Monday, November 24, 2008

Pitt Football

I try not to talk about Pitt's Football program very often. Mostly because, when I point out that unranked Pitt who plays in a conference where the highest ranked team is 16th is not a peer to Penn State, people in Pittsburgh get irrationally upset. When I point out then Penn State has won two national championships since Pitts last one, I get frowns. When I point out that Pitt has never played in a BCS bowl despite playing in the Big Least, I get stuff thrown at me.

However, I would like to take this moment to review what appears to me to be the state of Pitt Football. I could not resist pointing out that this statement from Ron Cook might be the understatement of the century, "[LeSean McCoy going pro] severely will damage the Pitt program next season. McCoy is a major reason Pitt is headed to its first bowl game under Wannstedt, in his fourth season."

You think, Ron?, In the couple Pitt games that I've been able to watch it has appeared to me that McCoy is the offense. McCoy going pro will return Pitt to bowless seasons and bitter whining about Penn State's suprmemecy.

In the long run, I hope that McCoy will be unable to convince the Pitt Football program that Dave Wannstedt is a good coach, because he is not. While I would never want to see Pitt become a better football program then Penn State, I would not mind seeing them be a better football program then they are now. It would make friendly Pitt vs PSU arguements more fun.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Is Mike Maddison Taunting Us?

Mike had a particularly prolific day, posting great things here, here, here, here AND here. It made me sad to see that none of those posts dove in to one of Pittsburgh's problems in an insightful way.

State of the Burghosphere

The Burghosphere has suffered some tremendous, tragic losses in the last few months. This has been lamented in SEVERAL places. What I think has been lost is how many blogs have come in to the Burghosphere in that time. While none of these have the quality or the following of Burgh Blog, Conversation or PittsBlog, they are young and need time to mature. When I look back on the blog posts I made 6 or 8 months ago, I'm ashamed that they are on the record. I'm sure that I'll be similarly ashamed of this post in another 6 to 8 months.

The addition and subtraction of blogs from the Burghosphere as well as the long maturity process is just part of the game. The reason a blog is a valuable source of information/opinions is the same thing that shortens its lifetime and makes it slow to mature. Namely this reason is that the sole author is not formally trained, not supported by an editorial staff and not paid (forcing him/her to seek other forms of gainful employment).

That being said, I am struck by the depth of the Blogosphere at the moment. It is perhaps as deep (though not as strong) as it ever has been. This was reinforced in my mind when I went to the Reader this morning. Among the posts I enjoyed (this isn't every post, just the ones I particularly enjoyed) in just the last 24 hours:
Of course I would rather add a Pittsblog post and a PittGirl post to that list, but I think it's a pretty formidable list without them and that's just TODAY.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

PittGirl's Last Gift to the Burghosphere?

I'm sure this is an unintended consequence and it certainly does not make up for the fact that I couldn't read PittGirl's opinion this morning, but I speculate that the entire Burghosphere received a little bump from the MSM yesterday. The Post-Gazette published a story yesterday afternoon and Pop City and the Trib went to press with it this morning. Additionally, the Post-Gazette and Trib both published editorials. That's just print; KDKA covered it this morning, WPXI got it tuesday afternoon and updated it tuesday evening.

I noticed on my blog that visits were up about 200% while rms feeds were only up by a handful. The traffic wasn't coming from any place in particular... mostly the usual referals just more of them. My theory is that there was just more traffic in general. Hopefully this traffic sees something they like either here or elsewhere in the blogosphere and we can grow a little.

Things You Just Don't Hear That Often

What made me take note of HFF inc. is the fact that they are the only Western Pennsylvania stock that I track that is UP today. They're not just up, they're up 10%. As of this writing, I don't see any particular reason for it. It did spark some curiosity on my part, so I decided to review their press release for 3Q 2008. Here's some pretty scary wording:
In the face of these challenging conditions as well as a slowing global economic climate, especially in the U.S., the Company generated third quarter total revenue of approximately $31.0 million compared to approximately $68.0 million in the third quarter of 2007, which represents a decrease of approximately $37.0 million, or 54.4%. The Company reported an operating loss of $0.1 million for the third quarter of 2008 compared to operating income of approximately $13.6 million in the comparable period of 2007, which represents a decrease of approximately $13.7 million, or 100.7%.
If your profit is down anything over 100%, it's not a good sign.

