Posted by: Farren | 08/11/2016

My Failed Election Day

This Presidential election has actually upset me this year.  I can honestly say I’ve never felt like this before.  I’m not upset because of what’s been happening during the campaign; I’m actually upset that I’m not voting.  This is something new for me.

I voted once before in my life.  I’m pretty sure it was for the second Bush during his first run, but I can’t remember.  I do remember going to the elementary school in town and standing in line in the gym, seeing my name on the list, and being in the voting booth.  I remember joking with my friends about voting for Mickey Mouse for President.  I know I voted for Bush, because my parents are Republicans and I thought I had to be, too.  I didn’t know anything about politics, the issues, or the candidates really.  But I felt really neat after I voted.  It was cool.  I was happy.  It was a fun experience.  And one I haven’t repeated since.

To-day, I’m regretting that decision.  Over the years, I’ve become extremely jaded and cynical about voting.  I’ve told myself the same things that most Americans have over the last couple of decades: “What’s the point?”  “My vote doesn’t even count.”  “I can’t stand either of the candidates, so I’m not voting for anyone.”  And of course, everyone’s favourite excuse: “I don’t want to be called for Jury Duty.”

Jenn shared my sentiments until this year.  She’s never voted before and felt the same way I did.  During the last election, we were both pissed with the way the candidates acted.  At least I’m sure Jenn was.  I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on, so I missed everything that happened with the candidates and the jokes that came from them and their antics.  The same goes for the previous election in 2008.  Though at that time, we were both watching a bit more closely.  We were rooting for Hilary and were disappointed when she was bumped for Barack.  My thoughts then (and still to-day) are that they didn’t want a woman for President so badly, that they’d elect a black man first.  I know that sounds racist—it’s not.  It’s actually sexist.  The powers-that-be were so afraid or unwilling to have a woman as president, that they’d take any man they could.  I’m proud of Barack Obama for being the first African-American President.  I might not agree with some or many of the policies he’s enacted or how he’s handled many of the issues these last eight years, but since I didn’t vote either time, I have no right to complain.

I’m in a similar boat this year.  I didn’t vote, so I have no right complain about who wins or what they do for the next four years.  I didn’t want to vote; for all of the reasons I listed above.  Again, I didn’t really pay much attention to the campaigns.  I didn’t really care that much.  It was interesting to look at occasionally, I wasn’t going to devote any amount of time or effort to it.

In the beginning, I watched and was somewhat interested.  I was surprised when Trump decided to enter the race.  He sounded good then.  He talked big, and made a lot of promises, but they were believable.  He was the candidate who “couldn’t be bought,” because he was using all of his own money to fund his campaign.  He wasn’t taking donations from anyone.  I was amazed.  We both were.  I’m sure anyone watching and listening was, too.  It was something no one probably heard before.  It seemed like he might be a good candidate and there was something neat(?), interesting (?), just something different about him not picking a side in the beginning.  We knew he was a good businessman, but that he was also arrogant and egotistical, but it was still interesting to watch.  We were curious as to what would happen.

Then things started to go downhill.  Trump started spouting ridiculous things and hateful things.  His ego an arrogance  got even worse after he joined the Republican Party.  After that, I just ignored things.  I didn’t care about the election, I just wanted it to be over.

A couple of months ago, Jenn started thinking about wanting to vote.  She’d never registered (mostly for the same reasons as me), so she wasn’t sure if she really wanted to or not.  But the more she thought about it, the more she decided she wanted to.  As a woman, it means a lot more to be able to vote than it does for a man.  I registered her, but not myself.  I still wasn’t interested in voting, but looking back I think on some level I did want to register, too.  I remember having a feeling of hesitation and uncertainty about not registering.

Reading a lot of the posts about voting and being privileged to be able to vote over the past week really got me thinking.  I don’t like either candidate from the two main parties this year.  Neither of them are very good, but with the way things are set up that’s really all we have to choose from.  Money, power, and influence buy you air time on television, radio, and the internet, and space in newspapers and magazines, and the internet.  Most third-party candidates can’t afford all of that, so they get left out in the media storm that is campaigning.  The only way to fix this broken system is to vote.  Do research on the issues and the candidates (ALL OF THEM!!), and make an informed decision when you go to the booth on Election Day.  Remember, it’s not just voting for the President of the United States of America, you’re also voting for national Senators, Representatives, Congressmen, Congresswomen, and local government.

Being a (dear gods, I can’t believe I’m actually saying it) almost middle-aged white male (it really doesn’t feel like I’m almost 39), you take the right to vote for granted.  And with the way the country has been for the last couple of decades, it makes you not want to exercise this right that people have fought and died for over two hundred years.  The only way to fix the system is to vote.  The election might be rigged, it might not.  There’s no way for us to know for certain right now.  All we can do is go to our local polling stations and cast our ballots in an attempt to make things a little bit better.  Because I’m an “almost middle-aged white male,” I was essentially born with the right to vote for whomever I want in whichever election is being held.  I’m taking for granted what some people are still fighting to have the right to do.  My apathy because of a broken system is wrong.

