Oh man.

Nov. 2nd, 2016 08:03 am
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Thank goodness this election is less than a week away so we can get it overwith, for better or worse, and get on with our lives. I feel pretty confident Trump is going to lose, which is a relief at this point, even though I'm not exactly chuffed about a Hillary Clinton presidency. But then again, I dunno. This is Florida, which may well be a big deciding factor, and it's hard to say. Over the weekend we passed by a Republican field office that had a bunch of people outside waving Trump signs. Then yesterday was my biweekly drive over to St. Petersburg, and I saw a LOT of Trump. Many bumper stickers ("I'm a 'Deplorable' and I'm voting for TRUMP!"), big signs along the road, even a couple billboards along I-4, one of which I wish I could find a photo of. It had Clinton on one side, Trump on the other, with little bullet points under each, and one of the points under Trump was "Unite us" (while HRC, of course, was "Divide us"). I don't think either of them have much hope of uniting us, frankly.

Then last night my Mom called because we hadn't chatted for a while, and during that conversation she told me she'd early voted for Trump. My jaw just about dropped. I knew my sister was a big Trumpalo, and my maternal grandmother, and the rest of that side of the family, and maybe Mom's husband--but my Mom is reasonably intelligent, and I respect her, and I really thought she'd not go to the dark side. "I think he could do some good," she said. It is to laugh. It really bums me out. Let's just get this thing behind us, and get on to the part where we look back on the Obama administration with wistful nostalgia.

We'll be in a cabin near the mountains of northern Georgia for election day. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but at least there shouldn't be riots there. :) The wife and I both early-voted by mail, so that's handled. We'll just watch and see, I guess.

Besides the pall of the election hanging over us, and other assorted things getting me down, life continues. The job is still here, and I still--STILL, when they said by the end of August--haven't gotten the memo about my new role and boss. Other info has been trickling out in the meantime. It's time to enroll for our 2017 medical and other benefits, and of course that got more expensive with less coverage, which stinks. But hey, the vision coverage dropped by 50 cents per paycheck, so I got that going for me, which is nice. They pretty suddenly banned all logos from our old company name from the building, so I had to box up and take home all the various cups and mugs and whatnot I've picked up over the years. The building itself looks like a bit of a DMZ since they pulled down all the signage, leaving ugly holes and old coats of paint showing, and all the room signs are hand-written temporary paper signs, which looks just fantastic. Usually this time of year, we get a giftcard for the grocery store as a thank you and a help with Thanksgiving, but of course that sort of thing is unheard of under the new regime. As are our annual Family Fun Nights at Universal, I'm sure. Haven't heard a thing about the usual Christmas party either, not that I ever go to those. And yesterday I heard that our annual raises, which normally take effect with the first paycheck of the new year, won't happen until March or April. wtf? My old boss has said all along that he expects our annual bonus to still be in place for this year, but at this rate I have my doubts about that, or at least expect it to be a lot less than usual (which will definitely displease me, since it's been a reliable chunk of income each year). The one bright spot is that our annual paid time off isn't changing--I'm a couple years away from getting my 5th week of vacation each year, and I'd heard the new company maxed out at 4, so I was a little concerned. But the 5th week will remain, which is good, and they're also adding the ability to carry over some vacation time to the next year, which might be a nice option to have. They don't pay out unused vacation time, though, so for me there's no real incentive to do that. Oh, and they're cracking down on employee bandwidth usage, video streaming in particular. Hmf. I'm sticking it out for now, but we'll have to see how many more tiny cuts the new company inflicts before I decide the bleeding is too much.

Anyway, rambling and sort of a downer. Sorry. On a brighter note, I did watch The Nice Guys the other day, pretty good flick. :) That's all I got.
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
You know, I never thought I'd rue the fact that my vote, for better or worse, counts more in Presidential elections than do those of most Americans. My home state of Florida is the largest of the swing states, and I also live right in the middle of the so-called I-4 Corridor, the region of the state that basically determines which way we swing. I'm sure you remember the 2000 "hanging chads" fiasco that eventually brought us George W. Bush as POTUS. My vote is going to matter.

And yet, as I'm sure most of you know and perhaps agree, I just can't fathom or stomach voting for either of the major-party candidates this year. Trump for all the obvious reasons, of course. Even if he had a cogent platform (and he most certainly does not), he has zero business around any of the levers of government. Clinton, on the other hand, is perfectly suited to be President, and I do not at all mean that as a compliment. She's sneaky, shady, corrupt, corrupting and corruptible. While we might get some incremental progress under her, and while she won't completely blow up the Supreme Court like Trump probably would, I expect that she'd make everything that truly matters worse. We'd go the wrong way on fixing the influence of money on politics, because that's the system she knows and exploits and has long benefited from. We'd go the wrong way on world peace, because she's never met an armed intervention she didn't like. We'd go the wrong way on global warming (though perhaps not as badly as under a denier like Trump) because she'd allow the fossil fuel interests to influence things. We'd go the wrong way economically because she'd allow the banks and other big corporations to continue putting their short-term profits ahead of the interests of their employees and consumers, and ahead of the interests of the nation and the planet.

Aside from the headlines and video clips and pundits I enjoy/respect, I've more or less tuned out of the election. Campaign pablum and pandering are what they are, and this election especially is all sizzle and no steak. It is frankly remarkable what a sporting event, a contest of personalities, this race has been and will continue to be. It's a race from one gaffe or rumor or pseudo-scandal to the next. There's hardly any actual substance, and what little there is can hardly be trusted. On the right because Trump says something different (and/or ridiculous, and/or offensive) every time he opens his mouth, and on the left because when Clinton isn't keeping herself isolated from the press, she's spouting her usual generalized and focus-grouped platitudes that ultimately mean nothing, and which I expect would be discarded like the garbage she thinks it is when she takes office.

