zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)

Oliver was on spring break this week so he had no school, so his mom dropped him off Thursday night and I took a day of PTO today for some Father & Son time. We planned breakfast (pancakes, of course -- at Peter's Cafe down in Millbrae). [personal profile] afuna joined us for that then she hopped on the BART and headed off to work while the kid and I went south to San Carlos Airport.

We had a mission -- my airplane, N171MA, needed a bulb replaced. I also wanted to do some administrivia that I'd not done when we got back from our trip to Baltimore. The aviation data (charts, obstacles, and navigation data) needed updating and I wanted to pull down the latest flight and engine data logs to do some analysis. Also, I wanted to wash the plane and make it nice and shiny!

We took care of a few of the things and then we hopped aboard and started up. I requested permission from Ground Control to taxi across the runway to the wash rack on the other side and we got stuck about 10 minutes waiting for a clear time to cross. (They can't have airplanes crossing active runways and the weather was beautiful: there were a lot of airplanes coming and going.)

Eventually we made it across the runway and I vaguely knew where we were going but had never actually been to the wash rack before. I ended up going down the wrong aisle into a dead end. One of the things about airplanes is that virtually none of them can go backwards. They only go forwards. If you end up going down an aisle that doesn't have an exit like I did today, you have to shut everything down and disembark, fetch the hand tug, and then reorient the bird yourself. It's slightly annoying, particularly when you get turned around (unf! heavy!) and then have to ask Ground Control for permission to taxi because you "missed". Whoops.

We finally got around to the wash rack which was more complicated than I expected and I ended up parking in front of what I thought was the rightmost of two washing spots. I realized halfway through that you were intended to park in the middle of the two hose reels -- the one on the left was attached to a 55 gallon drum of soap and the one on the right was for rinsing. I didn't feel like repositioning by hand for a second time in one day so I just used the plain water and did the best we could.

When we were done Oliver asked if we were going to take off now. I had not planned on flying anywhere and was only there to do incidentals related to aircraft maintenance, but it wasn't like I had better plans... I asked him if he wanted lunch and if he wanted to fly somewhere to get lunch and he seemed keen on the idea. It's important to note that this would be his third flight ever and his previous two were short flights and we didn't go anywhere really -- plus [personal profile] afuna was on those flights to help if anything went south. This would be a real flight: ~30 minutes to Petaluma, lunch, ~30 minutes home -- and no backup.

He was keen on the idea and I got excited so we got ready to go and then departed. Blasting off into the brilliant blue sky -- I love my airplane. It's an amazing machine and flying is the most wonderful feeling and there I was, my son next to me with his red headset on. I had the stupidest grin on my face. As soon as we launched, Oliver piped up on the intercom: "Dad. Don't turn us upside down." I assured him I would definitely not turn us upside down.

We were cleared through the SFO Bravo airspace and it got a little bumpy. Unfortunately because of the large amount of air traffic in the area (particularly going north from San Carlos!), I was pretty constrained in where I could fly and I couldn't really alleviate the turbulence but it turned out that he didn't seem to mind -- it was a little bumpy but at least once he said it was fun. (I had quietly grabbed the sick sack and prepared it just in case...)

At some point near SFO we were cruising along and out of nowhere Oliver said, "Dad, I'll help!" and leaned forward, grabbed the control stick, and pulled back. This immediately caused the airplane to pitch up and startled the poor kid. I basically always fly with my hand on the stick so I gently brought us back to level but I think he cured himself of wanting to grab the stick!

We made it up to Petaluma and landed without incident and took a selfie. He wanted to hop up on the wing, so that's why he's standing up here:

We went to the Two Niner Diner (a lovely place!) and he wanted grilled cheese, french fries, ketchup, and a strawberry milkshake. They make 'em right, too: brought him the shake and a tin with some extra. His little mind exploded "I get two milkshakes?!?!" and he was in nirvana. The staff was super taken by him and by the end of the meal he gave the proprietor a sudden hug and she got a little startled and said "That made my day -- you have no idea, you really made my day."

The flight home was pretty uneventful. Oliver fell asleep halfway back and I debated flying circles just to make the moment last longer but ended up just heading back and landing. I made what is probably my smoothest, shortest landing yet in the plane and managed to taxi off at the Foxtrot exit from 30. (I know that won't mean much to anybody but it feels good.)

When we got home later, Oliver gave me a hug and said, "I love you Dad. This is the best day ever."

