Arena Election Predictions Tuesday, Oct 28 2008 

Politico’s Arena is great today.  It asks everyone to come up with the following predictions for the election:

  • The popular vote percentage
  • The number of electoral votes
  • Any state upsets
  • House prediction
  • Senate prediction
  • Any other predictions

Here are mine:

  • Popular vote: Obama 53%, McCain 46%, Other 1%
  • Electoral votes: Obama 349, McCain 189
  • State upsets: McCain wins Arizona by less than 5%.  That I could see happening, but as far as CRAZY state upsets go, I think Obama winning North Dakota isn’t entirely improbable.
  • House prediction: Dems pick up 25 seats.
  • Senate prediction: Dems pick up 8 seats, just short of a filibuster-proof majority.

Now, here’s my wacky prediction.  I think that Ted Stevens might actually eke out a win, somehow, and Sarah Palin will appoint his replacement — HERSELF.  She has the power to do that.

I doubt he’ll win the election, but I think she’ll find a way to get herself in.  She’s already called for a special election — but why would that be necessary if there’s an ACTUAL ELECTION happening next week?

FURTHERMORE, I think that two Arena commentators need to be removed.  Grover Norquist and Craig Shirley were the only commentators not to take part in the prediction game — they just used their chance to whine and complain like children.  EVERYONE participated thoughtfully except for these two.

Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform: “I further predict that the Republican party will pass on accepting this advice from our class enemies and return to our Reagan roots and will return to power when America tires of Chicago on the Potomac.”

Shirley, Reagan biographer: “My prediction is that with Acorn’s help, Obama will win 107 percent of the popular vote and 600 Electoral College votes. Just like other Socialist candidates around the world.”

Neither of them EVER stay on topic.  The Arena Comedian actually has more to say than them!

It’s not about their political views.  There are plenty of intelligent, well-written Republicans on the Arena.  And they not only stay on topic, they also add interesting points to each discussion.

Seriously, Politico.  Get them off the site.  Especially Shirley.  He ignores every question and just talks about Reagan.

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Ashley Todd Halloween Costume Saturday, Oct 25 2008 

Remember that psycho Ashley Todd, a McCain volunteer who claimed she was attacked, robbed and mutilated by a black man who supported Obama?

She told the police that a black man robbed her at an ATM, then saw the McCain sticker on her car, held her down, told her she should support Barack, and carved a B into her face.

Turns out she made the whole thing up.  Read more here.  Also, the executive vice president of Fox News, John Moody, said that if this turned out to be a hoax, McCain’s campaign would be over.

Wonder when he’s going to endorse Obama.

Anyway, my point:

The timing is perfect — I finally have my political and relevant Halloween costume!

Thanks, psycho!

RTW Itineraries for EVERY kind of traveler! Saturday, Oct 25 2008 

I’ve been playing with RTW (round the world) travel tickets at OneWorld.  I love putting together themed travel itineraries with fifteen destinations or less that span the whole world!

When I do go on my eventual trip around the world (it’s a few years away), I won’t book a RTW ticket — they lock you into an itinerary and force you to use it within a year, start to finish.  That’s a bit much for me.

That being said, here is the itinerary that I’ve been planning for years.  It’s fluctuated a bit, but it’s generally been the same layout.

Click the images to enlarge them.

Kate’s Future RTW Map

–Boston to Auckland
–(overland to Christchurch)
–Christchurch to Melbourne
–(overland to Cairns)
–Cairns to Denpasar, Bali
–Denpasar to Singapore
–(overland throughout Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia)
–Bangkok to Kathmandu
–(overland throughout India)
–Mumbai to Johannesburg
–(overland through Swaziland and Mozambique to Cape Town)
–Cape Town to Cairo
–(overland throughout Israel and Jordan)
–Amman to Istanbul
–(overland throughout Turkey and all over Europe)
–London to Boston

Now…for the crazy ones.

The Best of the Third World!

–start in Detroit (I couldn’t resist)
–Port-au-Prince, Haiti
–San Salvador, El Salvador
–Medellin, Colombia
–Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
–Dhaka, Bangladesh
–Khartoum, Sudan
–Kigali, Rwanda
–Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
–Freetown, Sierra Leone
–Naples, Italy (trust me)
–Chisinau, Moldova
–Kiev, Ukraine
–back to Detroit!

Cosmopolitan Cities and VIP Life

–Start in New York, NY
–Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
–Sydney, Australia
–Tokyo, Japan
–Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
–Bangkok, Thailand
–Cape Town, South Africa
–Dakar, Senegal
–Dubai, United Arab Emirates
–Istanbul, Turkey
–Rome, Italy
–Paris, France
–Barcelona, Spain
–back to New York!

Gay Gay Gay Gay Gay

–Start in fabulous New York
–South Beach (Miami)
–Key West
–Palm Springs
–San Francisco
–Sydney
–Bangkok
–Mykonos (Athens)
–Berlin
–Ibiza
–Paris
–London

If only I could jump on a plane right now.  I can’t wait for Buenos Aires.

On Palin’s $150,000 Wardrobe Thursday, Oct 23 2008 

FINALLY, after a few submissions, my response was published on Politico’s Arena!  (No permalink yet, but it will appear by tomorrow.)

I love the Arena.  It’s a relatively new feature in which the moderators ask a question and various personalities chime in with their views — from journalists to strategist to nonprofit leaders to professors to people holding political office.

The best ones are thoughtful, honest and nonpartisan.  The worst ones are shamelessly partisan (on EITHER side) and ignore the question, bringing up something else entirely.

Today’s question: Does Palin’s wardrobe malfunction matter or is it a trivial distraction as the GOP says?

My response:

Will it affect the election? No. But the McCain campaign lost a news cycle, once again, to frivolity, and at this point, he can’t afford to lose a minute.

At first, it seems like a misogynistic double-standard. Barack Obama wears $1500 Hugo Boss suits and John McCain wears $500 Ferragamo shoes, yet only Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton are criticized when it comes to their wardrobes. For that reason alone, Palin’s wardrobe shouldn’t matter whatsoever.

However, it does matter, and for two reasons: because it was paid for with campaign money and because Palin has run her campaign based on populism. This undermines the credibility of both the McCain campaign and Palin herself.

It’s one thing for Obama, who makes millions from his memoirs, or McCain, whose wife inherited a multi-billion-dollar company, to wear expensive clothing that they can afford without donations. But does Palin have to wear a $2500 Valentino jacket, especially when it was paid for by plumbers and waitresses and teachers throughout the country, in order to get elected?

I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Palin’s $150,000 wardrobe had been funded by John and Cindy McCain themselves. It’s less than half the cost of Cindy’s convention outfit.

Buenos Aires Thursday, Oct 16 2008 

Yes.  I’ve decided on Buenos Aires for my Thanksgiving trip!  Some of you were dead-on, and some of you were VERY close with Rio — along with several other place where I’d eventually love to visit.

I am SO, SO, SO excited.

After monitoring the fares for a few days, the price suddenly went down $108 — so I booked it that night.  It’s a ridiculously low fare ($792 from Boston with one stop in Atlanta).  I fly out the day before Thanksgiving and I leave late the following Tuesday, returning Wednesday morning.

After much consideration, I have decided to stay in the Palermo neighborhood, hopefully Palermo Viejo.  I have a friend at work who studied in Buenos Aires and highly recommends that neighborhood.  It sounds awesome — filled with the hottest clubs, boutiques and restaurants.  I’ll be staying in a private room in a hostel, so I can have the benefits of my own room and the social benefits of a hostel.

And yes, I will temporarily give up the vegetarianism to sample the fine steaks of Argentina.  God, I used to love steak, especially the incredible steaks in Florence.  But I’ve gone without meat for so long (eight months!), I can’t imagine eating it again.

I have six weeks to learn Argentine tango.  I did ballroom dancing in college and I can do American tango, but Argentine tango is SO different.  I found a class in Cambridge that is six weeks long and starts on Tuesday!  PERFECT!!

I also need to brush up on my Spanish.  I speak it a bit — I took two years’ worth of Spanish in high school, but French is my main language and I also speak Italian from my time studying in Florence.  I can understand it, but I’m not so good at speaking it.

I will be doing a day trip to Uruguay as well — probably Colonia.  I’d love to go to Montevideo and Punta del Este, but that will probably be best reserved for another time.

And I haven’t told my parents yet.  We’ll see how that goes.

As for the mouse, it got REALLY BAD the past few nights.  On Monday and Tuesday night, I was up until 3:30 AM because as soon as I stopped moving, the mouse would start running all over my room and I’d get freaked out.  (Yes, we caught one, but this was another.)

