Monday, March 21, 2016

Political Mess

Earlier this month, I did something I had never done before. In fact, it was something I didn’t think you could do in Nebraska, but since I did it, I obviously was wrong about that. I did have to make a change - one I thought I would never do - in order to accomplish it, but that turned out to be simple to do. And I knew there was no way I would vote Republican this year, so I went ahead and changed my affiliation from Independent to Democratic.
I attended a caucus.
I’d heard about caucuses in Iowa, but I thought Nebraska had primaries. Turns out the Republicans have a primary; the Democrats have a caucus. I don’t know when they started that.
Since this was my first time, I don’t know if this was a ‘typical’ caucus or not, but it was a mess!
First, it was held in the auditorium of an elementary school. Bad choice. Obviously, there was not enough parking at an elementary school for the number of people who showed up. We got there half an hour before it started, and had to park on the street 3 blocks away. Why not a high school auditorium or a movie theater? Either of those would have had more parking, and the theater might have had enough parking.
Second, the auditorium had 3 sections of seating. Bernie supporters sat in one section, Hillary supporters in another, and the Undecided in the middle. But there were so many people there who were Not Undecided, they eventually had to open the middle section up for everyone. And still, one candidate had supporters standing up, lining the wall and closing the aisle between sections. Good thing no fire marshal checked in; I’m pretty sure he would have shut it down. That room was holding WAY over its fire code limit! They should have had a larger place, with far more parking.
Third, we had to decide who was going to ‘run’ the caucus. What a waste of time! There was only one guy nominated! I don’t know who nominated him, but I figured he had done this before, so he knew what needed to be done.
He may have known what to do, but he didn’t know how to use the microphone. Or he chose not to use it correctly. I was seated near the back, and 95% of the time, people were yelling, “Louder!” or “Use the mic!” He never seemed to do it correctly - so that we could hear him - for more than one sentence, if that long.
And then we ‘voted’, group by group. What a farce! Each supporter had to hold up their hand until their ‘leader’ pointed to them, and then they said the next number and put their hand down. If they didn’t yell their number, the rest of the group got restless, wondering what the number was now, and how much longer did they have to hold their arm in the air?
The result of this straw poll was announced. The Bernie and Hillary groups were deemed ‘viable’, the Undecided group was not, so the Undecided people had to choose which group they would join. Supporters of the 2 candidates were allowed a certain amount of time to talk to them. The rest of us chaffed at how long this caucus was taking.
Then another ‘vote’, just like before, and the results tallied. Then the mail-in votes were added. What? One was allowed to mail in their vote and not have to sit through all this? Why didn’t anyone tell the rest of us?
Eventually, a ‘winner’ was declared, and we were allowed to file out. We wasted 2-3 hours that morning. I much prefer a primary, which takes 5-10 minutes of a person’s time. Maybe longer, if there’s a line. But this caucus had a long line, and could not start until everybody was in, which was at least 20 minutes after the announced start time.
There were a large number of young people in attendance. I hope this experience didn’t spoil their enthusiasm for participating in the process. (I’m a cranky old woman, so I tend to complain a lot.) 99% of the people - young and not-so-young - were well behaved, despite our frustration levels.

But please, Democratic Party, if you insist on caucuses, find a venue big enough, with plenty of parking. Nominate someone to run the caucus who knows how to use a microphone. And find some way to make the process faster!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Learning New Tricks 1

Remember that old saying, “Old dogs can’t learn new tricks?” Now that science says older people should be learning new things in order to keep their mind sharp, this ‘old dog’ is determined to learn new tricks. Even if I’m not a ‘spring chicken’ anymore.
Happily, there are plenty of opportunities to learn new things, ranging from free to costing quite a lot.
FREE - Tandy Leather offers free lessons in working with leather, from beginning to advanced. Generally, these lessons are offered on Saturdays for 5-6 weeks. I am in the middle of my 3rd class with them, learning to lace and sew leather projects. Usually, I come out of these sessions with 1 (maybe 2) projects done, but there are a lot of different lacing techniques to learn, so I am keeping my projects small and otherwise unadorned (no carving or stamping), and I am finishing one project a week.
A couple months ago, I discovered dospace, located in Omaha at 72 & Dodge. They offer crash courses in various computer programs. Afterwards, you can go in at any time (that they’re open) and use one of their (many) computers to practice and do projects in that program, so you don’t actually have to run out and buy it. I’ve taken 3 classes from them, and try to get there for a couple hours each week to practice on the programs we don’t have.
YouTube offers lots of instructive videos. We’ve watched many on using particular types of materials for specific pieces of costumes or props, and more on makeup techniques.
Company websites sometimes have instructional videos to show you how to use their products. Smoothon, for instance, will show you how to make molds, and how to use those molds to cast items in resin. Hubby really enjoys doing that, and that’s how he learned the method.
Television is a relatively ancient method of learning, but still an active teacher. I think the best (easiest) to learn from tv are cooking and sewing. There are other opportunities, such as doing a mosaic tabletop with pieces of broken china or tiny glass tiles, but too often, you get 1 or 2 10-15 second shots of some of the steps in doing that, with verbal instructions for the entire process delivered at 90 miles per hour. That has never been enough ‘learning’ for me to actually try it, although it is for other people.
Of course, you might get a book from the local library to teach you how to do whatever you have a hankering to learn.

Hmmm. I’m running out of room, and I haven’t even gotten to some of the learning opportunities that cost money. And actually, I intended to write about the different ways people learn, but I’ve wandered quite a ways from that topic. Okay, then, this is Part 1 of “Learning New Tricks”. Stay tuned for future parts, one of which may or may not show up next week. It all depends on if I find some other fascinating subject to talk about before then.