Tuesday, October 20, 2009

First of all, Happy Birthday Ty Ty Tyroni!

Secondly, I thought I would start this Pontarelli Ponderings back up in hopes of getting the ball rolling on points of interest me might like to discuss. Here is my point of interest in the past week...

I have been down here in Ponce with Lynn and Eileen and Gramps, having a gay old time. Lynn and I even got a famous Tony tour and climbed the lighthouse yesterday. It was hard walking into 87 Calumet for the first time and not seeing Gram across the way, sitting in her favorite chair out by the pool, reading a book or finishing a crossword. But the familiar smell of the house and the ocean swept over me, and it was bittersweet to realize how much I missed Gram but how many lovely memories we have all shared in that house!

So, my birthday arrived and I told my parents I wanted to spend it at the beach. As we were lounging away, I had a secret wish to see some dolphins make a little birthday entrance for me. Well, sure enough, a few hours later there they were, just their fins popping out of the water as they strolled by. But then out of nowhere, one does this incredible flip/twist while jutting out of a wave! I have never seen anything like it in Ponce, especially in the ocean (most dolphin sightings are in the inlet). Then another one jumped, and then one was carrying on by flapping its tail on the water. Another Grammy miracle perhaps?? I like to think so!

So, I will throw out a question, and feel free to answer if you like. Just to get us pondering once again. If we are to be reincarnated, and to choose what animal we would like to come back as, what animal (or creature, what have you) do you think Gram would have chosen? Or, what animal would you choose for Gram, and why?

Happy Ponderings.
Kate Wodder of Short Hairs

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Back from Jolly Ol' England

Been quiet around these parts lately, so I thought I'd post a little synopsis of my latest adventure.

As most of you know, I've spent the last couple years trading oil derivatives. Last week, the petroleum industry held their annual International Petroleum conference in London. I attended with a number of others from my firm, and had the chance to meet (face-to-face, finally) several people we do business with and a bunch of others we don't. Also got the chance to experience London from the perspective of a Londoner, as opposed to a tourist.

While the particulars of the business side of our trip aren't all that interesting, the city of London is a very cool place to spend your time. The people are universally warm and welcoming and great to be around. The city itself does a tremendous job of intermingling the old with the new, as parks and squares and cathedrals are interspersed with office buildings and sushi restaurants. The streets are very clean, and the sidewalks are not poured concrete but stone tiles; it was like constantly walking around on someone's back patio, which I thought to be quite charming. Though at first a bit difficult to navigate, what with the maze of Mews and Gates and Squares, once you figured out where the major thoroughfares were you could get around fairly easily without asking directions.

The populace is very multicultural; I attended a get-together on Wednesday evening hosted by an Iranian broker, and spent the night getting to know an Indian, a Frenchman, a Dane and an Atlantan, all living and working in London. They all had nothing but good things to say about their adopted city and were as eager to show it off as the natives were.

But while most around the world says that America is the standard bearer for conspicuous consumption, let me tell you that we have nothing on the Brits. Everyone is dressed to the nines virtually all the time. There are as many shopping districts as anything else; I discovered, as I wandered around the city, three different areas that could be considered comparable to our own Michigan Avenue here in Chicago. I spent an hour inside the famed Harrod's building and didn't even see a fraction of their inventory. And the cars, oh the cars. The streets were practically lined with Bentleys, Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Rolls Royces. It was as if spending well into the six figures on an automobile had become de rigeur. And they would park them on the street!

But despite all the trappings some took a relatively leisurely approach to their work. It was nothing to go down to the pub mid-day and have a couple pints at lunch or for a break in the afternoon. We were visiting a broker in the downtown area in their brand new, state-of-the-art building. We got a tour of the office and met some of the people that we deal with often, then went down to the pub around the corner for a pint or two before lunch. The pub, which happened to be one of the oldest still operating in London (it poured its first pint in 1610), was packed, with several people even lining the ledges they installed on the outer perimeter of the place (for resting drinks) and chatting with their co-workers or friends in the fresh air.

