Sunday, November 28, 2004

Because the Squirrels in My Head Told Me To....

Yeah, I'm a little stressed in the last week or two. Or three. I'm trying to finish an incomplete class I took last semester; all that stands between me and a big F on my permenent record are 20 feeble pages of research report. It's mostly written. Mostly. But the last bit is the bit that I didn't research as well as I should have, and now I'm frantically tapdancing to fill it in. Plus the design class projects, both of which are in a state of shambles. Plus work. Plus stress about other work. I've sort of possibly been offered a contract job by someone who I've been lightheartedly asking for work for a year. The problem is, it's not the kind of job I'd thought it was; various factors make me think I'd probably really, REALLY not enjoy it. (It involves a lot of travel, which I enjoy but not for 3 weeks out of every 2 months. It'd look great on my resume, but it'd preclude my school stuff, my other part time or full time work, and some of my hobbies--it's hard to just leave gardening for three weeks at a clip.) So I'm a little freaked at the prospect of making a decision on that. My leaning is to follow my heart, work for Crocodile full-time in 2005, keep my eyes peeled for more suitable jobs.... but I don't relish backing away from contract work for Indy's largest museum, working for someone I like and respect. She'll probably never offer me work again....

All is not lost, though, as I keep telling those pesky squirrels! Piegate 2004 went well, I opted for apple as the alternate pie this year--despite my personally not being an apple pie fan--and it was a rousing success. It's all in the apple choice, I think. I went with Stayman Winesaps, a very hard and slightly tart apple. My usual problem with apple pies is that they're either really mushy, or really flavorless, or both. This pie was neither. I picked up a bag of Ida Reds at the orchard as well, and I'm tempted to make another pie next weekend just to see how they do. Or maybe baked apples.

Back on the political front, I'm pleased to announce my discovery of The Moderate Republican, a blog devoted to the effort to drag my chosen party back toward center. I'm actually not sure it's possible, but I'm so glad someone's trying! I literally found it on the very day I was websearching information on how to withdraw my voter registration from the Republican party, and it stayed my hand. For a while, anyhow.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

It's ALMOST Like Being Famous....

My college housemate has become quite the force to be reckoned with in this here Blogosphere; his political rantings--full of well-reasoned argument, bereft of capital letters--have attracted him a hell of a lot of readers from the leftist and liberal side of the fence. Now he's moved up to the next level of bloggery fame and fortune.... He's posting on Atrios this week. Somehow he has conned one of the scions of the liberal blogging world into giving him the keys to the Cadillac. While I don't actually read Atrios that often, I've heard of him, and that's saying a lot considerin' that the only political blogs I read regularly are Housemate's and Fafblog. My hipness quotient on political blogging is remarkably low, yet even I know of Atrios. So the upshot is, if you're at all interested in politics, and want to make my friend look good, go drive up the hits on Atrios this week! It'll make The Noz look important! Which by extension makes ME important! Because it's all about who you know!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Bejeweled Steering Wheel of Glory

Glorious Victory!

Today was the 7th Annual Formula De Tournament here in gamerland, and here, in my living room, sits the world's finest travelling trophy. Yes. An unbeliveable come-from-behind win has taken me from the Hubcap of Shame (2002) and 4th Place (2003) to victory lane. I'm drinking a glass of milk right now.

OK, so I may not have a toast icon of the BVM,* but all in all.... I'd rather have the trophy. If you want a detailed accounting of this amazing annual event, check my game blog, Dark's Carnival.

(* the toast thing yesterday reminded me of when I first got to Loyola for grad school; every time I'd walk to the humanities building, I'd pass by about 6 parking spots that had large signs reading "PARKING FOR BVM ONLY." Now, they meant that the parking was reserved for nuns; the sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary are the female counterpart to the Jesuits. But it didn't say that. It just said that the parking was reserved for the BVM, which brought to mind two questions: 1. Why would she need more than one parking space? and more importantly, 2. What kind of car would she drive? A BMW?)

Friday, November 19, 2004

...And Then I Found Moses on a Fried Egg Sandwich!

Once again the wisdom of FAFBLOG has convinced me that I am, without a doubt, in the wrong business. If only I examined my foods more carefully before eating them, I too might have an eBay auction for a grilled cheese sandwich with the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, starting at $3000. Why, Lord? Why don't you send me marketable images of your earthly representatives on baked goods? Am I not worthy? This woman won $70,000 at a casino with the help of Our Lady of the Toaster--I wouldn't need that much, Lord. A cool $30 grand would be fine. I'm not greedy.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do...

Blog, obviously. It's difficult; I find myself wanting to post election-related anger and frustration on a semi-regular basis, and yet I know that repetition doesn't make the heart grow fonder, and there's nothing really new to say. I'm still reading dumb "screw the red states" stuff on the net, and it's still pissing me off... I'm horrified by the nomination of Mr. "The Geneva Convention--what's that?" Gonzales for Atty General. And this, courtesy of Upyernoz, holy crap. But all is not lost; the world turns, the sun comes out, it's only four years, and we are only tiny parts of a vast tapestry of history that trends, over the long term, toward the more tolerant, the more reasonable, the finer and better parts of humanity. Or so I'd like to think. Check this out. It's a column from the Tribune citing a few interesting statistics about how Americans' opinions on social issues have changed in the last 40 years. Thanks, Eric Zorn, for providing a breath of perspective during a rough patch in America's move toward an enlightened society. Sometimes, when we want change RIGHT NOW, it's hard to remember these things.

