VoteThe title should say it all. And yet, so often I’ve expressed that sentiment to people and they push back with all the reasons why voting doesn’t matter. But it does. In a democracy (or a democratic republic or whatever variation you want to pedantically state we live in) your vote is one of the things you have that matters most.

The elected corrupt have little interest in educating the electorate

While voting is good, voting blind is not. You do yourself and everyone you know a disservice if you don’t do your research. Keeping up with all the positions and politics used to be hard and time-consuming, but we live in the future, and these days in as little as five or ten minutes a day you can learn so much about every issue that faces this nation, and from so many sources that you no longer have to implicitly trust that the reporter is giving you an unbiased opinion. Let the opinions be full of bias, and let the Internet deliver to you so many opinions that you can find the truth for yourself.

Just be careful not to tie yourself down to too few sources, even when.. no, especially when you find yourself agreeing with everything a particular source says. Don’t be lazy because it is so easy to not be lazy. Use Google and Bing, or even Yahoo or Ask or any random search engine, and you’ll get all the information you need. And with the advent of Web 2.0 design, you can participate. If you read something you don’t quite understand, you can ask for clarification and the Internet will clarify it. Millions of people are out there, waiting for someone to ask “Can you explain what is meant by…”, and some of them will even be right!

Don’t wait for the politicians to tell you what the issues are. Go find the issues for yourself. Educate yourself. Because the truth is, the people you’d rather not have in office would rather have voters who are easily distracted by meaningless issues that reek of tabloid level scum than to have voters who actually know what’s going on.

There is no use voting for anyone but the Republican or the Democrat

Republocrats and DemicansIn many cases, when you get to the polls, you’ll find yourself with just two options. Republican or Democrat. (Though, write-in candidates should be supported everywhere, you might just have to search hard for the option or ask for help in locating it – some of these ballots are really poorly designed, even the electronic ones.) But often there will be other choices. These 3rd party candidates are often there to shine a spotlight on a single issue or small set of issues, but you don’t have to ignore them. Include them in your research and if you think those people are the best for the job vote for them.

Some people will call that a “wasted vote”, but it isn’t. Not in principle. Yes, Mr. Third-party may not have a shot in hell of taking the office, but if he can get enough votes then either a) his pet issues will get more air time, or b) the swell of support this time will increase his chances next time. And remember, not everyone votes at the same time, and exit polls start showing predictions early. Your vote of confidence in that other option might inspire others to also throw their weight behind the little guy.

Mostly though, a vote for the best person is never a wasted vote. Voting for someone you don’t want in office because she’s a little less bad than another candidate, that is a wasted vote because you are supporting someone you don’t agree with. And when they get into office, they don’t get results like “62% of the voters voted for you! However, 23% only did so because they didn’t want the other guy to win but they don’t really like you.” They just get the first sentence, the one that tells them they have a mandate from the people. You’ve just given a mandate to a politician you didn’t like enough to vote for on merit alone.

You fool.

Vote for the candidate you want to win!

Tomorrow is election day in the United States. If you haven’t yet, spend a little time today to find out what is going to be on the ballot and learn enough to have an opinion. Tomorrow, vote.

A Week of Tweets on 2010-12-12

  • @sera_brennan When people ask me how far I live from work, I always answer, "One song, depending on the artist." in reply to sera_brennan #
  • FX cancelled Terriers. I am very angry. #
  • @tipadaknife Saturday the 14th is actually a real movie. in reply to tipadaknife #
  • The wife and I would like to play Cataclysm. Someone loan me $30 … a month … to never be paid back. #
  • Great deal on 'Arrested Development – The Complete Series (Seasons 1, 2, 3)' #
  • Anyone else watch The Closer? The fight this week was incredible! #
  • RT @gideonyago: Whistleblower claims 2 meter thermal exhaust port leads directly to reactor core, Death Star vulnerable #WookieLeaks #
  • RT @nigel_hamer: Emperor "allowed" Death Star to be destroyed to increase public support for crushing the Rebel Alliance. #wookieleaks #
  • @sera_brennan That sucks. But, hate to say, if you keep p(l)aying, they have no reason to provide better customer service. in reply to sera_brennan #
  • Watching live as they burn down a house full of explosives in California. It's wrong that I want it to explode, right? #
  • Loading 1,196 Christmas songs onto the MP3 player… #
  • Every now and then, once in a while, sometimes, under a blue moon, occasionally, at irregular intervals, when the mood strikes, only then… #
  • Ironically, all our office injuries are related to the sign that indicates how long it has been since the last office injury. #
  • @Krystalle I am very jealous. I have been to Disney in a very long time… in reply to Krystalle #
  • @Krystalle @Critus Awesome Christmas gift! Sometimes I wish I lived in Florida again. in reply to Krystalle #
  • Are we done yet? #

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The WriMo Wrap Up

You might have noticed that during the entire month of November I did not post, not once, about the NaNoWriMo. Let me tell you why…

I got sick.

Yeah, its a lame excuse, but the wife and I both caught the creeping crud somehow and it put us both down for the count. To be honest, we should have gone to the doctor as bad off as we were, but without insurance those office visits add up. Even if we’d had insurance, what I can afford to buy on my own ends up having such a high deductible and covers so little, its really like not having insurance. Instead we stayed at home and doped up on the OTC medications.

Ultimately, NyQuil with the alcohol in it did the trick. But after nearly two weeks of headaches and congestion, coughing and aching, I just wasn’t in the mood to write.

I tried, a few false starts, but since I started the month sick I never settled on an idea, a place or character or situation, and I wound up doing what I always do, write half-assed outlines. I’ve got about six more of them now, all with plot twists or cool characters and not a single one even remotely close to being a full fledged story. All in all, I probably wrote 20,000 words in November, but spread out over a half dozen stories… well, it just sucks.

Next year, I’ll try not to get sick. In the meantime though, I’ve got a few other things going to help get the juices flowing, and with the Writer’s Guild still striking, I soon won’t have much TV to distract me.

Of course, there is always Rock Band…

They don`t live here anymore

Furthering my pursuit to stop junk mail, I have begun attacking the mail that I get that it addressed to previous residents of my home or people who have never lived here.

The first step is the catalogs and coupon mailers that come addressed to someone else “or Current Resident”. One previous tenant was a golfer, I’m not, so the weekly (sometimes twice weekly) fliers from the Golfsmith has to go. The fliers contained no information for opting out of their mailing list, no phone number to call, except the local store who informed me that they were not responsible for the fliers and he wouldn’t give me the main office number. But in the age of the Internet, this didn’t stop me. I went to the Golfsmith website and used their contact page. After a few emails back and forth trying to make the customer service team there understand that I hadn’t ordered anything and just wanted off the mailing list, they finally got it and have claimed that I have been removed.

Thankfully, that was the hardest one to deal with so far. Others have immediately understood what I wanted and responded accordingly, so the catalog of horrifically expensive watches should stop, the fishing catalog, and handful of others should stop within the next few weeks.

Next to deal with are the real mail items for other addressees. Legally, I can’t open their mail to find out if there is a contact number. Nor am I supposed to just throw it out. According to the post office, mail not addressed to me should be marked “Not at this address” and left in the mail box. I’ve been doing this for almost a year now and they still deliver mail for the same wrong people. I suppose I may just have to live with it.

The last thing to deal with is random junk mail, usually for local businesses or those packets of coupons for services I don’t need from companies I’ve never heard of. This level of junk is called Direct Marketing, and there just happens to be a Direct Marketing Association and they publish a method to be removed from their lists. You can find the instructions here. Now, unlike the prescreened credit offers I posted about before, being removed from this list isn’t free. It is going to cost you $1 per name/address combo you want removed. But $1 is worth it to me, not only to stop me from getting this junk, but possibly reducing the amount of this junk that gets printed.

The fight against junk mail continues…

Working From Home

I look forward to the new house. There are many many reasons for this, but one of the ones on top has got to be my office. The house is a two story, three bedroom house. The three bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, and two full bathrooms are all on the “top” floor. I put top in quotes because the front door for the house is in the middle of both floors, with a half flight of stairs going up and a half flight going down. Originally the lower level was unfinished leaded some people to describe it as a “raised ranch”, ranch meaning everything on one floor with raised meaning they put a basement under it. Anyway, the bottom floor also has a full bath, but most of the floor is a large media room/living space that has a place where there was (and will be again) a bar. Then there is the garage, also on the lower floor. Originally (I believe) it was a 2 car garage that ran deep, with lots of room for a workshop or something. The previous owners enclosed that part of the garage and made an office. This is going to be my room.

Working from home has always been a problem for me, mostly because there are usually two places to work: my computer desk or in front of the TV. In front of the TV never works. No matter how stupid the show, you can always find something on the idiot box to stare at. My Super Sweet 16 is the most offensive and retarded show ever. I think I’ve seen them all. My computer desk isn’t much better because its where I do all my gaming and stuff. The temptation is just too great. The one thing I’ve always wanted is a room that is more dedicated to work, separated from the TV and my gaming PC where I can be a little more easily focused. So this new room, my office, is going to freaking rock.

