Friday, December 05, 2008

Books Books Books

If I were still in school, I would be in 20th grade.  Ten years ago, in tenth grade, our teacher assigned us SSR - sustained silent reading.  To get full credit, we had to read 600 pages each six weeks.  For me back then, this was a chore.  Most grading periods, I struggled to get to 600, usually because the books I was reading were boring. 

These days, I read a lot more.  And a lot more voluntarily.  I sometimes wonder how my life would be different if I had discovered the kinds of books I like to read back when I was forced to read. 

Earlier this week, I read Twilight based on the raving recommendation of my friend Brie.  Five-hundred pages in three days.  I admit, this isn't college-bound literature.  I was even concisely mocked by my (English major) sister for stooping to read it.  BUT I AM NOT ASHAMED.

IMG_0207I am now auditioning books to be my next read.  These are my top candidates: Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson; New Moon by Stephanie Meyer; and Ada, or Ardor by Vladimir Nabokov. 

Snow Crash is a favorite among several of my friends, and Jackie happens to be reading it right now.   I bought it a few years ago, read about 50 pages, then put it aside in favor of a different book.

New Moon is the sequel to Twilight, and  I am very tempted to continue my momentum with this series.

Ada, or Ardor has been on my shelf for a few years.  I bought a handful of used Nabokov books after I discovered and devoured Lolita.  I feel drawn to return to Nabokov as a pendulum swing away from the "lightweight" prose of Stephanie Meyer.  Depth.  Intensity.  Passion.  English!  All perfected by Nabokov. 

I took Ada with me this morning on the bus.  Chapter two starts off innocent enough:

Marina's affair with Demon Veen started on his, her, and Daniel Veen's birthday, January 5, 1868, when she was twenty-four and both Veens thirty. 

I began reading the next sentence while still in Seattle.  I did not move past it until we were two towns away.  Behold:

As an actress, she had none of the breath-taking quality that makes the skill of mimicry seem, at least while the show lasts, worth even more than the price of such footlights as insomnia, fancy, arrogant art; yet on that particular night, with soft snow falling beyond the plush and the paint, la Durmanska (who paid the great Scott, her impresario, seven thousand gold dollars a week for publicity alone, plus a bonny bonus for every engagement) had been from the start of the trashy ephemeron (an American play based by some pretentious hack on a famous Russian romance) so dreamy, so lovely, so stirring, that Demon (not quite a gentleman in amorous matters) made a bet with his orchestra-seat neighbor, Prince N., bribed a series of green-room attendants, and then, in a cabinet reculé (as a French writer of an earlier century might have mysteriously called that little room in which the broken trumpet and poodle hoops of a forgotten clown, besides many dusty pots of colored grease, happened to be stored) proceeded to possess her between two scenes, Chapter Three and Four of the martyred novel).

That was one sentence.  Now, I know that Nabokov likes words.  And likes to weave allusions in his writing.  And likes to sneak in his own musings disguised as asides from the narrator from time to time.  But all in one monstrous sentence?  This sentence makes me curious whether Nabokov's used an editor, particularly at this later stage in his career.  (And if he did, what a challenging job he must have had, since Nabokov was one of the most certain and defensive authors I've ever encountered ... he would even respond to his critics in print...)

I am not sure now whether to forge ahead or retreat to New Moon. 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Stella Cafe

Welcome to the neighborhood, Stella Cafe!

Earlier this evening I was walking back to my apartment from Caffe Ladro sipping a tasty pumpkin spice latté.  I stopped by to peek at the new place opening up at the corner location at 1st and University, across from the front door of Harbor Steps and the Seattle Art Museum's Hammering Man. 

While I was watching a worker complete the installation of the new sign, I started to chat with the owner of the shop, Rob Wilson.  He invited me in to see his cafe. 

While we were looking around, Rob offered to make me a coffee.  I obliged and traded in my Ladro latté for a fresh one from my new neighbor.  Stella coffee is smooth and delicious, and comes with a free French chocolate.  While I chatted with Rob about his shop and his personal roasting operation, I had the pleasure of meeting his lovely wife, Josie, and charismatic son Alex.  (Have you ever had a five year-old introduce themselves to you?  It's adorable.)

With all of the coffee competition on this block (there's a Tully's, Ancient Grounds, Cherry Street, Online Coffee, and Ladro less than a 2-minute walk of my front door), it is the personal experience that makes the difference.  Rob is already miles ahead in this game.  In fairness, the owner of Ancient Grounds is awesome too, and the baristas at Online Coffee are some of my favorite in Seattle. 

