Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Pipi has a short work week this week, and I’ve decided that I do, too. So let me take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. We’ll be in San Francisco with my parents, my sister, and her boyfriend. I truly am thankful that we can all get together so easily these days.

This morning on KFOG listeners were invited to call in and relate Thanksgiving disaster stories. I was tempted to tell my turkey-on-a-train story, but I think the Bay Area has had its fill of that one. On the off chance, though, that there is someone out there on the Internet who hasn’t seen it, here is a little Thanksgiving-themed reading to get you through the rest of the week.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Still Crazy After All These Weeks

One habit I’ve been slow to get back into after moving is walking. For a while it seemed like every afternoon I would find a household project to work on instead of going out. But now, maybe because the days are getting shorter and colder and wetter, I am appreciating the daylight more and trying to get outside as much as I can.

Plus I’m running out projects.

I’ve had a few good walks recently, and am starting to have covered a pretty good radius around my house. I’m making some interesting discoveries. One is the neighborhood crazy yard. Every neighborhood has one, and I located ours towards the end of October. I wasn’t sure at first if the house was full-time crazy, or if Halloween had just gotten a little out of hand. I was suspicious from the start, though, because some of the crazy stuff didn’t seem to be Halloween themed. There seemed to be a lot of holidays going on at once, as well as some pretty eccentric statuary. I went by again in mid-November, and sure enough, still crazy. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that we’re dealing with year-round nuttiness, although I’m interested to see if there are seasonal variations.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back from the Real World

I’m back in the blogisphere after an absence—I hope nobody missed me too much. I guess I just needed a break.

Actually, there hasn’t been that much to write about. I was writing copy for two web sites, but in the last few weeks, one project came to an end, and the other went on hold because the site isn’t making enough money yet. This is kind of discouraging, but it’s just the way freelancing goes. There is a chance that both projects may have a second phase, but I’m not expecting anything to happen before the end of the year.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Chinese Democracy

Yesterday I said that I was a life-long voter, but I confess that that doesn’t mean I have voted in every election for which I was eligible. I made what I thought was a good faith effort to vote in 1992, but never ended up casting a ballot.

I was on my Chinese walkabout then. I knew I should have arranged an absentee ballot ahead of time, but I didn’t have any idea where I would be at election time.

Once I was in China, I determined that I would probably be in Shanghai at about the time I should be sending my ballot back, so I faxed a request to have an absentee ballot sent to me there.

This plan had so many flaws that I can’t begin to guess which one actually tripped me up. I can’t even be sure the fax ever went through. I had a little trouble with the machine. My Chinese vocabulary didn’t cover telecommunications issues, and the shop owner didn’t speak any English. Amazingly, someone who happened to be there at the same time asked me in excellent French if he could be of any assistance. Together I think we made the fax machine work, but the receipt it spat out was completely unintelligible to me, so I’ll never know.

I remember thinking at the time that U.S. election officials would jump at the chance to literally deliver democracy to China, but it was not to be. I showed up every day for almost a week at the American Express office in Shanghai, but the package didn’t arrive while I was in town. When the election actually happened, I was on a ferry sputtering up the Yangtze River. The Chinese were definitely interested in the election, and several different people told me that Bill Clinton had won, but I had no access to news sources on the boat. It wasn’t until I arrived in Chongching four or five days later that I found out for sure that Ke Lin Dun had beaten Bu Shi (with Pei Lo placing a distant third).

I thought of this on Tuesday night when the results of the latest election were announced on television. We knew the winner just seconds after the polls had closed in California. It’s amazing how quickly they can calculate things these days. It’s also amazing to think about how hard it would have been to put myself in a place where I wouldn’t have been aware of the results of this election.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I Voted

Did you?

One presidential election year—I think it was 1988, when I had just tuned 18--I announced to my parents that I wouldn’t be voting because none of the candidates met with my approval.

My father explained to me that even in a situation where neither of the candidates is all you are hoping for (and I think we can all agree that Dukakis/Bush wasn’t exactly one of those once-in-a-generation matchups), not making a decision means leaving the decision up to someone else.

My father created a life-long voter that day, and I admire him for urging me to exercise my rights even though he knew that my vote would probably cancel out his.

I’m repeating his words in the hope that if you’re thinking of skipping this election, you might reconsider. Maybe you think both the candidates are bums. But one of them is going to be the next president. Wouldn’t you like him to be the bum you chose instead of the bum imposed upon you?

Polls are open until 8pm.