positive surprises
Mood: happy (somewhat forced)
Posted on 2008-03-19 13:52:00
Tags: politics links
Words: 262

The cable guy said that in houses, you can't do internet and cable off of the same jack like you can in apartments. Indeed, when I tried the internet got slow and flaky.

We have a cable jack on the other side of the room, though, so I was looking at some sort of wireless box like this, but I wasn't sure if it would work with the cablecards or not.

After they didn't have any such products at Fry's, I went to Radio Shack and asked a guy if they had anything. Luckily another guy was working there who was pretty knowledgeable (surprise!) and didn't think it would work but suggested some other things that ended up not working, then said the easiest thing to do would have them just put in another cable jack. This seemed problematic since there's a room above our living room.

But, I saw they had a cable signal booster, so I figured it was worth a shot. Put it in front of the splitter and then the internet went back to working as normal (surprise!). Last night I hooked up the TiVo and the cable cards worked without any fuss. (surprise x 3!)

Cool things:
- If you liked Portal and World of Goo, you will almost certainly like Crayon Physics Deluxe which looks pretty awesome.

- Video and text of Obama's speech on race and his pastor yesterday. It was impressive. (The Onion's take on Obama's campaign)

- The Google Chart API now lets you make maps which is awesome.

- Solving Algebraic Equations Using Regular Expressions - yes!


moved in, such as it is
Mood: bouncy
Music: "Lost" music
Posted on 2008-03-16 16:32:00
Tags: moving
Words: 342

8:30 AM - we get up, quickly move the computers electronics down to the cars so the movers don't take them.

9 AM - Movers are scheduled to arrive. No movers appear, so we take care of taking things down from the walls, etc.

10 AM - Still no movers. djedi calls, and the truck they sent has a flat tire, but they're just fixing it now. Should be another half an hour to an hour. We clean the bathrooms, etc.

11 AM - Big surprise, no movers. We're about out of things to do so I take my car with stuff over to the house, unload it, stop by Lowe's for some spackle and grab some drinks at Sonic.

11:45 PM - Alas, no movers. I take more stuff to the house and grab Chick-Fil-A for lunch on the way back.

12:30 PM - I call the movers and am like "what's up, fools?" The supervisor is very apologetic and says the first truck had a flat tire and then "personnel issues", whatever that means. They're sending a second truck soon and offer us a 20% discount if we want to move tomorrow (we have dinner plans so as long as we can finish before then we'd rather do it today) or a 10% discount today. I take yet another load to the house.

2 PM - The movers arrive! (it's a different crew, they came in on their day off) They start loading stuff into the truck while djedi and I mostly sit around since we're pretty much done with everything, which really isn't so bad.

4 PM - Done loading stuff, we head over to the house.

5 PM - The movers finish unloading the last of our stuff. Yay!

So after all was said and done, it was all fine. We had dinner with djedi's brother and wife and friends, set up the living room, unpacked some odds and ends. Today we hooked up the washer and dryer before djedi left for Houston. Now I'm watching Lost online, although I'm kinda lonely here in the big house.


Happy Pi day and time!
Mood: cheerful
Music: Final Fantasy X - Silence Before the Storm
Posted on 2008-03-14 13:59:00
Tags: smashbros wii
Words: 45

(yes, I am cheating here)

Last night we unlocked (spoiler)   Captain Falcon    and (spoiler)      Lucario       . We're making good progress! Got a few new stages, too.

Tomorrow is the big move, for which we may or may not have internet. Hope everyone has a nice weekend!


I still dislike moving
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2008-03-13 13:12:00
Tags: moving smashbros food
Words: 135

but we knocked out packing in basically two hours with literally one box still open. Thanks a ton, helpers! That was way less painful than I had expected. Then we played Smash Bros. and somehow unlocked (not a spoiler) Sonic, although I'm still not sure how.

Lowe's called and the carpet will come in next Wednesday, which means installation hopefully the week after that and then we can finally move in for real. Although before that we'll have the TV/computers, kitchen stuff, and a hot tub - what more could one really ask for?

I realized this weekend that I don't know any good local Italian places (preferably close to us) - anyone have suggestions? The only Italian I can think of is Olive Garden, which is fine but it would be nice to try somewhere else.


this is the beginning of the end (of moving)
Mood: worried
Posted on 2008-03-12 09:53:00
Tags: moving rant smashbros wii
Words: 423

Last night we got our stuff ready to pack, which means the whole moving thing is happening soon. People are coming over tonight to help us pack (thanks, people!) and we'll be living out of boxes for a while...the movers come for real on Saturday. Until we get settled in at the house we may be somewhat incommunicado, so call me on my cell phone (or better yet, call djedi on his since mine seems a bit unreliable). Moving brings out the worst in me, so I will likely be crabby and irritable and unhelpful for a while, so being incommunicado isn't the worst thing in the world. (sorry, people around me!)