To satsify your curiosity, what is HFF?
a leading provider of commercial real estate and capital markets services to the U.S. commercial real estate industry based on production transaction volume and is one of the largest full-service commercial real estate financial intermediaries in the country.
I'm guessing that there are quite a few empty office buildings at the moment.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mark Smith hits a deep line drive...

I know my readers have noted the fact that I have slowly pulled away from covering sports on this blog, but I had to pass along a post on "Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke?" There is a memory of the 1997 no hitter. I was fortunate enough to be there and, being a baseball lover at heart, it comes scarily close to rivaling the Steeler's 2006 Super Bowl or Penn State's 2005 win over Ohio State as the most happy I have been while watching a sporting event. The WHYGAVS summary is written beautifully, but it is written in a way that no professional writer could ever capture. Through the eyes of a true fan:
Of course, while ten different people might have ten small favorite memories about the '97 Pirates, all ten of them have the same big favorite memory: the no-hitter. THE no-hitter. In all of my years of watching baseball, I've only seen one play that I swore happened in slow-motion the first time I watched it and that was Mark Smith's home run. Francisco Cordova was probably the first iteration of the frustrating "Ace of the Future" for the Pirates. He great out of the pen in 1996, he was awesome in the rotation in '97, then even better in '98, and he didn't pitch again after the year 2000. July 12, 1997 was his night, though. How do you describe the pressure that builds during a no-hitter? It was July and the Pirates, who hadn't made the playoffs in almost five years at that point, were a game behind the Astros. Cordova had become the ace of the staff by that point in the season and he just kept stringing zeroes on the board. He struck out ten in his nine innings, but without a Pirate run, he came out in favor of Ricardo Rincon in the tenth. This is just an opinion, but that tenth inning was probably the highest leverage situation any reliever in Pirate history has ever pitched in. I still remember watching him pitch one inning that seemed to take three hours in my parents bedroom (I have no idea why we weren't in the living room, but we weren't). When he got out of the tenth, every Pirate fan thought the same thing: "SCORE A RUN, PLEASE!" In the bottom of the tenth, with two on and two out, Mark Smith, a journeyman who hit 32 home runs in eight big league seasons, delivered a monstrous three-run bomb. The no-hitter was preserved, the Pirates were tied for first place, and for one of the last times in recent memory all was right with Pirate baseball.

A flash in the pan starter, a journeyman pinch-hitter, and a career LOOGY combined to create the best memory the Pirates have given anyone since their last playoff appearance. No matter what happens to them for the rest of their lives, they'll always have that game. And Pirate fans will always have that game.
I love how he remembers where he was, I still remember holding the post of my Grandmother's four post bed (a bed she no longer has in a house she hasn't lived in in 12 years) as Sid Briem slid home in the '92 NLCS.

RIP Jane Pitt

In a departure for me, I've turned comments off for this post. I don't want to be the blog that houses all the speculation on why she quit. I've read several oblogtuaries already, but I (and the rest of the blogopshere I'm sure) am waiting to see Woy's thoughts, if he offers any. At this point I'll echo a statement that I've seen several places. If this is because some jack ass threatened her annonymity, may a T car sever one of his legs while silverback decapitates him, he ruined one of the coolest things about the burgh.

UPDATE - some links:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thoughts on the PAT Transit Mess

I'm planning on commenting on this again as 12/1 approaches, but for now (since they're about to close the aircraft door)... I have a reminder on how I feel about the PAT Transit Mess and its solution. It's pretty simple. PAT has to cut back because there are not enough people who use it. Why don't people use it? Simple, because it is easy to park downtown for $15. As I write this, I am sitting in an airplane in San Francisco after a weekend visit. When I was downtown, parking was $3.00 per half hour with a daily maximum of $40. Guess what, people take public transportation. In my humble opionion, if you want to make PAT a quality service in Pittsburgh, charge a HEFTY tax on parking. Use the excess money to help PAT grow to meet the new capacity and to fund some tax breaks for the companies and real estate development companies that will be redeveloping the no longer needed massive parking garages.