Stella Cafe makes a welcome contribution to the niceification of our neighborhood.  Joining some of my already-favorite neighbors Ancient Grounds, De Medici Ming Fine Papers, and the newly-opened Four Seasons, we're slowly but surely squeezing out the pawn shops and payday loan store that still hang on. 

Stella Cafe officially opens tomorrow morning.  Rob plans to offer Italian paninis, vino, and do us a favor by selling sundries like milk.  If you're in the neighborhood, stop by and welcome them to the neighborhood.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rock Band is Pro-America

So today I was excited to come home and play around with Rock Band 2, which had come in the mail yesterday.  My favorite part, after the singing, is creating the characters to be in my band.  Since 'tis the season, and the Election Night Hootenanny is coming up, I thought it would be fun to create a band leader I can believe in.

Wow, Rock Band.  I thought you were hip.  With it.  Part of the younger generation ready for change.  Why don't you just come out and say it?  Is my avatar not allowed on XBOX Live because he's not like you and me?  Does he pal around with terrorists?  Or are you just saying that it's enough that he rose up to where he is, but you're not ready to see someone whose not "classy" in the top spot? 

Feeling oppressed, I sang a few songs with local Obama, then headed back over to the character editor.  Only this time, there was a new girl in town...

I think she just winked at meAnd is she ready to rock?  You betcha!  I think I'll nominate her to play Bass.  Because Bass is kind of like Vice Guitar. 

And if my aging guitarist keels over during our next gig, that's cool.  She's totally qualified to play lead guitar. 

She has much more guitar experience than Obama, anyway.  All he is is a lead singer.  And he wasn't even in the band that long; he practically started touring the day he arrived. 

It doesn't matter that she's never toured Japan.  She puts this Country First. 

All aborad the Straight ROCK Express.  Its's time to get mavericky up in here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Underdog

The Republicans have been making a lot of noise lately about voter fraud.  The Reupblicans party of Ohio is suing the Secretary of State.  McCain tried to hammer Obama with ACORN in the last debate. It has become clear to me that this noise is really a smoke screen for a systematic effort to disenfranchise new voters, poor voters, and minority voters who overwhelming support Obama. 

Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. are doing some great reporting on the subject in Rolling Stone, on public radio, and on their own site Steal Back Your Vote

Some alarming claims:

  • On Super Tuesday, one in nine Democrats who tried to cast ballots in New Mexico found their names missing from the registration lists. [RS]
  • In Florida, GOP officials created "match" rules that rejected more than 15,000 new registrants in 2006 and 2007 — nearly three-fourths of them Hispanic and black voters [RS]
  • Colorado holds the record: Donetta Davidson, the Republican secretary of state, and her GOP successor oversaw the elimination of nearly one of every six of their state's voters. Bush has since appointed Davidson to the Election Assistance Commission, the federal agency created by HAVA, which provides guidance to the states on "list maintenance" methods. [RS]

What this means to me is that no matter how much Obama is ahead, he is going to need to carry a huge vote cushion on election day in order to win.  As Sly and the Family Stone said back in 1967, "you're the underdog and you've gotta be twice as good."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Execution-themed Jewelry

Have you ever wondered what kinds of jewelry Christians would wear if Jesus had been executed by any other means than crucifixion?

 

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sarah Palin is Laura Roslin

John McCain must be a fan of Battlestar Galactica.  How else would he know to pick the real-life Laura Roslin to be his VP?

Sarah Palin is Laura Roslin

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Gas Prices


Paia, originally uploaded by Sage Kitamorn.

In July of 2004, Stephen and I took a trip to Maui Hawaii. I snapped this photo to remind myself of the outrageous gas prices that Hawaiians had to pay.

If you can't read the sign, regular gas is $2.65.

Where we came from in Texas, we were used to paying $1.79.

Both of those seem pretty cheap now that we're paying $4.30 up in Seattle.  (Actually, now we all have nicer cars which need premium gas ... so we're actually paying about $4.53.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Jay Smooth

Check out what The Sound of Young America turned me on to today...

He even invoked Keith Olbermann and Al Franken, the author of one of my favorite books Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, and to my supreme satisfaction, is running for the Senate!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Breakfast and a Bank Robbery

While eating my cereal this morning (Quaker Oatmeal Squares mixed with Organic Pomegranate Granola with vanilla soy milk ... mmm), I heard sirens.  Lots of sirens.  I took my breakfast out to the patio to watch as about 20 police vehicles sped down the Seneca ramp off of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. 