Played a little Smash Bros last night - did the easy job of unlocking (spoiler alert: highlight to read)       Snake      , and then djedi got up to 29% in Subspace Emissary (the adventure mode). Next up to unlock I think will be (spoiler) Captain Falcon  , so I might do that tonight. (Just kidding! Tonight is packing)

We've been trying to get cable/internet set up at the new place for a while now. We scheduled Time Warner to come out February 29 to hook it up, and the contractor guy said that the signal coming into the house was too weak and a supervisor would have to come out and look at it. Last Friday I called Time Warner to see what the deal was (the contractor said someone would call me to schedule an appointment), and luckily the woman was able to schedule an appointment for that day. So someone did come out to the house, did the same stuff as the contractor, and verified that that was indeed the problem. (not sure what the deal was there) He said engineers (I'm an engineer!) would have to work on the problem outside but I didn't need to be there or set up an appointment or anything.

So yesterday I call Time Warner to see if they know if the work's been done or when the work will be done, since we're getting awfully close to moving in. Using their nifty callback feature, I get a call 10 minutes later, and the woman said that in fact the last guy hadn't scheduled anything to be done and that someone did need to be at the house. Le sigh. So that's scheduled for Friday along with hot tub stuff.

But it's annoying to have to always call after anyone does anything to confirm what they said/actually get the next step of the process to happen.


merrily I roll along
Mood: happy
Posted on 2008-03-11 10:00:00
Tags: smashbros wii politics
Words: 229

Ah, smash brothers. Last night I beat the 100-man melee after around an hour of frustration (at 4-5 minutes an attempt). I used Meta Knight for his combination of puffiness (to avoid cheap deaths) and a sword. My failures were almost all the same way - once I was down to the last 20 or so, they would always come 5 at a time and be very aggressive, and by that point I'd have a lot of damage and so when I got hit I'd fly off the platform. And then I'd try to get back on and it would be almost impossible with five targets to avoid. For my winning attempt I was much more aggressive about stopping them from grouping up, and it worked! Next up: 15 minute melee! (ugh)

I realized yesterday I was trying to convince myself independently that a) it wasn't that far from our apartment to the house (so people coming to game nights won't be horribly inconvenienced) b) it was a long way from work to the house (so that we're moving closer to work). Since work is between apartment and house, these are incompatible!

Bush vetoes bill banning waterboarding - I know it's been a little hard to follow, and I've kinda stopped paying attention, but the official policy of the US and our president is to allow torture. This is very sad.


super smash bros. brawl
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-03-09 12:08:00
Tags: smashbros wii
Words: 1



thanks a lot, someone
Mood: angry
Posted on 2008-03-07 17:03:00
Tags: rant
Words: 304

Someone is to blame for this.

I called Time Warner, and they said they could come out today to fix the cable (yaaaay!). They said they'd call 30 mins. beforehand and djedi volunteered to wait for them.

At 4:30 I get a call on my cell phone, no caller ID, and when I pick up I hear nothing. I let djedi know that that was probably Time Warner and he heads up there while I wait for another call.

When he gets there he calls my cell phone and he can't hear me. Calls back again, still no heary. So I call him back on the work phone, and we figure the Time Warner guy must have called, not heard anything, and given up. Craap.

So I call Time Warner and after 5 minutes (most of which spent locked in a stupid phone tree...luckily I remembered where I went before to talk to a human ("0" didn't work)) I get a hold of a friendly person and he sends a message to the tech that "I'm" at the house and to call djedi's cell number.

Then I call djedi back (on the work phone) to let him know, and we chat for a minute. Then my cell phone rings again so I hang up hurriedly and pick up. It's the tech, but he can't hear me. I rush over to the windows, call him back, still can't hear me. I rush downstairs, get out of the building in the open air. Call him back, still can't hear me. Finally I go back upstairs and call him on the work phone, he can hear me, then pass on the news to djedi.

Synopsis: Time Warner kinda good, my cell phone is at least partially and I'm guessing mostly dead, I am extremely angry and irritable.

1 comment

fridays - meh
Mood: okay
Music: U2 - "Where The Streets Have No Name"
Posted on 2008-03-07 13:26:00
Tags: projects politics links
Words: 181

For some reason Fridays haven't been very exciting to me lately. I am excited about the weekend though (smash bros!). I'll feel better when house crap is taken care of (Time Warner is supposedly coming out this afternoon so hopefully we'll have internet there at least...).

