Archive for Hobbies and leisure

Caucus Photos

Jodi took some photos of the caucus proceedings, and had some photos taken of her and Gabriel — I’ve posted them to the Flickr:

Here’s Little G at his first caucus!! πŸ™‚


Here’s me leading the start of the caucus:


Also, thanks to Adam Perry who took a bunch of photos and sent me the link to the tagged photos (also at Flickr):

None in that batch with Gabriel, but they give a number of views of the process — especially the delegate selection process toward the end! Here’s one that shows some of the 173 people we crammed into the room and out into the hallway.

 37-1833 Caucus

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Washington State Democratic Caucuses

Wow. Just wow. Today we did the Washington State Democratic Caucuses. As my precinct’s PCO (Precinct Committee Officer), it was my responsibility to run the caucus for my precinct. I’d gone through some training on this a few weeks ago — and it largely consists of being able to follow directions and read from a script — so I wasn’t too worried about it.

At Washington Middle School, where we caucused, there were a total of 15 precincts doing their caucus, spread around the school. Since our area coordinator had been out of town until just a few days ago, I had been the one to do a site survey with the chair of the 37th democrats, standing in for her about a week ago. Rob and I had walked around the school, getting a feel for which parts we’d have available for our use.

We had decided to start in the cafeteria — which could comfortably hold about 300-500 people. If we needed to overflow after the area-caucus greeting, we were going to spill into the library and possibly a couple of classrooms across from the library.

Now, I wasn’t at the caucus in 2004 (if for no other reason than I still lived in North Carolina at the time!), so I didn’t know what to expect. The rumor was that 2004 was “pretty big turnout” and we even expected to double it this time. But a room that could hold 300-400 people for the 15 precincts onsite was probably going to be fine.

Wow. Just wow. We were so wrong!

The turnout was… absolutely… spectacular. By the time the doors opened for “early setup” at 11:45am there were already about 30 people lingering outside. By 12:30, we’d already long-since passed 300-400 people collecting in the cafeteria. By the time our 1:00pm start time passed, the cafeteria was packed like sardines and spilled out in the hallway.

Our final count (and I’m doing this from memory, so perhaps I mix up some of the numbers) for the full site with 15 precincts: 1378. Yes. Thirteen hundred and seventy eight people.

37-1833 was the largest precinct in attendance, providing >12% of the total attendees at the site: 173 voters.

Thinking ahead, I had even staked claim to one of the “large” classrooms, expecting my 30 to maybe 50 people to show up. We (again, 173 people) ended up packed like sardines in the classroom, with people spilling out into the hallway. So — quick digression — if you ended up listening to me talk from out in the hallway, I apologize! I can confidently say as one of the planners of the caucus, the turnout was significantly bigger than even my wildest imagination!

In any event, even given the naturally chaotic nature of a caucus and the overwhelming crush of people, things still went off pretty effectively. We got through all the business, counted the votes, elected the delegates, etc. Good stuff.

As a quick datapoint, 37-1833 ended up splitting our 9 total delegates to 8 delegates for Obama and 1 delegate for Hillary. A pretty decisive victory for Obama!

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So many books

Wow. No book report posts since August. Ouch. Well, the good news is that I have a bunch to report on. Or the bad news. Your call. In any case, time is precious so I’ll keep them short.

  • Conservatives Without Conscience by John W. Dean – super good book. “Authoritarian followers” who are ready and willing to submit to the extreme right-wing leadership of the current Republican party and religious leaders. Very prescient. Very scary. 5/5 stars.
  • The Paris Option by Robert Ludlum and Gayle Lynds – Good clean fun, like most Ludlum books. But gone in an instant; no real long-term impact. 3/5 stars.
  • Conservatize me by John Moe – John tells us about his attempt to understand the conservative philosophy and lifestyle. Lightweight fun. Good Seattle references and makes very reasonable points. 4/5 stars.
  • One Percent Doctrine by Ron Suskind – I found this one hard to get into. Never got traction; finally aborted after 2 hours. First time I’ve ever done this. 1/5 stars.
  • Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman – Good. Very good. A particularly interesting and engaging discussion of how the Christian bible has “evolved” over the ages, both due to intentional manipulation and unintentional translation and scribe errors. 5/5 stars.
  • The Sigma Protocol by Robert Ludlum. This one was quite long, but definitely one of the better Ludlum books I’ve “read” lately. The Progeria connection was tenuous at best, and a number of the plot “twists” were appallingly obvious. But it was still fun. 4/5 stars.
  • American Fascists by Chris Hedges and Eunice Wong – I never quite got figured out “the voice” of the book since there was no introduction and it seemed more like an academic reference book than a readable non-fiction at times. That said, it made interesting points, and I finished it right as the Jonah Goldberg book was hitting the media circuit, so it made for some interesting perspective on those interviews. 3/5 stars.

