luckycanuck: (madmen)
Investing talk. )
We now have EmPrime in Chez Canuck and Esky is off in Melbourne before moving to Switzerland to have a crack at the next Olympics.  Today I found out that there will be more turbnover, as Roxy is leaving to do a PhD in Melbourne.  Also her boyfriend lives there and it would make sense for them to live in the same city.  In February I will be the only original resident of Chez Canuck.

There have been a couple of high profile deaths recently that I want to call attention to.

First, Vaclav Havel.  This was a tragedy.  He was someone I admired, what with his sincerity, perspective, and humanity.

So here are some of my preferred quotes of his.

Click for Vaclac Havel quotes )Also, today Kim Jong-Il died.  Clearly it's been a bad year for tyrants.  Mubarak, gone. Gaddafi, gone. Kim Jong-Il, gone.  I know there is always the chance of instability and chaos in a power vaccum in these situations, but what's so great about stability anyway?  Eventually, the tyrants must fall unless you want them to be in power indefinitely.    I don't know what will happen in North Korea now that the Dear Leader is dead, but the kind of "stability" that Kim represented with his blackmail and threats was not a good thing.  Good riddance to him.  Good riddance to them all.

I have an interview tomorrow arranged through an agency that had frustrated me, but who have lifted their game.  Other larger agencies have lost my trust, but this one seems pretty responsive, and the problems I've had with previous interviews they had arranged are not really their problems, but problems with the public service.
luckycanuck: (Default)
Ok. First the links.

Click for links and pics )
So although things in the gloom department have been going a lot better recently, this weekend there was a bit of frustration at being lectured on things I should be doing.
luckycanuck: (Default)
I wound up going to a Q&A session featuring six American political types from both parties on Wednesday night.  It was kind of like networking, though not exactly, but ti did make me feel busy and important again.  It was one of the rare occasions over the last couple of months when I have worn a suit.  Some of them liked my pushup ideas and said to get in touch with them regarding election experience opportunities next year.

TW: 10 rounds - 20 situps, 5 100kg deadlifts. 10 rounds - row 200m, 10 situps.  I also did 10 handstand pushups, for which I had to ask for help with balance.  The pushups themselves were fine, but I do need help with balance and I will keep practicing them.

The market seems to be ok but there is still the chance for major falls if people get spooked again.  I am mostly in, but I am looking to get out of a few stocks like Nexbis which has long frustrated me and has not responded to my requests for further information like VDM Group did.  I'm considering tipping a bit more into their capital raising now that it has been extended and sweetened with one option for every two stocks held after the raising.  There is another capital raising for ERA that I will likely participate in.  I usually like capital raisings.  Some people complain about diluting the stock, but that only happens if you don't participate.

The house has been pretty quiet with people away.  It's just been Roxy and I for the last couple weeks, but now Esky is back.  Ginger Harpist is still in France, but I am getting photos from Facebook.

I'm feeling a bit better, having been busy.  The gloom isn't quite as intense as it was during recent lows.  I plan to go back to therapy next week.

Off to Sydney tomorrow for the weekend.  I have successfully learned Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau in Welsh and I am all set to sing on Saturday.
luckycanuck: (Default)

Yesterday I went to a film being screened by the Israeli Embassy on the anniversary of their independence.  It was called Turn Left at the End of the World.  You can watch the trailer and guess what it was about.  Dialogue was in English, French, and Hebrew.  Afterwards I stopped by some drinks that were being put on by a prominent lobbying firm for Parliamentary staff.  I don't know how much they spent, but I can't imagine they got value for their money.  There were heaps of staff drinking away, but I didn't speak to a single person from that firm.  Maybe they were just trying to spend money before the end of the tax year.  I was perfectly willing to help them by having a Heineken and some finger food.

I was able to handle the crowd there which suprised me a bit, though my eyes did glaze over when I got stuck conversing with a guy who is outstandingly dull.

I managed to get some song lyrics quoted in Parliament today.  W was making a speech and I gave him some words to drive the point home.  On the one year anniversary of the current Prime Minister pushing the former Prime Minister, W was making the point that things have gotten worse, and he chose to paraphrase a song that I recall my maternal Grandfather singing when I was very young.