Nixon's plan to end Vietnam was to make the Russians think he was crazy enough to bomb them. That is rather frightening.

Map of Starbucks and Walmarts per capita. Vermont has the lowest combined total by far.

Why is it taking so long to total TX caucus results? (short answer: they're being sent in by mail!) Right now Obama's ahead 56-44 with 41% reporting, so it looks like Obama will end up with more total delegates from TX.

Has anyone used Processing? Not that I need another project, but you can do some neat stuff with it (examples) and there are a number of books about it. Maybe I'll check one out next time I'm at a bookstore.

This is an excellent example of being so close to a good approach but just missing it!

1 comment

why yes, I am a little depressed
Mood: sad
Music: Arcade Fire - "Black Mirror" (IMH)
Posted on 2008-03-05 09:50:00
Tags: politics
Words: 1235

I've been trying to characterize this, and here's my best shot: I don't handle disappointment well for things I'm rooting for. I remember watching The Comeback as a kid and being in tears afterwards. I was crushed when Dean lost the primary in 2004, and again when Kerry lost to Bush. So, with that ominous forward:

We showed up at our polling place at 6:40, and there were already around 30 people waiting in the middle school cafeteria, so we found a seat and read and talked and whatnot. The number of people kept growing until the election judge announced that we would start at 7:15 (i.e. there were no people still waiting to vote). At that point, there were more like 100 people inside, and they were going to call us by table to sign in for Clinton, Obama, or Undeclared (or somebody else...), but then decided to have everyone just get in a line. There were maybe 80 people in front of us and a lot behind us, and we couldn't see all the way out the door.

The line was moving slowly at first, but finally they had someone checking voter registration cards for people in the line, and then splitting up the Clinton and Obama tables for signing in. The Obama table was about twice as long, and they started calling for Clinton people to skip ahead since there were so few in our part of the line.

As we got up to the front, I saw a woman wearing an "Obama Precinct Captain" button, so I asked her if they had enough delegates already. She said that our precinct (238 in da house!) was allotted 53 delegates, and with 53 alternates that was a lot of people, so if I wanted to stick around I could probably be one. We both signed in and voted (being sure to mark the GLBT box - neat!) and hemmed and hawed about whether to stay or not. It was probably 8:10 or so by this point, and we were both tired (waiting in line was fairly boring) but I decided that I'd stick around for a little while and see how long it would take. (djedi graciously stayed with me although he wasn't as interested)

Luckily, the improved system meant that the line moved much faster even though it was a lot longer than we had seen. 15-20 minutes later, it was done and they began counting. I saw and heard from people around me that Obama had won Vermont and Clinton had won Rhode Island (no surprises there) and that Clinton was ahead in Ohio, but Texas was 50-48 Obama with many, many votes left to be counted.

Soon after that, the precinct convention began. The first order of business was to select a temporary chairman(chairperson?) for the meeting - the permanent precinct chairman was a oldish woman who was losing her voice, presumably from being at the polling place all day. A younger guy with a loud voice was nominated and he looked like an Obama plant - we were mostly grouped by who we supported and someone went around telling us to vote for him. I (and apparently djedi) thought this was a little chintzy and so we voted for the woman, and she won 34-31, but the guy wanted to "divide the house" (i.e. go to one side to vote for that person), so we lugged our stuff over to the Clinton-ish side and they counted again and lo and behold the guy won by one vote, 35-34. That was...interesting.

Anyway, then they chose a secretary and the oldish woman ran again but lost more convincingly this time to someone who was already taking notes (I was a little confused at this point). Then the guy said that they were still counting the sign-ins, and there was a mistake in counting so they had to start over, but in the meantime people talked about how things worked. The 53 delegates would be divided proportionally between the candidates, and then those groups would decide who the delegates and alternates were. After that, they would vote on the 38(!) resolutions that were before them.

A woman sitting next to us seemed very concerned that a delegate wasn't bound to vote for their candidate. She made some comment about how this felt like democracy in Iraq. I didn't feel like pointing out that even the electors in the Electoral College aren't bound to vote for anyone, and there are soo many delegates that it would have to be a fairly large conspiracy or something to change the results.

