Separating from the Pack, Ethanol Plant expansion, and Pat survives a Tropical Storm

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Good morning!

Usually you’d be mad about having a tropical storm interrupt five days in Florida but I have to say, the vacation was just about what Sally and I needed.
More on that in a minute but first getting back into the news was made a lot easier by the fact the Trisha and I were in early to help write the show. Our regular producer Heather is taking a break, so one of our outstanding Associate Producers, Lisa, stepped in.

Debating the Debate
There will be a lot of that going on this morning but David Yepsen’s column sorts the latest democrat debate out. If you just can’t stomach getting into the politics this early, Yepsen’s take is that the front runners (Edwards, Obama and Clinton); separated from the second and third tier candidates. Interesting that he points out the three were placed next to one another for a portion of the debate making it easier for the conversation to focus on them and away from the others.

City on the Move
The Des Moines City Council has a full agenda tonight that includes, among other things; another look at new plans for the ethanol plant on the city’s southeast side, a new downtown housing development called Opus One, and a Music Festival for the City of Des Moines.
(Pat, aren’t you glad I proofread these things? You wrote “festical.” TS)

For you downtown commuters, we also had an update on those condos going up at the corner of MLK and Ingersoll. Can’t believe they’re going to have those places done by August!
Should be interesting…look for more on all of that tonight.

Tornado Update
I seem to miss a big news story almost every time I go on vacation and this time it was the tornadoes in southwest Iowa. Damage is now estimated at nearly three million bucks. The Lt Governor is going down there to survey the damage herself today.

Corporate Compensation
We ran this straight out of the register this morning and I have to say I’m a little confused. It’s no surprised that the CEO of Principal is getting paid the most money in this town. His is one of the City’s most successful companies and he’s presided over some of the healthiest years in Principal’s history. The confusing part came when the register calculated Barry Griswell’s salary at almost 17 million bucks. The company puts the number closer to nine million.
The second guy on the list is Mark Oman of Wells Fargo. Now this is where the math gets really confusing. The Register put Oman’s salary at $600,000, they said his total compensation was more than six million!
The way they come to that number is by adding up his salary, “with the car allowance, country club dues and home security expenses added in, his total package was $6,350,977.”
That must be one heck of a security system. I think the article didn’t make it clear that stock options and other bonuses are probably a part of that compensation as well. Either that or someone put in an extra zero….

Paris in Jail
We got the word that Paris Hilton turned herself in this morning to the LA County Sheriff’s office for her stay in jail. Hilton violated her parole in a drunk driving incident so she’s going to the big house. Don’t worry, she’s not going into the general population of the LA County Jail system. There’s a special needs unit for more high profile inmates. Only in LA.
I got a kick out of every one’s glee in watching a socialite with a rep as a spoiled, rich, party girl rolling up at the jail. Is it a sickness that we all have, that it’s kind of gratifying to see someone take a public fall like that? I know that a good-hearted person should feel some empathy for Ms. Hilton, or at LEAST not snicker at her fall from grace – but all I could do was wonder how ever will the poor lady survive without her makeup, designer dresses, and cellphone? TS

Immigration Debate
You’re invited down to Nollen Plaza in downtown Des Moines over the next two days for an immigration debate. A group that is advocating for immigrants is holding what it’s calling a vigil for 48 hours starting at eleven this morning. The organizer of the event invited debate…so go down and have a conversation…be ready to talk and to listen.

School’s Out
It’s the last day for elementary and middle schoolers in the DSM school district. A half day for those students…they get out after lunch. (WDM has a full day today for their last day!) Now if this seems ridiculous to any of you…join the club. I get that the state mandates a certain number of days in school, but as we’re having a conversation about how we reform education in this state to make it competitive with kids worldwide…shouldn’t we be erasing days like this off the calender? If my kid’s in school shouldn’t they be learning something and not in countdown mode? I get that it was an issue with a snow day, but it seems to me this is one example of a larger issue. There are a lot of days that NOTHING gets done in schools. And before you teachers get all over my case on this one, I have three teachers in my own family. They admit there are days they wonder…way are the kids even here. It’s not an easy fix, but rather than making a rule about how much time we have to have the kids in the building…how about a rule about the actual instruction time? There should be downtime…there should be a balance so our kids learn about balancing their lives with things they enjoy. I just question whether the kids needed to be in school today.

