Friday, February 29, 2008

Day One, Everyone Hopes

A friend tells me she has looked at Barack Obama and seen the ghost of Eliot Spitzer--the hubris to think that change can be imposed rather than built step-by-step.

I think that's a legitimate comparison and a reasonable fear.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sharing Our Lawn

And Speaking of Money. . . . . the cost of the War in Iraq is about to top $500 billion, according to my little scale on the right. That makes it approximately equal to the net worth of ExxonMobil, which continues to fight additional reparations for the ExxonValdez incident of 1989.

$500 billion is a big number. It is the total worth of all U.S. manufactured exports ten years ago. It is the estimated worth of all the gold and copper deposits that are believed to lie to the southwest of Anchorage, AK. It is the size of the estimated losses incurred during the subprime scandals that began last year.

I can't help thinking that we could use that money for other purposes.

Recession R Us

SmileyCentral.comWhen I called to wish her a happy 50th last night, DZ and I talked at length about the effect of recessions on freelancers. We're the canaries in the mineshaft of the U.S. economy. Even before things started to look bleak nationwide, our average earnings dropped precipitously as school publishers cut fees and dialed back on projects. Last year was my worst financially since 1991-1992. Of course, in 1991-1992, my mortgage was significantly less than it is now, as were my electric and oil bills, my grocery bills, and the price of gasoline. I even had one guy try to get me to work for free last week, citing budgetary woes. In response, I quoted him my hourly rate, which is the same hourly rate I've charged for 15 years. I haven't heard back from him.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

One More Seat

Aubertine won in the North Country, which has registration that is 2-to-1 Republican. He will be the first Democrat to serve as their Senator since 1880. There is much buzz this morning about what that means for our district, which has leaned Republican for decades. One more seat, and Joe Bruno loses his majority.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Required Reading

My old pal Roger asks the best questions in this NYT compendium of questions that have not yet been answered by the Democratic candidates.

Special Election

All eyes are on the North Country, where Aubertine and Barclay are battling it out for an open State Senate seat. If Aubertine takes it, the Senate is one seat away from ousting Joe Bruno.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Scrabbled Out

Every evening while Mark was here, we played Scrabble (well, once, on his previous visit, we played Risk). He won nearly every game with things like "QUESTION"--scoring a double word with the "Q" plus using all his letters. O held her own credibly, but only Aunt Diane could beat Mark. I regularly came in third or fourth.

Now Mark's off to HI, O's helping the art teacher at Newfield, and I'm prepping for a BOE meeting tonight. I drove to Syracuse and back three times this week, which is about two times more often than I usually go in a season.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

After the Interview

While we were gone, Paul bought a new puppy. I'll post pictures of Sadie as the breeder sends them. Her birthdate was 2/12/08.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Serbia Update

As the embassy burns, Cameron intends to stay, but it appears that his wife and child are evacuating. Andy heard from her yesterday, and all was fine (albeit under armed guard), but last night things got much worse.

We had a long discussion at dinner about whether U.S. policy in this case is on the mark. Do we just blindly support anyone who wants to start his/her own nation? Are there any rules?

The Joint Birthday

Having been born just three days apart, Mark and I have had joint birthday parties on and off since we turned 13. He's visiting now, interviewing for a job in town, and Diane L came up from Brooklyn, too, so we had a joint birthday (including Paul this time--his birthday is March 1). Lots of food, good gifts, like this fabulous hat for Paul from Diane. Tonight we'll go to the Boatyard Grill for more fun, and Diane and O will bake a cake. And barring a horrible blizzard (we are expecting about 6 inches today), O and I will drive Mark to his interview in Syracuse tomorrow and go to the mall to buy a gift for Diane Z, another joint birthday partier at times over the years. Right now, Paul, Mark, Diane L, and O are visting Miss Spitz, Diane's beloved third-grade teacher, at her home in Kendal.

LATER: Diane Z, another alumna, tells me Miss Spitz taught fifth grade.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Baying at the Moon

For the past several nights, we've been awakened by hordes (flocks?) of foxes, all a-yipping at the moon. And last night, as I left a Dryden Dems meeting, I saw the lunar eclipse, just as clear as day. Beautiful.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I notice that my pal Ambassador Munter's webpage has nothing about the split between Serbia and Kosovo. How diplomatic! Since Serbia has recalled its U.S. ambassador over the U.S. approval of the split, I wonder whether Cameron's job is safe. They even stoned his embassy! That can't be fun.