Finally they finished counting. There were 441 total voters in the caucus (that seems like a lot!) and 292 were for Obama, 149 for Clinton, which worked out to 36 delegates for Obama and 17 for Clinton. Then we split up to decide delegates. They had a list of people who could be delegates from Obama headquarters, but first they asked for a show of hands of those present who wanted to do it, and there were 31 of us. So, we all get to be delegates, and I waited in line to sign up. (they were short on people even with the list, so they started calling people who had indicated interest when they signed in) djedi looked through the resolutions and there were some interesting ones (55 mph speed limit, bringing troops home from Iraq, medicinal marijuana), but it was already 9:00 and it looked like this would take a while, so we left after I signed up. Hopefully I'm still a delegate; I assume I'll get an email or something :-)

When they called for volunteers they said multiple times that the county convention was all day on a Saturday and started at 7:30 AM, but looking at the information sign up starts at 7:30, the actual convention starts at 10:30. So yay for that!

Anyway, we got home and I saw Clinton was winning Ohio (and they called it for her shortly thereafter) and she started leading in Texas, and was up 50-48 when we went to bed with 55% or so reporting. I kept thinking Obama was going to come back since so few votes were counted in Harris County (Houston), but it turns out he only won there 56-43 which wasn't enough to make up the gap. The good news is that as of now, Clinton gained only 1 delegate, and that doesn't include some of the TX caucuses which seem to be going for Obama. Updated: Clinton wins more like 13 delegates.

I don't dislike Hillary, although I do have a few complaints with how she's run her campaign. But I decided in 2004 that, unless the techniques were pretty underhanded (voter suppression, etc.) that's not a good thing to consider when voting. Politics is nasty and ugly by design, that's just the way it is. I do have concerns about her electability in November, but that's so hard to judge anyway. The point is, I was still depressed last night and didn't sleep well, but that's way overreacting. (also, I think the rest of my immediate family is for Hillary...hi immediate family!)

So, to sum up: I think I'm a delegate, Hillary stays alive to fight another day, whoever wins on the D side will have a good plan for health care and good things will happen. Sunshine, lollipops, etc.


vote, etc.
Mood: amused
Posted on 2008-03-04 10:21:00
Tags: politics
Words: 45

vote vote vote caucus

This article from the Wall Street Journal has this delightful diagram of the Texas Two-Step:

Check out the ubiquitous cowboy hats, the cactus outside and the guy waiting outside with his horse. Classic!

This is fairly creepy (move your mouse around)


Vote and caucus tomorrow!
Mood: working
Music: Radiohead - "Karma Police"
Posted on 2008-03-03 11:25:00
Tags: homepage politics
Words: 170

Here's a bunch of information about what to do, and if you're going to caucus I'd recommend showing up early because early voting numbers are still way up. Edit: here's some more caucus information.

I'll be a little sad once Texas stops getting love from the candidates and the media, but I am getting a little tired of all the phone calls. (speaking of which, we got at least 8 from Texas for Hillary, including a few from Henry Cisneros and one from America Ferrera (from Ugly Betty), but only 1 for Obama, which was actually from moveon.org. Totally the opposite from cifarelli's experience...)

Thanks for everyone's feedback on the homepage redesign - here's the latest and probably last version for a while. I was going to do some sort of tag thing to filter out the entries (instead of using categories) but that's probably just going to clutter things up more, and I'm pretty happy with it now. (taking away the underlining of links makes it look so much cleaner!)


Website redesign
Mood: productive
Music: Goo balls
Posted on 2008-03-01 20:48:00
Tags: homepage poll
Words: 40

After doing some more realish work today, I redesigned my website a bit. Here's the new version, and here's the old one for comparison.

I realize no one will see this now since it's Saturday, but feedback is always welcome!


not an unqualified success
Mood: tired
Posted on 2008-02-29 16:22:00
Tags: house
Words: 388

I took the day off today to wait for the cable guy (the important part being internet so djedi can work from home in the future) and the countertops people. The cable guy said 8-12 and the countertops said 9-11ish so I got up bright and early at 7 AM (there's a 7 in the morning? crazy) and headed over there. Both people showed up right around 9 so I give them credit for that (I was watching Lost episodes on my laptop most of the time)

Cable guy - there was some confusion about my order, but the tech seems to have his head screwed on well unlike the dispatcher, so that eventually gets sorted out. Unfortunately, the signal coming into our house is very week, so he turned on the jacks but no internet for us. Supervisor has to come out sometime next week.

Countertops - man, countertops are loud and dusty to install! Anyway, they look nice, with the exception of the big piece that goes around the sink which wasn't cut right (a bit of a subtle defect, but the guy pointed it out and said if we were paying that much we should have it done right, to which I agree). So they're coming Wednesday 3-5.