It's just so sad, so dismaying, that these are our choices. Sadder still when you consider that Trump is where he is because the will of the voters--albeit primarily the racist, xenophobic, bigoted voters--overcame the party establishment, while Clinton is where she is because the party establishment was able to subvert progressive voters. My inclination all along has been to vote for neither: either write in Bernie, cast a third-party vote (though I don't really care for Stein and Johnson is right out for me), or simply not cast a vote for the top office. But I keep going back to the fact that my area and my vote are going to be pretty crucial in determining who wins. And while I despise Clinton, obviously I can't even imagine handing the White House to Trump. So I don't know. Depending on how polls look (and how sad is it that Clinton isn't already wiping the floor with Trump in polls?) I may feel compelled to cast an anti-Trump vote for Clinton.

And then go take a shower, of course.
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

Yes, I meant to not misspell the word 'burn,' because yesterday I Felt The Bern, today I am indeed Feeling The Burn. Sunburn, that is. Yikes.

So yeah, yesterday I took the afternoon off from work and headed to Kissimmee for a stop on Bernie's pre-primary swing through Florida. The basic recap is this: I am glad I went, of course, but if I'd known exactly what was involved I probably wouldn't have. Hindsight being 20/20, if I'd known it was an all-outdoor event with plenty of space, I'd have shown up a lot later and been a lot more prepared to be out in the sun. But as it was, I took literally the phrase 'doors open at noon' (not to mention all the media clips I've see of indoor rallies) and was in line shortly after 11am, only to discover (after waiting in line for some time, of course) that the main event didn't begin until 3pm and the whole thing was taking place outside. But by then I was there and committed, so I stuck with it.

I made some friends in line, and we chatted while we waited. There were campaign volunteers roaming the line as more people arrived and it snaked back and forth. Some were leading little chants (Feel the? BERN! Hey hey, ho ho, corporate greed has got to go!), some were signing up volunteers for phonebanking and canvassing. There were also some capitalists roaming around, selling Bernie shirts and hats and buttons. I was pleased to see quite a diverse crowd--still majority white, but plenty of minorities represented as well, and every imaginable age from infants to seniors. Nice to see. I'd considered bringing one or two of the girls myself, but I'm glad I didn't given all the waiting around--they'd have been miserable.

Once we got into the actual area where the rally was to take place, we staked out a spot to the right of the stage, maybe 75 feet from the podium. And there we waited. Behind us there was a side stage, upon which a few local bands provided pre-show entertainment. Several of them were pretty decent. The first was a jazzy jam band, and I think several of its members stuck around as part of the next act, a band of (what looked to me like) high-school-age kids called The Charter. Then a group of Puerto Rican guys playing percussion and singing traditional Boricua music. And the last band was rather unusual: a 2-man group called Grey Market, consisting of a drummer and a guitarist, both singing and playing along to prerecorded backing tracks in a sort of Muse/Tool vein with a clear old-school-Rush-style sci-fi bent. The music was pretty good, but the singing was.. not. The guitarist tended to sing in a rather terrible falsetto. Maybe it was an off day, I'd be interested in hearing if they have any recorded material. Ah, I see they have an album coming out in May, may have to check it out.

At length Bernie's motorcade arrived, and a great cheer went through the crowd. But we still had a ways to go. A couple locals gave a little speech about supporting Bernie for the Latino community--Kissimmee has a huge Puerto Rican population. Then a lady sang the national anthem and did a pretty fine job of it. Then we waited a bit more. Then a real treat I was not expecting:

Tulsi Gabbard, a US Representative from Hawaii. She's the one who made some minor waves recently by resigning her position on the Democratic National Committee so she could endorse Bernie. Since then I've heard her name mentioned as a potential running mate, should it come to that. I'm not so sure about the idea--she's awesome, but she's so young: she's not even 35 until next month, which is the absolute minimum to serve as VP. And given Bernie's age, his VP choice would be a crucial consideration for a lot of voters. She also happens to be Hindu, and while I would love a completely non-Christian Presidential ticket, it would make the GOP's collective head explode. :) But anyway, not that I had one before, but Tulsi is my new political crush and I am not ashamed to admit it.

Then at last, sporting a UCF ballcap, Bernie took the stage. Having been a fan of his for years, well before he entered this race, I've listened to many of his speeches and of course they contain a lot of the same themes and elements. So not much new there. But I did like how he presented it. I'd call it the 'This Campaign Listens' speech, as that was the device he used to bring up each point. "This campaign listens to young people," before going into his bit on free college tuition and reducing student debt. "This campaign listens to women," before going into the equal pay stuff. "This campaign listens to African-Americans," before talking about poverty and the criminal justice system. You get the idea. It was nicely done, and the crowd was into it. Lots of cheers, boos for the villains, and chants of Ber-nie, Ber-nie! I enjoyed that part quite a bit.

But yeah, getting to that part was a minor ordeal, and today I am paying the price for 5 hours in the sun. Ugh. I wore a red shirt to work in hopes that it would match my face better. Luckily I can mostly stay in my office with the lights dimmed and the door shut. :)

And that was my Sanders rally experience. Definitely glad I can say I did it. And I am not at all eager to do it again. Though maybe I would, if he manages to win the nomination. There's still a hope, though much of that hope depends on how my own state goes next Tuesday. I've done my part!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Okay, I feel a bit of a braindump coming on, because I'm in need of a little written-word therapy.

Even though the victim isn't dead yet, let alone the corpse grown cold, I can tell my brain is already trying to work through the grief process. I was sad yesterday, angry this morning, and somehow moving towards acceptance. I am of course talking about the devastation of Sanders' loss in the South Carolina primary, and what it portends for tomorrow's Super Tuesday contests and beyond. As the punditry is gleefully tripping over itself to proclaim, it's not good.

And yes, I realize it was pretty much the foregone conclusion from the start. What were the odds, really, that Sanders could pull off such an upset given the present state of the system? The presumed inevitability of Hillary from the day after the 2012 elections, her broad and deep establishment support, DNC shenanigans, the effective months-long media blackout of his campaign. But THEN. Then he started getting some attention, and drawing huge crowds, and setting fundraising records. Then Iowa with essentially a tie, and domination in New Hampshire, and polls with narrowing gaps. For a while in there, I felt good. I felt hopeful. Nevada was something of a cloud because it should have been closer, and now the disappointing blowout in SC. Part of me says it had to be that way, sooner or later. But so much of me wished otherwise, you know?

