GOP Primary: Newt calls it quits…sort of

You knew it wouldn’t be that easy.  Newt Gingrich is ending his campaign for the Presidency, kind of.  He announced Wednesday that he will quit on Tuesday, with a speech.  Always with a speech.  Where have I heard that before.  Oh yeah, it was one of the great philosophers of our time, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”  Of course Newt is a southerner of sorts.  He was born in Pennsylvania, but grew up in Georgia.  You know Southerners, they’re always fixing to do something before actually doing it, so maybe Newt is just fixing to quit.  I have lived in Knoxville for 12 years now and I have even caught myself saying that.

One thing he’s not quitting is his very expensive, tax payer funded, secret service protection.  The Office of Homeland Security is expected to pull the plug on the $44,000 a day detail by the weekend.  So Newt and Calista will have to slug it out without a security detail all the way till Tuesday.  Oh the humanity.

Newt has already dropped most of his staff, and his debt continues to grow, in part because he continues to honor campaign engagements he made a month or two ago.  If you think this is normal, I offer Tim Pawlenty, former Governor of Minnesota and first candidate to drop out of the race.

When T-Paw decided to get out and endorse Governor Romney he cancelled all scheduled campaign events, went home to Minnesota and settled all outstanding debt.  He did not suspend his campaign, he ended it.  He filed the paperwork with the SEC (the commission, not the greatest sports conference in the country), and when he stepped to the podium to campaign for Romney he was completely free of debt and his campaign finance account was zeroed out.  That’s how an adult who believes in fiscal responsibility runs a campaign.

Granted Pawlenty got out a lot earlier than Newt, so his debt was not as high, but that is way too simplistic an explanation.  Neither Pawlenty, nor Santorum for that matter, flew around in private jets, hired private security details, or made an enormous amount of impromptu stops to zoos, sporting events, museums, etc… All that costs money and time and staff; which costs more money.  The jet rental company has still not been paid.  Calista even kept the private security after a Secret Service detail was assigned to her.  Even more telling, the campaign made no financial adjustments after Florida, when the funding started to dry up and it became clear Santorum and Romney were the front runners.  This campaign was running high on the hog from start to finish, debt be damned.

Newt is not the conservative he claims to be.  He may say a lot of conservative stuff, but he doesn’t do a lot of conservative things.  His campaign is more than enough evidence of that.  I wonder how much debt he can ring up between Friday night’s trip to tour the Penske Racing Plant and Tuesday’s speech?

To semi-quote a Tom Cruise movie, Newt’s ego was and still is writing checks his account just can’t cash.

Twelve Dollar Popcorn

Stumbled into this dad’s blog. It’s great. This post is from his blog called sweetandweak. Check them out here: sweetandweak

Simon C. Holland


Checking the Rule Book 

OK dad, you can’t step on the floor because it is lava but it is OK to step on the rug because it is magic and you can throw pillows on the ground and walk on them.  Also, you are the trapper…..wait, no.  I am the trapper and you are the tickler but you can’t tickle me if I have you trapped.  Ok, so I will hide this plastic Easter egg and you close your eyes and count to 1 million.  Then you have to find the egg but keep your eyes closed and I will tell you if you are hot or cold.  AND NO LEG TICKLING!  Also, you can’t tickle my armpits.  Only my tummy and I get to keep this pillow shield in front of me.  Wait hold on (runs to room and returns with crayons and paper)  first though, we need…

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Diary of a Stay At Home Dad: Four Weeks and Famous

I’ve hesitated to write about my daughter for a lot of reasons.  First and foremost; she’s battling for her life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NIC-U) at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.  I wanted to be sensitive to the very real and frighting thought that she may not make it, and then here I am writing semi-funny blogs posts about her.

She is doing much better now, gaining weight, growing longer.  She is now 2 pounds 12 ounces, a full pound heavier than the day she was born. She’s also taping out at 15 3/4 inches, three and three quarter inches longer than the little 12 inch sprout she was, born a month ago.  But, one thing I have learned is it can all go downhill in a literal breath or heartbeat.  Life is unbelievably fragile.