Monday, February 18, 2008

White People

Occasionally, people send me other people's blogs. Kris sent this one, which I found entirely hilarious. Being white, I love me some irony.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


I sent this note to our TCDC listserve this morning. I'll see if anyone has a response worth sharing.
When it comes to FL and MI delegates, the Clinton campaign thinks we should release them, and the Obama campaign thinks we should follow the rules.

When it comes to superdelegates, the Obama campaign thinks we should release them, and the Clinton campaign thinks we should follow the rules.

Me, I think both rules kinda suck--but then again, as every four-year-old knows, you don't change rules in the middle of the game.

But I am not "hoodwinked," to use Malcolm's parlance, into thinking either of these calls by the campaigns is truly intended for the benefit of the people.

What do you think?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Voting Hope Over Fear

It's come down to this: Do I hope more than I fear? Do I believe more than I doubt? And why, in all of this, do I feel so bitterly sorry for Hillary Clinton, a woman whose politics have always seemed too tightly and carefully parsed for my taste?

Well, I'm trying to be hopeful where Dryden is concerned. I think the Dryden Community Cafe is a sign of hope where there once were empty storefronts. Our interim superintendent gives me hope that the District will be set on a positive path before he leaves us at the end of his term. I think the new town board has a hopeful message about the potential for local energy policy to energize locals.

I am less hopeful when it comes to the state, despite my belief that the Democrats may seize the Senate this year. I was extremely hopeful when our new Governor took office, but his missteps have made me fearful again. And frankly, I haven't seen signs that our Democratic Assembly is any more reasonable than our Republican Senate when it comes to holding the line on spending, making long-term plans, or doing much more than casting blame.

And when it comes to national politics, well, I'm not terribly hopeful at all. Do I think that a President Obama could turn around our fallen favor with other nations? Yes. Do I think he would put good people in his Cabinet? Probably. Do I think he could work with Congress? Not so much. Could anybody? Maybe not. . . .

Friday, February 15, 2008


My car's in the shop again, for about the tenth time since we bought it two years ago. This time it's (probably) the starter.

It was a very cheap car, but it's looking increasingly expensive.

Dryden Village Race

We had a good meeting last night to get moving on the Dryden Village race. We're running two candidates for trustee positions: incumbent Mary Ellen Bossack and longtime resident Fred Gentz. The big issue will be paying for the $5 million fix to the sewer and water plant. When you divide that among 750 users in the village, the cost seems prohibitive, but our candidates have some ideas. The election is March 18, which is ridiculously soon--but that's what's nice about village elections; they're over before you know it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Required Reading

Gail Collins on a night at a Maine caucus. It makes hanging chads look like the least of our problems.
Caucuses have nothing to do with recapturing the spirit of the New England town meeting. They exist because they cost the states nothing. And you get what you pay for.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Required Reading

David Brooks, my favorite conservative, on the unpleasant realities either Obama or HRC would face if one of them won.
As William J. Stuntz of Harvard Law School wrote in The Weekly Standard, the Democrats have conducted their race amid unconstrained “Yes We Can!” unreality. Because the Democratic candidates appear to agree on so much, they’ve never tested each other’s policy proposals or exposed each other’s assumptions. But governing means choosing, and reality will be unkind.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Global Warming and Our Driveway

SmileyCentral.comIt's below zero up here on the mountain. We're expecting 1-3 inches of snow, which translates to about 5-6 up here. That will be followed by rain and sleet tomorrow.

This constant freeze and thaw adds up to an impassable driveway. Paul designed it to channel melting runoff, and it does that very well, but it takes some time. If we get these constant freeze-and-thaw situations, there's never time for the runoff to run off, and our driveway turns into an ice chute.