Yet in contrast to the propensity for mid-day drinking, everyone we met maintained the air of professionalism that we'd come to expect, and which I think is part of the British culture. They assume that everyone deserves the utmost respect and courtesy until they encounter evidence to the contrary. It was truly a wonderful experience getting to know the people and culture of London in such a way, instead of via the usual avenues of getting it from ticket-takers at Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. I highly recommend it to any and all with the means and the desire.

Hope you all enjoyed my travelogue. Still getting over the jet lag as I returned yesterday afternoon, so I might have some updates as I shake out the cobwebs. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Motor Mouth Wodder With Shocking Current Events

While the fate of our country is terribly important, and I have enjoyed reading all of these brilliantly written, heartfelt posts (bravo fam), I have some tragic news I fear we would be foolish to ignore (not to mention, unenlightened (synonym of "ignorant", didn't want to put "ignor-" twice, as to come off sounding "imprudent"... The thesaurus is my bible... but religion will have to wait for the next post).

First of all, I know Mandy and Jon, offspring and newly engaged Linds and Ferber, are all headed to the ski slopes in T-minus a few months. I would be remiss not to warn you of your possible fate. Jon, please do not embarrass your son by pulling a stunt like this. These are critical years in your children's lives, one slip up and you may never hear the end of it. For instance, Eileen refused to let me play the trumpet when I was younger. Has she ever heard the end of it? No, she hasn't. Have I missed out on being the next famous trumpet player? You bet your bottom dollar. Don't let this be your fate M and J, and Ty, this doubles as my words of advice to you and Lizzie as you set sail on the wings of love. Also, brush your teeth regularly. Bad breath really puts a damper on romance as well as aspiring to meet "couple friends", as Timmy recommended. One shot, that's all you've got. So far, neither of you has offended me while conversing, so you're off to a great start.

Here is the site: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2009/0106091vail1.html

Also, I want to take a moment to reflect on the terrible attack of an innocent bicycler at Timmy and I's old stomping grounds; University of Colorado. I just hope to God the cows at Wagner Farm don't start getting any ideas from these crazy Boulder cows...:


And lastly, so I come off as "learned" and politically involved/concerned:


God Speed,
Kate Wodder of the short hairs and the big Motor Mouth

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Just wanted to post my congratulations to the Pontarelli Grand Pubba Parental Units for their outstanding "stick-to-it-ness" over the last 60 years! You truly are an inspiration to us all!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sorry Tyler....I have to weigh in on the inaugural!

Congratulations to Tyler on his engagement! Having never participated I have no advice whatsoever for you about weddings or marriage. But I did enjoy your recent blog entry. I'm getting ahead though. Tim, this is a great idea, nice going. Noelle, thanks for setting it up. And congratulations to me, an old fart actually able to hobble over here to post a blog entry!

I enjoyed Tim's entry also and agree with him that the ideal political party would combine social liberalism with fiscal conservatism, though I do not translate "fiscal conservatism" as no social entitlements. It's impossible in a capitalist economy for everyone to become wealthy enough to pay for all that life can throw at you. That's because any economic system needs a workforce and labor is treated as a cost that must be controlled. Can you imagine what its like to live in this society making $10 per hour? And that is almost $4 higher than minimum wage!

I have to weigh in on this inaugural expense issue by setting this expenditure in a broader perspective than has been offered so far. As a person of modest means I am dumbfounded by any expenditures that exceed, oh say $1 million. So whenever tons of money is spent on anything I'm quite sceptical of its necessity. The Iraq war comes to mind. Expensive weddings come to mind. But I would argue that this is not your garden variety presidential inauguration; in fact its actually much more than an inauguration. As white Americans we all need to take a quiet moment sitting in our favorite chair to reflect on what this event means to people of color.

Imagine for a moment that you are a black kid growing up somewhere in the south in the 1950's walking by a park with two drinking fountains, one for whites and one for "coloreds" and your mom has to pull you away because you go for the wrong one. Or you are a young newlywed couple married in 1965 Atlanta looking for a nice restaurant to celebrate your anniversary but you're turned away because Negroes are not allowed. Or you are an educated African American in downtown Chicago in 1979 and you search and search for a professional job in the private sector and no one will hire you, but they won't say why. Or you are a 50 year old black man exiting a fine hotel in downtown Boston in 1988 waiting for the valet to bring your car and a thirtysometing white guy comes out and barks at you to get him his car. Or you're a young black bride to be in 1993 Salt Lake City looking at wedding dresses in a suburban store and no salesperson bothers to approach you. Or you're a 25 year old brown skined male driving around anytown USA in 2005 and you get pulled over by the police and harrassed for no reason other than you fit the profile of a troublemaker.

Now think of all the average, honest, hardworking, taxpaying, patriotic African Americans alive today who have ingrained in their psyche that although they are legally Americans, somehow they're really not because white people just don't look at them in a way that says "you're one of us". Feel the sense of being on the outside of society looking in. Then one November day in 2008 the entire country, still mostly white people, elect a person of color to be the leader of the entire country. In 12 hours of voting almost 400 years of disrespect are seemingly erased. (African slaves were first brought to Virginia in 1619).

Yes its all very symbolic, but incredibly real and emtionally powerful nonetheless. This inauguration is not just the swearing in of a new president. For every American with skin darker that European, this is a euphoric moment in their personal life. These are individuals who have experienced racially motivated ignoring, disrespect, humiliation, and rejection in the daily events of their personal lives. All I'm saying is we as whites who have always had the comfort of being on the inside and being fully socially accepted need to be sensitive to what this moment means to the "coloreds".
Let them celebrate...and of course it costs alot, there's 3 million people on the Mall in Washington as I write this. Let "them" celebrate....and I don't know about you, but as an American I'm joining them in spirit because I'm so happy for them...and for our country...we've come a long, long way since 1619.


Another Attempt at a New Thread

Some of us seem to be trying to kill this family gathering place before it even gets going. Another leading comment about whether or not the inaugural spending is atrocious will almost certainly do that. And I'm going to do my best to prevent that from happening. I would suggest, instead of trying to sway family members to a position of your choosing, you organize with others of like mind and inform your representatives in government of your collective objections. Funny thing; that is the exact kind of activism that the president in question has spent his entire career trying to engender in politics and amongst his constituents.

Full disclosure: I also think that the inaugural spending is completely unwarranted and over the top. But I'm more inclined to work (harder, if need be) at my own job, that I am good at and interested in, to fund the changes that I think are needed and being worked towards in government, than I am to work at developing grassroots community organizations devoted to eliminating profligate spending. If you're equally adept at the latter as the former, by all means, pick up a megaphone and lead the march. If not, then you better keep that blackberry humming, because if the far left has its way, it ain't going to be cheap, and you're returns on your 401k won't pay for it all, or at least not for some time.

But despite the inauspicious start, I'm in favor of giving the new guy a chance to eliminate some of the presuppositions about how government needs to function before we start attacking him based on a party to celebrate said new initiatives. Looking backwards at the previous regime certainly does not bode well for anyone wanting to compare one administration's ability to conserve resources to another's. The spending of taxpayer money in the last 8 years virtually defines profligate; the ends were entirely different, but equally fruitless. Small government, it was not.

Well, there went my attempts at a new thread. But I've still got time, assuming you're still reading and with it being a holiday and all....

So I'm still getting married at the end of the year, though I wish it were a lot sooner. But I'd like to solicit my family members for any words of wisdom with regard to embarking on a lifelong partnership, be they about planning a wedding, the event itself, handling finances, continuing to develop our relationship, starting a family, whatever you can think of. Coming from an extended family with such strong bonds, I can't help but think that each and every one of you has something to offer that Lizzie and I can incorporate into our life together. Looking forward to any responses.

Thanks, Happy MLK Day.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Am I here in the blog yet?

I used an I statement.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Shall we set some ground rules?

No name-calling.

Try to phrase criticisms constructively, or preface them with positive statements.

Example: "Kate, I love how you are so open-minded. However, I have to take issue with your statement regarding legalizing the shooting of house cats in the suburbs."

Use "I statements" whenever possible.

Example: "Dad, I feel very angry when you criticize Michelle Obama's wardrobe choices."

Just a start...