Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Gotta Run

So I just signed up for Boston's Run to Remember, a half-marathon through the city of Boston. It seems like a cool way of participating in something associated with the city without having to qualify for the Boston Marathon, let alone do that whole "running a marathon" part. A half seems doable; a full marathon, not so much (despite having numerous friends who have completed one, or more).

I haven't run in an organized race since 1995, when I ran in the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot in Buffalo, NY.

I've actually signed up for two races since then (the Bay State Marathon in '98 and the Muddy Buddy race in 2002), but in both cases I managed to sustain debilitating injuries just a few weeks prior to the race date.

A coincidence?


But a parting thought for your edification: I signed up for the race last night, and during my run this afternoon I rolled my ankle on the way back to the house.

Not a bad start, huh?


As I've already mentioned, I've been sleeping better since the RIF actually happened. But I must say, I have been having a lot of strange dreams lately. I often have vivid dreams, and I'm going to take the fact that I'm having so many of them as a good sign that I'm finally getting enough rest and my creative batteries are starting to recharge.

On the other hand, the subject matter may be an indication that I'm not completely at ease these days.

    Sunday night:
  • Someone was trying to perform some operation that I was convinced was going to kill me.
  • I'm in a coma for what seems like months, if not years at a time, and every time I wake up, the organization of the company has changed, with only a few people providing any kind of continuity for me.
  • I've been laid off again, only this time they've got extra security detail (in tidy white uniforms, like a milkman or 50's gas station attendant), and I have all this extra crap in my office that I have to take home -- papers, books, boxes, several extra pairs of shoes, roller blades, it goes on and on. Where the hell did all this crap come from?
    Last night:
  • I'm driving to the office when suddenly my car veers hard to the right, flipping over when it hits the curb. I pull myself out, more or less unscathed, but I figure I should at least get myself checked out, so I ask someone to call 911 for me. The call never gets made, but as I walk through the field towards the nearby gas station, I find my cellphone lying in the grass (it must have fallen out of my pocket during the flip) so I try calling myself but at some point the call gets disconnected.
  • I'm at the office of the company that I'm going to interview at, although the interview isn't today. I guess I'm just here to drop off my resume. But, hmmmm, I don't seem to have it with me, despite having a huge stack of papers -- notes, random junk mail, paper recycling -- in my briefcase. Seems like a nice office though. I see a few ex-coworkers from the last job who have already started. It smells busy. You can hear the buzz of...quiet. Of people working. Ain't no screwin' around here.
  • I couldn't find my car in the parking lot, so now I'm riding with Earl, a buddy and helper (henchman?) of a friend. Somehow my car got taken away in a mix-up during some weird deal that went down. (drugs? money laundering? I have no idea.) On the way to the car, Earl spies a friend of his that's involved in a scuffle and tries to intervene, managing to get himself shot as we make our getaway. As we go off road through some nasty hills, he tells me he's fine... but I know he'll be dead before we get to my car. Watching us pass over the rough terrain, I wonder if my car could possibly make the journey back even if I found it.
So yeah, weird dreams.

Anyway, I think I was finally settling into things by yesterday morning. Despite the weird dreams, I had slept soundly. Over the weekend I'd started reading Journey to the West again (which I started reading about 4 years ago) and was planning on getting back to it later in the day. I also watched an on-line tutorial on character animation using Flash and thought I could either look for more tutorials or try doing a few tests on my own. I studied a little Chinese while eating breakfast (leftover pumpkin pie from the previous day's "friends Thanksgiving"), and was surfing online for places to learn massage therapy when the phone rang.

It's a woman from the career transition service that's being provided as part of our severance package. They've got a bunch of resources and some seminars that I figure might be a good way to get my head back into the game of looking for a new job. Not 5 minutes later, I get another call -- a headhunter. We chat only briefly before I get a call-waiting beep. It's a hiring manager from a local high-tech company -- he got my name from a former coworker.

I have to admit that I was a little troubled when I met up with a bunch of folks last week and heard that most of them had already been contacted by headhunters or had job interviews lined up.

So I got my calls, and I have to schedule the interview after I'm sent the guy my cleaned up resumé.

And I've got to clean up my resumé. And it seems like a really exciting opportunity, and honestly... I'm not so excited. I mean, I am. I'm excited. I can tell how cool it would be to work on the project he's describing. And I can tell I'll be engaged. But I can also tell that I'll feel in-over-my-head again, and I'll have to put in the extra hours and work my brains out, again. And I wonder if I've had enough rest (or will have had enough rest) to dive back into this. And there's a little voice in the back of my head that keeps asking me if this is really what I want to be doing.

