Sunday, September 30, 2012
Saturday, September 29, 2012
I was involved in the Union Movement and I know how Union members think. They are, on average, more progressive than non union workers, they understand the value and effect of collective action. I always figured that about 60% of union members and their families will vote for the more progressive party and 40% for the party that does not support their best interests, the party on the Right. This number is a pretty consistent regardless who is in power at the time. I suspect this 60/40 split is true in the USA as well as in Canada. It is a voting block that cannot be ignored.
The biggest problem unions and politicians have is to actually get these union voters in front of a ballot, same as any voter. If you can do this, they will do the right thing. Unions tend to become far too complacent on this issue.
This was easily seen in the Wisconsin effort to recall Governor Walker who had stripped public unions of their bargaining rights. There were many very noisy rallies and it looked like walker was history. Such was not to be the case.
On voting night CNN showed one of the fat cat union leaders leaning back in his chair with his feet up on the desk prematurely congratulating himself for causing Walker’s defeat. I was yelling at the screen, “Get off your fat ass and start phoning your members! Load them into cars and drag them to the polls!” Yes, they will do the right thing but you have to give them the chance to mark their ballot!
Many people complain about unions involvement in politics. They say their union might support something they do not agree with. I have a different attitude. I pay taxes but often a Government I do not support or vote for gets in power and does things I do not agree with. I still have to pay taxes. I still have to finance the things they do whether I approve of them or not. Same as Unions. If your Union does something with your dues you do not like, like supporting Democrats, get involved and change the policy. Get off your fat ass, go to a meeting, make a motion and vote against spending that money. If enough of your fellow members agree with you, the policy will change. The California Air Traffic Controllers Union did this when they voted to support Ronald Regan for Governor. They supported Regan right up to the point where he fired all of them! They quickly found that voting to support people who do not have their best interests at heart does not work. Unions are more democratic than politicians but complaining the day after the meeting you did not attend is not the way to affect policy. Same as Politics, if you don’t like a policy, change it. Simple. Vote.
I have always said, “When politicians start leaving Unions alone, Unions will consider leaving politicians alone”. Until then, game on!
Friday, September 28, 2012
It is also pretty obvious that the "47%" tape has hurt Romney some but his death spiral had started before that.
Chart from New York Times
Thursday, September 27, 2012
The USA loves polling. Every day it is easy to track the effectiveness of each campaign by reading the polls. I love polls, specially when my guy is leading, as Obama is now.
When Norma and I were more involved in Canadian politics, typically with her as Campaign Manager and I as the money man, we had a different take on polling. In Canada, the media does not do polling right from the start of a campaign. They never started serious polling until near the end of the two month campaign. Early on, most polls were conducted by and for the political parties themselves and results were not made public, they were for the use of the campaigns. We would not allow polls to be discussed among the campaign workers. If we were far behind, our volunteers would get discouraged and quit working and if we were far ahead, our volunteers would think it was in the bag and quit working. Donations would dry up for the same reason. A bad situation either way. Discussion of polls was limited to late nights in the back room with key organizers after the volunteers had left and were usually accompanied by a shot of scotch. Our work days were usually 7 am to 11 pm, 7 days a week for the entire two month campaign.
In the USA right now, Obama is ahead and is stretching out his lead every day. Romney is in a tailspin, a death spiral. Nate Silver is a pollster for the New York Times and has taken analysis of polls up several levels. He has an enviable record predicting results. In the 2008 election he correctly predicted the results of every State. Right now he is giving Obama a 337 to 201 lead in the Electoral College vote, a lead that is almost insurmountable and the only result that counts. In popular vote, a figure that is not all that meaningful in their Electoral College system, Obama leads 52.1 to 46.6, a virtual landslide in American political terms where people are usually split almost equally between Obama's Democrats and Romney's Republicans.
For President Obama and his supporters, Life is Good.
Monday, September 24, 2012
Wouldn't it be great to live in a country where your president could and actually would climb onto a neighbor's roof during a storm to help out? It would never happen in North America.
He looks like a good guy to invite over for a cold beer as well. His family is in the wine business so it would probably be the other way around, we would get invited for a glass of wine.
I just did a little research on this man. He has quite a colorful history including being shot six times and imprisoned in the bottom of a well for two years by a previous right wing government of Uruguay. He is the descendant of impoverished immigrants who made their way from Italy and was inspired by the newly formed Tupamaros movement, an armed political group inspired by the Cuban Revolution. After the democracy movement in his country, he rose through the leftist coalition government and ran for president in 2010.
While I was in the new Dashboard I noticed a method to publish the Blog in Google+. I have been using Google+ to express some of my political thoughts (rants) and links so I already had an account. It was a simple matter to publish the Blog there so I did.
