I don’t think I could possibly encapsulate what the last week has looked like in my life, but you can tell it looked like something with the absence of all the posts. It’s like someone going quiet in a room for an extended period of time, but still giving clear indications they’re awake… when the posts go dry for awhile, you know something’s brewing and bubbling, but it doesn’t even bear expression yet.
On Friday, I return-guested on the Mep Report, so keep an ear out for TMR #101 if you like that sort of thing.
Early in the weekend, Emily’s last surviving grandparent, Thelma Garin (1911-2008) passed away at four in the morning. She had, for a while, been unaware of people as specific identities, but we had spent a last hour or so at breakfast with her before leaving Fresno in early January and it was a nice farewell. We should all be fortunate enough to see 96 (though I’m not convinced that I want to… as I told Fish, as me when I’m 94), but it is always quite sad to see someone move on to the next step of existence.
Because I simply had to be at work on Tuesday (many others’ schedules had been altered so I could preview databases that last work day before leaving for India) and the service for Em’s grandmother was in Fresno on Tuesday, I had to miss it. So Em went down there on Monday morning while I stayed by the Bay and tried to take care of things for the trip and not think too much about it. I’ve tried to remain rather tabula rasa for this most exotic trip of my life so far, not anticipating any specifics or experiences since (A) I know I can’t and (B) even if I could, I’d rather be bowled over with the full force of surprise than to anticipate. It’s rather the way I see movies, or idealize seeing movies (one can’t always manage it).
Yesterday was sort of a mess. We got to preview the databases without a hitch and then I had a farewell party at FYCC, where I will no longer be working directly within Glide. Some peeps were clearly more broken-up than others, and I don’t know to what extent people believe that the trip down the block to the main building will be a short and accessible one. Psychologically, it’s almost like moving across the Bay. But I intend to hold people to visiting and I will definitely be back, to deliver deadlines and train on databases at minimum, and likely to just say hi as well.
My (now former) boss that I dislike (I think I can start talking a little more liberally about this since I no longer work for him) gave me what I thought was the best goodbye present of all of not showing up for my party. But then he waltzed in 50 minutes late (standard operating procedure, really), making me wonder if he’d intended to sandbag his arrival so I could have a little fun at my party or if he’d just been himself. Most likely the latter, but the impact was the same for 50 good minutes, so so it goes. I managed not to say anything tremendously rude, despite thoughts of lines like “I am just so glad to not be working for you anymore” coming to mind.
Meanwhile my boss that I like remained stoic as always, though he seemed to confide in others that he was concerned. It was sort of cute. And a bunch of other folks were appropriately sad, which was nice. I think it’s perfectly fine to be happy that people are sad to see you go. I feel like many people resist this concept as perhaps self-serving or just inappropriate, but deep down you know we all feel this way. It’s the only real confirmation we get, other than from blatantly sincere people, that we were ever worth our salt in the first place. Now this doesn’t mean I was gloating or rubbing it people’s faces (and in fact I was reassuring people that they’d be far more fine than they thought), but it’s just sort of nice to be missed.
And then my supervisee managed to slip a note into my coat on my way out that I didn’t discover till dinner, and that pretty much made me cry. It was tough to not reconsider some of these decisions to take the promotion and switch things around, but my need-for-challenge-brain looks forward to not starving for awhile. And my boss-I-dislike showing up was a good reminder of what’s at stake as well.
Meanwhile, the world at large of economics and politics and such was aswirl with the upheaval and change that seems to be becoming the norm. The stock market was poised to plunge 500-1000 points and then Bernanke swooped in and again sacrificed every other economic interest in favor of saving the market. At this point, it feels like a legitimate concern that my bank will be drawing money away from my savings account at a rate of 0.5% by the time I return from India. If anyone has any solid schemes or things they want to start up (Jake, I’m looking at you) that seem likely to return more than a penny a day that savings accounts will be making soon, let me know.
I guess that’s the theory, right? That I’ll say and do things like the above concluding sentence? And that will jump-start the economy? I’ve never really had money before, so I’ve never quite grappled with these things. A little secret, though: unless Jake specifically (or someone else I believe in) comes up with a really good scheme, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to do something risky. I’m far more likely to invest in the Bank of Mattress. And I’m sure as all get-out not moving it over to stocks or property or something insane right now. So good luck with your theory, Fed, it requires a lot of people being a lot stupider than I can imagine.
But this is America.
