Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008 - 20 Things I Am Thankful For

It's Thanksgiving week so here are 20 things I am thankful for:
  1. My wife Diane - she is my life, my one true love, partner, best friend and...well, really, everything to me. I'm very lucky to be with someone so smart, adventerous, funny and beautiful.
  2. My health - 39 years and so far, so good. Being mobile, agile, in shape and unsick are a huge boost to everyday life. I'm also thankful for Diane's good health.
  3. My parents - they made me into who I am today.
  4. Our friends - too many to name off individually, but Diane and I are thankful we have so many great freinds old and new. They add so much to our lives.
  5. Our families - what a great, whacky and loving bunch.
  6. Our cat Josie - the nicest, most well behaved cat in the history of the world ever.
  7. The education I received - it's helped me get to where I am today...and to experience some of the other things below this point on the list.
  8. Food - in all of its glorious diversity.
  9. Good wine - enough said.
  10. Travel - getting out to see the world or even different parts of one's own state or country is, in my opinion, a truly invaluable way to view things through other people's eyes and come to understand that not everything is the way you experience it every day or week. Plus, it's really fun and educational.
  11. Barack Obama - change had to come and I think he is the man to do it.
  12. Clean air - compared to parts of China (see posts here and here for more) I am grateful for the relatviely clean air we breath here in Seattle.
  13. The band Glasvegas - this year they renewed my belief that new bands can produce great music.
  14. That cup of beer I had at the Seahawks game on Nov. 16 - see here for why.
  15. The relatviely robust and diverse economy of the Seattle area. Seriously, I'm really pleased we live in an area that's not as hard hit by the recession (famous last words) and has a diversity of businesses and industries.
  16. My job - yep, I'm glad to have one, glad to enjoy it, glad I've had good supervisor and colleagues.
  17. Those who fight on our behalf - without agreeing with why our armed forces are in certain engagements around the world, I can without hesitation say that I am thankful for the soldiers, sailors, airmen and women, Marines and others in the militaty forces who fight and too often die on our behalf.
  18. New York City - Uptown, Downtown, the Village, Chelsea, Meatpacking District, SoHo, Midtown, the doesn't matter. I love going there (especially with Diane), and am lucky to get there 2-3 times a year because of my job. Next trip is in February.
  19. The natural beauty of the area we live in here in Washington state - sure, it rains a lot in the fall and winter...and increasingly in the summer. But hey, when it's all said and done, you cannot beat the combination of moutains (real ones, not the puny fakes they have back east), ocean, islands, desert, vineyards, gorges, rivers and more. Throw in our proximity to Candada to the north and Oregon and California to the south and it's a UNBEATABLE place to live.
  20. The Oregon Ducks sports teams - OK, you might think this is a silly one, but in a year of dismal Seattle-based sports (Sonics gone, Ms horrible, Seahawks horible, UW football horrible) I'm thankful that my alma mater's football, basketball and track teams have had or are having successful seasons. And, unlike pro sports or other schools, win or lose, I have a personal invesntment in the Ducks as an alum. That adds a lot too.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

3 Songs You Should Check Out

Part of the allure and fun of music is uncovering high quality but undiscovered or seldom heard songs. With this in mind, here are three singles that I discovered recently that you may want to check out:
"These Days" by At the Lake
This is a sort of a cross between Coldplay, early Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Glasvegas and Doves. 

You can hear These Days here. Just hit the little "play" arrow button. But, I've not been able to find this on iTues or anywhere else for download. The download function at this link does not seem to work for me. But, a good song worth giving a listen to. (Side note: the download function aside, the Strummerville site is a great place to hear sounds of up an coming rock, folk, electronic and other types of groups.)

At the Lake are a UK-based group that has been around for a couple/few years. I am not sure if they still exist, however. They have a Web site and you can get a couple of their songs (although not These Days) for free there. You can also get a couple more for a fee at iTunes. But, their site does not look like it's been updated for a couple who knows. 