"So many police," I said to myself.  They were all going to the same place.  There was even one policeman in uniform driving what appeared to be his own car.  "Where were they going?  A big funeral?  This a really fast for a motorcade." 

Then I looked and noticed a tan Jeep Cherokee that was driving fast in front of all the police cars.  "Wow, that guy is really trying hard to get out of the way!" I thought to myself.  "He should just pull to the right like you're supposed to."

(Elapsed time: 2 seconds)

"Ohhhh!  They're chasing him!"

Already on the late side heading in to work, I figured I would drive rather than take the bus today.  I peeked out again to see if things had quieted down only to hear more sirens.  Police were buzzing around on all of the streets.  I looked down to the alley to see the tan Jeep appear again, this time coming up Western.  He turned directly under my patio, right by the exit from the Harbor Steps garage, followed by about 10 police cars. 

I clenched with excitement.  "Get him!" said the voice in my head.  "He'll be easy to trap in Post Alley."

I realized at this time that it would probably not be a good time to try to drive to work, as my route out of my garage and toward the freeway headed precisely through where the chase was occurring.

I resolved to walk outside to get a cup of coffee and have a closer look.

Click for an interactive point-by-point guide to my morning.

Outside Harbor Steps, I could see that Spring Street at 1st Avenue was swarming with police.  An Officer was holding back pedestrians from going any further South than 1st and Seneca. 

I stopped to chat with a woman who had come down just like me. 

We caught one another up on what we had seen so far.  Sirens...  Tan Jeep...  Car chase...  Lost of police...  I was late for work ... She had to interview someone at 2 ...

"If you are a believer," she began, "then you'll know that this is a sing that we are living in the End Times." 

"Oh?" I asked.

"Yes.  Just look at what's going on.  Gas prices.  The home mortgage crisis.  I've been on this earth 50 years, and it's never been as bad as it is now."

"Is this worse than 1968?" I asked. 

"Yes."

"If you're a believer, then should we have to worry about this?  Isn't it all going to be better eventually ..."

"They tell you you have to keep your eyes oh him and you will make it through."Crayon Physics as a path to Jesus

I'm not a religious person, but I can see the practical aspects of this story.  As long as people don't try to hasten the rapture, the inspiring message of everything will be better eventually is hopeful and would help get someone through a rough spot. 

In a way, a belief in God is kind of like the way the big ball pulls the little ball up the hill in Magic Pen.

After our little conversation, she headed back inside and I walked down half-a-block to Online Coffee.  While I chatted with the waitress (yes, cute) about the morning's excitement a customer who was using a computer filled us in that there had been a bank robbery in West Seattle. 

Coffee in hand, I made my way down to 1st and Spring where a crowd had gathered.  I watched for about 15 minutes and people filled me in as to what had happened.  The Jeep was boxed in.  The police shot through the windows.  They dragged the guy out. 

I watched as paramedics came down with a stretcher and loaded up the guy.  We couldn't tell if he was a live or not, but they were not in a hurry to take him anywhere.

You can read the rest of the details in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer story. 

Trivia

[Trivia Sections are discouraged...]

  • The barista at Online Coffee received a call on her cellphone from her coworker's dad asking if they were all right.
  • The photographer who snapped the cover photo in the P-I (shown at the right) arrived about 10 minutes after me, and took this photo from just in front of where I was standing.
  • I'm not sure what a guy said to her, but the photographer told him "I'm working, not just looking for the sake of looking."
  • To which I thought to myself "Doesn't the fact that someone pays you to come take a picture of what we're looking at confirm the intrinsic value of us looking at it?" 
  • I ended up taking the bus to work.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I am Addicted to Magic Pen

I've got potential ... energy

http://games.yahoo.com/free-games/magic-pen

Healthier

I made a full grocery trip today and bought only foods that were free of partially hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup. 

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Postal Irony

I get a lot of mail.  Typically, it's from people who want money, people to whom I've previously given money, and people to whom I've previously given money who want more money.

This concoction creates some interesting ironies in my mail pile, including these two letters I received last week.

 

The ACLU is not a surprise.  I give them money all the time.  Bush is a different story.  I haven't opened this letter, but it's pretty obvious why I got it and what he's asking for.  Back in January, I gave a few bucks to to John McCain to help make sure he beat Romney and Giuliani.   Now, the apparently think I'm a Republican, and want me to donate to the RNC.  Not gonna happen.

I'm a little torn, now.  Should I request to be removed from the Republican mailing list?

Argument in favor: It's a waste off paper.  Go green! Save natural resources!

