Friday, November 4, 2011


November's first weekend is forecast by weather folk as probably a pretty nice one, especially here in Southern Maine.  Sunday might be the better day.  Thursday wasn't too shabby itself.  Portland (and the unofficial weather device on my back deck) reached a high of 61 degrees.  That's pretty good for this time of year.  Watch out leaves; here we come.  Again.

I'm pleased I was able to vote my conscience at the voting booth Tuesday, a full week before I'd have to walk the gauntlet to the booths this coming election day.

Unfortunately, though, people manning those automatic calling machines don't know they're wasting their time calling my number.  I don't know if robocalls are the only kind being used this year to urge voters to support a particular person or cause.  But so far that's all I've gotten.

Robocalls, as you know, are all computer generated.  A candidate or spokesperson records a message and a computer just begins dialing in a targeted area.  Some of the calling programs are pretty sophistocated.  They detect by the voice of the person answering if that person is male or female and give an appropriate "hello."  Some can even connect the number to a family and, like a mail merge document, speak directly to the answerer.  "Good evening, Mr. Gator," or "Hello, Mrs. Gator."  I'd suspect that just how much the candidate or pact authorizing the call is willing to spend determines if it's a generic or personalized call.

Usually you can tell instantly you're getting a robocall.  If you have caller I.D., as most people have nowadays, the number can give it away.  If you have Time Warner's cable phone, the number appears right on the TV screen.  If you don't utilize caller I.D., then a small pause after you answer is the telling sign of a robocall. 

I don't like robocalls from either side of an issue simply because I can't be my usual polite self and have a nice conversation with the caller.  I like to tell them, "Thanks for the call, you blooming idiot.  Now I can eliminate your person (or issue side) from my selection." 

Or, like this year, I can always tell the caller I've already voted.  When they ask how I voted, I can tell them it's none of their business, or something like, "Gee.  Sorry.  Not for your person or cause."  All I've been able to do so far this season is hear it's a robocall and hung up on it.  What a waste of candidate's money!

I don't get people coming to our door.  Canvassers generally don't want to walk my long driveway.

I heard someone on the radio yesterday (Thursday) morning saying that folks visiting homes will be all over Portland this weekend.  That person pointed out that there are 15 candidates running for Mayor in the city and they'll be out in force in all neighborhoods to press the flesh.  I don't live in Portland so I won't get any of them.  Probably a good thing.  I'd be tempted to tell all but one that my candidate had already visited me.  I'd explain that person thought enough of my vote to get to my place early.  Of course, it really would have been moot; I'd have already voted.

Someone asked me the other day how I felt about the Herman Cain accusation.  I have no feelings about it right now.  I honestly don't know anything about it, only what the news media wants me to know.  And that's usually less than half the story.  So, until there's some substance to the accusation, I'll keep an open mind.  I should point out, however, that as of about a week ago, Cain wasn't my top choice on the Republican ticket to face President Obama.  Unless he becomes the eventual nominee, I probably won't ever have any "feelings" about this issue.

Lest we forget, the November elections are Tuesday.  It's your chance to vote for whomever you wish to make decisions affecting you in your city or town and county.  There are also several local referenda or bond questions to decide.  And there are four state questions concerning gambling, elections themselves, and redistricting to decide.  I feel I can complain when things seem to go wrong and make an issue of it simply because I have exercised my civic duty.  I hope you'll exercise yours.

By the way, if you live in Portland, Portland Press Herald columnist Bill Nimitz has an interesting story in this morning's paper about the ranked voting system being used to elect a new mayor for the city.  You might be interested in reading it to see how previous users of the ranked system have succeeded.  Or not.  It's also here on line.

And now, as I do just about every Friday, I hope you have an absolutely super weekend.


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