Aside from location, the biggest issue with working from home has to be the tendancy to remain in my pajamas. I think some people enjoy doing that, but for me, if I don’t shower and get dressed it will take me about 4 hours to get my day going instead of being able to jump right in. That’s a personal thing to deal with, but I feel that having an office in my house will help with that because since I have to pass through the garage to get to the office, I’ll be more inclined to be dressed, and I can actually make a morning routine of it because I’m still “going to the office” in a manner of speaking.

Sometimes though, I just like going to the office to get out of the house, so even if I am allowed to work from home all the time, I’d still prefer to have a place to go to escape distraction. We’ll have to wait and see what the future holds, but not too long, I should have my home office by the end of the month.


Another Christopher Moore book down, and once again he had me laughing out loud. Soon I’ll simply be known as “the crazy reading guy” on public transportation.

So, Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings, is about guys who study humpback whales trying to understand why they sing. They don’t know why, only someone must think they are getting close because their office gets trashed. But their work continues on… and things get wierd.

Its a good book. Nice message in it too, sort of the same way I felt after reading Lamb. Now on to Practical Demonkeeping…

Something About the Weather

I have been known from time to time to check the weather report. If I have plans for the weekend, or am going on vacation somewhere. Sometimes, if I’ve heard about a storm coming in, I’ll even pop over to or some place and see the predictions. But I don’t come even remotely close to being considered obsessed about it.

The people in the office I currently work in, on the other hand… I just don’t get it. They monitor the weather like a hawk eyes a field mouse. They meet in the aisles between the cubicles to discuss recent developments, storm or no storm, the way most people might discuss a recent vacation or a movie they just saw. And I just don’t get it.

What could possibly be so interesting about the fact that today is two degrees colder than yesterday as well as five degrees colder than it was on the same day in some other year? Who cares that three different weather sources are predicting different chances of rain?

If someone out there knows, please, I beg you, explain it to me.

There’s No Place Like Work

CubicleI’m sure at least one person out there has wondered where it is that I spend most of my day. And it just so happens that this morning as I got into work I decided to snap a picture of my cubicle. When I was just working for ITCS, doing internal work and client support, I had an office. It was nice and big, I had two desks and a conference table. And I had a window. I arranged my desk to face the door so noone could sneak up on me, and I happily whiled away the hours coding and troubleshooting, and sometimes surfing the web. But those days are gone.

I’m down at BellSouth now, contract for ITCS. The money is better, and the hours more plentiful, but when it comes to work space I got shafted. Hard. See that monitor in the picture? That’s not my workstation. My PC is hidden in the corner. That dark screen you see is an application server. And all those file cabinets? Not mine. They are full of other people’s junk. In the lower left corner you can see a bit of blue. This is a spare chair. Its not mine, but it stays in my cube because none of the real employees want it in theirs, except when they need the extra seat, but they always bring it back.

Someday, I’ll have an office again.

All was quiet…

… on New Year’s Day.

2004 is over. Time to put it on the shelf.

So what did we learn?

Well, I learned that life does, indeed, go on. A year after my mother’s death and I’m still here. It still hurts, but the days are getting easier.

I learned that parking downtown is, in fact, dangerous. I really need to just stop believing in the kindness of strangers. Not only did my car get broken into twice and my stereo stolen, but a man who claimed to see it happen fled the scene when I asked him to stay and describe the perpatrator to the cops. The roadside emergency kit I carry in the back of my car was stolen in my own parking lot when the door got left unlocked.

On the other hand, I did learn that some people can be nice, even though they might be stupid. I ordered a gift for Jodi for Christmas. It was very close to the holiday and it was going to be risky getting it in time. Now, lets say I live in an apartment who’s number is 9921… the FedEx driver tried to deliver it to 9291. Those people weren’t home. Instead of taking the package back to the distribution center, he decided to give it to my (their) neighbor in 9290. I guess he was trying to be nice… but see, I live in building 99, and building 92 it 7 buildings away, those people don’t know me… and appearantly are too stupid to read the address. When she gave it to the people in 9291, they read it and didn’t open it… but they also made no attempt to get it to me. The FedEx website listed that the package was delivered to the front office and my signature was on file… of course, he never actually went to the office. Meanwhile, I’m going to war with the front office accusing them of losing my gift (which wasn’t exactly cheap). I apologized to them once a non-idiot at FedEx customer service told me that the website was wrong and told me where my package was (9290). After that it was just a matter of tracking people down. In the end, I got the package… three days after Christmas. I guess you could say I learned that FedEx blows and that stupid people, while nice, are in fact stupid.

I learned that I buy too much crap and have put a stop to it.

And I suppose that’s about it… Not a very fruitful year I guess… mostly it is what in business would call a “rebuilding year” … 2005, here I come.