That’s when I decided it was ok to write about my daughter.  Her life is fragile, but all of our lives are fragile.  We all hang on the edge of living or dying.  Not talking or writing about Anne Marie in funny and positive ways won’t change the balance of that.  This stems from an old adage or practice that you don’t really tell anyone you’re having a baby until the pregnancy gets past 12 weeks.  The odds of something catastrophic happening go way down after 20 weeks.  I get it and we’ve even done that.  But this is different, for me anyway.

So I’ve been sitting on my hands, worried that I’ll write something funny and then something catastrophic may happen.  Then I looked around the NIC-U again.  Something catastrophic is always happening.  In the five hours she was alive, Linda Claire taught me to enjoy while you can.  Anne Marie is alive, and I am going to enjoy my daughter and celebrate her for as long as she’s here and part of that celebration, for me, means writing about her.

Introducing my daughter, Anne Marie Linardo – Four Weeks and Famous.

Great grip for a baby 3 months pre-mature. Another golfer I think.

So when we wrote the obituary for Linda Claire we did what a lot of people do.  Instead of flowers we asked for a donation be made.  It took Tracy and I about two seconds to decide the donations should go to the NIC-U at the UT Medical Center here in Knoxville.  The staff there have just done an outstanding  job in every conceivable way.  The nurses are the total package.  Healers, ministers, counselors, you name it they can do it.  It was an easy choice to ask people to donate there instead of send flowers.

Well, some family members sent donations, then some friends, then some friends of friends.  Even a few people who just happen to see the obituary in the paper but have no connection to us sent a donation.  I know this because every time someone donates, the Director of Development at UT Medical Center sends me a letter acknowledging a donation made in memory of Linda Claire.

Small side note.  I also got a three page hand written letter from a woman who wants me to become a Jehovah’s Witness.  She sent the letter to the funeral home listed in the obituary and they mailed it on to us.  She really threw down a sales pitch.  She sent me a few tracts from the Watch Tower.  For you young folk, that’s an old version of the literature JWs used to hand out.  They moved away from that because it became a bit of a stigma.  If a person was preaching to you on the street or your porch all you had to do was look at the back of whatever publication they gave you and if it said Watch Tower publishing, you had some JWs on your hands, well on your porch anyway.   Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Anyway, word got around, as did the edible arrangement my sister Mare sent to the NIC-U nurses. Master stroke dude.  First it was about our tragedy and then about the donations made in memory of Linda Claire.  We got a call from the development office at UT Medical and they want to interview Tracy about her feelings on the NIC-U and film her interacting with Anne Marie in the NIC-U environment.  The interview will be played during an event called “An Evening in Orange” at Neyland Stadium.  It’s a large, yearly fundraiser for the hospital and this year it will benefit the NIC-U.  So naturally they wanted parents with children in the NIC_U to participate.  I think four families were interviewed.

Neyland Stadium is home to the University of Tennessee Volunteers football team.  It seats 102,455 people on game day and is the 6th largest non-auto racing stadium in the world.  Just in case you were wondering.

I imagine this event will be tents and tables on the field.  I don’t expect 102,455 people in Knoxville have the desire or the 750 shekels it takes to get in.  Yeah, this is a big time fundraiser.  Hell, we’re in the video and we’re not going.

Today was the day of the taping.  Tracy was interviewed and then the crew followed us over to the NIC-U to film what amounts to some action shots.  Wasn’t sure how much action they were going to get out of a bunch of one to two pound premies.  Of course our daughter didn’t disappoint.  As soon as the crew sets up and starts filming, Anne Marie falls asleep, stops breathing, and her heart rate dropped into the 40 to 50 range.