So we'll see what happens tomorrow, and regardless I am voting for him in our primary because it might be my only chance to do so. I will cast my vote proudly, and know that I did what I could from the start. But it's bitter nonetheless, if things go as expected from here on out. I expect him to stay in the race until the math is clearly impossible, and I hope he continues fighting the good fight until then, and beyond. The fact that he's a fighter and an idealist is exactly what I've always respected about him, after all, so anything less would be out of character. I hope he still manages to have some effect on the outcome of the race, and on the course the Democratic party tacks going forward. I hope the disappointment his supporters feel--many of them young, and interested in politics for the first time--doesn't make them jaded and angry, and tuned-out just as the powers-that-be prefer them. And I hope that even if this wasn't the year for revolution after all, that its time is yet not far off. Because we still sorely need it.

So now, to my shame, I am thinking about November and the prospect of voting for Hillary. I don't want to. I really don't want to. Democrat or not, she is just about everything I despise in a politician. I won't go into that here. But I know it will be a struggle to cast my vote for her, even if she is the lesser of two evils--exactly the choice I DIDN'T want to have to make this time around.

And maybe it's the grief talking, but there's some small voice in my head that says to vote for the GOP nominee instead. After all, what the US needs more than anything is an intervention, and that means it has to hit rock-bottom first, right? It has to acknowledge that it has a problem. And what better way than to put Drumpf or Cruz or Rubio in the White House? Hell, give the GOP the whole works, Congress too. Let them do everything they've promised to do in the past few years. Admittedly, we may not collectively survive the experience. But if that doesn't make it clear that they're wrong about damn near everything, what will?

In short, if in failing to nominate Bernie we've failed to steer the car away from the cliff, why not just mash the accelerator and get it over with?

I think I need some chocolate.
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Just things going on, and floating around my brain, bullet-point style:

• Just pulled the trigger on buying a microscope. I mentioned to the wife that with my upcoming annual bonus I'd like to get some good optics: a decent microscope and telescope. We have a little beginner's reflector telescope, and a kiddie digital microscope, but neither are all that good, and frankly I've never been a fan of kiddie and dumbed-down stuff like that. The idea is to pique an interest without spending a lot of money, sure, but if the result is frustration because you immediately run into the limitations of the thing.. that can have the opposite effect, you know? So the microscope is a nice, sturdy metal one, trinocular so I can slap a camera on the top eyepiece and leave the pair of binocular eyepieces available. So I ordered the camera adapter as well, and a set of prepared slides so we'll have stuff to look at immediately, and blank slides for stuff the girls find. Should be a hit. Now to research the telescopes!
• We've been getting into spring cleaning early this year! With the new year our county (finally) rolled out automated garbage and recycling collection, and provided huuuuge 95-gallon bins for each. We've been taking advantage to fill those suckers to the brim with boxes and other big things we've had stashed in the garage and around the house. Not that we couldn't have gotten rid of the stuff before, but having the big containers really makes it easy. And now that I've cleared a few spots outside, I'm inspired to do some landscaping. I'm hoping to use some bonus money to replace some of our wooden fencing as well, it looks ragged. Maybe even get some sod replaced, that's never looked great. I guess we'll see. If nothing else, I have some notions of adding pavers to some spots, and maybe adding some new plants here and there. And I should finally sand and seal the arbor bench thing I built a few years back. And there's always the Library Project. I should make a list.
• Speaking of projects, a while back I had to replace our pool pump motor--again. The one I replaced was less than a year old, but the pump itself had been sporting a small leak--it's a salt water pool, so a few months of leaking was enough to rust out the motor housing. Grr. The new motor I got a good deal on as an open-box, and it does work--but it's way (WAY) louder than it should be. So I also ordered a new set of bearings to swap in, I'm hoping that and maybe some other lubrication will quiet the thing down a bit.
• How 'bout that Sanders campaign, huh? If you follow me on FB you already know my joy, but things are really looking good for ol' Bernie. The first polls of 2016 show him widening his lead over Hillary in NH, starting to surpass her in Iowa, bringing the national (national!) gap to within the margin of error, and--perhaps most importantly--outperforming HC in every poll of hypothetical general-election matchups. It's amazing to see, and really very encouraging. If he pulls off wins in IA and NH, no matter how small, I think the momentum will be even more on his side than it already is, the media will finally have to say okay, maybe he's not the no-hoper we've been portraying him as, and all those fence-sitters and people who haven't paid him much attention so far will start thinking maybe he's worth voting for after all. And if all that happens, it won't make a bit of difference what happens on the GOP side. The only question at that point will be whether the Dems can recapture the House along with the Senate, which is unlikely, but we can hope. :)
• I had a number of photo sessions over the past few weeks (two of which I still need to finish editing, oops). There was the family in Oviedo right after Christmas, an extended-family thing in Kissimmee after New Year's, and later that week a short family session at one of the Disney hotels. In a couple weeks I have an engagement shoot with a couple whose wedding I'm shooting in July. I had an inquiry for a June wedding that I was actually pretty excited about because the location looked great, but they ditched me. I haven't even been advertising lately, really--I should do that since now I don't have much booked. And the weather is finally nice!
• Poor Hallie. When she was 2 or so, she had an incident that knocked out one of her top front teeth, so she's had that gap ever since. When she started going to the dentist he kept an eye on it, and said when the other front tooth fell out and started growing back we'd see if the adult tooth under the knocked-out incisor would also start coming in--if not, it would need a little help to get through the gum. As you might guess, it didn't, so in a couple weeks she goes in for a quick procedure to make an incision for that tooth to start coming through. Hopefully it will be no big deal, but being a huge dentist-phobe for no good reason, I'm anxious on her behalf. :)
• Like half of America, I sped through Making a Murderer on Netflix over the past week or two. Quite a show, that. I am loath to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it but wants to, so I will restrain myself. But it's all pretty infuriating, the stuff in that show. I didn't come away from it convinced of the innocence of the two men on trial, but utterly convinced that the legal system did not perform well during the entire process. To say the least.
• As part of my goal to be more musical this year, I was learning a few new songs to play on the guitar, so I'm pleased with that. If I'm not too embarrassed I should record myself as I get good at some of these songs, maybe share them here. But I'll probably be embarrassed. :)
• This weekend my mother-in-law is down for a visit, so she and my sister-in-law will be staying at a nearby hotel and we'll likely roam around the area doing fun stuff, weather permitting. And her foot permitting too, apparently she injured it recently and has been having trouble walking. Hopefully it will be feeling a bit better in a few days! Then I get Monday off for MLK Day, and that happens to coincide with the arrival of the tour of WWII-era aircraft that swings through the area each year. The nearest stop is Melbourne, so I'm hoping to drive over there, probably just me and Hallie since she's interested in climbing around in airplanes. Weather permitting, again.
• Yesterday I was over in St. Pete for our staff meeting, and on the way back the weather was glorious so I stopped by Weedon Island Preserve for a walk. There were almost no crabs this time, though--last time I visited little fiddler crabs were all over the boardwalk and in the mangroves, it was awesome. But at least it was a great day for a little walk. On the way out I noticed a little memorial along the side of the road--apparently nearby was the site of a 2000 helicopter crash, wherein 3 crewmembers died when their Bayflite medical chopper hit a radio tower and crashed. Hadn't heard about that one.

