Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Pocket dialed by Obama for America

Obama for America logo I’ve been getting a few calls from them lately because they want to make sure I’ve voted. They have my number because I donated to the president’s re-election campaign. I don’t mind their calling me—it’s reassuring that they’re working so hard to get out the vote—but I don’t answer calls from numbers I don’t recognize, and although my voicemail identifies the number afterwards, my phone’s caller ID does not show a name as the call’s coming in, just a number.

Sunday I got two calls, one with no message and one with a message where the caller said she hoped I was doing well and that they were just calling to touch base with Ohio voters. This morning I got another call with no message and then this afternoon yet another one with a 60-second voicemail, not quite a pocket dial but not an intentional message. Instead it was a recording with the background noise of a campaign office and the laugh of a campaign volunteer bantering with her colleagues.

Listen to it here. The funnest part is at 0:23, where she says, “Every time you say Obama, I'm gonna do an Al Sharpton and say, ‘Yo mama!’”

Thanks to everyone who has been working so hard to re-elect the president. I may not take your calls, but I do appreciate your work. I hope we all have something to celebrate later tonight.

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

How to make sure I never take your calls

HP logo Dear Aaron from HP (603-994-2023),

The secretary in my office screens all our calls. When you call, she tells me who you are and asks if I want to talk to you. If I’m not expecting a call from you (and since we use Xerox and not HP, I wasn’t expecting a call from you), I ask her to put you in my voicemail.

If you then leave a 2-second “click” hang-up call, it just makes me realize that yep, I didn’t need to talk to you, and it makes me even less likely to take future calls from you.


Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Mark Luedtke has as much credibility as Don Rasmussen (et al.)

Mark Luedtke Mark Luedtke The Dayton City Paper is now featuring a column, “Conspiracy Theorist,” by their regular contributor Mark Luedtke, who also often takes the “Right” side in their regular Debate Forum feature. Luedtke bills himself on his LinkedIn profile as the “Best Damn Writer at Dayton City Paper.” DCP puts a disclaimer on his Conspiracy Theorist column, saying that the views expressed in it “are published strictly for entertainment purposes only,” and with what Luedtke writes it seems he really must just be trying to get laughs.

In this week’s column, “It’s the Candidate, Stupid!,” Luedtke writes about the recent presidential election. Luedtke provides a lot of material one could analyze but the most entertaining sentence in his column (written “for entertainment purposes only”) is this:

Rasmussen reports that Americans favor repeal of Obamacare by 15 points.

Luedtke goes on to talk about Mitt Romney’s credibility or lack thereof, but by citing, of all pollsters, Don Rasmussen, Luedtke demonstrates a lack of credibility himself.

There are plenty of polls about whether Americans support the Affordable Care Act, including a post-election one by the Kaiser Family Foundation (see this Washington Post article, “Poll: Support for Obamacare repeal is plumetting”), but the pollster Luedtke chooses to bolster his arguments about Obamacare is the same one who said, a week before the election, “The most entertaining fall-out will be the recriminations of pollsters and polling generally in the wake of Romney’s 330+ electoral vote win next Tuesday.”

Switch out one name in that sentence—Obama for Romney—and Don Rasmussen would look remarkably prescient. Rasmussen got the entertainment part right, but the entertainment’s all at his expense and that of other pundits (see also the “Pundit Shaming” tumblr).

Luedtke didn’t share Rasmussen’s disadvantage of writing before the election. Luedtke was analyzing the election after the fact and yet in arguing against Obamacare chose to ignore the most important poll of all, the election itself. President Obama was re-elected and the Senate remains in Democratic hands. That doesn’t look to me as if Americans overwhelmingly favor repeal of Obamacare.

Rasmussen was right about the “entertaining fall-out” and “the recriminations of pollsters” after the election. People are asking why people like Jennifer Rubin and Karl Rove still have jobs.

Locally one might also ask why Mark Luedtke still has a job at the Dayton City Paper, but luckily for him he writes “strictly for entertainment purposes only.”

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Croak Creek Community Church

Croak Creek Community Church Today my church, Cross Creek Community Church, voted to merge with Oak Creek United Church of Christ.