Argument against: It costs the Republicans money to send me letters asking for money.  As long as I don't send any more cash, I'm helping to ensure an Obama victory in 2008.

 

Bonus Irony:

Last week, I also got an email from John McCain, with the subject Act Now to Stop a Democrat Takeover, which contained a laughably blatant misuse of the word "grassroots":


I truly believe the only way we can stop the Democrats is if dedicated Republicans, like you, step forward immediately and support the Republican National Committee's VICTORY 2008project -- a grassroots effort that is the backbone of our entire Republican Party.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Best Five out of Seven

In the beginning, the Clinton campaign claimed it was delegates won, not momentum that counted.

When Obama pulled ahead in delegates, it was about the popular vote.

When Obama pulled ahead in the popular vote, it was about "big states".

... and then it was bellweather states like Ohio

...then came the argument for electability

... and then it was how well you fared in states if you count their November electoral votes ...

 

What happens when it seems she'll never give up?  Just ask Bill and Ted.  (I'm beginning to believe there's a Bill and Ted metaphor for anything and everything.)

 

And to my friend who is longing for that call from Keanau, maybe this will help tide you over in the time being.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Alferd goes to school

Cute story of the day...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

What am I supposed to think?

I called in to my doctor's office this morning to make an appointment. The holding music was a muzak rendition of Dust in the Wind by Kansas.



[update]
And who could forget ...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

When they say WYSIWYG ...

They mean it.

This image shows how Windows Live Writer allows the blog author to see exactly how the blog post will look while writing.

Fresh Windows and Live Writer

I spent most of yesterday spring cleaning: my computer.  What's new?

  1. Windows Vista reinstalled.  It used to be 64-bit, and now I've gone back to 32-bit for greater compatibility.
  2. Windows Vista SP1 installed.  Things seem to be a little faster.  I'll see how I feel after a week.
  3. I'm also trying out the new Windows Live desktop applications
    • This post is being written in the new Windows Live Writer. 
      • So far I've been impressed at how easy it was to set up to use my special "Blogger blog published to my own domain" setup. 
      • The application is really clean, and seems to do everything I want. 
      • I'm inserting a picture below to test out how that works ... when blogging with Word 2008, that did not go so well.  And check out that nice drop shadow on the picture.  Lovely.
      • Notice I'm writing a numbered list with sub-bullets (rather than numbers).  This is something that the Blogger online editor does very poorly.  Hopefully this shows up well once uploaded.
    • Live Photo Gallery and Live Mail are looking pretty promising too.
  4. Hey, cool, Back-dent (the opposite of using the tab key to indent) works :)

Anyway, today is basketball.  Some friends are coming over and we're going to have pancakes and root for Texas and Davidson. 

This photo was taken by Hugo on Easter weekend.  The tulip is form Pike Place Market.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Pennsylvania

In the Clinton campaign's continuous quest to move the goalposts, they have trotted out a new ante based on Pennsylvania:


From a March 13 Press Release

Did You Know? The path to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue goes through Pennsylvania. No Democrat has won the presidency without winning Pennsylvania since 1948. No candidate has won the Democratic nomination without winning Pennsylvania since 1972.
Hillary Clinton has been polling fairly well in Pennsylvania. Publicizing these numbers seems to imply that Pennsylvania has some magical ability to predict the fate of Democrats. This can be useful since it is to Hillary's benefit to shift attention away from the fact that she is behind in delegates, states won and the popular vote. The implied message here is pretty clear:
If Hillary wins the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania, then history shows that she should be the Democratic party nominee, because winning PA equals winning in November.
Let's take a look at this data to see if it really makes sense.
First part first: "No Democrat has won the presidency without winning Pennsylvania since 1948."
This is true if you interpret "winning Pennsylvania" to mean in the primary election. (In 1948, Harry Truman won the presidency but lost Pennsylvania in the general election to Thomas Dewey.)
So if that much is true, what else is true?
  • Since 1972, there are five instances where the Democrat who won the Pennsylvania primary went on to lose in the general election anyway.
So if Hillary's claim is true six times (1948, 1960, 1964, 1976, 1992, 1996), and the opposite is true five times (1956, 1984, 1988, 2000, 2004), what is the point? Seems like Pennsylvania isn't so magical after all.
And now for that curious last sentence: "No candidate has won the Democratic nomination without winning Pennsylvania since 1972."
There are two ways to interpret "winning Pennsylvania": Based on the primary or general election.
  • No candidate has won the Democratic nomination since 1972 without first winning the Democratic Primary in Pennsylvania. This is actually a false. Jimmy Carter won the Democratic nomination in 1980 - but he lost in the Pennsylvania primary to Ted Kennedy.