The countertops took forever, and because of a bit of poor planning on my part I didn't get lunch until they left at 2:45 (although I did manage to knock out 6 Lost episodes). Ate at Freebird's and finally got home at 3:30. Not 5 minutes after I get home I get a call from the cable guy, who asks if he left his drill at the house. Well, I don't know, but he says he needs it for his next job so I say I'll go back up there to check. I was a little annoyed he didn't seem thankful or hesitant to ask since it was a bit inconvenient on my part, but he was helpful when he came by and installed a faceplate so fine.

Arrive back at house, call him back while I'm looking and he says the drill is expensive. No drill in sight though, and he is friendly and very thankful that I looked. Oh well, hope he finds it.

I could a relaxing and fun night - luckily that's what we have planned!


number of Blokus games?
Mood: awake
Posted on 2008-02-28 13:50:00
Tags: math
Words: 253

Last night we were playing Blokus and I wondered how many possible games of Blokus there were. Todd said it shouldn't be too hard to figure out, so I'm gonna start working on a script to calculate it. I'm assuming the colors all start in a fixed corner and normal rules apply (except you have to play a piece if you can), and I'm counting the number of games and not the number of board positions because it seems easier.

How many possible games do you think there are? For reference, there are somewhere around 1014 legal board positions in Connect 4, 1050 board positions in Chess and 10171 board positions in 19x19 Go (from this Wikipedia article, which unfortunately doesn't list the number of games) I'm going to guess something like 1080 which, come to think of it, means it might not be possible to count them all in a reasonable length of time. Still, worth a shot!

Thousands of people might be infected with Hepatitis C or HIV in Las Vegas. From the article,

The virus may have been spread when clinic staff reused syringes and used a single dose of anesthesia medication on multiple patients, the district said.
Now maybe my perspective is different because my mom's in public health, but a clinic sharing syringes?? How could this happen?
To retain its state license and Medicare certification, the center faces increased on-site inspections and fines yet to be determined.
Yeah, this is a pretty big screwup.


The decline of US culture - The Moment of Truth
Mood: disgusted
Posted on 2008-02-27 13:21:00
Tags: essay
Words: 255

This shit makes me angry.

So there's this show called The Moment of Truth where people are asked personal questions, and if they answer truthfully (as determined by polygraph done before the show) they collect money. They can stop at any point in time before the question is asked and leave with the money, but once a question is asked if they refuse to answer or "lie" (polygraphs aren't 100%), they lose it all.

You can imagine that the questions asked would be very personal and embarrassing to make the show more interesting, and you would be right. Here's a list of shows they've done so far, including such beauties as "Do you believe your father has used money to control you?" and "Are you still in love with your ex-fiancé?"

But the worst situation was that in the latest episode, where a wife admitted she thought she should be married to an ex-boyfriend and that she had cheated on her husband. (apparently the husband already knew about it, but was still mondo embarrassed for it to be revealed on national TV) You can watch the video of the last few questions if you'd like but I wouldn't really recommend it.

The show is paying people to humiliate themselves for the amusement of others. I can't find anything redeeming about it. It just feels so sleazy.

Anyway, to wash the bad taste out of my mouth (and soul) I watched Jonathan Coulton and friends play "Still Alive" on Rock Band. That made me feel better.


I won't mess up your game, dear reader
Mood: not bad, really
Posted on 2008-02-26 14:29:00
Tags: politics links
Words: 38

Early voting in Texas is way, way, waaaay up, especially on the Democratic side.

Barack Obama apologizes for "messing up your game".

Interview with Summer Glau aka River Tam aka that Terminator robot in the Sarah Connor Chronicles.


public service announcement: *salmon is an AIM bot
Mood: suspicious
Posted on 2008-02-25 10:27:00
Words: 64

Seconds after I posted, I got an IM from a user named favoredsalmon. Searching found these entries showing it to be a bot of some kind, so it's probably best to ignore it.

I've also gotten a few IMs from bots saying "your friends-only posts are publicly available" with a link that crashes Firefox (and probably does horrible things to IE). Be ye wary!


accomplishments this weekend
Mood: accomplished
Posted on 2008-02-25 10:14:00
Words: 222

- Voted! (FYI: the Northcross Mall location is closed because of construction, but there's another place around the corner. Northcross is the mall that's on Anderson, right? I get that and Highland Mall confused.)

- Picked up my laptop with a new keyboard. It works! Check plus for service at the Apple Store.

- Went to fairydust1's game night, which was fun and relaxing.

- Took out the sink in our house in preparation for new countertops Friday. (taking the day off to wait for them) Cleaned the bathrooms and we even touched up the paint in the living room.

