30 August 2010

"Directions" Pt. 2

Way back in the olden days, and I'm talking 2004 here, I graduated high school and was chosen to give one of three student speeches at commencement. No, I wasn't valedictorian or salutatorian; my speech was just a class representative student speech. I had to interview for it, give it in front of a panel of teachers and the principal, and make revisions before mine was chosen out of a pool of applicant candidates.

That year, I was the "vice-president" to my good friend Scott of the "Skyline High School Literary Arts Club," and we produced a student literary magazine filled with short stories, art, poetry, and such. I wrote a poem and the magazine's foreward, a piece I entitled "Directions." My speech was modeled directly after that foreward:
Life is like a cyclone - ideas, concepts, trials (and errors), and a whole lot of luck - thrown into a swirling vortex of people and places that are ever-changing. At times, it seems as though I get so turned around by the winds of change and the sands of time that I don't realize what direction I am traveling afterwards.

Ah, directions. Mind you, all of them are grand - North, South, East, and West; even combinations of the four. However, the best sort of places to go are those without names. Directions that are based on a value system of decisions that allow you to choose the sidewalk you get to walk on. Our teachers, our parents, our friends, and our other, higher powers all help to place us on the right path, keep us from hitting the cars should we fall off the curb, and keep our moral compasses handy....

For the class of 2004, many of us will be moving in vastly different directions - from college to the armed services to stright into the workforce. For virtually all of us, our parents will be gone, our friends spread North, South, East, and West, and our teachers (who knew us all by name) will be a lonely summer's time back in the opposite direction.

This... is dedicated to all those who have helped to guide us through more than seventeen years, twelve grades, heartbreaks, arguments, good times and bad, our strays from the moral path of life, and our towering achievements.
Today, I am take pride in a new direction I have chosen to pursue for my life. I sent off my application to graduate school at the University of Arizona's School of Information Resources and Library Science, where I intend (upon my admission) to pursue my Master's degree as an Information Professional for eventual work as a research analyst.

Lately I realized that my "moral compass" was spinning without finding true North, due to my lack of success in job-hunting, my guilt for being a burden to my parents, and my other indiscretions. I re-read this foreward and speech and realized I had been traveling in the wrong direction for my life. I was afraid of racking up more debt by going back to school, even though I knew I needed to in order to obtain my goals.

Thus, about a month ago I made a decision that I am not only excited about, but proud of, and I began to put together my grad school application: transcripts, financial aid documents, resume, residency forms, immunization records, letters of recommendation from my NAU RHD when I was an RA and from my teacher colleague at one of the schools I sub for, and most importantly my statement of introduction. (And I would be a huge jerk if I didn't mention that Scott, Ryan, and my parents helped me proof it and improve it immensely!)

That package of documents - the sum total of my life's work to this point - got sent off this morning and should make it to U of A by tomorrow noon (thanks to Express Mail!) just under the application deadline!

Two quotes I like on directions:
What comes first, the compass or the clock? Before one can truly manage time (the clock), it is important to know where you are going, what your priorities and goals are, in which direction you are headed (the compass). Where you are headed is more important than how fast you are going. Rather than always focusing on what's urgent, learn to focus on what is really important. - Anonymous
May we be fearless... from friends and enemies...from known and unknown ... from night and day...May all the directions be our allies. - Atharva Veda

26 August 2010

Poll Working

I mentioned in my last post that I had been a poll worker for the election on Tuesday, and I gave a short summary of how that went. So for this post, I thought I'd explore the topic a bit more in-depth.

The tale begins over two months ago.... I signed up online at the elections poll worker signup website to work at the polls. My information was to be forwarded to recruiters who would call people in each precinct to find enough workers. Well, I waited.... And I waited.... And I continued to wait until I got bored with waiting. I re-entered my information on the website, called the Maricopa County Recorder's Office and spoke with someone there, and finally got fed up with not being given the courtesy of a phone call. So I wrote Secretary of State Ken Bennett an email, which I am sure someone on his staff read. It went much like this: "Dear Mr. Secretary: My name is Andrew M. and I have helped out on your campaigns in the past and met you a few times at various events. I doubt you remember me. I am looking to become a poll worker for this primary election and have as-yet not been called by any of these recruiters for the positions. Can your office please forward my information to whomever needs it to get this process rolling?"

And the next day, I got an email and a phone call from recruiters. Ta-da!

25 August 2010

Primary Election Results

In case you missed it: the Arizona primary election was held yesterday, and voters had to decide on many worthy candidates (and a few dopes) to represent the different parties in the November general election. In my humble opinion, the primary election is more important than the general election because it gives the public the chance to cast ballots for those people who really represent their interests, rather than just voting for the Republican because they don't like the Democrat or vice-versa as in the general election. Looking at a GOP or Democratic primary closely and digesting the numbers can really provide a slice of how that party in that area thinks.

