Getting Out My Vote

I just voted. I am proud to say this is my 33 consecutive election. I’m not sure why, but I don’t think I voted when I was 21 (the eligible age then).

My first vote was in the Nixon – McGovern election of 1972. I was living in Charlotte, NC and voted at Mallard Creek 2 (whatever that is). I was glad to vote, though it meant little. In that election, in North Carolina, Nixon had more than twice as many votes as McGovern. It wasn’t a whole letter different in the nation as a whole.

Our current polling station is in Steffie’s old elementary school. The school, a one story experiment in open classrooms (a failed experiment in my opinion), makes a great place to vote. There’s a large parking lot. It’s away from any kind of congestion. The lunchroom, where the machines are set up, is spacious.

A ‘greeter’ from the Republican Party, who was handing out literature to everyone who walked from the parking lot to the school, told me 30% of the registered voters had voted by noon. Considering there are no truly contested contests here, that’s astounding. I would think that will translate to 70% or better turnout by the time polls close.

Though the poll watchers knew me, they correctly asked me to produce identification. I took out my drivers license, got a card to hand to the person standing alongside the voting machine, and voted.

The voting machines we use are similar… maybe the same… as the machines I remember as a kid. There is a horizontal row of levers for each party with each individual office or question on a single vertical line. The whole process of voting took 30 seconds, maybe less.

I like to think I am informed and my vote is meaningful, but the ability to vote, in the abstract, is the important thing.

I wish I knew the results now. There probably are some people, with early access to exit polls, who already know the results of this election. I’ll have to wait until 8:00 PM.

Connecticut Association of Schools

I did the weather live from the AquaTurf Club in Southington, site of the Connecticut Association of Schools Program Recognition Banquet. That’s a mouthful. Basically, schools from across the state are cited for specific programs they devise. Then, all the ideas are presented in a booklet so each school can adopt the best ideas.

It’s good to see these teachers and principals let their hair down for an evening.

The AquaTurf is well suited for this kind of affair. It is huge and the service is excellent. I’ve been doing this particular program for 10 years and the banquet hall looks as fresh and well kept as the first day I went there.

The specialty of the house is a Fred Flinstone sized piece of prime rib. It’s an Atkins orgy on a plate! Some day, I expect to arrive only to see cows marching in a picket line out front.

The first few weather hits were easy, out on the porch behind the dining room. The setting is beautiful with a small lake on one side and a waterfall on the other.

I’m sure there have been dozens… more like hundreds of brides photographed here.

Though the weather featured thunderstorms, I was in tight contact with the station, knew what was on the radar, and had no trouble keeping up. In a more volatile situation, I would have handed the weather duties to someone standing by at the station.

For 6:00, we moved inside. This is probably the strangest live shot I do all year, because I am doing the weather and emceeing the ceremony, all at the same time!

I start on the dais and then, as the time draws near (wearing a wireless microphone) walk to the camera position… but I’m still emceeing. I try my best to keep the audience attuned to what’s going on and in a good mood… and then, we’re on-the-air.

When the weather is finished, it’s back to the dais and on with the show.

It doesn’t sound like it should work, and maybe it doesn’t. I’m in a bad position to make that judgment. But, they ask me to do it that way every year, and I’m glad to oblige. It is as close as I come to juggling on TV.

On my drive up, I called my mom and asked her what she remembered about my elementary school days. I was expecting to hear about disappointing parent-teacher conferences, or the time the principal of P.S. 163Q, Mary M. Leddy, called my mom in because I was telling dirty jokes. Instead, she remembered the book I wrote while I was in first grade and how the principal and my teacher made a big deal of it – going so far as to hold my book up in front of the assembly. I actually remember that too.

I told that story to the assembled crowd tonight. My point to them was, nearly 50 years after the fact, my mom remembers, as do I, the encouragement I received in the first grade. Teachers have incredible impact on our lives, and I’m glad I helped celebrate them tonight.

Modernizing My PC

I have two desktop PC’s in this room. The first – the one I’m typing on now – is a box I built myself after spending weeks pouring through every computer publication and website known to man. The other is an older, slower machine they were throwing away at work. It has hosted at least 10 different flavors of Windows and Linux and is constantly in a state a flux.

The CPU – the brains behind the computer – is an Intel Pentium II-300. By today’s standards, it’s old and slow. Here’s the dirty little secret – if all you’re doing is word processing and web browsing, it’s perfect.

Shh, don’t tell.

It is my auxiliary machine and I do use it a lot, sometimes for photos and video, so it would be nice if it were a little faster. Last night I found what I hope will be the solution to this problem.

Tiger Direct is advertising a motherboard/memory/CPU/cooling fan combo for $99.99. That’s an unbelievable deal and will give me a spare machine that’s faster than anything else here.

If you’re not a computer geek, a motherboard is the circuitry that ties together the computer chip (CPU) and everything else. Different motherboards have different functionality. This is pretty much a Swiss Army Knife, with video, audio, network connections and a host of other features right on the board. Previously, these demanded separate cards.

Usually, video on the motherboard isn’t my favorite way to go. It’s is often slower and less well thought out than stand alone video card which plug into a slot on the board. Since I’m not a game player, and video speed isn’t paramount, it’s a very small trade off.

This motherboard uses an AMD Athlon XP 2400+ CPU. When most people think of computer chips, they think Intel. This AMD is a virtual work alike. Other than cost (AMD is cheaper) I can’t see any difference – and I’ve been using AMD chips for years.

The plan is to remove the motherboard from the auxiliary machine and replace it with this one. The case, power supply and disk drives will remain the same. Everything should just plug in.

It really is very close to getting a brand new machine for $99.99. Of course that $99.99 is after rebates, but I’ll be diligent.

Earlier today, having already decided this would be a fun/good thing to do, I went to a local computer show in an elementary school gym. I couldn’t have matched this deal for less than twice the price.

This is a project I’m looking forward to. Ripping a computer apart and rebuilding it is something you don’t get to do every day. Hopefully, when it gets booted for the first time it will understand my angst and go right to work. Otherwise, I will be forced to threaten it with water. PC’s are scared of water.