25 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, 2010!

Just a quick post on Thanksgiving Day... I am very thankful for:

- My family (who have helped me out so much the past two-plus years)
- My friends (who help keep me sane)
- My blog and my readers (my outlet for creativity and staying active)
- Baseball (my de-stressor)
- My new school, the University of Arizona (for accepting me and giving me a new goal to strive for)
- Our overseas troops and local law enforcement
- My Republican friends and acquaintances, and even a few Democrats (haha... y'all know who you are!)

I trust and hope all my readers are now sitting down to enjoy a fantastic turkey dinner with all the trimmings, to enjoy the company of close family and dear friends. We've postponed our celebration to tomorrow evening because mom is sick today and we decided it would be in all our best interests if we could celebrate and eat when she's feeling better. So I'm still looking forward to turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, homemade applesauce, green bean casserole, pumpkin and cranberry breads, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and sparkling apple cider tomorrow!

A Happy Thanksgiving to all! Thanks for helping make my blog successful this year!

"Here's to absent friends, and to those who are here now." - President Josiah Bartlet (The West Wing)

20 November 2010

AZ LD-19 GOP Election Meeting

Thursday evening was the annual election meeting for the Arizona Legislative District 19 Republican Party, and like any election, it was not without its fair share of drama. I'll start at the beginning.

I learned about the meeting by actively trying to find out when my legislative district meets, as I would love to be able to get back involved with the Republican Party out here. I haven't been an actively productive political person since 2008. Though I have helped at a variety of events (campaign walks, lit drops, sign posting, working the polls, etc.) as longer readers will know, it's not something I've been doing consistently, and I want to get back into it.

So anyway, I showed up at the meeting time of 6:30pm to signs posted on the doors of the Red Mountain Community College multipurpose room declaring that tonight's election was occurring. One man was campaigning outside for his write-in bid to be Chairman of the LD named Wayne Gardner, and he welcomed me and asked me to remember to write him in when I voted. I told him I wasn't voting since I was not a "precinct committeeman" and was only here to observe. More after the jump break:

19 November 2010

Christmas is Coming!

KEZ 99.9FM has started playing Christmas music today!!! I don't think I could be happier... I LOVE Chrismas music!!!

That is all.

18 November 2010

Changing of the Guard

I was informed this morning by a friend that according to the Arizona Capitol Times, Arizona Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen has not been re-elected as a state committeeman, and thus according to AZGOP rules, cannot remain Chairman. Chairman Pullen, who has served two terms and would have been seeking a third this time around, could still be appointed a state committeeman by LD-11 Chairman Warren Whitney (whom I am not familiar with), but "sources" say it's unlikely that Whitney would do that.

Pullen, who has served as the Treasurer of the Republican National Committee the past term, was ousted because, according to the Sonoran Alliance blog, "he is viewed as untrustworthy and ineffective by the grassroots in the party." I have met Chairman Pullen a handful of times and was once invited to work with him and Executive Director Brett Mecum as a phone banking coordinator during the 2008 elections, but I would say that I echo that sentiment. I think it's time for new blood in the Arizona Republican Party.

As far as I am aware, at this time only one person has announced a candidacy for filling Pullen's spot: Marty Hermanson, Chairman of the Pinal County Republican Committee. Hermanson has the support of Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, who is getting a lot of support and attention in Arizona right now, so that will likely help bolster Hermanson's bid.

It's not much of a shock that Pullen will be out after this year ends, as he never did play nicely in Arizona politics with either John McCain or Jon Kyl, and many Republicans found his leadership ineffective and aloof. With the recent GOP sweep of the state's offices in the midterms, it shouldn't be too hard to find someone new.

16 November 2010

First Annual Guys' Camping Trip

This weekend, I was invited to kick off my friends' first hopefully annual guys' camping trip. Scott and Travis set it all up, and all told, seven people came, so it was a roaring success!

We drove up in three groups on Friday/Saturday: Scott, his brother Chris, and I in the first group; Travis, a mutual friend's brother CJ, and Travis' sister's boyfriend Jesse in the second group; and Scott's father the following morning. My group was responsible for hauling up all the gear, setting up the tents, and essentially making camp. It was due to be very cold (28 degrees or so), so we all packed heavy clothing and lots of socks and sweaters.

