Election Day 2008

6 11 2008

While there are hundreds of thousands of people out there waxing poetic about the events yesterday and I hate to burden anyone who reads this with listening to one more.  But I can’t help it.  So I apologize in advance. And I guess fair warning, I am planning on writing a few more posts about the election before I fade back into obscurity realizing that I have nothing better to talk about once again.

Yesterday was a day that I will never forget.  As painful as it was to be at work all day, counting the seconds until I could go vote and then sit on my couch to watch the returns with a pizza and some beer, it was all amazing.  The DC Metro area was beset by news of long waits across the region so I tried to pick a time that might provide the best chance that I not have to wait for hours.  Been there done that, much more fun when you are a college student, I had places to go.  When it was all said and done I was really glad that I didn’t have the option to do vote ahead of time.  The act of voting, pushing that button for Barack Obama was one of the most exhilarating things I have ever done.  You couldn’t help but stare at that colored in circle, knowing not only that an African-American candidate had made it so far, but that I was able to take part in his campaign.  Leaving the polling location I was filled with excitement and trepidation.  Knowing full well that if he were to lose that this would be a dark day in American history; not because an African-American candidate that had made it so far would fall short but because there would be no preventing the feeling that this election was stolen and that everything that had been done just was not enough.  Not even getting into the implications on race relations and the vile partisanship that has taken hold of our political process.

Last night, we sat and watched the coverage on MSNBC (switching to CNN and Fox every once in a while),

From CNN.com

From CNN.com

analyzing each coming poll and each state called.  Worrying constantly that maybe MSNBC was premature, or CNN or Fox for that matter.  When Pennsylvania was called we were convinced that it was just too early. Chuck Todd was pouring a proverbial cold glass of water over the Obama supporters every 20 minutes which only added to our fears.  We kept saying to one another that maybe we were getting too far ahead of ourselves, having watched the previous two elections closely, we had seen this story before and not to be outdone we continually tried to temper one another.  It was only when my mom called to give her short concession after seeing that Fox had called Ohio for Obama.  We were still not convinced, it seemed too soon for Ohio to be called, yet within minutes I started getting text messages and IM’s from people talking about the victory in Ohio.  As state after state came in and Obama’s margin grew we began to see that not only was he winning the swing states, but he was also getting closer than any would have predicted in the reddest of red states.

It sounds a little crazy to say but at that moment I felt a part of history being made.  Listening to President-Elect Obama’s (how amazing is it to say that finally) victory speech and watching the crowd was maybe the most moving thing I have ever seen.  You don’t want to inflate the significance of an event like this or trivialize it by using cliches, but I’m not convinced that it is even a possiblity in this instance.  I genuinely felt connected to the 125,000 people cheering in Grant Park, the people that turned U Street in DC into a block party, the people in Times Square and everyone else across the country.  But not based on support for Barack Obama, while those were all examples of the excitement for his victory this was a night to be shared by all Americans and in many ways all people around the world.


T-24 Hours

3 11 2008

The polls on the East Coast will close in 24 hours or less and for most that is when the night really gets started.  When we can do nothing else but sit in front the television hanging on the words of each commentator, looking for any semblance of good news from the smallest of blips in voter turnout, voter demographics and the exit polls.  While I am incredibly excited at the prospect that Barack Obama will be our next President and would be considered among the more optimistic about his chances tomorrow; I have to admit that the paralyzing fear has set in.

I ultimately fear that this confidence exhibited by the McCain campaign is not something to be laughed at, like so many continue to do, that they see trends that everyone else has missed.  This is what my life is about right now.  I read each post on Google Reader with the utmost scrutiny searching for some key that will lessen my fears.  But this feeling has taken over.  When I read articles exhibiting the most positive outlooks on Obama’s prospects I can not help but think that maybe the media is really in the tank for him, that we are all setting ourselves up for heartbreak again and that my night will end much like election day four years ago.  When I read the articles discussing McCain’s chances and this upswing in his numbers over the past week, I can’t help but think that my worst nightmare is coming true that all this excitement will disappear without anyone noticing that it’s happening.

