoky Hollow." Duh.

Anyway, here's my final "Judge for Yourself" column that was published in last week's Albia Union-Republican:


Since I joined the work force, way back when I was a teenager, I have had some very fun and interesting jobs. None more interesting than this one.
Other than working on the farm as a kid, I've worked in lots of different places.
Years ago, right here in Albia, I was a Kum & Go clerk, and I also spent some time as a burger flipper at Hardee's. Those jobs are not nearly as easy as most people think.


I will always have a lot of respect for people working in jobs like that, and I must say, the average person would not believe some of the things you have to put up with while working at a gas station in the middle of the night. But, in retrospect, both of those jobs were quite fun.
I also worked for Menards for a while in Iowa City, where I did everything from driving a forklift to shuffling paperwork to counting money. That was a fun job, and the people I worked with were great.


Then I spent quite a while working for a comic book store that made most of its money selling Beanie Babies. Let me just say, anyone who works in a shopping mall during the Christmas season and endures that music for hours and hours on end deserves a special award or something.
Did I ever tell you about the time I sold a single Beanie Baby for over $1,000? The customer actually appeared to be an intelligent, well-to-do, normal human being. And he even acted like he got a real bargain. During the time I worked there, I learned a lot about people who have more money than they know what to do with. That was fun.

I started working here for the Albia Newspapers way back in the late 20th Century. I had never had a job like this before, but at last, it was an opportunity to use my one true talent: spelling.
Some people can sing, some people can dance. Not me. I am gifted with the ability to correctly spell words.

Now I'm not about to claim that there haven't been any words misspelled in this newspaper in the last six years. Far from it. Hey, I can spell, but I never said I could type worth a darn.
We've misspelled a whole lot of words, but...just think of how many thousands of words we've spelled correctly! On a percentage basis, I think we've spelled quite well!

But of course, there's a whole lot more to this job than spelling. Spelling is the easy part.
The hard part is deciding what is news and what is not.
What's important and what's not? What has impact? What is fair? Why should this be in the newspaper when something else is not? I've learned a lot about all of this stuff during my time here.

There are books and journalism professors and college courses that try to answer those questions, but they really never can. You just have to figure it out for yourself. I think I've gotten better at it. As I write this, it's Wednesday and it's 3 p.m. and I've only heard two complaints so far today.

So anyway, what is news and what is not? What is fair and balanced? People all over the nation debate these questions every day, now more than ever, I think.

I've always been very interested in the news media. From when I was a little kid, my parents always had a bunch of newspapers coming into the house every day. I'd always read them all.
But I never really understood how it all worked until I got the job here.
And there are things I learned that I did not expect.

I found out that I actually didn¹t know everything about my hometown and it¹s people. I grew up here, and lived most of my life here, but never really knew how things worked.
I have learned a little bit about stuff like that. Why some things never get done. What motivates people.

Who makes the big things and little things happen in our community.

How a few people can come together with an idea and get something done to help others, and then tell you they don't want anything about it in the newspaper because they don't want to take credit for doing it.
Or how some people can do something very small and get very upset if they don't get credit for it.
Or how it's the small things that mean so much to people. And what is meaningful to people is all that really matters.

And, sadly, I also know how many important stories I should have written, but didn't. There is not enough paper and ink in our warehouse to tell every story that should be told about the people of Monroe County.

But it's time to say farewell. I'm moving on, although I'm not really going away. I'm still going to be your Monroe County neighbor, but as far as jobs go, I'm going to be doing something else.
I sure hope my next job is at least half as fun and interesting as this one.

There's only one way to find out.

Out on a Limb

I'll miss being a newspaper guy. And I'll also miss having a really good boss who respected my opinions and allowed me full freedom to report the news the way I thought it should be reported.

We respected each other and agreed on most local issues. He was one of the best bosses I have ever had, and I will always appreciate the opportunities he gave me.