We got up to our campsite near Christopher Creek an hour north of Payson about 3:30pm Friday (or thereabouts). It was a secluded little area near the See Canyon Trailhead, and despite a mild slope, pretty much perfect for camping. Sadly, my camera decided not to work, so I don't have any photos to share. We unpacked the truck and within about 90 minutes to 2 hours we had established camp and set up both enormous tents in two nice areas.

By 6pm, the second group had arrived, just as darkness was rapidly descending on the area. It got very cold very quick, and the experienced campers in the group made a roaring bonfire in the camp's fire pit. I should at this time point out that I have been camping perhaps once in about a decade. I'm not a "camper" by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I am kind of a wuss, with my four sweaters, three pairs of socks, headgear, gloves, and heavy jeans trying to stay warm in a climate less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Anyway, we got the fire roaring and that helped a lot, cooked up some hot dogs and chili for dinner (yum!), and played Risk in one of the tents for a while as entertainment. When we tired of that (and thank goodness, because I was about to lose), we used the guys' pellet guns to hit cans off the surrounding rocks. After a while, with sleep encroaching on us, we hit the sack. I slept poorly, a function of a rock jutting into my side and the extreme cold. Though, to be fair, I was well-covered, and the cold wasn't as bad as I expected.

Unfortunately, the cold that did enter my sleeping bag and chill me throughout the night exascerbated a mild touch of some ailment my sister had given me - she'd had a roaring flu just before I left - and by the next morning, I had uncontrollable shakes, exhaustion, and pretty bad nausea. I couldn't sit or stand without my stomach aching. I ended up lying in the tent all day napping until finally in mid-afternoon someone must have seen how bad I looked without getting better and asked if I wanted to just go home.

I felt really bad leaving my friends behind, but I knew they'd also have more fun without me if I was sick. I'm not the kind of person to ask to go home; I'd rather tough it out and make the best of it for my amigos, but in this case, I was also worried about how I'd fare with another night in the upper 20s (ah, gotta love possible pneumonia) and with helping to pack up the camp and not be able to pull my weight the next morning. I decided to take Scott's dad up on his offer to drive me back instead of worry.

It's probably good that I did, because I was sick on Sunday and Monday with stomach pain and a nasty headache. Not to mention recovering from the soreness of sleeping on rocks.

Although my weekend was cut short, I had a good time while I was there that first night. I hope and trust that my friends had as good a time without me as with, and big thanks to Scott's dad for ruining his own weekend taking me back home. Here's to the second annual camping trip in the hopes that it's both warmer and less germy.

11 November 2010


In the spirit of camping this weekend, and geocaching along the way, I have decided to create my own personal "geocoins" that I will attempt to track on this blog.

If you have found one of my geocoins, congratulations! I hope you had as much fun in finding it as I did in creating it and placing it! I ask that you please "log" the find using my comments section below so I can "track" the movements of my coins. Please provide me with the "tracking number" on the reverse of the coin, tell me where you found it and when, where you've released it and when, and any other fun comments about your adventures!

For my non-caching friends, please visit my prior blog posts on geocaching HERE and HERE. Geocoins are metal coins (no monetary value, sorry!) that are embossed with a tracking number and design from the owner that fellow cachers find, log, and then release into a new cache for others to find. My geocaching handle is "TimeTraveler09" and I have decided to make my own geocoins because they're actually kind of expensive, and I don't have much disposable income at the moment. Here's my design:

The front is an hourglass enclosed by a rectangular holder. The hash marks around the circumference represent the hours on the face of a clock, and the TT 09 stands for "TimeTraveler09" - my geocaching name. The reverse says "TFTC! [Thanks for the Cache!] Pass me on!" and gives the web address for this specific post. Underneath that (which I have skillfully cropped out!) is a tracking number unique to each coin. I have the list of numbers and where I placed them so I can keep apprised of where each one goes.

What do you think?

#1608 - Found by cacher vegas5701 at "Alice's Wonderland" (GC1RJRM) 11/23/2010

07 November 2010

The Suspension of Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann, MSNBC journalist and host of the show "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," was suspended "indefinitely" this past Friday following a report that he had donated a total of $7,200 to three Democratic candidates during this election cycle: Jack Conway for the Kentucky Senate, Raul Grijalva of Arizona's 7th district, and Gabrielle Giffords of the Arizona 7th.

