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Whatever rings Mel's bells

Archive for September, 2010

Voting and vote-counting

Do you vote?  Do you know how your vote gets counted?  Aside from a few states in the Northeast, every precinct and county and state in the Union counts their ballots by machine.  With all the irregularities in the past, we need to talk about your ballot.

Maybe you go to the polls and there’s a machine there.  You enter the voting booth, push buttons next to your fave candidates’ names, and when you’re done your vote whizzes off through cyberspace to be counted.  Somewhere.  But after the 2004 election, there were polling places in New Mexico and Ohio and Florida and lots of other places that had really “off” voting totals.  Precincts in Ohio had 5,000+ people vote, but only 1,500 people were registered there.  Folks in New Mexico watched as the cursor MOVED after they made their choice, and went over to the other candidate!  Voting machines have great advantages, but they are wide open to fraud.  And since the companies that make them say that gov’t inspections will violate patent laws, nobody can actually find out how these things are actually programmed!  So how can you be sure the machine is really programmed to count your votes just as you voted?

Vote-by-mail seems to be safer.  You mark on a physical ballot and send it off, and it just gets sent through an optical reader.  You still have a paper trail for recounts, and the voter can see who s/he has actually voted for before the ballot leaves their hands.  But there are still problems.  For example,  in San Juan County WA they have a tracking system ON THE BALLOT (for “security” of course) in violation of the Washington State Constitution’s requirement that there be no identifying marks on the actual ballot.  Plus you could live in King County where they just lose the darned things.  (“Now where did I put those ballots, they were right here a second ago!”)

Plus, there’s a special bonus for folks in the following states:

– Alabama
– Indiana
– Iowa
– Kentucky
– Michigan
– New Mexico
– North Carolina
– Oklahoma
– Pennsylvania
– Rhode Island
– South Carolina
– Texas
– Utah
– West Virginia
– Wisconsin

Voters in these states have the option to vote a ‘straight-party’ ticket.  You choose your party and the computer will cast a vote for that party in every race.  So if you pick a straight-Green-Party ticket, you don’t have to mark any votes, you just mark that one spot and the computer will vote for the Green party candidate for President, Governor, Auditor, etc.  Unfortunately, software problems in some of the counting machines are (basically) dropping some of those votes off by miscoding them in the wrong party.


I do not want to scare you.  I do not want to keep you from voting, or make you feel helpless and powerless.

Democracy is not a spectator sport!  Most people reading this are American citizens, proud of the rights and privileges and protections inherent in that citizenship.  But do you have any care for the responsibilities you get along with that?

If you don’t know who your auditor is, who your secretary of state is, go find out.  NOW!!  You obviously have time, since you’re reading my blog, and you also have access to the Net.  Open up a browser window and Google it, I’ll stay here and wait.

Got it?  Good.

Now, call his or her office (even better, go down there and look them in the eye) and ask what they are doing to protect your vote.  Ask what kind of voting system you have, what kind of machines they are.  Ask about irregularities in last election’s results.  Go to vote-protection websites like BlackBoxVoting.Org and see if there are problems being reported.

If you find any problems, call or email your local TV and radio stations and ask who’s covering the story.  “What do you mean nobody’s covering it?  It’s an outrage!”  Let the media know you care.  Let your electeds know you care too!

Pay very careful attention to this following point:  If anybody is stealing the vote (whether you think it’s the liberals, the GOP, the commies, the corporations, WHOEVER) if we *pay*attention* and *talk*about*it* the “bad guys” will no longer be free to act with impunity!

So put on your shoes and take off the gloves; yank the cover off this crap and show everybody what’s hiding under there!  The evidence is out there and it’s EVERY ONE OF OUR JOB to find it, to bring it to light, to make a big freaking stink about it so nobody can pretend it isn’t a big deal.

Nothing else matters – the economy, the bailout, the War – none of it matters if we let our vote get stolen, because the people dealing with all that crap are the direct result of our vote.

K, I’m getting down off my soapbox now.

Looking for a few good jokes

Thought I’d go light today, so I’m sharing a few “puns for educated minds” I recently had foisted upon me (completely unwilling) by a Facebook friend.  LOL  Thanks, Dennis…

1. The fattest knight at King Arthur’s round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.

4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.

5. No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.

6. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

7. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

8. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

9. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.

10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

11. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

12. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other: ‘You stay here; I’ll go on a head.’

13. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

14. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: ‘Keep off the Grass.’

15. The midget fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

16. The soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

17. A backward poet writes inverse.

18. In a democracy it’s your vote that counts. In feudalism it’s your count that votes.

19. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

20. If you jumped off the bridge in Paris, you’d be in Seine.

21. A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, ‘I’m sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger.’

22. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says ‘Dam!’

23. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can’t have your kayak and heat it too.

24. Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, ‘I’ve lost my electron.’ The other says ‘Are you sure?’ The first replies,’Yes, I’m positive.’

25. Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.

26. There was the person who sent ten puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.

Good news for swimmers…?

The Kitsap YWCA has agreed to take over the City of Bremerton’s Jarstad Pool for three consecutive 10-year periods.  This means that the pool will not have to be closed, as many residents feared.

