Archive for August, 2008

The Captains Wedding Season Part One

As anyone in their late twenties1 can attest, frequent wedding attendance is pretty much mandatory.  Last year Megs and I attended a record six weddings.  We had a marathon stretch last spring that included four weddings in four separate states in the span of five weeks!  By comparison, 2008 is much lighter than 2007.  Three weddings, two states and five weeks is a much calmer pace.

Our wedding season stared two weekends ago with the wedding of my college buddy, Hippie Dave.  In college Hippie Dave sported the long-hair-tie-dye look common to many hippies.  Here’s Hippie Dave with the Hipster Captain back in the SMS days.

A lot has changed since those days.  He is currently known as Preppie Dave now that he sports the crew-cut-polo look.  Preppie Dave married his awesome girlfriend, Glasses Kelly2 on August 16 in a very unique ceremony at the Magic House.  Look at how happy they were!

For those non St. Louis types, the Magic House is an interactive children’s museum that is basically a catnip factory for kids.  Children were pretty much the theme of the evening.  Preppie Dave and Glasses Kelly are crazy about kids, so it was the perfect setting for quite a memorable wedding.

The wedding party featured 16 kids, including 3 sets of ring bearers/flower girls.  Out of the 200+ wedding guests, over 60 were under the age of ten.  They even had a separate chicken finger/apple sauce buffet line for kids!

Even though the reception was basically one big playground, it was still a little overwhelming being around that many children.  They were running wild while the adults were crowded around the bar.  Free booze + random children lead to these types of photos.

I have no idea whose kid this is.  He crawled into the fake dump truck where my buddy Jeff and I were sitting.

Luckily, I volunteered to DJ the event for Hippie Dave, so I had my own little area that was off limits to the hordes of roaming children.  Score!

Technology has made DJing a wedding unbelievably easy.  All I needed was a laptop, itunes and microphone.  DJing kept me occupied and was actually rather enjoyable.  The most challenging aspect was programming the music around a G-rating due to the the mass amounts of children.

Old friends, good times and plenty of kids made for a kooky and memorable wedding.  And it was a great contrast to the wedding we attended this past weekend.  But more about that tomorrow.  Until then, Preppy Dave and Glasses Kelly, this pose is for you!


The Captain

1  I’m in my twenties for one more week, so lay off.

2  This nickname is not an attempt to call her a nerd, it is quite the opposite.  Kelly works for an optometrist, and is known for having very stylish glasses.

The Captain Says Bald Is Badass

Dustin’s comment on my last blog made want to clarify my feelings on baldness.  I agree; bald is beautiful and it’s so much more.

A couple of years ago when my hair-loss started to increase, I became acutely aware of how bald people are portrayed in the media.  Bald fictional characters tend to fall into two categories:  The creepy-old dude or the overly-tough dude.  Bald characters are often written to resemble Dick Cheney or Vin Diesel, neither of whom I am particularly fond.

Since my mid-twenties I have been keeping a mental list of my favorite bald characters.  Everyone needs heroes, and I need them to be bald.  So allow me to share my top five.1

Top 5 Bald Characters Who Are Personal Heroes

5.  Larry David

Yes, Larry David is a hero of mine.  His character on Curb Your Enthusiasm constantly speaks to my personal sensibilities.  True, he is kind of an asshole.2 But he does have some admirable qualities.   He calls out bullshit when he sees it, refuses to apologize when he doesn’t feel sorry, can make people laugh no matter what the situation, and he is often honest to a fault.

Larry is definitely a flawed character, but it is those flaws that make him so believable.  While he may not appear very heroic, I prefer to think of him like this:

4.  Professor X

Growing-up I read lots of comic and my favorite was always the X-Men.  As the leader of the X-men, Professor X always seemed to me like the strongest, wisest and most heroic.  And all that that was in spite of his confinement to a wheelchair.