And I know I haven't had enough time to sort that one out.

And that doesn't even get to the FEAR and the well of SELF-DOUBT that always threatens to drown me.


Friday, November 19, 2004

"Freedom": Day 4

I've slept better since they dropped the axe. There's a lot to be said for the relief afforded by resolution, regardless of what the actual results may be. And I've already said it to some who have asked how I felt about it: it could be worse -- I could still be working there. And the ultimate worst-case scenario, getting laid off, but deemed essential enough that they keep you around for another month before you officially lose you job. I don't know how they do it, on both sides of that particular equation.

So, I've been sleeping better. And waking up in the morning and realizing that I don't have to sit in a car for a half an hour to get to the northern reaches of the state to be at work has been nice, but it's a little weird filling the day. And it has been getting filled, certainly.

I cleaned up my desk. I paid the bills. I finally got around to raking the leaves in the yard*. Filed for unemployment**. Went running. Played piano. The SOOTTAD has been pleased that I've been around tidying the house and keeping the chaos in the kitchen in check. Busy. Busywork. But it's been tough trying to feel like I'm being productive, that I'm getting things done. It's tough wrestling with the whole idea that I need to be productive.

* I think my neighbor has been annoyed with me and has been waiting for me to get around to doing this. In past years, I've let it go until late in the season (hey, I get busy, these things happen), and invariably, sometime after he'd raked his yard, there'd be a really windy day and half the leaves that I'd left in my yard would blow into his. Last year he put in some hostas along the border of his yard and put up some low garden fencing, as much an aesthetic addition as a barrier against leaf intrusion. As I was raking yesterday, I noticed that my neighbor hadn't raked yet, or had left several sections unraked. I finished at dusk last night, and when I looked out the window this morning, the neighbor's yard, full of leaves the previous night, had already been cleared. Is he sending me a message? I'll admit that it was a pretty nice day to be outside doing yardwork (I think it hit 60°F, just a week after we got 4 inches of snow), but normally I would have expected him to do it sooner.

** So it looks like I won't be seeing any unemployment benefits anytime soon. It seems that severance pay disqualifies you because it's considered income, which I understand. I mean, they are effectively paying me to look for a new job. It just seems like it diminishes the "thanks for not suing us" goodwill that I thought they were trying to buy. Hey, I've said it before and I'll say it again: it could be worse.

One of the reasons I'm not terribly upset about getting laid off is that I've felt like I've needed a break for a while now. More than a weekend in Vermont, or a long weekend in Baltimore or Vegas. Or even a week-plus in and around L.A. Some real time off, just to shut down for a while.

And then there are also a bunch of projects that have been sitting on the sidelines for quite some time now. Things that would take more than a week or two to do properly. Learn Chinese, for real. Visit China with my parents. (That kind of follows the learn Chinese thing.) Work on an animated film, or three. Drive across the country. Maybe try a new career, something completely different.

But there's the fear. The fear that I won't get another job. The fear that taking any time off will reflect poorly on me and will make it even harder to get another job. The fear that I really will need unemployment.

There's also a strange sort of peer pressure, both internal and external. The external is obvious: there are a few people I've talked to already who are encouraging me to jump back into the engineering workforce ASAP. "[Y]ou can enjoy life and have time off in your vacation time while you have a job," one of them says. Which I suppose depends upon how much time you need, and how much vacation time a company is willing to give you. But that's in the minority. Most of my friends have been doing a pretty good job easing my concerns over taking some time off before jumping back in.

The internal, I admit, is a little weird, but I guess it's all about me and how my head is wired. I had a friend in high school (also American but ethnically Chinese) who would talk about how we were programmed: programmed to do well in school, to study, to work hard, to be competitive (academically), programmed to be geeks and nerds. We busted out in our own ways (he got a perm in 11th grade, I, uh, well... I think I just kinda burnt out in college at some point, met a girl), but a lot of that wiring is still in there. And I see my colleagues already posting job opening information, getting their resumés out, scheduling interviews, and I can feel the current trying to pull me along with them. I should be doing that. I need to get myself out there.