But we argued all the time. He is a rock-ribbed Republican and I am a liberal Democrat. Sometimes we yelled for hours about George Bush or Iraq or this or that.

My former boss, Dave Paxton, publisher of the Albia Newspapers, writes a column each week in the Albia Union-Republican. He wrote some very kind words about me in his "Out on a Limb" column last week that I will always cherish.

Here are his comments, excerpted from the paper last week:


WHEN DIEN JUDGE applied for the editor's job here six years ago, without any newspaper experience, without a journalism degree and with a cap firmly planted on his head, I didn't give hiring him a second thought.
And even though we are miles apart politically, socially and generationally, it's been a good, sometimes noisy, sometimes argumentative ride. I'm not sure either of us changed much in our political ways of thinking. I know I was forced to get better at presenting my conservative views.
Being challenged is good, particularly if you tend to surround yourself with people who basically agree with you. Present a view to people who will pat you on the back by simply breathing the same air is one thing. Present that same view to a sceptic, looking at life from an entirely different point of view, is something all together different.
As much as we differ in terms of liberal-conservative, Democrat-Republican, we fell into agreement on most local issues. Which backs up the idea that all politics is local. We had dozens of conversations across the hall about the real division in Iowa being urban-rural, not Democrat-Republican.
I think Dien was surprised at how important he became to the Monroe County community as its news editor. I'm hoping his interest in the community will continue, because he has everything it takes to become a local mover and shaker.
As a publisher and avid writer of editorials, the thing I most appreciated about our professional relationship was the balance he brought to more than a few topics. "Read my editorial and see what you think," I'd ask. He may have suggested a word change, or the addition of a single sentence and on occasion he would grimace and I knew I might want to rethink the whole opinion piece.
Sometimes I felt I was on a learning curve in hearing about state politics and his mother's run for governor. It was a rare opportunity for me to peer into Iowa's political machinery. It's why I can bid Dien farewell without a single regret. He has a once in a lifetime opportunity to help affect a statewide gubernatorial race.
I'm not completely sure what direction I'm going to take in filling his position. I doubt very much I'll be able to hire immediately anyone who has the feel for covering local government like Dien developed. I hope people on the city council, the board of supervisors, the hospital board and water board realize how skillfully, honestly and sensitively Dien covered their meetings.
After the election is over I'm hoping Dien and Steva remain as active participants in Monroe County. If they do, they'll make a positive difference. The kind of difference Dien made as editor of the Albia Newspaper.

Finishing a chapter, starting a new one

For anyone who hasn't yet heard, I have decided to seek a new job. I've written my last news stories for the Monroe County News and the Albia Union-Republican.

I started as a staff writer at the Albia Newspapers Inc. in 1999, and became News Editor after a short time. I had almost six and a half years of great fun in that job. I can't begin to explain all of the interesting, boring, weird, exciting, bizarre and downright fascinating stuff that a news reporter in a small town experiences.

Albia City Council meetings, Monroe County Board of Supervisors meetings, Monroe County Hospital Board meetings. Board after board, meeting after meeting.

And meeting people, and meeting politicians, and meeting deadlines. It is a fun and rewarding job, but it's time for me to move on.

In the meantime, I have an opportunity to devote a considerable amount of my time and efforts by volunteering for the Culver for Governor campaign. I am working to organize other volunteers in my local area, and I'll be making lots of phone calls. This campaign is going to be very exciting in the coming weeks, and I'll be doing what I can to make sure Chet is victorious in June.

So much to report, so little time

I sincerely apologize for my lack of posting lately. I have lots and lots to report, but I've had even more other stuff to do.

But now I'm back, and I'll be posting more often than ever. I know, I know. Bloggers say that all the time just before they disappear off the face of the Earth. But I mean it, and I'll explain why.

I'll be making a series of posts tonight that will explain some major changes in my world (for the better).

