Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cats being Brats!

When Meghan and I were cleaning and packing up to go home for thanksgiving - the cats were a little put off by not being able to be in the laundry room with Meghan. Here is a cute video of the cats being brats!

Manny is closest to the camera and content to dig in a grocery bag while Brady is trying to get Meghan to open the door.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pick One (Chris Kattan Edition)

OK. So somehow Meghan made me watch MTV's the Hills again this week (love Audrina) and it was reported that 2 of the "stars" just eloped this weekend and it will be on the cover of US Magazine. So I was looking at the article online and came across a collection of images of famous celebrities getting married. It was sort of cool - Obamas wedding picture was there - so was Bill & Hillary Clinton's.

I was most surprised by SNL's Chris Kattan's wedding picture. But first here's a reminder of some of his work (he's the monkey boy named Mr. Peepers). I never liked this series of skits.

Saturday Night Live - Mr Peepers

OK so now on to the Chris Kattan wedding picture.

The SNL star said "I Do" to his model-fiancee at the Chateau De Sureau on June 28 in Oakhurst, California.

So now - Pick One. How did Chris Kattan marry this beautiful model?
1) He's Rich
2) Who wouldn't want to marry Chris Kattan? He's a catch!
3) He's Rich
4) She just loves "Mr. Peepers"
5) He's Rich
6) He's really a nice normal guy
7) Did I mention he's Rich (but I suspect not rich enough to explain this)

Orange Eyed Cat

A friend of mine showed me a picture on his iPhone of a beautiful black cat with orange eyes. I asked for some better pictures and I wanted to share them because this little guy is amazing!

What a cute cat!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Buddhist Birthday Quotes

Happy Birthday to.... ME! I'm 31 and think it's a great age. Growing up - I always wanted to be older - in college I couldn't wait until I graduated and was making money. Now I am pretty content so I believe maybe my 30s will be the period of my life I have been waiting for.

So I've been reading some Buddhist stuff online - I think it was all provoked by Molly giving me a copy of Siddhartha to read a year or so ago (which was a really good book). I don't want to ruin the surprise since I haven't gotten it yet but Buddha pictured here to the left is the gift my family-in-law got for me for my birthday! He's a small hand-carved wooden statue and he looks pretty peaceful so I am excited about having him move in to the Willow! Anyway on this day of reflection I thought I'd share some Buddhist Quotes I have found and lump them into a few topics and maybe make a few comments. Here we go...

Law of Attraction
I'm not going to claim to be a law of attraction person ala "the Secret" however since almost 100 years ago Napoleon Hill wrote "Think and Grow Rich" on basically the same topic - I found it fascinating how many Buddhist quotes seemed to touch upon the same thing.

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.”

“He is able who thinks he is able.”

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make our world.”

“What we think, we become.”

“Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think. Suffering follows an evil thought as the wheels of a cart follow the oxen that draws it.”

Beware Nasty People
There probably isn't anything worse than rude or nasty people. They suck the life out of a room and aren't much fun to be around. It is amazing how many people seemingly choose to be a dark cloud rather than a ray of sunshine in life - and really they are the ones who pay dearest. What I find most interesting about these quotes is that they warn you to stay away from these people not because they are painful to be around - but because they are poison to your mind and spirit!

“An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.”

“Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.”

“You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.”

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned.”

“Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.”

Do Something!
These may be the most straight forward - but the message is a good one - it is better to do something (even imperfectly) than to do nothing at all.

“To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.”

“An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.”

“However many holy words you read, However many you speak, What good will they do, If you do not act on upon them?”

“I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done.”

“It is better to travel well than to arrive.”

Tough Ones
These are quotes I struggle to include in my life.

“He who loves 50 people has 50 woes; he who loves no one has no woes.”

“You only lose what you cling to.”

“Those who have passions are never able to perceive the Way; for it is like stirring up clear water with hands; people may come there wishing to find a reflection of their faces, which, however, they will never see. A mind troubled and vexed with the passions is impure, and on that account it never sees the Way. O monks, do away with passions. When the dirt of passion is removed the Way will manifest itself.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Me - In Trophies

The last time I was home - I cleaned out my closet in my childhood bedroom. As a quick aside I feel like I had a unique experience in that my parents have lived in their home for over 30 years - so I grew up in that one house for the 23 years I lived in Massachusetts. Most of my junk was moved out long ago (and probably thrown out since) but a few things remained. So I found it amusing that I found 3 trophies from my childhood - and perhaps the only 3 surviving trophies. But if I could only pick 3 to describe who I am - these are a pretty good bunch.

The trophies are:
- 1st Place in a Problem Solving competition in Junior High (which is pretty representative of the Engineer in me).
- A Little League Baseball Championship Trophy (and I still play softball today)
- A Drama Award which I believe was for a play I wrote, directed and produced as part of our student written plays competition. I am most bummed that my creative side is not being utilized as much today as it used be be (be it acting, writing, music etc).