"One year of this Prime Minister, and what did we get?  Another year older and deeper in debt."

He cited him Tennessee Ford rather than Tennessee Ernie Ford, but other than that, I grinned a bit when I heard it.

Parliament is going to be sitting later than normal for a Thursday tonight, though I don't really have to stay for it.  The politicians may be back tomorrow morning too, and there will be a work lunch afterwards that I might find some excuse not to attend.

This weekend I am committed to going to Sydney.  No waiting until the last minute to decide.  I'm going this time.
luckycanuck: (Default)
I wrote our standard words on live animal exports today in anticipation of a flood of letters and e-mails we will be getting on the subject after some disturbing footage of Australian cattle being slaughtered in Indonesia hit the news yesterday.

I also got a call from an agency that posted a job recently.  This particular job would mean a pay cut which I am not all that keen on, but they have a number of public affairs jobs and want to talk to me further about my background and the opportunities they have.  Good news.

The odd things I've done recently?

Today, though I didn't do a whole lot of what could be called work, but I didn't do nothing.  I spent a substantial portion of the day reading about 19th century American Presidential elections.  Because I'm a political nerd even when I'm wasting time.

And I just recalled that last weekend I went to a bank machine and withdrew $60 and then went into the supermarket to pick up a couple of things.  When I got to the checkout, there was no $60 there.  I checked all my pockets and couldn't find it.  My best guess was that I was distracted for a second and left it in the machine.  Someone in Dee Why is $60 richer.  After a few minutes of confusion and frustration, the conclusion I took away from this was that I'm lucky that losing $60 like that is an anecdote rather than a crisis.  Part of me feels like I'm being austere until I feel I've saved $60 I would have otherwise spent.
luckycanuck: (Default)

FW: Improvised.  Run 1km, 30 pushups, 25 kettlebell swings, 20 situps, 15 pullups - 10 rounds.  Reduce run by 100m every round.  It took me just over an hour of consistan physical effort.  300 pushups, 250 kettlebell swings, 200 situps, 150 pullups, and running 5.5km at an average pace of over 15km/h.  I was quite pleased with my improvised workout, and had a really solid endorphin high.

I was up early on Saturday to do some electioneering with Coffee Snob and boyfriend of Coffee Snob.  We hit Bungendore in the morning then Coogee and Maroubra in the afternoon after driving up to Sydney.  The results were fairly unsurprising.  It was a resounding Liberal/Nationals victory.  The degree to which Labor was smashed is hard to overstate, and it will not be easy to come back from such a drubbing.  I will have the chance to send in my CV to the new state Government and see what comes of it.

I was trying to decide what the best story of the night was.  The change in government overall is, of course, a pretty big story, but it was so expected that it was anti-climactic.  A couple of Independent federal MPs who put Labor back in last year saw their allies on the state level smashed in favour of people on my team.  That could be a warning of rough seas ahead for Windsor and Oakeshott at the next federal election.

Of course, I still am fairly disengaged from politics (or more accurately a lot of the people who get up in arms about politics.)  This article reminded me of a quote from Winston Churchill.  "The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter."  Is it odd that I am cynical about people who are cynical?

We stayed at the Collaroy Castle.  My uncle was reluctant to have people over, but he didn't show it.  CS and BoCS were quite impressed by the place and the neighbourhood.  I though it was going to be tough to get CS back to Canberra.

I drove most of the way back to Canberra and it looks like I may have converted BoCS to thinking along the lines of Crossfit.  I'm always happy to see people willing to take working out seriously.