Olbermann has been a sportscaster for ESPN's "SportsCenter" and "SportsNight," Fox Sports Net's anchor for sports shows and baseball coverage, NBC sports anchor, and on-again-off-again MSNBC host since 1997, and an avid blogger (I read his MLBlog "Baseball Nerd" at http://keitholbermann.mlblogs.com/ with regularity). He was initially suspended for violating MSNBC's rules on political donations. Those rules, put in place after the 2006 elections cycles, currently allow donations with the approval of the President of NBC News, but Olbermann never sought or received such permissions.

I say initially suspended because if you read the headlines (anywhere but MSNBC.com, which has no mention of this newsworthy topic anywhere), The Huffington Post is calling Olbermann's time off without pay for Friday's and Monday's "Countdown" episodes "the shortest suspension in the world." As of tonight, Olbermann is to be reinstated for Tuesday's "Countdown" - officially because according to Phil Griffin, President of MSNBC, "After several days of deliberation and discussion, I have determined that suspending Keith through and including Monday night's program is an appropriate punishment for his violation of our policy. We look forward to having him back on the air Tuesday night."

Unofficially, MSNBC executives may have been bowing to outside pressures by competing news agencies and the public. Olbermann's recent Twitter tweet, "Greetings from exile!" garnered him a mass following of support, and a Progressive Change Campaign Committee petition to put Olbermann back on air garnered over 300,000 electronic signatures as of this writing (including mine). CNN's Eliot Spitzer called the suspension "rediculous" and "silly," frequent MSNBC guest Dan Choi boycotted the network, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) criticized MSNBC for their decision, and even the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol (a conservative, by the way) called on Republicans "of the world" to "Keep Keith!"

Personally, I agree that even if Olbermann did violate an MSNBC "rule," I believe that personal donations in politics are akin to free speech. Anyone should be allowed to make them without fear of reprisal from one's bosses or another entity. In Olbermann's case, such donations wouldn't make me think he had some sort of agenda. He's a well-known liberal pundit, and his donations to three Democrats in very tight races isn't exactly at the top of the "Most Surprising Things of 2010" list. I'm glad they're putting him back on the air. If the media themselves are being silenced over political donations, what hope do the rest of us have?

06 November 2010

Softball Tournament Fall 2010

The fall, 2010 softball leagues are now officially over for my team with the conclusion of our playoff run this evening. The single-elimination tournament for our league's eight teams would have meant we needed to win three consecutive games to take a title in the C-league. Sadly, we were eliminated early by losing our only game. But it was perhaps the best game of the entire year!

We were playing Celebration Church, the red team that we'd won one game and lost one game against during the regular season. We expected a barnburner for the tiebreaker and it didn't disappoint. We started off slowly, and in the second inning the score stood 0-6, them, thanks to a few good hits. In the third inning, we got back two runs, and picked up four more over the next three innings, but by the top of the seventh and final inning, we still trailed 6-10. Somewhere in there, I think the fourth or fifth inning, I had a play at the plate on a runner trying to score an inside the park home run on a really well hit ball to left-center. The throw to our shortstop, Caleb, was perfect, and Caleb's throw to me at the plate was spot on. I made the catch and tagged the runner out by about three steps up the line! Another play at the plate resulted in a poorly thrown ball that I wouldn't have made an out on, but to my credit, I blocked the ball in the dirt, and prevented a run from scoring by sticking with it.

Bang, bang, bang, and darned if we didn't score four runs that seventh frame to tie the score! Despite some confusion from the scorekeeper and umpire (they mistakenly only counted three of the runs until we corrected them - during which time the red team was prematurely celebrating), we sent the game into extra innings. This eighth inning - the only extra-inning game of the season for us - as a tiebreaker inning starts off with a runner already on second base, to help speed the game along. Tragically, we scored only that one run in the eighth, but we thought it could be enough if we could hold them.

Bottom of the eighth: runner on second, no outs. Batter 1 flew out to center field, but thanks to a baserunning error where he didn't tag and advance to third, he was stranded on second. Batter 2 hit a single to center, which scored the runner on second, and retied the game. The batter-runner advanced to second on a throw to me at the plate, but there was no play. Batter three fouled out. With 2 outs, runner at second, batter 4 hit a short single to shortstop. The throw to first was misplayed, and the runner at second advanced to third. Our first baseman tried to throw him out, but could not. The catch at third was also misplayed, and the runner continued home. I got the throw from third and tagged the runner OUT by a half step, but his slide into my glove jostled the ball out, and he was safe when I dropped it.

