Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pug Moments - Deep in Thought

Doug the pug worries about world peace.

Community and Local Politics: A Week Immersed in the Obama Campaign

As a newly proclaimed political junkie, this has been one heck of a year. I've gone from nail biting, disgruntle blogging, and have personally dented the local supply of two buck chuck. It has been more manic than my family reunions, and that's saying something!

The past week specifically has prompted a higher level of involvement for me. Mike and I became more interested in connecting with other politically minded people and venting / crying / laughing / cheering together. If we stayed in isolation with our NY Times with recorded episodes of Real Time w/ Bill Maher while following FakeSarahPalin on Twitter, I think our heads would have exploded.

The week was kicked off with an Obama campaign party held at Kelly's in Nob Hill. Although it was difficult to count all individuals who turned out (Obama-sticker-folks) versus those just dining, looked like several hundred were in attendance when we stopped by.

On Friday we followed up with same group at One Up downtown for a debate party. The place was absolutely packed with wide array of faces all eager to hear Obama 'one up' McCain. Even a smal group at the event played political bingo and cheered when key terms like 'recession' or 'Bin Laden' emerged in speeches.

Then on Saturday, we met in the morning at the NE Heights Obama campaign office. Although opposing political sides could argue who 'won' the debate, one thing was sure - Obama campaign won with a surge of volunteers pouring into local offices the next morning. Our team, organized by campaign representative, Peter, was provided with route sheets of registered democrats who requestsed vote-by-mail information. We went in teams of two to visit with this audience and confirm receipt of the information and collect the requests on site.

While walking the neighborhoods around Menaul / Phoenix in NE Heighs, we met a wide array of great people - a couple registered as independents voting Obama. A registered republican furious with her own party for the first time voting democrat. Even a resident in the United States (non-citizen) who through a neighbor that spoke Engligh & Spanish wanted to share how excited she is about Obama as the next President.

Connecting with others and getting out there and sharing thoughts and energy was a great way to reconnect with what is so powerful about this election and the potential of what our country can be. It helped restore hope that the Obama surge is yet to happen and his base of supporteres are out there, eager to vote and smash to pieces the polls.

This post can also be found on Duke City Fix.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Meals on Wheels Pet Program Launch & Community

Today was the first day of the Albuquerque Meals on Wheels pet program. With twenty participating households, four volunteers, and a very gracious sponsorship by Enchantment Pet Spa and Wellness brand pet food, the program eased into its first day of hopefully a long-term program.

We definitely have our improvement points. Routes can be made more efficient and reorganized to minimize excessive miles incurred by volunteers. This is a reasonable pain point not only because people are spending their personal time delivering, but with the cost of gas these days it is a significant expense too. Adding more in depth notes on routes regarding what houses look like / community names / visual cues will help future volunteers navigate routes faster. And I now have a need to stir up additional volunteers - had one quit today and a no show that will hopefully follow through tomorrow.

On my route today, it sunk in how small this program is in comparison to the Meals on Wheels clients' other needs. Delivering a package of pet food to a woman who is homebound with little human interaction on an oxygen tank that takes several minutes to make it to the door is humbling at a core level. This program isn't much and doesn't address a lot of bigger problems that cause these people to worry and stress, but hopefully it is a little bit of hope in their week. Or at least it feeds their comfort and hope - literally, by providing food for their furry companions.

I feel embarrassed at how detached I have become from local hunger and poverty issues through getting wrapped up in my own comfortable life. Basic needs for a lot of locals, and people nationally / worldwide, are minimally met. I hope I/we can do our part to find creative ways to channel energy and skill sets to help contribute in a small way to hopefully making a few local lives a little happier / easier.