Oh yes, and on election night I ran into a girl I dated in my first year in Australia.  At the time I was really smitten with her as she seemed to tick all the boxes, but five years later (has it been that long) I came to the conclusion that being involved with her would probably have been exhausting.  Also the new MP for Coogee is openly gay and there was a pretty high proportion of gays in the crowd including a few surrounding my former crush (who seems to have taken on the role of a fag hag) and one creepy guy who groped me a bit.
luckycanuck: (Default)
My fancy dress night last night consisted of me wearing my "My Name Is Inigo Montoya..." t-shirt and a sword I picked up late yesterday afternoon.  It was a good night and plenty of the nerds there were delighted and squeeful about my shirt.  The low point of the evening was when someone tried to steal my sword.  A mini wrestle followed and my sword snapped in two.  Fine, it was a $2 sword from a discount shop and I didn't really need it, but it still pissed me off and I had to go off on my own to cool down and avoid an aspie snap.

Today I knocked on some doors for the campaign.  Plenty of people home and plenty of positive receptions.  I do like doorknocking, at least in little bits.  It was a day off for me (Canberra Day, which is about the lamest name for a holiday, but who's complaining) but it was ok spending part of it pounding the pavement.  I've done very little on this campaign and I feel as though this counts as me being a part of things.

I'm on my old laptop, but I picked up a new one yesterday that I've not yet set up.  I wanted to get one before the end of the tax year and was able to find one with a great deal.  Under $500 and it has 4 times the memory of my current one.  It was about time.  But I always feel odd about buying new things when I already have versions of the same.  What do I do with the old one, when I also tend to get sentimental about objects from time to time.

YW: 100 chest contractions and 100 pushups mixed together.  Also a bunch of other stuff.

TW: Appetiser: 15-1 up and down dumbell shoulder presses and bicep curls.  Main course: 30 situps, farmer's walk 3 flights of stairs - 5 rounds.  Dessert: Row 10 calories, 10 pullups - 5 rounds sprinted.  Coffee: 10 heavy bag get ups.

Helga came home today and showed me all her shopping (except for the bras.)  She also decided to strike back against my "manification" of our DVD collection by bringing home "Eat. Pray. Love." which we are watching now.  And yet my manliness is undiminished.  I guess I just don't mind given the right company.  And as a return, she has expressed an interest in watching The Godfather.
luckycanuck: (Default)

The NSW state election is two weeks from today so I went to Jerrabomberra to help the local candidate at the local markets.  We had a good turn out (certainly better than the Labor incumbent) and a good reception.  One of my Labor friends from touch rugby was there at the stall next to ours.  One of my colleagues mentioned that he had been "a total prick" for the whole campaign which struck me as very odd.  I certainly disagree with him on plenty of things, but in my experience he has been a perfectly pleasant guy.  I'm pretty sure this colleague of mine viewed everything he did through a pair of "he's a total prick" coloured glasses.

"Can you believe he's standing there talking to voters and criticising our party?  What a prick!"

"Look at him just drinking a coffee without a care in the world.  Wanker!"

"Oh great!  Now he's breathing oxygen and metabolising food into energy.  The gall of that asshole!  Really!"

I've had about enough exposure to this mindset.

Afterwards I stopped by JB Hi-fi to have a look, and wound up spending $100.  I got the cheapest digital camera they had (which will still do everything I want) as the one I got in Canada got a cracked view screen within a week of me buying it (by which time I was back in Australia and couldn't do anything about it.  Yes, this is another reason I get cheap tech stuff.  The same thing could have happened to a mega expensive camera.)  I'll also claim it on my taxes as I need a camera for work.

I also decided that as the man of the house it was my duty to man up our DVD collection, so I got The Godfather Part II, 300, and Se7en.  That should counnterbalance some of the chick flicks on the shelves.  [ profile] bakerypenguin is coming over shortly to watch The Godfather, which somehow she has never seen.

YW: 21 burpees, 21 knees to elbows, run 400m, 15 burpees, 15 knees to elbows, run 400m, 9 burpees, 9 knees to elbows, run 400m.  Knees to elbows are tough, especially when you are doing a lot of them. Then some other stuff as "dessert."

TW: Burpees, clean and press 20kg left, clean and press 20kg right, 32kg kettlebell swings, 35kg SDHP, pullups, situps. 7 rounds of 7.  The 7*7*7 workouts are always tough, especially with the transitions.