But I still feel like I need to take some time to get my shit together. Part of me loved what I was doing: design, understanding problems, finding solutions. It was like getting a new puzzle to play with and figure out. It was great. And yet, it's never just that -- there are usually other job responsibilities, and other factors, like company environment and social dynamic. So I wonder whether it's really what I want to do.

Jumping back in is certainly the path of least resistance -- I may worry about finding another job, but if I get it, it will at least be a familiar exercise, learning new environments and technologies, striving for understanding, proficiency, success. But I wonder whether I'd just be jumping back into the same situation I was in before, being miserable, wondering if I'm really doing the right thing. I feel like I'd be cheating myself if I didn't consider all my options, and regardless of where I end up, I'd like to make sure I take enough real time off to let me reset.

The starting point is what's hard right now. Do I hurry up and find a job or do I take some time off? I may not be working right now, but just this little decision point is keeping my stress levels at a point where it's distracting.


Monday, November 15, 2004

Talking about values

Just wanted to have a pointer to this column in the Globe:

PRESIDENT Bush and Vice President Cheney make reference to "Massachusetts liberals" as if they were referring to people with some kind of disease. I decided it was time to do some research on these people, and here is what I found.

The state with the lowest divorce rate in the nation is Massachusetts. At latest count it had a divorce rate of 2.4 per 1,000 population, while the rate for Texas was 4.1.

. . .

...Massachusetts also leads in per capita and family income while births by teenagers, as a percent of total births, was 7.4 for Massachusetts and 16.1 for Texas.

Take THAT, red states!

More good stuff at http://www.massachusetts-liberal.com.

The waiting is over

Well, I'm officially unemployed. The first time I've been without a job since graduating from college.

I've already filed my claim with the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Assistance. One of the questions they asked was:

Have you been laid off from this job or industry before?
(Answer: no.)
It reminded me of all the numbers that you always hear on the news about unemployment. The unemployment rate, jobless numbers, first-time filers. Hey check it -- I'm a first-time filer! And I suppose I'm being just a tad cynical when I think: "yeah, here's your F'ing economic recovery, Mr. President."

Company layoffs seen during Bush Sr.: 1 (Companies:1)
Number of times laid off during Bush Sr.: 0

Company layoffs seen during Clinton: 0 (Companies:3)
Number of times laid off during Clinton: 0

Company layoffs seen during Bush Jr.: 5 (Companies:1)
Number of times laid off (so far) during Bush Jr.: 1
I realize that isn't actually a fair measure of a presidential administration, but if people are going to continue use things like the GDP to gauge how well the economy is doing (a fallacy if I've ever heard one), I'm not going to feel so bad about it.

Friday, November 12, 2004

RIF watch, Day 2

So I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to be doing at this point.

I just updated the bug report with the stuff I've been investigating over the last few days, but it looks like that project is being cancelled too. Just going through the motions... Due diligence, I guess.

Nobody's really doing any work right now. A few people that got back from the remote site meeting are filling out expense reports, but that's about it.

People have been gathering in the hallways all day. There are managers that are openly making jokes about how bad things are looking for everybody. We're already exchanging emails and other contact info.

I saw three people I didn't recognize being escorted to the CTO's office. Someone in my cube mentions that there was a whole line of heads prairie-dogging as they walked by. Did I mention that everyone's a bit on edge?

A vendor FAE who's been supporting one of the designs on-site for the last several months was collecting email addresses as he left. (For lunch? For the day? For good?)

And apparently I missed out on a big group lunch/drinking outing yesterday. Oh well.

Will they just get it over with, fer cryin' out loud?!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Signs & Portents

There have been rumors going around the office over the past week or so.

I haven't really been paying attention, having been wrestling with my own effort to stay focused on the things I needed to do. But at some point, you really can't help but notice. Maybe it's a random comment somebody makes during a conversation. Maybe you catch a snippet of a conversation in the bathroom or from people walking by your cube.

* * *

The first time it came up was the week before Halloween. We were supposed to have a potluck and costume thing on Friday and they cancelled at the last minute (the Wednesday before), replacing it with a pizza lunch celebrating the Sox winning the series. It raised an eyebrow or two. I heard one person suggest that they didn't want a social event planned for the same day as a layoff. I suppose that would have taken some of the wind out of the festivities.

Anyway, we had pizza on Thursday, and Friday came and went without incident.

But it had me nervous.

* * *

The following week, during my performance review, my old manager tells me that the project that I got pulled off of (to handle the current disaster) is likely to be cancelled. Hmmm.