"Turn it Up" by Man Raze
This is a rock blast that will get you moving. The song itself is an ode the power and emotion of a loud fast rock song. If you're a runner, the song is like a nitro boost to speed you along. So, put it on your iPod and hit play when you need that extra juice to release some endorphins and get your run on the fast track.

The band is a London based unit made up of former Sex Pistol drummer Paul Cook, former Def Leopard guitarist Phil Collin (no, not Phil Collins...Phil Collin) and some other dude I have not heard of on bass. Their song and album is available on iTunes.

"Wanterlust King" by Gogol Bordello 
I'd heard of Gogol Bordello and even heard snippets of their music, but it was only until I saw the movie Filth & Wisdom that I really came to appreciate this band and, especially, their lead singer. Wanderlust King is a cross between gypsy music and rock and features prominently in the movie. Wanderlust King has a catchy tune, impassioned lyrics and delivery and an unusual Eastern European cabaret crossed with punk rock aesthetic you don't get anywhere else. 

The song and others by Gogol Bordello are on iTunes.

Check these three out and let me know what you think.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Of Football, Fans, the Flag and a Guy Named Tits

On Sunday, several buddies and I went to the Seattle Seahawks NFL football game in downtown Seattle. The team is horrible, played pathetically and predictably lost - moving their record to a depressing 2 wins, 8 losses.

However, there was much more going on than just a football game - both around me in the stands and in my own toughts. The game experience really turned into an interesting venue to observe and reflect. Here are a few things that really struck me:

The Flag and the National Anthem
For the first time in a long, long time...participating in the national anthem and all of the patriotic ceremony that goes with that felt really good. With our recent selection for President and the attendant move for change that the majority of Americans voted for, I felt more proud of being a U.S. citizen than I have in quite a while.

I realize that the flag is just a piece of cloth, but it is a symbol...a symbol upon which others around the world and especially U.S. citizens project their notions of what America is. While there are some basics that never change, certainly different eras and circumstances can bring different and sometimes negative feelings to be bound up in the image of the flag. On Sunday, surrounded by the roaring masses of 68,000 fellow citizens, for the first time in a long time my own notions of what the flag stands for...and therefore what our country stands for...were positive.

As it unfurled on the field and flew above the stadium, and as the anthem was sung, I felt that instead of standing for war, deficits, incompetence, big business, oil, pop culture trash, cronyism, ignorance, lobbyists, etc., the flag in my mind stood for hope, change, strength to overcome, a new chance, rebuilding and the unifying power of new possibilities.

The Fans
All I can say is...this ain't baseball. In fact, it isn't college football, the NBA, golf or soccer. No, this is the NFL and fans of NFL teams are a different breed. An NFL game seems to be a place where people can let it all hang out. Every football Sunday is both Halloween and a keg party in which the participants basically freak out for 3-4 hours.

The majority of fans (say, 70%) were, by my estimation, working class, in the 30-50 range in age, white, male, sporting a nicely rounded gut and wearing some form of a Seahawks jersey. These fans are rough around the edges, don't care and will tell you so if you don't like it. And that's here in friendly Seattle. Imagine what fans must be like in Philly or New York. The thing that struck me most was that these people not only were passionate about the Seahawks and the NFL, they seemed to need it, crave it, desire it as an outlet. Amongst that demographic, perhaps in these trying times it all means that much more.

Below (picture taken by Sean Haugen) is one guy who sat right in front of us. He was great...really into the game, boisterous and dressed for the occasion.

Another nearby fan we called "Angry Man." He was white-hot pissed off at all times and screaming...just SCREAMING...his displeasure at what was happening on the field. Funny thing is, unlike most of the other people around us, he looked like a normal middle aged guy.

There was another guy dressed up in pimp gear Yep, a long Seahawk coat and pants, fedora with a big feather plume, flashy tie and shoes and he was carrying a similarly dressed mini-pimp doll. And he was popular. You really can't do anything other than look at that and appreciate. Imagine a stadium filled with people who mostly were like these guys.

Sometimes you are just lucky
Earlier in the game we stopped off at a concession stand to get some beer, and upon returning to our row we set our beverages in the convenient cup holders in front of each of our respective seats.