Vacation Musings:
OK Here goes…

We took the new Allegiant airlines flight to St Petersburg Florida this weekend. Flight leaves Wed comes back Sunday. I can’t say enough good things about the service, value and convenience this airline is offering the Des Moines Market. The airport is as easy as Des Moines is…

20 minutes after getting off the plane we were top down in a Red Convertible headed off to see Sally’s Grandma. One of the first things we noticed…the love bugs were out…and yes they call them love bugs..

They attach (I don’t have to draw you a picture but I took one), and they do their thing while they’re flying around. as you can imagine they’re not paying much attention to where they’re going so a lot of them end up on the grills of cars. Anyway, they’re all over the place. The ladies will like this one…when the male and female “attach”…the female bug is apparently the one that takes the lead.

We didn’t have an overly sunny vacation which would normally be a disappointment in Florida but that wasn’t the point of our visit. We were there to see Penny, Sally’s grandma, who is in her 80’s but looks and acts like she’s in her 40’s. She’s great! She also is a big fan of the afternoon nap which gave us the chance to recharge on our brief visit. That’s what we needed even more than the sun.

Two recommendations: If you go to the Sarasota area, visit Columbia’s restaurant on St Armand’s Circle(Lido Key). It’s some of the best “Spanish” food you’ll find.
If you want to golf, I recommend a place called Waterlefe. We played Thursday and it was a beautiful course, well kept and a bargain!

By the time we finished playing Thursday we had wind and rain that rivaled anything we’ve seen in Iowa. It’ wasn’t until late Thursday night that we realized we were getting the effects of Tropical Storm Barry! I’m not impressed. Just a lot of wind and rain. Florida needed it.

We also braved both wind and rain to go see a College buddy who’s down in Florida working for NBC in Ft Meyers. Chris Long likes to say I’m one of about four people in his life that could keep him from public office. Ditto.
He brought his girlfriend along with him and I’d like to state publicly…Chris…whatever you do…do not let this woman out of your sight! She has the college friend stamp of approval from the Dix family…not that Chris needs it, but we have some pretty high standards for a guy I’d run out into traffic for. She exceeds them all. It’s nice to see your friends find good people.

The trip to Florida also included a trip to Mote Marine Lab. It’s a destination spot for us because Sally interned there in college. She has great memories of the place including two manatees named Hugh and Buffett(on the right). They came to Mote right about the time she was interning. The ads in the paper were either mis-spelled, or people mis-read them and kept calling asking “when does the huge buffet open”.

Sally’s Mom bought her a brick with her name on it that sits right next to another one for her grandma. Penny got involved at Mote years ago. She is still involved in caring for and protecting loggerhead turtle nests on the beaches around her home. In fact, I think she’s still licensed to handle the nests.

Finally, the trip home is never as fun as the trip to go to a vacation but it’s even less fun when the guy in front of you decides his seat is a barka lounger. I’m all for trying to be comfortable on a plane. I understand how hard it can be, especially when you’re tall…but look behind you and when there’s another tall person in the seat…DON’T RECLINE!
I feel like this guy and I have a deeply intimate relationship now and we didn’t speak a word to one another. I did have my knees in his back the entire two and a half hour flight. He seemed annoyed at that. Sorry Randy Recliner…I’ll make sure I curl up in the fetal position next time so as not to disturb your slumber. The point is this: We’re all crammed in like a bunch of sardines….just be mindful of your fellow fish.

Anyway, I’m glad to be home. It will be a busy week…practice rounds start today out at Glen Oaks for the Principal Charity Classic. Get out there and see some of the great golf they’ll play. It really is fun.

We’re also in the Home Stretch of the LLS fundraising campaign. I’ve got two weeks and I really want to finish strong! You can help! So many of our viewers have been generous with a contribution…but lets do even more. Get your friends, co-workers, employees, online to make whatever donation you can. No donation is too small, no donation is too big!

TIME FOR A CAR WASH

It’s Trish now. Why is this stuff so much fun when you’re a kid, and such a pain when you’re an adult!?