- djedi installed Ubuntu on his laptop and we (after only two hours!) got wireless working. (hint for future: use ndiswrapper, and don't forget to modprobe wlan0!)

- Finally fixed my stupid Django problem. (hint for future: if you need an int, use int())

- Set up cable/internet at the house for Friday.

- Played hours of the new Smash Bros, which may make the actual release less exciting, but that's OK. It were fun.

Things to do this week:

- Host game night Wednesday
- Set up homeowner's association automatic payment
- Get a car charger for my phone, which even though it's new barely lasts for two days between charges.
- Make some progress on non-work projects. Think about setting up a map of good lunch places.
- Watch more Lost? I dunno.

1 comment

searchable government spending!
Mood: impressed
Posted on 2008-02-22 15:40:00
Tags: projects politics
Words: 47

One of the things Obama mentioned last night was the bill he and Tom Coburn passed to provide a "Google for government", a searchable database of government spending. Well, it exists! Check out usaspending.gov - and it even has an API! I bet there's a project in this...


TX voting information
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-02-22 13:25:00
Tags: politics
Words: 179

So, early voting is going on already for the Texas primaries. Here's a PDF voting guide from the League of Women Voters of Texas, a nonpartisan group. These are endorsements from the Austin Chronicle and from the Stonewall Democrats. (if someone has a concise link to Austin American-Statesman endorsements, I'd be much obliged) Here are the early voting locations in Travis County - we're gonna vote at Highland Mall tonight.

Now, the tricky part is that Texas has both a primary (which determines 126 delegates) and a caucus (which determines 67 delegates). Yes, this is crazy. There's more information here but the gist of it is, there will be a caucus at your polling location (find your polling location here) at 7:15 on March 4. It's not like the Iowa caucuses as I understand - you just have to show up and vote again. Here's some more information about the caucus. So be sure to show up and then you get to vote twice! (if someone could explain to me why we have this crazy system I'd be happy to learn)

1 comment

obama v. clinton
Mood: frustrated
Posted on 2008-02-22 09:53:00
Tags: politics
Words: 1943

The debate last night was pretty good. (here's a transcript) Overall, they both did well, although I might give a slight edge to Clinton - she seemed a little more comfortable. The format was nice - just asking questions, no rules on time limits or anything like that. I guess that's the freedom when there are only two people.

Opening statements: This was boring. I did learn that Texas and Austin are AWESOME and suck it other states, especially Super Tuesday ones!!! How do you like us now? Anyway, Obama's was kind of a downer which surprised me a little - he talked about how the economy sucks, etc.

Cuba: They mostly agreed (a recurring theme) - Clinton would encourage them but not meet with Raul Castro (or whoever the leader is) until they make some positive steps. Obama would encourage them and also meet with the leader without preconditions. (I kinda like this better, as a meeting could bring about change, right?) He also called for a loosening of travel restrictions for family members and sending-money-back-to-relatives restrictions. Clinton believes in diplomacy but still wouldn't meet with Raul w/o some progress.

Economy: Let me just say here that I'm pretty sure the president doesn't have that much of an effect on the economy, or at least a predictable one. But, anyway, Obama would stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, end the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy and give a middle-class tax cut (sounded like removing the payroll tax on incomes less than $75000 which would mean an extra $1000 or so). Trade with high labor and environmental standards. He points out that his and Clinton's policies are pretty similar, but he will form a "working coalition for change". Clinton: Yup, remove tax loopholes and cuts on wealthy, environmental standards for trade, also a 90 day moratorium on foreclosures. And ending "George Bush's war on science" (THANK YOU!) and become the "innovation nation" (not a big fan of that phrase) that we used to be.

Immigration: Gah, I care little about this. But: Clinton is for comprehensive immigration reform, path to legalization. Obama: yup, also tone down the ugly rhetoric (thank you), crack down on employers, make illegal immigrants learn English, pay a fine, go to the back of the line. Fix the legal immigration system - too many fees, takes too long. Improve our relationship with Mexico and the Mexican economy (I'll say here that I'm pretty skeptical the US president can fix the Mexican economy, but whatever).

Border fence: Argh, I care even less about this, but it does apply to Texas I guess. Anyway, Clinton voted for it, but wants to do it in a smart way, not a dumb way. May be places where a physical border is appropriate, but would review with people who live along the border. We could also use smart fencing (cameras, I assume) instead of an actual fence if we have enough people there. Obama: almost entirely agrees. We can't deport 12 million people. Supports the Dream Act (allows children of illegal immigrants to go to college or something like that) - big applause. Doesn't want two classes of citizens in the US.