Okay, enough for now. Better get some work done before calling it a day!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
-Watched a little of the first Democratic debate last night, and have been catching some more highlights and postgame action today. I must say, I was impressed with Hillary. She clearly knows her stuff and is on top of her game, and really made no missteps. My man Bernie did well, I thought, though I don't think I heard anything that was new to anyone who's paid attention to him over the past year or two. I thought his defense of Hillary on the e-mail issue was pure class, and he did a great job turning it back to his refrain of forget the nonsense, let's talk about the issues. And speaking of issues, I was impressed at how much time was spent on issues that have gotten almost no mention in the hours of GOP debates: climate change, inequality, reining in Wall Street, gun control, etc. The 3 also-rans were just that, but everyone on that stage was civil, intelligent, focused and fact-based, and that alone was a clear difference from the GOP debates. I feel pretty confident that our next President was on stage last night, whether Hillary or Bernie. I'd prefer the latter, of course. :)
-Been dealing with an annoying malware infection on my websites. I have my photography business site, of course, and there's one for my wife's sewing business, and one I built for a friend of hers who does live music performance for weddings and whatnot. Apparently my ftp login was hacked a while back, and they injected some malicious code into the websites, plus a backdoor to let them re-infect even after I changed all the passwords and cleaned up the malware scripts. I've been working with my webhost, who have been great at identifying and removing the infected files. I think they finally found and removed the backdoor this morning, so hopefully that will be the end of it once I get everything cleaned and restored. I hope so! Hackers are among the types of people I really despise, causing mayhem for no good reason, just because they can. Grr.
-I haven't talked gaming lately! Yesterday I saw a really good deal on Super Smash Brothers for the Wii U, so I snagged that and we tried it out last night. Definitely a big hit with the girls, even though we had no idea what we were doing. I read up a bit this morning, so I understand the concept a bit better now. :) I've also been having fun playing LEGO City: Undercover--I finished the story part of the game, so now it's all about exploring the world and finding the little things to unlock and complete. Fun stuff. I haven't been doing much PC gaming lately, really. Saving it up for when Fallout 4 comes out, probably! Might have to ask for that for Christmas. :)
-Our Disney World passes expire in a week or so, which is sad. We usually let them lapse for a few months when they expire, to take a break until we miss it enough to dive in again. After the NYC trip it's definitely not in the budget to renew just yet anyway. We need to get out there a couple more times before we can't, though--we went to the Magic Kingdom Sunday night, but it was crazy busy (Columbus Day weekend, I guess?) and we didn't get to do much. So I'm planning to take next Friday off and we'll go there again, hopefully spend more time and do more things. One more trip to Animal Kingdom sometime would be nice too, we didn't go there much.
-Hm, can't think of much else right now. It's almost my lunchtime, better figure out what I feel like eating! I might just go to the grocery store and get a couple frozen dinners, those are nice to have on hand anyway.

Hope everyone is having a fine week!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
And I do mean news! So this Boehner thing, shocker, right? I'm of two minds about it. Well, three, even. On the one hand, I despise the guy, so I'm glad he will be gone. He's always been so smarmy to me, with that special blend of arrogance and ignorance I so loathe. So him being gone is good. And I am also happy that with the announcement of his departure, he is now free to utterly ignore those in his caucus who are calling for a government shutdown. He's free to ignore his own rule that says he can't bring up any legislation for a vote that can't be passed by his caucus alone, and instead seek Democratic votes to override his right flank and avert the shutdown. I am hoping that will happen early this week, so I can at least eliminate that particular worry about our NYC trip.

But the bad side of it is that despite his smarminess and despicability (is that a word?), Boehner was at least a pragmatist. He would occasionally stand up to the lunatic fringe of his party when it made sense to do so, and he would occasionally compromise for the greater good. Not often, but sometimes. And he got grief for it from that same lunatic fringe, of course--the people who think compromise is a dirty word, the people who got elected to government because they think government is evil and dysfunctional, and spend their time in office trying to prove it. And those are people who will have a fairly loud voice in picking the next Speaker, so I think it's all but certain that the next one will be even worse when it comes to compromise and pragmatism, and we'll end up with even more polarization and paralysis in the House, which is bad news for all of us. So it's great that the GOP is tearing itself apart these days, I suppose--but it's gonna be messy and dangerous while it happens, and what emerges from the ashes might just be pretty awful. We'll see. I just hope liberals show up at the polls next November (and in the primaries, for that matter) to check the steady rightward drift of the past few years.