Welcome to my life

Exploring Tulsa

29 10 2008
The Golden Driller

The Golden Driller

To say that I was not happy to be spending more than a week in Tulsa might just qualify for the understatement of the year.  But I came away from the conference feeling much different about Tulsa than I went in.  While it is not a city that I see myself coming back to at any point in the near future, I have to say that there was a lot to like about Tulsa and a few things to support the notion that the city is improving all the time.

We were fortunate enough to have a donor from the area who gave us a personal tour of the city which was immeasurably important in regards to my feelings and impression of the city as a whole.  He started our tour by asking us to list the things we thought of when they heard Tulsa. You got the much to be expected responses of oil, cowboys, and boring.  While I did see more than my fair share of cowboys over the week I have to admit that my preconceptions were quite far off base.

First and foremost, there is way more history there than I ever imagined.  Not just in terms of the oil boom but there is a very interesting civil rights history there as well.  I am in no way an architecture expert, but I do enjoy looking at interesting buildings and this city is full of them, even if I could never explain what style of architecture they are or anything of that nature.  There was also some of the more unusual landmarks including the “Praying Hands” at Oral Roberts University and the “Golden Driller”  in and around Tulsa.  While there were some great things about Tulsa the addition of 2,000 people seemed more than the city was able to handle and we saw some of the glaring deficiencies that exist there.

Tulsa desperately needs some kind of transportation infrastructure that does not rely solely on the

Cains Ballroom

Cain's Ballroom

dispersal highway that runs throughout the city.  There was zero retail downtown, the nearest pharmacy was 8 blocks away, there were no grocery stores to be seen, only one restaurant within 5 blocks, and one bar (the Cellar Dweller) that appeared more likely to have once been an underground casino as it was in the basement of a long, three story apartment building.  This was bad but matters were only complicated by the stunning lack of taxis and buses around the downtown area.

There was no better example of this than on Friday night when we walked from our hotel downtown for 20 minutes to the Brady Arts District for dinner and I can count the number of people we saw on one hand.  It was very clear that people were not exaggerating when they said that 60% of the land in Tulsa was “surface parking lots.”

The final night we had our closing party at Cain’s Ballroom which is in the Brady Arts District, another example of cities reusing warehouse space for galleries, restaurants, bars and clubs and really turning the area into a nightspot.

Most importantly Tulsa has another example of those street corner sculptures across the city.

Super Penguin

Super Penguin

My grandmother

28 09 2008

So I called my grandmother the other day, this is a fairly rare occurrence, but I’m really trying to get better about staying in touch with people and in particular my family.  She loves to send me these borderline offensive chain emails (I’m a bit of a cry baby obviously) to which I end up responding to the most offensive taking solace in the fact that I know that I’ve done something good.  Clearly, this is not the case and I’m not even convinced that she reads them anymore and just says that I have a great mind and moves on.  We talked for probably 15 minutes before we ran out of anything to talk about; but on the whole it was pretty nice and I felt pretty good about it.

I got through the normal questons:

– “How’s that girlfriend of yours doing?”

– “Do you have enough money?”

–  “Are you eating enough? Because you looked really bad last time I saw you.”

Yesterday, three days after the phone call, I got a card from my grandmother with money in it.  This isn’t the first time that this has happened either.

Now how am I supposed to keep calling her.  I feel like I’m being paid to call my grandmother.  This is not good

The VP Debate: A Massacre?

23 08 2008

Without really getting into the selection of Joe Biden.  I can’t express just how excited I am to see the Vice Presidential debate.  It’s already marked in my calendar.  It was clear that he was in part selected for his aggresiveness and the potential that exists for him to be the Democratic attack dog.  Something that has been sorely missed for far too long.

