Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Black Friday

I hope that most of you were more fortunate than me when it came to avoiding the Black Friday shopping.

My dad started looking for a new television when they started advertising the analog to digital conversion for all television broadcasts. About the time that he decided that his setup was not going to stop receiving the signal when the switch was made, his television broke. Since then, he decided that he wanted to upgrade to a nice plasma or LCD television.

I came home from a brief outing on Thanksgiving evening to find my mom, dad, and brother sitting around a huge pile of advertising fliers. They had selected a 40" LCD television from Best Buy. I looked at the flier and it promised a minimum of three in stock. Since we didn't want to risk them selling out, we decided to head out early.

My mom dragged me and my brother out of bed at about three and a half hours before the crack of dawn. We got ourselves all hopped up on coffee and hit the road. We got to Best Buy about at about 5:15 a.m., or 15 minutes after the store opened.

There were lots of people and long lines. The television that we wanted was still available, although the people in line right in front of us were there for the exact same television. The people working there had us stand in line in the television section.

Fortunately, the line was not ridiculously long.

Unfortunately, the line failed to move for about 45 minutes. At one of the biggest electronic outlets in the nation, the line couldn't move because their computers were down. Guess they should have called the Geek Squad. Wait a minute. They ARE the Geek Squad!! Whoops.

After a total of about an hour, we worked our way up to the register and made our purchase. Then we went to pick up the television at the loading area. We had a car. The television was being kind of stubborn about fitting into the car. Rather than trying to bend and beat on the $700 television to get it into the car, we opted to call my brothers buddy, Bill, to come and pick up the television for us. Bill has a truck.

My brother is a truck driver, and so is his buddy. Turns out, truck drivers have the same sort of sense of humor as submariners. You know, the one that says it is okay to make other people miserable because it amuses you. Bill and my brother often play pranks on each other.

Anyway, Bill got the phone call at about 6:30 a.m. asking him to come to Best Buy to meet us and drive the television to my parents house. Bill, who was still asleep when the call came in, looked at the clock and decided that my brother must be trying to mess around with him. Who goes shopping for a television at 6:30 in the morning? He told my brother, "I'll be right there!!" and promptly rolled over to go back to sleep.

It took two more phone calls, a reminder that it was Black Friday, and an hour before Bill realized that we were actually stranded outside Best Buy with a 40" television and a brand new television stand. He showed up shortly after that. My brother rode home with Bill while my mom and I, as an afterthought, decided to swing by Target to pick up a surge protector for the television.

WOW!!! That place was packed. The line stretched to the back of the store before bending around a corner and out of sight. The lady at the front of the line told us not to worry, because the line was moving pretty quick. My mom and I left. We ended up picking one up at OfficeMax.

Now OfficeMax is a store that I kind of like, as long as I go in armed with a knowledge of the proper pricing of what I am looking for. It almost made me sad to go in there. They had the whole crew in to help customers, but the customers failed to show up, I guess. There were about a half dozen customers in the store. One of the sales people walked us over to the surge protectors. There was an open register with nobody standing in line. While it is pretty nice to have two customer service people for every customer, it looked pretty empty on the biggest shopping day of the year. Hope that they don't count on Black Friday revenues for most of their business.

We went home after that and spent the remainder of the morning assembling the television stand and setting up the television. It looks great and works great. My parents were very happy, so I guess it was all worthwhile.

Innovations in the American Automobile Industry

I was driving home today and I heard about a brand new idea from Chrysler. They are introducing an add-on product for their vehicles. Well, the article is from June, so it may already be available. It will allow you to create a WiFi network in your vehicle. Using a cell phone connection and the 3G network, it will allow vehicle occupants to access the web while driving down the road. It only costs $499 to have it added on by the dealer and $30 a month to subscribe, in addition to the cell phone charges.

WTF?!?!?!? Cell phones don't cause enough accidents? Even for someone that spends as much time on the internet as I do can do without internet access during my car rides. Presumably, it is for passengers, although I heard someone say that they thought it would be cool to be able to take a look at MapQuest while they are driving. Yikes!!!

Hey, for all of you rocket scientists running Chrysler. If someone needs to access the internet while they are in their vehicle, they probably already got a PC card that lets them access the internet using 3G. These PC cards cost about a tenth of your add-on. Hello?? Are you there?? Stop being morons and stop asking for the American taxpayers to foot the bill while you continue to destroy your company.