Speaking of NYC, we leave in 3 days! Yikes. I'm still scared/excited, of course. Agenda-wise I guess I'm feeling okay. I figure to toss out the detailed itineraries I'd drawn up, and we'll just make sure to hit the highlights I've drafted up and see what else in each area we have time for. I don't want to script it too much, you know? I want to hit a lot, but I also want to be able to explore at our leisure. The weather is becoming a concern--for a few days the extended forecast was looking awesome, but as it gets closer it looks like the temperatures are dropping and the rain chances are increasing, neither of which is ideal. And now I see there's even a tropical system heading that way, which may well bring rain as well. So everybody face east and blow, okay? Meanwhile, Hermione's been complaining that one of her ankles hurts, which is not music to my ears when I think that we'll be walking a LOT for 5 days, and climbing a lot of stairs to boot. So I'm hoping that will go away, or maybe it's just something minor that doesn't bother her that much. I certainly don't want to call off the trip (again) at this point, but that is still an option. And I'm sure Heather wouldn't mind if I did, at least from an expense perspective. I guess I'll see how rainy and miserable it looks in a day or two. But the girls would be bummed, so we might just have to grin and bear it. Which makes it sound like I don't want to go, probably. I do! I just want it to be awesome, and I don't want to start out with strikes already on the board, you know? Bah.

Hm, can't think of anything else to mention presently. So have a great Monday, people!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Recently returned to the office--I was home watching the older girls while Heather took Amy to the orthopedist to get a cast on her arm. Yep, almost 11 years into the adventure of parenthood, and it's the youngest who finally broke the first bone. Hell, I've never even had a broken bone myself!

She was rollerskating in the house yesterday evening and took a fall. It wasn't a bad fall per se, but her left arm took pretty much the whole impact. She didn't cry all that much, surprisingly, but it clearly hurt her, and Heather was convinced that her arm looked a little.. bent or something. So we all loaded up and went to the urgent care clinic, where they determined she had indeed gotten herself a small fracture. And the doc today said the other bone in her forearm, while not broken, did appear a bit bent, which I guess isn't too unusual for smaller children whose bones are still growing and haven't fully hardened. So he put on pretty much a full-arm cast, to make sure it stays good and immobile. She went with the bright pink, of course. The good news is that she only has to keep it on for 3 weeks, and then she goes to a splint of some sort instead. Fun times. Poor little girl. She's been quite the trooper, though. Her only concern about going to the doctor was that she didn't want any shots, and we assured her that shouldn't be necessary. :) The doctors and nurses were all pretty amazed at how well she bore the pain and followed directions. She can be a terror sometimes, but really all our kids are pretty darn good.

So anyway, that's the big news lately. The weekend up to that point was okay. The girls have suddenly developed an interest in superheroes: we watched the first Avengers movie recently, and they all liked it quite a bit. So I signed them up for a little SHIELD agent training thing Saturday at a big comic shop in the area, and they enjoyed that. Sunday we really didn't do much, worked around the house a bit, cleaned, relaxed, went swimming, broke an arm, that was about it. :)

I am closely watching the government funding nonsense underway in DC. Reading an analysis now that puts the chance of shutdown at 75%. Goddammit. It would be just my luck if the f--king Republicans cause another shutdown, since it would take effect October 1 and we're booked to visit the Statue of Liberty (with crown access!) and Ellis Island--national parks, of course--on the 2nd. Seriously, how do these people keep getting elected when they so regularly prove how completely unfit to govern they are? And several of the shut-er-down! ringleaders are in the running for the GOP Presidential nomination! The mind truly boggles. Can we at least get a continuing resolution for just a few days? Please, you freaking assholes?

Okay, back to work. Hope everyone's week is off to a good start!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
So as the few of you who are friends with me on Facebook are all-too-well aware, that's my venue for the vast majority of my politickin'. And if by some unlikely chance you read this post and want in on similar action over on FB, drop me a message here and I'll link/add you. But of course FB is better suited for sharing links and short blurbs, rather than meaty substance. And with the 2016 campaign season upon us, I've been meaning to write up a sort of issue-by-issue summary of where I stand, and who my druthers lead me to support in the 2016 contest. Really, it's something I think it behooves us all to undertake as informed citizens--articulate what you believe and why, and see who that leads you to support. You might be surprised, in some ways, or spot areas where you should do a little more homework. This survey is a pretty awesome way to see who you share beliefs with, great place to start (just make sure you expand all the 'Other stances' options to get a better view of the field).

Since this is bound to be superlong, I will cut for those who can't be bothered, of course. :)
Read on? )

So all that said--and whew, if you managed to read all that you are awesome--who do I like for 2016? Should be pretty obvious, since pretty much everything I said is what he says, but my guy is Bernie Sanders. I've been a HUGE fan of his ever since I came to political awareness and heard the things he was saying, which are really the same things he's been saying for his entire 40 years of public service. The man is awesome, authentic, unpolished, truthful, and principled--everything most politicians these days are not. And he not only doesn't rely on huge donations from billionaires and special interests, he disdains them and wants nothing more than to kill that pay-to-play system. And frankly, even if the rest of his ideas end up being non-starters, if he can get into office and just push through a fair politics amendment, I will regard him as a success and a hero. So if you haven't checked him out, I encourage you to do so, and to spread the word. In my view, a vote for anyone else is a vote for the status quo, when big changes are what we sorely need. #FeelTheBern!

Any questions? :)
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
So the family reunion this past weekend was okay, not nearly as bad as I'd feared it might be. Pretty early on, my uncle very wisely tossed out a ground rule about no political discussion, and for the most part everyone stuck to it. There were a few despicable comments here and there, but I don't think I heard Obama mentioned once, and that in itself is damn near miraculous. We also took our leave for a couple side-trips to parks in the area, which was fun. Except for the one state park where we took a hike and discovered the place was party central for Lone Star ticks. Ugh. At least that species is not known as a carrier for Lyme disease, that stuff is bad news.