At one point, the Seahawks actually did make a good play...a really good play. Fans all around us were jumping up and down, screaming and high-fiving. I was too. As the cheering mayhem proceeded, I noticed that all of a sudden my beer "exploded" - foaming over and spilling onto the pavement in front of me. I had no idea what had happened. My first thought was that someone threw something and it had miraculously (and unluckily) landed right in my beer. So, I was kinda mad. I felt around in the beer expecting to extract a golf ball or something, but instead pulled out...MY WEDDING RING!

Somehow, some way...for the first time in 11 years of marriage, my ring came off my finger. More amazing, it landed directly IN MY BEER. Imagine if it had pinged off to one side of the cup or simply flew into a different row. I would never have found it - ever. What are the odds that my ring would rocket off my finger in a moment of flailing around while cheering and would score a DIRECT HIT into my beer cup? Pretty amazing. Suffice it to say, I kept my fist mostly clinched the rest of the game so it didn't happen again. The Seahawks made things easier too by proceeding to stink the rest of the game so there was nothing more to cheer about. But in the end, the two big takeaways on this one are...never underestimate the usefulness of a glass of beer and sometimes you're just lucky.

Some nicknames are good, some are not
Nicknames can be great. I've known guys with monikers such like "Slimer," "Frog Legs" and even "Bean Pod." All were good guys, all fitting nicknames that they embraced. However, some nicknames are clearly NOT good. We became aware of one of them at the game.

A woman in front of us all of a sudden turned around, looked up into the stands and yelled, "Hey tits!!!" Then she waved. When a couple of us laughed, she just said, "Oh, that's my friend up there. His nickname is Tits." Really? A guy? With that nickname? She assured us it was true and that her friend liked it. No more explanation as to how this poor soul got the name or anything. She yelled at him a few more times during the game. "Hey Tits!!!" I felt sorry for the guy...and wondered just what he had to have done - or look like - to get that unfortunate nickname.

So there you go
Renewed patriotism, social observations, bizare nicknames, blind luck and the unlimited value of a full cup of beer - all things I learned during one NFL football game.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

GOP "Blame Obama" game starts already

Last week I dropped in a quick note about how I thought Republicans would start blaming Obama for the serious economic damage caused by their eight years (more really...remember, they controlled Congress from 1995-2006) of leading the country starting right after Obama's inauguration in January.

Turns out I was naive. Why? Because the Republicans are already at it.

Yep. One week after his election, conservative commentators and pundits are starting the "blame Obama for our economic problems" strategy.

See article here.

Sadly, but predictably, I think this is a preview of what we'll see from the R's over the next four year. Ugly.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wine Pictures

OK wine lovers, I've uploaded some pictures of wine and wine related subjects on my Flickr Photostream that I've take in places like France, Walla Walla and Lopez Island.

Check it out by clicking here.

The pictures are in the first set at the upper left.

If you see something you like, let me know and I'll send you the file.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Five Albums You Should Get

OK, so there aren't "albums" anymore, but that's what we called them back in the day. When cassette tapes came on the scene, we still called them albums. Same with CDs and now full sets of MP3 files from - among other places - iTunes.

Anyway, there's something about a complete set of music vs. individual songs on a playlist. Much more enjoyable and you get a full expression of ideas...something to think about.

With that in mind, here are five "albums" you may not have heard of, but deliver great rock and roll and hang together as a full set of music. All but the second one are available on U.S. iTunes. (All artwork is by the artists, not me.)

Howl by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
San Francisco band BRMC started their career with a sound that's a cross between My Bloody Valentine, PiL and The Jesus & Mary Chain. And that was pretty dang good. Howl, however, is nothing like that. Rather, it's a big change up for the group that produced in my opinion their best work to date. Consisting of 15 tracks of mostly acoustic music that evoke Bob Dylan more than anything else, the still dark tunes deliver a major dose of soul, intelligent lyrics and musical talent on display. Every song is a winner, but standouts include the pumping Ain't No Easy Way, the drawing and haunting Howl, harmonica driven anti-war song Complicated Situation and the moving Sympathetic Noose. If you like what you hear on Howl, get Howl Sessions for some great songs that did not make the main album - in particular Mercy.