While there will always be people out there that spend money on things they don't need, I think the tough economic times are going to take their toll on companies that cater to consumers that spend wastefully.

Hey, Chrysler, maybe if you spent those R&D dollars on giving us a car that gets 10 or 20 more miles to the gallon, you wouldn't need to be begging for money from the public. You are Broken. Fix Yourselves or Go Away!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turkey Day

I am packing up and getting ready for another trip across the mountains to western Washington this morning. I will be spending Thanksgiving at my parents house. I may put up a new post or two while I am there. Unfortunately, my parents house is in the land of dial up internet. I rarely have the patience to get online while I am at their house.

Meanwhile, I hope that everyone has a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving. Eat as much as you want, but dont choke on any turkey bones.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monica Lewinsky Part of Team Obama??

I ran across an article today that says that there is a rumor that Monica Lewinsky is being considered for some sort of a job in the Obama White House.

It appears to be written tongue in cheek, and I am guessing it is a cute joke since this is:

a) an opinion piece,
b) from the Huffington Post, and
c) coinciding with the 10 year anniversary of the Clinton scandal.

Nevertheless, it made me chuckle a few times. The article says that Hillary Clinton would rather not have Lewinsky back in the White House if she is Secretary of State (duh!!!), but the part that really made me laugh was this quote:
"However, Justin Cooper ... said that Mr. Clinton was cautiously supportive of the prospect. "He's always had great admiration for Monica's abilities," Cooper said."
I hope that you enjoy the article. The link is below. I thought it was pretty funny.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Photos of USS Parche Sail

The sail for the USS Parche is the centerpiece of a Navy Museum between the Bremerton ferry terminal and the entrance to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. I know it is not new, but I thought some people might be interested in seeing a few pictures of it. I think they did a pretty nice job with the display. I heard that the real reason for this area is a buffer zone to provide greater protection for the shipyard, but they "beautify" the area to make it a little less obvious that it is there to provide protection from possible terrorist threats. It would be fitting for the Parche to be used in a continuation of national defense. The biggest drawback right now is that I had to run through a mouse maze of construction and temporary fences and dodge a little traffic to get from the ferry terminal to the Parche sail.

Pictures of the sail of the USS Parche, the most decorated ship in the navy.

Boat Ride

Last Tuesday, I left Bremerton on the ferry to Seattle. I was thinking that it would be a nice ride instead of taking a drive through Tacoma. It turned out to be a pretty uneventful, yet relaxing start to my trip back to Pullman.


I had a pretty flexible schedule, so I wasn't in a big rush to catch the boat and ended up on the 11:30 sailing. If I had waited for the next sailing, it would have been much more exciting. Someone in Bremerton phoned from a 7-11 that he had overheard two men talking about a bomb that had been planted on the ferry. The ferry returned to Bremerton and the terminal was closed. They had a few Coast Guard boats to provide security, Washington State Patrol with bomb-sniffing dogs, and several news helicopters. I heard on the radio that since the ferry never turned, it pulled up to the pier oriented so that all of the vehicles had to back off the ferry instead of driving forward. I think it would have ended up costing me several hours of travel time had I been on that ferry.

Of course, I would have got some more interesting photos. Here are a few pics from the ride to Seattle. Did you know that the Garmin has the ferry route programmed into it? I didn't. For some reason, I thought that was pretty cool.

Here is a picture of some scenery.

Coming into Seattle.

My Garmin faithfully guiding me to Seattle on the ferry, slightly to right of track.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sir! Yes Sir!!!

So, I was sitting in my living room watching Law & Order. The neighbors upstairs, that I am normally pretty tolerant of, were playing their music so loud and yelling and screaming so loud that I was having some difficulty following along with the episode, so I felt inclined to go say "Hi" to them.

I knocked on the door.

The door opened.

A nice young fella opened the door.

In the background were a few more young guys and several scantily clad young ladies.

Me: "Hey buddy. I'm having a little trouble hearing my T.V. Would you mind turning the volume down a notch or two?"

Him: "Yes Sir. Sorry about that Sir!!"

That's a no-shitter.

Sigh...when did I get so old? Am I an asshole???

I Have a Yen For....

I don't normally follow the foreign currency exchange rates, but I did happen to come across the exchange rate for dollars to yen. It is about 95 yen for a dollar.

Seems to me that the exchange rates were always about 110 to 120 yen for a dollar whenever I went to Japan. Now I have some concern for places like The Honch. I have fond memories of karaoke and Filipina bargirls that always told me:
" sure do sing good...can I have another drink?"