Friday, March 31, 2006

Scalloped Cabbage

So there's this place in Albia called the Main Street Cafe. It's one of those true Iowa places that simply cannot be properly described.

Years ago, when I was little, it was a Maid-Rite. I'm talking one of the old time Maid-Rites of yesteryear. That hamburger steamer chest thing with the "M R" on the lid is still there.

But now it's the Main Street Cafe, and instead of Maid-Rites, they have "Main Rites"...you get the picture.

It's a half block from my office. There is only room for about 15 people to sit comfortably in this place, but it's usually full every day for breakfast and lunch.

I often have the lunch special, which is not a loose meat sandwich, it's a home style meal. And I mean real home style food. Stuff like my grandma makes.

I'm especially fond of one of the side dishes that sometimes is part of the lunch special: Scalloped Cabbage. What the heck is that, you ask? Don't you worry. It is everything your heart has ever desired and more. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but it really is good.

Anyway, I made it a personal quest to figure out how to make this divine side dish for myself. And I was successful. Not only was I successful, I think I even improved upon it. And now I will share it with you, so you can enjoy this wonderful, wonderful thing.

Scalloped Cabbage
1 small head cabbage, chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup cubed muenster cheese
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttered cracker crumbs

Heat oven to 350 degrees
In a large pot, cook chopped cabbage in boiling water for approximately 5 minutes, until tender. Drain.
In a separate pot, make a roux with the butter, flour and milk (melt butter, stir in flour, cook for several minutes, add milk, bring to a boil, stirring constantly) add salt, and then add the cheese and stir until a thick cheese sauce is created.
Grease a baking dish and place half of the cabbage in it. Pour half of the cheese sauce over the cabbage. Add the rest of the cabbage and top with the remaining cheese sauce. Cover with the cracker crumbs and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbling and the crumbs are nicely browned on the top.

Trust me, you'll like it.

Soup suppers

Long time no update. Sorry. I've been doing other things. Let's see...what's happening out there...

So somebody is planning a publicity stunt, to serve soup while Nussle rakes in the cash with Bush.

I actually attended a fantastic soup supper yesterday right here in Albia. It was for our local food bank, the Monroe County Helping Hands Center. They had a fund raiser to help offset the costs of a remodeling project on their building. They served soup during lunch and in the evening. I went for both. They had chili, cheesy potato and ham and beans. I had cheesy potato for lunch, and it was so good I decided to come back for more. They raised a whole bunch of money, and I was happy to play my part.

But anyway, Blouin is in a hotly contested battle for second place, so he really needs some free publicity. He's planning a big photo-op event to happen at the same time Nussle has his fund-raiser with Bush. I wonder which event Blouin's running mate will attend (hehee, get it?).

But enough of that. I have had a truly transcendent experience that I must share. I will explain in my next post.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Ill Communication

I cannot remember the last time I was as sick as I was this week.

Since my last post, I've been very much under the weather.

I was all fine and dandy last Friday at the St. Pat's stuff (Georgetown won Best of Parade). It was fun.

On Saturday, the Irish revelry continued. I went to a party where there was some awesome corned beef and other tasty treats. I had a bit too much Jameson, but nothing out of the ordinary for a guy of my intestinal fortitude. The next day I didn't feel well, but I assumed it was just a mild case the Brown Bottle Flu. Or was it the Boogaloo Flu?

Anyway, it didn't go away. It got worse, and worse, and by late Sunday night, I was shivering and sweating at the same time. On Monday I went to work, but I really don't remember much. I even sat through an Albia City Council meeting, and wrote a good story the next day, but I barely remember any of it. I went to bed and slept. My boss was sick, too. It sucked. We both decided to work through it. It was a rough week.