After the play, I walked away for a moment, kind of ticked that I'd not held the ball and had lost the game for us, but I quickly got over it and congratulated the other team. Their coach came up to me personally and shook my hand, clapped me on the back and told me I'd done a great job, which really made me feel good. I told him they'd been spot on the whole night, and that I was glad to have played in such a good game.

Looking back on it, I might have been able to better hold onto the ball, but with the literal split second I had to snag it and make a tag, it would have been hard for anyone. I was a little sad that my glove had been the final straw that cost us the game, but considering our come-from-behind inning to tie the game and my other contributions at the plate and behind it, there's no way I can complain.

I went 2-for-4 this game. My first at-bat resulted in a flyout to left/left-center, and my third at-bat I struck out looking, but in my second AB I hit a Texas leaguer to left that probably should have been caught, but someone wasn't communicating properly and it dropped in there. And in my final trip to the plate, I hit a scorcher to short which was bobbled, then misthrown to first and went out of bounds, which got me awarded second base automatically. Woot!

I can't wait to try to improve next year! Our spring season begins early January! Thanks to my teammates for helping me out and playing hard. Tough loss tonight, but a solid season overall.

03 November 2010

Thoughts on the 2010 Election

Last night, I was fortunate enough to be able to get out to not one, but two election watching parties. The Democratic Party was at the Phoenix Wyndham hotel, and the Republican Party was across the street at the Hyatt. They were very different atmospheres.

As most people who read the blogosphere and news will now know, Republicans have retaken control of the House of Representatives with gains pushing 65 seats - a major upset. To compare, the Newt Gingrich-led Republican upset of 1994 (with the "Contract with America") resulted in a 54-seat gain for the GOP, and the 2006 Democratic landslides only resulted in a 31-seat gain for them. The 2010 elections represented the largest gain by one party over another since the 1938 elections in which the Democrats lost 81 seats to Republicans and minor parties in the wake of several New Deal policies.

In the Senate, the GOP gained a net of 6 seats to bring the Senate to 51 Democrats, 2 Independents, and 47 Republicans (I count Murkowski in AK as a Republican, and Democrat Patty Murray as a victor in WA in this assessment, though neither has yet been declared a winner as of this writing).

In Arizona, voters swept the state government for the Republicans, with every statewide office going red. Governor Jan Brewer, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, Treasurer-elect Doug Ducey, Corporation Commissioners Brenda Burns and Gary Pierce, Superintendent of Public Instruction-elect John Huppenthal, and State Mine Inspector Joe Hart all won their elections by comfortable margins. As of this writing, Attorney General-elect Tom Horne has declared victory over Felicia Rotellini, though she has not yet conceded. The AP has called the race for Horne, but several thousand early ballots remain uncounted yet.

As for the propositions, for which my predictions garnered this blog a lot of viewers and comments, Prop. 106 (Healthcare) has passed, as has Prop. 107 (Affirmative Action). Props. 109, 110, 111, and 112 (Right to Hunt and Fish, Land Trusts, Lieutenant Governor, and Initiative Filing Deadlines) have all failed (though 110 and 112 are still very close, and could change). Prop. 113 on Secret Ballots has passed by a wide margin, but Prop. 203 (Medical Marijuana) looks likely to fail by a very slim margin, and both 301 and 302 (on revenue restructuring) have failed.

And thank you, City of Mesa voters! You have approved Prop. 420 to help build a new Cubs Spring Training complex! Yay!

Finally, in the State Legislature, if I've done my math correctly, and assuming there are no weird changes, Republicans should hold 40 seats in the House and 21 seats in the Senate, both of which are the 2/3 majorities commonly known as "supermajorities." Politically speaking, Republicans should have no problem passing almost any bill into law in this state now that they control the Governor's office and have supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature.

As for the parties, I'll be putting up another post soon with my experiences on those, including a few pictures I took.