Be thankful for what you've got.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tina Fey for VP - SNL Skit

Can't stop laughing at this video. Click here to watch the 9/13/08 SNL skit.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Energy Climate Era, Leadership, and Patriotism

I'm currently working on Thomas Friedman's book, 'Hot, Flat and Crowded'. Although I've only gotten through a mere first fraction of the book, thus far it does an amazing job lifting the smog from the energy / climate crisis topic. Beyond this book, Al Gore's speeches, and mircro / local efforts, it is difficult to pin point a national leader that is not just a figurehead, but has a plan.

Yesterday, T. Boone Pickens was in Albuquerque at the convention center stumping for his plan. A multi billionaire in the oil industry, it is difficult to trust the voice that is a reborn proponent of 'green'. Does our country lack that much fundamental energy leadership, that it takes an oil billionaire to grease the way for the next, cleaner wave of energy?

Although the current election demands candidates speak to the middle, I wish the Obamacampaign would speak with more fervor and direction in regards to energy. Both sides love showing slideshows in the background of ads with windmills, solar panels, etc., yet I haven't' heard much attention dedicated to discussing their plan in detail and what sources of alternative energy they'd like to focus on.

I suppose more and more attention will be paid to the energy crisis as Americans wake up to the issue. Hopefully they'll see - 'Green is not simply a new form of generating electric power. It is a new form of generating national power - period.' (quote from 'Hot, Flat & Crowded') - something any patriot on this solemn day should be cognizant of.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Politics & American Idol - Shame on you 'Reality' Culture

Are there certain roles in society that the individual in charge shouldn't be 'one of us'?

One could suggest the way Palin is being marketed or just put simply, who she is, appeals to an unfortunate majority of America that are anti-choice, pro guns, 'drill baby drill', bible beating, hockey moms. Her appeal (with some) runs deep and resonates. 'She is one of US'.

Should an individual in a public office a heartbeat away from the presidency (literally in this case) be so local yokel? Haven't we learned our lesson about voting in governors who are pro-drilling, pro-Jesus, pro-guns already, ahem, 'W'?

I blame the dire situation that the United States has been, and currently is in, on American Idol. The show has brainwashed mass America into a lazy man's American Dream. 'If I wish hard enough and am in the right place at the right time, I can end up being famous and a millionaire!' It is the lottery culture - blind hope with low probability of 'success' and no merits equates 'well why not? Why can't I have MY dream?'

The unobtainable has become too obtainable in the eyes of the masses. Certain roles should be aspired towards and exude the original American Dream message - 'if I work hard enough, I can achieve whatever I set my mind to.' Work ethic. Dedication. Focus. That's the America I wished existed - and the America I feel Obama embodies as a leader for this country.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Twitter: Fake Sarah Palin

The past few weeks have been such a political blur. I feel such a loss with both the DNC and RNC wrapped up. For now I can look forward to a Palin interview later this week, but it will be with Charlie Gibson so I'm not expecting many racy questions to say the least.

Speaking of media - I am waiting for the media to get real with adequately covering Palin as the Republican VP candidate. It utterly baffles me that McCain's camp has the audacity to threaten the media for being sexist when it is evident that McCain chose Palin for her gender. I can't get over accounts of Palin as a member of the PTA (AKA a 'community organizer') trying to ban books in her children's school library because they didn't align with her personal religious beliefs. That Republicans are 'nation first' yet they choose a candidate that is associated with Alaska separating from the union. She denies mankind's role in global warming, is anti-choice and pro-abstinence (something that apparently didn't work well within her own family), and her son's deployment to Iraq on 9-11 wreaks of public relations. Her stance on the environment as a whole is questionable (although great decorations in her office of carcases - picture at right) and the spin re: natural gas pipeline is off the charts. Oh, and the 6 colleges in 6 years to receive an undergrad degree? I guess this VP candidate choice will appease the masses - 'She is one of US'. Nascar, Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy, NRA, bible beating nation unite!

'Fake Sarah Palin' not only has presented personal entertainment within my fellow liberal friend group, but it has received coverage recently in Media Shift's blog. The Twitter profile popped up the day of Palin's nomination and is worth a peek if you aren't following it already.