* * *

The buzz picked up again this week. Nothing definite, but like I said: you pick up things here and there.

There's this quiet, stoic guy at the office who's doing most of the lab testing for the device we're currently debugging. He'll occasionally swing by my cube to give me updates of his observations and to ask for insights or recommendations. Yesterday he stopped by, and during our conversation he made a comment about the device (the details of which I've forgotten) and suddenly burst out with this lengthy, crazed laugh. It kind of caught me off guard. I mean, I've heard him laugh before, but he really does have a rather reserved countenance, so in the past it's always been just a quick smile or a light chuckle. Yesterday's laugh was boisterous. And it was uncharacteristic and unnerving.

I ask if he's heard anything. Nothing definite, but he notes that there have been several closed-door meetings and off-sites that are being held by senior management. I haven't really noticed this myself, until I catch my manager meeting with HR as I leave for a lunchtime run. And catch another manager going into her office when we return.

* * *

Today, the tension is palpable. My daily fortune:

"A surprise announcement will free you."

Does it count if you already know about it?

When I get up to get water or to go to the bathroom, I often see groups of people standing around, talking in the aisles. Not much work is getting done. Some people are already tidying their desks. But no, we're all still here.

RIF watch, day 1. All's clear.

People are guessing tomorrow or Monday. I feel like the company likes to have its RIFs on Mondays, but others correct me, reminding me that we've had one on a Tuesday and on a Wednesday before. A guy who's been at a remote site all week gives me a call about a question I emailed him and at the end asks how things are going. I'm honest with him -- I have no idea. But we have a meeting scheduled tomorrow morning (he gives me a worried response) -- a debug meeting (whew, ok) -- so we're probably ok, at least for tomorrow, I tell him.

Yeah, we'll probably have until Monday.

* * *

I'm getting ready to leave, and double check my calendar. Huh. Where's that meeting?

I check my Inbox. One new message:

Tomorrow's, 11/12, XXXXX debug mtg has been canceled.

Oh shit.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Bah. (different from the last)

Stupid comment spam.

I'm sort of the default administrator guy over at FoodNerd!, and we started getting comment spam over there about 2-3 months ago. Online porn, gambling, prescription drugs. (I had no idea what cialis was until I started seeing this stuff.) Coffee? Dental insurance? Ok, that's a new one.


I've installed MT-blacklist which seems to have stemmed the tide somewhat. But the blacklist is huge (it's currently at 2172 entries) and will often take a couple minutes to run through all the steps. And I still get new URLs every day or two.

Does anyone out there have any suggestions? Should I upgrade? (We're currently running Movable Type 2.661 with MT-Blacklist 1.6.5) Are there any other tools or plug-ins out there that I should check out?


A friend of mine sent this to me via email yesterday; no other recipients listed in the headers. I'm not sure if she thought I needed it special, or if she had just been sending it out one at a time. Still, another take on where we go from here.

"We must make justice imaginable again in a world so obviously unjust. Give happiness back once more to people poisoned by the misery of the century. Of course that is a superhuman task but superhuman is a term for tasks that take a long time to accomplish that's all." Camus

by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world right now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement...

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind... Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency too to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails. We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn't you say you were a believer? Didn't you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn't you ask for grace? Don't you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?...

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take "everyone on Earth" to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both, are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it; I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate. The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours: They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.

This comes with much love and a prayer that you remember who you came from, and why you came to this beautiful, needful Earth.

[Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized scholar, award-winning poet, Diplomate senior Jungian psychoanalyst, and cantadora in the Latina tradition. Author of the national bestseller Women Who Run With the Wolves, she has also been a post-trauma counselor at Columbine High School and in the community of Littleton, Colorado, since 1999. Along with Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou she wrote the texts for a composition by Judith Weir, commissioned by Jessye Norman for performance in Carnegie Hall called "Women. Life. Song." MJH]

Friday, November 05, 2004

Chin up.

It's on.

There's an election in two years.
There's nothing we can't do.

[From the folks who brought us Get Your War On]

Too much Us versus Them is probably counter-productive, but sometimes it's better to just let yourself get angry and fired up than to wallow in depression and helplessness.

[20Nov04: updated link]

The Unifier, take 2 -- Day 2

I saw the following in this article today:

I earned capital in the campaign -- political capital -- and now I intend to spend it," he said at a news conference 24 hours after securing his second term.
These aren't the words of someone who is trying to earn people's support, to win their trust. These are the words of someone who thinks he already has it. (like that was a surprise.)