Calypso, another blogging friend, also questioned my disallowing anonymous comments. While he is correct in that Bloggers spam filter catches 99.9% of the spam comments, it has also deleted some legitimate anonymous comments. Maybe I am throwing out the baby with the bathwater here because losing even one commenter would negate anything I have gained. The only real downside, besides missing the very odd comment, is having to delete all the emails that arrive with each of the spam comments. Maybe I can configure Gmail to send them directly to the trash bin. I will have to think about it.
OK: I am back to accepting anonymous comments. Viagra salesmen, do your best but you will be filtered out (99.9% of the time). I have also created a filter in Gmail to nuke the notices. Lets see if it works.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
First I dealt with a slight de-lamination problem in the plywood enclosure for the receiver. I took the face piece off, squirted a little wood glue into the end grain of the plywood and clamped it overnight. That fixed it. When I took the face piece off I began to wonder if I had enough room for the HD unit which is much wider than the old unit. I measured and found I had a quarter of an inch to spare. I was good to go!
I passed the power cable out the back (they could have made this a little easier to do!) with a minimal number of scratches on my arm and hooked the receiver up to the TV and to the video distribution box that sends the signal to the entertainment centre on the outside as well as to the bedroom TV.
Now all I have to do is to take the Starchoice PVR receiver out of the bedroom in the house and install it in the bedroom of the motorhome shortly before we leave. Norma has it loaded with about a hundred movies we can watch while parked overnight in Walmarts and Pemex stations. Having two receivers also allows me to watch "guy stuff" (hockey and football) in the living room while she watches her programs in the bedroom. Life is Good!
Saturday, September 22, 2012
I have just cleaned out my control panel's spam section and I had more than 1,200 spam messages in there! This is far too many to sort through individually to keep the one or two legitimate messages that might be there so I deleted all of them.
Sorry, but it had to be done.
EDIT: I have undone this action. After second and third thoughts on the subject I decided to create an email filter in Gmail to send notifications of anonymous comments directly to the trash bin. This stops me having to deal with as many as twenty email notifications per day, all of them describing spam.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
I plugged my Garmin into the computer and it told me there were map updates available. I hit the download button and was told I did not have enough room to store the maps. My 1350 model Garmin has limited internal memory of 2GB and I require the full North American maps including Canada, USA and Mexico. This is a huge file that takes up almost 1.8GB. This has always been a problem so quite a while ago I added a 4GB micro SD card. This gave me room for the maps and everything worked. Until today. I tried restarting everything but still got the same message. The SD card did not have enough room and MyGarmin.com refused to download the maps, even though I could look at the card in Windows Explorer and see that it had almost three GB free, more than enough room.
I called Customer Support and got a real person within ten or fifteen minutes. She had me re-do everything I had already done and and then suggested I format the SD card! I reminded her that would delete the maps I already had but she assured me they would get it working. Well, it didn't. It told me I did not have enough room. After telling me there was a known issue of their system failing to calculate free space on the SD card. She then kicked me up a level to "Software" Customer Support.
Once there a nice woman took over control of my computer and finally got the maps downloading before she logged off. The process took an hour and you guessed it. It told me my SD card did not have enough room. Another call to CS and and after getting her to kick me up a level without doing all the tests again, I got another software expert. He could not fix the problem but was able to manually move the files onto the card and to rename the files so the Garmin would recognize them.
It is working but they think I might have the same problem next time as well. He installed a program that is supposed to make it easier. We shall see!
Garmin Customer Support was very good. They were friendly and helpful, staying on the line until I was happy. As a bonus, they were all in the USA!
Monday, September 17, 2012
Our friend Sharon has a condo on the Quay in New Westminster, BC. It is on the 15th floor and has a wonderful view of the Fraser River where there is always something going on. Freighters drop off new cars and tugboats pull huge log booms along. I could sit on her balcony for hours, watching the activity.
On Sunday the four of us walked down the waterfront walk to a great little pub for dinner. It is almost (but not quite) enough to make me want to move to the mainland.
Here is the view from her balcony:
And the walkway to the pub about ten minutes away:
We stayed with friends in New Westminster and the party was in East Vancouver near the PNE grounds. We drove there in one car and when we were ready to leave we phoned up a new service in Vancouver. They drive to your location and one of their people drives your car home with you in it, followed by their vehicle. If there are too many for your car, you can overflow into their vehicle. You are driven safely home without having to go through the process of taking a cab and then returning for your car the next day. The cost was $54, split between us. It was no more than a one way taxi ride would have cost.
It was a great party. Not too many people so you could talk to everyone. Politicians, union organizers and back room boys (and girls) from our more active political days. It was a blast and my left wing roots are renewed!