I'll be over here in a puddle of warm fuzzy feelings and goo.

zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)

It's a long weekend and it's only two-thirds over, but I suspect I won't add any more activities to the set I've already performed this weekend. I'll probably revisit some of them tomorrow, though! So without further ado... what has Mark been up to this weekend?! I'm sure you have really been wanting to know!

[personal profile] afuna and I took N171MA (my airplane) out to Petaluma for breakfast. We had some nice food and milkshakes at the Two Niner Diner and then ran into a fellow pilot and his wife and spent a while chatting. I really enjoy hanging around airports and talking airplanes and I'm pretty lucky [personal profile] afuna is always game to go.

I've tried a few times to learn to knit but I think it's finally sticking. I finished a washcloth (garter stitch) the other day and I wanted to step up to something similarly simple but a little more involved. A hat seemed to be the order of the day! [personal profile] afuna was so excited to take me to our local yarn store where I picked out this dashing color. My first self-selected yarn purchase. I've started on the process of turning it into a beanie cap based on some design claiming to be a WW2 beanie cap. It's going to be a slow project but I'll get it eventually.

This morning I cooked a Dutch Baby (a type of pancake, loosely). While it isn't precisely what the canonical one looks like, it was still pretty tasty. I believe the recipe was a bit undersized for the pan and therefore it cooked faster/grew up the sides more than a typical one would. Either way it was great and I was happy to have eaten it.

It's okay if you have no idea what those photos are. They're ribs -- airplane ribs, that is. For the past year and a half I've been slowly building an airplane in my garage. I haven't really written much about it anywhere because it's such a niche/slow project, but it's something I've been working on. When it's done it'll look something like this airplane, although the coloring/wheel setup will be different.

Today I was working on ribs #1-4 on the left wing, adding reinforcing material (lengths of so-called standard L-angle). These ribs are the ones closest to the fuselage and are designed to support the weight of the humans that have to climb on the wings to board the aircraft. (It's a small low-wing plane which means you climb aboard by stepping onto the wings.)

And finally, I'm spending my evening working on Dreamwidth. Trying to get the BlobStore system up and running and ready to land so I can push forward to deprecate MogileFS. Simpler systems are more reliable and easier to operate! Yay!


So there you have it. This weekend I've piloted an airplane for breakfast, cooked, knitted, coded, and written software. I'm feeling pretty happy about this, honestly. Most of my weekends involve fewer activities but this one has been a really solid one.

Until next time, loyal readers...

Ia, ia!

Dec. 1st, 2016 10:35 am
zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)
So, here we are.

What magic have we wrought? What pain and suffering shall commence from the decisions made heretofore? We know not now but must instead rely on that most vainglorious of companions: the Future.

For what the Future holds she shall not say and instead shall reveal it in her own time.

Mercy go with us all.

LCA 2015

Sep. 1st, 2014 11:22 am
zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)
Also, my tutorial on "Building Services in Go" was accepted. Guess I'll be going to Auckland to present at LCA 2015!


Now I'm off to pay rent, get lunch, and go look at motorcycles. I've been thinking about trading mine in (it's paid off and I've had it for 5 years) for a Triumph Scrambler. Pretty bike.
zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)
...and boom, Dreamwidth is updated.

It went pretty smoothly. I'm pretty excited. Of course, I say that now and sometime tonight (inevitably an hour after I've gone to bed) someone will find a catastrophically broken thingamabob. That is the way of it.
zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)

Need to reread, but, on the first read: yes. I need to learn how to talk about this better with my male friends.


Oct. 11th, 2013 09:22 am
zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)
I won a Fitbit One at work in a raffle, and so I set it up yesterday. Anyway, during setup it asks you for your name so it can greet you? I told it Mark, as one does.

Today, I grabbed it to throw it in my pocket and the little display lit right up and said:


I just about died. WTF, world.
zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)

Public service announcement!

Please don't be surprised that you don't see "xb95" floating around anymore. I'm finally pulling the trigger on a major thing I've been considering: rebranding my online presence to the name [personal profile] zorkian, which is slightly more pronounceable and, hopefully, memorable.

My Twitter account has been renamed, my Facebook account is already under this moniker, and I will slowly but surely transition myself over to it. In addition, I own zorkian.net and zorkian.org (although they don't do anything yet).

You will also find me on Freenode and various IRC networks as zorkian going forward.