Those days might be coming to an end.

The exchange rate for Singapore Dollars is 1 U.S. Dollar is 1.52 Sing Dollars...used to be about 1.66.

Thai Baht? 35 for 1 U.S. Dollar.

I have many memories of my Dollars being worth so much more. I have to say that I find the current state of our battered Dollar very sad. Those nights of drunken debauchery may be at an end for our current generation of brave warriors. To all of the new generation, I guess all I can say is:
"I drank all of your beer and fu@#$d all of your girls...have a great liberty port!!"

I always heard that poverty makes for a great liberty port. Will we soon be seeing Chinese and Russian sailors on American shores talking about what a great liberty port the United States is?

What Planet are These Jackasses From??

Three beggars came on private luxury jets to Washington D.C. asking for money. They speak of shared sacrifice, which apparently means "I'LL TAKE YOUR MONEY AND YOU CAN DO THE SACRIFICE PART." They are like thieves.

How can they not get it? You can't rake in millions of dollars in salary and fly around on private jets and then come to beg for taxpayer dollars. It is certainly reminiscent of Leona Helmsley and her famous
"We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes."
These guys need to be sent packing. I wish I could say that I am amazed, but I am not at all surprised. They really think they deserve these perks while driving their companies to bankruptcy. They think they are special and that they have incredible talents. Hell, if anybody wants to hire a new CEO, give me a buzz. I promise to drive your company into the ground for a fraction of what these clowns want. I am starting to feel genuine hatred for these CEO's. I know they are well paid, but do they have to rub our noses in how special they think they are?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Posting from Bremerton

All finished out at the shipyard. Guess the interview went pretty well. It was actually more along the lines of them trying to sell the job to us, for the most part. They were, from my experience, pretty honest about the negatives as well as the positives.

I also got to take a tour of one of the old decommissioned aircraft carriers and took a quick walk in a drydock basin to see the underside of a submarine. Walking up those drydock stairs sure was tougher than when I used to be in the navy. Must be all the good food I been eating.

There were a group of about nine people, but only about three were interviewing for the same job that I was. Apparently, they are still kind of hurting for people, although they are getting a lot more interest from people that would have otherwise chosen the private sector. I guess the tanking of the economy is good for the human resources people at the shipyard.

Bremerton has gotten a lot bigger than when I was stationed here. It is inexorably growing toward Silverdale. Still a pretty nice town though. I will be driving back to Pullman tomorrow, and think I will take the ferry to Seattle, just for a change of pace. By the time you throw in the gas I save and the toll for crossing the Tacoma Narrows bridge, I almost break even, so it's almost a free boat ride and an hour of walking around enjoying the scenery instead of driving through the heavy traffic in Tacoma.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Off to Bremerton

I will be leaving for Bremerton shortly. I get to have my second job interview with Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on Monday. They seem to be pretty interested in hiring me. Hopefully, it will go well.

I spent a little time looking into going to work for some of the big oil companies. Most of them try to make you feel like they are God's Gift to chemical engineers and that we should be down on our hands and knees begging to be found worthy enough of being hired. I get the feeling that they consider workers to be disposable assets rather than valued employees. There is an oil refinery here in Washington, but not too many other big oil jobs in the region. Well, I guess I could probably get a job pumping gas, but that is pretty far down on my list of desirable jobs.

There are a few other nuclear industry types that have shown a lot of interest in hiring me as well. Still, the shipyard in Bremerton is at the top of my list as far as desired location goes, so they have the inside track right now.

Some of the guys that graduated last year declined to take a government job, because of the higher pay available in the private sector. Some of them have already been laid off. Private sector does look pretty good, but I would rather have a good job with good job security than a great job with lousy job security. The current economic situation is influencing my feelings towards job-hunting more than I thought it would.

Anyway, I have to shower and pack, and be on my way. Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Religious Discrimination in the Military

I guess that I just don't understand some people. I read the bible at home, but I don't particularly care for church services because of the political bent to many church services. I don't really understand the various groups and organizations that intend to suppress all mention of any sort of religion out of all aspects of public life.

