Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dispatch from Schroon Lake

I'm writing from a combination cybercafe-coffee shop-antique store in the idyllic little village of Schroon Lake, New York. DH is accusing me of internet-addiction and of course it's true. I have been feeling bereft without being able to read blogs discussing the Democratic Convention and the choice of Governor Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate. I sat and watched Washington Week in Review last night to at least get a feel for the response to both.

We arrived Thursday night just in time to see Barack Obama's speech in full (except for about 5 minutes when I had to go walk Diva who was barking loudly and distractingly).

The speech was rousing, it addressed all the issues he needed to talk about, it was strong, and it was fantastic. All of the pundits agreed he did exactly what he needed to do and the convention was a great success.

So it was with dismay that I got up the next morning and turned on the television to hear that McCain had announced a surprise running mate of Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska. I knew he planned to announce his running mate right after the Democratic convention in order to step on Obama's "bump" in the polls. But I was expecting Mitt Romney or someone equally dull. McCain did pull off a surprise announcement, one cynically calculated to try to make his campaign look like "change" and perhaps steal away some of the disgruntled Hillary supporters.

To me, it was exactly the same thing that the first President Bush pulled by nominating Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court to replace Thurgood Marshall.

Although Ms. Palin is a woman, her resemblance to Hillary Clinton stops there. She can talk all she wants about the 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, but if any woman who supported Hillary truly believed in the stands that Hillary has taken, there is no way she will support Palin. Governor Palin is a conservative right wing idealogue who is on the opposite side of the political spectrum from Hillary on almost every issue.

McCain's choice was hailed as "Maverick Picks a Stunner" on the front page of the local newspaper. But it was not an action of a maverick at all - he chose a conservative who would thrill the religious right, who had not been all that excited about McCain himself. Palin is enthuasiastically in favor of drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. She is also pro-NRA and is not supportive of gay and lesbian rights. Her positions are totally in line with the right wing. But because she's a woman,McCain is hailed as being brave for picking her.

Let's hope no moderate Independent or undecided Democrat will fall for this cynical ploy by the McCain campaign.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tonight's The Night

History will be made tonight when Barack Obama accepts the nomination of his party for President of the United States, capping off a Democratic convention that has, all in all, from what I can tell, been quite successful so far.

I wasn't able to watch Bill and Hillary's speeches over the past couple of nights but from everything I have read, they really stepped up and supported Obama with all of their considerable political skills and, dare I say, their hearts as well. No matter how disappointed either of them may be that Hillary isn't the one accepting the nomination, they know we are all in this together. We're all fighting the same fight, for the same reasons, against the same opposition forces that have been dragging this country down for 8 years. Hillary's reasons for wanting the nomination were the same as Barack's - to get this country back on the right track. So now that it is going to be his nomination, she put her all behind him, and so did Bill.

I did get to watch Senator Edward Kennedy's speech the first night, and saw there wasn't a dry eye in the house when he got up to speak. Michelle Obama was great - she is a fantastic speaker and will be a wonderful First Lady.

I am hoping to be able to watch Obama's speech tonight in its entirety; we are heading up to the Adirondacks for a 4-day weekend tonight and will try to get there by 10 p.m. in order to see it. As usual we probably will not be able to access the internet, so I'll wish you all a wonderful Labor Day weekend.

Baxter wants me to tell you that he will be back blogging next week, and is, quote, "Annoyed that he didn't get a Chance to Blog this Week." Oh well, cats are hard to keep satisfied, as we all know.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fun Personality Test for You

While we're all waiting for the Democratic Convention to begin tonight, here is a fun quiz to take to fill the time. I have to say this pretty much sums me up so it seems to be rather accurate! (And yes, I was taking the test at work!).

I'm a Lifer!

To you, a job is what pays the bills. You put in your hours, follow the rules, and then go home. Occasionally, you consider quitting, but then you think of how bad the job market is and you reconsider. Whatever happiness you get, you get from your life outside the workplace. Relationships, family, hobbies, and outside creative pursuits are what really matter to you. You're probably taking this test at work because you don't have anything better to do.

