hr_macgirl: (sad ipod)
I voted early (love Massachusetts), which meant I didn't have to queue to vote on election day. There was a wait to vote early, but only a few minutes. Overall I loved it.

When I went to bed last night, the first election results had just started coming in. Each presidential candidate had won their expected states. I kept waking up and falling back to sleep all night and checking my phone each time. When the news came through that Trump had won, I almost couldn't believe it.

90% of Cambridge voters chose Clinton. How can Cambridge be that out of step with the rest of the country? It's because Cambridge is prosperous and thriving, unlike many of the parts of the country where Trump succeeded, where people feel discontented.

I don't want to think about what the next four years will bring. Even two years (until the mid term elections) seems a long way off. How much damage can Trump do in two years? He's got a blank check, the Republicans kept the House and Senate. Ruth Bader Ginsburg better live forever.
hr_macgirl: (tuppence)
I just took the 2016 Presidential election quiz and found that I side the most with Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. Who do you side with?

Here are my results... ISideWith.

I wish they did one for the UK election. At least with Boris out of the picture I wouldn't have to worry about scoring 10% with him(!).
hr_macgirl: (tuppence)
Thursday to Friday )

Saturday )

I haven't watched the news on Saturday. This is deliberate. Reading the papers is bad enough.

I have to rest now. Television, reading, nap, repeat.
hr_macgirl: (created via imagestation)
Friday: out of work early, had a snooze, quiet evening.

Saturday: swim at 7, library, then over to Newbury Street to do a bit of shopping. Round through Beacon Hill, then MBTA back to Cambridge. Another nap.

Sunday: swim at 9, went to work for a bit, lunch out (is it lunch when it's an egg sandwich?), nice walk, stopped at Target, home. Third nap!

Monday: Swim in the morning. Later, I was on Memorial Drive watching the streams of people leave Boston.

Still reading Ben Aaronovitch's books. Also picked up the latest in the Maisie Dobbs series from Jacqueline Winspear from the library, along with Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky. The last Winspear book was depressing so I haven't started it yet. The Tomsky book, on the other hand, was a riot.
hr_macgirl: (tuppence)
I was watching the BBC News on Monday at breakfast time (while fighting several problems at work). Aside: my breakfast (8:00 a.m.) coincides with the 13:00 (1:00 p.m.) BBC News (aka BBC News at One).

The pips sounded, Sian Williams, the presenter, came on the screen dressed in a very muted fashion. Before I knew it, she had said the words "it's just been announced that Baroness Thatcher has died this morning".

I cannot overstate how much Margaret Thatcher affected my life. Perhaps it's more accurate to say that England in the 1970s affected my life, and Margaret Thatcher's election victory in 1979 could well have changed that (aside, she took over from Jimmy Callaghan; I wrote about his death previously).

Britain in the 1970s was a tough place to live. Rapid inflation, record unemployment, and the unions (seemingly) running the country. My Dad told stories of how the news at the time would give equal coverage to politicians and to Arthur Scargill, a union rabble rouser.

(Aside: I'm not saying unions don't have their place, they certainly can, but they are often just as corrupt as management with their own agendas. Even the theoretically pure Scargill was later found to be living in accomodation paid for by the union, without the knowledge of their members. So much for socialism!)

Margaret Thatcher faced the unions down and forced Britain to reform. She drew the line in the sand with the European Union ("I want my money back", she said, and negotiated a rebate where a portion of the money Britain paid to Brussels came back, rather than going into the pockets of French farmers thanks to the Common Agricultural Policy). She savvily steered Britain through the Falklands conflict (although claiming victory over a bunch of pint sized despots wasn't difficult, even though the despots knew the Brits were coming!).

At the same time she massively conducted a massive campaign of privatisation (note spelling), selling off the previously nationalised industries including British Aerospace, British Airways, British Gas, British Rail, and most sadly of all, British Coal.

Did the British energy have to change? Hell yes. It was well overdue (not to mention the men who died of coal related conditions, including my great grandfather). But the way she closed mines and destroyed communities was absolutely terrible. There are people today who live in towns and villages that have not recovered. Her government made little effort to regenerate those areas that formerly relied on coal for their livelihood.

I've had a few people say to me that they are so sorry to hear Thatcher died. These Americans have absolutely no idea who she was. All they know is she was a friend of Reagan. The truth is much more complicated (but they don't have time for complicated).

I won't watch her funeral (unless it happens to conflict with my usual BBC viewing). I am sad she's died, but her economic legacy should be closely examined before judging her premiership.
hr_macgirl: (tuppence)
The weathermen are forecasting a snowpocalypse in a few days. It's so tiresome! Much will depend on whether the temperature on Friday is above or below freezing. We might get 12-24"

In truth all I care about is whether I can swim on Saturday. I'm hoping the predicted precipitation is over-hyped. Swim, Library, Pie Shop, home. That's all I need to do!
hr_macgirl: (tuppence)
I didn't watch the debate on Monday night (and it sounds like I didn't miss much, not even any good lines a la Romney's binders full of women).

