Peanut Butter Knife

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Site Meter Musings

Over the last two days I've received several hits for people googling "Dan DiPiero". Now, I made a brief mention of Parma's mayor who goes by that name in a post several months ago on Cleveland's State of the City address. But somehow I don't think that these people are looking for the mayor of Parma, Ohio. I've done some of my own research and I can't seem to figure out why this name is suddenly so popular. Anyone have any clues?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Letter Meme: O

So work has been crazy since I returned from Chicago and I apologize for the silence here at PBK. Heck, this simple post took me two days to finish. Hopefully things will get back to normal soon, though that is somewhat in doubt since I can't remember what "normal" is. With my brain fried from looking at tiny numbers all day and taking in vast amounts of new information that is neither a) interesting or b) making a whole lot of sense to me right now, my capacity for original ideas to write about is not doing so well. Instead, I present you with this meme.

The idea is that someone you know (on the internet) gives you a letter and you pick 10 words beginning with that letter and write a short bit about what it means to you. If you (the reader) want to get in on this meme action all you have to do is leave a comment and I will assign you a letter to post about in your blog.

Thanks to Ms. L of Ms. Prolix and Indie Rock Tournament fame for my letter.

Ohio -- The obvious one. My place of residence from 1976-1999; 2002-present. I suppose like a lot of Ohioans its a love/hate relationship. I spend a fair amount of time lamenting the lack of opportunity here, the poor urban planning, the crappy sports teams (Cavs excepted for the moment), the scary radical right wingers that control (or want to control) state government, the mind numbing sameness of a state that has been relentlessly suburbanized and just the overall decline of a once great location that people flee from in droves every single day. But if an outsider or a former resident tried to bring us down, I will jump to be one of Ohio's staunchest defenders. I don't know how much longer I can stay here, but no matter where I go, it will always be where I'm from. Ohio has molded me in ways both good and bad and provides me the foundation from which to build upon.

Oates, Hall and -- The first record I ever bought was the blue-eyed soul duo's 1984 LP Big Bam Boom I guess I must have been about 8, despite the regrettable title, the album contained the song:

"Out of Touch" -- I don't care how overblown the production is or how diverse and sophisticated my tastes have since become, this song features one of the greatest basslines of all time.

Obama, Barack -- Senator from Illinois. When I lived in Chicago, he would occasionally appear on Channel 11's "Chicago Tonight" roundtable show (think of it like "Feagler and Friends", but without the cranky old guy running things) and he always seemed to have impressive character. He's public property now and bloggers love to quibble over whether he's a savior or a sucker. When I read stories like this though, I still say he's on the good guy's team.

Ocelot -- Certain words I just like the sound of and this is one of them. Others include cucumber, celery and sumac. Fun fact: One of the few times that I was able to answer one of those puzzlers on NPR (can't remember which show, it might have been "Car Talk") the answer was "ocelot". I believe the question had to do with taking the name of a major American city spelled backwards with the second to last letter switched to the one before it in the alphabet (Toledo=Ocelot). However, they didn't pick my entry from among the winners. And hey, ocelots are kind of cute:

Other Music -- A record store in NYC where I could easily bankrupt myself.

Otani -- This is a Benihana-style Japanese hibachi restaurant in the valley. We had lunch there last weekend and with our coupon it was only $7. The sukiyaki steak is delicious!

Office, The -- Perhaps one of the greatest TV shows of all time. I got hooked on the DVDs of the UK version early on. Ricky Gervais is a comic genius, a very original comedic talent in an age of copycats. When I heard they were making an American version, I braced myself for the worst, but after a few lackluster episodes at the beginning that merely parroted the scripts of the British version, the American Office has grown into a truly great show in its own right. I think this is partly due to the fact that unlike the UK show, which was limited to telling a story over two short seasons, the US version can go into further depth with its characters and really let the writers loosen up and take the stories in a more natural arc. In addition, the American cast works really well as an ensemble (Jenna Fischer=swoon), whereas across the pond Gervais' immense personality overshadowed the rest of the show. I only wish the show was an hour, 30 minutes is not enough!

One -- As in one more of these to come up with. I never realized that it would be so hard to pick 10 meaningful words that begin with the letter O.