Talent: 33%
Lifer: 51%
Mandarin: 44%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Right Choice

I hope everyone was as relieved as I was to hear that Barack Obama picked Joe Biden as his running mate. By picking Biden, Obama has shown he has the political awareness to understand that he needs someone with experience to bolster his credentials with those who have doubts about his readiness for the Presidency.

Given the situation with Russia, it is especially important that he have someone by his side who will give voters confidence that he can handle international crises.

Even before Obama's pick was announced, conservative David Brooks set forth a lot of good reasons Biden should be his choice. Brooks pointed out that Biden's working-class roots, his honesty, and his experience in the Senate would help Obama connect with the voters and help him steer his way through the Gordian Knot of Congress when he wants to get things done. And he won't be a yes-man to Obama; he'll tell it like it is, which Obama himself has said he needs in a Vice President.

Best of all, Biden will be able to go after John McCain in a way Obama can't, with his image of being a new kind of politician. Being all post-partisan is all well and good, but Obama has to win, and McCain's smears have been starting to take their toll. Biden can help bring the conversation back to what a disaster the Bush Administration has been and why McCain will just perpetuate the mess, as well as pointing out the many mistakes McCain has been making during this campaign.

Frank Rich in today's NY Times discusses what Obama should be doing next - talking about the future and how his vision of the future differs from McCain's. And he also points out that Americans are more worried about the economy than foreign affairs.

"How we dig out of this quagmire is the American story that Obama must tell. It is not a story of endless conflicts abroad but a potentially inspiring tale of serious economic, educational, energy and health-care mobilization at home. We don’t have the time or resources to go off on more quixotic military missions or to indulge in culture wars. (In China, they’re too busy exploiting scientific advances for competitive advantage to reopen settled debates about Darwin.) Americans must band together for change before the new century leaves us completely behind. The Obama campaign actually has plans, however imperfect or provisional, to set us on that path; the McCain campaign offers only disposable Band-Aids typified by the 'drill now' mantra that even McCain says will only have a 'psychological' effect on gas prices."

Back in 1992, then-candidate Bill Clinton had signs up in his campaign headquarters saying "It's the economy, stupid!" to keep him on track. Obama needs to take that lesson to heart and be more single-minded in his emphasis on the economy. There's nothing that helps a candidate from the opposing party more than a lousy economy in an election year.

Another thing Obama needs to remember is that this country is all about marketing. While many of us truly value Obama's ability to see both sides of an issue and thoughtfully discuss solutions, that needs to be done in back rooms with his advisers. To the press, he needs to seem resolute and have a clear concise message. Obama's brand until now has been "Change," and he's been good at marketing it. But as Rich points out, now he needs to come up with something more potent that will resonate with those who are disheartened by the direction the country has taken and have not yet heard either candidate articulate their concerns or offer solutions they can relate to. Economic policy details are fine on a website but not in a sound bite. His message needs to be clear, simple, memorable and strong.

From now until the election, Obama and Biden have to hammer away at John McCain, while simultaneously telling the American people how they will fix the mess we're in. It's a tall order, but they can do it. They have to. The future of the country is depending on it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Haiku Thursday

I recently realized I had been neglecting my haiku posting. Since I don't have the energy for an insightful commentary on the political scene and others have provided excellent analyses of the Georgia-Russia debacle, today seemed like a good day for some haiku. So here goes:

Theories are rampant
Who will be the VP choice?
Obama's not telling us.

Could it be Biden?
How about Bill Richardson?
Maybe even Hillary?

Some say Sebelius
Others think it's Evan Bayh
Or perhaps Tim Kaine.

One thing is for sure
No one will be satisfied
Whoever is picked.

McCain is gaining
Barack was on vacation
Can't he take a break?

McCain's slinging mud
Using Rovian tactics
This is no surprise.

Polls are looking bad
But it's still the mid-summer
Time is on our side.

John is out to lunch
He's asked, How many houses?
He can't even say.

Russia makes the scene
Invading little Georgia
Which of course has oil.

Bush is blustering
McCain is following suit
Hypocrisy rules.

We invade Iraq
Now we tell them what to do?
Very ironic.

The world is turning
There's never a dull moment
Lots of blog fodder.