This morning on my way to swimming I heard a song on my way to the pool that I thought summed up the situation perfectly. It never ceases to amaze me how few people actually get out and vote, even in a US presidential election. There is no doubt in my mind that the situation is broken. Whether I vote in Massachusetts or not is practically irrelevant, there's no way this state is going to vote for anyone but Obama (just like Wyoming will only vote for Romney). It leads the candidates to focus on just a few "swing states", motivating people with attack ads. That isn't democracy.

I want my vote to count, to mean something, but in reality, it means less than people who vote in Ohio or Colorado. I can understand why people feel apathetic.

cut for lyrics )
hr_macgirl: (LUL roundel)
I did this quiz in 2005 (have I really been blogging on LJ for that long??).

2010 results:

Take the Who Should You Vote For? England quiz

Liberal Democrat34
UK Independence-11

Your recommendation: Liberal Democrat

Click here for more details about these results

Thank goodness the BNP doesn't rate on quizzes like this. Not sure how I could give them a lower score ("BNP: -443").

hr_macgirl: (Ski)

Number of naps: 4 (1 Friday, 1 Saturday, 2 Sunday)
Meters swam: 8000 (half Saturday, half Sunday)
Temperature in the water on Saturday: 75F (normal temp is 80F, so 75F is very cold!)
Visits to the Z Center: 3, 2 to swim, 1 to coach
Loads of laundry done: 4 (last one in dryer now)
Episodes of Inspector Morse watched: 3 (including the one I'm watching now)
Kids at today's social event: 6
Adults at today's social event: 9
Time spent at social event: 2.5 hours
Minutes spent at pie shop: 30. I arrived to find they had sold my pie to someone else(!) but they sent a staff member over to the main location to pick up another one for me. I was able to kill another 10 minutes by walking to & from the library.
Books collected from library: 4. I still have another 10 on "freeze".
Meals cooked in: 1 breakfast (egg, cheese, English muffin), 1 dinner (pasta, chicken, veggies). That doesn't count other breakfasts eg oatmeal or anything reheated.
Inches of snow we got: about 6
Amount of shovelling I did: NONE
Podcasts listened to: lost count, but they included From Our Own Correspondent, Woman's Hour, Kermode/Mayo (last one before Mayo moves to Radio 2), BBC World Service documentaries, BBC Radio 4 More or Less, BBC radio 4 Excess Baggage, BBC Politics UK, and more...
Songs on primary music playlist: 196, a new low(!)
Days before I see the nephew: 4!!

Posted via

hr_macgirl: (created via imagestation)
Every Sunday morning I read three newspapers online: The Boston Globe, The New York Times, and The Observer, the last of which is a UK publication that only comes out on Sundays (its sister paper, The Guardian is published Monday through Saturday).

I found myself pondering these three institutions today as I was able to finish reading the Globe in a mere ten minutes (thanks to a lack of my favourite section, City Weekly, and a missing or mis-coded Magazine section which pointed to last week's content). The Times took a little longer, but not much. I have nearly no interest in the Times' local coverage, unless it relates to one of the specialized sections I tend to read (e.g. Health, Education).

The Observer, on the other hand, sucked me in completely. Not only do they have meaty sections (including a rotating special; this week is Observer Woman, other weeks there's Observer Food), but they ran a thoroughly engrossing section called "Secret Britain" pointing out areas of Britain that the reader probably never heard about, including "Where to see Shipwrecks" (and not just the naval kind, but industrial ships too), a runway-turned-playground, Industrial Sites (lost railways, canals, etc), Urban Gardens, and others. I was mesmerized and read through just about every article.

In these days of dying newspapers (at least in print), it's nice to know that there are some publications out there that still can provide relevant and timely content that interests their readers without sacrificing sections (e.g. the aforementioned Globe City Weekly) all for "cost cutting".
hr_macgirl: (created via imagestation)
Today is the last Sunday before the clocks change. At 0630, the sky is still almost pitch black (admittedly, the rainclouds add to the general darkness). I've been commuting to work in the dark now for several weeks. All that will change next weekend, where I will get a brief respite from headlights and poor lighting.

Thankfully, the Vassar Street reconstruction has improved the lighting situation along that formerly depressing road. While there aren't any workers out before 0600, the lighting is much improved. Now if only they will finish paving the sidewalk on the south (Briggs Field) side of the road.
hr_macgirl: (tuppence)
Daniel Henninger wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal titled Is John McCain Stupid? This, from a guy who is generally acknowledged as a conservative (Henninger, that is, I won't try and label McCain's viewpoints).