Monday, February 11, 2008

10,000 Years

It was only a matter of time:


Tonight the BOE turns its attention to the 2008-2009 budget with a first presentation, to be followed by several discussions. For those who enjoy this kind of thing, here's the tentative schedule of events:
2/11/08: Non-Instructional Areas of the Budget
2/25/08: Instructional Areas of the Budget
3/3/08: BOCES Budget
3/17/08: Staffing & Program
4/7/08: Revenues & Fund Balance
4/21/08: Adopt Budget
The first three meetings are at the MS/HS Library. The last three are at Dryden Elementary, Freeville Elementary, and McLean (Cassavant). The public vote on the budget and on three BOE seats is 5/20/08. The seats up include Chris Gibbons's, Karin LaMotte's, and mine.


In just the last few weeks, I've reconnected workwise with three of the people who were on my team at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich back in the 1980s. Pat, Diane, and I are working together on a project for Holt. Susanne is back in NY after years with Scott Foresman--now heading up a small place called LaserWords. Since everything in the world is now owned by Pearson, the business is contracting, drawing everyone back together again.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Required Reading

David Brooks in a cynical mood, on what differentiates the supporters of Obama from the supporters of HRC (and explains why Tompkins was the only county in NY to vote Obama):
A generation ago, educated families and less-educated families looked the same, but now high school graduates divorce at twice the rate of college graduates. High school grads are much more likely to have kids out of wedlock. High school grads are much more likely to be obese. They’re much more likely to smoke and to die younger.

Their attitudes are different. High school grads are much less optimistic than college grads. They express less social trust. They feel less safe in public. They report having fewer friends and lower aspirations. The less educated speak the dialect of struggle; the more educated, the dialect of self-fulfillment.

Did you hear the message of Clinton’s speech Tuesday night? It’s a rotten world out there. Regular folks are getting the shaft. They need someone who’ll fight tougher, work harder and put loyalty over independence.

Then did you see the Hopemeister’s speech? His schtick makes sense if you’ve got a basic level of security in your life, if you’re looking up, not down.
Brooks is, of course, a Republican, but his look at the way votes are dividing makes sense to me.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Red Herring Swallowed One

Then there were three. Romney's kids have apparently prevailed upon him to save the family trust. Like Edwards, he has "suspended" his campaign, allowing him to retain delegates and hold sway at the convention.

Today's Wild Guess

It's not like I've been right about anything so far, but this seems like a no-brainer: a McCain/Huckabee ticket.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Fog & Ice

Dave wonders what the driveway looked like when we were stuck at the top. I can't quite give the whole picture, because it's so much better today, but enough of it still looks like this that I left the car at the neighbors' again. This is the point I reached yesterday when I decided to back all the way home again. It looked like this the whole way down--but more opaque, so you couldn't see stone under the ice.


SmileyCentral.comIt poured all night. Paul called from Hurd Road, where water had come up and over the road at the lowest point, something that was apparently not noticeable until your car was fully in it. So we started the day with a call to the Dryden Highway Dept. Meanwhile, my car is still down at the neighbors'.

United We (Maybe) Succeed

The delegate count in the right column tells the tale. Today's NYT editorial expresses my own concern that Obama voters will just sit on their hands if HRC is the nominee. I do not think that works the other way around, which means either that HRC voters are the Democratic faithful and will pull the D lever no matter what, or that Obama is more palatable across the board--or both.

LATER: Although HRC won in NY, Obama won Tompkins County, including Dryden.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Best-Laid Plans

After all my agita, I can't even get down the driveway to vote. Couldn't get O to the bus stop this morning. Paul couldn't get to work. We have a river of ice, and salt does nothing to help. Whatanightmare. Meanwhile, O has her first Japanese lesson with a new tutor today, and I have no phone number for the poor girl to tell her it's off.

This will be the first time I've missed any vote since I turned 18.

LATER: I wasn't forced to break my record. Paul took the plow truck down and then drove O and me down in my car. It was exciting but not fatal. So we went to vote, made it to the library in time for the Japanese lesson, bought 200 pounds of corn to weight the back of the car, and drove home in the fog to park at the neighbors'.

Super Tuesday

Monday, February 4, 2008

All You Need Is Hate

PZ sends Stanley Fish's provocative column on Hillary-hating, which goes even beyond what I've had to say on the subject.
The closest analogy is to anti-Semitism. But before you hit the comment button, I don’t mean that the two are alike either in their significance or in the damage they do. It’s just that they both feed on air and flourish independently of anything external to their obsessions. Anti-Semitism doesn’t need Jews and anti-Hillaryism doesn’t need Hillary, except as a figment of its collective imagination.