That’s bad of course.  It normally sits around 165.  Alarms start going off, people start coming.  However, this is “normal” for a baby that weighed less than two pounds and was born 3 1/2 months early so we’ve seen this a lot in the past four weeks.  It’s just funny because she had been fine all day until the very moment the cameras were on.  Tracy had her hand in the Iso-Box and so she just sprung into action.  Normally a few strong pats on the butt or feet will be enough to wake her up and she’ll start breathing again.  It was maybe 5-10 seconds and her heart rate went right back to where it should be.  Welcome to our normal.

Once everyone settled down, it was movie making time.  The interview had already been conducted so this was just film footage, no talking.  Our nurse decided she did not want to be famous, said something about getting her hair done had she known and shot off to work on some other babies.  There is a reason the nurses in the NIC-U are badass.  They fight the fight 12 hour shifts at a time and take none of the credit or glory.

Tracy put her hands into the Box and Anne Marie just laid there, sleeping.  She normally works the camera, but not today.  One terrifying heart event is all you get today boys.

It was a tiring day, for everybody, but it was worth it.  The NIC-U staff of doctors, nurses, support folk, and front desk gang are all top notch, earning every nickel and then some.  After everything they’ve done for us the least we could do was spend a few hours helping in the fund raising effort.  Although when they see the part of the video I’m in they may start a collection to send me to fat camp.

For those of you who attend this event, remember the camera adds ten pounds at least.  And yes there was only one camera on me.

You sure that's my best side?

Getting the close up.

Hey where's my breast milk! Ordered that 10 minutes ago. And turn up the sun lamp!



















If your heart desires, donations can be made to:

In Memory of Linda Claire Linardo

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the University of Tennessee Medical Center c/o Office of Development

2121 Medical Center Way, Suite 110, Knoxville TN, 37920

GOP Primary: The Event Horizon

Can you feel it?  We are getting close.  Event Horizon is a term related to relativity, describing the boundary by which an outside observer can no longer be affected by events through space and time.  In other words, it’s the point of no return.  Tonight we reached the event horizon of the republican primary election.  Governor Romney can’t officially win the nomination of his party until the Texas primary on May 29th at the earliest, but by sweeping the five states that voted tonight, he will no longer be affected by the Newts and Ron Pauls of the political world.  The republican party is at it’s event horizon, their point of no return, with Governor Romney as their nominee.

Now as we have seen over the past few weeks, there could always be a Columbian hooker in the closet, as in the case of the Secret Service, or a pregnant mistress and violation of campaign finance law, as in the case of former 08 candidate John Edwards.  If any of that were to happen that would of course change the game.  In this case I think the republicans are safe.  This is Governor Romney’s second go round.  You would think any issue would have come up by now, but hey you never know.

Just FYI; John Edwards could get 30 years in prison for what he has been accused of.  The trial started today and the first witness, one of Edwards’ closest aides during his failed Presidential run, put Edwards squarely under the bus.  The guy had receipts, e-mails, cashed checks, the works.  Johnny Haircut might be in a pickle on this caper.

Anyway, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware voted tonight.  Governor Romney swept all 5 states.  His lowest percentage was in Delaware, where he got 56% of the vote.  There were 231 delegates available tonight and Gov. Romney won them all.  His total now stands at 801 delegates.  He needs only 343 more to win the nomination.  He will do that easily.  There will be no floor fight at the convention.

Of course Newt finished last in every race but Delaware, coming in 2nd, some 3o percentage points behind Gov. Romney.  Naturally he gave a speech in North Carolina tonight.   Why North Carolina, well the Tar Heel state votes in the next primary on Tuesday, May 8th.  So you know what that means, Newt is staying in.  He claims he’ll reevaluate, but he said that about Delaware, and he got shellacked in Delaware.  He may just to drop out tomorrow, when he has the press all to himself.  He may just like having his Secret Service detail, you know the tax payer funded, heavily armed detail.

Paul finished 2nd in every race but Delaware.  He took 3rd behind Newt.  Interesting to note that Paul did not campaign in any of the states that voted tonight and he still beat Newt by sizable margins in 4 of the 5 states.  He appears to be hanging on for a sprint to the convention, again in all likelihood to get some more time for his Libertarian message.