That's it for now. Happy Friday!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ideas Whose Time Should Have Come A Long Time Ago

I was just reading a very funny post over at Finslippy about the discovery of kitty litter. (Yes, that's what I said - go read it, you'll understand. And read the comments too, they're all hilarious).

It made me think, however. Of course, kitty litter was not a discovery but more of an invention. Before kitty litter there were shredded newspapers. No kitty litter. I guess a lot of people used to let their cats out in the old days so it wasn't as much of an issue.

But if you think about it, the idea of kitty litter was an idea that was just lying around on the ground waiting for someone to trip over it and discover it. You know, like in the cartoons where a light bulb appears over someone's head to indicate a brilliant idea. So in a way it did have to be discovered - because it was something that could have been thought of years before, but just wasn't.

Surely someone who watched their cat scratching in the dirt and gravel in their yard must have thought "Hey, if my cat needed to go in the middle of the night, wouldn't it make sense to have something like that in a box for her to use?" And maybe that person brought in some sandy dirt or something to do that, but never thought to make it a "product" that people would go buy - until one genius did.

It made me think about a lot of other things that should have been thought of sooner than they were. One that comes to mind is (sorry guys) stick-on sanitary pads. I had to use those ridiculous BELTS when I was a young teen! Surely this is an idea whose time could have come sooner than it did?

Or one-cup coffee makers - those little drip things you can put over a cup and make a real cup of brewed coffee for just one person. They had Drip-o-lators since the 1920's but nobody thought of making a one-cup version until much later. The invention of instant coffee might have been avoided altogether.

And disposable diapers! This was something that could easily have been invented a lot sooner than it was. I remember when I used to babysit back when I was a teenager, we had to use real diapers, pins (which often as not came undone and stuck the baby and made him or her cry) and those awful rubber pants that never prevented leaks very well.

I know there are more - can you think of other inventions like these, that are such obvious ideas, but nobody thought of them until more recently?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Are You Kidding Me? Pot Calling Kettle Black...

George W. Bush never ceases to amaze me with his hubris. He actually had the colossal nerve to denounce Russia for being a bully. Here is what he said:

"With its actions in recent days, Russia has damaged its credibility and its relations with the nations of the free world. Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century."

Hello? Isn't this what the United States has been doing for years now? The nerve of him to criticize another country when we invaded a sovereign nation and killed thousands, perhaps millions, of its civilians, and left it in a shambles? And he has the audacity to tell Russia what to do? Unbelievable.

In honor of Mr. Bush I will quote below the full lyrics to Phil Och's protest song, "We're the Cops of the World."

Come, get out of the way, boys
Quick, get out of the way
You'd better watch what you say, boys
Better watch what you say
We've rammed in your harbor and tied to your port
And our pistols are hungry and our tempers are short
So bring your daughters around to the port
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

We pick and choose as we please, boys
Pick and choose as we please
You'd best get down on your knees, boys
Best get down on your knees
We're hairy and horny and ready to shack
And we don't care if you're yellow or black
Just take off your clothes and lay down on your back
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

Our boots are needing a shine, boys
Boots are needing a shine
But our Coca-Cola is fine, boys
Coca-Cola is fine
We've got to protect all our citizens fair
So we'll send a battalion for everyone there
And maybe we'll leave in a couple of years
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

And dump the reds in a pile, boys
Dump the reds in a pile
You'd better wipe off that smile, boys
Better wipe off that smile
We'll spit through the streets of the cities we wreck
And we'll find you a leader that you can't elect
Those treaties we signed were a pain in the neck
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

And clean the johns with a rag, boys
Clean the johns with a rag
If you like you can use your flag, boys
If you like you can use your flag
We've got too much money we're looking for toys
And guns will be guns and boys will be boys
But we'll gladly pay for all we destroy
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

Please stay off of the grass, boys
Please stay off of the grass
Here's a kick in the ass, boys
Here's a kick in the ass
We'll smash down your doors, we don't bother to knock
We've done it before, so why all the shock
We're the biggest and the toughest kids on the block
And we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

And when we butchered your sons, boys
When we butchered your sons
Have a stick of our gum, boys
Have a stick of our bubble gum
We own half the world, oh say can you see
And the name for our profits is democracy
So, like it or not, you will have to be free
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World.

