Thursday, October 29, 2009

Odds and ends 3: Politics

The main podcasts I've been listening to in the car are audio captures Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann, since I don't have time to watch them -- or, indeed, the Daily Show -- most days of the week.

So anyway Congress is infuriating me at the moment. I keep starting to write a post, then deciding I don't have enough to cobble together except little one liners. Also, many things I think have already been eloquently expressed elsewhere. But it's odds and ends day, so here are a few things I think.

The health care issue is a bit personal for me. I was not receiving health care when I worked as a consultant for Motive, and there was a brief period when I simply wasn't covered. I tried to replace my old job-based coverage with private coverage from Blue Cross, but I discovered to my dismay that they would not accept me because I have an -- extremely minor! -- history of high blood pressure. No joke, they didn't try to take me on at inflated rates, they just said... sorry, look elsewhere.

I admit that there were other avenues I could have pursued more aggressively, but I got a bit apathetic and didn't follow them up. I got Ben insured and that was the most important thing. Now that my job is covering me again, it's become moot.

But anyway, I think this highlights the fact that the insurance industry does not provide insurance, which is to say, spreading risk around a diverse pool of people. Their response to attempts at "reform" has been to threaten to raise rates, which only highlights the critical need for more competition. Hence the public option, which at this point looks likely to be presented in some form, but very watered down.

Now in the first place, I do not ever want to hear any more press or whiny Congressman saying "Everything we do requires 60 votes!" There is no rule that says they have to get 60 votes. The rule is that you need at least 40 people who will not filibuster, and 50 votes.

Now filibustering is a very different action from voting against something, but you'd never know that from the press. Remember how Congress worked until 2006, when Democrats were actually in the minority? Every time a Dem even dared to breathe the word "filibuster," Republicans would scream and moan about "obstructionists", and wring their hands and talk about the need for a "nuclear option" which would eliminate the barely-Constitutional practice of filibustering once and for all. And Democrats caved. Every time.

I don't know how filibustering suddenly went from "horrible miscarriage of justice" to "this is the way we do things on every vote as a matter of course!" Freaking hypocrites.

Democrats absolutely have enough votes to pass whatever legislation they want, never mind bipartisanship. The problem is that not only are Democrats still scared of their own shadows, as they still insist on eliminating everything useful about health care reform in their haste to capitulate to President Snowe (as Grayson put it). If they had any party unity there could be no filibuster possible. But now Joe Lieberman, of the prestigious Connecticut for Lieberman party, wants to join the filibuster.

Hey, anybody remember why it was important that Lieberman defeat his primary opponent, Ned Lamont? It's because:

"What I’m saying to the people of Connecticut, I can do more for you and your families to get something done to make health care affordable, to get universal health insurance."

Lieberman argued that Lamont was SO liberal that he would hurt the Democrats' credibility enough to be a liability on the important issues. Issues like universal health insurance. Whew! I'm glad we dodged that bullet, so now we have Joe Lieberman fighting for us on that subject!

What's astounding is that Joe Lieberman still holds a key chairmanship position within the Democratic party, even though he is not a Democrat. Reid insisted at the time, and probably continues to say, that we need to do whatever we can to make Lieberman happy so that he will continue to stand with Democrats instead of jumping ship and doing something ridiculous like, say, filibustering against his own former party.

How's that strategy working out, guys?

Odds and ends 2: Family matters

So with the commute it is suddenly, and depressingly, a lot more difficult to stay in regular contact with my son. I used to take him home with me twice during the week, helping with his homework and then bringing him to school in the mornings, as well as keeping him every other weekend.

Weekends are still open (though I need to sleep more when they arrive). However, the most I can muster is to drive to Ginny's apartment in time to read Ben a bedtime story occasionally. We're currently on Taran Wanderer, fourth book in the Prydain series. Even though this book is a bit of a "one-off" from the rest of the series, it may well be my favorite. Along with plenty of action scenes and great villains (Yay Morda! Yay Dorath!) a lot of it is about Taran's character growth. The book is also very introspective, introducing some camouflaged philosophy about earning the respect of others rather than declaring that you are entitled to it by right of birth. There are many players in the book who are brazen hypocrites with a puffed up self image, and Taran makes quite a few of his own stumbling mistakes in judgment, but by the end of the book he's learned to see the difference much better. I think it is a great time for Ben to be hearing this stuff.

But I digress. To her credit, Ginny is very supportive of my sticking out this job. It's tougher on her to be Ben's overseer most of the time, and frankly I don't want to just be "weekend fun dad." But she agrees that sticking out the job is important to my career. She says that she can handle the homework support job, and -- while we've had our differences about education in the past -- this is backed up by the fact that Ben is still doing excellent work in school. I met with his first grade teacher Mr. Gray, who was just bubbling with enthusiasm about Ben as a student. Makes me proud.

