Mary: September 2008 Archives

live-blogging the debate

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So far so good. Obama sounds decisive. Eighteen billion dollars in earmarks sounds like chump change tonight.

McCain sounds sincere, I'll give him that. But Obama's got the facts on his side.

Good points Barack, but don't get too far down in the weeds.

McCain's talking generalities. Fixed cost contracts? Hahaha I know what that is because I'm a contractor. That's NOT the problem.

Spending freeze? 45 new nuclear power plants? At least McCain isn't sporting his creepy smile.

McCain: cut spending cut spending cut spending.

Obama: calls McCain "Tom", then calls him "Jim". Barack, his name is JOHN.

OMG McCain refers to Palin. BAD IDEA.

Barack is good when he looks directly into the camera.

Obama SCORES on Iraq. McCain said we'd be welcomed as liberators.

McCain belittles Obama. Appeals to emotion.

Obama goes on and on about Afghanistan.

They're arguing now. This is deteriorating. Lehrer, ask a new question for god's sake.

Oh my god, Lehrer asks a new question and it's about Afghanistan.

Obama gets into the details; half the audience goes to the kitchen for popcorn.

McCain admits they blew it in Afghanistan.

McCain gets into strategy; I'm losing the thread.

McCain belittles Obama again, regarding Pakistan.

McCain touts his record. Evokes emotion again.

Ooo Barack has a bracelet too. Dueling bracelets.

McCain gets sarcastic. He travels!

Lehrer: what's the threat from Iran?

McCain: existential threat to Israel.

Obama agrees: can't tolerate a nuclear Iran.

McCain is riled up about Obama's willingness to negotiate with Iran.

THANK GOD Obama pronounces "nuclear" correctly. I'll vote for him on the basis alone.

McCain belittles Obama again.

New question, thank god. Russia.

I just noticed that it's raining hard here. Obama's lost me on Russia.

McCain gets sarcastic. Sees "K-G-B" in Putin's eyes.

By the way, McCain's $5000 make-up artist is worth every dime.

Neither of them is going to win this question--it's too complex and they're both getting into details. Obama gets into energy independence. Food fight! Obama want's to respond. No chance.

Final question. Thank god.

Obama gives a great final answer. McCain is still combative. Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. Obama follows up with another great answer.

McCain is pissed. Says he's got experience, Obama doesn't. Says Obama is stubborn. Obama is smiling. The surge! McCain claims the support of vets.

Obama makes a closing point: there's no other country on earth where you can make it if you try.

McCain's rejoinder: I was a POW!

I'm watching in PBS. David Brooks says he misses Reagan. Nobody made a values connection; didn't change the campaign. Mark Shields: this topic is McCain's "wheelhouse" (?); Obama held his own.

My work here is done

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Mike, my son, sent me this instant message at 10pm last night. I didn't see it until I got home from work today:

"by the way, i have been glued to dailykos since you sent me the link
finally, news the way i want it haha"

Shoot me


Overheard at my workplace yesterday: "McCain's doing the right thing. This is no time for politics."

I don't know how this election will turn out, but I know one thing: McCain will stop at nothing to win, and the shenanigans have only begun. Soon, the terror threat level will be raised to code orange. In a couple of weeks we'll hear that the army has located Bin Laden and pinned him down, following strategy laid out by McCain. On the eve of the election we'll see video of a Bin Laden look-alike giving a shout-out to his homeboy, Barack Obama.

Happy Mabon


Alternatively known as the Autumn Equinox, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon, or Alban Elved. Today marks the second harvest celebration: the harvest of apples and wine grapes. Celebrate with apples and wine.

Also, replace your furnace/ac filter. They should be replaced every three months, so this has become a change-of-season ritual for me.

A-canvassing we go


I'm wiped out. I canvassed for Barack Obama, Mark Warner, and Jim Moran again today--my third time. (Moran's a shoo-in; I don't even know the name of the guy running against him, if there is one.) I started at noon and didn't finish until after five. I took a break at about 2:30 to get a bite to eat (well, ice cream), so I spent a good four hours knocking on doors and asking people whom they were going to vote for.

I canvassed my own neighborhood today, which I've never done before, and it felt strange. I asked for my own precinct and the packet I was handed included the cul-de-sac I live on. I canvassed my next door neighbor, which I'm glad I did because it was a rewarding experience.

My next door neighbor is 94 years old. She's tiny--bent to way less than 5 feet. I was tempted not to bug her. I figured she was a Republican because she's a Mormon. She's really tight with the church; they hold social gatherings at her house which is teeth-grindingly annoying because there isn't enough room on our cul-de-sac for all the cars although sometimes they come in buses. She has a beautiful back yard, which is where they party. I do nothing to discourage my dog from barking at the Mormons when they're out there.

Did I say she's 94 years old? She's sharp, she still drives, and she gets around pretty well. Surprise surprise, she's a Democrat. Her son is a personal friend of Democrat Mark Warner, our popular former governor who's almost certain to win his race for the senate seat of our retiring Republican senator, John Warner. She has an autographed picture of him framed and hanging on her wall. She said her son told her Obama was very intelligent. She said she admires McCain for what he's done; for serving in the Army, for all the pain he endured, but she said "It takes more to be president."

I now believe she's playing the Mormon church. Volunteers from the church do her yard work for free, and I believe they do her housework as well. In exchange for which they hold a few gatherings at her house every year. Quite a deal.

I was most surprised when she told me that she likes to hear my dog bark. A while back he alerted her to the presence of a strange man approaching her front door. Every time she hears Saint bark she goes to the window to see what he's barking at. Unfortunately he barks at her, too. I told her he'd eventually stopped barking at my neighbor across the back fence because she tossed dog biscuits over the fence for years. My 94-year-old neighbor said she'd been tempted to do the same but was afraid I'd object. I told her to feel free to spoil my dog; eventually they'll be friends.