Also there was some very nice eye candy at the gym today.  I actually told her so (in a non sleazy way) and she laughed in a comfortable way.
luckycanuck: (Mr Strong)

I've booked all my internal flights in North America and a schedule is coming together.  I will most likely visit San Francisco, Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, and Orlando.  It sounds like a lot, but I think it will suit my travelling style.  I'm now researching cool and interesting places to stay, one of which is likely to be a (former) prison.  [ profile] back_track has also filled me in with an insanely detailed listing of Baltimore's pub scene.  Also, I've been coming up with locations to do pushups.

YW: 15,14...1 80kg deadlifts and situps (pushups from 12 on because situps gave me an unpleasant twinge in the back.  It's still going away, but still also hanging around.)  Then 30,20,10 of tricep extensions and bicep curls.  It was good to deadlift again.  I haven't done it since December (well not more than a couple of reps worth) and I was happy feeling the resulting fatigue today.

I still get sore legs sometimes.  I'm fit enough to workout, but when getting up I sometimes feel soreness.  Also my left knee is a bit sore, but only when getting up and not when moving around or working.  I'm not worried.  I'm happy with calling it residual soreness from the 12 hour run that will go away on its own.

I think I might get compassion fatigue over the New Zealand earthquake too.  I think it's inevitable when it's over the media as much as this has been.  I've written a number of letters this week now that W is around and Parliament is sitting so I've not been so bored, but I'm still not enthused.  I did do some research which made its way into the public sphere, however, when I discovered that 61% of Labor MPs won their races on preferences from the Greens.  That was an interesting bit of work and I was happy to do it.
luckycanuck: (Default)
I had a weekend in Sydney that involved:

The Warrior Dash.  A full write up with pics will be up soon.  I made it through and am a bit fatigued today but it looks like I'm all better from the 12 hour run.  Which means I'm back to doing weights.  HOO-RAH!

Some very good waves at the beach.  It's not so much the size of the waves, but the shape.  If they break the right way (like yesterday) they are so easy to catch.

A final visit to my parents before they leave.  Mum made crepes, which she always does when I'm around.  She knows I like them, but she thinks I like them more than I actually do.  It's one of the things she likes doing for me so I'm happy to leave it at that.

Lunch and a nice chat with [ profile] minxyminou now that she's back.

The pleasant surprise that we now have season two of True Blood at home.

A wireless connection at home, though we haven't actually set it up properly yet.  I don't really know how to do these things.

This article which sums up one of my key frustration with politics, namely, that people have unreasonable expectations of politicians.  They are expected to know about everything, to have an opinion on everything, and to care about everything.  If they don't, or if they do something that a vocal minority finds offensive, they catch hell as people go ballistic.  The media has really aroused my ire this past week over their expectation that Tony Abbott had something to answer for in his "sh*t happens" remark (as if he was actually dismissing the death of a soldier while talking to survivors from that soldier's unit) and their criticism of Julia Gillard for expressing either too much or too little or too contrived levels of emotion over the recent natural disasters.  Both are non stories that underline the over inflated sense of entitlement that far too many people have regarding politicians.

As an aside, Mark Riley's wikipedia page has been vandalised and is currently closed.
luckycanuck: (Default)

Ok. First some stock news that probably won't interest most people.

VMG has been dropping recently with a lot more sellers than buyers.  I still think it's a good stock, and I suspect it may have bottomed out at around 33 cents now that buyers are moving in in numbers.  They are nearly as many buyers as sellers now and the buy side is really surging.  I got in again at 33 cents.

ASZ is also still good and I will stick with it, but I kind of wish I had bailed out around $1.50 now that it has fallen to around $1.15.  I could then have re-invested at the lower price.

AUT, however, is just going great guns and that is defraying losses over the past couple of weeks on stocks like ASZ, VMG, and PVE (which I might end up selling towards the end of the year just to realise a loss.)

I'm now just about fully invested again, having picked up more of VMG and a bit of KKT (which had dropped unreasonably in my view and seems to be doing reasonable business.)  In the time when I was unsure of where I would be living I was keen to have more cash on hand.