Unfortunately no politician can suggest this, because it will piss off tons of people, but I firmly believe this would be the best thing for the Burgh.

Pittsburgh National Cick-Ass III

Details in today's P-G and a few weeks ago in the WSJ show just how sweet the PNC deal to buy National City was. As it turns out, because of a "holliday" of a law that prevents companies from buying other companies just to post the other companies losses on its tax records, PNC is buying National City for more-or-less nothing. If you don't understand that, here's the analogy. Let's say I made 500,000 dollars last year (I wish). I would owe about a third of that in taxes. Let's say my friend Jill, a stock broker, lost 500,000 dollars last year, she still holds these now low price (one might guess, undervalued) stocks, but she lost 500,000. If I were able to marry Jill, we could jointly declare that we made ZERO in 2008. This means I save 160 thousand or so in taxes. Essentially I (PNC) married Jill (National City) for 133,000. So at the end of the day, I spent nothing and got some undervalued stock.

The 5 billion (of the 5.6 billion dollar total price) that PNC will now be able to write off is part of your 700 Billion dollar bailout at work. Wether you agree with the bailout conceptually or not, it is good to see that part of a bailout targeted at New York's Wall Street will find it's way down Pittsburgh's Penn Avenue.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I Hate to Be a Verizon Commercial, but...

They finally made it official. The Blackberry Storm's Release date will be 11/21/2008. Which, if you were curious is only 5 days after my "new every 2" discount is available, nicely done Verizon. Above is an image of the email I received. Info on the phone is here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Well Regulated Militia

This (Post-Gazette) is why it is so critical that everyone be armed:
Hunter shoots dog, then dog's owner shoots him
Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A man faces a preliminary hearing tomorrow on charges that he shot a man who wounded his pet dog while hunting coyote Sunday in Fayette County.

George A. Bodnovich, 42, of Brownsville, is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment.

The charges stem from the shooting at about 4 p.m. Sunday of Jonathan B. Harmon.

The two men gave state police divergent stories about the shooting, though they agreed on one point.

Mr. Harmon had been hunting coyote near the Hi-To Sportsman's Club in Georges when he mistook Mr. Bodnovich's pet dog, Seneca, for a coyote.

Mr. Harmon, interviewed in a hospital room by investigators, said he did not realize until he came upon his fallen prey that he had shot a dog, according to a police affidavit.

Seneca had been wearing an orange vest at the time it was shot.

Mr. Harmon told police that as he got closer to the dead animal he saw Mr. Bodnovich running toward him and firing a gun.

Mr. Harmon said he believes he was shot in the leg as he hopped on his ATV and tried to drive away.

In Mr. Bodnovich's version in the affidavit, he had been hiking with friends when he heard the shot, ran toward the sound and found Mr. Harmon fleeing with a rifle in his hands.

The suspect said he saw Mr. Harmon crouch behind his ATV and aim his rifle at the pet owner.

Two shots were fired at the ATV before Mr. Harmon yelled for the suspect to stop shooting. The hunter raised his hands and Mr. Bodnovich took the hunting rifle from him, the affidavit said.

Mr. Bodnovich said he noticed a pistol in Mr. Harmon's waistband. He believed the hunter was reaching for the second gun, so the suspect said he fired another shot, striking Mr. Harmon in the leg.

Mr. Bodnovich is free on $50,000 bond, pending a hearing tomorrow before District Judge Randy Abraham in McClellandtown.

I mean if these two men were both unarmed, then Mr. Bodnovich would have to be paying for dog food and Mr. Harmon's doctor would not be able to make a living. Thank goodness for gun control, I hope I haven't let my NRA membership lapse.

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Sour Kraut

It's going to be fun stuff this morning! Without further adieu, a taste of the German hillside, "mmmmm, it's like grass in horseradish sauce."
  • Mr. Grumpy, made a great walking tour of the South Side. It was a fantastic way to teleport home for 20 minutes this morning. It also landed Mr. Grumpy a home in my google reader and on the blog roll. Enjoy.
  • Absolutely hilarious post over on Burgh Baby and people wonder why I want to wait to have kids till I can be sure I'm having a boy. A side thought... I considered as I wrote that the chances that someday my future daughter will look up my old blog and come kick my ass for that comment.
  • Interesting post by Ed Heath on Obama, the end of religion and the chances it's a good thing. If that's not a good enough tease I don't know what would be.
I may still make it to a serious post by the end of the day, but we'll see what happens.

