October 2008 Archives

Happy Samhain


This is the Celtic New Year. The time of darkness begins tonight. (Daylight savings time ends this weekend--how appropriate.) This marks the last harvest; carve pumpkins, bob for apples, and drink mulled wine. The veil separating the worlds of the living and the dead is thinnest tonight. Your departed loved ones may visit you and join in your celebration.

More tales of canvassing


So Sunday I went out again to knock on doors for Barack Obama. (This is way outside my comfort zone, by the way. The fact that I'm doing it is a testimonial to my desperation.) The canvassing is very narrowly focused now-- it's pure GOTV from now until election day. We visit only those houses where the inhabitants 1) have been identified as potential Obama supporters, and 2) have a spotty record of showing up at the polls.

This time the packet I was handed was for the most difficult turf to canvass: a neighborhood between the George Washington Parkway and the Potomac River-- the richest enclave in my economically diverse precinct. It's mixed in a way: the houses vary from "funky crumbling grandeur" to pretentious new "estates". The neighborhood is oppressively overgrown with vegetation this time of year, giving it a distinctly southern feel here in "fake" Virginia. The greatest difficulty I had was in locating the houses: the whole enclave is like a Möbius strip of residential roads. The narrow streets loop and branch and curve around continuously. The logic of the numbering system escaped me. Some houses share private drives and some have their own--not their own driveway mind you, but their own private drive with a name like "Bluebird Lane". The streets are so narrow that at one point I had to back into a driveway to allow an approaching car to go by. I had a detailed map but still had to rely on the navigation system in my car to keep track of where I was.

As I said, the canvassing is narrowly focused now. Although I wandered around the neighborhood for more than an hour, I knocked on only ten doors. One house was inaccessible because the gated entrance was locked. Another house was deemed inaccessible by me because it was on a private road with "Private Drive; Turn Around; No Soliciting" signs posted on either side. Some of the houses had heavy iron knockers on imposing doors, others had intercom systems; I didn't realize until I came across the third of these that I had to press the "call" button to ring the doorbell. Some of the houses had security cameras above the front doors and I suspect the residents didn't bother to answer when they saw my clipboard and Obama sticker. Some probably didn't answer simply because the Redskins game was on. Of the ten doors on which I knocked, only one was answered. The woman who answered claimed she wouldn't decide whom to vote for until she walked into the voting booth. I didn't believe her, but I smiled and asked if she'd like a Warner/Obama flyer. She took it politely. I left flyers tucked in the doors of seven houses; there were already Warner/Obama flyers tucked in the doors of the other two.



2nd update: I'm heartbroken. I sobbed. The tree has been saved, but at what cost? (Well, $4k, but what I meant was...) Early this morning the tree guy came back with his crew and five trucks. This was going to be a major undertaking:

Before I left for work I took one last picture of my beautiful tree:

The smaller trees in front of it are dogwoods, which turn red earlier than the oak. I came back at noon to this:

The angle isn't quite the same; the tree is now significantly shorter than it was. Having enjoyed this tree since we bought the house in 1991, it looked decimated to me:

and I cried. Although, even before they put two cables high in the tree, the split began to close up once the crown was lighter, and it does look less scary now:

Bob tells me the crown will come in much fuller in the spring, and after a few years I won't be able to see through it again. I can only hope so.

Update: Bob Blakely, owner of Northern Woods Tree Services, just left. (Note: it's after 8pm.) He climbed up into the tree and put a rope in it to stabilize it for the night. (He recommended I sleep in the far end of the house tonight.) He's coming back in the morning with a crew. They'll put bolts and cables in the tree and do a crown reduction that will reduce the weight of the crown by about a third. It'll cost about $4k. Could be worse: at least the tree will survive. He said it's a very healthy tree--the problem is just structural. It's a white oak by the way; probably more than 100 years old.

This is my house. There are two beautiful oak trees in my front yard. One of them is directly in front of the house:


It looks even scarier from the other side:

I've thrown a few things into a suitcase, put it in the trunk of my car, and parked down on the street. I'm waiting for a call from one or the other of a couple of tree guys on whose phones panic-stricken messages have been left. If half of this tree falls on my house, as seems imminent, it will demolish it.

