2008 Elections: Bill Clinton Wants Me to Vote for Obama

2008 Presidential ElectionsBill Clinton left me a voicemail yesterday, asking me to support Barack Obama. The one call on the day before elections was not too bad compared to the daily (sometimes twice a day) calls I was getting from John McCain’s camp, which felt more like a bill collector than a friendly persuasion call. Plus there are the other tons of local political recordings from Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Janet Napolitano, corporate commission candidates, and so forth. All in all, my phone is ready for this day to be over with.

My words of advice for today is to know that:

  • Your vote does count. I’ve heard several people say that their state is projected to go for one candidate, so they were not going to bother with voting for the other. This is just silly. Put your vote in anyway. Be a part of democracy.
  • On the flipside, if you do not like any of the presidential candidates, do not vote for someone you do not believe in just to say you voted. Do not vote for someone just because your parent/boss/spouse is supporting them. Vote for someone because you believe in what they stand for and that they will do what they say the will do.
  • Remember that local elections are important too. Read up about the propositions on the 2008 ballot and make decisions about your school district, reforming the payday loan system, defining marriage, increasing renewable energy, promoting cleaner fuels, helping disabled veterans, and more.

To see what people are saying on election day about Obama, McCain, Biden and Palin, check out Twitter’s Election 2008 coverage, Plurk the Vote, or do a Twitter search on local candidates and propositions.

Happy Voting Day!

Blog Action Day 2008 – Poverty

For Blog Action Day 2008, the topic is poverty. There is poverty at every level: locally, nationally, and globally. When we think about that, the thought that typically goes through a person’s mind is what can one person do?

In terms of monetary donations, bloggers are asked to donate today’s earnings through these organizations to track the fund-raising success of Blog Action Day. You can also donate to a charity of your choice. If you are not sure which one to choose, you can find various charities and their ratings at Charity Navigator.

You can also help on a local level. Whenever you are planning to get rid of clothing, blankets, or other necessities that are still in usable condition, instead of just throwing it in the trash, find a nearby donation bin, church, or other organization that collects these things for those in need.

If you come across someone asking for spare change, give it to them. Sure, some have the argument that some people may ultimately use your spare change for alcohol or cigarettes instead of food and shelter, but not all are that way. For example, once I was approached outside of a fast food drive thru, and was asked for money. I did not have cash that day, but offered to buy him food instead. I got a couple of value meals, and when I picked them up, him and his family were all waiting under a tree nearby, and were very thankful.

So keep in mind, there are always ways you can help. If everyone did just a little, it would add up to a lot in the end. If you have other suggestions, please feel free to add it to the comments. And if you have a blog, get involved by publishing for and promoting Blog Action Day 2008.

Remembering September 11th

9/11 September 11th World Trade Center Lights Memorial

It is interesting how sometimes I cannot remember what I was doing just an hour ago, but I can remember the morning of September 11, 2001 like I had a log of it somewhere in my head.

For weeks, I had abandoned listening to the radio, opting for some mix cd’s instead. But that morning, something told me to eject the CD and listen to the radio. The dj was describing what had happened in New York. Both buildings had been hit. I thought they were reading an excerpt from a novel or describing a scene from a movie. When I got to work, no one was working. There was a little tv set up, and everyone was huddled around it. I could not believe what I saw. It was surreal.

Even now, recalling the feelings, it is hard to describe. It was not all just about myself, fearing the threat of terrorism or what could possibly come next. It was about seeing the faces of those people on the ground, the ones who barely got out of the area alive. Imagining the fear of what it would be like to be there, near Ground Zero. The thoughts that were running through the minds of those people on the planes. What it would be like to be in the upper floors of one of the towers, with no other option but to jump. The terror of knowing that a spouse, family member or friend was working in or around those buildings at the time, and not knowing whether they made it. The anxiety of knowing a fireman, rescue worker, or policeman and wondering if they would make it out alright once they went in to help all those they could.

While all the major news networks got to the point of repeating the same video over and over, and objectively analyzing the situation from every angle, I wanted insight on what it felt like to really be there, living through it. So I turned to blogs from people living in New York. A comment on one of those blogs led me to getting interviewed by the LA Times in an article “Personal Web Logs Put a Face on a Faraway Disaster“:

Kristi Johnson, a 22-year-old Web designer, checked likeanorb.com, along with CNN, and her local newspaper and radio stations in Phoenix. Blogs whisked her into the whirlwind of events. “The Web logs just supplied details that the media didn’t have time really to broadcast,” Johnson said in an e-mail interview.

“Long journalizations about how it felt to wake up, hear what was going on, give their feelings about knowing that a huge chunk of what they saw on a daily basis all their lives was destroyed. The media pictures were like scenes from a horrible war movie; the Web logs were like your best friend, sitting down and telling you what they saw firsthand.”

For me, what mattered most was the people directly affected. Victims, and the family and friends of those victims. Today, we should remember those people – not the conspiracies, propaganda, politics, etc., but the people – and keep all of them in our thoughts.

Blog Remembrances:
(I’ll be updating this throughout the day. If you have or know of a good site, please add it to the comments.)

The Soundtrack to My Life, Part I

Many years ago, I started compiling a list of songs that took me back to a particular place and time, and brought with it the emotions I felt. Then, I came across this post recently about creating a sountrack to your life. That post re-inspired me to go back to that list and share some songs that automatically triggers a memory, whether it be good or bad.

Part I of this series includes 20 songs that cover a span of 20 years of my life, and includes a little bit of everything. In future posts, I will create new lists for more specific time frames and events, style of music, etc.

Here is what these songs bring to mind…

  • “She Drives Me Crazy” by Fine Young Cannibals
    Water aerobics classes at Mississippi Wellness Center with my mom.
  • “Love Will Lead You Back” by Taylor Dayne
    Either on the drive to or from the hospital, I heard this song on the day my grandfather died of cancer.
  • “All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow
    Walking with my friend home from school, we made a more dirty revision of this song over Sonic mozzarella cheesesticks. Instead of “have some fun”, it became “screw someone.”
  • “If the World Had a Front Porch” by Tracy Lawrence
    The first time. I could only find a 30 second clip for this one, which works out ironically funny in this case.
  • “Unbreak My Heart” by Toni Braxton
    Singing this song melodramatically with friends, moments after being dumped by my boyfriend of almost two years at senior prom.
  • “Too Close” by Next
    My first time clubbing at the Depot in downtown Jackson, MS. They would switch to a country song anytime the underage drinkers needed to abandon their drinks because the police had arrived.
  • “More Than Words Can Say” by Alias
    When things were really going wrong in my life, there was a particular day when, at 6 AM, I needed someone desperately, and was lucky enough to find them.
  • “I Love You” by Sarah McLachlan
    For the time I could not tell someone how I felt about them, and they ended up walking away and out of my life forever.
  • “Breathe” by Anna Nalick
    About the time I realized that writing poetry helped me purge my emotions, the part of this song when she says “2 AM and I’m still awake, writing a song. If I get it all down on paper, its no longer inside of me, threatening the life they belong to” described me perfectly.
  • “To Where You Are” by Josh Groban
    My favorite show was Ally McBeal for the longest time. Josh Groban guest starred and sang this song on an episode about a town that cancels their Christmas parade due to a tragedy. The episode was aired in December 2001, and eluded to September 11th.
  • “This Love” by Pantera
    Shortly after moving to Phoenix, playing pool for the first time at this pool hall where the bartender never bothered to card me. This song seemed to play on the jukebox every night I was there.
  • “Short Skirt, Long Jacket” by Cake
    Another pool hall, jukebox favorite.
  • “Something I Can Never Have” by Nine Inch Nails
    Every time a relationship ended, this is what I felt about love.
  • “Dancing Queen” by Abba
    Dancing at a club in Toronto, after about twelve vodka cranberry cocktails and becoming known as a pool shark.
  • “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane
    This song was playing on the radio as I took the family dog to the vet, wrapped in a white towel, for cremation, as he had died sometime the night before. The line “Oh, simple thing, where have you gone?” brought me to tears each time I heard if for the next few months.
  • “Look What You’ve Done” by Jet
    Reminded me of what it felt like to be on both ends of an affair.
  • “Arms of the Angel” by Sarah McLachlan
    A song that I can finally find beautiful, but once thought of as a song fit for the ending of things. A better version that I could not find for the playlist was done live with Josh Groban, and can be found on Youtube.
  • “Ready for Love” by India Arie
    I found this song shortly after I realized I was in love with my boyfriend, and now fiancé. It described perfectly how I was through playing games, and ready for whatever love had in store for me.
  • “That’s All” by Michael Buble
    Lyrics to this were handwritten beautifully, and given to me in stages throughout the day on my birthday, leading up to our engagement.
  • “Suteki Da Ne” by Nobuo Uematsu
    From Final Fantasy X. Instead of the traditional “Here Comes the Bride”, this will be the music playing as I descend down the aisle towards my groom.

Dark Knight Exposes Dark Questions

Although I will do my best not to put any direct spoilers into this post, I will warn you that if you want have not seen the movie and want to view it for the first time as I did, with nothing but the preview in mind, you should postpone reading this until after the fact.

Tonight, I saw Dark Knight for the second time, this time in an IMAX. Amazing sound, as in the effects pound through your chest, and much better picture quality and size. But aside from the thrilling effects, great acting from the lead characters, there were many situations where I found myself questioning my own morals. What would I do in this scenario? How would that response change with the addition of adrenaline, time restraints, etc.? How would my response affect myself and those around me, and would it be for the greater good? There are several examples, but the two most personal ones for me were the following…

Scenario #1: If I there was a choice between myself, or the one I loved being saved, who would I choose? Of course, my first response was I would want them to be saved. Why? Because I simply could not imagine living without them. The thought makes me almost unable to breathe. But how would I feel if roles were reversed? If they were given that choice instead of me, and they chose that I live, it would not be what I wanted. Although I understand how noble it would be, and the ultimate proof of their love, I would also consider it cruel of them to leave me in this world to face the suffering of their loss alone. How could one of us really know if the other would be strong enough to make the most out of their life, once they were given the chance to go on? Traumatic experiences and loss change people, and a weaker person may not be able to deal with the pain and rise above it.

Scenario #2: If I were told that, in order to save the life of my child, I must go out and murder a complete stranger, what would I do? This stranger is more than likely someone’s child as well as potentially being a single father or sole provider for their family. Would knowing that change my instinctual urge to protect my own family at any cost? Would knowing that the stranger was someone who no one depended on or love make it easier to justify taking a life? If someone said I had an hour to decide, would I even bother to rationalize it? Could I live with the knowledge later? On the flip side, I know certainly could not live with the fact that I sacrificed my own child’s life for someone I did not know.

So much to ponder, and for me, with no easy, “right” answer.