AndyO Blog

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Biden and Harris inauguration

Today, Joe Biden and Kamela Harris were inaugurated. The Capitol was like a fortress with 25,000 National Guard patrolling miles of fences with barbed wire. The show of force worked, with no violent disruptions by militias, white supremacists, and Trump loyalists who ransacked the Capitol two weeks ago. 

It was strange hearing someone who’s presidential speaking from the podium—someone who could deliver a speech to all Americans. After I watched Biden’s inaugural address, there was a clip of Trump’s farewell speech, and the difference was shocking. We’ve all gotten used to Trump’s improvised stand up routines. I know that was part of the appeal to his followers—that he spoke with a common language. But we should expect more from our leaders.

Even though Biden is humble, he also has the overwhelming self-confidence of someone who’s been in public service for most of his life. He knows how the system is supposed to work. He had something like 17 Executive Orders on his desk today, which overturned many of Trump’s worst policies in a single day. 

And let’s not forget the remarkable history that Kamala Harris made as the first woman to ascend to the vice presidency. It’s long-overdue.

I realized recently why there appears to be so much more time to think: it has everything to do with Trump being kicked off social media—about using mental energy to devote to what crazy thing he said. It’s frightening to see how powerful social media can be in the hands of a president/entertainer. But the silence has been serene. I only hope Biden returns to more formal channels of communication, like press conferences, where he can have a dialogue—instead of sending out to one-way tweets that echo around the world.

I can only hope that the Biden presidency will bring the back the cold light of the truth to the American conversation. There’s no room for a blizzard of lies anymore. We saw what can happen when the lies are repeated over and over by the president. As I’ve written before, some people will always believe what the president says, because of the power and respect that office holds. 

But it’s clear that we can’t take the truth for granted—even for Biden. We’ve seen presidents lie before, but never on a Trumpian scale. Things like elections that were won by over 7 million votes shouldn’t be in dispute. The gaslighting that Trump and his pals engaged in bordered on the psychotic—especially when it came to COVID-19. Someday we’ll get a full accounting of how many lives we could have saved with the truth.

posted by AndyO @ 12:36 AM   0 comments

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Impeachment, part two

Another historic day for the country. Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats, and 10 Republicans in the House impeached President Trump. No president in the history of our country has been impeached twice. For someone as egotistical and narcissistic as Trump, it’s as bad as a Scarlet Letter that he must wear in all the history books.


What’s more, he delivered his most presidential speech (on prerecorded video) since he won the election in 2016. It was carefully scripted and rehearsed, almost Nixonian in its duplicity—designed to deceive a few Republicans in the Senate from convicting him.

If Trump had recorded this video a week ago, he would be in much better shape, politically. Regardless, the man is a professional liar, who will say anything to stop the losses and ignominy—as businesses and cities cancel contracts with him. 

What I find most interesting and terrifying about Trump is the level of self-destruction that he has wrought upon himself and the country. He’s like a character in a movie who always falls back on their vice, ruins the wedding with a drunken speech, or loses his fortune because of bad karma.

It’s terrifying because this is a man who could, theoretically, start a nuclear war. But as it turns out, there’s a movie character for that scenario as well—Martin Sheen’s psychotic Greg Stillson in The Dead Zone. But unlike Trump, Stillson’s failure of character stops him before he can become president. In Trump’s case, we saw something similar with the Access Hollywood tape—an event that would have derailed any other candidate. 

