This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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October 2004
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Darkflash: Interesting Week

Time for another Darkflash! This one was sent to friends and family 2 September 2004 04:25:02 UTC.

So, this week has been pretty interesting. Lets see…

Thursday: We started looking at houses again for the first time in a couple months, now that we are fairly settled. We weren’t going to look again for a few more weeks until my company finishes paying me back my relocation money, but the agent sent us one that looked really good. So we looked. And liked it.

Saturday: We went back to the house. To check it out in a lot more detail. We still liked it a lot. It was near the top of the range we had been looking at, but it was larger than most we had looked at in the same price range. It needed a little work, but nothing major, and all things Brandy wanted to do. And otherwise it had almost all the things we had on the list of things we wanted. A couple little things missing, but nothing major, and on balance good.

Monday: In the morning I speak to my boss to see if he can assure me that I’ll get all my relocation money by the end of September. Because if I have that money, making an offer on a house would be viable. If I do not, then it needed to wait. He gave me enough assurances to move forward. We put in an offer. If we get it then we may be a little house poor for awhile. We’ll have to cut back on other things. It will be a little tight, but we can do it. I then immediately left for a business trip to New York City. I was supposed to be there from Monday night to Thursday night. Basically completely overlapping the Republican Convention. I found out on the plane though that the trip had been extended, and we (me and two other people from the company) would be staying until Friday night.

Tuesday: We had a great meeting with the people we were in NYC to see. And in the middle of the day I got notice that our offer had been officially accepted by the sellers of the house we liked. But by the time we left the meeting, the “well, maybe it might be an issue” thoughts on Hurricane Frances had turned into the forecasts explicitly saying there would be a good chance of a direct hit on us in Melbourne. There was much conferring, and it was decided that we were leaving on the next flight out. All the rest of the meetings would be canceled. MEanwhile, the AC in Melbourne started leaking, and soaked the rug in Amy’s room. Complete soaking stinking mess.

Wednesday: We got up at 4 AM, and took a 6 AM flight home. After a layover in Atlanta, we were home just after noon. Now it was all hurricane all the time. Oh, and Brandy had the AC folks fix the AC. But the rig in Amy’s room still was soaked and smelling very bad. But with the hurricane, there were more pressing concerns.

Accent had decided that on noon Thursday the whole company was being relocated. (And families as desired.) They are relocating to a big block of rooms they reserved at the Dolphin Hotel near Disney. The idea being (I think) that even if Orlando got clobbered too (which looks likely) that Disney would be up and running more quickly. However, no pets allowed, so we have to go elsewhere.

Now, to answer a question several have asked… We have a bunch of fish, 4 birds, 2 lizards and a dog. How do I have a dog? Am I not allergic? Won’t I die? Brandy has had the dog (Princely) since it was a puppy 9 years ago. It is a 115 pound rottweiler malemut mix. It is super friendly with people, but not so good with other dogs. Excepts its “brother” Sammy. Yes, Sammy. Anyway, the original plan was that when we moved to Florida, both dogs would stay with Brandy’s mom. But Brandy’s mom decided she couldn’t handle both of them. There were not many other options, and none of them were satisfying. So we brought Princely with us. Now I *AM* deathly allergic to dogs and cats and imaginary friends named Shmoo. But it is Florida, and there is an enclosed porch thing called a Florida room here. So that room is where the dog lives. I don’t go in there much, and aside from a couple times in major storms, Princely does not come inside, and thus we can coexist happily.

OK, now with that out of the way, that whole pets thing means we can’t stay with Accent in Orlando. So our plan is to just head roughly northwest, leaving by noon Thursday, and go as far as we can get. There will be lots of evacuation traffic, so who knows how far we will really manage to get, but we’ll try out best to at least make Tallahasee, if not beyond. Cause all the hotels in Florida are already booked apperantly. Brandy has relatives in Tallahasee. And perhaps beyond that we might actually be able to find a cheap pet friendly or pet oblivious motel.

Meanwhile, back at home, we spent Thursday afternoon moving stuff around in the garage to try to block up (a bit) the garage window, and to make space so Brandy’s second car could go into the garage. Then after that, after getting news that the Accent people who were going to help us board up the house a bit had some of the needed supplies left, but not all, we spent several hours in a fruitless search for places that still had things like masonry anchors and such. There may be such, but we didn’t find. In the morning two people from work are coming to help us, and we’ll improvise any way we can to board up as much as possible, tape up what we can’t board up, and then when time runs out, we’re just leaving.

We’ll have packed the animals and the most valuable stuff (both dollar wise and sentimental) into my Saturn and Brandy’s Nissan, and we’ll be on our way.

And no, I am not loading the email archive into the evacuation cars. If my old print email archive from CMU gets destroyed, I certainly will not be happy, I’ll be quite upset. But I’ll get over it. And frankly, if things get messed up enough that the email gets messed up, it will be bad enough that a lot more than that will be ruined, and it will be the least of our concerns.

We’ll put stuff as far away from windows as we can manage. Hope we don’t get it bad enough that the roof comes off, and just hope for the best.

Of course, we will actually hopefully be at least on the other side of the state by the time it hits. We may lose stuff, but we have no intention of being one of those idiots who stays around for a hurricane this strength.