I'm at work today--I'd planned to take the day off for a Disney trip, but we already have a tropical system brewing up off the east coast (almost a month prior to the start of hurricane season, which may be a bad sign) making the weather iffy this afternoon, so I figured I may as well bank the vacation time and come to the office. Tomorrow is when our NYC trip was supposed to start, sigh. Ah well, October will be lovely, I hope.

In other political news, I have found myself unduly excited by Bernie Sanders' announcement that he is seeking the Democratic nomination for President. I've admired the man for some time, as I think he's one of the very, very few people in Washington who have refused to sell out to the monied interests, and remained steadfast to their convictions and truly fought for the interests of their constituency. Certainly my initial thought when he announced was, "Well, there's no way in hell he could ever win, but maybe he can at least move the dialogue more to the left, since Hillary has never shown herself to be anything but a centrist, fully-engaged in the world of corporate establishment politics." But you know what? No. Fuck that.

I mean, really. For decades the mantra has been that a vote for a third-party candidate, or even a dark horse candidate within the two-party system, is a wasted vote. And historically that's been true--but how much of it is merely a self-fulfilling prophecy, foisted on us by those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo? If everyone believes it, and votes accordingly because they believe it, then isn't that exactly WHY things are so? And exactly why we all hate being locked into the inevitable choice between two evils, yet convinced that no one can break that stranglehold?

So what if? What if people can become convinced that they don't have to vote only for the person who they think has the best chance of winning? What if they also put their money where their mouth is, and chip in a few bucks to help spread the word about a candidate they can actually support without holding their nose? Why the hell not?

So I'm telling that little voice in my head to shut up. I'm telling it that Bernie could actually have a shot here, if his message gets heard widely. If enough people like me feel strongly about the need for change, and spread the word that this is the guy who can speak to that change, and maybe get the media to change from the default of "guy's a no-hoper" to "you know, maybe he can actually pull something off here," maybe it could really be so. Idealistic? Naïve? Definitely. But otherwise nothing changes, and I loathe that idea.

So, proudly, I am a contributor to Bernie's campaign, and I'll do it again. I hope he continues to build momentum and shift the dialogue. I like what I see so far, and I want more of it. Give 'em hell, Bernie.
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
A) Selfish bit first: it's not often that I find myself in the LJ-Photophile weekly poll, and even less often that I think my photo is actually the strongest of the lot. This is one of those times, and it feels nice. :)

B) Today's Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. FEC saddens me so, so much. How is it that these people fail to realize that the entire root of the problem with our country--in our government, our political discourse, and whatever policy matter you care to name--is the undue and corrupting influence of money on our politics and politicians. SCOTUS made it worse in 2010 with Citizens United, and now this. Why not just allocate votes based on how much money someone has? Because that's essentially what they're doing here, by saying an individual with financial means can essentially purchase their candidates of choice in any particular race. It's an absolute smack in the face to democracy, such as it is in this country. Something I read the other day said that America is going to be destroyed by the apathy of the left and the ignorance of the right. That struck me as true when I read it, and even moreso after this decision. I am concerned about the 2014 midterms, because traditionally Democrats tend to sit them out, while Republicans show up in droves. If the Dems fail to retake the House that's bad enough, but if they also lose the Senate then the next few years will be simply horrible, and if anything at all gets accomplished it will all be steps in the wrong direction. So, a lot like now. But worse.


Dec. 19th, 2013 09:00 am
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
It's amazing how something as silly and ultimately meaningless as this GQ interview with Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson and its aftermath can bring the idiocy out in people. I've seen a number of FB posts on it today, all of which have made me really want to reach for the Unfriend button. One is my cousin, so I guess I have to keep her. But another is someone I've been thinking of ditching anyway, maybe this will be the final straw.

But of course I couldn't resist making my own FB post on the subject, reproduced here for your reading pleasure:

When I saw the GQ interview with Phil Robertson yesterday, I knew it was gonna get ugly. I don't watch the show so it doesn't much matter to me. But what DOES matter to me is the flagrant misunderstanding of the First Amendment being tossed around in this guy's defense. So look:

This is NOT a First Amendment issue. 1A doesn't mean that speech has no consequences whatsoever. All 1A says is that the GOVERNMENT can't punish someone for expressing their opinion, and indeed that's not what's happening, so 1A is off the table. Of course Mr. Robertson has a constitutional right to voice his opinions, reprehensible as they may be. And A&E as his employer has a right to add consequences after the fact, in order to protect their revenue in the form of viewers and advertisers. That's all that's going on here, and it should surprise no one.

What should ALSO surprise no one, of course, is that the Robertson clan are a bunch of Bible-thumping homophobes. So it may seem like A&E is making a mistake here, since surely a majority of Duck Dynasty's audience are Bible-thumping homophobes too. But I submit this is all very shrewd on A&E's part. A&E had to know what would happen when they gave this guy a forum like an interview in GQ. They knew he'd spout some nonsense like this, and they knew it would cause an uproar. By reacting, they've inflamed the audience of the show, and gotten people all up on their high horse to support Phil and his so-called family values. And they will tune in. I predict even higher ratings for the show, at least for a little bit. And the audience won't even know--or care, anyway--that they've been strung right along. Well-played indeed, A&E.

Me, I just need some more popcorn because I think it's all utterly hilarious. :)
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
So it's 9/11. Since I've been on LJ for that long, I always find it interesting to go back to what I wrote here on the day. I was wrong about the war thing, and Tony Blair turned out to not be all that in the long run. Still interesting. These days most of my political-type commentary goes to Facebook--I posted this there today:

...it's worth reflecting, now, on the lessons of the past 12 years. That day triggered two wars--were they worth it? That day caused us to give up more and more of our time, budget, and civil rights in the name of security--has it been worth it? That day made us ever more fearful of anyone who doesn't fit the general mental picture of Western Caucasian--has that made us any less likely to see another attack--or more?