I don’t think Trump will resign. But in some weird way, if he did it would actually improve his standing—because it would show he’s putting the country above himself for the first time. 
posted by AndyO @ 10:41 PM   0 comments

American Carnage: One week later

It was a week ago that the nation saw one the worst attacks on our democracy. Here’s what’s happened since:


  • In a show of defiance to the thousands of domestic terrorists, on Jan 7 the joint session of Congress certified Biden and Harris’s electoral results.
  • Almost 100 protesters have been arrested, with many more to come. There are over 100,000 tips that have been sent to the FBI. It’s clear that many of the protesters didn’t think they’d face any consequences for their actions (or didn't care).
  • Five people have died, including two Capitol Police Officers.
  • Many have resigned from Trump’s administration, including two cabinet members.
  • Trump has finally conceded defeat in a scripted video message; he’s confirmed he will not attend Biden’s inauguration.
  • Twitter and Facebook have banned Trump.
  • The PGA has cut ties with Trump for an upcoming Masters tournament.
  • Today, Congress passed a resolution requesting VP Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump.
  • Nancy Pelosi will bring an article of impeachment to the House on Wednesday. At least three Republicans have said they will vote in favor of impeaching the president.
  • Trump still thinks he’s done nothing wrong.
  • The pandemic has gotten significantly worse since the holidays, and America is closing in on 400,000 deaths.
posted by AndyO @ 12:06 AM   0 comments

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Insurrection at the Capitol

Today we saw something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime: Trump’s protestors, who were in WA DC for the electoral certification, decided to storm the Capitol. Thousands of people overwhelmed the Capitol police and broke into the building. Senators and congressional reps were evacuated. Protesters were shot, and at least four were killed. American carnage. 

It was a sad day in America, and much of the blame lies with Trump. He’s continued to foment conspiracy theories about a "rigged election," and has blatantly invited his followers to help him overturn the election. Of course, a measure of blame also goes to the Republicans who never fully checked him throughout his four years of chaos.

Embed from Getty Images
In a display of unity and courage, Congress reconvened at 8:00 pm Eastern, taking a vote on the objection of Arizona’s votes by 11:30 pm. Many senators gave impassioned speeches—even the ones you wouldn’t have expected to—and the objection was voted down. 

They started certifying again, with more congressional challenges for Georgia, Michigan, and Nevada, but they didn’t have senators support anymore. Everything went along until Pennsylvania, which did have senator support. 

As far as I know, they’re once again debating in the house and senate.
posted by AndyO @ 11:24 PM   0 comments

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Pandemic Purchases 2020

Looking back at 2020 now, it's clear that it was a year like no other. The COVID-19 lockdown meant that we were stuck  in our houses much more than usual. Here are few products and services that made a difference for me:

New TV: After our 10-year-old Sony Bravia HD TV failed (during the final few shows of Game of Thrones in 2019 no less!), it was time to look for a new TV. As I started my search, my son Cameron told me about the Sony Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) TV. Eventually, I bought the 65-inch version (XBR65A8F) from Amazon. If you're not familiar with 4K OLED TVs, they deliver vibrant colors in a "High Dynamic Range” (HDR) along with "true blacks." The reason for this astonishing contrast is OLED display emits visible light, instead of using a backlight. When you watch a 4K Blu-ray on this TV, it's nearly as good as sitting in a movie theater, in terms of picture quality. 

New Receiver: One thing I didn't know when buying a new Sony 4K TV is my old surround sound receiver couldn't "pass through" 4K images/sound. This meant I had to use the TV speaker. Ordinary, this would be a non-starter -- but the Sony TV I'd bought had an "Acoustic Surface Audio" feature, where sound projects from the entire screen. This worked for a while, but I started missing my surround sound. Once I bought a new 4K receiver, I finally had a home theater in my basement -- which would become more important than ever during the pandemic.   

New Subaru: After our VW started breaking down almost every week, we bought a new Subaru Crosstrek in the fall of 2019. Aside from being the most advanced vehicle my wife and I had ever driven, it ended up being our go-to car after the other Subaru's battery died. At one point during the pandemic, someone actually stole the Crosstrek, but we got it back (short story: I was to blame).

Tushy: After Christmas 2019, I purchased a Tushy, a simple bidet attachment that fits over your toilet. People who owned Tushys talked about them being "life-changing." It wasn't until we were well into the pandemic -- with toilet paper supplies in short supply -- that I understood how helpful the Tushy could be. We never did run out of toilet paper, in part because of Tushy. 