One or two years ago, there was a bit of a fuss at SeaTac International Airport. A rabbi, seeing a large Christmas tree at the airport complained. He wasn't complaining about the presence of the tree, rather he thought that a Jewish symbol to celebrate Hanukkah should be displayed along with the tree. This seemed to be a pretty legitimate point of view. The Port of Seattle responded by removing the Christmas tree. The rabbi felt bad about it and said that this was not his intention and that they should put the tree back up. I think the rabbi was being very reasonable in his request, but the hyper-sensitivity to this sort of complaint caused a huge overreaction.

I don't understand how come people feel repressed because a courthouse chooses to display the Ten Commandments or because their child has to utter the word God when they say the pledge of allegiance. I always write these attitudes off to people that go out of their way to be offended by something. For me, if something offends me, I tend to ignore it.

When I was in the navy, I never felt particularly threatened by people that attended services on the boat. When I was stationed on a sub tender, they used to have an evening prayer. Many ceremonies had an invocation prayer. I don't know of anyone that was offended by it. I certainly never felt that there was any sort of overt effort to pressure me into joining in something that I didn't believe in. The tender even had Wiccan services. I thought that the people that participated were a little goofy, but to each his own.

Apparently, not all military members share my point of view and they see a more malevolent side to religion in the military. There is an article in Stripes about a group protesting against the huge amount of religious discrimination in the military. I would guess that if anyone in the military were to be discriminated against on a religious basis, it would be Muslims. I was wrong, though. The biggest targets are atheists, at least according to this group.
"When they say 'there are no atheists in foxholes' it's slanderous," said Wayne Adkins, a former Army first lieutenant who served in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. "To deny their existence is to deny that they serve."
If a person considers the phrase "There are no athiests in a foxhole" offensive, they must be the same sort of people that go out of there way to feel offended. I also think that they are completely missing the point of the phrase. I sure don't think that this phrase was ever intended to deny the existence of athiests.

Anyway, maybe I was just blind for 20 years. Did anyone else feel that they are (or have been) discriminated against for religious reasons while they were in the military?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Circuit City Bankruptcy

UPDATE: 1/16/09 I have written another post about the announcement that Circuit City is closing and including information for people with extended warranties.

I read today that Circuit City is filing for bankruptcy protection. I am not a big fan, nor even small fan of Circuit City. The only good shopping experience I ever had there was when I lived in Aeia, Hawaii. I lived about a five minute walk from the Circuit City near Pearlridge. I was able to order a new computer online and go to pick it up.

When I picked it up, a salesman tried to con me into buying an extended warranty. I told him I was not interested. He told me that I was making a big mistake, blah, blah, blah... I cut him off and asked if the store was selling me a piece of crap that was going to break down, because I wouldn't want to buy it if that was the case. He continued to go on about how I should get an extended warranty. I told him to shut up or I wouldn't buy the computer. He shut up.

I hate these guys trying to sell you these extended warranties. Circuit City has built a business built more on extended warranties than on their sales. I always considered an extended warranty through Circuit City to be a waste of money. Now that everyone is facing tighter times, I bet more people consider it a waste of money. Add that on top of overall sales slowing down, it is no surprise that Circuit City is in trouble.

Something else for a consumer to consider is whether or not Circuit City will even be in business a few months down the road. If they won't be, then a longer warranty is certainly a waste of money.

I really don't like Circuit City, if you haven't noticed by now. The last straw for me was watching management openly screw their workers.
The electronics retailer, facing larger competitors and falling sales, said Wednesday that it would lay off about 3,400 store workers — immediately — and replace them with lower-paid new hires as soon as possible.

The laid-off workers, about 8 percent of the company’s total work force, would get a severance package and a chance to reapply for their former jobs, at lower pay, after a 10-week delay, the company said.

Read the March 2007 story here

Of course, with the plummeting stock prices at the time, I guess that the Company Executives had to screw over thousands of ordinary people so that they could somehow justify huge paychecks for themselves. Like a lot of executives for major companies and corporations, these executives have shown themselves to be Morally Bankrupt. Now, Circuit City, under their leadership, is Financially Bankrupt.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

More on Russian Submarine Disaster

There are a few more detail coming out about the Russian submarine disaster from Saturday. Apparently, the submarine is the K-152 Nerpin. An article from The Times of India identifies this as a submarine that was supposed to be leased to India starting next year.
The new Russian Akula-II class attack submarine called ‘K-152 Nerpa', which met with an accident during sea trials in the Sea of Japan off Vladivostok on Saturday, killing at least 20 people and injuring another 21, is apparently the same vessel which was to be transferred to India in July-August 2009, sources said.

