Saturday Ruminations

Personal Stuff First

This is gonna be a political post, methinks, but I have a few things to proclaim before I get to the good stuff…

1. My beloved wife has officially lost SIXTY POUNDS! I’m so proud of her I could burst!

2. Four hundred dollars a month is a LOT. Ask me about it sometime.

3. I wish I had more time to take photos. And I wish I knew how to run my camera better.

4. You just gotta try New Belgium Brewery’s “1554” Brussels Style Black Ale. I tell ya, a glass of 1554 (or it’s little brother, Abbey) is a grand thing indeed! Hints of chocolate and coffee, without being sweet… But you have to drink it out of a glass, a real glass glass, not out of the bottle. You can’t sit and guzzle 1554 or Abbey — it’s for savoring, like a fine wine. Best served with rockabilly for some reason — it doesn’t react well to metal or rap. Blues is okay, too… (Be sure to go to New Belgium’s web site; they’re really cool people! If you work there for a while they give you a bicycle. VERY environmentally friendly! I wish I could work there.)

5. Why does beer taste better in the morning? Because it’s so rare to sip on a nice ale before lunch? Forbidden fruit? (Don’t worry, I don’t drink beer in the mornings. Often.)

6. Do I look fat in these genes?

8. For some reason Blogger isn’t showing comments to my last post any more. I’ve had two or three people leave comments that haven’t shown up for some reason. I don’t know why that’s happening, but please rest assured that I’m not deleting the comments or anything — I’m baffled as to what’s happening. (I’m thinking of moving this blog off the server it shares with the rest of my family web site sometime this fall and having Blogger host the blog on Google’s servers. That would give me more control over the appearance of my blog and improved stability, but it will also mean people will have to re-link to the new URL. Anyone have any experience with this? Is it gonna hurt?)

7. I lost my copy of “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress,” and that makes me sad. Libertarians unite! (Not that Heinlein was necessarily a Libertarian himself, but the book seems to lean that way.)

8. I started this post days ago. I was going to write a lot more on politics (see below), but I keep falling asleep. I just don’t feel quite right…

On to the Politics:

I was home sick the other day (see my last post for all the icky details), and was somewhat embarrassed when, wearing scrungy jammie-pants and a T-shirt of dubious taste, I opened the door to let the cat out only to find a lady in an Obama T-shirt standing there, finger poised to push the doorbell. “Oh! Hello,” I said.

“Hello,” she said. “Are you” (she glanced at her clipboard, then continued) “Mr. Radloff?” I nodded, agreeing that yes, my name is indeed Mr. Radloff. “I’m with the Obama campaign, and if you have a few minutes, I’d like to answer any questions you may have about the Senator…”

Seeing as this is the very first person to ring my doorbell and want to talk politics with me, I agreed. I’ve never had a politician, staffer, enthusiastic supporter, or even unenthusiastic supporter come to my door wanting to talk about a candidate before… First time for everything! I mean, I’ve only lived here for seven-plus years… (The two nice Jehovah’s Witness men quit coming to my door after they saw exactly what a slightly hung-over hippie bass player looks like the morning after a hard gig.) I stepped outside and gestured to the stoop. “Have a seat.” The lady sat.

“What can I tell you about Senator Obama?” she asked.

I keep up on the candidates. Or at least I try to, anyway. But when put on the spot, it took me a few moments to collect my thoughts… My brain ran down the list. “Edwards, he’s the poverty guy,” my brain told me. “Richardson’s the guy with all the foreign policy experience and the good sense of humor. Hillary just plain scares me. Kucinich is the leprechaun who smiles a lot an agrees with everyone about everything. Dodd dated Princess Leia and hangs out with Paul Simon… Obama — he’s the composed guy who seems to know what’s going on but never really says anything.” Ah, yes. Obama. One of the “Big Three” in my book (along with Richardson and Edwards).

I tried to think of an intelligent question about Mr. Obama to ask the young lady, but I really couldn’t think of anything specific. “Well,” I said, “the things that are most important to me right now are poverty, Iraq, the environment and how we treat veterans, and I know Edwards pretty much has the poverty thing figured out. What does Obama have to offer?”

I forget what the nice lady said, exactly, but it was something predictable, like “The Senator is against poverty.” (Name me someone other than the current administration that’s FOR poverty.) But she continued to tell me how Obama had worked in the bad part of Chicago helping people in dire circumstances. Cool. Okay.

She went on to explain, in fair detail, what Mr. Obama’s positions were on the things important to me. We talked for a considerable time, actually, and by the time she left I was fairly impressed with the lady. She knew a lot about Obama, but wasn’t afraid to say, “I’m not sure about that issue, to be honest. I’m going to have to go ask some questions,” and she wasn’t afraid to give the other candidates kudos where they were deserved. She never bashed a rival candidate, and conducted herself very professionally. I learned a lot about Mr. Obama, though I already knew pretty much what his stance on the issues were…

But by the end of the conversation I’d managed to get something else straight in my mind that had been buzzing around for a while…

Many of the candidates have nearly identical platforms. What I really want to know is: How are you going to see your changes made on a local level? How are you going to get your programs and ideas past the bureaucracy and governmental inertia to a point where it benefits me? There are at least four candidates that I could vote for with a good conscience. But who is going to make a difference? Which one can cut through the clutter to actually make changes?