I guess if I were to take my own advice about "Not discarding any of your disconnected interests" I should look to find a regular outlet for the creative arts part of me now.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Worst TV Shows of All-Time - Small Wonder

Up for consideration this time is "Small Wonder" (1985-1989). What is most sad is that I actually remember watching this TV show. Who doesn't love a little robot girl TV show. If her robot voice isn't annoying to you check to see if your mute button is on. Maybe what is most upsetting is that this show was on for 5 years and a total of 96 episodes. I am pretty sure any one of us could have come up with a better TV show - so the question is what is today's "small wonder".

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election Analysis (Intro)

Before some interesting analysis, let's take a look at how Obama made it happen.

Bush 2004 vs Obama 2008

What are my take-aways from the Electoral Maps above?
1) Obama delivered on his promise to change the map
2) It was an electoral college route (compare the blue states to the density of US population)

I believe this all happened because of the Obama grass-roots organization, of which I played a small part but for which I certainly felt a lot of passion and patriotism. As one small example here is the email I got from Barack right before his nominee speech last night:

I know it was computer generated to fill in my name - but it's a classy touch. And what I like best is that there is always a bigger picture to his messages and as you can see he is going to call on his grass roots organization to continue to work for the country. The local group I volunteered with sent out a similar email in summary stating "congratulations - where do we want to direct our volunteer efforts next?".

So what's the point of all of this? Well I want to comment on Karen's most recent blog who I know was a McCain supporter. What I like about Karen is that she is very open with her opinions (and isn't afraid of how others may take it) AND she isn't blindly locked in her views - so I hope she doesn't mind me stealing a quote from her blog but I want to use it to make a point. In response to what will happen in the next 4 years Karen said:

I want to see some of this [positive] change he’s been talking about. And if it does, and we’re on the right path, I’ll vote for him in 2012.

I too would like to have her vote for Barack in 2012 but let me tell you how I think it can happen. I really think Obama's email and volunteer list (and text messages) will continue as president and it's going to opened up to all American's now to join him in making the positive change this country wants. If Republicans can get the results they want for our country in the next 4 years too - then we would all benefit from Barack as president. And maybe our efforts will be small scale and local but they will be none-the-less meaningful. My goal in 4 years is to have my retirement savings recover to 2006 levels which is sad to think of losing 6-8 years of growth and lost time. So Karen - maybe the sentiment is you have as much say as to whether or not you see the change you want in the next 4 years as anybody else.

If that all sounds like pie in the sky talk - I submit to you the fact that Hamilton County turned BLUE this year!

I've decided to split this in two from my election analysis, please read that in my next blog below.

Election Analysis

Are you ready to embrace a new America? Some of these breakouts may be interesting!

I only added that image so you can see that Barack Obama got 53% of the votes, and John McCain got 46% of the votes. While not a "landslide" it is a pretty convincing delta considering that we have seen the winner of the popular vote lose an election.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg, take a look at some of these breakouts and see where you fall in line with America or where you are "out of touch" with Modern America (I say that only jokingly but everyone may see some surprises).

This was a surprise to me that both men and women chose Obama over McCain. Going into the election it looked like McCain might have a lead among men but that the huge delta among women would trump that - but instead both picked Obama even if men just slightly did so.

If you are over 65 you picked McCain - otherwise you picked Obama. OK, that's a generalization but that trend is a fascinating look at either 1) passing the baton to the next generation as leaders or 2) ageism plain and simple.

What stood out to me is that the wealthiest American's - those who unlike Joe the Plumber will actually have their taxes raise - they chose Obama! I think that people's reactions to paying higher taxes come from fear and a "scarcity of resources" mindset versus a feeling of abundance in their lives. As you may know I think all taxes should be raised as we not only need to balance the budget but we need to address out 10 trillion dollar debt which is really just stealing money from our children - but that's another blog.

I was NOT surprised to see the poorest Americans (bottom ~40% of American's) chose Obama because of the hope and help from government he represents versus a "you are on your own" mind set some on the far right may have. I'm in between certainly.

Here is one of the biggest surprises to me. Obama won across all education levels. I'm not sure I can easily articulate my feeling on the matter other than to say I underestimated the fact that democrats and republicans span all education and income levels, only vary in where they live (rural vs urban) as a trend.

If I had to pick a surprise here it's that Obama won in the suburbs - only barely but that's where 50% of us live.

While who these groups voted for is NOT surprising, maybe what is interesting is to see that MORE Americans believe the government needs to do more than it currently is (hopefully this opinion was formed BEFORE the bail out because the government is "getting all up in it" now!).