One of my favorite bald actors, Patrick Stewart, played him perfectly in the big screen adaptation of the comic.3

His telepathy powers were the strongest in the comic world, and he shouldered a large responsibility because of it.  Even his enemies have a great deal of respect for Professor X.  He’s the best of the best.

3.  Elisha The Prophet

Elisha was a biblical profit from the Old Testament who represented bald men with a fury seldom seen.  Check out this passage from Second Kings 2: 23-25 :

“And he (Elisha) went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.  And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.”

Damn!  Some kids made fun of him for being bald, so he had God send some bears to eat the kids!  All 42 of them!

Elisha definitively proved that it is a mortal sin to mock bald men.  Not only does this story prove that God thinks bald is beautiful, it also proves another belief of mine.  As Steven Colbert has said many times before, bears are soulless killing machines .

2.  Tony Soprano

Tony Soprano is another deeply-flawed character that somehow has the audience cheering for him.  Tony does terrible things to many people, yet we still pull for him every episode.  While he may be a murderous thug, he’s also a great leader and a family man.  Somehow his flaws make him more human and not less human.  At the end of the day Tony is just chasing the American Dream like everyone else.

1.  John Locke

I am a huge fan of Lost, and it’s mostly because of John Locke.  He is the moral center of the entire show, the Island’s philosopher king and warrior rolled into one bald badass package.  Locke has his kidney stolen, gets thrown out of a 7th floor window, is betrayed by everyone he loves, and gets shot in the back.  Yet he picks himself up and keeps moving forward.  Is there anything this man can’t do?

Locke is spiritual and wise, yet down to earth and humorous.  Simply put, he’s the kind of man I strive to be.  The ending of the last season of Lost was rather traumatic for me.  While things look pretty bleak for Locke, I have faith that nothing can keep him down.


The Captain

1  Dustin almost made the list.  He’s a funny guy with a beautiful wife who went through a harrowing year in Loveland that would have destroyed me.  However, he’s not a character so he did not qualify.

2  So much so that some vandals spray-paint “Bald Asshole” on his house.

3  And while I love Stewart, I always hated the character he was most famous for playing.  He did a good job playing Captain Picard; I just hated Star Trek with a passion.  That whole series always seemed like watching the United Nations of the future (i.e. wicked boring).  It was too nerdy even for me.

The Captain vs. Male Pattern Baldness: Round One

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I have decided to address the fact that my hair loss is increasing at an alarming rate.

I have always known this day would come.  My dad has been bald my entire life.  Baldness goes back for generations in both of my parents’ families.  Baldness is in my genes, this was bound to crop-up.

The chrome-doming started to be noticeable a little before I turned 25.  Since then I’ve slowly but steadily been thinning out around the crown on my noggin.  And while I’ve known that it was happening, it really didn’t affect me much.  From the front my hair looks fine.  I rarely see the back of my head, so it has been easy to ignore for the most part.

I’ve been thinking more about my balding lately for two main reasons.  First, turning 30 has started to put my own aging into perspective.  The thirties as a decade seem to imply a certain level of vanity that the twenties do not.  Simply put, people in their thirties are required to maintain their appearance more than people in their twenties.  It now takes more work for me to look the same.

Strangely, the other thing that has focused my thoughts on balding is health insurance.  For the first time in my life, I have reliable and affordable health insurance through my job.  This means that medical options are a viable option for really the first time ever.

I’ve been merging turning 30 and health insurance in my mind for the last couple of weeks, and it has brought me to the same convergence point.  I have decided to start taking Propecia .

This is a bit of a reversal on my previous feelings on hair growth treatments.  When I was a kid, I watched my father battle against hair-loss.  He failed miserably, and I vowed that I would never embarrass myself over hair loss.1

In my twenties I briefly considered some type of hair-loss treatment but ultimately decided against it.  I tried Rogaine for a week and did not like it.  It required me to put a smelly cream in my hair for four hours twice a day.  Not only did that seem like a lot of work, it was very expensive.  After that, I swore off hair-growth remedies for a number of years.