I have been quite dismayed by the reaction of some Wikileaks supporters to the rape charges currently being faced by Julian Assange.  Whatever your view on wikileaks (I tend to view it in more of a negative light) I suspect the people lining up to proclaim the women charging their hero with rape as liars or CIA stooges would never disparage or mock a rape victim if the alleged attacker was anyone else.  I don't know anything about the charges, so I am keeping quiet about them and I'm happy to allow Swedish justice to take it's course.  I wish Assange's supporters would refrain from shooting their mouths off when they have no more access to the facts than anyone else.

I've put together a spreadsheet showing how much rowing i have to do to complete my 200km challenge.  At the moment I am at nearly 65km and just yesterday I did over 11km.  I've taken to doing shorter sets of rowing mixed with other exercises which doesn't give me a sore ass like rowing for 30 minutes straight does.  I do have a bit of a sore right heel though for some reason.

Finally, I thought this article was quite good.
luckycanuck: (Default)
Good news:  A place will be showing on Monday that would be suitable.  Not too far from town, four bedrooms, and best of all, it's being handled by the same agent who handles our current house and is sympathetic to our plight and aware of our reliability as renters.  I think we would stand a very good chance at getting it, and I almost think they would be hard pressed not to give it to us.  It's even cheaper than our current place, though one of the girls is reluctant to live in a place with the decor that this place has.

Kind of daggy, sure, but I can live with it.  Decor is very low on my list of criteria.

I've got legs that are a bit sore from my running and rowing yesterday, but I will rest today and should be fine for the mud run tomorrow.

Australia will not be hosting the World Cup as some people hoped.  Most people have greeted the news with a shrug.  I'm not at all disappointed.  In fact, if we had won, I suspect soccer fans would spend the next twelve years being utterly insufferable.  A work colleague described soccer as being the sporting equivalent of the Greens.  Morally self righteous and assured of it's own importance, but only 10% of the populace can be roused to support it.

I'm perfectly happy having the cricket on, even though Australia somehow managed to lose two wickets (including a run out) in the first over.

The political nerd in me will now have a go.

Click for politics )
luckycanuck: (Default)
I met a staffer from the office of a moderate Republican Congresswoman and an assistant to a conservative Democrat Senator and we had a good look around the building, including the old Senate chamber where Senator Sumner was once nearly caned to death by his cousin while his cousin's friend held off the other Senators with a pistol.  What warranted such a reaction?  The good Senator made a speech advocating the abolition of slavery.  And people say politics is uncivil now!

We went to the Australian Embassy and had a meeting that amounted to very little.  We have one day of the program left, and I suspect little of any great significance will happen tomorrow.  (Though we may be meeting with a Tea Party group which would be interesting.)  It's been a busy time and I am quite tired on account of being so scheduled.  I would rest over the next few days, but tomorrow after the program finishes I am off to New York.

I've done a fair amount of research and I am really looking forward to it as New York is the first place I really wanted to travel to when I first became interested in travelling.  I probably won't get to post again while I'm there, but I suspect there will be stories to tell when I arrive in Calgary.

Also, it rained, so after our program finished today and I still had time left, I did pushups in the rain.  I can't seem to get the onto LJ though.
luckycanuck: (Default)

The election campaign talked a lot about the rise of the Tea Party.  There can be little doubt that they spoke to a seam of opinion and they did have an impact, but backing from this populist movement wasn't enough to mean victory for sub standard candidates.  Christine O'Donnell and Sharon Angle both lost in races that possibly could have been won by other Republicans.  Nearly every Republican I spoke to last night said they were pleased that their party lost both races.  They seemed to think that some candidates would be a lot of trouble to deal with, and they are probably right.  This may have been a case of Washington types (I hate using the term insider as a crass and populist pejorative) being dismissive of the grass roots of the party.  Certainly people were dissatisfied with the prevailing political culture and this had an impact.  That's not a bad thing.  It may even prove to be positive.  But it's not enough to speak platitudes about taking on the establishment.  You've got to be a substantial figure and you've got to have coherent ideas.

At any rate, it looks like there will be a lot of new jobs for the Republicans I met yesterday, and they will all be clamouring to be on the staff of the Class of '10.