Downside to the US becoming a bilingual nation: This is kind of a weird question, but I guess it ties in to bilingual education. Clinton: good for people to be bilingual. English should remain our "common unifying language", but doesn't agree with making English the national language. (thank you) Obama: it's important that everyone learn English, every student should learn a second language. Failure of No Child Left Behind: wants to put more resources in teaching languages.

Commercial break. At this point I just want the immigration questions to stop because I don't care. But I guess people do or something.

Is Obama "all hat no cattle": That's a harsh question, but I guess John King wants some fireworks. Clinton: President Bush is all hat no cattle, next president shouldn't be. There are differences between Obama & me. I offer solutions. Thought it was funny that Obama representative (Texas State Senator Kirk Watson, I believe) couldn't name a single legislative accomplishment. (seriously, bad Watson!) Obama: I've acted a lot, tax breaks to families, reform criminal justice system, pass a bill on transparency in government, health care to veterans in Walter Reed. Clinton has a "fine record", implies that his voters are "somehow delusional". Endorsed by every major newspaper in Texas (wow). We share policy, but we need to be able to inspire people to get involved in government, etc.

Plagiarism of Deval Patrick's speeches: This is an idiotic issue, but Clinton did raise it, so I guess it's fair game. Obama: Issue is two lines in speeches I've been giving over the last couple of weeks. Patrick is national co-chair of his campaign and suggested an argument that he shares (the "words matter" phrase). This is "silly season" in politics. (big applause) People don't care about crap like that, they care about getting things done. Tuition credit for students, changing tax code, ending war in Iraq - these are actual proposals. We should be having a debate on the issues. (yes, yes, yes!) Clinton: If your candidacy is about words, they should be your own words. Lifting whole passages from speeches isn't "change you can believe in, it's change you can Xerox". (big boos from the audience here, thankfully, and Obama protested a little) Not enough to say we need to come together, we're gonna have to work hard. My health care plan covers everyone, yours leaves out 15 million people. (I do appreciate she changed tack to a real issue) You are against moratorium on home foreclosures, which even Bush is considering. We will need to overcome entrenched opposition to our ideas. When I took on health care in 93 and 94, was against huge special interest opposition. Obama: Happy to debate issues. Clinton said that they all wanted universal health care; of course he was down 20 points in the polls. Plans are 95% the same. Cut costs with prevention. Philosophical difference: Clinton wants to force everyone to get health care, Obama believes the only reason people don't have it is that they can't afford it. We can have a legitimate debate, but his plan doesn't leave 15 million people without insurance. Also, the way Clinton did health care in 93 and 94 was the wrong way, since she didn't consult with people who had different ideas, so it was more difficult to get Congress to cooperate. If we don't change how the politics work, we'll be back here in 4 years again debating how to do the same thing.

Commercial break, although Clinton clearly wanted to respond to this.

Is Obama ready to be commander in chief?: Clinton: Well, I'm ready and prepared. But, back to health care! Obama says it's a philosophical difference, I think it's substantive. He has a mandate for parents to insure children, which is good, but if we don't require everyone to have health insurance the insurance companies will game the system. Everyone with insurance will pay a hidden tax of $900 to cover those without insurance. John Edwards made great point: Social Security and Medicare, great accomplishments, were mandatory. If you don't start out with universal health care you will be "nibbled to death". Obama: Understand it's a mandate on people, not on the government. Massachusetts currently has a mandate, they've exempted 20% of the people who they think can't pay it. In some cases people are paying a fine and don't have insurance so they're worse off than before. If you're going to force them to have insurance you need harsh penalties. This is a substantive difference. Clinton: Fundamentally disagree. Number one issue people talk to me about. Obama's plan has a mandate on parents because he recognizes if we don't have some kind of restriction, we won't get there. Obama: Not true that I'm interested in leaving out 15 million people.

Well, that was fun. Let's reask the last question.

Are you suggesting Obama isn't ready to be commander in chief?: Clinton: for more than 15 years I've represented the US in more than 80 countries, stood up for human rights. Have served on Senate Armed Forces committee. This week is good example: elections in Pakistan, leadership change in Cuba, Kosovo declaring independence, embassy set on fire in Serbia. We have opportunities with Cuba and Musharraf. I supported independence of Kosovo. I am prepared and ready on day 1 to be commander in chief. Obama: wouldn't be running if I didn't think I were prepared. Number one job will be to keep American people safe from harm, won't hesitate to act. We need strongest military on earth, which means proper training and rotations. Some people doing 2 and 3 and 4 tours in Iraq. Also means using military wisely; I showed good judgement opposing Iraq war, Clinton was wrong. That has big consequences, distracted us from Afghanistan. Rifle platoon that went to Afghanistan had people leaving for Iraq, didn't have enough ammunition. I didn't oppose Iraq for the sake of opposing it, did it because it would distract from Afghanistan, fan flames of anti-American sentiment. I was right. On Pakistan, mistake to put all our eggs in Musharraf's basket. I have shown judgment to lead.