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A matter of trust

Now that W has been reelected to a second term, he claims that he wants to seek "the broad support of all Americans." [AP]
"A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation," he said, speaking directly to Kerry's supporters.

"To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support and I will work to earn it," he said. "I will do all I can do to deserve your trust."
Funny, I thought that was what he was going to do the last time around with that whole "I'm a uniter, not a divider" schtick. He seems to have a strange idea about what it means to unite people. I always thought it meant that you were supposed to build consensus through dialog and compromise. Not: expecting a rubberstamp on anything and everything you propose, forcing your choices, picking who gets to participate in your consensus or loyalty oaths.

He said it himself:

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Oh wait. No sorry, that's not what he said. He said this. (An explanation?)

So, shameful fool or cautious anti-American?

Not much of a choice... but perhaps par for the course these days. I guess we wait and see.

Bryan Adams saw this same quote and had his own take on it.

Your new term is a new opportunity, Mr. President. But none of us have forgotten about the last four years – a time during which we were ignored while you did things we despised. If you really want things to be different, then it’s going to have to start with you acting differently. It's going to have to start with Republicans making more of an effort. It’s going to require you to change.

And if you’re not willing to do that, then at least don't patronize me with talk of "national unity."
Check it out.

I have no blog and I must scream

"Terrible thing, to live in fear. ... All I want is to be back where things make sense. Where I won't have to be afraid all the time."
-Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding, the Shawshank Redemption

I had trouble sleeping last night. We did end up watching Shawshank Redemption, after the SOOTTAD dealt with a few hours of an unplanned work emergency. We felt pretty good after that. But almost immediately afterwards, we were caught off guard by a foreboding soundbite on the TV just as we were turning it off. And shortly thereafter, a glimpse of an electoral map on Mozilla when I went to turn off the computer pretty much sucked all the hope and positive mojo right out of us. It was already down to 3 states and looking ugly.

Executive decision: go to sleep. It would still be there in the morning. But easier said than done. The SOOTTAD was shaking; I could feel her heart racing. I laid awake, unable to turn my brain off, thinking of all the things a second Bush presidency would mean: Supreme Court appointments, skyrocketing national debt, selling off the rest of America to corporate greed, piece by piece.

Strange dreams. (This is not so unusual.)

Tonight, there was a horse race, except with cats, and with hurdles of different heights. An out-and-back race. Several of the cats look alike. As I ride mine, we seem to be doing alright, but each hurdle becomes more difficult to clear, and we've slowed down a lot. We barely make the finish, but I'm pleased to see we've taken second, which doesn't seem too bad out of a field of five or six.

I wake up around 5am. While, in the dream, taking second feels pretty good, I have an uneasy feeling that, as far too many Americans seem to see it these days, taking second means only that you didn't take first. That you didn't win. That you are a loser.

My metaphorical horse/cat didn't win.

I can't get back to sleep -- dread and hope duking it out in my head. (dread actually going to town on hope, really.) But I keep postponing the inevitable, unwilling to turn on the radio. Blustery winds gust outside -- it sounds like turmoil to me. I give in at 7:09am. The radio is unhelpful, but it sounds bad. Online, I learn that it's down to Ohio. A sliver of hope? Will John Kerry be the Red Sox in game 4 of the ALCS? How many miracles can we have this fall?

Just one, it would seem. Kerry concedes around 11am.

* * *

The SOOTTAD cried this morning. I cannot say that I did not shed tears of frustration as well. I've been feeling it too. Stressed. Anxious. Shell-shocked. Numb. A little helpless. And I needed to get it out of my system.

Back in college, we had a traditional nightly primal scream (that is, until they banned it); I didn't think it would help now.

I thought writing might help and tried to get onto Blogger, but couldn't. Couldn't get in. Help! I need to blog! [Still having issues, even now. I've already lost one version of this post.] You'd think something big just happened or something.

So today it's been just me and the SOOTTAD looking for answers. How? Why? What next? I know we need to carry on, to be strong. But we also need to rest and recover, so that we can be ready for the right-wing onslaught that's sure to come over the next few years. The SOOTTAD worries that this was the nail in the coffin of our democracy. An understandable thought, given the reports of voting irregularities you can find around the 'net. (The Diebold machines are particularly scary.)

I ended up hitting the political blogs again to find some consolation in numbers, in shared pain, sadness. It was some help (yes, you are not alone), but not much.