The wording used by the Russian Navy spokesman is that it was an "unsanctioned activation" of the fire suppression system. I am guessing there was probably an accidental activation during maintenance. There is a siren that is supposed to go off before the system starts releasing the gas into the "people tank" which may have failed. Presumably, this alarm is triggered as part of the system activation. It is possible that during maintenance, the trigger for the alarm was not in the same loop that resulted in the release of the gas.

I have never studied one of these systems closely. Does anybody know if the gas used in these systems has an additive to give it a distinctive odor, such as the one added to natural gas? It seems like a system designed to rapidly displace oxygen from a large space would have something like this added to provide additional warning.

One other interesting thing that I read in an article. The submarine had 208 people aboard, 81 military and 127 shipyard workers. The breakdown in deaths was 3 sailors and 17 civilians.
Seventeen civilians and three seamen died in the accident and 21 others were hospitalized after being evacuated to shore, Russian navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo said. None of the injuries were life-threatening, he added.

I suppose the disproportionate number of civilian deaths is probably due to the level of proficiency of the sailors compared to the civilians. Of course, it is also possible that due to the large number of people on board, a lot of civilians were sleeping in the bow compartment due to the huge overload on the normal berthing spaces.

Submarines always were and still are dangerous places to live. I am sure that there will be some lessons learned out of this to add a few more pages of safety regulations written in the blood of these men.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Russian Submarine Accident

Sounds like a pretty bad accident, with many sailors killed. I just picked this up a few minutes ago. The article says that the sub was on sea trials. The vessel hasn't been identified.

"During sea trials of a nuclear-powered submarine of the Pacific Fleet the firefighting system went off unsanctioned, killing over 20 people, including servicemen and workers," Igor Dygalo said, without giving any details of the circumstances of the accident.

Read the full article here

Here is another article with more information

UPDATE: Another article has been posted that may identify the submarine involved.

The name and type of the submarine was not released.

However, a source in the Amur shipyard's administration named the submarine as the K-152 Nerpa, a nuclear-powered sub of the Project 971 Shchuka-B type, or Akula-class by NATO classification, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

A picture of the K-152 Nerpa

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Real Reason McCain Lost

The GOP is now left to consider why they have fared so badly in the most recent elections. Some say it is because they moved to far to the center and gotten out of touch with their conservative values. Others (like me) think that they are just out of touch with the American people.

As it turns out, we may both be wrong. It could be that our election was influenced by Peruvian Shamans. I guess that is as good a theory as any.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President Elect Obama


I was expecting this to happen based on the last few weeks of poll results, but I guess it will take a little bit of time for the historical significance of this to sink in. I wish his grandmother had held on for a few more days.

I'm thrilled!!!

Election Night

All finished with everything that I had to do today, so now I get to focus on the election. I am hunkered down in my living room, I got cold beer in the fridge, and a pizza in the oven. Actually, the beer and pizza were for "Heroes" last night on NBC, but unfortunately, a Saturday Night Live special episode preempted my show.

Anyway, the election looks like it is unfolding as the polls over the last week have suggested. I certainly hope that it doesn't come out close. I think after the 2000 and 2004 elections, particularly the 2000 election, we need to have a pretty definitive victory. Florida, I am talking to you.

The election coverage that I have been looking forward will be starting in about 15 minutes on the Comedy Channel: Indecision 2008. I hope that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have some good stuff for us tonight.

Update: 6:53 p.m. pacific time:
Wow!!! Virginia is amazingly close. An 1,100 vote difference with about 2.5 million counted.

No Margarita For You!!!

I was able to get out of the last hour of my laboratory class today because of a small material failure. My group and I decided to make a run across the border to Moscow (that's Moscow, Idaho and not Moscow, Russia) for lunch.

We decided to go to a Mexican restaurant for lunch. Here is an excerpt of my conversation with my waiter:

Me: "I'll have an Asada Burrito and a Margarita, please."
Waiter: "Ummm, you can't have a Margarita."
Me: "Is it too early to serve alcohol?"
Waiter: "No, it's election day."
Me: "What???"
(Note: I knew that it was election day, I just didn't understand how this related to my Margarita)
Waiter: "We can't serve those on election day."
Me: "What are you talking about? Where are we? Mexico?"
Waiter: "Sorry, sir."

