Friday, May 12, 2006

Computer Troubles and Mother's Day

My computer at home is freezing up, so I need to get it looked at. The likey culprits are the power supply or the fans. So, I haven't been able to do much blogging from home of late. I'm just firing off a quick missive during lunch here to let you lot know that I havn't abandoned you. The computer won't get fixed before the weekend is out as we are taking L away for Mother's Day weekend. We are doing our YMCA campout this weekend instead of Thanksgiving this year. I'll try to catch you all up on the flipside. Be good to your Moms!

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Liveability Index

It's always interesting to me how there is this urge to rank and order things in our world. There are a number of surveys on which are the best places to live. Forbes Magazine has a list of the top 'smart places to live'. Number 1 is Nashville. According to a new book reported in USA today, the best is Louisville, Colorado. MSNBC reported on a book called "Cities Ranked and Rated" where they swear number one is Charlottesville, VA. Then there are the custom polls. They take existing data and try to organize it based on your personal preferences such that you get your own, individual best places list. Progressive Farmer will help you pick the best rural spot. And Find Your Spot will look anywhere in the country for you with an extensive questionairre.

Why the sudden interest? No, we aren't moving again. I'm just wondering where that mythical place is where the quality of life is high and the cost of living is low. Gas, home, and grocery prices out here have me wondering. I mean the Boston and San Diego areas both have high qualities of life, but are amongst the highest in cost of living. I'm sure there are some spots in Alabama and Mississippi that have rock bottom costs of living, but infrastructure and services aren't so good. So, where do you go to raise a family while still saving for retirement and college?

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Literary Phenomenon

Here's something I've pondered recently. I was reading the book "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini a few weeks back. I was about halfway through the book and was enjoying it immensely. However, up until that point, I was under the misconception that the book was nonfiction. I believed the characters were real people and felt for them as the conflicts of the story arose. At some point, I noticed that the main character's name was different from the author's and felt the need to do some research. That's when I found out it was fiction. The rest of the book was less satisfying to me and in certain places predictable. In others the author asked me to suspend too much of my disbelief. Yet, a few days before, he wasn't asking and I was believing. The only thing keeping me from blaming my perceptions entirely is that the part of the book where I felt compelled to check constituted a major change in the flow of the story. So, I don't know if the writing led me to question or my question led me to doubt the writing. I think it was still a good book and I would be interested in the thoughts of others reading it knowing it was fiction the whole time. Anyone else ever have an experience like this?

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

How Could We Ever Replace Duke?

I have the great fortune to live in the California 50th Congressional district. That's the former home of Congressman for hire Randy "Duke" Cunningham. You remember him. He recently went to jail for taking millions of dollars and a hooker or three in bribes while steering contracts to those who paid. He ran for reelection and won easily in spite of the fact that he was under investigation for political corruption. In fact, the race was SO not close that he didn't even show up for the candidates debate. We loved us some Duke. And when I say "we", I mean the North County population at large...

I have to admit, I was surprised to discover how conservative the area of California I moved to is. I mean, Duke wasn't just a Republican Representative, he was a lockstep Bush Republican. He parroted talking points and sold whatever the President wanted. And people loved him. And this fall we will replace him. But who with?

Well, we had a special election a few weeks ago to see who would replace Duke. The way it works out here is that if nobody gets 50%, the top two have a run-off. And this run-off is just to finish Duke's term, which ends in December. They'd have to basically start running again before doing anything so as to be ready for the November election. Thanks, Duke. Well, nobody got 50%. Francine Busby, the Democrat, got 44%. The next closest competitors were Republicans Brian Bilbray (15.4%) and Eric Roach (14.6 %). This decisive victory makes her only a slight underdog in the general election.

What? You heard right. Registration out here is 50% Republican, 32% Democrat, and 18% everything else. So, Busby is running a close second to Bilbray. This is especially infuriating because Bilbray is a former Congressman turned lobbyist. He has ties to Abramoff and Delay. When in Congress he voted against regulating ephedra based supplements such as Metabolife in spite of the evidence directly linking Metabolife to deaths. Oh, did I mention that he received tens of thousands of dollars from Metabolife? So, we are replacing Duke with a younger version of himself. Way to clean house North County.

The RNC is getting involved as well. I get a mailing a week from the RNC telling me about Francine's vices. Allegedly, she laid off teachers while giving bureaucrats pay raises and praised a teacher fired for possessing child pornography. She's a member of the school board and they are Swift Boating her. The ads come across as though she is anti-education and supports pedophiles. Meanwhile, a lobbyist is seen as a good choice for cleaning house. Great.

I will be campaigning for Francine and hoping she can pull it out. I will put a Democrat sign on my lawn in Republican central and debunk all the nonsense they throw my way. Wish me luck.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Holy Crap The Man is Scum!

Sorry. I realize I may have lost my cool there, but the Criminal-in-Chief has managed to shock me. I found this tidbit on a site praising Steven Colbert for his roast of all things establishment at the press corps dinner. It seems that Dubya doesn't feel that following the law has anything to do with enforcing it. That's why I say he is a criminal. Apparently, the reason he has not vetoed anything in his tenure is he doesn't want Congress to have the ability to weigh in on the issues. So, instead, he appends "signing statements" to the newly signed laws after everyone has left. These statements tell the rest of the government how to follow the law. The provisions for how usually entail which parts can be ignored because the President feels they are Unconstitutional or because he feels they infringe on his rights as Commander-in-Chief. Funny. I thought it was the Court's job to decide questions of Constitutionality and Congress' jobs to write and re-write the laws. Here's an example. Congress has twice declared it illegal for the government to divert money from approved projects to secret torture camps. Bush has signed it twice. Both times he added that he was not bound by the law as C-i-C. Anyway still think we aren't slipping toward a fascist state?

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Karma on the Protests

I don't know if it affected where you live or not, but here in Southern California, yesterday was a huge Hispanic protest day. The Hispanic community across the country was staging a work and consumerism boycott to show how big an impact they have on the economy. I think it's a very positive and effective way to influence the debate in Washington. So, I went in to work yesterday not knowing what to expect. I suppose I should have known. It was 9:50 and our boss had not yet arrived for a scheduled 10 am meeting. Karma was concerned...

I suggested she call him. "He never answers when I call." Maybe he waits for the message when he is in his car and calls the important ones back right away? "He never calls me back." Oooops. Well, he's probably just stuck in traffic. He lives pretty far south. "There shouldn't BE any traffic. THEY all stayed home today." And there it is. I shouldn't have been surprised given her history, but this one still caught me off guard. She followed it up, in front of the department manager no less, with this gem. "Today is the perfect day to go to Wal-Mart." Why? "Well, THEY aren't working or shopping so the place will be empty." How she did not get sent to HR on the spot is beyond me. But she wasn't done. As we walked to her cube so she could give me the phone number so I could call, a member of the janitorial staff walked by. She happened to be Hispanic. A member of the cleaning staff passed in the opposite direction. Same ethnicity. As we walked on she said "What are they doing here?"

Clearly, she has a bug up her butt about the current immigration debate. A few weeks back, she cornered a janitor and demanded to know if he had his green card. Because, you know, his life is all sunshine and roses. I mean, he gets to work from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. emptying her trash and cleaning our messes for slightly better than minimum wage. I'm glad she straightened him out.

She also recently vented to a coworker of Mexican descent that these protests were on her nerves and she was tired of seeing the Mexican flag being waved everywhere. He offered her a deal. Because, you know, one Hispanic has the power to speak for them all. "We'll agree to stop with the Mexican flag as soon as the people down South get rid of the Confederate Flag."

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