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Another coincidence

I found this quite an interesting coincidence: On my drive home Monday night, I finished up “reading” (yes, listening to) “American Fascists“, a fairly interesting book.

But in particular, near the end of this book were quotes from “The Danger of American Fascism” — a article written by (then Vice President) Henry Wallace in the NYTimes in 1944. This caught my attention because the article was very prescient (sadly, both for the 1940s-50s, and perhaps even more so for today). I had actually intended to post some comment/link about this article as part of my (eventual) write-up of the book review.

So what’s the coincidence? Well, the VERY NEXT MORNING, Thom Hartmann opened up his show reading some of this very same article. I immediately recognized it. And I got quite a good chuckle at the coincidence of hearing this same text from two, completely separate sources within 24 hours.

Of course, the cynic in me might argue that this is just proof that I operate in an inbred intellectual space — where all (or at least many) of my sources have the same reaction to events of the day. The cynic in me is partially right, I suppose… we all generally surround ourselves with things we like and agree with. But, even with that acknowledgement, it’s still amazing that “the book I had just finished” happened to overlap so specifically in topic with “the lead-in to a specific guest Thom had on his show the following morning“.

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Leaving Barcelona

Well, my time in Barcelona is drawing to a close. “Time in Barcelona?!”, you may be thinking. And you should be! Because I have done a lousy, unreliable job of keeping my public up to date on what’s going on.

Well, since going back to work at the end of October, things have been pretty level. But then BAM all of a sudden I’m in Barcelona presenting at the IT Forum TechEd conference for a week. Not entirely unexpected (I’d bought my ticket back in September), but it still came up quite fast. So now I’ve spent nearly the week out of the country and away from J and the boy. It’ll be good to be back!

Sessions all went well, and I was able to do quite a bit of touring later in the week. Barcelona is a great city, and I’m really excited to bring J back here at some point!

Here are a couple of photos of things I saw, and the whole Barcelona 2007 Flickr set is public visibility so feel free to have a look at the rest of the photos as well.

 PB130024 PB140073 PB140068 PB140002

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Rosie the Roomba

We picked out Rosie (our Roomba) a few weeks ago and brought her home.


(*for her privacy, this is not actually our Rosie)

So far she’s been a great addition to the family, and she’s done a spot better keeping the floors clean than we ever did previously. πŸ™‚

The other day in the newspaper there was a fun article about how, um, dedicated some Roomba owners/parents can be. Although we’ve not dressed Rosie up in a little maid uniform, we’ve actually considered dressing her up as a pumpkin for Halloween. Ok, I have considered this. I think Jodi’s still sane.

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Gabriel’s first run!

Gabriel and I made use of a beautiful Saturday morning this past week to go for a stroller-run in the Bob Revolution. We set our sights more for a fun, easy, (flat/not-hilly) run than anything and then headed out the door.

We made it about 2.25 miles, over a few blocks and then up to Union Ave and back. Very pleasant on the side streets, and no traffic at 8am on Saturday so that was good.

Of course, little G fell right to sleep from the bumps on the path, so most of his exercise from this run was from REM sleep I guess. πŸ™‚


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3 More Book Reviews

Once again I’ve allowed my book reviews queue to build up 3 deep. So let’s blast on through them. πŸ™‚

First one is Letter to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris. It was short and sweet. And it’s very unlikely that anyone who “needs” to read it will actually do so. It may just be the best example yet of “preaching to the choir”. As might be expected, he makes a lot of what I think are good points. And as also might be expected, a lot of his points are a bit overbearing and emphasized beyond the point of obvious. Oh well. It was interesting.

Next one is F.U.B.A.R. by Sam Seder and Stephen Sherrill. Blegh. Sure, I agree with a lot of their points, but this was a pretty poor delivery. If the Xtian Nation book mentioned just above was overbearing at points, this one was oppressive in its obviousness. Perhaps it’s Sam Seder’s style (I’ve not heard his radio show), but I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a number of times throughout the book. Yeah, we get it, Democrat good… Republican baaaaad.

Finally, the Tristan Betrayal by Robert Ludlum. As I’ve previously blogged, I was getting a bit tired of Ludlum books (reading so many recently has put me a bit into overload). In any event, this one was a bit different and was a tolerable read. It takes place (primarily) in the 40s, with a WW2 U.S. vs Nazi Germany vs Stalinist Russian theme. In an historical fiction manner, it presents the underpinnings of the Nazi attack on Russia (as well as the 1991 coup attempt) as having been secretly connected to the management of the main character, Stephen Metcalf. To cut to the chase, while I *was* surprised by the outcome for Lana… the final, suspenseful “climax” of the book (in the last few pages) was absolutely obvious: I knew exactly what Lana was talking about when she “subtly” mentioned “the gift” Stephen had given her years earlier and how “her most valuable things” were kept with her Grandmother. Blegh, come on… so transparent I’m sure you’ll know exactly what this is all about just from reading this review! πŸ™‚ But, in any case, it was a pretty good read.