Four more years.

All I can think is "Four more years? Four more years of what?"

Four more years of fear. Four more years of lies, greed, intolerance. Record deficits, uncontrolled and unchecked corporate malfeasance, deconstruction of environmental protections. An energy policy apparently made solely of concessions to the energy industry (that seems to only encourage increased consumption and international dependence), the erosion of civil liberties. Four more years of placing politics ahead of science, of using discrimination and bigotry to split the electorate.

I've read that some believe we should give him another chance, to give him the opportunity to prove himself.

Sorry, I already did that 4 years ago. And again after 9/11. And from day one, I watched him walk all over that goodwill. And, as many have pointed out, this time he doesn't have to worry about reelection.

At the moment, I'm not pissed, just sad and deeply disheartened. But I'm sure that'll change soon enough.

Hope is no longer about a Kerry presidency, it's about progressives winning the hearts and minds of those who are currently blinded by the current administration's smoke and mirrors. And preventing our democracy from sliding into the abyss.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day

For the past several weeks I've been trying to avoid watching or reading about the election. I realize that it's important to stay informed, but it really was driving me crazy. I was stressed, I felt anxious, and I couldn't concentrate at work.

So I stopped.

Or at least I tried my best to stop. I don't watch TV news, but I stopped hitting the political blogs, changed radio stations, tried not to follow the online headlines. But stuff leaks in. I turn on the radio in the morning to try and hear the weather report, there's a TV on at the restaurant I go to for lunch, it comes up in conversation, it shows up in non-political blogs. We had the ALCS and World Series as a distraction (GO SOX!), but three days later I hear Schilling is stumping for Bush in Ohio. *sigh* (I had some thoughts on that in particular, but I don't want to go into it right now) You really can't get away from it -- VERB, that's what's happening.

So I've been hiding.

Yesterday, I thought I'd turn over a new leaf and avoid surfing completely. Shockingly, I was successful, and even got some work done. But today, it's election day, and you just can't get away. The SOOTTAD and I voted before I drove into the office and I thought that would be it. I'd get in, sit down at my desk, settle in and get to work. Stay focused. I could do it once, I could do it again.

I was pretty good through the morning, although I did read a (Technology) news article about the guy behind the website electoral-vote.com. Kinda cool -- I actually own one of his books, and I even sent him an email about the site a while back.

After lunch, my resolve fizzled. I just couldn't get my brain back into work mode. First checking email at 30 second intervals, the reading one blog, then another. I'm still avoiding the political sites, but I can't say that's much of an accomplishment.

So I've missed a few fun posts, and I realize that my desire to blog about things is directly inspired by reading interesting or amusing things that other people have written. And even though I know there are actually very few people that read this site, I feel like I should take a moment and say...something.

Reflect. Encourage. I don't know.

It's an important day. I think it's the fifth presidential election I've participated in, and I've never felt so nervous. This year is a big deal. A turning point. I don't think it ever mattered so much. But I'm not good with words, and I really shouldn't be spending even the time that I've already spent trying to craft something here.

But Andrew Tanenbaum has revealed himself, and I thought he had some valuable things to say.

Let me tell you a short story. When I was in elementary school, the school was plagued by a bully. He was the biggest, strongest kid around and would beat up anyone he didn't like. We were all exceedingly polite to his face, but hated his guts behind his back. One day he was chasing some poor kid and he tripped and skidded a considerable distance, scraping his face on the rough asphalt of the playground. He was bleeding and in pain, screaming for help. But nobody came to help him. We all just walked away. George Bush is the world's playground bully. The world sees him--and by inference, America--as arrogant, self-centered, and mean. I spoke to Americans from dozens of countries at the DA caucus. Everyone told the same story--the world hates America. When talking to foreigners, I can tell them about the Bill of Rights or freedom or World War II, or whatever I want, but all they see is this big, stupid, arrogant, playground bully and a stolen election in Florida last time. I think America deserves better. I want America to be respected in the world again, and John Kerry can restore the respect America deserves.

Check it out, and get out and vote. There's still time.

I'm still not going to try and follow the results on TV tonight. For one thing, even without a court challenge or a repeat of recount madness, it's probably not even going to be decided tonight given all the absentee ballots coming in this year. Maybe we'll watch Shawshank Redemption. The results can wait until tomorrow.

And until then, I'll try to keep the faith, and hope.