Wild Ride

SmileyCentral.comCrazy fourth quarter. Crazy day before Super Tuesday. Today I'm leaning Barack-wise, although I'm extremely concerned about his chumminess with Warren Buffett over liquefaction of coal. This is an energy policy? And of course, his health plan sucks and probably means that we will get no improvement in health policy at all. The only reason I might support him tomorrow is because I'm starting to think he might do better than HRC against McCain. And the only reason I think that's true is because people like my right-wing neighbor are talking about voting for Obama rather than for McCain. If McCain loses Republican voters, as he certainly will, he won't lose them to HRC; they'll stay home just like the many Democrats who won't vote for her. However, if McCain faces Obama, he could lose GOP voters to Obama, for reasons I don't understand and about which I can't begin to speculate. As I said to my Obama pals this morning in an email that asked them to convince me, "If I want to be inspired, I'll join a church." Our best hope for pulling off a win may be if Ron Paul runs on a third-party ticket.

But if the Giants can win the Superbowl, anything can happen. A week ago, I would have guessed that the Dem race would be over Super Tuesday, and the GOP race would go to the convention. Today, I'm gonna say the opposite. And what a convention it will be. (Obviously, the choice of keynote speaker is critically important!)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Ballot in NY

Merry Jo Bauer sends this useful information on what the primary ballot looks like in NYS. Weird, especially on the Dem side; but nice to know before you go into the booth.
Presidential Primaries in New York State
The Democratic and Republican primaries in New York State are different in important ways, but have similarities. Both are “closed” primaries; participation is limited to the voters who have registered in the party that is sponsoring the election. While delegates are not bound by any law to vote for any particular candidate at the party’s national convention, both parties have “pledged” candidates who vote for the candidate to whom they are “pledged”. Both parties also have “un-pledged” and/or “super” delegates, who are not committed to a particular candidate. A certain number of delegates in each party participate because they occupy a particular elective or party position. Before the primary, candidates submit to the board of elections a list of delegates from each congressional district that are committed to them. These delegates actually appear on the ballot in the Democratic primary, along with a state-wide presidential democratic candidate, but do not appear on the ballot in the Republican primary.

Details of the Nominating Process

Democrats: “Proportional” Primary, 281 delegates at stake

New York Democrats have a total of 281 delegates, 151 of whom are “pledged” and will be elected proportionally based on the results of the February 5th primary within each congressional district. In addition, 45 are automatic and/or chosen from party leaders. The remaining 85 delegates are selected at a state Democratic committee meeting in May.

The Democratic Party in New York always uses a proportional method for awarding delegates. The percentage of delegates each candidate is awarded (or the number of undecided delegates) is representative of the number of primary votes for the candidate.

The Democratic Party primary in New York is really a “dual primary.” Candidates for president appear on the ballot and run against each other in a state-wide primary, and delegates and alternate delegates run in each congressional district. Delegates and alternates are either committed to a presidential candidate or uncommitted, and males and females are equally represented among the delegate choices for a candidate.

Republicans: “Winner-take-all” Primary, 101 delegates at stake
The National Republican Party, unlike the Democratic Party, allows each state to decide whether to use a “winner-take-all method” or the “proportional” method. In the winner-take-all method, the candidate whom the majority of caucus participants or voters support receives all the delegates for the state. New York is a “winner take all” state.

In New York, the selection of delegates and alternate delegates to the Republican National Convention is determined by a statewide primary of candidates for the office of President. Unlike the Democratic primary ballot, the names of the delegates and alternate delegates do no appear. Based on the results of the February 5th presidential primary, 87 of the state’s 101 Republican delegates are allocated to the presidential candidate with the most votes statewide. At a Republican state committee meeting, the remaining 14 unpledged delegates are selected from party leaders.

Yes, We Can

In case you were wondering which candidate had the better YouTube presence:

Friday, February 1, 2008

Proud to Be a Democrat

Last night's debate made me proud, except for the all-too-frequent shots of Hollywood's elite that marred the thoughtful discussion. Meanwhile, the GOP are eating each other alive. Let's hope this continues.

Ice Storm

We're all three home today. No school, again.