Penguins Save my Week

I'm aware that I said after last year's Stanley Cup that I wasn't going to follow hockey until Christmas. However, after last weekend's horrible football train wrecks, I decided to take a peak at PensBlog this morning. The guys over there continue to deliver, putting a hop in my step and restoring my Pittsburgh Pride with the picture above (taken just as the Pens tied the game after trailing 5-2).

I'm also aware I haven't had a non-sports post since Thursday, look out for one later today if I can finally get some of this work finished and out the door.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Is It Baseball Season Yet?

So I have failed to post for several days, mostly because it was a circus of a weekend. Personally, I had a great time back in the Burgh with friends, family and girlfriend. However, Football-wise, I had one of the worst weekends on record. I have now canceled two hotel rooms (one for me and one for my brother) on Southbeach the week of the national championship game. While I like the Rose Bowl, this team was just too talented (and Iowa too weak) to end up without a whiff of the championship.

I also managed a ticket to the Steelers game courteousy of the fact that my girlfriend's uncle works for the Colts. The bad news is that myself, my girlfriend and several friends sat with the colts wives and other assorted blue and white clad lunatics. Some of these lunatics were quite unfriendly when the Colts finally won. Fortunately, we made it out without losing our cool and getting hand cuffed like Luke Ravenstahl, but it was not a pleasent walk out of the stadium. By the way, PittGirl's "What They Were Thinking" post this week had the picture above. I have a correction, Reggie Wayne was not pointing to the heavens, he was pointing at ME (more likely one of the Colts' family members sitting near me, but I took it personally).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Young Republicans = Troublemakers

Police have put out a search for 3 white guys in red sweatshirts. They were spotted wearing their gang colors and causing mischief in the Pittsburgh area. We caught up with a young man in homestead who is tired of the same old story, "I don't think these kids commit crimes BECAUSE they're white, I just think they're born in to an unfortunate situation. I mean they have to have two parents their whole childhood who are around to feed them these lines of bullshit. They grow up without the opportunities that black kids have, without the chance to realize that Fox News is full of crap and that Obama isn't a terrorist or a socialist. It's really just a sad story, I feel sorry for those kids."

Ok fine, that paragraph I embelished. But here's the actual story:
Anti-Obama vandalism reported
Thursday, November 06, 2008

GREENVILLE, Pa. -- Police in two Western Pennsylvania communities 70 miles apart are investigating reports of harassment of people who supported President-elect Barack Obama.

In Greenville, Mercer County, state police say someone spray painted the word "Obama" on a vehicle and then set it on fire. It was discovered early yesterday.

In Forest Hills in suburban Pittsburgh, Jerome Tompkins tells WPXI-TV that someone left a note with a racial slur on the windshield of his car.

Among other things, the note says "now that you voted for Obama, just watch out for your house."

Police have not charged anyone in either incident. The owners of both vehicles are black.

News on the Web

Here's a really interesting chart taken from a site called Akamai is the service provider for a ton of the news providers on the web including cnn and nbc. The above chart shows the usage of news sites that they host worldwide. Barack Obama's election was the largest event that they have lived through, 18% larger then the US being eliminated in the world cup. For reference it was more then twice as many surfers as the 2006 election.

For fellow nerds, you really should check out the site there's some crazy interesting stuff on it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Spot On

Scott's Spot ran the following post:
Regardless of your opinion of John McCain’s political views, you have to regard him as an American hero and a true public servant. This was certainly evident in his concession speech, in which he pledged to work with President-Elect Barack Obama to move the country forward. This is the kind of bipartisan spirit that is necessary to move the United States beyond the disastrous 8 years of the Bush presidency.

Unfortunately, such a spirit of conciliation is nowhere to be found at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, whose lead editorial today is entitled “Obama wins, America loses.” This whining piece ends with the following statement:

“It is customary to wish an incoming president the best of luck. But it's the American people on whom we bestow that wish today. For they'll need all the luck that can be mustered to weather what one can only hope will be a one-term anomaly.”
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review should get out of its hate-radio-mongering rut and look to Senator John McCain for an example of how to behave when you don’t get your way.