I was pretty tired for most of today, but managed to keep conscious through the day's meeting with the State Department and a political corruption watchdog group.  I even managed to make it to see the Washington Capitals play (ice hockey, or hockey as they call it on the continent of my birth) along with.

I also managed to continue doing pushups across America.


Cut for pushup pics )
luckycanuck: (Default)

Today was mostly spent with Democrats.  We visited the local party headquarters and a lot of things were the same as in Australia.  Plenty of mess and plenty of half eaten snacks lying around.  They did have a lot of organisational tools that are a lot more sophisticated than what we have though.  They are able to take all the political information they have on voters and run that right into a map that prints off, ready to be doorknocked or called and then easily be fed back into the program.  Without registration information like they have here, I am stuck working with demographics and can't go house to house as precisely as they can.  But I did leave my card with a couple people who may have some ideas to exchange.

We had some time off in the middle of the day so I went to the hotel gym and managed an improvised workout.

TW: 10 heavy shoulder press, 10 heavy dumbell chest press on a stability ball, 10 heavy bicep curls - 10 rounds.  50 clean and press done from the knees rather than standing which meant no using the legs.  3 laps of pushup lake - 22:43

Complimentary hotel drinks were had before dinner, which was tapas and sangria based.  Then we went off to an election eve Democrat rally.  We had tickets to the VIP area on account of being Members of the Australian Parliament (we chose not to correct them.)

We all went.  Whether or not we agreed with everything that was said at each rally and each event, we all went and applauded at appropriate times.  One of my Labor friends was in the front row of a Republican rally and had to applaud along with the candidate's promise to wind back "Obamacare" which I am pretty sure he didn't agree with.

All the local and statewide candidates spoke and I got to hear the eccentric and vitriolic local Congressman who is very good at speaking to the rusted on Democrat faithful (which is more important here than in Australia) but who I suspect will still probably lose.  He was entertaining if nothing else.

The highlight was seeing former President Bill Clinton come out to support the party candidates for Senator and Governor.  He is a very impressive speaker.  He had a strong "get out the vote" message for the crowd and amused them all with his criticism of the tea party, claiming that he should be their poster boy.

After he spoke he came down and with his security detail close by (with some in the crowd including two right behind me just before he got to my area.)  He shook a few hands, including that of George McGovern, who ran for President unsuccessfully in 1972.

It was great to have McGovern there at the age of 88.  Whether or not I ever would have voted for the guy, I was impressed that he was still coming out to events.  I got his autograph.

I was close enough to Bill to shake his hand and say "Good to meet you Mr President."  There were plenty of jokes along the lines of "but you don't know where that hand has been" as we walked back to the hotel.

Unfortunately, the vigilance of the Secret Service prevented me from even attempting to do any pushups.
luckycanuck: (Default)

We had a rally for Rick Scott (Republican candidate for Governor of Florida) yesterday, complete with Dunkin Donuts and boxes (yes, you read that right, BOXES) of coffee.

That's possibly soon to be Governor Scott and just behind him, former Governor Jeb Bush.

One of my colleagues did a bit of a write up about the races in Florida but I won't go into great depth here.  It's kind of odd being at one of these rallies.  They are totally focussed on getting out the vote, asking those who haven't yet voted to raise their hands and calling on them to vote today and therefore be available to work on election day.  There is also very little effort made to appeal to swinging voters.  (At one point they introduced the candidate for Attorney General and described her as being "a prosecutor who knows all about putting people in jail.  She's even put people on death row!")  It is overwhelmingly aimed at the base.  The same was true at the Democrat rally attended by my Labor/Green friends I heard later on.

At any rate, apparently the Republicans are doing a lot better on advance voting compared to previous elections, and turnout seems to be favouring them.  Tuesday we will know.  In the meantime I did speak to a number of people I may be meeting again during my visit to Washington, and who have plenty of expertise in areas of campaigning that are of interest to me.

We returned to the hotel and had some time off before heading out to the local football game between the University of Central Florida Knights and the Eastern Carolina University Pirates, and we got ourselves properly outfitted.