It was terrible.  I went into Sars’ room to ask her if I could sleep with her, just so I could sleep, period.  She refused.

I sobbed as I filled yet another trap with peanut butter.  I just wanted to SLEEP, and that was the one thing I couldn’t do.

Well, it’s been strange.  My dad brought me a ton of glue traps (the extra inhumane kind), and even though we haven’t caught a mouse, I haven’t seen one in two days.  I was FINALLY able to sleep yesterday, and it was SUBLIME.

Oh, also, I dropped my computer right after booking my tickets last night, and the screen was scrambled, then it stopped working.  It won’t turn on now.  Thank God for my work laptop, which I will be bringing home each night until it’s fixed.

And that’s it!  I’m so excited for my Buenos Aires trip, and I grin just thinking about it.  🙂

My mystery adventure — here are the clues! Thursday, Oct 16 2008 

Holy fucking shit, I actually bought the tickets tonight.  For some reason, the fares went down over $100 since yesterday.  (Thank you, cheapflights.com!  Best flight deals, all in one place!)  Because of that, I bought the tickets tonight, before the price could increase again.

I am spending Thanksgiving on a continent on which I have never been.

I promised a clue.  Here are a few pictures of my destination:

I fly out on the day before Thanksgiving and I return the following Wednesday.

I AM SO EXCITED.  And scared.  And a bit terrified, frankly — but I AM SO EXCITED that I am finally having the kind of spontaneous adventure of which I’ve dreamed for so long!!

The Mystery Vacation Wednesday, Oct 15 2008 

I think I’ve decided on a destination for my vacation this Thanksgiving (if I choose to take one).  And if I pull this off, it will be my greatest and most daring adventure yet.

I find that I often get scared and settle (in quite a few ways).  But I’m always happier when I’m bucking tradition.  And this is a way to buck it.

The thing that freaks me out the most about it?  Upsetting my parents.

My dad would flip out.  Two reasons in particular: the dangerous, unknown and reckless aspect of it, and the fact that the economy is so bad right now and I should be saving my money.

I talked to my mom about it briefly after work.  She reacted the way I expected, though not as badly as I feared.  (She LOVES travel and has backpacked through Europe alone, but she worries about me.)

“I mean,” she said, “for a place like this, wouldn’t you go with someone?”

“I’ve been wanting to travel alone for awhile,” I told her.  “It’s about time.  Besides, nobody would want to go with me.”

“Okay.  But if you went alone, couldn’t you go to a resort in Mexico or something?”

“Mom, you know me better than that!  Beach vacation?!”

“They have clubs there.”

“I need a city.”

“I’ve heard that’s a dirty city.”

“You said that about Prague.”

“You should go to Club Med!  They’re great for single people!”

“Club Med?!  Ma!”

But she told me that ultimately, it’s my decision and she shouldn’t worry about what she or Dad say.  I know that.  And I have no trouble making decisions on my own — but I love my parents, and I’m good friends with both of them, and they’re both very intelligent and worldly — and it makes me upset to think that I’m upsetting them.

Before, as you can see below, I was thinking about Amsterdam or Iceland.

But you know what?  I always go to Europe.  I’m acquainted with it.  I know the rhythms.  It’s familiar to me.  I’m ready for something else.

So I have a city in mind.  It’s exotic.  It’s exciting.  It’s cheap.  And I found a FANTASTIC flight deal.

Fly out Wednesday.  Return either Monday or Tuesday.

I have no idea how I would get by in this destination.  I’ve never been even remotely CLOSE to this destination.  I don’t know how I’d mesh with the environment and culture.  I don’t know what kinds of safety measures I’d have to take — different safety measures than the ones I’d take in Europe.

But this city seems wonderful.  And it has this:

Music.

Dancing.

Art.

FANTASTIC, UNPARALLELED SHOPPING.

Gorgeous people.

And it’s cheap.

The unknown factor is what makes it most exciting to me.  I’m not simply checking off a new city (Amsterdam) or a new phenomenon (Aurora Borealis) that I’ve wanted to experience.  I’d be surrounded by entirely new things.

This destination, this trip, will wrap me up in passion.  I’ve always wanted to live a life defined by travel, and this trip is the epitome of the kind of travel in which I should take part!

Any guesses?

