Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I see a political rant coming on...

OK folks, here's the deal. As a person in possession of a Bachelor's Degree in politics, a citizen of the US, and someone who has read the Constitution, for fun, several times, I think I have a pretty solid grasp on the basic building blocks of our country. 

For those of you who may not know, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away earlier this week. President Obama gave a brief memorial speech, and promised to uphold his Constitutional responsibilities by nominating a replacement. 

But since this is America and 2016 and our political system has practically been reduced to a farce (I mean, come on people, Donald Trump?), Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (sorry if I botched the spelling), a republican, has stated that his party will delay the confirmation refuse to confirm anyone that Obama nominates, regardless of who that person is. They claim that the nomination should be made by a president chosen by the people after the 2016 election. Apparently, they are forgetting that, unlike the last *republican* president, Barack Obama was actually elected by the people to his office. They didn't seem to mind so much when Bush made appointments. 

Anyways, here is the text, straight from the US Constitution (you can find the transcribed text at www.archives.gov) regarding the President's role:

"He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments."

That seems pretty cut and dry to me. Not only does the President, whoever he may be, have the power to nominate SCOTUS justices, but he shall do so. I also fail to see a caveat in regards to a president's final year in office. Seeing as Mr. Obama took the Presidential oath of office, it looks to me like he is constitutionally required to nominate Scalia's replacement.

Furthermore, Senators take an oath of office as well. The full text is below:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."

Again, this is pretty straightforward. Each senator, regardless of party, has taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution. By refusing to confirm a nominee put forth under our current president, they are failing to support the Constitution, and those who stand by and do nothing to stop this from happening are just as forsworn, by failing to defend the Constitution against those who would dismiss part of it. Not to mention failing to "faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which [they are] about to enter". 

In short, I think it's not only petty and childish of the republican party (including presidential candidates, mind you) to refuse to confirm any Obama nominee, but it's clearly a breach of their oaths of office, and the Constitution. Their knee-jerk, anti-Obama/democrat reactions are immature, sickening, and completely inappropriate for anyone holding public office. 

I'd like to use a lifeline and ask the audience

So, I would like to preface this by saying that I feel extremely weird, uncomfortable, and a bit self-centered doing this. But I must know!

In checking my blog stats recently (like, lol, since I've had about 3 posts since 2014) I noticed that my views had recently skyrocketed. By that, I mean despite the fact that I've posted exactly once since October of last year, I had 99 views in January. Weird, right? Unfortunately blogger isn't showing me what posts are being viewed, so I have no clue on that front.

On top of the 99 views, I was rather surprised to find that despite being an American, writing from America, with most of my friends also living here (shout out to Christina and Cesca over in SK!), precisely 78 of those views came not from the US, but from Russia.

I'd like to take this moment to say that I have nothing against the Russian people. I was obsessed with your history growing up, and I truly appreciate vodka in my life.


To clear this up, if you are reading this post, please comment with the country you're currently in (or the country of your VPN if you use one), and how you found this blog. By all means, please keep reading - if you find my life entertaining, that's great! I just really, really, want to know how in the heck 80% of my audience is coming from Russia.

Thank you.

(Please don't judge me for this)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A wee update

So, despite the fact that I check blogger roughly weekly for updates on friends overseas, I have not actually posted anything since October. Oops. Anyways, I suppose I should write down what's been going on, for posterity and all that.

First, At the end of the year (about 3 weeks ago), I finished up at Camp Q and began a new job. I spent at least part of each of the last 6 years of my life (a quarter of it, if you're counting), working in some capacity for Camp. First as a counselor, then as assistant director and for the final two years, as the full-time, year-round Director.

While I loved the job and still love Quinebarge, I'm really happy and excited for the future, both for CQ and for me! The new director is great and I'll be working with him in some capacity through this season as he adjusts to our culture and whatnot. He has more experience in camping than I do, and is going to do an amazing job, and I know CQ is in good hands!

Anyways, I've been working for a local nonprofit that is contracted to the school system, and I work with a special needs student who is in the special education transition program for ages 18-21. Right now I'm going to school with him and accompanying him to his volunteer shifts at the library, but starting next week we'll be going out in the community to tour different businesses and find him an internship. It's a blast so far and I'm loving it!

In other areas of my existence, I've been reading (and also have watched the first season of) the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. It. Is. Amazing. There are 8 books, each about 1000 pages, and she tends to write a bit more quickly than GRRM (ahem.) They take place between mid-20th century Scotland and Boston, and mid-18th century Scotland (and a few other places, which I won't spoil).

The very basic premise of the book is based in fantasy - the main character, Claire, inadvertently steps through a stone circle in the Scottish Highlands in 1945, and ends up in 1743 - but the majority is more along the lines of historical fiction. There's romance, politics, a bit of crazy adventure, and lots of Scots accents throughout and I cannot recommend it enough.

Side note: apparently the audiobooks at the library are transferable to itunes. I thought they might have some sort of lock on them (like whatever kept people from taping over VHS movies, etc. back in the day), but there isn't! Takes a darn long time to import, but worth it if you don't wish to spend upwards of $40 on each book!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fall in FoCo

Side note: this is my 100th post on this blog! Yes, technically, I have 66 posts on my Granada and London blogs, but they don't count, right? Right?

A little less than a year and a half ago, two of my best friends from college, Casey and Andrea, moved to Fort Collins, Colorado. Andrea is finishing up a Master's Program in nutrition (I think - it might actually be dietetics) at Colorado State University, where her boyfriend Rob is working toward a graduate degree in what may be ecology but come to think of it, I'm not really sure. It involves grass, and going out into the field a lot.

Anyways, it had been a year since I had seen them (we didn't do a spring trip, unlike in 2014), so I flew out on Friday to visit them. It was lots of fun and we didn't really have a plan of things to do, unlike last time.