Oh, and there is that house we put an offer in on. The offer that was accepted. Well… we have 14 days to schedule an inspection. That will be after the hurricane. If there is major storm damage, that may just not happen. At the same time, the added expenses of relocating the whole company may screw up cash flow at accent, in which case they may have issues getting the relocation money back to me in time. Also a case in which the house thing may not happen. We shall see.

A lot in flux right now.

Anyway, it is just after midnight. Brandy has already turned in. I’m also going to catch a quick nap. I’m meeting the folks from work who will be helping with this house at 7 AM. And before then we need to get a bit more packed and ready to leave, and a bit more of what is here in order. If the clock strikes noon, we’re leaving, even if we haven’t gotten everything together that we would like to have done. Noon, we go. We will not be here any longer. So it will be short sleep and up early to try to get everything set to go as much as possible. Whatever isn’t done, oh well.

So, having said that, time for me to take a quick nap, then wake up and get back to work.

I’ll update again if I have a chance later, but it may well be a few days.

Brevard County Charter Amendment 3

Starting with this post over the next week and a half or so until the election, I’ll be working my way up the ballot from the bottom, deciding how to vote on each issue or race. Of course I will share that with my handful of loyal readers. I’m starting at the bottom which is local referenda, then the state referenda, then local offices, then state offices, then national offices, and finally president.

So lets start with this one:

Brevard County Charter Amendment 3
“Truth in Taxation”

Shall the Brevard County Charter be amended to require publication of notice of tax increase in any year in which the Board of County Commisioners tentatively adopts a property tax millage rate in excess of the roll-back rate computed pursuant to Florida Statutes?

Well, OK. I did a little googling on this just to make sure there wasn’t anything that didn’t seem obvious here, and it seemed to be straightforward. It just requires public notice of changes in property tax rates that would result in increased revenue. Which could be due to increases in the rate, or in the tax base. In any case, it is all about notification and transparency in government, which I am all for.

So on this one, I will vote: YES

Electoral Vote Roundup

Being the junkie that I am, especially with things being as close as they are, every day I check a few of the places doing predictions of the electoral college results based on state polls. A pet peeve of mine is any place that even bothers mentioning national poll results as if they are at all relevant to anything. The popular vote doesn’t matter. The electoral college does.

Luckily there are dozens of places doing electoral college analysis, ranging from major main stream news outlets to individuals tracking this on their own. Some of them have really solid methodologies, some have odd methods, some are trying to be unbiased, some are clearly partisan. But they are all interesting.

Anyway, as a reference to anybody who wants to look at this kind of stuff, here are my favorite places to check regularly:

UnFutz: Once or twice a week UnFutz comes out with an electoral college survey. This basically provides links to almost all of the places on the web doing this sort of analysis on an ongoing basis. In addition UnFutz adds meta-analysis, averages, graphs and all sorts of other interesting things aggregating the results of all the others. From here you can look at the overall trends and also click through to each of the source sites to see them in detail. If you want to look at this stuff, start here. In between the surveys UnFutz is also publishing some additional meta-analysis. For the most recent UnFutz survey as of this post, look here.

electionprojection.com: This site is done by a Bush supporter, but tries to have a neutral methodology. He has an interesting method that takes into account not just state polls, but also the national polls, approval ratings, and other things. I now check other places more often, but this is one of the first I found, and I got into a habit of looking, so it is still on my list.

electoral-vote.com: The must check site. Not necessarily because they have a better methodology, or their prediction is most likely to be right, or anything like that, but simply because they update every day, and have some cool graphs. They also provide daily commentary on what has changed since the previous days, thoughts on the validity of the results, and that sort of thing. As of today their graph shows just how volatile the electoral college is in a race this close. Since tracking started on this site in May, the lead has changed *SEVENTEEN TIMES*.

After spending time looking at all these sorts of things, including the tracking graphs on several, and seeing the current breakdown of the predictions on UnFutz (20 Bush winning, 15 bush ahead, 8 Kerry ahead, 19 Kerry winning) only one thing is clear… barring something huge happening in the next couple weeks, we definately won’t know the results until (at least) election night. This isn’t one of those where month ahead of time you pretty much knew how it would turn out. Every daily news cycle has the possibility of shifting the results significanty… with winner take all in most states, and so many states split right down the middle and really too close to call… it’ll all come down to how a handful of states end up falling at the very last minute, and that will depend on how the small number of undecideds fall, as well as how the far off the polls end up being from reality.

It should be fun. And of course, it will be even more interesting (although not necessarily fun) if any of the things listed in this article happen:

Florida 2000: The Sequel
(Richard Hasen, Slate)

Nightmare Scenarios

  • No. 1: Litigation Following Voting Glitch
  • No. 2: Litigation Over Whose Vote Counts
  • No. 3: Litigation Over Colorado’s Amendment 36
  • No. 4: Electoral College Woes in Congress
  • No. 5: Terrorist Attack That Disrupts Voting
  • (via electoral-vote.com)

    There are also issues already bubbling about absentee votes and problems there, and various irregularities in voting in various places… none of which will matter at all if one or the other candidate pulls far enough ahead, but if it is close… I suppose it is too much to ask to get fun like 2000 twice in a row????