  • Well, since the first interpretation was false, the Clinton campaign must have meant "winning Pennsylvania" to mean in the general election. But what does that even mean? Are they implying some sort of reverse causation? If this is the proper reading, then it would mean "Since 1972, no person can be the Democratic nominee if they do not win Pennsylvania in the (future) general election." Let's look and see if 1972 happens to be the last year that a Democratic candidate won the party nomination but didn't win Pennsylvania in the general election ... nope. 1988. Michael Dukakis was the nominee, and he lost in Pennsylvania in the general election to George H. W. Bush.
Can anyone provide an way to parse this sentence that such that it is true? I really want to believe that the Clinton campaign isn't flat out lying here.
We deserve better. Out of three sentences: one blanket statement, on half-truth, one lie. Thanks Hillary.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Researchers discover gene that blocks HIV

From an article on website of the University of Alberta:
 
A team of researchers at the University of Alberta has discovered a gene that is able to block HIV, and in turn prevent the onset of AIDS.
 
Stephen Barr, a molecular virologist in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, says his team has identified a gene called TRIM22 that can block HIV infection in a cell culture by preventing the assembly of the virus.
"When we put this gene in cells, it prevents the assembly of the HIV virus," said Barr, a postdoctoral fellow. "This means the virus cannot get out of the cells to infect other cells, thereby blocking the spread of the virus."

This is incredibly promising news in the fight against one of the worst diesaeses our world has ever seen.  What surprises me is that this isn't being picked up as much in the latger media.  For Example, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, (which is incidentally the home of the Centers for Disaese Control) puts this news fifth in a "Health Highlights" combo article, below a piece about a recall of Walker's Four Bean Salad.

 

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Is Obama going to win Texas?

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader announced this morning that he's running for president.  Some people blame Nader for leeching democratic votes in 2000 and 2004, giving the election to George Bush over Al Gore and John Kerry.
 
I do not blame Ralph Nader for giving us George Bush. 
 
I blame the people that voted for George Bush. 
 
 

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bullseye

From the New York Times:
Completing a mission in which an interceptor designed for missile defense was used for the first time to attack a satellite, the Lake Erie, an Aegis-class cruiser, fired a single missile just before 10:30 p.m. Eastern time, and the missile hit the satellite as it traveled at more than 17,000 miles per hour, the Pentagon said in its official announcement.
 
This is a beautiful story on so many counts.
 
1. We have kick-ass spy satellites that are so advanced, that we really really don't want the debris of a broken one to fall into the wrong hands.  If anyone is going to have spy satellites this cool, it had better be us.
 
2. We have kick-ass missiles that can shoot down spy satellites if we need to (even ours!). 
 
3. Well, we needed to.  And we did.  In one shot.  Ever hear baseball players bloviate about how hard it is to hit a major league fastball?  You can see where I'm going with this one.
 
The beauty here is that we got to do this for the right reasons.  Public safety was the main line - don't want anyone to get a frozen hydrazine fuel tank landing in their yard.  Not acknowledged, but most obviously, we had to do this because we have a real need to protect our secret spy technology.  The real beauty comes in the side effect.  While the cover story leads with our more noble motives, what we've actually just said to every other country in the world: Look, don't mess with us.  We know where all your satellites are, and we can take 'em out whenever we feel like it. 
 
Take that. 
 
Come to think of it, have we ever gone to war against a country that has satellites?  I guess the point is to not go to war against an advanced enemy.  It's better to just intimidate.  Meanwhile, this whole episode means nothing to any the people who have been killing our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Hillary Matching Game

Match the politician with the observed behavior:
  
1.  ______  Refuse to acknowledge you're losing despite evidence to the contrary. 
 
2.  ______  Put all of your chips on state(s) with large number of delegates; lose big in the rest.
 
3.  ______  Stay in the race after the prospect of winning becomes impossible or improbable.
 
 
A) Mike Huckabee
 
B) President George W. Bush
 
C) Rudy Giuliani
 
 
 

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Freaks and Geeks

Lindsay Weir, main character of Freaks and GeeksLast week, Hugo ordered Freaks and Geeks DVDs from Blockbuster Online. I had never seen it before, but I decided to give it a spin. Despite the fact that I was working like crazy last week, I still found time (mostly by not sleeping) to watch the nine episodes that we had in our posession.

Now I have a dilema. I am in love with Freaks and Geeks. And I know that I have exactly nine episodes left. The show only lasted one season, and there are but eighteen precious episodes for me to love.

I've begun feeling anxious. Nervous. I'm already half-way through the best series ever, and there is no hope of there being any more story. Have you ever been a relationship that you knew wasn't going to pan out, so you try to convince yourself that you don't actually like the person? It's starting to come to that. I can anticipate the separation anxiety. I already have it.

Is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all? I've started to tell myslef that it's not really a series, cut short in its budding infancy. If I think of Freaks and Geeks as a really great movie that goes on for 18 hours, it seems to dull the pain a little.

Those of you who know me might try to minimize my love for the series as merely lust for the main character, Lindsay Weir, played by Linda Cardellini (who was 24 when this was filmed, f.y.i.). Sure, that's a part of it. But the the whole cast is incredibly strong. And the writing is fantastic. The show is so gut-wrenchingly real that I actually find myself shouting back at the TV ("Go for it Sam! She likes you!").

My roller coaster feelings for this show remind me a lot of the way I feel when I watch The Wonder Years. Its an emotional current. That show evokes a very strange feeling that I've never been able to astutely describe. It's like a "painful nostalgia." Back when I was a kid watching The Wonder Years, I was younger than the characters (and had never lived in the time period portrayed) yet paradoxically, the show would impart this feeling of nostalgia for things that I had not experienced. Earlier today, I went back and read the series synopsis on Wikipedia, and the feeling came back. My stomach tghtened up. I got goosebumps.

Too much.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Austin's Mayor Endorses Obama

Austin's mayor endorsed Barack Obama on Thursday. The mayor of Austin is named Will Wynn.

A good omen if you're a betting man.



Monday, February 11, 2008

Overheard ...

"I would love for my job to be to count beans, because I think I could do that pretty well."
- someone walking past my office
 
"First he made me ashamed to be a Texan.  Then he made me ashamed to be an American."
- a stranger at the Latona Pub, who was also from Austin, referring to the President

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Rock the Caucus

So it looks like my vote will matter after all :) I want to go buy an American flag and hang it from my balcony, along with a big sign that says Caucus Saturday at 1PM! A lot of people will see it since I live above a pretty busy intersection which is also a off-ramp from the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Let's see if I can find some time when I'm not working to go to the store.

For those of you that live in Washington, this Saturday, February 9, you can exercise your right as a citizen to participate in the election of our leaders! Caucus in Washington!

Don't know where to go? Go visit Erin Dean's Washington State Caucus Information Superstore and find out how!

Also, update: $J = $B/5. For those who are interested in knowing how much other people contribute, check out this site and this site. The data are updated once per quarter, so I'm not in there yet.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Emergency Dental Floss

I just realized this fact in a time of urgent something-is-stuck-between-my-molars-and-if-I-don't-get-it-out-I-will-need-to-go-home-early need: In a pinch, you use use a teabag for dental floss. 

I Choose Two

On Sunday, I decided to it was time to step in and support for my chosen presidential candidates. Candidates, you ask?

Yes. I have chosen two. One of each.

I have selected Barack Obama as my top choice for President. After observing closely for the last year, I strongly want Obama to be the Democratic nominee over Hillary Clinton. While the two top Democrats have similar platform positions, I believe that their actual results would be quite different.

  • Hillary's unfavorable ratings are so strong that she has a very good chance of losing in November to the Republican candidate. In contrast, Obama's negatives are very low. He appeals to moderates and independents (like me), and that is a winning formula for the general election.
  • The right wing noise machine is already well rehearsed at attacking the Clintons. I do not want to go back to the animosity of the late 90s. If Hillary is the nominee, the tone of the debate will be stuck in the mud. Obama is fresh and inspiring. Limbaugh and O'Reilly will have to come up with new material if he is the candidate.
  • Obama has shown a strong ability to inspire and unify the people. Watching Barack Obama speak after his commanding victory in South Carolina inspired me.
On the Republican side, there is only one option. If you read my earlier post, it will not be a surprise that I support John McCain. He stands head and shoulders above all of his Republican competitors.

  • John McCain listens to reason. It is clear to me after watching McCain twice on Meet the Press (last Sunday and a few months ago, both available on MSNBC.com) that he will chose the well-reasoned position over towing the party line.
  • John McCain stands up for cutting spending to back up tax cuts. Any conservative who funds tax cuts with deficit spending is not a conservative.
  • Last week I was chatting with a coworker and she posited "what if Gore had won in 2000?" While that is an interesting hypothetical, I realized a more intriguing one later that night: "What if McCain had won in 2000?" Seriously. I believe we would have executed the War on Terror and maintained our high stature as a nation in the world community.