We are on the ferry back to Vancouver Island using their free WIFI. Now it is home to rest up for November when we leave for Mexico. It has been an expensive couple of months so we will be on an austerity program till then. I just told Norma this news but she refuses to respond to me. It will be a quiet sailing.
Well, half way across we lost the WIFI. I will have to send this from home.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Thursday, September 13, 2012
We are off to Vancouver for the weekend. Some old Political friends are having a party and invited us. It will be fun getting together with those folks, some we have not seen for over ten years. We have a reservation on the 3:15 ferry from Duke Point to Tsawwassen tomorrow and will be staying with another long time friend.
EDIT: Commenters are asking if we are all like minded politically. Yes, we are. We all worked on various election campaigns (NDP) together over the years. One of the group is having some minor medical problems and wanted to get everyone together before we have to say, "We should have". It is a good idea but it is too bad we had to wait for a medical problem to inspire the get together.
Monday, September 10, 2012
Linda Lee and Brooks got married! The bride was gorgeous and in complete control, choreographing the whole process. The table full of the Terrace Mafia (Brooks’ childhood friends who know him maybe a little too well) behaved themselves and everyone had a great time after dinner and the dancing went on well past midnight!
Jayde and Sierrah were lovely and did everything just right, with Sierrah delivering the hand carved rings at just the right moment and Jayde delivering a beautiful, moving speech at the reception, requiring Linda Lee to grab for a towel to soak up a flood of happy tears as she was welcomed into the girls lives! Brooks’ longest time friend Jason (who is also our house sitter) did a perfect job as Best Man, keeping control of the aforementioned Terrace Mafia as well as Brooks’ fellow workers from the Merritt Mountain Country Music Festival where Brooks worked in security for many years.
Everything went perfectly, there was enough food and booze and just the right amount of drama but no one got hurt. My nephew Norman totaled his van on the way out from Saskatchewan and his son had to go pick him up in his airplane but he made it on time, none the worse for wear. My other nephew, Darcy, had a late night run in with a piece of furniture but walked away with just a minor head injury, nothing to slow him down.
Brooks built the very nice pergola they were married under which he later sold to the resort for future weddings.
Here are a few shots:
Friday, September 7, 2012
The fun (work) starts!
Thursday, September 6, 2012
I am watching the Democratic National Convention in the US, They have a way better class of speakers than Romney had. Speaking of Romney, he is asking the question, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"
In case you don't remember back that far, here's a short refresher: In September 2008, George W. Bush was president and would be for another four months. Senator John McCain accepted the Republican presidential nomination a mere three days after vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's 17-year-old daughter Bristol revealed she was pregnant. On September 15, 2008, a gallon of gas cost an average of $3.84, according to Consumer Reports. The unemployment rate spiked, Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the Fed agreed to bail out AIG, and the stock market crumbled.
Just before Obama took over the Presidency, the Dow was hovering around 8,000. Today it is at 13,278. That is about a 70% gain!
So, are you better off now? You bet!
It is also a pretty sure bet that Romney himself is better off today than he was in 2008. This is another reason he refuses to release his financial information, he does not want us to know how much better off he is. He is frantically digging up worn out Ronald Regan cliches to try to make a nonexistent point.
NOTE: Some wise person once said, "Throw a rock into a pack of dogs and if one of them yelps, you know you have hit something". That is what that post did. ;)
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
My back has settled down to a dull roar with a constant pain on the left side and a partially numb left leg. I have a chiropractor appointment at 11:30 so hopefully he will be able to tweak it for me. If not, I can live through it. It has been worse.
As I was leaving for the chiropractor one of the friendlier condo owners next door came over to ask the color of the fence stain. I asked him why and he said he was going to buy some stain and stain both sides of the picket portion of the fence between us. I told him I had almost two gallons left over that he was welcome to so Larry and his wife spent the day staining. It does not look bad now that it is all the same color.
Saturday, September 1, 2012
That was the day I decided I would never be left standing on the sidelines of BC politics again. I worked in some capacity on every election since then for the NDP, Federal and Provincial. My favourite gig was Official Agent, handling the campaign finances. I have only gotten out of it since I retired because we are out of the country so much. It was quite a ride and I do miss it. I have many friends from those days, Dave and Shirley Barrett among them.
I have had a delicate back since my 30's and have been a regular once or twice a year customer of a chiropractor since. When I retired twelve years ago, I stopped having problems except for once when I picked something up the wrong way. I ended up flat on my back for a couple of days. This might be the same thing although it is not as bad this time. I am usually very careful as I have learned over the years what causes it.
The good news is, the gate works well. Here it is from the neighbor's side: