Saturday, February 9

Participatory Democracy

Well, the caucus is over. Now I can lose my voice.

Yesterday afternoon I started getting that unmistakable tickle in the throat --- the first symptom of a cold. I woke this morning with inflamed sinuses, but overall not feeling too bad yet. I got to the school gym around 12 noon, an hour before the start time, as asked of the caucus chairs. To my disappointment, I found out that they hadn't asked for extra rooms, all 10 precincts were going to meet in the one space. We had two tables for our precinct, two of those standard picnic-style tables found in elementary schools everywhere. It wasn't long before people started showing up. The early arrivals were very helpful, making sure the sign-up process was going smoothly, going to get more forms, pens, etc. All in all it ran smoothly considering the size of the turnout.

When Gail asked me to be chair, she said that 4 years ago the turnout had been really high, about 60 people. Today we had 129. That's just our precinct. There were more than a thousand people in the room, 10 precincts all trying to get organized, sign everyone in, tally up the votes, choose delegates. Our precinct had the most attendees and also the most delegates to choose (number of delegates is determined by some formula using past voting data) so it isn't surprising that we were the last one done. 99 Obama, 30 Clinton. 5 delegates for Obama, 2 for Clinton.

The delegate votes have to be done on paper ballots. There was no easy way for the 70+ Obama supporters who stuck it out that far to do the balloting. But we managed. Everyone pitched in and it all worked so smoothly. I didn't get to knit much, got too busy right away. Mostly I stood on the bench seat of one of the tables and tried to project so that the whole precinct could hear me.

I had been worried, I had been kicking myself for my inability to say no. But it was great. Lots of neighbors came -- many that I see regularly, some only once in a while. I met some new people, and everyone was truly neighborly. Maybe the size helped. It really was too large and crowded for folks to try to politick. Everyone seemed to have already made up their mind and there was very little changing. Now I have to thank Gail for going out of town and asking me to volunteer.

But first, change into sweats, brew lemon ginger tea with honey, and curl up in a blanket. Pass me the tissues, please.

Wednesday, February 6

Is it Christmas yet?

Zach's birthday is in November and this year we decided to spring for a big gift, one to cover Christmas as well. An mp3 player. He chose a Zen 30GB player from Creative. Only trouble was, they were out of stock everywhere.

January 3 I got email from Creative announcing they were back in stock. I ordered one.
January 6 It was shipped.
January 8 It arrived. It didn't work. It was a brick.
January 9 I emailed back and forth with customer service to convince them it was bricked.
January 10 Creative issued an RMA.
January 11 I sent the unit to OK for service or replacement. We paid shipping.
January 28 The replacement was shipped
February 1 It arrived. It was the wrong player. A smaller, cheaper player. It did, however, work.
February 2 I emailed customer support.
February 4 Creative issued the super-duper Advanced RMA --- will ship new unit and a prepaid shipping label to return the wrong one.
February 6 I got email notification that the RMA has been shipped. UPS tracking system doesn't have it yet.

Then there was the December 21 T-shirt order. Zach needs new shirts, he loves xkcd and the mp3 player was not coming yet. Something to open on Christmas? January 16 I got a weaselly apology from Paypal and a more straightforward one from xkcd. It was Paypal's fault but they erred in not contacting us sooner. T shirts arrived January 23rd. (A big hit, too.)

Then we realized Zach's ski pants from last year were a no show. He must have outgrown them so we would have passed them along. SierraTradingPost has quality merchandise at good prices. When I ordered the pants, the website said that a Medium was size 28-30. Sounded like they ran pretty small, but I've always had good shopping experience with SierraTradingPost. They arrived. They are huge. I contacted the friendly customer service. She said "Well, I am looking at the on-line catalog right now and the Mediums are 30-32." Was I going nuts? I got her to check and she called back to say that the catalog folks had "recently updated the sizing." Sigh. The new pants have left the warehouse and UPS expects delivery Friday February 8.

Other news: I've been either too busy or too sick or too boring to blog. Busy includes the bookstore, paperwork for the Board From Hell (yes, I am still in it. According to Mayor Greg's memo, I do my noble-citizen-duty until October 2009) and other things as well, including planning a two week trip to Japan for April. Franz has done a lot of the work, but it still has taken both of us many hours of internet sleuthing to line up accommodations and travel details. I have not knit much, the VLT shawl still needs a few more border repeats and one more corner turned. My last day at the bookstore is next week (yay!) Week after that is mid-winter break and we are going to Utah to ski (double yay!)

Odds and ends: I get so many hits on my blog from folks looking for the Triangle Shawl calculations, that if you Google "trapezoid formula" my blog post shows up on the first page of results.

I'm good at voting but have never attended a caucus. (Recall, I grew up in the last bastion of Taxation without Representation, otherwise known as Our Nation's Capital.) This year I got talked into volunteering to chair our precinct's caucus. It ought to be a zoo. Wish me luck.