So why two candidates and why now?

I feel very strongly that each of these two candidates is the best choice for America among the contenders within their own party. In strong contrast to other parings, an election between Barack Obama and John McCain would be an elevated and civilized debate, focused on real issues that are actually affect America. I believe of both of these candidates will bring reason and vision to the Presidency and restore the stature of the United States back to the level of respect and envy we held for most of our nation's history.

There are basically three things I can do to help my candidates win (ordered by direct-to-indirect, and in reverse order of when the choice becomes available).

  1. Vote for them. In your local caucus or primary and in the general election. In my case, living in Washington state, our party caucuses fall on February 9. "Super Tuesday" is on February 5th, so by the time I get to caucus, the nominee may already be crowned. This makes it all the more important that I use my other options well.
  2. Give them money. This helps the candidate get their message out to other people, particularly those who get to vote before I do. On Sunday I came to the conclusions I wrote above, and decided it was time to act. To back my chosen candidates, and help them secure victory within their own parties, I went online and contributed to each campaign. If you feel like I do, you can [Donate to Barack Obama for President] or [Donate to John McCain for President]. While I do not plan to share the amount I gave, I will say that $J = $B/2.
  3. Spread the message to other people. I do this every day when talking to friends who like to talk politics. And I'm doing it right now.
And before I wrap this post up, here's Obama delivering Letterman's Top 10 last week:



#2 became even more relevant when in his "Greatest Hits"-style State of the Union address, President Bush mispronounced "nuclear" again.

Bonus Trivia Challenge: What is the significance of the song that Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra play as the outro of the clip?

I'd like to know what you think, blog readers. Leave me some comments and try and guess the trivia challenge.

Hint: You would need to know the name of the song.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Chocolate Mousse


Chocolate Mousse, originally uploaded by Sage Kitamorn.

This is my first try at Chocolate Mousse. The sauce is black cherries reduced with tawny port. I got the idea while shopping for wine with Kayla back in Texas.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Counting Homophones

Forty percent of the first ten counting numbers are homophones.
 
One = Won
Two = To, Too
Three
Four = For
Five
Six
Seven
Eight = Ate
Nine
Ten
 
After we won the game, we went to Gatti's for pizza, which we ate.
 
This could be a fun little encoding for a Puzzlehunt puzzle. 

Presidential Candidates

Last weekend, a few friends gathered over at my place for a presidential debate watching party. We cooked up some home-made pizzas and settled in for a great night of politics. For your reading pleasure (yes, you future Sage), here are my thoughts on our candidates.

According to this 2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz, here are my candidate matchups:

86% Barack Obama
85% John Edwards
84% Hillary Clinton
84% Bill Richardson
[Check out this massive discontinuity...]
37% Rudy Giuliani
32% John McCain
28% Mike Huckabee
24% Ron Paul
22% Mitt Romney
16% Fred Thompson

I've deleted those candidates who have already dropped out, and those who are polling so low that they were not included in last week's ABC News/Facebook Debates.

So percentages are cute, but what do I really think?

The Democrats:

  • I am on board with Barack. He is an inspirational leader, is full of positive energy, and has great ideas.
  • Edwards doesn't excite me. I would still vote for him over most any of the Republicans if it came down to it.
  • I agree with Hilary on most issues - she and Obama have very similar policy positions. However, I'm not sure I like her yet. Seeing her cry was a nice touch of pathos, though.
  • Bill Richardson was originally my first choice. He is by far the most qualified if this were a job interview. After the debates, I feel that he lacks that certain quality of a leader which is the undeniable charisma that makes people want to follow them. Bill, if you end up dropping out tomorrow as the early reports say you will, thank you for running a great campaign, and I hope there is a deserving spot for you in the administration of whoever wins.

The Republicans:

  • It's unfortunate that we have our two party system, because it forced Giuliani to sell himself out to try to win a nomination from the Republicans. His biggest flaw is his willingness to abandon well-principled positions (pro-choice, pro-gay, etc.) to pander to the right. For this reason (among others), he does not have my support.
  • John McCain is a great man. He stands up for what he believes in even when it's unpopular among Republicans - including sensible immigration policy and not torturing people. I trust John McCain. If I lived in New Hampshire, I would have voted in the Republican primary and voted for him. While we don't agree on many issues, I would be proud for our country if he were our president. His recent appearance on Meet the Press helped solidify this opinion.
  • Watching Mike Huckabee on Leno helped me notice that he is a really nice guy. That said, the reason for his recent popularity (similar to Fred Thompson a few months ago) is primarily because Republicans see him as the candidate who fits the mold of the Reliably Conservative Electable Evangelical Christian, despite the fact that he is far less qualified than his peers. His foreign policy chops are very weak. This guy is not for me.
  • Ron Paul is willing to speak the truth and he is correct is most of his criticisms of the current administration. He is very well intentioned, but his vision is not in touch with reality (he advocates returning to pre-WWII isolationism and abolishing the income tax.) His appearance on Meet the Press made me lose any confidence I had in his ability to be president.
  • Mitt Romney said "double Guantanamo." I could stop right there. He would make a great president on Fox's TV series 24. I would not trust Mitt Romney to water my plants.
  • Fred Thompson: see "Mike Huckabee".