The irony was lost on me at the time, asking if we were in Mexico while sitting in a Mexican restaurant. Rather, I remembered my time on various boats. It seems like nearly every time we pulled into San Diego, the COB would tell us that it was election day in Mexico. Don't bother going to Tijuana, because you can't drink there anyway. Either Mexico has a heckuva lot of election days through the year, or this was the COB was engaging in some alcohol-consumption suppression, similar to some of the voter suppression tactics used in some controversial electoral districts.

The bottom line is that I had an Asada Burrito and water for lunch. By the way, the burrito was delicious, even if it wasn't quite up to the standards of the places outside the gates at Point Loma. I was disappointed that I was unable to have a Margarita with it. Apparently, nothing is more dangerous than a voter with a loaded pen. Or is that a loaded voter with a pen???

Imagine my surprise when we were leaving the restaurant. A couple sitting at a table near ours were enjoying beer with their lunch. I stopped and asked them if that was beer, thinking that perhaps they were drinking some non-alcoholic beer or something like that. Turns out they were enjoying actual alcoholic beer with their lunch.

I did a little research on it later and discovered that while it is permissible to serve beer and wine on election day, you are not allowed to serve liquor. I guess the enlightened lawmakers in Idaho think that you can get drunk from liquor, but not from drinking beer and wine.

Actually, the law was passed about 70 years ago. Apparently, some of the polling places were located in bars and places like that. The law was passed to prevent candidates from buying drinks for the voters in order to influence their vote. Of course, this information that I have came from various Internet sources, so its validity is suspect.

Lesson learned: If you want to get liquored up before you vote, you need to do it someplace that isn't Idaho.

An Unexpected Lull

After a flurry of exams and a few presentations over the last week and into yesterday, I took a look at my schedule for this week. To my surprise, I found that I have a relatively light workload for the rest of this week. I am sure that I will thoroughly enjoy this unexpected lull.

On reflection, the stuff that has been piled on me at school isn't really that tough. Apparently, somewhere in the transition from submarine sailor to college student, there has been a perceptible shift in my definition of a hard day. I know that I would have been thrilled to have this small of an amount of work to do before I retired from the navy.

In any case, I haven't been posting very frequently because of my schedule. I intend to rectify this situation today. Unfortunately for the people that pop in to look at my blog, I have decided to take the "high quantity" route rather than than the "high quality" route. Anyway, if you are spending some of your valuable time reading my blog, thanks. Sorry if I wasted your time.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Voting Machines

I came across an article on CNN that discusses the glitches that can and have occurred with voting machines in the past and are likely to occur again this election. Some of the problems that I have heard about are:

Paper ballots: Choice is not properly annotated, for example, circling the desired candidates name instead of checking a box.

Optical scanners: The circle on the ballot is not filled out completely or dark enough to register.

Touch screen: Sometimes register the vote for the incorrect candidate, due to voter error or machine calibration. Also susceptible to hacking.

"With early voting under way in 31 states, these problems have already surfaced. In recent weeks, voters in West Virginia, Colorado, Tennessee and Texas have reported that touch-screen machines registered their votes, at least initially, for the wrong candidate or party."

Read the story at CNN by clicking here

Now, I may be guilty of thinking like an engineer, but none of these seem like insurmountable obstacles. So how in the world can our democracy allow an election system that does not absolutely ensure that voters are confident that their vote is not only counted, but counted correctly?

My suggestion would be to design a voting machine that incorporates all of these technologies. Design a voting machine that has one input, a touchscreen, and one output, a printer. There is no need to have any other interfaces or connections to the internet that would allow a possibility of hacking. The voter can input his or her choices using a touch screen, which can tell them immediately which candidate they just selected before moving on to the next choice.

After all of the selections have been made, the machine can then print out a paper ballot similar to those used in optical scanners, with all the selections already filled in. Use of a standard system and printer ensure that all ballots are filled out correctly and that the ballot can be read by an optical scanner. It could even have a positive statement to reassure the voter that the vote was properly cast, for example:

For President of the United States, you have selected:
(insert candidates name).

After the voter has reviewed the printed ballot, they can sign it and put it in a box for later counting with an optical scanner. If, for some reason, the optical scanner can not read a ballot, it can be counted by hand. The positive statement as to which candidate was selected by the voter will ensure that there is no confusion about which candidate was selected if a hand count becomes necessary.

I don't know why we have to tolerate this crazy patchwork quilt that is made up of the various types of machines and methods that create the possibility that votes will not be counted or not correctly counted. Our nation has definitely reached a sufficient level of technology where we can correct these errors.