About a year ago, I quietly started to rethink my position.  I had heard from a couple of acquaintances positive things about Propecia.   After a little research, I discovered that there were actual clinical trials showing that the drug is moderately effect for some men.  Recently I discovered that there is a generic form of the pill that is considerably cheaper and just as effective.

After careful consideration, I decided to give it a shot.  While there are no guarantees, it’s not really going to hurt.  So why not?  About the only side effect is that it can lead to fertility problems.  Seeing as I’m not planning on having kids, I actually look at this as a positive.

I obtained a prescription and I picked up the pills yesterday.  So today officially begins

The Captain’s Hair-Growth Challenge

Here is the starting point.  As you can see, my hair-loss is generally in the crown area.  Supposedly Propecia works the best at regrowing hair in this area.  So my patch of thinning hair will be going head-to-head against this little badass.

It’s even odds on who whether the pill will triumph over my bald spot.  I’m staying optimistic and betting on Propecia.  But even if the pill loses miserably I’ll be fine with the outcome.

I’ll be posting regular updates regarding the battle of Medicine vs. Genetics.  A battle has just begun, and my entire head is at stake!  Who will emerge victorious?!?  Stay tuned to find out!


The Captain

1  In retrospect, I think that I was adverse to my dad’s wicked-bad-comb-over more than anything.

The Captain Hears The Drummer

Fact Number One – I turn 30 in less than three weeks

Fact Number Two – My hair loss is increasing at an alarming rate

Neither of these two facts is surprising to anyone that knows me.  I’ve been quietly complaining about turning 30 for the last couple of months.  I have even added the little counter on my blog to remind me about the impending passing of my twenties.

The thinning of my hair around the crown of my head has been noticeable for the last few years.  Recently the thinning seems to have accelerated, much to my chagrin.

While I’m not really freaking out about either of these facts, they both have been occupying my thoughts quite a bit lately.  If only I had some time of journal to write down my thoughts and feelings.  Some type of web log in which I could share these thoughts with others…

I think that I’m more preoccupied with the physical act of turning 30 than I am with actually being in my thirties.  For all practical purposes, I’m pretty much all ready in my thirties.  I’m married, I’m done with school, I’ve started my career, I own lots of adult-looking furniture, I wear a tie to work, I’m saving up to buy a house, I have an office.  These are all things that I associate with people in their thirties.  I think all of these things are great; they make me feel good about my station in life.

I guess I keep tripping up on the idea of a celebration for turning 30.  It’s hard to think it’s been a decade since I was a teenager.  Since my twentieth birthday, I’ve had many occasions to celebrate:  Twenty-first birthday, college graduation, bachelor parry, masters’ graduation, marriage.  I was very excited to commemorate all of these events.

A party for turning 30 will be the first time in my life that I will be celebrating something I’m not particularly excited about.  It’s not that I’m dreading turning 30, but I’m definitely not excited about the prospect.  Turning 30 starts a once-a-decade trend where family and friends will marvel at my age.  It’s a celebration that also involves some teasing.  That is definitely new.

When I turned 20, I went out and celebrated with friends.  Not once did anyone marvel that I was no longer a teenager, or tease me for not being able to purchase alcohol yet.  Pretty much every celebration in my life thus far has been devoid of teasing.1

Don’t get me wrong, I am fine with being teased.  I am rather well known for playfully teasing others, and I have no problem taking back what I dish out.  While I have no idea if anything is planned for my birthday, I’m fine with whatever.  If someone wants to throw a black-themed over the hill party on my behalf, so be it.  I’m a good sport.  If my birthday is more of a low-key dinner with family and/or friends, so be it.

I’m open for whatever when I celebrate turning 30, which I guess says a lot about actually turning 30.  People in their thirties are adults; they are expected to take teasing lightheartedly.  I’m choosing to treat turning 30 as a celebration of my adulthood.  Feel free to make a joke, I can take it.

Tomorrow I will address Fact Number Two.  It’s the Captain vs. Male Pattern Baldness, Round One!