But it has passed. I'm all better now.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

ERIN GO BRAGH

"May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live" -- an old Irish blessing...
Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, a time when we of Irish American heritage join together to do some of the things we do best (merry-making and carrying-on).
I'll be going to the big parade in Des Moines. A big group of people from Monroe County are going to participate in the parade, lots of folks from Georgetown and Melrose. I am a proud member of the Georgetown variety.
Judge is an Irish name, you ask? Yep, it sure is (Dien is not an Irish name, however. It's Vietnamese, but that's another story).
There are many, many Judges in our big extended family, and we can all trace our heritage to Ireland.
Specifically, I've been told that our family comes from Westmeath County, Ireland. They left during the Potato Famine, and came to America seeking a better future. This is documented in a fascinating, extensive family tree in a book at my Mom and Dad's place.
Our branch of the family settled in the western part of Monroe County, Iowa, and they quickly became successful farmers and leaders of the community.
They helped build the historic St. Patrick's Catholic Church at Georgetown, the oldest church in the county today. Part of our family Century Farm is directly west of the church grounds, and borders on the south and west sides of St. Patrick's Cemetery. That cemetery is where many of my ancestors are buried.
The name means...well, it means "judge" of course. It's an Anglicized version of the old Gaelic name Mac an Bhreitheamhain, or the later version Mac an Bhreithimh, which literally means son of the judge.
I've been told that we of the Judge family are probably related to people who have any of the following surnames: Brain, McBrain, Brehany, McBrehan, Brethany and even more surnames that are just different Anglicized versions of Mac an Bhreitheamhain.

Anyway, I hope the weather is nice for the parade. I'll try to take some photos during and after the parade, and I'll post them over the weekend.

Right on

I don't normally do this kinda thing, but I liked this latest release from my favorite U.S. Senator, I just decided I had to post it:

Harkin Praises Nation's Farmers, Rural America on National Agriculture Day

WASHINGTON, DC ­--Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today praised America's farm families and rural communities for their hard work and dedication in providing an affordable and abundant supply of food, energy and other goods for the nation. In celebrating National Agriculture Day, Harkin called on all Americans to recognize the vital role of agriculture in meeting everyday needs ­ from food and fiber to renewable energy and biobased products.

"U.S. agriculture is the most productive in the world, meaning a steady supply of reasonably priced food and other products," Harkin said. "The strength of our agriculture is a stabilizing force in the American economy ­ and that strength is rooted in the people who make American agriculture what it is today."

America's farmers are currently leading the way in producing renewable energy. Farmers have been greatly expanding America's production of ethanol, biodiesel, windpower and also have begun using farm-based commodities in producing industrial greases, lubricants, plastics and many other products traditionally made from petroleum. Just last week, USDA moved forward with a program Harkin established in the farm bill that requires government agencies give preference to purchase industrial (non-food) biobased products as long as they are available, perform well, and are not unreasonably priced. "It's an exciting time for American agriculture," said Harkin. "Today, farmers and rural Americans are not only meeting the nutritional needs of Americans at the dinner table, but also supplying farm-based renewable energy and fuels while improving our environment. The sky is the limit with what America's agriculture can do to reduce our country's dependence on foreign oil and boost our energy security."

"Our farmers remain good stewards of the land," Harkin said. "We in Washington must do more to reward sound stewardship and encourage even further environmental gains. Much has been done, and more needs to be."

Amen, brutha.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Drove down to Ottumwa this morning

Wow, what a beautiful day. I'm not about to waste it sitting in front of a computer.

But I do want to put up a quick post about what I did this morning. I drove over to Ottumwa this morning and briefly stopped by the Wapello County Dems convention. I split after the gubernatorial candidate speeches.

When I got there I quickly found the Culver crew had just arrived and I introduced myself to some of the guys I hadn't met before. I had a quick minute to chat with Chet about the campaign, and then it was time for him to go in and visit with the Wapello County Democrats.

There was a nice crowd assembled, and I was pleased to see a clear majority of Culver/Judge signs and lots of Culver stickers around the room.

KTVO had a camera set up.

Denise O'Brien said hello, and she recognized me from when I met her at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner last fall. She is very personable and friendly, and we had a nice chat about her campaign for Secretary of Agriculture.