Neurotic Outsiders by Neurotic Outsiders
Remember the Sex Pistols? Guns 'n Roses? How about Duran Duran? What if some guys from those bands got together in a new band in the mid 1990s and put out a kick ass rock album? Would that be of interest? Well, that did happen. Comprised of Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) on guitar and vocal, Duff McKagan (GnR) on guitar and vocals, Matt Sorum (GnR) on drums and John Taylor (Duran Duran) on bass, the band was called Neurotic Outsiders. And their one self-titled album rocks. The main thing here is the music... slashing guitar from Jones, bombastic drumming and clever tunes that really move as they shift and propels to the next set of adrenaline inducing lick. Things only slow down for the self-contemplative Better Way, Union and Story of My Life.

Tackling weighty topics such as how much of a "'ho" one of the guys girlfriends is, the heavy weight of having been a Sex Pistol, the negative opinions of the band on too much plastic surgery on women, and other similar topics, the lyrics take a back seat. But they are at least delivered well. Standout tracks include Angelina, Revolution, Better Way and a wicked cover of Janie Jones by The Clash. I recommend this one for anyone for that perfect accompaniment to an aggressive workout at the gym or a hard run. But if you just want to rock out, it's pretty good for that too.

The Good, the Bad & the Queen by The Good, the Bad & the Queen
OK, so I'm not a big fan of "supergroups," but having said's the second one I'm going to recommend in this group of five complete albums you should have. Comprised of Damon Albarn (Blur) on vocals, Paul Simonon (The Clash) on bass, Simon Tong (The Verve) on guitar and afro-beat legend Tony Allen on drums, The Good, the Bad & the Queen is both the name of the band and the album. With this lineup, you'd think maybe you'd be in for gaggle of rocked up songs, but that's not the case. It's much more interesting than that. Rather, with this one you get a number of well crafted, clever and mid-paced to slow atmospheric songs that address a wide range of subjects. The songs also act as a mixing pot of the talents of the members - dub bass and on-the-money backing vocals from Simonon, subtle guitar from Tong, soulful drumming from Allen and piano and lyrical sill from Albarn. Again, a set you can listen to from begininng to end. To me, the standout tracks are History Song, Kingdom of Doom, 80s Life, and A Soldier's Tale. Give this one a try.

The La's by The La's
Ah, The La's. One famous quote from Noel Gallagher of Oasis was that all his band was doing was continuing on what The La's started. Well, The La's only ever put out one album, their self titled debut in the late 1980s. The record is chock full of infectious songs, great melodies and the unique timbre of lead singer Lee Mavers...who, as the story goes, delayed the release through obsessive compulsive editing and tinkering. This worked out great for the eventual album, but the group broke up. You may have heard one song from this called There She Goes. But, the goodness goes far beyond that on this one. Strumming acoustic guitars (sometimes electric), perfectly phrased and timed verses about personal feelings and love, along with a subtle drum and bass deliver sing-along tunes that you'll be listening to over and over.

Standout tracks include: Son of a Gun, Way Out, There She Goes, Liberty Ship and Feelin'. Recently, this record has been re-issued, so you should be able to find it...and you should.

Narcissus Road by The Hours
Lastly but not least, Narcissus Road by The Hours. This is a band formed by a couple guys who used to play with Joe Strummer in Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros before Joe tragically died at age 50 of an undiagnosed heart malady. However, while this album does have hints of "how Joe would have done it," the sound is really not like what he produced. 

The 11 song album is comprised of a mix of upbeat mid-tempo rock tunes, several slow contemplative numbers and a couple sweeping epic songs that pull at the heartstrings, the album delivers on all fronts. Lyrically, the band take on on themes of redemption, getting off the mat when you've been been knocked down, love lost, dark motivations and living life for now. Perhaps the most unique song is Love You More in which the singer calls out all the things that he loves his signifiant other more than..proclaiming to love her more than his hooded sweatshirt, more than Tony Soprano, more than his football team, more than his Adidas shoes, more than The Clash and more.