Since I did a few political posts and rants, my hit count jumped! Figure that. Strangely, when I blog about bacon omlettes and canoe trips, the hits drop off. I'm not talking here about people who actually know me, mind you. I know you guys'll read whatever dull anecdotes I slap up here! Thanks! But I live for finding out that I'm Google's #1 site for the phrase "bacon omlette." (I'm not. I just checked.) I think what really did it was the "I Voted For Kerry" thing back on Nov. 2; dozens of people are googling that, both in and out of blogspot.

Speaking of dull anecdotes, I dropped a clipboard into the shark tank this week. Fortunately it has a grease pencil attached to it by a piece of tubing, so that floated tantalizingly on the surface even as the clipboard with its feed charts was drifting slowly down through the water column. I dove to my knees and grabbed it just before it all sank beyond my grasp, saving me from having to go to the keepers and say, "Errr.... I've done it again." (Well, I haven't dropped a clipboard before. Last time it was my keys.) All's well that ends well, other than the bruises incurred from flinging self down on rough-textured aluminum catwalk. At least I gave the patrons a good show.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

pin available at

Originally uploaded by hamaker88.
The Horror....The Eldrich Horror....

I know it's a bit late, but I just received a transcript of my favored presidential candidate's concession speech. I'm reprinting it here as follows:
NEWSCASTER: (voice over) Well, it seems with the early tallies strongly favoring incumbant president George W. Bush, the Elder Party spokescultists seem to be preparing to--wait! It looks as if Great Cthulhu himself is stepping to the podium!
(sounds of cheering, chanting)
TRANSLATOR: Great Cthulhu thanks you all for your support in this difficult campaign season!
TRANSLATOR: Great Cthulhu states that he has already placed phone calls to both John Kerry and George W. Bush....
TRANSLATOR: ....and that even now they are both being horribly devoured alive by His Spawn from Beyond the Stars! (wild cheering)
TRANSLATOR: Great Cthulhu says that no Elder God could wish for a more devoted and loyal group of follwers....
TRANSLATOR: ....which is why He looks forward to tormenting and consuming each and every one of you this evening! (more cheering, followed by sounds of gruesome carnage.)
Well, you head it here first, folks. America chose GW Bush over the Party of Mass Destruction... Go Figure.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

More Electoral College Fun!

Here's some food for thought, elaborating further on my earlier post.

25,925467 voters in "Red States" voted for Kerry.
26,078,253 voters in "Blue States" voted for Bush.

That's over 50 million Americans disenfranchised by our electoral system. When you take just the votes for the winners in each state, it adds up to about 62.5 million votes that actually count for something when the electoral votes are cast. Now, as it happens, the % margin between Bush and Kerry in that tally is roughly that of the general popular vote nationwide--53% for Bush, 47% Kerry. This at least reassures me that the electoral votes are apportioned more or less properly. But does that mean it's a good system?

The argument for keeping the E.C. system in the US is that it allows low-population states to retain some power that they would lose if it were a straight popular system. I'm not sure I buy that in general--what power is that, exactly? Whether its 5 electoral votes or 850,000 popular votes, Utah still carries about the same % weight in the grand total. So the candidates in a straight popular system would concentrate their efforts in our most populous states--New York, California, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida. How is that different from the present system, where 90% of the candidates' efforts are concentrated on the larger so-called swing states--such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.....? If anything, I think a change to a straight popular vote (or even a system wherein the electoral votes are apportioned by % of total votes within a state, as Nebraska does) would force candidates to spread their attention more evenly across the country, trying to pick up voters wherever they can instead of writing off the voter base in states that traditionally lean in one direction or the other. The argument against THAT is that campaign costs would spiral out of control. News flash, though--they already are. Kerry and Bush combined spent over 4 billion on this campaign, by one estimate I heard today. Think of all that money could have done elsewhere. The answer to this is to regulate campaign financing tightly,by restricting the amount candidates can spend on media blitz and travel (how much jet fuel was wasted in the last week by frantic glad-handing attempts in multiple states by both candidates and their running mates? My god.) This would then in turn make it possible for third party candidates, and--gasp!--even normal folk to run for political offices on an even footing without fear of bankrupting themselves. Why are we Americans, of either party, settling for this deeply flawed, disenfranchising, money-wasting system of election? We could have better. We deserve better.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Who, Exactly, are "Them"?

I know we're all having a bad day today.... so I resisted putting a comment on Jane's blog because I knew it wouldn't come off as lighthearted. But I guess it just bothers me that a lot of the commentary I'm reading today characterizes the red state voters as uneducated country yokels. First off, we're not. Nearly a million people in Indiana voted for Kerry. Nearly three million in Texas did. More Hoosiers voted for Kerry than did Connecticutians. But thanks to the electoral college system, not a damn one of those votes mattered.