The city’s budget shortfall left them few options fort he pool, which was built and operated (until last month) with city funds and private donations.  It opened in June of 1979, thanks in no small part to the efforts of then-Mayor Glenn Jarstad and his tireless efforts to secure the funding for the facility.  (It opened under the name Bremerton Municipal Pool, but was renamed in 1996.)

Some citizens have asked why the public facility is being turned over to a private organization to run.  After all, we’re talking about millions of dollars in public funds over the past several decades that have built and maintained the pool.  A private group is now in charge; a group that is not in fact accountable to the public.  Is it right for the city to hand all that over to a third party, even one as reputable as the YMCA?  And this private group now controls the access to our publicly-funded facility?

Others believe that it’s better to let the YMCA run the pool because the alternative is closure.  The $1 family swim times are a low-cost and healthy family activity that can help fight the obesity epidemic we’re suffering from.  The senior aerobics program gives our respected older residents a low-impact way to stay in shape.  The city council and the mayor have to prioritize there their limited funds will go, and if (for right or wrong) the decision has been made that the pool is not as important, then isn’t it better to let a private organization take over, even if it does mean all that public money goes into private hands?

These and other questions have been discussed for months.  (You can read minutes and watch video from City Council meetings.)  But the decision has been made, and the good news is that though the pool is presently closed for annual cleaning, it will reopen on September 13th.

According to the Parks Department’s presentation in the 9/1 City Council meeting, the programs for seniors, present YMCA members, and area schools will continue as they have been run by the Parks and Recreation Department through the end of the year; also they will offer free access to the entire YMCA facility (pool included) once per quarter to each county resident.  The YMCA will be responsible for providing many upgrades, such as changes to the pool filtration system that will prevent a child being trapped underwater; lighting upgrades; and cosmetic changes that will bring the outdated pool design up to a more modern standard.

Implied in the statement I watched was the possibility that rates will go up and services will be cut after the first of the year.  However, according to Bob Ecklund, the President of the Kitsap-Pierce YMCA organization, part of the YMCA’s vision plan includes increasing pool access and building more pools throughout the two counties.  Mr. Ecklund committed to keeping pool access available for all local residents, citing the importance of water safety and swim classes as well as the exercise benefits.

Hopefully the YMCA will be able to uphold that commitment.  It’s a shame that the city couldn’t afford to maintain the facility themselves; publicly funded facilities belong under the care of the public and their duly elected representatives.  But given the circumstances, I’m glad that the pool will at least remain open.  As for the continued access…  We’ll have to see what happens.

Schedule Update

Due to low class enrollment, the Tuesday 202 class has been canceled.  HOWEVER, in addition to the Friday morning 101 class, I’ve added an extra 101 class.  It’s tentatively scheduled for next Monday night at 6 to accommodate demand for more evening classes.  Updates to follow…

Class schedule at JoAnn’s!

So….  Next week I start teaching classes at JoAnn’s!  I’m really excited, especially since the first class I get to teach is my favorite of the four.  I’ll post my schedule here a couple weeks at a time, along with descriptions of each class and other useful information.

Next week (9/5-9/11)

Monday 9/7   1:00-4:00 pm
Jewelry 202 – Ribbon and Chain Necklace – fee $40

Thursday 9/9  6:00-8:00 pm
Jewelry Social – Will be run by a JoAnn’s team member – fee $10

Friday 9/10  10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Jewelry 101 – basic skills and design techniques – fee $35

Saturday 9/11  1:00 – 3:00 pm
Open House – If you sign up for classes during this event, you will get HALF OFF the class fee!

Following week (9/12-9/18)

Thursday 9/16  6:00 – 9:00 pm
Jewelry 102 – Bead and Wire Bracelet  $40
This class will be taught by one of JoAnn’s team members since I will be singing at a fundraiser for the Kitsap 9/11 memorial.

Friday 9/17  6:00 – 9:00 pm
Jewelry 202 – Ribbon and Chain Necklace  $40
Again, I won’t be able to make this class; it will be taught by a team member.

As you can see, the current schedule was put out before I started, so the previous teacher will continue to teach the classes I can’t get to.  She has been teaching jewelry making for some time, so you will get a skilled instructor if you do attend one of her classes.  Either way, you’ll have several classes and other events to choose from each week!

To sign up for a class or for more information, you can call the Silverdale store at 360.692.1300 or go in to the store.  These classes will be held at JoAnn’s all over the country, so if you aren’t local you can still learn how to make these great projects; you just won’t have me as a teacher!

Jewelry 202 at JoAnn’s

Sample #1 for Sept/Oct 202 class

As I’ve mentioned, I will be teaching jewelry making classes starting in a couple weeks.  Part of the job is to make a sample of each project to get people interested.  So…  Here is my first sample.  It’s for the Jewelry 202 class, “Chain and Ribbon Necklace,” which puts you right in line with this season’s popular bib necklaces.

This necklace is fun and easy to make, but I found that there are a couple tricks to it.  I’d tell you all about them…  But then you wouldn’t come to the class, would you?  So instead, I’m going to ask that you come down to the Silverdale JoAnn store and sign up for the class so you can see how it’s done.  Each of our classes are run 2 or 3 times per month to accommodate different schedules.  If none of the class times work for you, drop me a line and we can work something out.

Watch in the next day or two for the wire bracelet we’ll be making for the 102 class.  Not only will you learn to make a charming bracelet, you’ll learn a couple specific skills that you can use in a hundred other ways!