So to work with this new arrangement, I will probably be shifting to 2 out of 3 weekends. This will play some havoc with my involvement in the ACA, but I think that can be resolved and I still love to do the shows.

Lynnea and I went to her cousin's wedding in Philadelphia. I met a lot of her family, and for the most part they are very nice. Her parents and I, while having some perspectives in common, don't see eye to eye on religion. We had some conversations about the shows that I do and the fact that they are perceived as offensive to some people. When I host this Sunday, I may spend some time discussing offensiveness if time allows. I will not discuss the family with my blog, although if you are a close friend you may have already heard more details on the discussion.

In any case, the wedding was enjoyable, and the cousin's family is full of talented musicians who played classical music very well. The reception was loads of fun, with great food and an open bar which I cautiously partook of. ;)

Performed in a concert the weekend before. We did Handel and Haydn with a new director, Ryan Heller. The concert was a smashing success, according to Lynnea, Ryan, and many of the chorus members and their friends in the audience. Ryan is very funny, enthusiastic, and good to work with.

Lynnea and I will be trick or treating with Ben this weekend. Ben will be Iron Man, and I finally figured out my own costume. I'm going to be Vinpricent. I have a huge sword, some spiky shoulder pads, and a breast plate. I'm not really sure how much +strength and hit rating the plastic equipment I bought will provide, so I might need to gem it heavily.

One more post coming.

Odds and ends 1: Job situation and techie goodness

Haven't posted anything in a few weeks, and that always makes me uneasy, so here come a few of those "whatever springs to mind" posts in case some people I haven't spoken to need to be filled in.

I have a new job. In San Antonio. The commute is long and dreary. Lots of quality time spent with podcasts, however. The job itself is for a simply massive behemoth of a company which is involved with providing banking and insurance services for military veterans. The money is solid and I have full benefits again, although when you price out weekly gas mileage, wear and tear costs on the car, and eating out more often than I'd like, the value of the salary drops considerably.

Also, my official title is "senior developer," and the hiring manager specifically said that this job is training me up to be lead developer on some new projects after six months. So, as much as I hate commuting, I think this was an important move that will give me some more exposure to leading web technologies, while also giving me leadership experience that my career needs.

Lynnea and I are considering getting a place slightly south of Austin, which would work well for her also since she works downtown. This step would not only shorten both of our daily drives, but also mark the "moving in together" rite of passage. Needless to say, we would not take such a step if our relationship status was not fabulous.

I bought a new laptop. The laptop I bought for school in late 2006 gave up the ghost long ago, and I haven't had a working one since I worked at McLane and was allowed to take home my work PC. My desktop is about four years old, which qualifies it not as a dinosaur but more of a trilobite. Sure, it's been tricked out with more RAM and extra hard disk space, but it still creaks with age.

The new laptop arrived on Monday, and... well, DROOL. It was actually a budget item, only running $800. However, the specs (see this item) are still a massive jump forward from what I've had before. It has a dedicated graphics card with 1 GB of dedicated RAM, 4 GB of conventional RAM, 320 GB of hard disk, and Windows 7, about which I currently have no complaints.

Of course I can ramble about how important it will be for getting Serious Work done, but you'd know I'm lying, right? Web surfing and games, baby! World of Warcraft runs smoothly in every environment with the graphics settings cranked up to "high" (though I have not been brave enough to try it on "ultra" yet). Left 4 Dead runs smoothly at full res. The box warmed up a bit after a couple hours of gaming, but it wasn't even uncomfortable enough to remove from my lap while sitting on the comfy couch.

I haven't installed Eclipse yet, but I plan to do some recreational programming with it as well, I swear.

Basically the reason I decided I need this NOW is because I'm planning to save myself some hours of driving time and rent a hotel room once or twice a week. I get home very late and go to bed as soon as I can, while Lynnea works odd hours that bring her home at 11. So frankly, we'd "see" more of each other online if I could stay up a bit later due to not getting up so awfully early.

More to follow...

Friday, October 09, 2009

Don't throw me in the briar patch

Random: Tonight I heard an interview discussing the very serious possibility that Sarah Palin could win the 2012 Republican primaries for president. So lemme say this from the bottom of my heart...

Dear conservative friends: Please, please, please. Whatever you do, DON'T make Sarah Palin win the primaries. I think of all the possible candidates, she is the one we liberals most fear will defeat Barack Obama in the next presidential race. I'm begging you! Don't vote for her!

This is not reverse psychology at all! Would I lie to you?