The Captain

1  Well, almost.  My grandmother went around at my masters’ graduation party telling everyone that I looked fat.  But that was easily to address.  I told her that her hair looked like shit and then we both had a good laugh.

The Captain Is A Uniter Not A Divider

In my last blog, I failed to mention what has been taking up a good chunk of my time lately.  That would be Politics.  The election in November is shaping up to be historic in so many ways that I’ve stopped counting.

I have very strong opinions on many issues at the moment.  However, most issues lately are quite divisive and I have no interest in blogging my opinion on these divisive issues.  Even if I did, I can’t imagine that anyone would read my blog and subsequently changed their opinion on a topic like abortion, gay marriage, or gun rights.1

What I’ve really been focusing on in politics lately are so-called “divisive topics” that aren’t remotely divisive.  I keep reading and hearing from various media outlets about supposed debate over topics that an overwhelming majority of people actually agree.  Maybe I’m oversimplifying things, but I don’t really see how certain topics are debatable.

For instance, years ago I remember seeing a politician say during a debate that he was “against child abuse.”  That would imply that some candidates are pro-child abuse!  While the logic in that argument is obviously flawed, no one in the debate brought up that point.  I keep seeing so-called divisive issues where the logic on one side is deeply flawed, yet few people try and make that point.  So I have decided to pick five current political topics and show how they are not really divisive.

1.  Campaign Finance Reform

Debate about this issue has been raging for a while, and I don’t really understand why.  To put it simply, I think that 99% of people would agree that enough money can buy a politician’s vote on just about any issue.  And I think that roughly the same amount of people would agree that buying a vote is wrong and that we should work to minimize that affect.  That in a nutshell is campaign finance reform, limiting the effect of money on politicians.

Should individuals be allowed to give money to a politician’s campaign?  Of course.  That is the essence of free speech, supporting candidates that share your beliefs.  Should individuals be allowed to give unlimited amounts of money?  Of course not.  Giving money to a candidate at some point becomes buying political influence.  Campaign finance reform is figuring out where to draw the line between supporting a candidate and buying political influence.  While people may debate on where to draw the line, I don’t see how anyone would object to the need to draw a line.

2.  Estate Taxes

This had been a hot political topic this decade, and I don’t understand why.  Opponents love to refer to this as the death tax, but it’s no different than any other tax.  When money above a certain amount is given as a gift by one individual to another, tax is collected.  Otherwise, all payments between individuals would be referred to as “gifts” and no one would ever pay any taxes when money is exchanged.  Estate taxes then should be viewed as another form of a gift tax, one where the individual giving the gift is deceased.  No one argues about the merits of the gift tax and the estate tax should be no different.

Furthermore, under current law enacted by the Bush administration the estate carries a much larger exemption than the gift tax.  In 2008, the first $2 million of an estate is exempted from taxes.  In 2009, the $3.5 million is exempted from taxes and in 2010 the estate tax is repealed.2 Sensibly, the estate tax law sunsets in 2011, and the exemption amount returns to $1 million permanently.

So even after the Bush act sunsets, an individual’s estate will be able to bequeath up to a $1 million dollars tax free after death.  Any money over that amount will be taxed at 55%.  Who would possibly be that upset by this?  Only the top 1% of income bracket will ever have to worry about this, that’s about it.  Why should the other 99% of the county care?  We shouldn’t.

3.  Universal Health Care

The idea behind universal health care is simple; every citizen in America should have access to the same quality health care.  I don’t really see what there is to argue against the idea that all sick people should be able to go to the hospital.  The debate against universal health care always seems to revert to the same arguments against “socializing medicine.”  Opponents argue that the free market should dictate health care coverage, not the government.  This argument is ridiculous.

Adopting universal health care in America would designate medical services as public good instead of a private good.  Simply put, private goods and services use profit as a motive and public goods and services do not.  Americans have decided that many services, like fire police protection, roads, schools, and police protection, should not use profit as a motive to make decisions.  This allows all Americans to enjoy a determined base level of these services, and allows those who desire a higher level of service to pay more for private services.