I also chatted for a minute with Ed Fallon before the meeting was called to order. I told him that he had exceeded my expectations and he was making waves with his campaign. He was wearing a suit and tie, for those of you out there keeping score of that kind of stuff.

Gubernatorial candidate speeches were the first item of business. Apparently they drew numbers for order of speeches. Chet was first.

Chet gave a great speech, emphasizing his priorities of pushing renewable energy and making Iowa number one again in education. Overall it was a well-polished, fantastic speech. He stuck in a jab to another gubernatorial candidate who is on record as saying the minimum wage is meaningless and irrelevant. I think most of the crowd knew what he was talking about. He emphasized the fact that he is a proud progressive, and a fifth generation Iowan. Lots of nice jabs at Nussle, and a mention about how the Culver campaign is already beating Nussle in the polls. He'll protect women's rights to make their own health care decisions, and push for stem cell research. The Wapello County crowd reacted very positively to Chet's message.

Fallon was up next, he gave his standard speech that we've become familiar with. Campaign finance reform and stuff like that. He mentioned that Nussle has already spent a million bucks, and we can't even tell what he's spent it on. Also mentioned that he has never even seen Nussle at any candidate forum or event so far in the campaign. Talked about how corporate welfare is wrong (read: the Grow Iowa Values Fund). He had a minor slip of the tongue when he was listing his heroes...Paul Wellstone, Tom Harkin, Howard Hughes...oops, Harold Hughes. Heheh. He corrected himself immediately and laughed about it. Overall the speech was not too shabby.

Blouin drew the coveted finishing slot. He started off by saying, "Isn't it a great day to be a Democrat?" and the crowd clapped. The first thing that popped into my head was...dude, I'm a Democrat every day. He joked around a lot and got some laughs at Nussle's expense. I must admit the "bag too small for head now" joke really is a knee-slapper. I didn't catch any mention of his Democrat-Since-2005 running mate. Maybe I just missed it. Honestly, it was a good speech. Lots of great Nussle one-liners that I wish I'd thought of first.

Friday, March 10, 2006

BSG season finale

That was quite a finale for Battlestar Galactica tonight. The show had a little bit of everything, I must say I was pleased but also saddened that I now have to wait until October for more. It certainly ended differently than I predicted. This season has definitely had its weak episodes, but the finale really delivered.

One of the highlights: Chief gave a speech that would have made John L. Lewis proud. I need to watch the show again, write that speech down and memorize it.

Oh, and ya gotta love Adama's cool mustache.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Switch grass test burn

What was the only good thing Bush said in the State of the Union speech? That's right...switchgrass.

I put an article in the paper today about a switch grass test burn that is being conducted at the Ottumwa Generating Station. It's really cool stuff.

There is a group called the Chariton Valley Biomass Project that has been conducting these tests at the power plant for the last few years. This new test is the final stage of the process, and it sounds like everything is working beautifully.

They basically take huge bales of switch grass hay and grind them into a dust. That dust is mixed with pulverized coal and burned to create some of the electricity you are using right now to read this on your computer. You can read more about it here.

In 2001, I was invited to tour the plant and see the test equipment during the first phase of the test. It's one of those news assignments that I'll never, ever forget. Truly one of the most fascinating stories I have covered in my six and a half years as a news reporter.

It's really, really promising research, and I gotta give everybody involved due credit for working hard on this project, including the folks at Alliant Energy. Of course, making switch grass work as an alternative to fossil fuels is not exactly perfect yet. But it is the research that is most important right now. And they are gathering vast amounts of information on one of the possible alternative fuels of the future.

It's also really cool to me because the Ottumwa Generating Station, and this cutting-edge research in renewable fuels, are only about six miles from my house.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Monroe County Democratic Party Convention Report

(Updated from earlier post)
We had a nice morning at the courthouse for the county convention. It was great to see a lot of friends in attendance.

After the delegates were seated, we approved our platform positions. I don't have them word-for-word, but here's the gist of them:
1. Simplify the Medicare prescription drug program, making it easier for senior citizens to obtain their needed medications.
2. Sentencing reform: Make Iowa sentencing laws conform with the federal Truth in Sentencing law, providing an honest and accurate measure of the actual time an inmate will spend in prison.
3. Our National Parks must never be sold to loggers, oil drillers or mining companies.
4. The U.S. Constitution must be interpreted by the Supreme Court, and any elected official who does not conform to that interpretation must be removed from office (including the President of the United States).
5.Push for a paper printout capability on electronic voting machines.

We were asked if we wanted to break into preference groups. No motion for preference groups was made, so it died for lack of a motion.

Candidates for public office had the opportunity to speak.

The first speaker was Buzz Malone (yes, his real name is Buzz), from Chariton. He's running for the Iowa House of Representatives. I'd never met him before, but I'm very happy to see we finally have a Democratic candidate for this race. And Buzz is going to be a great candidate. He was funny, passionate, and he's got a great background. He's just the type of candidate we need at the Statehouse.

The next speaker was Connie Terry, wife of Dusky Terry. Dusky Terry is seeking the office of Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, which is the office my mom has held since she made history in 1998. Connie was very nice, and she visited with everyone. She sat by my grandpa.

Next up, was...ME! My mom was unable to attend because she was traveling around central Iowa to other conventions, so I took the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Culver-Judge ticket for Iowa Governor. I honestly did not know I was going to be doing this until this morning, so I didn't have a speech prepared. I just emphasized Chet Culver's strengths as a Democrat, and Mom's strengths and long record of service. I said that Mom and Chet are the only candidates in the race who have a record of winning statewide elections. I said that they have a proven record, over a long period of time, of being on the Democratic Party's side of the issues. I said that they are both well known throughout the state. And I said that there is never any question about where they stand on the issues. When Mom or Chet tell you something, they mean it. And the last point I emphasized strongly was the fact that they have both proven their dedication to the Democratic Party, unlike any of the other candidates in the race. I'd never given that kind of speech before, but I actually think I did alright. My wife said it was great.

In came Dodie Boswell! She is always fun. She started off by asking all of us in the room to take a really deep breath, look at the person next to us, exhale, and say "My...you look good today!" Of course everybody laughed and we tried to do it, but it was basically just a big laugh. She gave a very informal talk about her husband, Rep. Leonard Boswell, and even sang us a song. The song was called "The Hills of Southern Iowa," which she wrote long ago when they were in Portugal. She said that he is working really hard right now, and that he has been through a tough time with his health but he's doing well. We all need to really work hard for Leonard and make sure he wins in November.

Then it was time for some of our great county officials. Monroe County Recorder Tracy Casady spoke, then Monroe County Supervisor Denny Ryan, County Attorney Steve Goodlow, and County Treasurer Sandy Clark. It's a great set of officials, and I'm sure they'll win re-election this November. (Steve Goodlow was really funny. He was sitting next to Denny Ryan, and he said he just couldn't bring himself to look at Denny and say "My...you look good today!")

Later on, Matt Paul from the Blouin campaign came in. He gave his speech for Blouin, and hung around a while before leaving. He was polite.

Time to elect delegates to the Third District and State Conventions.

Monroe County gets four delegates. The first nominee approved was my brother, Joe Judge. The second nominee approved was my wife, Steva Havick Judge. The third nominee was Doran Haywood, but he graciously declined the nomination. Then, Eleanor Barnhill was nominated and approved. The fourth nominee that was approved was moi. Alternates will be my grandma, Lois Poole; my brother's fiancee Allison Paulk; and Betty Stewart.

After we adjourned, there was a county central committee meeting. My brother Joe was elected county party chairman.

Then we went to Granny's and had lunch.