Lots more pictures

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Wednesday evening our hosts treated us to a dinner at the Old Mill here in Salisbury. We met up in the bar of the White Hart and walked down New Street, crossed the River Avon, then turned off onto the Town Path. I'd never been there before, and I was so taken with the place that I went back today with my camera.

New Street turns into Cranebridge Road before crossing the river. I stopped on the bridge and took pictures, first looking left:

then right:

There was a pretty little park just to the right of the Town Path:

but it was wild country on the left:

and as always, there were plenty of ducks:

When we'd walked this way Wednesday there'd been a lot of sheep (and one llama) in the "water meadows" to the right of the path. I was disappointed to find the meadows empty today, but eventually I spotted the sheep (and the llama), in a field far to the left of the path:

You can't see it in these pictures, but there's a narrow waterway running to the left of the path. Wednesday evening we'd spotted a vole along the water's edge, who eventually dove in and swam out of sight. I felt like I'd stepped into The Wind in the Willows.

This was my destination, the Old Mill, which is now a hotel and restaurant:

I had a late lunch there. I know I said I wouldn't post any pictures of the cathedral, but when I came out of the Old Mill the sun was shining for the first time in days, and I couldn't resist snapping this picture of the cathedral in the sun:

I even zoomed in for this not-bad shot:

I also zoomed in on the Llama:

Another pretty shot of the river, with ducks:

On the way back to my hotel I took this picture of a downspout that struck me as particularly photogenic. Notice the name of the place: The New Inn. It should be The Relatively New Inn, since it dates back to the 15th century:

I've learned a bit more about the place I'm staying in, the Red Lion. It was built to house the workers who built the cathedral. Construction of the cathedral began in 1220 (it took 38 years to build), so this place dates to about 1220. I've been sitting in The 1220 Bar for about 3 hours now, resizing and uploading pictures and writing this. I've had a pint of John Smith's Extra Smooth followed by a steak and Guinness pie with a glass of red wine.

While walking to the Old Mill on Wednesday we passed several people who were walking their dogs. While I was eating lunch today there were four dogs on the patio, out with their owners who stopped in for a pint. Every time I come here I want to bring my dog here and walk him along the river. Every time I come here I wish I could live here, retire here, become an expatriot and get away from George W. Bush and Sarah Palin and all of it. Everytime I come I want to stop in at a real estate office and ask how one gets permission to live in the UK.

I felt that way in Washington state, too, when I was up in the Cascades for Moosefest in July. GET ME OUT of Washington DC; GET ME OUT of the rat-race. Get me out of a job working with men who think Sarah Palin was just what the McCain campaign needed; who would have voted for him anyway, not because they're racists but because he offers the best chance of getting us into a glorious war. They'd never come out and say it, but I know. Get. me. out.

Back in Salisbury

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Yes, I know McCain has pulled ahead in the polls. Yes, I'm as depressed as the most depressed of you. Let's hope it's temporary.

I'm back in Salisbury. When I was here in June I didn't bring my camera, so today I wandered around town snapping photos. First, proof that, unlike my experience in November of '06, this time I caught the bus to Woking:

Chrissy: there are two bead shops in Salisbury. I went in one of them; it's a tiny place called the "Mole Hole".

Mike: there's a Subway on Market Square. I had lunch there today.

Before I go any further, an anecdote: Mike doesn't like to travel, so he says. Never mind his having spent a summer in Beijing. When we do travel, he doesn't want to go to any country where he doesn't speak the language, and he doesn't want look like a tourist. Consequently we spent three weeks in the UK in 2001 and ten days in Ireland in 2004. In the UK Mike and I blend in so well that locals ask us for directions. We were sitting in a restaurant in Dublin one evening when a guy walked in who looked so much like Mike that it startled me. But even there, Mike was careful to avoid wearing anything that would make him "stand out". At one point I became so exasperated that I told him I couldn't stand out if I tried. I told him I could walk down the street with a camera in one hand and a map in the other and I wouldn't stand out as a tourist. Today that statement was proven to be true. I was standing on a street corner here in Salisbury with my camera hanging around my neck, staring at my small map of the city. A fellow approached me and said, in a heavy British accent--one of the more difficult accents for me to understand, like Cockney or something--"'xcuse me, do you live around 'eah?" I wanted to say: do you not see my map? but instead I just said no, and then, because I've been here several times and have cased the joint pretty well, I thought "what the hell," and asked him what he was looking for. He was looking for a clothing store so I pointed toward the center of town, where there are quite a few clothing stores although maybe not the kind of thing he had in mind. Anyway...

Okay, more pictures. I'm not going to post pictures of the major attractions around here. You can easily find better pictures than I can take of the cathedral, and having been there several times, I didn't go there today. Nor did I go to Stonehenge, which Mike and I saw in 2001. Yeah it was quite a while ago but the rocks don't change much. When I posted back in June I described the 700-year-old Haunch of Venison pub/restaurant; here it is:

The hotel I'm staying in, the Red Lion, is older than the Haunch of Venison. It's about 800 years old and claims to be the oldest hotel in Europe. It has a great atmosphere, although the room I was originally booked in had no hot water. Enh, when you retrofit for running water, endless problems. As are most of these old places, it's supposedly haunted.

A river runs right through the town, and today it seemed crowded with swans and ducks. I took this picture when a couple of kids crouched down by the railing and fed them:

This old place is now a wine shop:

These large flower planters are all over town. They were in bloom in June and are still in bloom now:

I'll post one more picture for now: the view from the inside of Starbuck's (heh):

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