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Dr Pepper


Dr Pepper Fountain, originally uploaded by Sage Kitamorn.

I'm not a real big fan of soda, but when I do feel like one, I usually feel like a Dr Pepper. It is discouragingly difficult to get fountain Dr Pepper here. Since I've been in Seattle, I've replayed this conversation way too many times:

Waitress: "Would you like something to drink besides water?"
Me: "Yes, a Dr Pepper, please."
Waitress: "Sorry, we don't have Dr Pepper. Would you like [insert one of the following: Root Beer, Cream Soda, Ginger Ale, Sprite Zero...]

This photo was taken at a partcular BBQ place in Texas. This is what I was raised on. Seattle restaurants, please take note.

For training purposes, here's how a TTT (Typical Texas Transplant) would expect to conduct the beverage conversation:

Waitress: "Would you like a coke?"
Customer: "Sure."
Waitress: "What kind?"
Customer: "Dr Pepper"

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Year in Review: 2007


I got this set of questions from my sister, who makes it part of her routine to answer every new year.


What did you do in 2007 that you'd never done before?
Led a project at work
Bought a new car
Got pulled over for jaywalking
Worked an 80-hour week


Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any last year. I probably won't make any this year either.


Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.


Did anyone close to you die?
No.


What countries did you visit?
Canada!


What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
For an elite unit of female commandoes to repel down my building, crash in through my window while I am sleeping, and then **** ***** *** **** **. That was my birthday wish in 2006 and 2007, and it hasn't come true yet.


What date(s) from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
November 6, 2007. This was the day we released the beta of Microsoft Search Server 2008 to the world.


What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Project driving and releasing the beta of Microsoft Search Server 2008.


What was your biggest failure?


I tried to karaoke Good Hearted Woman by Willie Nelson. That song goes about one or two notes lower than I can comfortably sing, so it was not too good.


Did you suffer illness or injury?
No.


What was the best thing you bought?
A car.

















Where did most of your money go?
Into my 401k.


What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Making and eating this pizza.

















What songs will always remind you of 2007?
Young Folks by Peter Bjorn and John


Compared to this time last year, are you...


i. Happier or sadder? Happier

ii. Thinner or fatter? The same

iii. Richer or poorer? Richer


What do you wish you'd done more of?
Casual dating


What do you wish you'd done less of?
Wasting time writing limericks for and about friends on Facebook


How will you be spending Christmas?
With my family in Austin, TX


Did you fall in love in 2007?

Yes…


What was your favorite TV program?
30 Rock!


Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

No. I don't hate anyone.

What was the best book you read?

Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran


What was your greatest musical discovery?
Seeing Dave Matthews live at The Gorge over Labor Day Weekend.


What did you want and get?

For Alberto Gonzales to resign as Attorney General.


What did you want and not get?
To see Scooter Libby go to prison, Dick Cheney to testify, and for Patrick Fitzgerald to bring charges against Carl Rove.


What was your favorite film of this year?

The Departed


What did you do on your birthday, and how old?

Held a joint party with Shawn, the September Birthdays Tournament of Champions. I turned 25.


What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
For the Democrats in Congress to actually have a backbone and stand up to the President. Except for Chris Dodd, who is a hero.


How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?

Warm, colorful, and purchased within walking distance of my apartment.


What kept you sane?
My palatial office make over, and the fact that I got my own office in the first place.


Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Tina Fey.


What political issue stirred you the most?
The idea of giving immunity to telephone companies who were complicit in the illegal wiretapping of American citizens.


Who did you miss?
Jackie. Heather.


Who was the best new person you met?

Mary Michele!


Was 2007 a good year for you?
Absolutely yes.


What was your favorite moment of the year?

Reading on the sunny porch with Jennifer while drinking hibiscus iced tea.


















What was your least favorite moment of the year?
A particular IM conversation and phone call I had in August.