Tuesday, October 28th

#132: The 21st Century Viking

Music: Patsy Cline
Mood: excited, proud
This afternoon my first post for my new blog, The 21st Century Viking, was put up on the Ballard News-Tribune website. The News-Tribune is a neighborhood newspaper that covers the Ballard area of Seattle, an area just northwest of downtown. It is called the 21st Century Viking both as a tribute to both Scandinavian heritage as well as that of the Ballard area. The blog will mainly focus on the contrasts between the "old" and "new" Ballard and I hope that it will generate some interest in the community.

santo26 on 10.28.08 @ 07:27 PM PST [link]

Friday, October 24th

#131:A Moratorium On Political Noise, Part II

Music: Marty Robbins
Mood: day off
Earlier this week I declared a personal moratorium on political noise in my life until the election. I decided to stop consuming media in any form that talked about politics in any way and instead adopted an austere media diet of only the Washington Voters Guide, the official position papers of the candidates and/or their parties, and conversations with my friends. This has been harder to do than I imagined.

When I log onto the internet, I usually have a set of news sites that I scan for interesting stories. Even though I am trying to only limit my reading to stories about the economic crisis and local/world news, it is nearly impossible to go to a news site without glancing at the title of a political article. I have this same problem when I read an actual newspaper like the Seattle Times that we have delivered at work.

This involuntary consumption is even more acute when I am driving. Normally when I am driving I tend to listen to newspinion from the right or left perspective, changing from NPR to the local right-wing AM radio station every time there is a commercial or it gets boring. Now that I am changing the channel every time I hear the name of one of the major party presidential candidates, I find myself switching to a commercial on a music station or turning the radio off completely. The only news on the radio that tends to rise above the fray is the BBC World Service which is on overnight when I am usually driving home from work. As for television, I am proud to report that I very rarely turn it on anymore, and so tuning out talking head newspinion wasn't difficult at all. This is a marked switch for me as compared to the period from 9/11 through the summer of 2004, when I watched the news literally every night trying to make sense of what was going on. Then again, there is no longer a television news station like the late and lamented News World International.

Despite my best efforts, however, I have occasionally drifted and found myself reaidng a political article. Once I identify what I am doing I am able to stop consuming the article, but it is fascinating to realize how often I find myself doing this. It is scary to think how much information is involuntarily flowing into my head. I have not even been doing this for four full days and I find it to be a pretty refreshing change. This is not to say that when this little social experiment of mine is over I will stop paying attention to the news, but I hope that I will be a lot more critical and think before I choose to consume it.

santo26 on 10.24.08 @ 04:06 PM PST [link]

Tuesday, October 21st

#130:A Moratorium On Political Noise

Mood: relieved
Yesterday I was driving to work and listening to the radio when I had an epiphany. Enough! I turned off the newspinion and tried to find some solace in some music, or at least a commercial for vinyl siding. I did not want to hear another word about the "two" presidential candidates or anything else political for that matter. It struck me how the non-stop barrage of opinions, jokes, and brickbats being hurled by all sides had completely obscured what the politicians who are running for office stand for.

I have decided to do everything in my power to not read, listen or watch anything about any political race between now and the election. The only exceptions to this are reading the actual party platforms, official positions of the candidates themselves, and the actual texts of the initiatives on the ballot. The rest is all mental junk food. While I have known this all along, it has gotten to the point that it sickens me. I have not made my mind up on a host of races and questions. I refuse to be scared or goaded into voting for a particular candidate for any reason. Since I take my vote very seriously, I want to give it the attention it deserves. If you want to meet me in person and have a debate, that's great, but I will no longer listen to the opinions of strangers who are not directly talking to me. I have some very important things to think about for the next few weeks, and I don't need the distraction. I can only pray that I (and everyone else) make the correct choices.

santo26 on 10.21.08 @ 02:43 PM PST [link]

Thursday, October 16th

#129:What About The Polo Shirt Collar Class?