Henninger details McCain's contradictory statements on payroll taxes, and goes on to say that those statements could indicate that McCain isn't smart enough and does not understand the issues.

At this rate, Obama doesn't have to do anything to win, he just has to not screw up as much as McCain.
hr_macgirl: (tuppence)
Ireland voted down the Treaty of Lisbon in a referendum today. This is the best news I've heard all week! Lisbon was really just the European constitution "repackaged" to not require most countries to hold referenda. Instead, most countries hope to push the treaty through national parliaments and avoid taking it to the people.

Constitutional referenda failed in France and the Netherlands, which required the "magicians" in Brussels to come up with this "repackaged" treaty. Don't call it a constitution, it's really just another treaty! Except the content is 90% the same...

53.4% of Irish voting said No to Lisbon. It would have reduced the amount of power that Ireland had in negotiating inside the EU. And this from the country that was practically built by European subsidies (and Irish tax cuts).

Ireland is required to hold a referendum on any EU treaty under Irish law. No other countries have the same requirement. Many European countries (from Latvia to Portugal, Romania to Finland) have already approved the treaty in their local parliaments. The UK is (unsurprisingly) wary of approving anything that would give more power to the EU bureaucracy in Brussels.

YouTube video behind cut tag )
hr_macgirl: (tuppence)
The US government has announced that they plan to (effectively) hose the visa waiver pilot programme.

After August of '09, citizens of countries that are not considered high risk of overstaying illegally will have to register online three days before they visit the US. The registration will last for two years; nothing is said about how long the US government will keep the information (forever, I'm sure!!).

Information required: passport number, country of residence, involvement with terror activities. Oh, that's right. If I'm the next Osama bin Laden, I plan to include those details on an application for entry to the US.

This country is too xenophobic for words (and this from me, someone who is anti-Schengen!).

Let's hope that the next congress puts a stop to this insane policy.
hr_macgirl: (LUL roundel)
BoJo beat Red Ken in the London mayoral election. I'm shocked and depressed. He will likely roll back much of the good that Ken did regarding bus improvements and Ken-gestion charging.
hr_macgirl: (created via imagestation)
The casualty count includes:
  • SkyBus. This Ryanair clone couldn't make the Ryanair model work in the US (at least at current fuel prices)
  • Aloha. This is the fault of Mesa Airlines and their predatory pricing in a market (Hawaii) that is saturated
  • ATA, lost its military charter and had to shut down
  • Maxjet. LCC (Low Cost Carrier) between the UK and US
  • Oasis Hong Kong. LCC between Hong Kong and London (Gatwick) and Vancouver. Some seats between LGW and HKG went for as low as ₤65!

    I also wouldn't touch Alitalia with a pole; their finances are in bad shape, labor is restless, and the Italian government has no spine to force real change. A potential government change (including the return of Silvio Berlusconi) could make it worse.

    Be careful who you book your travel on. Stay away from the fringes. And remember the adage: if it sounds like it's too good to be true, it probably is.
  • hr_macgirl: (created via imagestation)
    I've been diligently doing my hip stretch exercises and prescribed by my physical therapist. She's given me two stretches and three strengtheners. Her intent is to stop my "hypermobile" pelvis from overcompensating for my relatively weak abs and leg muscles. Oh boy!

    I went out earlier and got $*. Unlike last week when I arrived at about 0910, I got there at 0905 and somehow managed to miss the rush. Literally, my drink was ready in about 3 minutes, but just after I sat down, there was a queue of ten people (I was in a similar-sized queue last Saturday).

    Currently I'm at home as the rain starts. The weather forecasters have promised precipitation of Noah's Ark proportions (or close to it). I have no plans to go out for the rest of the day. My main goal is to sort newspapers (and use the brand new recycling bin delivered from the city) and tidy up a bit. Later, I'll do another set of hip exercises.

    No surprise that the idiot vetoed the bill banning water boarding. Why don't we water board him and Cheney and see how they like it? For that matter, I'd be content if they had to stand in the middle of the road in Cambridge during this rainstorm. Between the rain, the traffic, and the general opinion of them by the locals, I bet they'd wish they were drowning instead.
    hr_macgirl: (Ski)
    I didn't need to fret about deciding who to vote for this past Tuesday, I could have taken a quiz instead.

    cut for results )

    2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz
    hr_macgirl: (tuppence)
    Haven't voted yet, plan to vote after work and after dinner.

    According to wikipedia, Massachusetts has a population of 6,449,755, and 4 million registered voters. A story on the radio this morning said there was an expected turnout of 1.2 million for today's primary election. Is 40% of the registered voting population something to be happy about? What about the other segments of the population?

    I am annoyed with the apathetic who don't take the time to do their civil duty. For eleven years I couldn't vote, as I wasn't a citizen. I've made it clear to my staff that they have to either leave early or arrive late if that's what it takes to vote. No excuses.
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