For example, every child in America has access to schooling, and rich people can choose to pay more to send their children to better schools.  Every citizen has access to police service, and rich people can choose to hire private security for extra protections.  This should be the same for health care.  Every citizen should be able to go to a doctor, and rich people could then choose to spend more on private medical services.  I don’t see this as debatable, and neither does any other industrialized nation in the world besides America.

4.  Windfall Profit Taxes

A windfall profit tax was put in place back in the 1970s by the Carter Administration.  It was an inventive way to recover some of the profit made from the huge jump in gas prices in that decade.  The oil companies were making record profits at the expense of American citizens, and this tax was used to help level the playing field.  The money collected from the tax was used to help fund needed infrastructure improvement.  Eventually, gas prices fell and the windfall profit tax has repealed by the Regan Administration.

Thirty years later, oil companies are again making record profits at the expense of Americans.  Exxon-Mobil posted the highest quarterly profits ever recorded in each of the past five quarters.  Record high gas prices have led to an unprecedented amount of profit for oil companies.  If the windfall profit tax was brought back now, it could be used to force oil companies to invest some of this record profit back into America.  For example, the money raised from this tax could be used to fund the construction of renewable energy infrastructure.  I see absolutely no debate on this issue.  The only people I could possibly see arguing against additional taxes on the wealthiest industry in our history would be people making money from these oil companies.

5.  Offshore Drilling

This issue seems to be particularly divisive at the moment for some strange reason.  Right now, a majority of Americans actually support increased offshore drilling in America.  The phrase that keeps getting repeated is “drill here, drill now.”  This is extremely misleading, and has no real bearing on the issue at hand.  The actual debate is whether Congress should lift a 1981 federal ban on offshore drilling.  I understand that Americans are upset about high gas prices and support the idea of drilling for more oil in America.  However, this is not what is actually being debated.  Lifting this ban will have no effect on gas prices for two reasons.

First, oil companies can already drill offshore and are already do so.  Lifting this ban would simple let them drill in more places.  Location has not kept oil companies from more drilling offshore; it’s been the cost involved.  Oil companies have had the opportunity to set up additional offshore drilling for decades, but it is much more expensive than traditional, land based drilling.  Seeing as there are already millions of miles of ocean where drilling is currently allowed but is not taking place, adding more area to this will not have any negligible affect. It may have a tremendous negative affect on wildlife in our oceans, but no effect on gas prices.  Why risk it?

Perhaps the biggest reason that lifting the ban will have no affect on gas prices is very simple; American oil companies are private and not public.  The popular opinion seems to be that drilling for American oil will lower American gas prices.  The problem with this idea is that there no such thing as American oil.  We don’t have a national oil company like Russia or Columbia, so we don’t have national oil.  If Exxon-Mobil drills for oil in America, it’s Exxon-Mobil’s oil.  They can sell it to whoever they wish.  Oil companies are private entities, and will sell their product to the highest bidder.  Even if lifting the offshore drilling ban was to increase oil production, we would have to compete with the rest of the world for it.

I think that these five issues are basically rich people problems vs. poor people problems.  Like privatizing social security or school vouchers, these issues are things that rich people tend to complain about.  The only people against campaign finance reform, universal health care, and estate taxes are usually the wealthy.  Lifting the offshore drilling ban and against windfall profit taxes should only be supported by oil companies and the people that make money from oil.  These issues have been creatively packaged to hide the fact that they almost exclusively benefit the rich, but strip away the rhetoric and that’s all that is left.  At a time when the gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to grow, it amazes me that issues designed to narrow that gap can be considered divisive.


The Captain

1  There are roughly 18 bazillion other websites devoted to this if you are interested.

2  Attention rich old dudes!  Plan your death for 2010 and pass the savings on to you heirs!

Published: Thursday, 14 August 2008
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