The obvious question might be: why zorkian? It turns out it's something I've used off and on as a username on many services for a decade now, and I've always wanted to abandon xb95 just never found a good time. I'm finally making that time -- it's an arbitrary time, really -- but it hearkens back to my roots.

Reference: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Zorkian -- some of my favorite games of all time, and a very defining part of my childhood.

Thanks for listening!

zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)
Any interest in me continuing to babble about my flight training in details? Like the post I made the other day about getting from Point A to Point B. There's actually a lot more I didn't cover, but it gets pretty dry when you really get down into the details of things. I find it totally fascinating though, and maybe folks will too?

Anyway, a preview:

(If the image is upside down, blame your browser? The image has proper EXIF orientation data, and it shows correctly plain. It shows upside down in an IMG tag in Chrome. WTF. Anyway, then click the image to see the full-size version which rotates properly!)

That's the flight plan I'm putting together for a ~100 mile trip from my local airport in Palo Alto up to the airport in Santa Rosa (up north in Marin). There are legs that have to be assembled, calculated, planned, converted, and then converted some more. I haven't done everything yet, obviously, but I started.
zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)

Okay, so you want to fly between two locations. When driving, where you can use Google Maps or MapQuest or whatever and pick out a set of roads, and then you can go drive them! It's pretty straightforward, although sometimes (often!) the way you get from one point to another isn't always straight, on account of cities, water, mountains, etc.

Flying, however, is pretty easy. If I want to fly to Livermore, which is roughly east-north-east of where I'm at now, I can just point my airplane in that direction and go.

Right? Yes! For sure!


It turns out that flying from point A to point B -- even ignoring things such as airspace! -- is quite complicated. Let's say, hypothetically, that I know Livermore is on a true course of 80 degrees from where I'm at. It's slightly north of east, that's great.

If you were to just point your airplane to 80 degrees, you'd actually miss Livermore. Possibly by quite a bit. There are several reasons for that, and we'll have to work through them one by one if you actually want to fly from here to Livermore. The first thing we have to correct for is the wind. Like it or not, airplanes inhabit this great big body of air that tends to move around, and you don't have much choice in the matter.

Complicating this is our altitude. Winds change a lot at altitude, so you have to be conscientious of that and get your "winds aloft" forecast for your trip. In our case, let's say the wind is from the north at 30 knots at the altitude you've chosen.

You plug this into your handy-dandy flight computer (a type of slide rule!) and you determine that to fly a true course of 80 degrees like we want, with a 30 knot wind from the north, we have to account for -17 degrees of shift due to the wind. This gives us a true heading of 63 degrees.

Almost there... but there's one more major thing to think about.

Maps are cool, awesome, and they are drawn according to true lines of longitude and latitude. North on a map is the one true north, which gives us maps that are globally accurate. Unfortunately, the thing about airplanes is that they use compasses to point themselves. Compasses have this one critical weakness: they rely on magnetic north, which is quite a bit different. (Canada apparently has it.)

To convert from the true heading above, you need to find and apply magnetic variation. Where I live, it happens to be approximately 14 degrees East, which means you subtract it from the true heading to get a magnetic heading of (63-14) = 49 degrees.

Now you are absolutely going to hit Livermore! Right?

Sorry, there's one more step I forgot to mention. Airplanes are giant hunks of metal with electronics, rapidly whirling combustion engines, and all sorts of gizmos. They're pretty rad, but one of the side effects about all that gear is that they have their own magnetic fields -- which affects the compass. This is called magnetic deviation, and every airplane is different, so each one has one of these:

Magnetic Correction card

In this particular example, it turns out that 49 degrees probably doesn't need to change on account of the deviation from local magnetic fields, but in some airplanes it might be a big number. That said, even a small number of 1 or 2 degrees can actually add up to quite a bit when you start talking about flying 500 miles in some direction. It's important and adds up.

And now, almost certainly and positively truly FOR REAL we are ready to fly to Livermore by pointing our airplane so that the compass heading is 49 degrees, and we'll get there. I couldn't be happier!

Unless the wind changes, of course.


Now, imagine if you had just pointed your airplane to a compass heading of 80 degrees and said "good enough". The final result is 31 degrees less than that, and after not very much time at all you'd be quite far from where you intended to be, ending up far south of Livermore!

Flying is fun, I love it. :)

zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)

Today I got told -- by two entirely different people -- that I look really happy in the photos I posted to Facebook, the pictures of me after my first solo flight. (PS, I had my first solo flight today, but I'll write more about that later.)