These results are obvious, as people often vote by party line - but what is interesting is to see that almost 8% more of Bush's voters switched to Obama this year than vice-versa - and that is how the Democrats won - in the middle and with those who did note vote before.

Another example that the majority of Americans are in the middle on ideology and that's where Obama won. I am surprised to see 34% conservative and 22% liberal - both of those groups seem bigger than I would have expected.

No stunners here for me. I think if McCain is the choice of Protestants who represent 54% of the US, he had to win bigger than he did.

I was surprised to see that almost 1 in 4 white evangelicals in the US chose Obama. I didn't think it would be that big.

I think both of these can be explained by - the younger you are the more likely you were to vote for Obama.

This is interesting - and to break any myths about Democrats - if you work full-time - the more likely you were to vote for Obama.

The gun ownership wasn't surprising - but to break another myth about democrats - look how close our military vets were split between Obama and McCain - they chose McCain - but by much less than I would have expected. I believe had there been a poll among those currently serving in the military it may have been more lopsided. I think some people's views on war may change with hindsight.

and now LAST BUT NOT LEAST....

I put this one in last so that you could look at the differences in how American's voted by a number of different breakouts and maybe spent some time thinking about where your views fit in and where America's views fit.

Now - Are you prepared for an America where Obama won the presidency by a safe 7% margin but he would have lost the election among whites by a wide 12% margin.

Let that one sit in for a second...

I think this one is challenging to some Americans but one I am pretty excited about it. America has always been a "melting pot" and a diverse country, but now as we continue to grow more diverse and more globally connected - I think the "center-right" description of America is sure to almost disappear and I think even today it may be a "center-left" country (refer back to the question about should government be more or less involved).

This is my point - are some morning the loss of a country run by those who were in charge in the past or excited by those we represent today. I think the old-boys club that even Sarah Palin was fighting against is becoming a thing of the past - even if a large percentage of Americans by morn its passing or be in denial about the Modern America. I think the Democratic Party is best positioned to capture the huge growth in minorities in the future. So as the Republicans huddle up and figure out what they stand for after this loss - they need to figure out how to grow their base more than pander to it (just my opinion).

A nod to Hillary and a statement on Sexism
It may be dangerous and irresponsible to try and hold the Barack vs. Hillary primary as a statement on the views in the US (otherwise the battle of the sexes on the tennis courts would have defined athletic ability) - but I will use it to discuss sexism - not because I think Obama won solely because of this , but because I think we got a preliminary view of sexism in politics. I think as an entire nation the US was more willing to accept a minority male president than a female president. I think the qualities we look for in a leader we see much more positively in a male candidate than we do in a female candidate. I think we saw that our stereo-typed gender roles trumped out racial biases, maybe not directly reflected in votes because people vote for candidates for numerous reasons, but because of how Hillary and Sarah were treated. Politics may be the oldest "old boys network" left in the US - next to Commercial real-estate I am told as many female real estate agents work in residential sales instead.

I also should add that I believe ageism played a factor in McCain's loss but I also think that the youth of the country have different fundamental views that previous generations so you could also argue ideology but I don't want to discount ageism.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Obama Blog

Barack Obama held a rally in Cincinnati tonight at the UC football stadium. The news said 30,000 people showed up. Earlier in the day I was definitely interested in going. I knew the rally was supposed to start at 9pm and doors opened at 6pm. I also had heard people started lining up at 2pm!

When Gloria (an Obama organizer) told me I could get reserved tickets to the rally by working for the campaign again today, I had to do it. So my friend Jake and I canvassed for Obama. We were able to get 2 extra tickets for Meghan and Molly and Gloria even gave me a ticket for my friend Nils since he took me out canvassing the week before so it worked out great!

We had "blue tickets" to the rally. When we got to UC the line to get in wrapped all over campus and it looked like a show stopper. When we found the line for people with tickets we were still discouraged. We then figured out the people in line with us had "yellow tickets" so we scouted out for the blue ticket gate. Once we found it we basically walked in without a wait and were right up front on the field! Hooray for the blue tickets!

It was great to see Obama in person - though the stump speech was pretty similar to the one he had been using all week it was nice to see it in person and be part of the crowd.

We had a great time at the rally, it was a fun and enthusiastic crowd!

If I get the energy I will have to blog about canvassing for Obama sometime. His organization is so impressive you wonder how McCain could even have a chance! Canvassing takes about 3 hours to knock on 100 doors of undecided voters, and while you probably only influence a handful on the fence who wouldn't have otherwise voted for Obama - it is nice to know your efforts are being multiplied by all the other canvassers times all the other days they go out. Most people were receptive to talking with us - I think this election has just about everyone's interest - and I think the personal touch of talking to them for Obama means as much as what we say. So I figure at least on Tuesday night I can watch the election returns and know I did more than my part for the person I support - Barack Obama.