Archive for August, 2008

Sunday Expedition

Today, we drove an hour and a half to a destination venue, parked blocks away, and fought crowds of oblivious idiots to get through the doors.

A sporting event? A concert? An amusement park?

Heck no! We went to little Sweden. Ikea. The trip was made bearable only by the cheap Swedish meatball lunch.

Shopping at Ikea is only sane midweek, first thing in the morning – on a weekend it’s a madhouse. People seem to plan family reunions at the store. What are they thinking? Are picnic sites or restaurants not available?

We’re now the proud owners of lots of new inexpensive flat-pack stuff, and my younger son is actually a speedy genius at assembling it all.

In other, more entertaining news, we also picked up a birthday present while we were out. (Bryan and I share a birthday – different year, same day.) This year, we chose this:

Rock Band for Wii
Rock Band for Wii

My problem is that I am seriously hand-eye uncoordinated and have never been able to play video games – but I’m enjoying being a spectator for the all-guy band on this one until I figure it out.

Tomorrow my family is coming over for a Labor Day/birthday barbecue – I’m looking forward to the down time!

Posted on Sunday, August 31st, 2008 by Jeri
Under: entertainment | Comments Off

Sarah Palin

Sarah PalinWe’ve always tried, on this blog, to avoid politics. It’s divisive, and not really what the site is about. But I feel strongly about a politician, for the first time in a while, and wanted to write about it. So, we’ll set aside the rule for now.

As most of those of you who read here know, Jeri and I lived in Alaska before moving to Washington state in 2005. I’d lived there, off and on, for a big chunk of my life, from 1969 until we moved here. So yeah, I’m an Alaskan, even though I live in Washington. I’ll always identify with the place.

Alaska politics is odd mix of not immensely sophisticated and weirdly chaotic. Alaska has been a “red” state for many years, but with an odd penchant for mavericks and oddities. Sometimes relatively conservative Democrats do well there, perhaps the best example being ex-governor Tony Knowles, former governor and mayor of Anchorage. Of late, the Republican Party has been wracked with charges of corruption from state legislators up to Senator-for-Life Ted Stevens. The Alaska GOP has for years assumed its supremacy and often paid the price for that arrogance. Politics in Alaska have generally been a mix of amusing and exasperating. So, you know, like most places.

Me, politically? I tend a lot to sit on the fence, uncomfortably, as a moderate, but have leaned Republican and conservative for the most part. I split from the party here and there, somewhat strongly…gun control, for example. I totally agree with Obama’s point from his convention speech that we can still honor the First Amendment and keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I am not evangelical about politics (or most things, mind you), but I don’t suffer fools gladly, especially disingenuous politicians. I’m sick to death of rhetoric. I’m bone weary of two plus year long campaigns for federal office. I think most politicians – not all, but most – are suspect. I find Rush Limbaugh equally repellant as James Carville; I’m tired of the BS from both of them. Jon Stewart is absolutely my hero – even though I don’t agree with his politics – for going on CNN’s Crossfire a couple of years ago and telling those idiot pundits to shut the hell up: they were hurting America. And lo, CNN heard and cancelled, and it was good.

I went to high school for a couple of years with Sean Parnell, Sarah Palin’s Lt. Governor. Played football with him. I don’t consider Sean to be a close friend or claim any sort of “in” with him…I just like him; I think he’s a thoroughly decent guy who in my few dealings with him has been genuine and honest. I’ve never met Governor Palin, though, but I think she’s cut from the same cloth as Sean.

Enough background. I’ve decided, after some initial trepidation, that I am totally stoked about Sarah Palin being the Republican vice presidential candidate. Here’s why.

It’s not because she’s a woman, any more than I’d be stoked about Barack Obama being black, or me being a fat guy from Poulsbo. To me, that should be and is irrelevant, and I truly believe we are never, ever going to get over discrimination until we quit worrying about it and move the hell on. We’re different racially, religiously and sexually, and that’s sometimes interesting, sometimes troubling, it sometimes causes us to act differently, but worrying about that so much is about three-fourths of the problem. If the being a woman part of it impresses me, it’s because she frickin’ gave birth 4 months ago (men still can’t do that) and never skipped a beat doing her job. And I complain when my feet hurt! I do “get it” that being a woman puts her in a hole with some people. I just think that’s their problem, not mine.

No, I’m stoked about Sarah because I think she’s really, truly different as a politician. Her honesty is important to her. Getting the government out of people’s way, but using it as tool for the common good is important. Corruption, to her, is loathsome, and she doesn’t give a crap who the bad actor is, they deserve no place in government and she pushes them out. She appears (and I say “appears” because how the hell do you really know, absent direct inside knowledge) to be a great family person. As I watched her speech in Dayton accepting McCain’s offer, I was struck by the time out of that few minutes she had to be introduced to America that she took to talk about her family, in particular her husband and oldest son. Unlike many such platitudes from politicos running for office, it struck me as very genuine.