We caught our first mouse. Monday, Oct 13 2008 

I was sitting on my new couch in my room tonight when I heard Sars let out a little yelp from the kitchen.

“The mouse?” I asked.

“Yeah.  It climbed out of the bag on the floor.”

I hadn’t seen the mouse since the day of the first presidential debate, a few weeks ago.  I was starting to think that the little furry bastard was gone…not so much.

“Wait — Katelyn, I think we got a mouse.”

“How do you know?” I asked.

“There’s a tail sticking out of the trap.”

“Is it moving?”

“No.”

“Did you see that earlier?”

“No.”

“Did you see it run into it?”

“No.”

“Did you see the direction it ran in when it jumped out of the bag?”

“No.”  She started laughing.  “I wasn’t paying attention.”

We stood in the doorway and looked at the tail sticking out of the trap.  God, was that a long tail!  I really hoped it wasn’t a rat.

I eventually tiptoed up to it, saw that the mouse had a puce interior, and concluded that yes, it was, in fact, dead.  Beyond that, neither of us wanted to touch it.

“Let’s leave it for an hour,” Sars suggested.

“Let’s get the boys next door to take care of it,” I countered.

“No way.”

“I’ll do it.”

“Okay.”  She went into her room and closed the door.

I left the apartment and knocked on the door next door.  A young guy, probably about 20, answered the door.

“Hi,” I said brightly.  “I live next door, and I was wondering if I could ask a favor of you.”

“Sure,” he readily replied.

“Well, it’s just that my sister and I caught a mouse, and it’s tough because we really love animals” (!) “and I was wondering if you could just throw it in the trash bag for us.”

“Oh, yeah.  Sure.”

The guy was nice.  He’s a Berklee student (aren’t they all?) and he told me that he loved our apartment.  He took the mouse and initially just took the mouse out, before I told him that he could throw the whole thing in the trash, trap and all.  I kept my eyes covered and hid in the other room.

I then took the trash bag outside and swung it into the dumpster.

Let’s hope that that was our one and only mouse.

But you never know.

I’m just glad that we FINALLY got one!!

Iceland vs. the Netherlands Monday, Oct 13 2008 

Okay.  I’ve been doing some more research on destinations for travel this Thanksgiving, and here is my information.

First of all, AM I CRAZY?!  WE’RE IN THE WORST FINANCIAL CRISIS OF OUR TIME AND I’M OFF TO EUROPE?!

Well, possibly.

Here are some of my thoughts on Iceland:

  • I’ve always wanted to go in the summer to party in the midnight sun.
  • BUT, I could see the Northern Lights if I went during the winter.
  • AND it will be dark, with the sun rising around 10:30 AM and setting around 3:30 PM.
  • Iceland is expensive.
  • BUT it’s cheap to fly there.
  • ALSO, their economy just collapsed so much worse than ours.  Things are twice as cheap now.
  • This might be the ideal time to go.
  • AND, my blog friend Bex will be going with her friend at the same time.  Not that I’d crash their party, but it would be cool if someone I knew was there, too!

I’m not going to get into Amsterdam, or Berlin or Paris or Copenhagen or anything, because I’d like to go there because they are fantastic cities.  And I’ve never been to Amsterdam or Berlin or Copenhagen, but Paris is my favorite place in the world.

I’ll just do Amsterdam for now.

Here are my options for the lowest pricing:

Iceland only:

  • Fly to Reykjavik Thursday (Thanksgiving) night, arriving Friday morning.
  • Fly to Boston Tuesday afternoon.
  • Total: $476 USD

Amsterdam only:

  • Fly to Amsterdam via Reykjavik Wednesday night, arriving Thursday morning.
  • Fly to Boston via Reykjavik Tuesday afternoon.
  • Total: $770 USD

Iceland AND Amsterdam:

  • Fly to Reykjavik Wednesday night, arriving Thursday morning.
  • Fly to Amsterdam early Saturday morning.
  • Fly to Boston via Reykjavik Tuesday afternoon.
  • Total: $776 USD

Prices for Berlin or Paris are a bit higher on IcelandAir, especially Berlin, but I could book through elsewhere.  Copenhagen is only $711.

So…I could go to Iceland for a short time.  I could go to Iceland for a very short time and Amsterdam for a not-as-short time.  I could go to Amsterdam for enough time to allow several trips outside the city, like Delft (where Girl with a Pearl Earring, one of my favorite books and movies, takes place and was shot!).

So…any thoughts?

Which place should I choose?

Or should I just forget about the whole thing and concentrate on staying financially afloat in these hard economic times?

To Europe, to Europe Sunday, Oct 12 2008 

It’s been over two years since I was last in Europe, on my post-graduation trip with Sars, and I’ve been missing it so much lately.  Europe is where I belong.

I always feel the ache for Europe, and particularly for Italy and France, but it’s been so much stronger lately.  I dash off the train at Park Street and suddenly I’m in the train station in Brussels, the signs flashing in English, French and Flemish.

I add a scarf to my outerwear on a chilly day and suddenly I’m in my beloved Florence, winding through the streets, my head hunkered down in the 45-degree December air.

I walk over the bridge in the Public Garden and suddenly I’m traversing the waterway between Ile de la Cite and Ile Saint-Louis in Paris, just behind Notre-Dame.

Oh, God!  I miss Europe so much, it’s often painful.

So I let my desire overcome my senses for a few hours today, and I started researching fares.

Thanksgiving.  I get Thursday off and have already taken Friday off.  I have days to burn and could take off Monday and Tuesday, as well.

Work Wednesday and fly out that night.  Spend Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday in Europe.  Fly back Tuesday.

Fantastic.

Here are a few sample fares, and I’ll probably be able to get them a bit cheaper if I purchase midweek:

To Amsterdam — $738, direct!

To Paris — $791, direct!

To Brussels — $807, 1 stop

To Barcelona — $718, 1 stop, arrives mid-afternoon the next day

To Lisbon — $793, 1 stop, arrives mid-afternoon the next day

To Berlin — $711, 1 stop

To Dublin — $566, direct!

To Munich — $683, 1 stop, arrives mid-afternoon the next day

To Frankfurt — $692, 1 stop

To Zurich — $755, direct!

I don’t know if it would be a waste for me to go to Paris….I would probably end up wishing I went somewhere new, especially a new country.

I’ve been to Paris, Brussels and Dublin, but none of the others — though I have been to Switzerland.

And I’m not really feeling Italy for November — I’d rather go in spring, summer or early fall.  Scandinavia is too dark this time of year.

Well, I’ll go alone…unless anybody wants to come along….?  😉

Yearbook Yourself! Tuesday, Oct 7 2008 

Whatever you’re doing right now, you need to head over to Yearbook Yourself.  This site lets you insert your head into various yearbook styles from 1950 through 2000.  I heard about it first from The Modern Gal, then my friend Erica made some FANTASTIC ones of me and my friend Lisa today.

This is SO ADDICTIVE.

Check it out:

1952 Kate

1966 Kate

1968 Kate — love this one!

1974 Kate

1976 Kate — Erica thinks I look like my mom here.

1984 Kate.  The year of my birth was so frightening.

1994 Kate — and yes, I love to do this to my hair whenever possible.

1996 Kate

1998 Kate

2000 Kate — I graduated high school in 2002 but never adopted this hairstyle.

Think I should adopt any of these styles permanently?  🙂

I broke a vase. So I bought a couch! Monday, Oct 6 2008 

Tonight, I went over to my mom’s house to have dinner and go shopping for a couch.  Sars and I have been living in our place for well over a month, so it is DEFINITELY time!!

And then, after trying out a cool charcoal couch, it happened.

I hit a vase with my fingertips.  It teetered and then fell onto the floor, smashing into a million pieces.

I am evidently five years old.

I apologized profusely to the saleswoman.  My mom actually apologized for me as well.

And I knew I had to buy something.

It was between this and the little red sofa bed that Sars and I liked so much before.  But after much consideration, I decided to go with the gray one.  It’s so comfortable, it’s modern, it can be moved EASILY (very important for the future!) and even though it’s not a sofa bed, someone my height can stretch out on it comfortably and even sleep on it.

Here it is!

See those three vases?  There were four before.  Yeah, they look like wood, but they’re not.

And I felt really bad…and the couch was SO much less than I was going to spend…

So I bought a chair, too!

I got the couch in charcoal and the chair in taupe.  I could have gotten them in the same colors, but I liked getting the two!

Now I’m worrying that it won’t match in my room….the big wrought-iron bed, the modern couch and chair…

But I think I can pull it all together.  I think I can.

The pieces are coming on Saturday!!!

Wait until Sars sees these…