I really regret not registering to vote.  But I’m going to remedy that tomorrow morning and register on my state’s site.  If you haven’t registered to vote and you’re able to, I encourage you to do so tomorrow.  Please don’t make the same mistake millions of us have by not voting.  It’s the only way we can keep this country a Democracy and (I really hate to quote Trump, but) “Make America Great Again”!

 

Here are links to help you register and to find out more about voting:

Can I Vote? | Find Out If You Are Registered to Vote: www.canivote.org/

Register to Vote and Confirm or Change Registration | USAGov: https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote

And you can always call 1-866-OUR-VOTE if you have issues or questions about how, where, and when to vote, and what to do if you’re unable to vote.

 

And here are a few tweets to help you out.election_day_tweets

Posted by: Farren | 31/05/2015

The Rain

It’s raining outside. A rainstorm is one of the most relaxing things ever invented. Yes, I just said “invented”. The sound of the rain hitting the ground, splashing in the puddles, dripping from the eaves, running from the downspouts…it’s one of the most beautiful sounds in the world. The smell of the wet earth, and the moisture in the air lets you know the world is getting cleaned.

Just sitting and listening to the sound of the water or looking out the window and watching the rain fall, the leaves bounce and drip on the trees has such a calming effect. There’s just something about the rain that even when you’re sad or depressed, it just calms and relaxes you and lets you know things will be okay. That no matter how bad the world gets, the bad will always be washed away and things will look new. Rain is Nature’s way of washing away the world’s troubles.

Posted by: Farren | 25/05/2015

The Internet Generation

A friend on Twitter linked an article yesterday about the difference between “Millennials” and “Generation-X”. Now I was born in 1979, but I feel only a tiny connection to this. I didn’t have a computer until I was a junior in high school. They recommended my parents get me one to help with my schoolwork. They got me a used Apple IIe from one of their patients (dad was an Optometrist), but I don’t remember having Oregon trail amongst the two dozen or so disks that came with it. One of our family friends had a 1990 Apple Classic when I was in middle school and it helped spark my love of computers. I can’t remember the games we played on it other than Tetris, but because it was in the living room of their house, we didn’t get to spend much time with it; only an hour or so.

There was a computer lab in my elementary/middle school that opened when I was in 7th grade. I remember going in there and playing Jeopardy (the most) and other games on the computers there. I can’t remember if they were Apple or IBM (I think they were IBM), but I do remember the big 5.25 floppy disks that we’d put into the drives to make things work. We were also introduced to programming. I didn’t understand it, but I thought it was cool typing in the commands that were written on a piece of paper next to the computer. It was “BRUN” followed by a long list of strange commands. The resulting imagery was something like the “Ribbons” screensaver from the Windows OS through Windows XP.

In high school, we had a computer lab, too of course filled with Apples from the mid 90’s. My junior year I was introduced to it for my English class. It was awesome and I fell in love with computers during that time. I spent the next two years playing games on those machines. I did a little schoolwork like I was supposed to, but my junior year English teacher didn’t really mind that we were mostly playing. I was fascinated with the computer and thought it was the greatest thing ever. I wasn’t even on the internet, and I couldn’t get enough.

Then my parents got a computer at our house. It was mostly for them for their business, but they let my sister and I use it. They got AOL, and that was the beginning of the end: The Internet was before me. I created an account and went online. I poked around in the chat rooms, watching people talk to one another, and talking to some myself. I made a few friends in the beginning, but my time on the computer was limited. It belonged to my parents, after all. So I took matters into my own hands and built my own computer. Oh the joys of Windows 95. Still I was sharing the family’s phone line, so I got my own. Now with my own computer and my own phone line, I had more control of my time online. I spent more time in chat rooms and made more friends. But they didn’t last. I never kept contact with the people I met in the rooms I visited, the one I created, or the IMs we exchanged. That lasted about six years.

In 2001 I fell off the grid. Life happened and I wasn’t online anymore. I still had my email accounts, but I never exchanged my address with anyone I had met. It would be about a year and a half before I was back online. I never went to college, so I didn’t know about Napster until it was too late for me. By the time I was back online, Napster’s time was almost at an end. My friends that I had met on AOL introduced me to LimeWire and FrostWire, and that’s where I built my music collection. Looking back, it’s a wonder I didn’t get a computer riddled with viruses. When I came back online, Myspace was the big thing to have. The new world of Social Media was born and I decided to join it. I created a page for myself, but never really did anything with it. I didn’t really make any friends, or spend much time on it. Surprisingly, it’s still up. Thankfully, I didn’t get into Facebook…and I still refuse to.

I’m on Twitter, and I have a Google+ account, but I don’t really have any friends. I’ve been in chat rooms on IRC and I’m in some forums, but I don’t feel the connection with people that the others do. It seems like I somehow missed that part of my life where I learned how to make friends. I don’t feel the connection that other people my age do to others and technology. I never learned much about computers or programming because I was without a computer or personal connections for three years. It would still be another couple before I was really online, and even now it feels like I’m late to the party and that I just don’t belong. I seem to have missed the whole Internet Revolution.

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