I could not have said it better myself, I have always maintained that John McCain would have been a great president. I think he would have been better 8 years ago and that he would not have been as good as Obama will be, but he's NOT George Bush either.

I think it is also the responsibility of democrats to say, "Listen, we hold the keys to the car now, but you definitely still have a front seat. We all have the same goals, so we're more then happy to listen up if you have a certain route you like to take or need to stop for a sandwich to keep you happy." The democrats are now in a position to change policy without the republicans, but they can not change the country, at the level Obama promised by taking party-line votes.

Note: Scott's spot on a lot of the time, hope you guys are reading his blog.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ignoring the Election

This Sour Kraut is pretending it's in Germany, 6000 miles from the closest polling place:
  • I was going to post a comment on a post entitled "Scrapiness Factor" posted on Pittsburgh Ventures, but they appear to have taken down the post. I want to delay my reaction in case they took it down because they no longer agree with the content. If it resurfaces I'll say my peace.
  • Null Space continues to follow the difference between Cleveland's implosion and our relative lack of one (citing one source that shows Cleveland with nearly 5 times the foreclosures). With all of the dynamics of a shared Cleveburgh, how long can we go separate paths?
  • Fred had an interesting post at a vc. It was interesting for two reasons, first was the obligatory "this slump is going to be a long one because we're going to spend money delevering instead of buying things." The second was a theory that Ventures will not be as hard hit because they rarely incur a lot of debt. An interesting idea, but they also require a fertile economy to flourish. We'll see how it unfolds.
I know those thoughts are a little scattered, but I wanted to give you something to chew on while I get through this crazy week.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm So Glad I Moved to Charlotte

One of the few redeeming characteristics of my move to Charlotte (besides the cool job) was going to be a 12 month golf season with spectacular whether, even in November. So much for that.

The First 100 Days

There will be much made of what the new President (I'm going to assume Obama) plans to do in his first "100 days". This will begin as soon as the election is over. Anyone who followed Bush or Clinton knows the drill. So, since I assume Barack Obama is one of the people that reads this blog, I'm going to outline my top objectives for him (in no particular order):
  • Call Warren Buffet and see if he has any interest in Secretary of the Treasury
  • Call John McCain and see if he has any interest in Secretary of Defense
  • Call Colin Powell or Bill Clinton to see if they have any interest in Secretary of State
  • I don't know if I got this point across or not, but I'm trying to build a cabinet that people will view as the third coming of Camelot. I think it's critical for a relatively inexperienced president to be surrounded by great advisors.
  • Call the leaders of every international country, every last one, and tell them there's a new sherrif in town. One who wants to collaborate to make this world a better place. One who will help you do good and make you wish you hadn't done evil.
  • Take press conferences, personally, twice a week. The people need to see the president speak, not his surrogates.
  • Endorse Hillary Clinton for Majority Leader in the Senate, get a photo opp.
  • Setup a summit to discuss the economic crisis. Come away with a clear plan for what, the Treasury Secretary, Congress and the President will do in the coming months to ease the problem and not run the defecit too high in the process. Specific spending cuts need to come out of this meeting. A follow up meeting and publically published progress report should be established to ensure congress and the president keep up their ends.
  • Veto a democrat's bill that has too much pork in it. Got that idea from Ed Heath.
  • Appoint a conservative, constitutionally responsible judge to the supreme court. I have a whole bunch of opinions about what that means, but we'll save that for another day.
That's what I've got off the top of my head, suggestions welcome in the comments.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Just Because "Porno" is In The Title Does Not Make The Movie a Porno

I'm going to add my two cents to a post by Devan Desai over at (if that name sounds familiar it is because it is the other home of Pittsblog legend, Mike Madison). Devan points out:
Megaplex Theaters has banned the film from his theater chain.

Fair enough. That is his choice. The odd part is that the chain has happily run Saw V “which features beheadings and explicit self-mutilation” and is “Rated R for sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture, language and brief nudity.” And runs Quarantine “Rated R for bloody violent and disturbing content, terror and language.”