Standout tracks are Ali in the Jungle, Back When You Were Good, Narcissus Road, Icarus and Love You More.

So, there you have it. Five albums that are listenable from beginning to end, and that you may not have ever heard of. Good luck. Let me know what you think.

And, as a bonus sixth to this list, see my review of Glasvegas by Glasvegas here

Something to remember as Obama takes office

A quick check in to say...

Lets all remember that as he takes office and navigates year one of his administration, Barack Obama inherited the massive financial markets and economic disaster we're in. He did not create it. No, the conservative agenda of deregulation, trickle down economics, an unnecessary and expensive war, and pandering to big business ushered in under Republican control of Congress and coupled with incompetent leadership from Bush and his cronies created this mess.

Why is this important to remember? Because you can bet anything you want that come Jan. 21, 2009 Republicans will wash their hands of all that they have created and instantly blame Obama and the Democrats for the economic and foreign crisis our country is in. None of this will be true of course, but they'll do it. And the media will cover it. (Congressional elections are now less than 24 months away you know.) Therefore, it's important to remember the sequence of events.

Now, if we're sitting here in January 2010 and nothing has changed or things have gotten worse, then I think we start looking at whether or not Obama's and Congressional fixes are starting to work or not. If they aren't, I'll be disapointed in them...but not until then.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Pictures of Vietnam

More pictures from our trip to Vietnam are now on my Flickr photostream - here.

Who are Red Staters in 2008?

To say the least, I'm thrilled with the Obama victory and the big gains for the Democrats in Congress. To them I say, "Well do something!"

Meanwhile, after seeing the tide of blue wash over so many states on election eve, I got to thinking...who inhabit those states that still went to McCain? After the last eight years of getting the royal screw job from Bush and the Republicans in DC, what would possess them to vote for more of the same? It's just a fascinating issue to consider I think.

To state the obvious, these states contain majorities of people who consider themselves "conservative." But what does that mean? And, what about that would compel these people to vote again for the R's?

While I do not hold myself out as a political or demographic expert, I think there may be several reasons for "red" voting in 2008. Here are a few I've been pondering...

Issue voting
One possible conclusion is that in 2008 red states, for the conservative majorities, individual issue voting trumped the greater good of the nation. Sure, red staters know that the economy is in the dumper, we're about to enter year seven in two wars, good paying jobs are leaving the country, working wages have stagnated, etc. They get that. It's just that majorities in red states feel that certain individual issues are more important. Or, that if they elect candidates that represent their views on one or two issues, that for sure those same candidates will address other problems to their satisfaction.

Rich, poor or middle class, here are a few issues identified with conservatives that may have motivated votes for McCain in 2008:
  • Guns - don't take 'em, in fact give them out, include machine guns in that...and if you don't like it you must be a communist
  • Abortion - against it for moral/religious reasons, and therefore so should everybody else in the country
  • Anti-gay rights - don't understand it, don't like it, thinks it's against "God," and therefore the entire nation should be subject to those value judgements
  • Small government - AKA, get government off my back. Contrary to all evidence, red staters feel that the Republicans will run smaller, less intrusive, less expensive government.
  • Taxes - like most Americans, they don't like taxes. They like what they hear from Republicans about lowering taxes and buy the line that all Democrats will always raise all taxes all the time.
  • War - they backed the team that got us the Iraq war and who mismanaged it, but they're not going to admit defeat and vote for the other team because to do so would be seen as "weak." Also, there are a lot of military families in red states and many cannot bring themselves to vote against a military man such as McCain (which I can understand to a point).
  • Immigration - don't want illegals here (unless one of them can mow their lawn for cheap) and have little tolerance for immigrant issues.