A couple of recent gems from Fake Sarah Palin on Twitter:
  • Liberals, I changed colleges 5 times in 6yrs BCZ CONSERVATIVES BELIEVE IN SCHOOL CHOICE. I'm so smart HA!
  • Why do people keep calling me antagonistic? I BELIEVE IN GOD THERE IS NO QUESTION
  • John and I will work tirelessly to stop the alabamans from attacking Georgia again. NEVER AGAIN!!
  • And I've gutted a moose with my pinky, I'll tell you what
  • You wanna step to SARAH PALIN, Code Pink?!! You can't handle a hockey mom, I'll tell you what

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Illinois - Best Year Ever - 2008

Although in complete copyright violation, I wish I could make this image into a t-shirt, because I know I could sell several million in Illinois / across the states. Also, as someone who used to live a few blocks from Wrigley and an avid Obama-groupie, I would wear this shirt as much as possible - makes a more poignant statement than having 'Juicy' across one's caboose or 'fear' on a truckers hat. This year could mark the 'Best Year Ever' for two groups I hold near and dear - democrats and those who grew up watching WGN / from Illinois.

For both the Cubs and Obama, this season has been strong thus far. Cubs having an amazing record of wins coming out of the gate - Obama filling up stadiums with eager voters and reaching Kennedy-esque status.

The past few weeks have resulted in some low points, but not anything that will deter ultimate success. A few cubs losses have tarnished their record and the good old boy Republican National Convention resulted in 'distractions' to say the least.

Overall, for both sides, I can't wait for November. Just to think, within a few weeks of each other, we could have a monumental point in Illinois pride and national history for Cubs and Obama. I'm convinced Illinois Dems would smile for all of '09 and years to come...

Ojo 'not so' Caliente - Travel in NM

Just returned from a quick overnight stay at Ojo Caliente - a spa nestled in Northern New Mexico roughly about 45 minutes outside of Santa Fe.

The spot was recommended to us by several friends. In retrospect their anecdotes should have prompted red flags. "It was really relaxing. I read a lot of books." "Bring booze. Lots of booze."

Regardless, Mike booked the trip and the drive was very reasonable from Albuquerque - around 2.5 hours. This time of year New Mexico is gorgeous. Perfect weather, rainy season has just ended, and wild flowers are popping up everywhere. In particular, there is a blur of yellow on roadsides of wild sunflowers - my favorite.

Our room was comfortable and beyond our expectations. Seemed new, and they paid attention to small details. Also, our room couldn't have been any closer to the spa (room #7) - very important for colder months.

The spa itself was under construction. Somewhat took away from the R&R vibe when there is caution tape, porta potties, construction hats in piles of dirt, etc. There were several pool options - arsenic, iron, soda & regular pool. For a day visitor, you could definitely keep busy with these options, sauna, steam room and a mud 'bath'.

The mud bath didn't quite meet our expectations. We had visions of laying in a pool of mud, caked with dirt then baking in the sun. Reality featured a posse of retirees hovering around a small urn filled with mud lathering up each others bodies. Spring break gone wild!

Lastly the restaurant - not really worth describing at all. Awful food, awful service. Getting acknowledged by a waiter took 20 minutes after being seated at a table without water. To be safe, we chose to just order two appetisers. After seeing what came out, mostly inedible, we were pleased that we didn't order more and had a stash of gummy bears and peanuts in the room.

Highlight of the trip - by all means if you still choose to go, get a private tub in the last slot of the evening (9 pm). They open up to a tall red rock roll with a spotlight on it. Each private bath has its own fireplace, lounge chairs and private pool that opens up to the stars and cliff. Quite an amazing and relaxing experience. I think each private tub was $40 for an hour?

Overall, Ojo was so-so and next time we'd rather go to a sure bet like 10,000 Waves instead.