The Vice Presidential Debate has a tendency to be really boring.  More often than not, the safe pick for each campaign is someone who will speak only when spoken to.  Whether it is Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty facing off against Joe Biden the debate is sure to be hilarious.  I’m hoping that the choice is Pawlenty; he’s a little bland, would be selected in part for his youth and location and definitely not known for being feisty. I’m basically picturing the GOP candidate cowering behind the podium.  Oh man I hope that happens.  This could be quite the event.

Biden in 3

Little League Monster

21 08 2008

This article by Joe DeMartino rang so true that I had to mention it.

It’s not something that you think about often, but facing my Little League Monster is an experience I will never forget.  The sheer terror that was in my heart has not completely left me, more than 13 years later and I don’t know that it will.

My monster was named Jeff Ford and in my mind, he was a freak of nature.  I couldn’t have been more than 5’1, 85lbs at the time, by far the smallest kid on my team and one of the smallest in the league.  So when it came around time to face Jeff Ford’s team, I would be hoping for the week prior that I might not have to face Jeff Ford, that maybe he’d get hurt or have to go out of town.  But that was clearly not in the cards.

On game day, our coach knew the reputation that Jeff had and he without a doubt could see the fear in his eyes.  He knew we were terrified, and tried his best to convince us that the “larger they are, the harder they fall” and that “the faster a ball is pitched, the faster it leaves the park.”  He even challenged us, telling us if any of us were scared, we should raise our hands before the game would start and he just wouldn’t put us in.  I still wish I had raised my hand that day.

As I would approach the batters box I was shaking, there was no need to try to control it.  When I stepped in the box, it was a whole other level of fear.  I think you could have heard my knees knocking for miles.  When he would wind up to throw, I would tighten every muscle in my body, close my eyes at the point of release and just swing.  Needless to say, I never even came close against Jeff Ford.

While I knew that the name Jeff Ford had not escaped me, I was most shocked by the vividness of my memories as I read this article.  I don’t know if these were memories that I had repressed or what, but thinking about them now is pretty amazing.

And the September cover of GQ goes to…

13 08 2008

The one and only, Robert Byrd.  Okay, so it might not be the cover.  But it is a serious feature piece written by Robert Draper on Senator Byrd and one well worth reading.  I’m actually going to go out and buy GQ (I can’t believe I’m admitting that).

This article takes more than the tired look at Robert Byrd, 90-years old and the longest serving member in the Senate (since 1959).  For years, editorials and whispers alike have all held the common theme, “Is it time for Senator Byrd to go?”  In addition to the fact that he is a senator still, even more worrisome is the extremely important role that he holds in the US Senate.  The saddest part is that this is not coming strictly from the right; in fact, the loudest whispers come from those closest to him, the party leadership.  Not entirely surprising given the penchant for status climbing that seems to be inherent in political figures.  But Robert Byrd is not your typical 90-year old, nor your typical US Senator.

While his speeches are the subject of YouTube infamy, showcasing his lack of orthodoxy, they do not however show the effectiveness with which he leads.  I have to admit, nothing made me happier when I was driving all over for United Way than to turn on C SPAN Radio, only to hear the distinct voice of Robert Byrd.  I could listen for hours to that man.  While he may from time to time lose his place or his train of thought, he gets his point across and you can’t help but appreciate the intelligence that he shows when you look past the nature of Senator Byrd’s theatrics.

Reading the interview can be a little painstaking for someone that has faith in him.  It is clear that his age has impacted him severely, but even in such instances, it is still clear that he has his wits about him and definitely his sense of humor.

RD: “We’ve been hearing a lot about age this year,” I say. “Do you think John McCain is too old to be president of the United States?”

RB: “No, he’s not too old to be president! No! Of course he’s not! And I’m not either! You’re looking at a man who could be president—right now!”

Only this isn’t a joke.  He actually does believe this.  The author posits that one day a Senate building might adorn the name of Robert Byrd.  I can only hope this comes true.  He deserves it.

Long live Robert Byrd!

P.S.  One for the road…