Yes, the best souvenirs are obscure.  I chose the number because it had the closest to my number in rugby without being absurdly too big.

Every time they were defending a third down there was a disturbing quasi fascist gesture using three fingers, which looks fine when one person does it but which looks kind of disturbing when 10,000 do it.

And while we are on the subject, the turnout surprised me.  I knew football was a big deal, but there were more people at a game between two universities I had never heard of three weeks ago than there would be at a regular NRL game.

There was a bit of upskirt action amongst the cheerleaders.


And the game ended in a satisfying 49-35 victory for the home team.  I still prefer rugby though.

We got back to the hotel and quickly turned around and went back out for dinner on a Saturday night.  That's when the aspie stress began.  First we were about to go to a place we had been to on our first night in Orlando.  Then we decided against that and went elsewhere (which was fine by me.)  At dinner, however, they got my order wrong twice by making it rare instead of medium rare and by not giving it to me in the same style as one of my colleagues after I said "I'll have exactly the same but make mine medium rare."  I ate it and it was fine, but I was silently seething.  Also they only had bottles of mass produced beer (I've not come all this way to have Bud or Miller or Coors) so I drank nothing.  Then when the bill came we looked at it and everyone decided to just split it equally rather than work it out individually.  Normally that's fine by me except that would have resulted in me who had a simple meal and no drinks at all tipping nearly 200%.  I couldn't contain my annoyance any further and refused to pay what everyone else did.  I wasn't snippy and nobody took any offense.

Eventually I calmed down and found that there was one interesting beer available in the street that had been blocked off for a Halloween  party.  The first thing I noticed was that Americans take Halloween VERY seriously.  These were not just improvised costumes put together at the last minute (of course, we had nothing at all in the way of costumes, though my "Your favourite band sucks" t-shirt was photographed by a few people) but they were carefully put together or had been professionally made.

I wound up becoming Facebook friends with two girls called Molly whom I met in a crowded street scene in Orlando.  Hooray!
luckycanuck: (Default)

I had lots of meetings today, including a rally with the guy who will almost certainly be the next Senator from Florida.

I also got photos of various political types with Australian political gear I brought.

The University of Central Florida College Democrats with a Nationals sticker.

The Republican candidate for Florida Agriculture Commissioner actually wearing a Nationals cap I brought.  I assured him that we weren't a communist party.

After a full day of meetings a group of us had dinner with a local couple, which meant getting behind the wheel of a 1965 Mustang.


Tomorrow I'm off to another rally featuring the former Governor and the current candidate for Governor, and then a University football game.
luckycanuck: (Mr Strong)

Breakfast today gave me the opportunity to try biscuits and gravy, which I will not be trying again.  I had a big breakfast, which I justifed by the fact that I had a solid workout (10 pullups, 10 chest contractions - 10 rounds and 50 shoulder press and 50 clean and press) followed by a run and some more snaps for pushups across America.

We met with another local environmental group and some students at a local law school who had done research into all the state wide propositions.  I am getting kind of tired of hearing about ballot propositions, and I think they are a bad idea as do all of the other Australian's I've spoken to.  Anything that can get enough signatures can become a yes or no question on the ballot no matter how complex or pandering it is.  I believe most of these things are better dealt with through the normal legislative process.  That is why we elect legislators in the first place.

We also met with a local union leader and talked about what his organisation does.  It was very interesting, and probably the least formal and most hands on meeting we have had so far.  He gave us all union t-shirts, which I will give to one of my Labor friends back in Australia.

The tour with the guys from the Speaker's office didn't happen on account of sudden developments, but we all went to the State Capitol anyway.  It was quite interesting to hear that the members all sit mixed up together rather than separated by party.  "Crossing the aisle" is just a euphemism here.

We also got some photos outside of the Governor's office.  I didn't get to meet Schwarzenegger, but I did the best I could do.

The uniformed state policeman outside the door was duly impressed, and gave me one of the Governor's business cards.  Nobody else in our group got one.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Afterwards I continued my endearing wierdness by going for a swim... in Sacramento... in October.