Photos! )

It's just nice to be told that I look happy. I like that. :)


Apr. 24th, 2013 02:24 pm
zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)
[21:16] < wmoss> #server can anyone think of a way to print all lines that have two or more commas? without removing all the data?
[21:16] < wmoss> I worried this requires awk :(
[21:18] < mark> hm
[21:18] < mark> cat test | perl -ni -e '$n=$_; print $n if (s/[^,]//g && length($_) >= 2);'
[21:19] < erin> mark: haha, I don't know if that's better than awk :P
[21:19] < mark> well,
[21:19] < mark> it's certainly less awk-ward
[21:20] < erin> perl-ward
[21:20] < mark> oh come on, nobody liked the pun?
[21:20] < erin> !m mark
[21:20] < bumpbot> you're doing good work, mark!
[21:20] < mark> I expected things to be thrown
[21:20] < dowski> !clap mark
[21:20] * bumpbot claps quietly for mark, profoundly unimpressed.
[21:20] < mark> wmoss: ^^ btw
[21:23] < wmoss> yup
[21:23] < wmoss> !thank mark
[21:23] < bumpbot> you're doing good work, mark!
[21:23] < erin> wmoss: why can't you just do
[21:23] < erin> grep ".*,.*,.*" ?
[21:23] < mark> erin .. might have won this round
[21:23] < wmoss> indeed

Wherein Mark and Will come up with a solution to identify lines with more than one comma and are proud, then Erin comes in and totally destroys them.

Well played, Erin, well played.
zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)
The FAA has seen fit to grant me an Airman Medical Certificate 3rd Class. Yes, folks, this means that soon I will be flying a little airplane around all by my lonesome... now the only thing between me and becoming a pilot is to time and money! Oh, and lots and lots of training, a test, and an FAA check-ride.

Soon, soon...! My instructor says I'm doing fantastic and am pretty close to soloing. I can't tell you how excited I am!

Okay, I can tell you: pretty damn excited. I was so worried about the whole medical process. It's been eating my brain pretty hard and I've had to force myself to stop worrying. I also really expected it to take longer, since the AOPA and everything I read online said it would be months and they're probably deny me and I'd have to appeal (more months).

Instead, I got a letter yesterday that said: "Mark Smith, you are ineligible for a medical certificate as per FAR parts blah blah blah... but I am going to issue a special issuance authorization..." In short, technically I'm not eligible but they've given me an exception (until 2019) that allows my Airman Medical Examiner (AME) to issue me a certificate as long as certain conditions haven't been met. (In essence, as long as my health gets no worse and my medication doesn't change.)

Of course, I still have to go in yearly for re-authorization (instead of the normal every-5-years cycle for under-40s), but at least I am allowed to fly. This is huge and awesome.

zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)
Yay. My proposed talk "Sowing the Seeds of Diversity" for YAPC::NA 2013 has been accepted! I'm excited and looking forward to seeing lots of Dreamwidth folks and other industry friends in Austin. It should be a good time. :)
zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)

Update time.

For the past two months or so I've been working on getting my private pilot's license. This is pretty rad and I've been having an amazing time. (For the record: when I eventually get it, anybody who is in the area is welcome to come up with me. I'll be totally looking for excuses to go up and fly -- and taking people on Bay Area tours is an awesome excuse, and I will never get tired of seeing it from the sky.)

I'm almost at the point where I can solo. My instructor is very happy with my progress and has been letting me do a lot of the flying. She's really awesome and I work with her really well. We're still waiting on the FAA to get back to me on my medical certification, though. I got "deferred" because of my ankylosing spondylitis and ... drumroll ... high blood pressure.

The HBP has been something I've had for years. It's usually in the 150/100 range whenever I get checked -- yeah, yeah, that's high. The FAA has a limit of 155/95 though, and I failed the test in the medical examiner's office. It's OK though, as long as it's being actively treated by a doctor. They just want to know that you're being observed and such.

Well, "actively treated" means I had to see someone about it. That's annoying, since I'm not very comfortable with doctors to begin with (white coat hypertension is also a strong reason I have HBP at the doctor's office!). I went to my GP about it and he wanted to talk about medication, but I asked about other approaches. (I didn't feel he was pushing medication, but I felt that he assumed -- from experience -- that people aren't very good about diet/exercise changes and would rather pop a pill.)