Amazon: Like a lot of people, Amazon deliveries became more important during 2020. My wife still shopped at grocery stores, but the Amazon orders helped fill the gap with items we might purchase at the mall or other stores. Later in the year, we began using Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh for food deliveries.

Pest Control: After struggling with a colony of ants for years (especially during summer months), we hired EcoShield to help us solve the problem. Honestly, I wasn't sure it would work, but after a few monthly services, the ants disappeared. What's more, they've helped with other "pests" like hornet's nests and spiders. (Our cat Sophia has taken care of the rats, even though EcoShield has put out traps for them, too.)

Hair clippers: A few years back, I bought professional Wahl hair clippers -- but never used them. During the pandemic, as my hair grew out, I decided to finally have Brenda use the clippers to buzz all my hair off. (That I don't have a lot of hair to begin with made it an easy decision.) It's not as easy as you'd think, but Brenda has continued to improve with each "visit" to the kitchen "barber chair." My two sons have gone to the hair stylist up the street a few times, since they didn't want to cut off all their hair.

Bose Noise Canceling Wireless Headphones: My family gave me the QuietComfort 35 headphones before a business trip to India years ago. Not only did they accompany me on two trips to Bangalore (24 hours one way!), they became my go-to headphones for calls. During the pandemic, with every meeting being held on video, the Bose headphones were absolutely essential. They provided freedom of movement (for example, to go to the fridge) as well as superb sound quality. The only issue was my voice sometimes grew hoarse by the end of the day, which was due to using max noise-canceling. Once I turned that down, things got better.

Dishwasher: In May, our Asko dishwasher started leaking. After a quick search, I found that only one company offered service for this brand. Given that we were in a pandemic, I tried to fix it myself. I discovered that the plastic water reservoir was cracked, but in trying to remove it I sliced my right index finger. Though it didn't require a trip to the emergency room, I realized it could have. So I gave up my job as dishwasher repairman. Because we didn't want to invite others into our house at this point, we started washing by hand. I found out right away that Brenda was a superstar dish washer -- in terms of speed. Because no one else felt as competent (and, let's face it, were too lazy), dishes piled high. I'm ashamed to say there were weeks when we used every dish in the house, which would take me two hours to wash. I tried finding a new dishwasher at Best Buy, but I hadn't brought Brenda with me. In the Fall, Brenda finally went out to a local appliance store, Albert Lee. She "brought me along" on Facetime. It took months to deliver, but on December 23 we got a new Bosch dishwasher. And now the kitchen is always clean, and the sink is usually empty.

Amazon Dash Replenishment for Printers: OK, even though this took a while to set up, it's been a necessity for my kids during the pandemic. Basically, when your ink runs low, it automatically orders a new one from Amazon. 

iWave Air Purifier: When we had a new furnace installed a few years ago, they asked if we wanted the "iWave Air Purifier." Seemed like a good idea, but we had no idea how good until the wildfire smoke choked Seattle (and much of the west coast) in September. We found that running the iWave 24/7 with the furnace fan helped filter out the dangerous smoke particles. This became even more important, given that we were all stuck in the house and couldn't open the windows.

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, CBS All Access: The pandemic created a captive audience for the entire world to watch movies and series we might not have watched. Some of the standouts were (in no particular order): Away (Netflix), The Queen's Gambit (Netflix), The Boys, Season 2 (Amazon), Picard (CBS), Star Trek: Discovery (CBS), The Umbrella Academy (Netflix), The Mandalorian, Season 2 (Disney +), The Right Stuff (Disney+), Hamilton (Disney+), The Liberator (Netflix), The Last Dance (Netflix/ESPN), Travelers, Seasons 1-3 (Netflix), Riverdale, Season 1 (Netflix), Connected, Season 1 (Netflix).


posted by AndyO @ 5:32 PM   0 comments