01 November 2010

The Pre-Election Landscape

If you have not mailed in your early ballots yet... DON'T! The deadline to mail them in was Oct. 29th, and if you stick them in the mail today, they will not be counted! That being said, you can drop early ballots off at ANY polling place (doesn't have to be your own... just anywhere you see the big "VOTE HERE" sign) tomorrow from 6am-7pm. If you mailed your ballots in AFTER the deadline and are worried about your vote not being received in time or counted, you can go to your polling place (and yes, it must be YOUR polling place) tomorrow and ask to vote a "provisional ballot." You cannot be denied this right, just bring your proper identification with you (picture ID works best with your most current address on it). If you have any problems or questions, contact the Arizona Secretary of State's election offices or your local County Recorder's Office. That information can be found at http://www.azsos.gov/ on the "Elections" page.

Okay, now that my words of warning are out of the way, it is time to take a good hard look at the pre-election political landscape. I've done a lot of statewide posts recently, and all signs point to a close election in CD-1, CD-3, CD-5, CD-7, and CD-8. Republicans may win big here, and will certainly retain many of the statewide offices, such as Governor and Secretary of State.

Nationally, Republicans are poised to capture upwards of 40, perhaps 50 or more, seats in the House of Representatives, and will make it a lot closer in the Senate with pickups of around 7-9 seats. The way the Congress currently looks is 255 Dems-178 Reps in the House, 59 Dems-41 Reps in the Senate. And as of this morning, the polls are indicating that the House is going to be 168-224 to the GOP with 43 tossup districts. It only takes 218 votes to lead, so all indications point to a big Republican landslide there this year. The Senate is much closer, with http://www.realclearpolitics.com/ saying that it's looking like 48-45 to the Democrats with 7 tossups. I'm thinking it'll end up 52-48 blue.

Another interesting angle is the Tea Party, which nationally was the talk of everyone from the political analysts to the kitchen-table moms and dads. It was supposed to be this big, enormous, Libertarian-ish movement capturing the votes of the politically disenfranchised and the grassroots activists, but it seems that in reality, Tea Party campaigns aren't really faring much better than regular old established Republican campaigns, and while many candidates are claiming Tea Party morals, support, and ideals, in reality few are actually associated with the movement itself. I predict that after this election, when the GOP takes the House, the Tea Party movement will be forgotten as just another fad of the last decade.

1. Exit polling. Due to better security of exit polling data, there won't be many of those cryptic "Senator X is pulling ahead in the exit polls" before about 5pm Eastern time. So for those of us in Arizona, come about 2:15pm, we'll start seeing the very first accurate exit polls for the East Coast. Disregard most of everything before that, especially if you're watching the major news networks, whose only goal is to get you to watch their network over their competitor.

2. The weather! It might sound crazy, but when it rains/snows, less people turn out to vote. Who knew?! Fortunately for almost everyone, http://www.weather.com/ is showing that most of the country will stay relatively dry and clear tomorrow. The exceptions being snow showers in Washington state which could accumulate up to a foot of snow over the next 48 hours, and 1-5" of rain in the Louisiana-Arkansas-Mississippi-east Texas area. No big problems, though, so although turnout in Louisiana could be lower than expected, it shouldn't affect the big picture.

3. Turnout. Speaking of turnout, it's usually really low in midterm elections - under 40%. Anything higher probably means Democrats are turning out in higher numbers, and that could mean a few surprises throughout the night. The demographic information will be important as well and could point out the winners before anything else. If reports show 18-29-year-olds turning out in greater than 10% numbers, Democrats might have a less-than-awful night. Conversely, if we're seeing more than 50% of the voters as over-50, Republicans likely will make huge gains.

4. 3pm and 4pm. The first polls close in parts of Indiana and eastern Kentucky at 6pm EST (3pm for Arizona). 4pm marks the first major round of poll closings on the East Coast. In IN/KY, three "bellweathers" marking close contests could show how the night'll turn out for the political parties, as the IN-2, IN-9, and KY-6 contests are close ones between moderate candidates. Also, the KY Senate race being called in favor of Rand Paul (R) by a wide margin could have people huffing about the Tea Party impact.

Either way, sit down with your families and watch the results pour in. Talk to your kids about what's going on, how to interpret the results, what it means for the country, and such. Or do what I did and print out blank maps of your state's Congressional or legislative districts and as the returns roll in, color them red/blue/green/yellow for the different political parties! Should be a very fun night!