And in America, the coronation of Queen Hillary I is back on track after some early snags. I can’t really predict South Carolina, but I’d imagine it’ll look a lot like Nevada or maybe a little closer. But given the polls in Florida, it’s hard to imagine that SC will matter for doing anything other than knocking John Edwards completely out of the race. He will make his withdrawal speech the night of the SC primary, yielding a little more support for Obama, but certainly not enough to move the 20-point deficit Barack’s running in Florida. And Florida will be just big enough and long enough before Super Tuesday to swing the table toward Hillary and end it.
On the Republican side, Fred Thompson just saved the hung convention. John McCain was almost garnering enough momentum (crazy as it seems) to start charging toward the lead, but Thompson dropping out swings Florida to Huckabee. The problem is that Giuliani, McCain, and Romney are all competing for the exact same kind of voter and that person is very different than a Huckabee voter. Thompson single-handedly kept Huckabee from winning South Carolina by a solid margin (without Thompson, he probably would’ve won SoCar by at least 40-35), and I thought, since he’s friends with McCain, he would stay in for Florida to do the same thing.
Florida will be razor-close and really difficult, but I think Huck will just edge Giuliani and McCain will run third. This will be result #1317398543 that “stuns the pundits” and it will turn everything on its head. “Can Mitt Romney survive a fourth-place finish in Florida?” “Can John McCain become a comeback kid again?” “Is Huckabee now the front-runner?” “Why won’t Rudy drop out since he hasn’t won a single delegate yet?” But all four will remain, and Ron Paul will be not talked-about but continue to post 8-12% everywhere (except maybe Florida). And then each of those four will win at least two states on Super Tuesday. And it will be a Mess.
And I will be in Delhi.
But first, this morning, I will be voting in the primary that actually matters. I watched the bulk of the Green Party debate the other night and concluded that by far the only candidate who had the whole package was one that apparently dropped out at the end of the debate. And I really wasn’t impressed by the person he dropped out in favor of, Cynthia McKinney. It’s not that McKinney isn’t well-spoken and doesn’t have a history of standing up for good things… but the only thing she’ll be known for on the campaign trail will be her outburst with Capitol security. I’m also not wild about someone who was a Democrat to get elected and then switched affiliation to the Greens after leaving Congress. If you’re going to jump ship, at least do it while you still have some voice and influence. This kind of move just seems more self-serving than anything, and I don’t think it serves the party well.
And while I still like Ralph Nader a lot, I think it’s best for the health of the Greens to move on from his perennial candidacies. We need a candidate who isn’t going to just throw up a white flag and encourage voting for sell-out Democrats in swing states, but as long as we’re sure of that, then Nader isn’t doing the party a lot of favors by running again and again. He’s visible, but low on credibility at this point, and is risking associating the Greens as a platform for his personality instead of an actual serious and ongoing party. For the overall good of the Greens, it’s time to move on. And to be fair, he hasn’t even announced yet (he has a proxy running in the primaries), so maybe he recognizes these arguments already.
Say what you will about what this says about me, but this all means I will be casting a protest vote in the Green Party primary, for Jared Ball. The only wasted vote is a vote for someone you don’t fully believe in.
And I get to vote this morning in the February 5th primary because Berkeley at least (and probably much of California) opens in-person balloting early for just this sort of thing. If you’re curious, here’s a schedule of the Green Party primaries and then the convention is in Chicago in July. If Fish were still going to be around then, I’d seriously consider going. But I doubt he will be. And if McKinney or Nader are the nominee (and really, no one else seems to have much chance), it will probably take the wind out of my sails a little. Not that I won’t probably support them, but you see my reservations above.
But the real thing I have reservations for is India.
Again, I have no expectations for this trip, no thoughts, no anticipation. I know what a whole lot of flying looks like (~27 hours each way), but that’s about where it begins and ends. I’m going to let India wash over me, lap up and take me under. I will be armed with a composition notebook and pens, but no internet or way of accessing. I’m going to be off the grid for the longest time I can recall since going on the grid of this series of tubes. I intend to pretty much post my whole account of the trip upon return (depending on length and possibly edited for some people’s privacy concerns), so don’t think the accounts and descriptions of the event will be withheld without expressed written consent or something.
Take care, everyone. Don’t let the country collapse too much faster than the current pace. Not that you really have control over that, but the illusion of control is what this country is all about. I’m going to go find out what another country is all about. I may just be impressed.
We’ll find out.