Olive Oil -- Things taste better when you cook with extra virgin olive oil.

That's 10. If you want your own letter, leave me a comment!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


I'm back from Chicago. I am planning on writing a bit about the city and my impressions upon return over the next week or two. For now check out my photo gallery of the trip if you're interested.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Post Election Wrap Up

First off, my post yesterday about the new voting system in Summit County drove the most traffic to PBK since I installed the Site Meter. So, if you found me yesterday and are returning, welcome! Thanks to Writes Like She Talks, Psychobilly Democrat and Ohio 2nd Blog for the links. If I'm leaving someone out, let me know.


Ted Strickland-No surprises here. There's a lot to like about Ted Strickland. His Turnaround Ohio proposals are the type of forward-thinking leadership that has been lacking in this state from either political party. He seems like a very likeable guy who will play well across a broad range of demographics. Even my dad, who was from the same part of the state as Strickland, voiced his support for Ted last fall before he passed away. Strickland must be saying something right, because I don't think my dad ever voted for a Democrat in his life.

I still have some issues with Strickland. I doubt I can ever forgive him over breaking ranks with the party on the bankruptcy bill. His vote on the immigration bill and his backpedaling afterwards doesn't sit well with me either. However, his primary opponent was far worse, and now with Ken Blackwell running for the GOP its time to suck it up and put differences aside. Strickland starts out with a big lead in the head to head matchup, but he's going to have to run a stellar campaign to keep that up. Here's hoping that some of the heavy handed tactics he used in selecting the ODP chair don't come back to haunt him in November, because if Ken Blackwell is governor, I will move out of the state.

Betty Sutton (OH-13)-Sutton's win over Cafaro and Sawyer in the 13th district primary proves once again that a good ground game is still the most important factor in winning elections. Pho has a nice take on this from the vantage point of Sutton's victory party last night. I'm not too thrilled with the whole MTB photo controversy, but as Word of Mouth (the victim of this copyright abuse) points out, the blame lies with Compass Media, not Sutton. As for some of Sutton's other tactics that have drawn the ire of bloggers as of late, I'm not so concerned. She did what she needed to do to win and none of the attacks were false. Of the field, she really is the strongest candidate for November. In a year that favors Democrats, I think Sutton will pull 3-5 points ahead of Kerry's 56% in this district.

Subodh Chandra-What happened here? I know I should have expected this, as the Columbus Dispatch poll last week pretty much hit this nail on the head. I knew Dann would probably win, but I thought Chandra would be far more competitive than just 27%. He didn't get the ODP endorsement, but he did receive several newspaper endorsements and those of several county parties as well. Was it the name? Its not often in Ohio that we get to vote for a candidate like Chandra and I really hope that this poor showing doesn't discourage him from continuing to be active in Ohio politics, we need more people like him. Desperately. Marc Dann is a solid candidate and his work on the Noe scandal is to be commended, I'll have no problem voting for him in November. However, it will be with some regret at not being able to vote for what could have been Ohio's own Elliot Spitzer or Lisa Madigan.

William O'Neill-Democrats seriously need to start doing more homework on these races. Am I the only one who heard about this? Leaving aside whether you think you ought to be supporting a so-called Democrat that wants to teach Intelligent Design and display the Ten Commandments in public courthouses. Why would you support a candidate for the state Supreme Court who fills out surveys about what his views are on a host of issues? Oh yeah, that's judicial integrity (rolls eyes). I guess I'll find out in November what happens when you undervote on the ES&S optical scan system, because there's no way I'm voting for this guy and I'd sooner gouge my eyeballs out than fill in the oval for a Republican.

Others-In the Summit County Council race, I guess Ilene Shapiro just bought herself 6 more months to try and figure out what TEL is. Charlie Wilson won his improbable write in campaign in OH-6. Looking at his vote totals, I think he has a solid shot at keeping this district in our hands, but it will be a nail-biter.