But what's really important is that the people who did vote for Bush--be they in rural areas of Indiana, or the 4 million Californians who no doubt feel just as disenfranchised as I do--had their reasons for voting the way they did. The Democrats can blame it all they want on people not "getting the message," but what it really comes down to is that they're not relating to the average American voter. "Mrs. Noz" pointed out in an email that there's a perception of the current Democratic party candidates as coastal elitists, who look down upon the inland rural voters, and they quite rightfully resent that. (Hell, I resent it and I voted for them anyway!) Until the Democrats address this notion, instead of just shrugging off the rural voter with a "we know what's best for you" attitude, they'll never gain a foothold in an agricultural state. She also made an excellent point about morality; namely that the Republican party has become the party of morality by their contstant beating of the abortion and gay marriage tom-toms. Democratic positions on health care, environmental policy, economic equality and the war in Iraq all have a strong moral component. Yet somehow they fail to articulate these things as moral issues, and end up losing the vote of the average American who considers moral values an essential part of national policy. (Hopefully Mrs. N doesn't mind me stealing largely from her email today, but she articulated something I'd been trying to put my finger on for a large part of this campaign.... it was one of the only bright spots in this dismal day.)

I love the midwest, I love everything about living here; I don't want to leave. I want the tone of politics in general to change, for both parties to strive for inclusion rather than exclusion; I want all the voters of Indiana and all the other non-swing states to feel that both parties have something to offer them. I want the agricultural backbone of America to be neither a tool for the right, or an embarassment for the left. I want a lot of things that aren't going to come true any time soon. Maybe someday, though.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

"Honey, it's Bill again...."

I called Jeremy and Becky last night to offer Becky my positive thoughts on her tenure review. Jeremy answered the phone. I said, "Hey Jeremy, it's Cathy!" He said, "Hey Cathy! Thank god, I was afraid you were Bill Clinton." See what I miss, not living in a swing state? Apparently they, and presumably thousands of others in PA, OH, WI, MN, etc. have been getting non-stop phone calls in recent days from various pre-recorded public figures asking them to give their vote to Kerry or Bush. Clinton has apparently called Jeremy multiple times:
JEREMY: Hello?
PHONE: (brief pause.) Hello, this is Former President Bill Clinton. I'm calling to tell you how important--
JEREMY: God dammit! (hangs up.)
No one EVER calls me. Well, I mean, obviously some people call me--but not former presidents or New York mayors. Alex in Chicago got a letter from Ed Koch, endorsing President Bush; he thinks the Republicans got a list of all the Jewish-sounding names in Chicago for a direct appeal, since apparently the Jewish American community is somewhat split on Bush. Alex isn't Jewish, and like me was one of the Republican minority at Vassar who has since stopped actually voting for Republicans. So Ed's wasting his ink there.

There was an interesting election-day search on blogspot today; you could do a search within for the phrase "I voted for Kerry" or "I voted for Bush." At first glance it was stunning--47 hits for the Kerry question, 110 for Bush! But then I looked at the actual context for the phrase... the entire first page of hits on google for Bush were people explaining why they'd voted for Bush in the last election. Many of them (in the brief google snippet) appeared to be regretting their decision. So who knows? A month ago I was fairly confident that Kerry had the win, figuring that no one who voted for Gore last time would vote for Bush this time around, and enough people who were appalled at the job W is doing would turn to Kerry that it would provide a clear majority. But now I'm less certain. I keep hearing about traditional democrats who are somehow inexplicably attracted to Bush, for religious reasons or whatever. Argh. Arrrrgh! This is going to be a loooooong day. I voted already, naturally. It's steady rain here, since early this morning. The town hall is warm, brightly lit, has 4 little voting booths and an optical scan machine, neighbors from both parties chatting amiably, and there were bagels, coffee, cookies, apples, and biscotti on a table. While I was there, a guy with a little kid brought in a package of Newman's Own Organic Chocolate Cookies (guess how HE'S voting...) and the tiny boy passed them around to all the poll workers while his dad was filling in the bubbles. I know most polling places aren't like this, but I'm sure glad mine is. Happy election day, everyone! I hope.

Monday, November 01, 2004

MmmMMMmm! Lard!

Went back to the corn maze on Friday night. It wasn't raining, and I got to see a lot more of the maze; it had rooms, and more people in costumes this time. I got told I "smelled like dinner" by a teenage guy in a hockey mask. I got followed around by a woman in creepy clown makeup with a rubber knife. There were plenty of people there who were screamingly scared. Maybe I'm getting jaded, or old.....or probably both. But for me, the scariest part of the evening took place after we'd left the corn maze and gone to seek out dinner at a Greek diner in Columbus. It used to be a Waffle House, which used to be a HoJo's, and it combines salient features of all three. I've never ingested so much cholesterol at one sitting in my life--who knew there was such a thing as a bacon omlette? With hash browns, 2 pancakes, and a side of corned beef hash? God allmighty it was good. And I was so, so very sick for the rest of the night. Mmmm.