I chose not to have dinner with the others tonight.  I have to have time away from them.  So I went to a nice brew pub instead.  I grew up hearing about how awful American beer is, and while a lot of the mass market stuff is pretty bad, there is a lot of diversity.  More so than in Australia.  Also, wings were had as I watched the first game of the World Series.  (And the barman bought me a beer on account of the wings taking longer to come out than expected.)

I dozed off before heading back to the gym for another workout, as I won't be able to do so tomorrow when we will spend most of the day travelling to Orlando via Nashville.

TW: AMRAP 20 minutes - 10 shoulder press, 10 chest press, 10 pulldowns, 10 leg curls, 10 leg presses, 10 sit ups, 10 jump ropes. 10 rounds and shoulder and chest press.  I could only manage using all the machines when it was around midnight and nobody else was around.  Hooray!
luckycanuck: (Default)

We checked out of the San Francisco hotel after I slept in until 8:38 and missed my planned morning workout.  I did however get a photo of this view from my room looking up the hill.

We had one meeting with an environmental lobby group that does a lot of microtargeting much like the work I do with demographics but with more data.  I'm interested to hear more.  I also found out that they are forbidden from co-ordinating directly with campaigns.  It still looks like the vast majority of campaigning is done by professionals rather than lobby groups or staff.

After that meeting we were done the organised schedule for the day.  So on the way to Sacramento we stopped off at a winery for lunch.

Click to see pics of drinking... and cheese. )

In the process of lunching and wine tasting, I did speak to a number of local California voters.  In fact, the second winery was only visited on account of a recommendation from a woman at the first winery with whom I struck up a conversation.  There were plenty of opinions to be had about how Jerry Brown ruined the state and how Meg Whitman just wants to be the first female President.

We arrived in Sacramento and there was enough time for a workout dinner.

TW: A warmup including plenty of exercises from upside down hang turns and pushup pulls.  Then 10 tricep extensions, 10 dynamic pushups, 10 situps - 10 rounds.

We had dinner together (the town seemed very quiet and not much was open compared to San Francisco) and on the way back four of us stopped by another bar for a drink where a live band called "Be Bold Brave Robot" was playing in an acoustic country style.  It wound up being much more interesting.  I wound up striking up another random conversation (I do tend to be very good at doing that sometimes, mostly on account of not having enough sense to be shy) with two guy who work in the office of the Speaker of the California Assembly.  We talked about comparative politics for a while before they asked if we would like a tour of the building tomorrow.  Uhhhhh... YES!  Hooray for random conversations!

luckycanuck: (Default)

Today we visited the organisers of our tour, the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, (where I decided that there is no reason to change the way Australians vote after finding out a bit more about the ramshackle system whereby one Congressional District can have as many voting systems as it has counties within it's boundaries) the Editorial Board of the Oakland Tribune, and the office of 77 year old Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has over seven times as many staff as W has (but then again, she represents a state with 37 million people) but viturally none of whom can do anything political.  The political work here seems to be done largely by professional political campaigners.  I seem to have a lot of questions I didn't know I had.

Afterwards I managed to withdraw some cash from the card they gave me, and found my way into Macy's, where I bought two pairs of jeans that were identical except for the colour.  America seems to have more jeans made for people who don't have bodies normally found on the singers of emo bands.  And they were cheap, and I got an additional 10% off using a card from the hotel... because I'm a bit cheap too.

Afterwards I avoided dinner with the others who went to Fisherman's Wharf (I went in 2008) and felt I would rather have my last night in San Francisco on my own.  Instead, I went to Zeitgeist to finish my tour of minxyminou suggestions.  It was interesting and I switched to a much better beer (Downtown Brown, a micorbrewery beer of which there seem to be many) but there was more of an insufferable hipster mood.  Change for my $4.50 beer from a $10 bill was given as five singles rather than a five, so I could easily tip the usual amount.  It's much easier when they make it simple to tip.  Afterwards there was dinner at a Mexican place that I spotted in 2008 but didn't eat at.  There was a long queue and a lot of good food to be had.  I've had more Mexican food here in three days than in the previous five years combined.

Pictures now.

Cut for space. )


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June 2012

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