And, for good measure, here is Phil himself singing it. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a live video of him singing this particular song.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Let's Send Fruit Baskets

I haven't been around much this week as I took a few days off to spend time with one of my oldest friends, "L," and her 17-year-old daughter ("S"), who were visiting from Massachusetts.

L and I met in our freshman year of college in the chemistry lab. We were both biology majors at the time and of course chemistry was one of our required subjects. After a few days next to each other in the chem lab mixing up smelly chemicals and causing minor explosions and fires in our immediate area, we were fast friends, and have remained so ever since.
We both hung around with different crowds during college - L started out as a commuter, while I was in the dorm, so we had different groups of friends. Later she did move on campus but was never in the same dorm as I was. But in between all of the craziness we always met up - either in the dining hall, or the cafeteria at the school, or in one of our rooms - and talked about everything under the sun and commiserated about our various problems and traumas.

Thanks to L, I actually managed to get to one Boston Red Sox game, visited the Arnold Arboretum, and went to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, none of which I would have gotten around to doing without her influence.
The other friends I hung around with at the time were more apt to drag me out to a bar than to a museum.

Funny thing is, I am not in touch with any of those friends, but L and I have remained close ever since.

Through the years we visited with each other's families, and had rendez-vous in various locations, ranging from Cape Cod to New Jersey. When I met DH and was deep in relationship angst, her mom was the one who said "hold on to him, he's a good one," and I listened.

When L met her husband, they visited us before they were even married and we all got along as if we'd known each other forever. And once they had their daughters, we were part of their lives as well.

Now we're still sharing the joys and commiserating over the hard parts of life - we both have aging parents and are facing the daily challenges that that entails. But through it all we have had each other and that is what is great about a friendship like this. No matter how long it's been between visits, the moment we are together it is as if no time has passed.

So it was great to spend a few days of quality time with L and her older daughter S, as so often our get-togethers have been too brief or full of activities without enough time to really talk.

S is a charming, witty girl who really is fun to be with. I thoroughly enjoyed hanging around with a 17-year-old and understanding her perspective on things. Do you realize she is so young she only barely remembers cassette tapes? And she's never known a world without cell phones? And did you know, if you're 17 and are still in school, you can actually explain how a simultaneous equation is solved in Algebra? (This is something I have never mastered). She also seems to have inherited both of her parents' sense of humor.

We even had time to sit out on our deck and talk about yours and my favorite topic, politics. L has way too many things on her plate to get that involved in the whole subject as a rule, but we did talk about the Iraq war.

Her view was that although we never should have gone there in the first place, she doesn't see how on earth we can extricate ourselves without leaving it in such a huge, dangerous mess that it can never be fixed.

I agreed, and then S chimed in with her opinion and it was great. Her solution to the mess? Send fruit baskets!

"You know how when you've done something, and you're really, really sorry about it? And you want to apologize? You send a fruit basket! Maybe we should just ship all of the Iraquis fruit baskets! Then they'd have something to eat and wouldn't hate us so much!"

Naturally she was kidding.

But you know what? There are probably worse ideas out there!

Speaking of ideas, I wonder whether it's a good or bad idea that Obama has settled on an agreement with Hillary Clinton to have her name placed in nomination at the Democratic convention? As a result, delegates will be declaring themselves for Hillary Clinton during the roll call. Of course, when Hillary herself votes she will then declare her support for Obama and ask her delegates to support him.

But this might backfire and make it look as if the party is divided. I am also more than a little concerned about having both Hillary AND Bill speaking at the convention, given Bill's lukewarm (or perhaps I should say, rather chilly) support for Obama.

I understand that Obama wanted to come to an agreement with Clinton's supporters before the convention to soothe their feelings and make them feel validated.

But maybe it would be better to just send them fruit baskets.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Very Disillusioning

What is it about politicians that they just can't resist having affairs? Is it the extra testosterone needed to have the urge for power that also causes these lapses in judgment?