I also have feeling that while she would love to win this election, if she doesn’t, she’ll be quite content to go home and watch her husband Todd win another snowmobile race and, oh yeah, run the largest land mass state in the country, one loaded with natural resources we’re going to need to manage. Or maybe go shoot a moose. I doubt she’ll go off wailing and gnashing her teeth, gain weight, grow a beard (well, figuratively) and sulk. Why do I think this? Because before McCain called the last time she talked about the VP job she not only downplayed her chances, but laughed a bit about the office itself; the proper attitude, even though I do think the position is important given McCain’s age.

I like that the mistakes Palin makes, like maybe not being the best debater, not having the pat answer, seem to be mistakes of honesty, not lying. This thing with the ex-brother-in-law state trooper is an overblown piece of muckraking crap, with the chief rake-r being a guy she beat handily in the last election. My take on that whole thing: the trooper in question is a bad guy, who I wouldn’t want carrying a gun as a public protector. If she can’t force his firing, if that’s what happened, regardless of who he was married to, then what the hell is her job, anyway?

I do think experience is an issue. It’s one in her favor, ultimately, to me. She has no experience in Washington DC – and other than that meaning she’ll have to learn how to wade through the crap, I think that’s good. She’s been running a state the last two years while Obama, McCain, and Biden have been, well, running for President. She’s been in the executive branch; the other three are legislators…lawmakers, not leaders. Foreign policy? Well, other than personally having a multinational background genetically, what does Obama have more so than Palin – voting on State Department funding? Isn’t that why we have career diplomats and experts? The details are up to them, the policy is up to the President. It’s a wash, folks, at worst for Palin, in spite of what you’ll be hearing.

So, I’m dropping my overt political indifference to say, give Sarah Palin a look. Forget the pundits, the Fox News screamers, the Air America snits, and the Monday morning quarterbacks of the network news. I feel better about a national politician than I have in a long, long time.

I just hope I’m not jinxing her.

Note: For a different, but equally positive, take on Sarah Palin’s newly-minted candidacy, check out Alaskan blogger Jim Wright’s excellent summary at Stonekettle Station.

Posted on Saturday, August 30th, 2008 by Bryan
Under: Alaska, news, Politics, rant | 11 Comments »

The Loot Dance

Thank you, Michelle K, for the most excellent early birthday gift!

agatha_heterodyne

I started it last night and the book is lots of fun, I can see why it’s such a successful series.


::doing the loot dance::

Posted on Friday, August 29th, 2008 by Jeri
Under: books, ucf | 7 Comments »

Traveling Salesman

I have a travel pet peeve.

(OK, I travel frequently enough to have many travel pet peeves – but I’m sharing this one today.)

I really detest it when the flight attendants make their sales pitch on the airline’s mileage plan credit card. It annoys me on many levels.

If it were a telemarketer calling me with the same spiel, I’d hang up immediately. I don’t have that option when I’m on the plane, I’m a member of a captive audience, and hearing is the one sense you can’t turn off.

I already paid a pretty penny to be a member of that captive audience, and I shouldn’t be subject to intrusive advertising while I’m picking through my .75 oz of pretzels, crouched in my tiny, uncomfortable seat with the guy in front of me reclined into my lap. It’d be different if I received a discount for being willing to be bombarded with ads, because I didn’t. I wouldn’t take that option!

I especially hate it when it’s a night flight and they wake the whole plane up early to make their sales pitch. Yeah, I’m sure that’s real effective.

The airline needs to consider their demographic. I’d guess that 99% of those flying booked their ticket using a credit card; having access to credit is an entry criteria for air travel. In my case, I’m a frequent flyer. I have to listen to their sales garbage on a really frequent basis. I clamp down on a strong desire to trip them when they come down the aisle – twice this time – waving credit card applications around like they’re major league baseball tickets.

The Alaska Airlines marketing pitch is currently quite misleading, with a hard sell on the “receive 20,000 mileage points, enough for a free ticket anywhere Alaska airlines flies!” Those who read industry news know that AK Air is raising their mileage ticket award threshold to 25,000 points later this fall, so the whole hard sell seems slimy to me.

You know, I already have one of their freaking credit cards. The flight attendants even addressed the existing cardholder issue this time around, with “You can get the mileage bonus if you apply for a business card in addition to your personal card.”

Let me get right on that. What the U.S. economy surely needs now, in this recession, is more access to credit and more people spending themselves into debt.

Posted on Thursday, August 28th, 2008 by Jeri
Under: rant, travel | 8 Comments »

Visiting Stonekettle Station

This afternoon I had the opportunity to go catch up with Jim (the asshole) and Shawn (Beastly) at Stonekettle Station. I had a blast – I could have listened to the two of them tell stories all evening.

After my visit, I wanted dispel the rumor that Jim and Shawn are partners. You know, partners. Because even though they have lived together in the past, get up and spend every day, all day, together, work together constantly on projects, sell their wares together at the artsy-fartsy Wasilla Farmer’s Market, and even dress alike every day, I wanted to put this disclaimer out there on the Internet: they are not partners And the picture above should help prove that.

Does that help at all, guys?

Also, you should buy their hand-turned bowls as Christmas gifts, because they both do really spectacular work.

Posted on Wednesday, August 27th, 2008 by Jeri
Under: ucf | 14 Comments »