It’s the right thing to do, and I voted in favor of the merger, but I’m still a bit sad. I’ve been a part of Cross Creek since it was founded, 16 years ago. The sad part of the merger will be leaving our building and giving up our name.

Really, though, it’s not a building or a name that makes a church but rather a group of people. All the folks that make up Cross Creek will still be together, just in a new place, plus we’ll be debt-free with some cash reserves, we’ll have plenty of room to grow, and we’ll have new friends from Oak Creek joining us.

Actually the folks at Oak Creek are old friends, not new. They contributed financially to our congregation when our church started, and, after a period of meeting in people’s homes and condo meeting rooms in 1996, Cross Creek met for the first few months of 1997 in the parlor at Oak Creek, before our official opening on Palm Sunday later that year, in a storefront down the street on Bigger Road that was to be our home for five years.

Oak Creek gets to keep their building, but they’re likely feeling a bit overwhelmed by our greater numbers, and they’re taking on our pastoral staff since their pastor retired. And they’ll be giving up their name of 45 years and will have to learn with us how to get along as a new church.

I’ve no idea what our new name will end up being, but I’m not the only one to say when you merge “Cross Creek” and “Oak Creek” what you get is “Croak Creek”—although our pastor did call me out at the congregational meeting for having suggested that name. Well if I’m to be blamed for the name, I might as well have some fun with it, and hence I’ve altered our logo to reflect the proposed new name. It would reflect both churches’ names and show that we don’t take ourselves overly seriously. Vote Croak Creek!

P.S. I’ve also taken the precaution of registering the domain name croakcreekchurch.org, in case we need it.

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Choices and Black Friday

What Thanksgiving is all about to many Americans

2011 Walmart riot

2012 Walmart riot

One choice, made each Thanksgiving weekend by millions of Americans including my own sister, is to brave the Black Friday crowds in search of bargains. Part of my family’s Thanksgiving tradition is that my sister pores over the Black Friday ads, mapping out a plan of attack, and then, very early the day after Thanksgiving (or now very late on Thanksgiving night), she drags my brother-in-law along for the fun. I don’t think they’ve ever gotten into a Walmart riot, but so what if they did? They certainly wouldn’t be alone.

Another choice is to abstain from the craziness of Black Friday. I myself have never gone Black Friday shopping in search of bargains.

Closeup of one of Stephen Knapp’s Lightpaintings
on display at the DAI
Instead this year I went across the street to the Dayton Art Institute, renewed my membership, saw some Lightpaintings by Stephen Knapp, and had a nice quiet final lunch at Café Monet. (Final because Café Monet, run for the past few years by Elegant Fare, is closing this Sunday, to be replaced by Leo Bistro to be run by the owners of Roost — I’m actually looking forward to the DAI’s new community space and restaurant but I did like Café Monet.)

If you haven’t seen a Lightpainting, you really should go to the DAI to see some. Light flows through pieces of glass mounted to the wall with stainless steel brackets. The colors are fabulous, and, to paraphrase Knapp’s explanation of his work, the glass and the brackets add depth to the works that make them not just paintings of light but rather pieces of sculpture to be viewed from many angles.

I could say that my choice for Black Friday is better the choices made by those who riot over cheap goods at Walmart, but I won’t because I have a position of some privilege. I can well afford to turn my nose up at $2 waffle irons because I can afford to pay for a membership at the DAI and to dine out there for a quiet relaxing lunch, having conveniently ordered my Christmas presents online from Amazon.com, a corporate behemoth which may not be quite so bad as Walmart but which nonetheless has its critics (no, I didn’t do my Christmas shopping locally, so go ahead and judge me).

I also know some of the folks who riot, or almost riot, over things I’d find it ridiculous to riot over. Just this past Saturday at my church’s monthly food pantry folks arrived as early as 3 o’fucking-clock a.m.! to stand in line in the cold until we opened our doors for intake at 7:00 and for selecting food at 7:30. Some of those folks had heated words about who should be before whom in line, words which almost but not quite came to blows. We served a record number of households, 85 of them, and luckily we had enough food for everyone.

So I shouldn’t judge others. I have plenty to eat, I don’t have to queue in line for free food or cheap goods. I can choose to have a peaceful Black Friday, and for that I’m thankful.

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