I ruled out medication partially because if you go on BP meds, the FAA process for getting your medical becomes pretty hard -- they require stress tests and EKGs (or so the Internet says). I figured it'd be easier to try a diet based approach, so for the past month or so I've been on a low sodium diet. My target is about 1200mg/day -- which is really low when you consider the sodium contents of most standard American food.

A slice of bread (ONE slice) has 100mg+. One pickle is over 1000mg! Forget ham. Candy bars are bad. In fact, that local deli that sells sandwiches? Yeah, one of those is 2000mg. Soda is out. Swiss cheese is basically the only kind of cheese that is possibly fine and even that's a stretch. Most everything that I usually eat is forbidden and I had to completely restructure my diet.

Thanks, though, to [personal profile] aposiopetic who is ever-vigilant and amazing. She researched a bunch and revamped our stores of food at the house. We're now eating lots better, eating out a lot less, and she's even packing lunches for me so that I don't have to go out to eat when I'm at work. (Without her, I would not be doing nearly as well on the diet.)

Even so, it's super stressful for me. She doesn't abide by the diet so strictly, so she can have pickles and more cheese and bread and such. That's OK, though, really the problem is when I drive by In'n'Out or something and I smell the burgers and fries. It's really hard not to just stop in and order something. Really hard. I have managed to control myself thus far, though, but I don't know. Maybe one day I will snap and it will all go bad. (Hah.)

The results so far though: lost 10 pounds (eating less and better) and my BP seems to be a little lower. It's hard to tell what it would be at the doctor's office, though, so I will just have to wait and see. I'm supposed to go back in June and check in. Meh.


In other news, I should really write in here more.

Yesterday I was looking for some stuff in my office and came across an envelope with familiar handwriting on it. "Huh, when did Janine send me something?" I thought and opened it up. Inside was the stamped "you are now divorced" paperwork from the state. I forgot that they had required us to give them self-addressed envelopes, so that's why I had a letter in Janine's handwriting. It was kind of a twinge of pain to see the paperwork, I have to admit, but that's life. It does mean I should go hang out with Janine again, though.

I'm going to get back to work now. I'll try to write more later.


Feb. 5th, 2013 11:18 pm
zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)
Orbitz informed me a few weeks ago of a flight change, but I didn't read it very closely. Alas.

Apparently they moved my flight from Manila to Seoul later, so now I get an extra day in Manila, which is awesome. But then I get only about 12 hours (flight to flight, so more like 8 hours) in Seoul. Hrmph. What to do with a handful of hours...?

A very short summary of the past few days includes a walking tour of old Manila, with a very interesting history lesson by a very colorful and passionate teacher/tour guide. Then we went to Corregidor -- a WW2 fortress that was responsible for the Philippines being such a hard nut to crack -- and spent the night there. Fantastic. More later.

Tomorrow we fly to Bohol, an island in the Philippines, and will have some fun with resort/beach style adventuring. Then we return, have a day of hacking, and then go to tour the small volcano to the south. Then Sunday we'll probably do some local Manila touring/shopping/stuff.

Ok, more later.
zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)

So -- I'm about to fly out for LCA + visiting [personal profile] afuna + 36 hours in South Korea.

The LCA portion of the trip is scheduled and planned. I know exactly what I'm doing and when, just about, and it's all worked out. No worries or problems there, also, not much time to sightsee.

The Philippines portion of the trip is fairly scheduled, but has a few open days at the end that we're holding until we see how things are going and then decide what to do. That's fine, I know [personal profile] afuna will take care of me and not let me die!

However, the Seoul portion of the trip so far is unscheduled entirely. I don't have a hotel room, I have barely looked at the map, etc.

I'm considering -- and this is where you come in! -- leaving it that way. Showing up at the airport with my luggage and passport and just winging it. Finding maps at the airport, picking a direction, and setting off on transit. Going around in a loop until I see an interesting hotel and area, then hopping off and trying to check in. Asking around for interesting places to go and see. Entirely unscheduled and serendipitous.

I understand that means I may not see the XYZ the most famous LMNOP in all of QTH, but hey, it actually sounds kind of fun to just be lost. (I guess except that I might end up being mugged somewhere. I don't actually know how safe Seoul is, or if there are bad areas, or if I'd even recognize a bad area... presumably I would? I have no idea.)

Anyway -- am I totally crazy for considering this? :)

zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)

Yay, my LCA2013 tickets are booked, wherein I will be giving a tutorial on server and process debugging. That should be fun and interesting.

Also fun, though, is the actual trip I booked!

