Hail to the chief, whoever he may be

November 15, 2000

Not unlike the rest of the nation, we have spent many hours spellbound in front of the TV set and radio these past few days as the drama of the 2000 presidential election continues to unfold in suspenseful, Hollywood-like fashion. The ongoing clashes in Florida between the George W. Bush and Al Gore campaigns have made for some interesting discussions around the dinner table as well as with business associates and other family members. Glenn predicted early this year that it would be a close contest for the White House, but little did he or anyone else know it would be thisclose.

Every member of our little family has been affected by the election season in some way. Glenn has garnered a reputation at work as the "election stud," as his boss referred to him at a recent staff meeting, for his series of assignments designing the newspaper's election preview and post-election sections. The preview section was assembled over five marathon days in mid-October and consisted of 64 pages zoned over four circulation areas. Glenn had to coordinate most of the project with the help of a co-worker, at one point spending back-to-back 14-hour days to meet the deadline. It was for that effort that he was recognized with one of the paper's monthly employee recognition awards on Nov. 9. Roni, meanwhile, has found herself covering local election happenings as part of her correspondent's duties for the Brentwood News. While the races for Oakley's water and sewer districts might not seem as glamorous as presidential politics they have had their similarities, with accusations of voter irregularities and threats of legal action entering the picture. And Benji, suddenly an up-and-coming football fanatic, has been fascinated by the ever-changing electoral college totals for the two presidential candidates, relating to the vote count as only a 6-year-old sports fan can: "Uh oh! Now Bush is in the lead... Now Gore's in the lead!" His grasp of the political process is sketchy at best, and he often refers to the candidates as "Gore Bush," as if they were one person, and responds to Dad's constant viewing of CNN with great disdain: "Dad! Are you watching Democrats again?!"

There is life outside of politics (fortunately) and ours have been busy this past month. In late October, Glenn received an opportunity to change his workdays and now looks forward to having Sundays off starting the week after Thanksgiving. Tossing a weekend day into the regular leisure mix -- the first time that has occurred in three and a half years -- will give all of us one common day off and the opportunity to enjoy some family activities we have been missing since Benji started elementary school almost a year and a half ago. We got a small taste of what future Sundays might be like when we journeyed to Roseville on Nov. 12 for what has become our annual visit to the International Rail Fair. We left home about two hours later than we had intended and spent 90 minutes driving aimlessly through Roseville looking for the fairgrounds, but we still had a couple of hours to enjoy to model train displays and pick up some bargains for Benji.

Another activity that has been occupying our time recently has been car shopping. Glenn's trusty Toyota Tercel has been showing its age since mid-year and there have been some nights when he feared its little 13-year-old engine might not get him over Concord's Kirker Pass that separates his commute between home and work. We have been combing the Internet for information and dared to set foot on the lots of several local car dealers for test drives and some comparison shopping. We are hoping to delay a purchase for a few more weeks, but the timetable depends entirely on what Glenn's current car wants to do.

Roni, in addition to her work for the newspaper, has been busy with other aspects of her business. Her clients have been providing her with a steady stream of work that at times has left her wishing she could clone herself, or at least hire a secretary. Her ongoing community volunteer efforts this month netted her the Oakley Chamber of Commerce's President's Choice Award during the annual Citizen of the Year banquet held Nov. 11. We have all been concerned about Roni's dad, Norm Ekstein, who recently underwent two heart surgeries in a Florida hospital. It appears now that the surgery worked and he is on the mend at home.

Benji, as mentioned previously, has become quite the football enthusiast. The more the Oakland Raiders -- his favorite team -- win, the more devoted he becomes. His excitement bubbles over during Monday Night Football as he has a hard time sleeping while the game is on. He makes frequent checks of the TV as he tries to fall asleep. He is learning to recognize all the NFL teams and the cities they call home, which has gotten him interested in U.S. geography. We have a presidential election program on Benji's computer that features a map of the electoral college, so he has become good at identifying the names of the states and their locations. He continues to do well in school, and eagerly anticipates holidays like all American schoolkids. For Halloween he went as Augumon, a character from his beloved "Digimon" TV cartoon show. Together with his older cousin Bobby Coughlin, he terrorized the neighborhood in search of dental decadence.

With all the political chaos the holidays have sort of sneaked up on us. In a few days we look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving, then it is time to focus on the seemingly endless list of Christmas preparations. We have been getting serious about holiday shopping. With luck, this year we might finish everything before Christmas Eve.

Glenn, Roni and Benji

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