The two big ironies about voting along these individual issue lines of course are:

  1. It is the exact opposite of the "country first" concept McCain ran on in 2008. You want to talk about putting country first, fine. But, don't then go out and vote based on one or two issues. Look at the whole picture and what's best for the whole nation...not just where you live or what your pastor says.
  2. What have these red staters received in terms of satisfaction on these issues over the last eight years...or even the last 20 years? Not much. Vote for anti-abortion, get tax cuts for the wealthy. Vote for prayer in schools, get a reduction in your health coverage. Vote for small government, get the biggest US government in the nation's history.

But, these ironies are a topic for another day.

Economies not as affected by economic downturn
Think about it. Are Oklahoma, Utah, Alabama and Kentucky - for example - as hard hit by the housing crisis, low dollar value, stock market crash and outsourcing of jobs as, say, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana?

No, they're not.

I'm not saying they don't have economic issues in red states...they do. But they always have. For the most part hard core red states (save maybe Texas) are poorer by comparison to blue states, and not much changes year in and year out. It's relatively static. And because of this, the individual issues discussed above come more to the fore when conservative majorities consider who to vote for - not to mention moderates in those same states.

Closed Minds
Call it religion, call it tradition, call it "rugged individualism," or whatever you want, but there has to be some element of walling off...of closing the mind to what's going on in the world and in the nation as a whole for people in red states to do the voting the equivalent sticking their fingers in their ears, closing their eyes and stamping their feet while saying "I-AM-NOT-LIST-EN-ING-TO-YOU...I-AM-NOT-LIST-EN-ING."

How else can you explain it? I think there might be something in...

The Rich/Religion Dynamic
In red states, the rich have their money and they vote to support the candidates who they feel will help keep them rich. Simple as that. No need to think any further. Many blue state rich do the same, but there tends to be a) more rich people in blue states, and b) more of them vote Democratic.

Meanwhile, the middle class and poor in red states tend to have more concentrated religious devotion than in other parts of the country. And, the brand that seems to prevail in those states is a much more exclusionary, literal and strict brand of God fearing than in blue states. These influences come to the fore in red state America to motivate and justify voting conservative regardless of what's really going on in their state, nation and world. So again, very simple from their perspective. No need to question or think. Just vote on narrow "moral" grounds.

All and all, I've probably laid out a far too rudimentary set of ideas to explain why certain states continue to vote conservative year after year no matter what. But, my conclusion is that it's a combination of issue-first voting motivated by simplistic thinking that is amplified by the relatively static nature of these states' economies.

Hey, there will always be conservatives and liberals. However, if we are to operate in a bipartisan way as president-elect Obama has called for to really rise up and solve our problems, I think it's best to try and understand where people who do not agree with us are coming from. That way, we have a better chance of working with the opposite set in constructive ways.

Anyway, an attempt.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Casting a Ballot - One Person's Experience

I voted today...and I have the "I Voted 2008" sticker to prove it in case you doubt me.

After following the state and national campaigns for a year or more, and perhaps equally importantly after a cup of strong coffee at home this morning, I walked the four blocks in the grey pre-sunrise Seattle drizzle to my local polling place to do my civic duty as the polls opened at 7 a.m.

As I rounded the last corner, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many of my fellow citizens had turned out too as a line extended out the door of the school and around the corner of the block. I've been voting in this place for years and I've never seen so many people there. 

As I waited in that line in the cool morning air, and as we filed in to get our ballots, fill them out and slide them smoothly into the box I reflected on how important this election is and what it meant for me to be there voting in person. To me, it boiled down to two key things:
  • This is a momentous election on many levels - national, state and local. The issues have been covered, commented upon and analyzed repeatedly (including on this blog), so we all know what is at stake. Participating in this collective American decision, influencing what we do next at this critical juncture in our history, and making sure my voice was heard proved to be a very rewarding moment. Not much more to say than that, except...
  • Another part of that oval sticker that I received after voting says "farewell to polls." That's because this election is the last in which residents of King County (the county in which the city of Seattle sits) will be able to vote in person on election day at a polling place. The entire election will be conducted by mail in all future elections. No more will voters here be able to literally drop a ballot in a box on election day, and I think this will be missed - at least I know I will miss it. Today's experience drove that home to me. The hot gym packed with people, the conversations with fellow members of the community while waiting in line, holding the ballot, filling it your choices at a voting station and putting the ballot into the scanner box for counting...all of this will no longer be. Since the beginning of the nation, this has been how people voted. So, call me nostalgic or old fashioned, but I will miss voting in this manner, and doing so for the last time today added to the overall importance of the experience.
My duty discharged, I made my way back home to start work. I work with people in Ohio and on phone calls with them today several commented that lines were 1.5 hours long (my experience was about 40 min. total) and that there were many "observers" at the polling places as lawsuits are expected over the vote tallies no matter what happens. Ominous signals from that critical state for sure.