Next primary is May 8th.  North Carolina, West Virginia, and Indiana are up.  Should be another 132 delegates in Governor Romney’s column.

We have another dead period as we wait the two weeks for the May 8th vote.  What will we find out next.  Will it be another dog meat buffet scandal, illegal immigrant hedge trimmers, fancy vacations, or an oldy but a goody, the birth certificate conundrum?

Rest assured, if it’s utterly ridiculous, heinously stupid, and completely manufactured, Frank’s Place will be all over it.

GOP Primary: The point of no return… maybe

This is it. Possibly.  Tonight’s the night.  I think.

This should be the final step for Governor Romney.  He is running basically unopposed now and while he can’t technically win the nomination tonight, that could come in Texas on May 29th at the earliest, he can effectively put the nomination away by sweeping the five northeastern states voting tonight.  If he can’t do that, the doubts that have been finding a voice the past three weeks may get louder.

The governor has already shifted to hammering the President, although he made that move after the Florida primary.  The big difference this time; the White House has shifted to hammering Romney, clearly believing he is the man.  The only person who doesn’t believe it is Newt, and a lot of the electorate.

Chuck Todd, NBC’s political director called it way back in August of 2011.  The Republican base may not fall in love with Mitt Romney but they need to fall in LIKE with him.  Still not sure the electorate is in like with Mitt Romney.  Tonight will go a long way to settling that down.

In Newt’s case his ego just won’t let him quit.  His debt on the other hand…  Currently the Gingrich campaign is over 6 million in debt and that number is rising.  For some reason Newt and Calista have refused to accept they are the fringe campaign.  Both still use a private jet for travel, and Calista still maintains a personal body guard service, even though she has a secret service agent assigned to her.  Speaking of the US Secret Service, guess which candidate who is against frivolous government spending still demands a secret service detail, costing the tax payer some serious gitas (money).  Newt and Calista will have that detail until he drops from the race; something he say’s he’s not willing to do until the convention.

However, because of the mounting debt there has been rumblings that Newt may pull the cord after the Delaware primary.  Delaware?  That’s his last stand according to his campaign.  Not really sure what a portion of 17 delegates will do for a campaign that’s over 500 delegates behind and 6 mil in debt but hey what do I know, he’s the PhD.

Don’t Look Now…..

Remember all those dumb little non-binding delegates from all those dumb little caucuses in the mid-west?  Well, they have been conducting their respective state conventions and guess who’s been winning a lot of those un-bound delegates?  If you guessed Congressman Ron Paul, take 10 dollars out of petty cash.  The Paul campaign has 2+ million in surplus cash, no debt, no on coming debt.  He’s not traveling much, speaking at local events in his districts or at colleges where the school puts up the fee.    In other words it turns out Ron Paul practices what he preaches.  It has put him in good position for …

Guess what, Ron Paul may survive to the convention.  He can’t win it but he’ll finish second in overall delegates which would be a huge feat.  He’ll probably be offered a speech in close to prime time network coverage at the convention; in the dinner hour most likely, and that’s the victory Paul is looking for.  He knows he can’t win, but if he can keep getting his message out there through the remainder of this election, that will be victory enough.

All five states are in the correct time zone, so polls close anywhere from 7 to 8pm eastern.  Check back for results after 8.

Oh and any polls you see in April have absolutely no bearing in November.  Romney has drawn even with the President, the President trails Romney, it will be all over the map.  The only poll that matters now is the one you’re standing in on Tuesday, November 6th.

Diary of a Stay At Home Dad: The Cartoon Wars

So, yeah we let the kid watch a little TV; even before he was two. I know that may make some of you shudder, but if you know me then you know you’re wasting a perfectly good shudder. For those without kids I will tell you that it’s hard to pick up a parenting book, read an article in a parenting type magazine or see a post on parenting type blogs, that doesn’t condemn letting the little tyke watch the flat screen before the age of two.

Frank was watching the golf channel when he was barley 6 months old.  That wasn’t by choice obviously, it was just my preferred background noise whilst I was choring.  Of course now that he has a choice he would rather hit golf balls than watch it on TV.  Ah they grow so quick.  If he chooses to watch TV, his choices have become more age appropriate I guess.  I mean golf is any age appropriate in my opinion, but what do I know.  I do know that I have learned a lot about kids cartoons in the last two plus years.  Here are a few of the shows Frank watches and my opinion/review of them.

Baby Einsteins was the first non-golf show he ever watched. Not too bad.  If I had to watch it over and over it wouldn’t make go on a killing spree or anything, but not my first choice for mindless entertainment.  The show has a lot of animals and music, a good combo for any long car trip.

He then graduated to the Little Einsteins.  This gets 2 thumbs up from me.  It’s really for older kids, 3 years and up I think, but Frank was digging it when he was around 18 months old.  Four little kids using classical music to solve issues ranging from lost animals to putting the rings back around Saturn, it’s must see TV.  They even have a rocket ship named Rocket, of course.  The little band of merry sleuths ask for help in getting Rocket’s engines started and helping him go super fast.  Again all this is done using the basics of music.  Pretty cool concept.

Special Agent OSO.  This is a tubby bear special agent who goes by the name OSO, as in “He’s O SO Special” as his theme song happily sings.  Get it?  Well I’m here to tell you Special Agent OSO is not So Special.  He’s a dope.  Apparently he’s also deaf.  The show’s bid to get kid interaction revolves around OSO being told his mission and then immediately turing to the camera and saying, “I forget, which way was I supposed to go?”

Special Agent No-So

This goes on the entire show.  He can’t remember a freaking thing.  He’s told to zip up his wet suit before diving in the ocean to swim to the beach.  What does mister Special do, swims to the beach unzipped and then can’t understand why his clothes are wet.  Then the other characters in the show tell him the right way AGAIN, and then he finally gets it right.  The only thing he’s teaching kids is that they don’t have to pay attention the first time because someone will be there to tell them again.  Not so special bro, not so special.

Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  Ok show, great music.  Three kids in a pirate crew battling Captain Hook.  This is an offshoot of Peter Pan, who makes frequent cameos.  I warmed to this show; didn’t like it at first but they use a lot of rock style music at the close of the show and Frank always runs to get his golf club/guitar to play along.

Thomas the Tank Engine.  Pure awesome.  Hands down the best merchandised cartoon outside of Disney.  The difference: we took Frank to a remote town in North Carolina to ride the actual Thomas Train and it cost about 100 bucks total, including gas.  The town was all decked out in Thomas stuff, there was a big tent with train tables, a huge Lego Thomas.  We got Thomas tattoos.  Took Frank into one of the many Thomas stores there and he walked out with a Thomas whistle, that’s it.  Bummer.  Let’s buy some stuff man.  He’s not at the “I want everything” stage yet.  I should be thankful.

It was great as much as it was a disaster, and it was a disaster.  The full story is in the book, coming soon, so save your pennies.

Chuggington.  Trains again, a mild rip off of Thomas, Chuggington is a city run by trains.  Three trains are in training (no pun) to be Chuggers, full fledged members of Chuggington.  It’s really the vanilla wafer of the train cartoons.  I’ll eat a whole box in one sitting, but I probably won’t like it.

Handy Manny.  Big bummer here.  I really like Handy Manny but Frank never took to it.  Manny is a hispanic living in milquetoast America.  The town is called Sheetrock Hills and is possibly the whitest place on the planet.  But Manny does repair work for the good people of Sheetrock Hills as he is the only competent worker in the town and the only person with tools.

Too cool for tools.

And the tools are what’s cool.  They talk, with spanish accents.  Every tool has a different personality type.  Manny will always use a spanish word and then give the english translation.  Very catchy theme song too; which I find myself signing a lot.  I wanted to get Frank the tools and tool box for Christmas but he really doesn’t watch the show much.  I was bummed again.

Of course Disney gets a segment all alone.

The Disney Channel is the greatest invention since the airplane.  Sorry Tony.  Most of the aforementioned shows can be seen on the channel.  Micky Mouse Club is a great show as well.  Like Thomas, the Mouse needs no explanation.  All I’ll say is I can get most of the house cleaned, or laundry done, or bills paid, or dinner made with a little Disney Marathon.  But the House of the Mouse does not come without some pitfalls.

No Disney Movie is appropriate for kids.  Frank and I were both a little sick one day and we snuggled into the barco-lounger to watch Finding Nemo, airing on Disney Channel.  I had never seen the movie, but heard everyone raving about it when it came out.  It’s fish, in the ocean, swimming and singing.  Everyone in the commercial looks like they’re having a good time.  They have that great song, Under the Sea, sung by a cute little crustacean.  Should be great.

Bad move.  Should have pre-screened it.  Holy crap, in the first 20 minutes of the movie we see Nemo’s family, including his mother, being savagely murdered by a school of piranha.  Only Nemo and his father survive.  Damn you Mickey the Mouse!

The action is mostly implied of course.  Trust me, kids can read facial expressions, and the expression on Nemo’s father’s face screamed bad things.  His expression after the bloodletting was over screamed very sad things. Turns out every Disney movie is structured that way.  An endearing character goes through unspeakable tragedy and then triumphs in the end.  Who knew.  That never happens on Golf Channel. Thank God the back button on the remote took us to the Evian Masters repeat, a replay of the LPGA women’s Masters.  So yeah, no Disney movies.  Hopefully Anne Marie will benefit from the emotional scars Frank is taking for the team.

Since Disney is so fond of morals to the story, I’ll give you one.  If the little tyke is watching something you’re not sure about, switch to the Golf Channel, where the scariest thing he’ll see is a professional golfer miss a four foot putt costing him millions of dollars.

Off Topic: Congratulations!!!!

The votes have been tallied, the count verified, the appropriate judges bribed.  Announcing the inaugural Frank’s Place T-Shirt give-a-way.  The categories and winners are listed below.  If you’re a lucky winner, e-mail me your t-shirt size and mailing address, and as soon as Frank is up from his nap he’ll ship those right out.

Ok enough stalling, I’m not going to do you like they do on those dopey reality talent shows where they go on and on and then break for commercial before revealing the winner.  Yeah, I’m looking at you Seacrest.

Early Bird: non-blogger division – The very first Frank’s Place t-shirt goes to our very first registered follower.  This person showed initiative and of course good judgement by being the first person to sign up to receive Frank’s Place posts through her e-mail.  Annnnnnnd the winner is:  Marisa Stone, USA.  Congrats Marisa!

Everyone Has an Opinion: non-blogger division – The next coveted garment goes to Frank’s Place very first commenter.  There is nothing a blogger likes more than attention.  We watch our stats page closer than we watch our children, so comments are like crack, or in my case, diet coke.   This person also became the second e-mail signer upper as well.  The EHaO winner is: Becky Kraslawsky, USA!

Follower From Another Country: blogger division – This one caused a little controversy.  The blogger’s country showed up as the US.  After some detective work, mainly reading his profile on his blog, it was discovered that he is in fact in China.  China does not allow the use of social media. Registration with servers in the US that make it possible to jump the firewall in China is required.  Frank decided to allow it, and hey who am I to argue.  For dogged determination and for boldly going where few would want to go, the FFAC winner is: blogger Nate Wintle, Ya’an, Sichuan, China.  Congrats Nate.  Due to a sizing mix up at the factory, Nate will be accepting a t-shirt for his daughter.  You can read about Nate and his family at his blog Happiest Baby in the World.

Congratulations again to all our winners.  Get your shirt size, except you Nate, and your shipping address, especially you Nate, to me at  Shirts will go out ASAP.  Pictures of said shirts below.

Keep an eye of Frank’s Place, you never know when the next round of winners will be announced.  Frank can get a little crazy sometimes, probably why we call him crazy Frank, and he’ll send merchandise flying off the shelves.