Last Debate


Five more minutes. I'm having problems with Movable Type, so I don't know whether I'll really be able to blog this or not. We'll see.

Well McCain made eye contact with Obama, I think, for a microsecond there.

McCain is just promising everything it seems. But he's a bit inarticulate.

Movable Type keeps kicking me out. I won't try to say much tonight. McCain says wanting to "spread the wealth around" is class warfare.

The budget deficit: are they both ignoring reality? Good question. I don't think Obama really answered it. McCain's not answering it either. Nice try, moderator.

They're repeating a lot of things that have been said in earlier debates. I'm going to give up--Moveable Type keeps kicking me out.

Countdown to the debate

| | Comments (3)

Twelve minutes to go. This oughta be interesting, one way or the other. Mike's here; he had a job interview in DC today, and he has another one tomorrow. He's going through this hugely important career-determining process: interview--call-back--interview; it's incredibly stressful. It's a good thing this happens to the young; it'd kill the rest of us.

So, 9 minutes to go. I don't expect Palin to actually answer any questions. I suspect she has a suitable number of short speeches memorized, which she'll immediately segue into each time she's asked a question. I expect Biden to be smart but long-winded.

Mike wants to watch on CNN; he likes the graphics on the screen that show the audience response. I hate that crap; I'd rather watch on PBS. I caved in and tuned to CNN; I'll try to ignore the graphics.

One minute to go...

Here we go. I like Gwen Ifill's jacket. Nice color.

Palin is hyper--very eager.

First question: the bailout bill. This is an easy one for Biden; he knew this would be one of the questions.

Palin. She's got a prepared speech too. She's speaking a bit fast; she's nervous.

Another economic question. Who's fault? Palin: predatory lenders. She's super-rehearsed; she's giving prepared speeches, as I expected.

Biden scores by nailing McCain on deregulation.

Biden scores again in his rebuttal to her speech.

Ifill: tax question. Biden gives a good job. What's up with Palin? Why is she being so confrontational?

Biden is winning on points. Palin is too rehearsed and too confrontational.

HAHAHA the ultimate bridge to nowhere! SCORE

Question: what will you give up? Biden gives a good answer. He's on his game.

Palin's giving another rehearsed speech rather than answering the question. She took on the oil companies in Alaska? Who knew?

Palin is all talking points now.

Biden answers the next question. Palin doesn't; she gives another unrelated speech on energy.

Ifill: what about climate change? Palin: starts to lose it on this question. Biden goes after McCain's record of voting against alternative energy. Good point.

Ooh--same sex benefits. Biden's all for it. Hurray for a no-nonsense answer. Can't wait to hear what Palin has to say. Says she's tolerant, but marriage is between one man and one woman. Biden: doesn't support redefining marriage. Palin ducks the comeback from Ifill.

Iraq. Palin gives a prepared speech. Biden says Obama's got a plan. Palin says it's a white flag of surrender. Dang she sounds angry. Biden has a good response: McCain was wrong about the war at the beginning.

Question about Pakistan, Iran.

Hahaha, Biden brings up McCain saying he wouldn't sit down with Spain.

Palin is well-rehearsed. She gives a speech on Israel. Biden follows up by actually answering the question.

Nuclear weapon use--what a question! Palin brushes it off and goes back to Afghanistan. Biden: facts matter. Back and forth. Biden wins on points again.

Palin gets sarcastic. She's been personally attacking Biden. He hasn't attacked her--he's just answering the questions with facts.

Palin gives another speech: McCain knows how to win a war.

Ifill asks how a Biden administration would differ from an Obama administration. It's an opportunity for Biden to give a speech.

Palin answers with yet another speech. groan.

Palin tries the "there you go again" line. It doesn't work for her the way it did for Reagan. She's on her high horse.

Somebody has explained to Palin what the vice president does every day. lol.

Palin gives a speech that is supposed to be heartwarming or inspirational, but she's so confrontational that it sounds more like she's arguing.

Boilerplate from here on out.

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