I submit that the lessons we should have learned that day were different. Namely that pursuing and allowing ever more fear and restriction and militarization, and seeing everyone as a potential enemy and threat is the wrong way to live, and creates the very things it fears. That the capacity to come together as one united people with one spirit of care for our fellows, as we did on 9/11 and the days that followed, exists and is more powerful than anything that can be thrown at us. That peace requires compromise and seeking common ground, not driving wedge after wedge of skin color, religion, and political creed.

If you asked me (and I know you didn't), we've become a far more fearful and divided country since 9/11--not just because of that day's events, of course, but the fact remains. And that fact dishonors the memory of those who died that day, because we're going the wrong way to prevent another such day.

Just some thoughts. Be sure to hug the people you love today, okay?
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
I don't post too much political here these days, for better or worse. :) I figure most of you agree with me so I'd be preaching to the choir, and I'm not particularly interested in pissing off any of you who don't agree with me. But either way, I think you're all sane and rational enough to see the lunatic fringe of the right-wing here in the US as pretty sad and disturbing. It would be amusing, actually--sort of like a circus sideshow act--if they weren't actually, you know, controlling the modern Republican Party and all.

Anyway, I mentioned in my last post that I went to a family reunion of sorts yesterday, and didn't care to engage my relatives in debate over the political nonsense they kept spewing. But man oh man, are they ever the target audience of Limbaugh and Hannity and Beck (oh my). They lamented that society is going to hell in a handbasket because our education system has been dumbed down by the liberals, and political correctness has rendered everyone devoid of common sense. And naturally, the military is useless now that THE GAYS can serve openly, and GAY MARRIAGE represents the downfall of modern society as a whole. It's the collapse of the Roman Empire all over again, CAN'T YOU SEE THAT? Meanwhile, we keep letting in all these MUSLIMS who are bringing us down from the inside, like those two guys up in Boston last week. Round em all up and kick em out--if we can't just line em up and shoot em, that is. Oh, and all those ENVIRONMENTALISTS! They should (I am seriously not making this up) all be sent to a deserted island to live under their own rules for 90 days and THEN we'll see how they feel! Do they not realize that lots of people make their living by destroying the planet? COME ON!

Oy. It's all disturbing enough, but even moreso coming from the mouths and minds of people I ostensibly love and even descend from. I can't say I'm particularly close to most of my extended family--they're mostly people I saw on the occasional holiday while growing up, and now see once every year or two, if that. So I'd probably be more disturbed if I were more involved with them. But still. Turn the FauxNews off, grandma. PLEASE.

Feeling a bit better today, thanks for the support on my last post. It's one of those situations where I'm pretty sure I'm in the right, but then I second-guess myself. Anyway. Back to work!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
• Am I out of line to believe that when operating a motor vehicle on public roads, one has certain obligations to the other drivers on the road? I mean, I know a lot of people drive as if there's no such thing, but it seems really wrong to me, and I often find myself thinking that you can really tell a lot about a person's general personality and approach to life by how they drive. I generally operate a car under the presumption that if I cause another driver to react to me, I've done something wrong. For instance, if I pull into traffic and make someone suddenly slow or swerve, that was an error on my part. If I'm preventing someone from proceeding at the speed limit (or the speed they want to go, within reason), that's me doing something wrong. Maybe it's Kant's Categorical Imperative talking, but I certainly think driving would be most pleasant if more people drove that way. This morning someone pulled out in front of me and made me slow down--strike one. They then took their sweet time getting up to a reasonable speed, and in so doing they caused us both to miss a left-turn arrow--strike two. THEN, when the arrow turned green again, they were quite slow off the line and proceeded to accelerate (slowly) to 34mph--in a 45mph zone. STRIKE THREE, and that's when I tend to throw my driving philosophy out the window and wish my vehicle were equipped with a battering ram and/or heat-seeking missiles. But again, maybe that's just me.

• Apparently I've been snoring lately. Heather didn't mention it until yesterday, when I asked her if she slept well and she angrily said NO. She went to bed with a slight tummyache, so I asked if that was it? No. Okay, then it must have been Amy crowding her or kicking her, right? No. Someone was snoring very loudly, she said, and it wasn't Amy. Made me feel bad! I imagine it's because my head has been, to varying degrees, full of crud due to allergies for weeks--as far as I know, I'm not generally a snorer. So now I'm all self-conscious about it and hope it passes with my allergies! I woke up a lot last night, and I suspect it's because my mind was trying to keep me from snoring. :) I'll have to ask her if it worked.

• Politickin: So I see for the third year running, the Republicans in the House have passed a radical budget (Paul Ryan's, basically, which was roundly rejected by voters in November, in case they didn't get that memo) that wants to privatize Medicare, slash social safety net (and most other non-defense) spending, and enact tax reform that amounts to a massive tax cut for the wealthy. Just like the 36 times (and counting) the House GOP has voted to repeal Obamacare, this has exactly zero chance of passing the Senate and getting Obama's signature. Yet they continue to waste their time and our tax dollars on what amount to symbolic gestures of what they wish were our enacted policies. Can we finally demand that instead, they do the job they were elected to, and work on compromise-based bipartisan legislation to move the nation forward, right the economy, and benefit the beleaguered middle class? Maybe tying Congressional salaries to job performance would help--you know, the same sort of deal most of us working schmoes have to live with. It pisses me off.

• Wow, I think I'm a little bitter today. Probably the not-so-great night of sleep. At least it's Friday! My plan for work today is to lock myself in my office and get a bunch of stuff done (like LJ posts, clearly), and then this weekend.. I dunno. We have a few options for tomorrow, near and far, and then Sunday looks like a rainy day so that will probably be spent at home unless I decide to take the girls to a movie or roller skating or something like that. Which is not a bad idea. Tomorrow I'd really like to go over to Titusville to spend a little time at the annual TiCo Warbird Airshow, which is featuring the B-17 I visited a few years back in Virginia Beach. But the girls aren't particularly interested in that, so they'd have to hang out at Grandma's while I did that, and while they do like it there I dunno how long they might like to stay. I guess we'll see what everyone feels like, and how the weather turns out!

Okay, better get some work done, though I have a couple other posts in mind--maybe I'll slack off and get to those soon. :)
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
I'd say it's a day for some political thoughts, eh?

Obviously I'm pleased with the election results. I expected the Obama victory (though it was nice to see it come to fruition), so I was actually a bit more interested in some of the Congressional races. Elizabeth Warren won, that is awesome. The legitimate-rape guy (Akin) and the rape-babies-are-God's-will guy (Mourdock) lost. Joe Walsh lost. Sandy Adams didn't even make it through the primary. Bernie Sanders handily won, and Maine picked up a similar left-leaning independent Senator in Angus King. So the Senate will tilt just slightly more left--but still not enough of a majority to render GOP filibusters ineffective. And the House remains firmly in GOP hands, which is my greatest disappointment of the night (with insult to injury added by virtue of Michelle Bachmann keeping her seat). So really, as a friend of mine put it, both sides spent a total of $6 billion or so and essentially nothing changed. He's right, but that's not to say that's a bad thing--the change on the menu was not in the right direction at all. My overriding thought, though, is what this means--and SHOULD mean--for the political landscape in America.

Consider that the incumbent President is utterly despised by most of the right and has left much of the rest of the nation disillusioned to some degree, and consider also the lingering sad state of the economy. Add that to the unprecedented sums of money available thanks to Citizens United, and this election really should have been a cakewalk landslide don't-let-the-door-bump-your-ass-on-the-way-out for any reasonable challenger.

But the Republican Party and Mitt Romney ran what can only be described as a post-truth campaign. Romney tacked as far right as he could to win the primary, then suddenly veered back to center in the debates. He flip-flopped on every issue you can name, several times in some cases. He refused to provide personal details like tax returns that have been standard disclosures for years now. He refused to divulge details of his policy proposals, essentially saying "Elect me, THEN I'll give you the details" or "Elect me, THEN I'll work out the details with Congress." He based his ads almost entirely on mistruths, and when they were debunked he did not retract but doubled down, apparently adopting the time-tested strategy of Hermann Goering that if you tell a big enough lie often enough people will start to believe it.

And you know what? It didn't work. Whether his secrecy or deceit or the 47% video leak damned Romney, or the goodwill generated by his response to Hurricane Sandy gave Obama a boost in the final days, who knows. But it didn't end with the White House, as I mentioned up top. The congressmen who made horrendous comments about rape were defeated. Some quite liberal voices like Warren and Sanders were elected. A number of Tea Party darlings were defeated. All in all, I don't think the term 'mandate', which gets tossed around pretty casually these days, is that far out of line here. This SHOULD have been a cakewalk for the GOP, but their policies and their tactics were pretty soundly rejected by everyone outside of their "base".

But will they take a lesson from this? Will they realize that they can't win with a campaign of lies, or with a candidate who refuses to come clean with voters? That a financial advantage really isn't the key to winning (look also at Linda McMahon in Connecticut, who massively outspent her opponent and was still trounced). That they can't spend years doing nothing but obstructing the policies of the other party and then accuse that party of failure? Perhaps most importantly, that they can no longer adopt policies that alienate just about everyone but white heterosexual Christian males and still expect to win elections? I've said it before and I'll say it again--demographics are the primary enemy of the present-day Republican Party, since they've come to rely almost entirely on the angry-white-man vote, and that's a shrinking sector of the population.

So I am hopeful that the more rational elements of the GOP will take their medicine today. I am hopeful that they will start to wrest their party back from the lunatic fringe that has been in control for the past few years. I am hopeful that they will reassess their priorities and policies, and become more inclusive. Indeed, if they hope to avoid becoming completely defunct in another decade or so, they must. But in the more near term, I am hopeful that they will realize that the way forward lies down the road of compromise, not via the obstinate obstructionism they've pursued since 2010. One thing they got right in their campaign rhetoric is that our nation has serious problems that need addressing. Definitely it does. But they haven't even been pretending to help solve those problems, they've just been playing politics and trying to make the Democrats look like failures so they can take over and impose their will more actively (which will only deepen our problems even further). They were denied that opportunity last night, I think quite loudly. I am hopeful they will take it as a disciplinary action from the citizenry, and hence as a lesson, rather than as something else for which to seek revenge. I also hope Obama, without the need to be concerned with a second term, will up his testosterone a bit and push back when there's BS from the right.

Oh, and it's also very nice to see Nate Silver's methodology quite vindicated--he damn near nailed the outcome. A lot of folks were giving him grief and lending more credence to those who were relying on intangible "gut feelings" and "momentum" and counting on an evangelical groundswell not represented in the polling. Science FTW!


Jun. 24th, 2005 08:48 am
kv0925: (Default)
Along the lines of my flag-burning diatribe (of sorts) yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] cinnamonbite provided me with this great blog entry, with a great take on why the proposed amendment wouldn't matter anyway. Even though I highly doubt (in an undoubtedly wishful-thinking sort of way) that the amendment will make it past the Senate and then also past the number of states needed for ratification, the notions in that post still make me feel a bit better about the whole thing.

In other news.. I'm off today! Whoo-hoo! And we're probably getting a new refrigerator today! Whoo-hoo! Ours works okay, but it's been leaking water here and there for months, and the maintenance guy determined that the door seals were starting to fail. So they promised us a new fridge weeks ago, then forgot all about it. I bumped into the property manager and reminded her when we got back Tuesday, and yesterday they came and told Heather it'd be here today. No big deal if it doesn't, but it'll be nice.

And.. that's about it. I don't think we're doing much today, though I do hope to excuse myself for a couple hours to see Land of the Dead. Mmm, zombies. Oh, and I need a new router. Mine has been acting up/slowing down for sometime, and now won't even pull an IP address from the cable modem. Bah. I should try to get a GigE router, even though this is the only PC with a GigE LAN port and I'd have to also get a GigE card to make it useful. Eh, nevermind.

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