I was working the polls in my precinct all day yesterday, so I didn't get a chance to see any results until very late last night and this morning. Here is a rundown of each of the races as they will appear in November:

11 August 2010


Recently, I've done a succession of long-winded posts on politics and the upcoming election, and while that topic is most definitely an inportant one for the future of Arizona, there is something equally as important (to me) going on: baseball. We're only about 2 weeks away now from the first of the statistical "eliminations" of teams from potentially making it to the playoff races this October, and I wanted to break down where things stand.

First, a little terminology refresher: every year baseball statisticians calculate something known as the "elimination number" for every team. This is the number of wins for the first-place team in the division plus the number of losses for the team in question needed to mathematically eliminate them from the possibility of winning a division spot or wild card spot in the playoffs.

09 August 2010

My Candidate Endorsements

As a voter in Arizona congressional district 6 and legislative district 19, as a common-sense person and conservative, and as a politically-minded individual, I do my best every two years to thoroughly analyze and digest statements from the many, many candidates that I have a choice over which to vote. And don't get me wrong, there are LOTS of candidates. In some ways that is what makes the primary elections process more important to the understanding of the mindset of the common voter than anything else or in the general election. People are free to cast ballots for those who best support them, even if that candidate has little chance of making it to the November ballot.

In making my choices, I look for a few key factors: first, an incumbent's voting record. It's all well-and-good to talk a big game in front of a town hall meeting or on one's website, but if an incumbent has voted on key bills in a manner inconsistent with my values and wishes as a constituent, it might just be time for a change. Second, candidate stances on issues. Candidates make a lot of statements during the course of a campaign, and while it's nice to say that one is a "principled conservative," sometimes the facts in their past don't point to that. I try to read as much as possible about any given candidate and how they have responded to questions about their views on a variety of issues. Finally, face-to-face interaction, if possible. I like to get out to actual events and speak to the candidates directly. If I have major questions, I ask them, and if I don't, I try to get a feel for the person behind the yard sign. Some people are phony, and they come off that way in person, even if they look genuine on paper.

With all that being said, I feel qualified in my assessments of the candidates to endorse the following candidates for public office in the 2010 Republican primary election:

04 August 2010

Congressional Races in Arizona

Currently, the State of Arizona has a makeup of two Republican senators and 3 Republican/5 Democratic House members. This post will analyze each of the nine federal races in Arizona through both the primaries and general election:

Arizona CD-1
Incumbent: Ann Kirkpatrick (D)
Challengers: Bradley Beauchamp (R), Rusty Bowers (R), Paul Gosar (R), Sydney Hay (R), Joe Jaraczewski (R), Jon Jensen (R), Steve Mehta (R), Thomas Zaleski (R)
Analysis: Obviously as you can see above, this race is being tightly contested by the Republicans, and there is a likelihood that they could win in November to incumbent Kirkpatrick who will be the Democratic nominee, considering she's running unopposed. Arizona's first district has typically trended Republican over the past several elections. The wave of anti-Republican sentiment in 2008 hit the first district hard - exascerbated by an investigation (and ultimately, indictment) of then-Congressman Rick Renzi. Kirkpatrick won by 50,000 votes or so in 2008, but there is no reason to think that voters wouldn't vote Republican again in the district. Of the GOP primary challengers, Sydney Hay has name recognition from her campaign in '08, in which she lost to Kirkpatrick, and former AZ Senate Majority Leader Bowers, attorney and teacher Beauchamp, and dentist Gosar have been campaigning hard for the seat. In my opinion, Rusty Bowers may have the best shot at defeating Kirkpatrick in the general, but it's likely to be Hay or Beauchamp to win the primary.

Read More: CD-2

02 August 2010

Candidate Reviews

A while back, I promised to give reviews on the candidates vying for this year's primary elections. Well, sadly, I never got to that, but I feel compelled to provide a rundown of the various races and top-tier candidates here.

Janice K. "Jan" Brewer (Republican) - Brewer is the current Governor of the State of Arizona and has been since 2008 when former Governor Janet Napolitano was appointed to head the US Dept. of Homeland Security. Since taking office, she has attempted to fend off a huge statewide financial crisis with a temporary 1% sales tax increase, signed controversial SB 1070 into law and is currently fending off a federal government lawsuit against it. However, her promises to create jobs in the state and to reduce state spending have faltered. Still, despite the controversy around the country (and world) over immigration, she is likely to win re-election in November.
Dean Martin (Republican) - Current Treasurer of the State of Arizona, has "indefinitely suspended" his campaign but will remain on the ballot.
Buz Mills (Republican) - Entrepreneur, has also suspended his campaign but will remain on the ballot.
Terry Goddard (Democrat) - Current Attorney General of Arizona who is term limited at the end of this year. His office during the past year "recovered or seized more than $267 million," from lawsuits. His campaign website regards job creation as "Job One" for the new governor.
Other candidates: Ronald Cavanaugh (LIB), Larry Gist (GRN), Barry Hess (LIB), Matthew Jette (REP), Bruce Olsen (LIB), Alvin Yount (LIB)

Read more after the jump: