November 4, 2003


Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:23 pm

As is my custom, I went to the polls to vote in the morning, prior to going to work. I have found it to be a good time to vote, because, even on presidential election days, there is never a wait.

On the way to the polls, I wondered if the “poll blockers” would be there. These are the party hacks campaign workers whose job it is to stand on the sidewalk and hand out slips of paper showing their candidate’s name. I have always found this practice to be annoying and, frankly, insulting. Do they really think that handing someone walking into the polling place a slip of paper on which appears a name will cause anyone to vote for that person? After weeks of shit-slinging, campaigning, is badgering voters one more time really necessary?

In past years, I have looked forward to explaining to the “poll blockers” (irrespective of party affiliation) that the law requires them to remain 100 feet from the polling place, and that they had to stand behind the yellow lines that are drawn on the pavement for exactly that purpose. Each year, they follow my instructions, at least until they see me exit the polls and drive away, at which time I have no doubt that they call me a shithead refer to me uncharitably and resume their annoying and illegal positions close to the entrance to the polls.

Today I was pleasantly surprised to see that the annoying bastards party faithful were actually standing behind the yellow lines. The word must be out in my district to beware of the nut who bitches at the “poll blockers.” Good. First Amendment jurisprudence permits reasonable restrictions on the time, place and manner of speech. Requiring these annoying turds campaign workers to stand behind the yellow line to prevent them from standing at the door to the polling place is most certainly a reasonable “place” restriction.

Upon entering the polling place (the gymnasium), I located the table (one of about six) that was set up for my local voting district. On the front of the table, and on the left as one looked at the table, was a hand-lettered sign that read “M-Z.” To the right of that, another sign read “A-L.” It seemed to me that the signs should have been reversed, but what the hell.

Behind each sign sat two little old ladies, each with her free coffee and bun. There was no one else there to vote, so I stepped right up to the “A-L” sign and said my name. One of the “A-L” ladies announced that she was “taking her break.” I thought, A break? The polls have been open for only about an hour. The remaining “A-L” lady had to look around in a box behind the table for the sign-in book. Christ, am I the first voter in the damned district? Meanwhile, the “M-Z” ladies were comparing notes about arthritis medicine.

The lone “A-L” lady was having trouble finding my name, even though the voters in the sign-in book are listed alphabetically. At one point, I had considered asking if I could find my own name, but I was in no particular rush, and I was getting a kick out of watching the little old ladies do their thing. They looked and cooed like the Monty Python old ladies, except that these little old ladies sounded like Edith Bunker.

Finally, the “A-L” lady found my name, and I signed in. I had to sign one more slip of paper, one half of which was torn from a pad and handed to me. At that point, one of the “M-Z” ladies stood and manned the voting machine and took my little slip of paper. I entered the high-tech, electronic voting booth and cast my ballot by pushing the screen next to the desired candidate, thereby displaying an electronic “X” next to the name.

Voting is something that always makes me feel good, even though I usually come out on the losing side in this democrat stronghold. I expect that this year the outcome will be no different. I think the democrats could run Darth Vader and win in my district, town, county and state.

As I was leaving, I got to wondering whether there is an agency somewhere that provides such an ample supply of sweet, but generally confused, little old ladies on election day.

“Poll blockers,” high tech voting machines, and low tech little old ladies. That’s America, and I love it.

English Lesson.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 1:04 am

Pay attention, class. This is important stuff. And, there will be a quiz.

1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat)
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
10. No sentence fragments.
11. Contractions aren’t necessary and shouldn’t be used.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
14. One should NEVER generalize.
15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
16. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
17. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
18. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
19. The passive voice is to be ignored.
20. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
21. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
22. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
23. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas.
24. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
25. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
26. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
27. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
28. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
29. Who needs rhetorical questions?
30. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

And the last one…

31. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

Thanks to my friend Brian, the Air Force Vet.

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