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Wow, if I’ve learned anything in these past few weeks (and, believe me, I have) — it’s that having a new baby really takes up a lot of your time! My “regular” posting to this blog (and even worse, to my work blog) have suffered quite a bit in the run-up to Gabriel’s arrival and the weeks since. But… with apologies to my faithful readers… it’s worth it. Spending time with the little guy is super cool. πŸ™‚

Anyway, back to the alleged topic of this post. Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko”. Jodi and I saw this one probably 2-3 weeks B.G. (yes, Before Gabriel) and I never got around to writing it up. In the interest of time, I’ll keep it short…

Like all Michael Moore movies, folks on the right (and even some in the center and left) immediately pounced on every possible thing in the movie that was inaccurate or could be misconstrued to be inaccurate. By this point anyone who has kept up with his history should not be surprised by this. Michael Moore always pushes the envelope: both in terms of the topics he chooses and also in the way he presents the topic.

Once again, the “haters” came out in full force — decrying the folly in this point, the impossibility of that point, etc.

Which leads to MY point. Sure, it’s easy to find fault with one or many of the examples he provides. It’s easy to point out that the Audi driving doctor probably has supplemental income to be able to afford his fancy lifestyle and $1mil apartment. Sure, it’s easy to recognize that Canada and France and England (and every other civilized country in the world) have system which are imperfect. But what’s not so easy is effectively dismissing the REAL point of this movie: that our system is falling apart – bursting at the seams, that we spend more than other countries per-person and don’t even cover everyone, that we have recently (bankruptcy bill changes) made it even more likely that huge medical bills will unravel the finances (and financial future) of more and more families.

A couple of things (myths?) in particular about single-payer medicine as it exists today — basically, everywhere in the world except here:

  • Waiting for service. Sure, people have to wait for non-emergency service in Canada, England, etc. But, realistically, you have to wait for non-emergency service HERE too. I have great insurance and I still have to schedule out my non-emergency medical visits from a few days to a few months, depending on who I’m seeing and what is the issue. It’s disingenuous to pretend that we’d suddenly have to start waiting for non-emergency service if we changed our system. And, to be clear, you don’t have to schedule your emergency service in Canada/England/France. Come on now.
  • Doctors make no money. Actually, it’s a little unclear to me why the average person would care about this (the average person not being a Doctor). Most of the Doctor folks I know either have no reasoned opinion about Single payer or they are at least tentatively supportive, so it’s not really something I’ve heard from a bunch of Doctors either. And yet, this is one of the common concerns you hear about single payer. I think it’s quite likely that Doctors, generally, would make less money under single-payer system. Less money. But, as highly trained, highly in-demand professionals, it seems quite likely they would still make an excellent, high-end salary. Many regulated industries have employees who receive high salaries: airlines, government. Now, would a superstar specialist surgeon make $750k/year? Maybe. It seems quite likely that our system would not tolerate anything other than a merit-and-workload-based compensation strategy, so maybe this *IS* possible. It’s fundamentally a function of how reimbursements are structured. What WOULD likely change is that if we have more broad patient coverage, we would (hopefully) see less need for highly invasive (and expensive) work to be done — due to better preventative care earlier in life, etc. In that way, indirectly we might see doctor salaries decrease as there’s more need for internal medicine and family practice physicians and less need for heart bypass surgeons. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking. πŸ™‚

Oh well, that’s enough on the point. I’m glad to see this topic being discussed – at least by the Democrats (the Republicans, in a recent debate, wouldn’t even consent to discussing the topic; just all are against it).

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Robert Mak is so awesome

I was very pleased to flip on my weekly “Upfront with Robert Mak” yesterday and discover that his topic for the week was Jack Hamann’s book “On American Soil” (previously reviewed here and followed up here). This just proves, once again, what a great city Seattle is — the topic of one of the best, most interesting books I’ve read in the past year ends up featured on my very-favorite-ist weekly local political/news show. It was made even more cool because there was lots of footage from Mr. Hamann’s original 1987 investigation, and some interview footage with present-day Mr. Hamann out at Discovery park.

Plus, it was neat to see the location of the special grave at the cemetery (which my mother and I went searching for and found when she was visiting last October).

In any event, bravo King5 and Robert Mak for producing a show so cool that I record it every week — and am only ever disappointed when it’s a repeat! Well, that and when they MOVE THE TIME EVERY WEEK so sometimes it doesn’t get recorded. That disappoints me too.

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