Later today Diane and I will visit a friend's house to watch election returns and see who wins. 

My fingers are crossed that the nation chooses well...not to mention my state and local community.

Monday, November 3, 2008

OK America...Do the Right Thing

OK America, on Tuesday it's time to get up, put on your big boy and big girl clothes, look in the mirror and go out and elect a president who will begin building the country up again...not to mention elect a Congress and local officials who will do the same.

Here's my two cents on Tuesday's election:

First, matter who you want to win, just go out and vote. It's not difficult and you'll feel really good regardless of the outcome. Seriously, you will because you will have your voice heard. Think about all the nations that don't have that as a possibility. Yes, we can argue about how well the election process is run, but just do it. Vote.

Second...really think about what our country and your state need in a leader.

Seriously, do we need leaders steeped, schooled and invested in doing things the way they've been done over the last 20-30 years - regardless of what they might call themselves? How well has the nation or even your state been run by the money men, the religon firsters, the "supply side" economists, the deregulators, the friends of big oil, and "war on terror" proponents? If you think these people represent your best interestes, have done a swell job and you're getting what you think is right out of them, and their way of thinking deserves yet another shot...then I think you know who you need to vote for.

Or, do we need leaders who can see things in different ways than in the past? If you think that the way to re-build and stabalize a United States that has become a joke internationally, broke at home and socialy divided is through firing up the economy with bipartisan efforts to create new jobs in technology, green energy and repairing our crumbling infrastructure, by offering tax relief to the vast majority of Americans so they have money to pay bills, buy goods and save for their child's education, by reducing our dependency on Middle Eastern oil, by deploying common sense regulation for Wall Street and the housing market, by viewing social justice as a moral and religous value, by finding a successful short term way out of Iraq and getting down to the real work of protecting the country from terrorist by actually going and getting them where they live...then I think you also know who to vote for.

So America, put on your shoes, get out to your polling place and vote on Tuesday.

One thing is for sure. We will get what we deserve. Here's hoping it's for the best.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Gas Prices and the Election Revisited

On September 7, I predicted that the price of a gallon of gas would fall during the election season and leading up to election day.

Lets see how I did.

My original post is here. In it I predicted the price of gas would magically fall more than 40 cents a gallon to about $3.45/gallon in Seattle where I live by the election.

Well, I couldn't have been more wrong.

Not because the price of gas didn't fall. No, I was wrong in that the price fell so much more than I ever thought it would. As of today, gas in Seattle costs $2.69/gallon. Wow! More than a full dollar a gallon in less than eight weeks.

Mind you, the current price is still higher than it was a couple years ago. I certainly can't figure all the ins-and-outs and reasons why the oil market works the way it does. And I know there are wars, economic issues, OPEC decisions on production, weather, etc. that play into it all. But, I'm also not blind. It seems so obvious that gas prices - always going up over the long term trend - drop just before elections and at other opportune times. It just seems clear to me that it's not a coincidence - something else is going on.

In that spirit, my next prediction...the price of a gallon of gas will be $3.00 or higher by the time the next president is sworn in this coming January. If it's Obama...look for $3.40 or higher.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Glasvegas single is free on iTunes

Just noticed this...

The song "Geraldine" by the band Glasvegas is the free download of the week at iTunes. It's on the main store page right in the middle.

Since it's now Saturday, the offer of free will probably be gone by tomorrow or Monday.

So, now is your chance to check out Glasvegas at no cost.