This moment started with Cal wanting to try out his new SuperSoaker on the car. I think I’ve mentioned this before, right now he’s a bit fascinated with car washes right now – he’s scared of the kind with scrubbers, but loves the “touch-free” ones where “anything does NOT touch the car.”

Things escalated to the garden hose.. and little sis had to help out, even though she was dressed in her brand new sundress. Our van is nice and streaky today.
FARMER’S MARKET RENDEZVOUS

We hit the downtown DM farmers’ market Saturday, partly to check out the food, and mainly so Cal could see his “girlfriend” Lily. (She was down there watching her mom finish the Dam to Dam race.) These two chased each other around in circles, shared some watermelon, and made a cute little spectacle out of themselves. I swear they’ll end up married some day!

SPECIAL PHOTO FOR THE WHITKANACK’S

Cal’s face here is the EXACT expression my Dad and brother Brian are famous for. The furrowed brow was apparently a dead giveaway even when I was a newborn in the hospital nursery – no one had to ask which baby was me. Mom tells me I was making “the face” and looked just like Dad.

Isn’t it wild how that stuff gets passed down.
CHARLIE’S LUCKY DAY

Even our dog, Charlie Parker had a good weekend. He got to chase around his buddy, Lucky, who belongs to one of our neighbors. I couldn’t stand listening to him stand on our back porch, gazing at Lucky playing outside, and howling this awful, forlorn sound, so I brought poor Chuck out to play.

I was impressed that even without Ian, the family’s true dog-whisperer, around, Charlie-P didn’t misbehave too badly (except for marking his territory absolutely all over the neighbors’ garden).

Ian was on the road with the Nadas and Pianopalooza over the weekend, but we still salvaged most of Sunday to do family stuff – a bike-ride, kite-flying, and dinner (that no one liked but Ian and I)

I know there were lots of projects we should have been getting done – and cleaning we should’ve been doing considering Ian’s mom and stepdad are coming to visit this week – but somehow, miraculously, Ms. Type-A Trisha managed to take a deep breath, slow down, and just relax for one day. We all needed it.
Before I go…
Maybe my favorite Clara photos ever…

I got kind of lucky while stalking my little girl with the camera yesterday.

Her serious face here at the garden gate reminds me of a photo that could’ve been taken a hundred years ago. Timeless.

Here she is showing off her sillier side.

See ya’ll bright and early tomorrow!
Trisha

2 comments

  • Heather R.

    Welcome back Pat. Hope you had a nice vacation away. This whole bad weather thing couldnt have came at a worse time. My boyfriend cleans up train wrecks for a living and he got called there to clean up a train that derailed from the tornado and he was gone ALL weekend long. Our only free weekend together for a long time!! I was cursing mother nature!! He said that one side of town is untoched in Muscatine and the other is a disaster. Imagine that. Trish, glad you had a good weekend. You have the most adorable kids!! Cal and Clara are going to be heartbreakers someday!!! Everyone have a good Monday!

  • rosorio

    Tornado:The images from last weekend reminded me of the two hurricanes I went through. The first and the worst was Hugo in late 1989 and in 1996 we were hit by Bertha. Neither of them caused any harm to my direct family but many people lost their lives and property. Rich people. I guess as long as the CEO’s are earning the salary honestly and doing legal practices they are cool with me. The ones that earn that much and the employees get screwed ENRON style are the ones I despise. Must be nice to earn all that cheese every year. Paris in JailI am disappointed that she got her jail term reduced. I am not for her getting hecklers and paparazzi for something she did wrong but in some way she had that coming. If I am ever caught breaking the law like she did I will lose my job, my house, my car and any possible chance to get back on my feet. Life for the average person who doesn’t have a trust fund is very hard! The attitude I hate the most about her is that she acts like she is entitled to do whatever she wants even if it is against the law. Traveling.Traveling stresses me out. Especially if the traveling is on an airplane that lands in O’Hare. One thing that bothers me about planes is how people from other aisles fill up my storage compartment before I sit and then they block the movement because they are trying to get their stuff once the plain has stopped. PicsLove them all. Keep them coming!

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