On Friday, Casey picked me up from the airport shuttle and after a lunch as SmashBurger (SmashFries are life, okay?) we hung out and waited for Andrea to get home from her internship. After a wee bit of hanging out, we went to dinner at BeauJo's, in Old Town.

In theory, BeauJo's is a pizza place. They serve a variety of 'pizzas', some of which are called Mountain Pies. We got a 5 pound bacon cheeseburger mountain pie between the four of us. It was delicious, but I don't think I would call it a pizza. There was a crust, yes, and cheese, but the rest was more like a flat(ish) bread topped with ranch dressing, onions, bacon, hamburg, and cheese. We only managed to finish half of it, but dang was it good.

On Saturday, we got up early so that Andrea and Rob could run the CSU Homecoming 5K. Rob, who hadn't trained, came in under 22 minutes (what.), and Andrea got a personal best in the 26:30 range. Go Andrea! Casey and I did a great job cheering both of them on, and taking photos.

After that, we went to a small craft fair run by sweet old ladies, and on to a farm to get a pumpkin. Before we picked our pumpkin, we watched the 'pumpkin toss' - a pumpkin hurled into the sky by a trebuchet. The pumpkins landed dangerously close, in my opinion, to the corn maize, but it was pretty neat. When we had finally finished ooh-ing and ahh-ing, we picked out a pumpkin. And by picked out a pumpkin, I mean we grabbed a pumpkin, weighed it, then returned to the patch to find a new one because the first one weighed 30 pounds and we were not about to pay for that.

That night, we ate out at Fuzzy's, a Mexican fast-casual place that serves the mother of all beverages: the beer-rita, or beergarita as we like to call it. Essentially, it's a frozen margarita (I got strawberry) with a beer (I got shock top belgian white) turned upside down in it. As you drink the margarita, the beer comes out and mixes to make a delicious, not-too-sweet frosty drink. And when we got home, we got to Skype with Christina, who is still in Korea. I hope we get to see her soon, because I miss her tons! Seriously, girl, if we can all get time and money together, we will be visiting you before you go.

On Sunday, we spent the morning letting Andrea do school work, then went to brunch at a cute little place owned by a lady from Afganistan who opened the restaurant to help support her kids through medical school. I had a Denver Omelette, which was delicious, some sourdough toast, and of course some bacon.

From there, we checked out a fall craft fair, where I managed to find Christmas presents for two people on my list, including Christina. I wish I could share a picture but I won't ruin the surprise. What I got was super cute, though!

Upon returning home, we baked pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, chose not to carve the pumpkin we had previously bought, and just hung out. After a dinner of dubious nutrition but delicious flavors (Annie's shells & white cheddar with pesto mixed in), we played a vicious round of Spongebob Monopoly. If there's one thing I learned during that game, it's that the first person to develop will win.

All the aquatic fun brought us around to watching Finding Nemo, while Andrea and I worked on a 500 piece puzzle. We were definitely a little over-zealous with that one, because we only got about 1/4 of the way done with it, and by the time I left were still only about 1/3 of the way there.

Overall, I had a blast hanging out with my friends and can't wait until the next time I see them! Hopefully it will be less than a year from now.

Rob ran by so fast we missed his front!

This child ran a 5k faster than I could. At 5000 feet. 

Way in the back in neon green? That's Andrea!

Rob running so fast to finish under 23:00! (22:00?)

Andrea kicking butt as she comes down the final stretch for a personal record!

See that tiny dark line slightly to the right of the middle of the photo? That, my friends ,is another airborne plane. Before this trip I had never seen another plane from the sky (excepting the high-traffic landing/take off zones), but I saw one, which zoomed past us, on the way there, and 3 on the way back!

Flying back in to Boston at sunset

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Sandwich Fair!

If you know me at all, you know that I grew up attending the Sandwich Fair (named for the town in which it takes place), and still love to go each year. This past weekend was the fair, and my sister drove out from Ithaca to attend. I also met up with a friend from high school.

Basically, when we go to the fair, we eat as much as we can, and walk around seeing animals and watching various competitions, like the kid's tractor pull, horse pulls, or even the *new this year* gentlemen's keg toss. 

This year, we also bought alpaca mittens and socks, and hat to return to the car for reinforcements (read: layers) because it was freezing cold. I can only remember one other year when it was colder - my junior year of high school, when we attended wearing parkas. 

Anyways, here are some of the things I ate over the course of a day: 

Note: I realize that this selection looks puny, but I didn't quite photograph everything. 

A maple sugar lobster

A candy apple. (I also bought a caramel apple. It's fruit, okay?)

A bloomin' onion. This one defeated us - we only ate half.

Buffalo cheese steak sandwich!
Not pictured: 
- Deep fried twinkie
- Fresh squeezed lemonade
- fudge
- honey sticks, honey candy
- French fries
- Maple cotton candy
- Deep fried Milky Way (that was Kaity's; I only had one bite!) 
- All of this was before 2 PM
- ... and then we went to dad's for dinner and each ate an entire mini casserole dish of shephard's pie. 

Here are some other highlights: 

LLAMA?!? He's supposed to be dead! 

The babiest goat

The big ones were rather pushy

(Kitten) mittens - you'll be smitten!
This one made me lol

On Sunday, because my uncle is visiting from Texas, we had a family get-together. And my wittle baby/toddler/kindergartner cousins were there. I love them so much. 

This is Jackson. He spent most of the afternoon attacking me with a 'tickle spider' 
Tomorrow, I fly to Denver to visit Casey and Andrea! Super excited to see them, and hopefully (I say with the utmost annoyance at my plans being foiled) I'll be able to visit Christina soon, too!