Now suppose that the issue is, as claimed, that Porno has “‘graphic nudity and graphic sex’ and that it was ‘too close to an NC-17.’” How does one explain that Sex Drive, Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, nudity, language, some drug and alcohol use - all involving teens. is playing on a couple screens within the Megaplex chain?

It is perhaps one word, a five letter word, porno.

It is that one five letter word, and it is scary. Nothing is scarier in this time of religious fundamentalism (I'm referring to you, Christians) then hiding from an individual word. Do I think that children should watch pornos? Of course not. However, it remains important that Zack and Miri is NOT a porno, and that it's "R" rating prevents anyone under 17 from seeing it without permission from their parents. The notion that the word "porno" in and of itself is evil is reprehensible. How are our children supposed to learn about the world if we shelter them from the very existence of half of it? Here's how I would respond to the question "Dad, what's a porno?" at every age from 1 to 14, after that I assume they know:
  1. Ga Ga Goo Goo
  2. Don't say that word in public, I'll teach you next year.
  3. I lied, one more year.
  4. It's a movie you can't watch, like Terminator.
  5. You still can't watch it.
  6. It's a movie that is made for adults.
  7. It's still made for adults, you can't watch it.
  8. Remember that "birds and bees" chat we had, it's an innapropriate movie that shows that.
  9. Pornos are sometimes watched by people because they do not have the right kind of relationships in their lives.
  10. Pornos can be bad because they can objectify women and lead to trouble and addiction.
  11. Maybe when you're a couple years older we'll rent Zach and Miri, but for now just understand that pornos are inappropriate because of the way the industry has been built around them.
  12. Because sex is so taboo in our society, pornos and other sexually "bad" things have been forced under ground. The reason you should stay away from such things is that there are a lot of bad people associated with that underground.
  13. You can watch Zach and Miri with me, but remember the conversation we had about safe sex and what is (and is not) an appropriate age to start having sex.
  14. Seriously? You're in High School now and you still have no idea what a porno is?
Is it that difficult to be open and honest with your kids? Do you think it will really harm them that much? As Jesus pointed out, we should not be "of" this world, but we do need to live "in" this world.

Sour Kraut

This kraut, really is all over the place:
  • Go Red Raiders!!! If you don't know why, then you probably don't want me to explain, but it has to do with Penn State playing for a National Championship.
  • I have way too many friends from Philly who have spent way too much time antagonizing me over the Pirates matching Phillies' record for ineptitude (16 straight losing seasons) and the Phillies winning the World Series in the SAME year. The sports god owes me, and I'm looking to cash in this football season.
  • MTV Music has a cool new video site up. They're keeping it kind of a secret though. The last I heard is an MTV rep said it was intended more for web publishers to find a video and embed it then it was to be used as an actual site. I have complied, by posting one of (if not the) greatest music videos ever made. Seriously, watch the video. Johnny made it only months before he passed.
  • A blogger I follow closely because he's a very insightful guy pointed something interesting out about the current financial mess and all of the talking heads that call for the end of the world, "Don't listen to anybody. Nobody knows what's going to happen next... Better to be contrarian in times like these then not."
  • All Things D, a tech blog, looked at John McCain's record on technology and found "While he has long cultivated an image as a maverick, when it comes to technology issues, he rarely strays from the GOP tech policy position books." That's not a good reason to vote for him.
  • When will the Blackberry Storm be out already? I need a new phone and my new-every-two is burning a hole in my pocket!
  • Congratulations to Mayor Ravenstahl and his Wife. If anything can inspire maturity in a young man, it's having children.

Get Out the Vote

My thoughts:
  • For Snoop Dog, wouldn't it be "vizzle" instead of vote?
  • Justin Timberlake can't act
  • Harrison Ford is 66, do you believe that? I don't look that good and I'm 25.
  • Sascha Barron Cohen is hilarious, why did the one movie he made suck so bad?
  • Did Julia Roberts just point to her breasts?
  • Toby Maguire could use a sandwich.
  • Doogie (sp?) Howser (NPH) "fell in love and [he] wants it to matter." That's a brave thing to say.
  • Seriously, vote. Even if it's just to negate my already cast absentee ballot.