Music: Reverend Glasseye & His Wooden Legs
Mood: wondering
When the economic crisis of 2008 trickles down to every part of the economy and the average consumer will be forced to reduce their spending, I fear there will be massive layoffs in the polo shirt sector of the economy. What is the polo shirt collar class, you may ask? If you have to wear a uniform and/or a nametag to work for a large corporation that pays you and most of your fellow workers minimum wage or barely just above, you are a member of the polo shirt class.

Polo shirt class workers are too often treated as interchangeable parts by their employers and abused by their customers when the good or service they want is not available or to their satisfaction. According to an article at Politico by Louis Soares, thirty million Americans, or twenty-five percent of the American workforce, work in what I define as the polo shirt collar industries. Soares says that this is the fastest growing section of the economy-but the article was written last month.

If a quarter of the American workforce is employed in industries where they sell goods and services mostly to people who work at other stores, what is going to happen when people have to cut back on their spending? The large corporations that run these stores will look at their declining sales and start cutting back on hours or eliminating jobs altogether. This is componded by the fact that the people who work in the polo shirt industry normally have to work more than one job to not make ends meet.

We have a Presidential election coming up and I have yet to hear from either of the major party candidates what they plan to do to help the average polo shirt collar worker. My natural inclination is to say why even bother to think that the government is going to look out for anyone except those with power and influence? Is it too much to ask to assume that any elected official cares, let alone wants to help? If that is truly the case, then the only way to get better working conditions for the polo shirt collar workers is to make your opinions known to the businesses you shop at, and threaten to boycott them if they do not improve them. At this point we seem to have two votes: our political one and our consumer one. While government can step in, the only way to really get a corporation to listen is to threaten to take your business elsewhere. It has worked lately in terms of getting coporations to become "greener," why not do the same and get them to respect their workers?

santo26 on 10.16.08 @ 07:02 PM PST [link]

Tuesday, October 14th

#128:Thanks, Financial Crisis of 2008

Music: Talkdemonic
Mood: guardedly optimistic
The news over the past month has been oversaturated with stories about how horrible this financial crisis of 2008 that has yet to be given a name is and how it will affect all of our lives for years to come. In the midst of all this gloom, I would like to share a positive experience that has come about for me as a result of it.

All my life I have neglected to learn about economics. This is in marked contrast to the rest of my life where I try to learn about everything I can to the point of often trying to take in too much information at once. Economics wasn't something I had any interest in or inclination to learn about as I thought it didn't concern me nor did I want it concern me. I figured that I always pay my bills and try to keep my spending somewhat under control so what else did I need to know? When the confluence of what seemed like unrelated financial events turned into the current financial crisis, I found myself unprepared to interpret what had happened. That is not to say I could not understand what had happened or what it seems to mean, but I lacked the specialized knowledge to get a true grasp of things.

It has become quite clear to me that whether I choose to ignore it or not, the financial crisis of 2008 will affect me. I can choose to continue to be borne about by the financial winds or I can take the time to read up on economics and economic history. It is simply a matter of choosing to take control and responsibility for another aspect of my life that I have until now willfully ignored. While I will probably not become Warren Buffett overnight, I can certainly take the reins of my finances like I have with my health and my writing career and go forth into the future in a direction that I want to go.

santo26 on 10.14.08 @ 02:30 PM PST [link]

Friday, October 3rd

#127:Making The Transition

Music: awesome
Mood: Jerry Reed
I just got back from the Post Office where I just mailed off my first submission to a magazine. The short story in question is called "Dream Science" and the magazine in question is Weird Tales. I chose Weird Tales because they publish, well, weird tales, but also because it is where such luminaries as H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard got their start. Here is an article about the historical Weird Tales.

I feel great right now. It's kinda like when I finished the novel but different. I finally made the jump from writing as a hobby that I share with my friends to writing as my career. Now that I have sent off Dream Science I can concentrate on my final edit of the book. I can't wait to start!

santo26 on 10.03.08 @ 08:05 PM PST [link]

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