Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sometimes strange thoughts run through my head...

Today, I was thinking through an argument on health care, and out of nowhere, this question occured to me:

Are any of the Golden Girls still alive?

The answer, interestingly enough, is yes. They all are. Estelle Getty has Lewy Body Dementia, according to her website, but the other three all appear to be plugging along.

This is an excellent example of how improvements in health care have changed the way we need to view health care. One of the main premises of the Golden Girls, which debuted 21 years ago, was that all four of these women were elderly.

Every now and then I see Wilford Brimley on TV and think he must be older than dirt, after all, he's been playing an old guy since before I was born. Since I tend to forget things like "How old is Wilford Brimley?" I usually end up looking it up. In fact, I just did. He'll be 72 in September. That's not the case for the Golden Girls, three of which are in their 80's. But I digress.

Getting back to the previous thought: our seniors aren't just having Golden years anymore. They're having Golden years, Silver years, Bronze years, and depending on how well they saved for retirement, some of them are having some Tin years too. Medical science is prolonging their lives, but it's also exponentially raising their health care costs.

My point? Over the next 20 years, millions of seniors who never planned on living past 70 (including both my parents) will retire with life expectancies at or over 80, and without the financial wherewithal to foot the bill for the difference. If we don't solve our nation's health care problem in the next ten years, we'll spend the following 50 digging out of it.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Random campaign stories

So this post is a little late. I went straight from work to the gym today, and as I got home afterwards, I noticed lots of cars were driving by on the next block, honking their horns. I started to go inside, thought about it, and decided I needed to know what was up. I got back in my car and drove by.

This is Street Painting weekend at Drake, the drunken prelude to the Drake (Drunk) Relays next weekend. The people across the alley from me were getting drunk on the lawn to celebrate the fact that next week they get to get drunk on the lawn. They have a sign out along University.

You honk, we drink.

I circled the block a few times. Seven, to be precise. I don't think they noticed.

Also, before I get started, I heard a rumor today that Bacon's temporary hiatus for repairs may in fact become a long-term shutdown. If you enjoy Bacon as much as I do, e-mail him at to tell him so. Hopefully we can talk him out of it.

Anyway, the original point of this post was to tell you a pair of funny stories from the campaign. There's no proprietary information here, just a couple of things I found funny/ironic.


I have no data to back this up, but my guess would be a lot of you who read this blog also get the weekly Fallon e-mail updates. If so, you probably know that a few weeks ago, we put a call out for volunteers to bring food. We figured a homecooked dinner or two each week would make it easier for us to work late without burning the cash and gaining the calories of constant fast food.

The first couple of weeks went by and we had a few takers. It was good.

This week, all hell broke lose. A supporter contacted Palmer's Deli to bring food Monday-Thursday from now through June 6. We were elated. We talked with Palmer's and attempted to schedule around days when food was already scheduled. As it turns out, I misread the calendar, so this week we had the following sequence:

Monday: Supporter arrives with food at 4:56, Palmer's arrives at 5. We generally think it's a pretty good deal, stash away the leftovers.
Tuesday: Palmer's arrives at 5 with food, we've got a bit of a surplus but still in control. Supporter arrives at 6 with food to find we've already eaten, and is livid. After calming her down, we agree to refrigerate the food and cancel tomorrow night's dinner. Now the fridge is stuffed and the freezer is almost full.
Wednesday: I call early in the day and cancel Palmer's for the night. At 4, I'm just getting ready to start heating up Tuesday's second dinner when the phone rings. A supporter is calling to let us know she'll have food to us in 15 minutes.
Thursday: We all eat lunch at the office to help disseminate some leftovers, we feed volunteers, and finally I feel like food is back under control.

Then 5 comes and goes, and Palmer's isn't showing up...

After about an hour of leading me to believe I had somehow screwed up the food schedule 4 times in 4 days, Palmer's shows up and I breathe a sigh of relief.

Who knew food could be so hard?


A quick timeline that'll make a treasurer's eyes bug out:

End of December:
Receive check for $500.
Mid-January: Turn in campaign finance reports showing said check.
Days later: Receive bank statement, showing $495 discrepancy in deposit.
Next day: Discover the 12/30 check had "$500" in the number field, but was written "Five and 00/100." Add donor to list of calls to make.
Days later: Finally get returned phone call from donor's husband. Sometime between the end of December and the bank statement, the donor passed away. Donor's husband doesn't support your candidate.

Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.


A quick one:

Yes, I'm from Wisconsin.

Yes, Laura's from Appleton.

No, selling your children to make home improvements is not common practice there.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

How to waste money, Volume 3

Allow me to dust off a dusty old book...

Good evening. If you've picked up this book, it would appear you've got more money than you know what to do with, and having already attempted to throw it down rat holes (see volume 1) and urinated it away (volume 2), you're becoming quite desperate. In this volume, the penultimate tome on the topic, we will show you another way to squander your resources: making robo-telephone calls to people who wouldn't buy gold bricks from you if you were selling them for shit.

Ok, so this book doesn't really exist, but if it does, Mike Blouin just might own a copy. You see, Mike Blouin is making robocalls this week, for his anti-Bush event on April 11. Unconfirmed so far are the reports that some robocalls actually said the event is March 11. If anyone else can confirm that, leave a comment.

We recently installed some new phone lines in the office, so we're still getting a lot of the wrong number calls attached with the new phones. Two of them got calls from Mike Blouin today.

So did I. So did Laura.

If the three of us got potentially incorrect phone calls from the campaign, I wonder how much money they spent on the rest of the poorly targeted, potentially incorrect, irritating robocalls.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The era of Fiscal Irresponsibility

I’m hoping it’s almost over.

I know I haven’t weighed in on the CIETC scandal yet, but in all honesty, there’s little about it that surprises me, and it’s all over other places on the blogosphere. Hell, even Chris Woods posted Fallon’s press release full text yesterday.

In an era where more and more Republicans are willing to hack and slash at social services like CIETC, Archie Brooks et al should be ashamed of what they’ve done. They’ve given every right-wing, “I don’t want to help people because it’s expensive” Republican another opportunity to wag their finger and say “wasteful big government is at it again.”

I attended Gov. Vilsack’s Condition of the State in January as a curious observer. Being someone who grew up far away from their state capitol, a lot of the access people in Des Moines take for granted is entirely new to me. I lived in Wisconsin for 18 years and went to the Capitol one time. For the last 4 months I’ve been to the Capitol in Des Moines at least once weekly. But I digress.

I took pages of notes during the Condition of the State, but it’s my last line that I think bears repeating. As it turns out, I wrote it largely and boldly enough that the person behind me read it over my shoulder and laughed too loudly for the room we were in:

Condition of the State Diagnosed: Spendicitis, with Chronic Fiscal Irresponsibility.

Take the current CIETC scandal, for example. Federal, state and local money get pooled together to create a program that’s supposed to get people back to work who would otherwise be forced to remain on welfare and other government assistance. Iowa Workforce Development, another bureaucratic government entity, does a shoddy, if not entirely negligent, job of watching over it, and the results are almost entirely predictable. With no oversight, those involved get as much as possible for themselves, and allow others to twist in the wind.

Now, consider the Iowa Department of Economic Development. Here we’ve got a $50 million dollar annual program, giving grants to corporations who promise to provide the desired behavior, creating jobs. Governor Vilsack and former IDED Director Mike Blouin claim over 25,000 jobs have been created already. Blouin’s even got it on the front page of his gubernatorial campaign’s website. The problem: No proof whatsoever.

An open records request sent to IDED was returned with a tracking spreadsheet over 9 months old. It showed that many companies had refused to report their job creation, and from the companies that did, 1282 actual jobs were created. Wells Fargo built cubicles to hold 846 of them, and 91 other companies combined to create 436 jobs.

There is no evidence to show that any action was taken against companies that refused to report or failed to create jobs.

In short, a massive government program was create to instill a desired result with no oversight and it appears much of that money ended up getting pissed away.

Sensing a trend?


Saturday, April 01, 2006

Prank on Someone That Left it Very Easy Because Low-tech Origins Grant Golden Inter Net Games

Or P.O.S.T.L.I.V.E.B.L.O.G.G.I.N.G. for short.

To follow these step by step instructions you will need:

One office-wide shared screensaver
One sometimes paranoid co-worker with limited computer literacy
Microsoft paint

10:00: Use Paint to produce black rectangle with the following words written on it in red: "Please be patient. Currently deleting your files. Time remaining: 7 minutes."

11:00: While co-worker is out for a cigarette, replace normal cycle of pictures for screensaver with previously made rectangle.

11:02: Tell fellow co-worker about the joke.

11:05: Wait.

11:10: Why hasn't he seen it?


12:00: Sneak into his office, reset his screensaver timing from 10 minutes to 1.


12:05: Casually walk into his office, casually ask about the thing on his screen. Get him to look up and read it. Walk over, try a few things, then move the mouse and it disappears. "Hmm, that's odd. Well, I guess it's gone. Tell me if it happens again."

12:05.15: Scramble back to your desk and remove his files from the shared folder.

12:07: "My files are gone!"

12:08: Tell him you'll look into it. Let him stew for a bit.

12:10: Co-worker/accomplice overacts it and almost gives it away.

12:15: Start referring to the problem as "your virus." Introduce the "virus" to your computer.

12:15.05: Catch him on his run to the phone to call tech support and tell him "April Fools."

Given the slow start, it turned out pretty well.

Also, last night between 9:30 and 11 I went from stone sober to so drunk I thought it was a good idea to climb on top of a friend's Toyota van. Maybe I should've post-live blogged that story instead.