I don't have too many comments here. But one thing is for certain, the Ohio GOP is now officially the party of howl at the moon extreme right wing lunatics. How else can you explain how Sandra O'Brien won her primary for State Treasurer based on an anti-choice, anti-gay agenda against a more well qualified, moderate, incumbent (though unelected) opponent? State Treasurer?!?! What do god, guns and gays have to do with the treasurer's office? Hopefully this is a boon for Rich Cordray. As for the other races, I don't even want to discuss J-Ken anymore. OH-16 was a bit of a nail biter last night, though I don't know enough about either Dem to determine whether they will mount a credible challenge. Certainly can't do much worse than Jeff Seemann.


On an unrelated note, I will be in Chicago Friday-Monday. I hope to get off a music post before then, but if not PBK will be pretty quiet over the weekend.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Optical Scan Voting in Summit County

This morning I had my first experience with Summit County's new ES&S voting system. Unlike many other Ohio counties that have gone with Diebold's controversial touch screen machines, Summit County opted for an optical scan system. Though not the lightning rod that Diebold is, ES&S is not without its own controversies. The fact that Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel is a part owner of ES&S is certainly not a comforting thought either. If I were heading up a company that made voting machines, I'd probably want to distance myself from politicians of any stripe and make integrity a top selling point for my company. Then again, maybe idealistic notions like that is why I'm a lowly cubicle jockey and not in charge of some company.

I was running a bit late this morning and contemplated voting in the evening in case there was a long line due to confusion with the new machines, but election day is always very exciting for me and I decided I couldn't wait. If there was a long line, I could always leave and come back later. Fortunately, there was no line at all. In my precinct, I was the 15th voter at 7:30AM. The room looked kind of depressing and empty. There were no privacy curtains over the voting booths and since the entire ballot was on one piece of paper, the only thing in the booth was a pen. The ballots were torn off of a big book. It looked like more Dem ballots than GOP ballots had been handed out so far today. Not so surprising considering where I live, but encouraging nonetheless especially with a heated Republican primary battle for governor. A late 30s looking woman remarked to one of the poll workers who seemed to know her that she was "voting Democrat this year", anecdotal evidence that the tide may be shifting!

When I got to the booth, I was surprised by how minimalist the entire process is. If you're not familiar with the optical scan voting method, it is exactly like the scan-tron tests that you took in school. Each candidate is listed on a sheet of paper with an oval next to their name and you fill it in with the black ink pen provided (presumably these new machines aren't so picky about having a No. 2 pencil). The entire ballot was printed on 1 1/2 sides of an oversized sheet of paper. No book to flip through or card to slide in, it was very surreal. It will be very interesting to see how this works in November with all the constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot. I imagine they'll have to go to 2 pages. I don't live in the Akron school district, so I didn't get to see how they printed the levy.

After filling in my ovals, I was instructed to step over to the corner where a big grey box that looks a little like a copier was sitting. There a poll worker helps you slide your ballot into the machine and presumably if you made any mistakes, the machine will spit the ballot back out. Then you're done.
Remarkably simple, this process. My primary (no pun intended) concerns going into election day were that 1) there would be no paper trail to facilitate a manual recount if one was warranted and that 2) many people not familiar with optical scan systems would not fill in the ovals correctly and thus, not have their ballots counted. My first concern was answered because the ballot is a piece of paper and it gets fed into the machine. In fact, manual recounts might be even easier with this system since the candidates name is right on the ballot, as opposed to the punch card system which uses a number to represent different candidates. The second concern was only partially answered since the machine reads the ballot on site and will tell the voter if they made any mistakes. But I'm left wondering if it would be able to detect a mark that was too small or insufficient since it may just assume that the voter skipped that race altogether?

Overall, though it still seems a little odd to me, I am very comfortable with this system, if it is implemented correctly and the software works. The technology, in theory, should be sound. I've taken scan tests since I was in elementary school in the early/mid 80s and don't remember ever having a problem with the test reader messing up the scoring of a test. However, this being politics there's always someone trying to cut corners and hide from accountability. Psychobilly Democrat has been chronicling many of the issues that are being raised with this new system here in Ohio and I'll be interested in hearing their take post-election. Will Summit County have the same issues that other ES&S clients have had? Once we lose faith in our elections, we've pretty much lost.

Sorry for the poor quality of photos in this post. My cell phone is not the best camera in the world.