First San Francisco to Sydney wherein I will take a bus or train up to Canberra. I decided to do this because the travel from Sydney out looks gorgeous, particularly the trains -- if I can make that work, that's my goal.

After the conference, I fly to Manila to hang out with the amazing [personal profile] afuna! I will be there for the better part of a week. There will certainly be some hacking, but also visiting an Asian country for my first time ever!

Next, since it didn't add anything to the cost of the trip (I extended a layover!), I will be going to Seoul for a weekend and seeing what it's like in South Korea. (Also, Americans don't need a visa to visit!)

That's my plan. Now to book hotels and other things... ohboy!

zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)

Backstory: The lovely Ari is setting up an epistolary role-playing game. We know some people who aren't local who we love gaming with, but having a sit-down or LARP is really hard with remote people... so Ari decided to fix this. She's creating and soon will be running a game where the method of communication is letters.

As you might imagine, the game is being set in a time period where this makes sense. In this game, it's 100 years ago -- so it's currently 1912 in-game. I will be playing a surveyor working for the Department of the Interior, helping to catalog and survey parts of the US that will go on to be named National Parks.

At any rate, I'm always excited about projects, so I decided to have some fun for the game. I acquired an Underwood No. 5 typewriter, which started being manufactured around 1900. My particular model was actually made in 1929, but it's close enough. Only cost about $200 on eBay, which I figure is reasonable for this kind of thing. Of course, it was $200 because there were "a few issues" -- but I wagered I could fix them.

The main problems when I got it: the B key sticks and you have to reach in and pull down the striker (hammer? what's it called?), and the ribbon feed system doesn't work.

Today I put in a solid few hours of tearing down, cleaning, and investigating. I determined how to fix the B key (clean some parts, adjust the tension spring), and that works. The ribbon feed mechanism was a lot harder, though, but in the end I conquered it.

It turns out the left side of the typewriter had gotten some rust damage. Luckily it was minor enough that I could basically unstick the parts with some brute force (lots of very patient tapping with a screwdriver, basically), and then lots of cleaning with my gun cleaning solution, rags, etc. Then LOTS of exercising the joints to make sure everything would work.

I succeeded though, and the typewriter works! The ribbon feeds, the hammers all strike, everything is aligned well enough for my purposes. It's a really amazing feeling to use an old typewriter -- it makes such a satisfying sound.

Obligatory photo!

zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)

This is the time where I sit down and say who I voted for and why.

Since most of you are going to scroll down for the answer anyway, I'll save you the trouble: I voted for President Barack Obama to continue to lead the United States of America.

Ultimately for me, the decision came down to having more equal rights.

Last night Ari asked me, "What makes America great?" A fantastic question and we had a lot of discussion about it. Ultimately, the answer for me is opportunity. People come here because they want a change, they want the American Dream, they want something and believe that the US can offer it. Freedom, jobs, a better government, whatever the reason is.

Even those of us born here are blessed with a country that has more opportunity per square mile than most of the world. Yes, I realize that these days the western world is pretty equivalent, but it's still a theme here in this country -- and an idea that I embrace wholeheartedly.

And yet, Mitt Romney has explicitly stated that he wishes to take away some of the opportunities that are available here. He wants to take away things that we already have, and ensure we don't get things we've been trying to get! He wants to perpetuate the privilege divide that he and I, as white cisgendered males, have enjoyed for all of our lives.

  • Romney wants to overturn Roe v. Wade.
  • Romney supports the Defense of Marriage Act.

These two points alone, regardless of everything else, make Romney an untenable candidate for me. These points alone have dictated that I must not vote for Romney today. If what I say about opportunity is true, and I believe it is, then there is no way I can support a candidate who would take away the rights my friends have fought for -- the rights that they still fight for. I don't want to take steps backwards.

Every election is always difficult for me. I think that there are a lot of compelling reasons to choose the Republican party. I generally prefer their stance on almost every other issue, honestly -- but when it comes to the opportunity that this country (the country that I love!) affords to the people I care about? You can sign me up for the man who has stood up in front of this nation, while still President, and said:

"when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married." --President Barack Obama

Whatever else he might be, whatever else the Democrats might support, I think that it's important that my friends and family be afforded the same opportunity that I am.

President Obama has made a stand for more equal rights. President Obama has made a stand for what he believes in, regardless of how it might affect his re-election campaign. I respect that.

My name is Mark Smith, and I voted for more equal rights. I voted for Obama.


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Mark Smith

April 2017

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