This question is relevant no matter what party or candidate you’re backing. We need to ask this question. It’s not good enough for a candidate to say, “I back alternative energy, and I think we need to lessen our dependence on foreign oil.” Everyone says that. How are you going to DO that? And I don’t mean the specifics of your plan (“I think we need to look at hydrogen,” or whatever), I mean how are you going to get your plan instigated in my neighborhood? Are you going to take control over certain aspects of local government? Or the reverse — are you going to cut red tape and get the federal government out of the way of the local governments? Are you going to use incentives?

In short, how are you going to get city hall to listen to you?

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12 thoughts on “Saturday Ruminations

  1. katrocket

    You know, any candidate can devise a stance on an issue, but very few ever have a plan to change things for the better, and I think this is a universal problem in every country and political party. I don’t have a solution either, which is why I won’t run for office, despite the hoardes of fan mail I get asking me to Lead The Way To The Future.

    Hey, I can help with your Blogger issues, Chris (just let me know – your comments seem to be working here so far), and also please send my Great Big WOOHOO! and a hi-five to Dagmar for reaching another personal milestone! That’s awesome!

  2. Bert Bananas

    First, what is the significance of: 1,2,3,4,5,6,8,7,8?

    I am a cynic. When I was in the Army (I never was, but that’s not important) I found that no one ever volunteered to dig latrines. And when we were assigned to dig latrines, unless someone of rank was around, the latrines weren’t very deep. When we had to dig latrines for officers, there would be someone watching us, and those latrines were things of beauty.

    My point being that getting things done to your satisfaction is to politicians what digging latrines is to Army privates. Politicians simply won’t dig latrines unless there’s something in it for them. And if they finally do have to get in there and do some grunt work, it’ll be for the officers corp, not us lowly privates. And of course this works for any and all political parties.

  3. pistols at dawn

    Bert loves all things poop-related.

    I have also quickly tired of the political process thanks to all of the “I’m going to clean Washington up!” sort of vague statements they mocked on The Simpsons (“You tell those bureaucrats in City Hall…”).

    As someone who lost sixty pounds only to find it again, congrats to your wife, and please tell her that when Doritos come knocking, you keep that door shut.

    I am excited to try a new beer, especially since the last time I went to The Fancy Grocery Store, they didn’t have any of those Chocolate Stouts I was hoping to try. Boddington’s was a nice second place.

    And beer tastes better in the morning because it’s better than the responsibilities that made you wake up in the first place.

  4. The Guv'ner

    I came on to leave a nice, structured, serious comment but I see that you guys (and believe me, it’s almost scary that it is YOU GUYS doing it) already made them all. And I concur.

    I can’t even stand to watch local elections here in NY/NJ area. Honest to God, everyone is slandering the other guy and no one is saying what THEY will do for ME or anyone else for that matter. It’s all about “THIS GUY CHEATS ON HIS WIFE AND HAS 328 PARKING TICKETS!” “THAT GUY EATS NEWBORNS!” The second a candidate starts insulting their rival I scratch them off my list of possible votes.

    Of course I’m a “furrinner” and can’t vote but IF I COULD…

  5. Anonymous

    The JWs will be back — they always do. Hand them some of this:


    The following website summarizes 300 U.S. court cases and lawsuits affecting children of Jehovah’s Witness Parents, including 200+ cases where the JW Parents refused to consent to life-saving blood transfusions for their dying children:


    The following website summarizes over 250 lawsuits filed by Jehovah’s Witnesses against their Employers, and/or incidents involving problem JW Employees:


  6. Chris

    Kat — I may take you up on the offer to help with Blogger someday. When the snow starts flying I’m going to do some major housekeeping and will probably get all tangled up. I generally need help.

    Bert — The past week I’ve had such a nasty cold I can’t even concentrate long enough to count to nine, evidently.

    Pistols — Beer is indeed a wonderous thing of rare beauty and grace. (Hey, try a black and blue sometime — Blue Moon over Guinness, kinda like a black and tan. Good stuff!)

    Guv — Dagmar is considering getting naturalized simply so she can vote against the Bush administration. Or at least she was thinking about it until we found out it costs a TON of money to buy your citizenship these days… And she’s not all that keen to give up her Austrian citizenship — as much as she loves America, she also enjoys having that tie to her past to remind her of where she’s from.

    Anonymous — sounds like you have an ax to grind. I’m not a fan of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but then again I’m not really all that impressed with any religions that actively pursue membership with that kind of zeal. If you’re chasing me with a Bible, you must need my affirmation of your faith before you can believe in your faith yourself. Anyway, the original post was about politics, not about the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m willing to be polite to them and leave them alone if they’re polite to me and leave me alone.

  7. KatzeKitty

    $400 a month is a lot of dough. It’s more than I take home in a week, but less than half of our monthly house is. Yep, $400 is a lot of cash. Unless you’re talking to a politician.

  8. Bert

    You think the anti-JW guy is chasing me around? Is this an example of not having a life?

    Too bad he didn’t take the time to read and understand what I wrote.

  9. Jane

    1.) I am also against poverty! What a coincidence!

    2.) Have you considered using WordPress or Serendipity instead of Blogger? They are very simple to install on your own domain and provide a zillion more options than Blogger does. I was on Blogger in the very very beginning and I’m very happy that I moved.

  10. The Guv'ner

    I too am going to eventually go for citizenship but as you pointed out, it ain’t cheap these days and I don’t have a few spare hundreds lying around to file and all that. But I will one day. Also the UK recognizes dual citizenship with the US so i don’t have to renounce anything, I can be citizens of both countries.

    Really I’m thinking “Hmmm…short line at the airport at both ends!”

    Also, I forgot to say congrats to your lady on her awesome weightloss! It’s the hardest thing to do, she must be psyched!!!


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