Is Iraq better off because of the surge?: Tricky question. Clinton: The rationale for the surge was to create time for Iraqi government to make decisions, and that hasn't been done. Would begin withdrawing troops within 60 days, give message to Iraqis that they don't have a blank check. Obama: Indisputable that violence has been reduces in Iraq. Tactical victory imposed on huge strategic blunder. When debating with McCain, easier for person who opposed going to war to debate that decision than to argue about tactics. Still need to care for veterans better, but $12 billion per month for Iraq makes that hard.

Commercial break!

Y'all are for transparency in government, why put earmarks in budget?: He said Obama has refused to say what the earmarks were for. Obama: That's not true, we've disclosed earmarks. Believes strongly in transparency; passed bill with Tom Coburn (conservative Republican) to create "Google for government", a searchable database of federal spending. (this is a great idea!) There are worthy projects in the states and that's what my earmarks were for. Wants to make sure people are willing to defend those earmarks in the light of day. Moderator: will it be hard to tackle this with McCain, who's never asked for an earmark? (wow, I didn't know that) Clinton: No, because he supported wasteful tax cuts and expensive war with Iraq. Bush came into office with surplus, now it's gone. Will get us back to fiscal responsibility, Bush tax cuts on rich will expire.

Superdelegates: Will it be a problem for the party if it comes down to superdelegates? Clinton: These are the rules, but it will sort itself out, I'm not worried. Obama: Important that primaries and caucuses count, but will of voters will determine the nominee. Next nominee will have a lot to talk about re health care, etc.

What was the moment that tested you most?: Obama: Not a single moment, but my father left when I was two, made mistakes in youth, brought people together as a community organizer. Clinton: Obviously I've lived through some crises. People ask how I did it, but it's really nothing compared to what ordinary Americans have to go through. (veterans, etc.) Honored to be sharing stage with Obama, no matter what happens we'll be fine. Hope we can say the same for American people.


I'm living in my own private Idaho
Mood: frustrated
Posted on 2008-02-21 15:20:00
Tags: politics links
Words: 51

Debate is tonight. Check out this sweet donut-shaped poll!

I get to play Ultimate tonight - hopefully the rain will hold off.

In West Wing, Matt Santos was based on Barack Obama! And not like "is similar to" but like "the writer called up an Obama aide to learn more about him".


less crazy = good
Mood: refreshed
Posted on 2008-02-20 14:32:00
Tags: computer
Words: 57

I'm feeling much less filled with rage today, thanks for asking. Apple will replace my MacBook Pro keyboard for $150, which isn't bad, and Lowe's will give us the price on installation they said they would. Still don't know how to fix this bug but at least I got some advice this morning. Things are looking up.


a day of unnecessary stress
Mood: busy
Posted on 2008-02-19 10:01:00
Tags: django work programming
Words: 282

First I was stressed about a recruiting meeting, which ended fine and without my being asked any questions. Then I was stressed about playing bridge with onefishclappin and the gang - it went fine, I had a lot of fun and I think I played at least well enough not to embarrass myself (or onefishclappin). Duplicate is a really nice format, and the bidding boxes are very elegant. 24 hands in 3 hours is a lot, though - my brain was fried by the end!

I was also stressed by a horrendously tricky bug at work, but that's worth stressing over, at least during work hours.

Carpet costs more than we thought it would (anyone surprised?) but it'll be fine. I just want to get the damn thing installed, really.

Now I'm stressed about taking my MacBook in today to see if they can fix my "Control" and "v" keys. That would make me a happy person.

Django question: (sorry yerfdogyrag, meant to ask you last night but see earlier bit about brain-frying) On my main page, I want a drop-down box that selects which person to see gifts for, and then some way to do that. Two options I've come up with:

- Use a <form> with a <select>, and GET the results to a different page. The problem with this is that the URLs get kinda ugly, which I'm not thrilled with. Should I do a redirect to the nicer-looking URL?

- Do some javascript stuff in the <select> element that changes the target of a link to the nicer-looking URL. But, I'm currently using the newforms library to generate the form - is there a good way to insert javascript in the onChange handler?


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