I saw today that after denying it all along, John Edwards has now admitted to having an affair with a woman who was producing videos for his campaign. He says he came clean to his wife and family "long ago," but had continued to publicly deny the accusations that kept coming up in the media.

Now, I was not really an Edwards supporter. There has always been something about him that just didn't appeal to me. But I did really believe he and his wife Elizabeth were the real thing. And maybe they are. It's not the affair that bothers me so much (we can all make mistakes) it's the lying.

This is the same pattern as Bill Clinton. I have no doubt Hillary knew about Monica Lewinsky by the time Bill had to admit it in public. But before he ever admitted it, he shook his finger at the American people and said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." That is what irked me about it.

Similarly, John Edwards had said, "The story is false. It's completely untrue, ridiculous," when reporters questioned him about a National Enquirer story in the fall of 2007.

Now he says that because the story contained "many falsities" that he felt he was being "99% honest" in his denial. Uh, no, John. Saying something is "completely untrue" is not being 99% honest if the core issue - having the affair - was true all along.

This goes with the whole "It depends on what the meaning of 'is,' is" mentality of Bill Clinton.

Now mind you, I don't think it's really anybody's business what people do in their private lives and really don't care if Edwards had an affair or not.

But what bugs me about these guys is they always feel they have to lie. Why don't they just say, "This is a private matter between me and my family, and is none of your business," and change the subject? If Clinton had done that he would have never been impeached. After all, he wasn't impeached for his affair with Lewinsky. He was impeached for the lie.

On top of that, the latest analysis of this story on the Huffington Post also indicates he paid $114,000 to this woman for her alleged documentaries when she had never made documentaries before and the videos she took weren't even used for anything. I'm sure those who donated their hard-earned money to Edwards would not be happy to realize some of it went to pay his lover for work that was obviously just an excuse to keep her near him.

So now we have another Democrat looking bad, another Democratic story the hungry MSM will be all over for the next who knows how long, and once again John McCain can continue to make his gaffes and flip flop on his stands on the issues, and no one will pay any attention to him whatsoever. And the less attention they pay to McCain, the better he does in the polls.

Why do I have this sinking feeling that we are all doomed in November?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

So Now We're Landed Gentry.. or maybe Hillbillies?

Well, we got the property! Or, at least, the seller has signed the contract on our offer in the Adirondacks. Now comes the other stuff - the survey, title search, all that rigamarole. But we have an agreement, and now I can show you pictures without feeling as if I'm jinxing it!

Our own little 6 acres near Lake George, complete with pond and cabin. A cabin without running water, but with a generator and bathroom fixtures already installed and ready to function once we drill a well. And as Scarlett O'Hara's daddy said, "It's the land, Katie Scarlett! It's the land that matters!"

Everything around the property is wooded; the property across and on either side of us is basically wilderness, used by some hunting clubs in the area. Our property of course will be marked "Posted - No Hunting" and I'm envisioning all the deer (which will look just like Bambi and his mother) and the other wildlife will see our "Posted" signs and understand that we are a wildlife refuge and come live with us where they're safe. (I do realize that this would mean we could never plant anything in our yard).

The pond is full of frogs and turtles and looks like some kind of primordial soup. I think I need to research what lives in ponds in the Adirondacks before we let Diva swim in it. A brief Internet search revealed, to my relief, that water moccasins are not a threat in New York State and that the only poisonous snakes in the area are the relatively endangered rattlesnakes, which don't go in the water. If anyone has any advice on how to naturally "de-murk" a pond, please let me know. I don't want to drive out any of the existing aquatic creatures but would like the pond to eventually be clearer!

Here are a few pictures we took last weekend when we were there:
The road leading to the property:
View of the cabin from across the pond:

Closeup of the house:
View of the pond from the deck:
The enclosed porch:
Interior view showing front window and woodstove:Interior view showing loft and part of kitchen area (to left). Bathroom is in lefthand far corner behind the door.

Closeup of kitchen area:Diva surveying her new territory:

One more important thing - our cell phones are able to get a signal here! We can communicate with the real world. And the realtor has assured us that most people in the area are able to get internet through Verizon, and satellite TV. All the necessities of life! I look forward to future summer weekends spent out on my deck reading all of your blogs!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!