Meeting Myrth -- 06/30/02

I had one of those incredibly busy weeks -- teaching a five day course that has a very full schedule of lecture presentations that cover a wide range of topics from high-level system architecture and design issues down to very detailed low-level technical issues plus a number of complex hands-on lab exercises that are somewhat flawed (both in conceptual design and in buggy instructions). This is the second time I've taught this version of this course and I must say that I am very glad that it has recently been rewritten with new exercises. In a few weeks I'll be co-teaching the new version, along with one of the courseware designers who built the new version. I've not been officially involved in that project, although they have been the recipients of a number of emails and memos from me, adding my two cents worth of opinion, to the point where they included me in project telephone conference calls.

I've also attempted to make a point of keeping up with my workouts -- unforunately that tends to be one of the first things to get tossed overboard when my schedule gets crowded. I managed to get in a good bike ride Monday night, about ten miles or so. Tuesday I squeezed in a short weight lifting session and maybe an easy bike ride with Nancy (or maybe I have Monday and Tuesday reversed... it's all a blur now). Wednesday night was the weekly runners' meet on the URI campus. I couldn't get there in time for the one mile run that starts things off, just barely getting to the start line for the three mile/five mile run. I had wanted to do the five mile run but my heel was bothering me -- partly from my weekend running and partly from spending all day on my feet in the classroom -- so I decided to stick to the three mile course. I'm accustomed to my right heel hurting at the beginning of a run -- it usually eases up once I'm warmed up and stops bothering me, but this time it kept on hurting and went from discomfort to pain. I was limping quite badly and barely able to maintain a jogging pace by the time I reached the finish line. I skipped exercise on Thursday because of my heel. I dropped thoughts of a run after work on Friday, planning on a long bike ride instead, but grocery shopping, etc. took up too much time. Saturday I found time for another brief weight-lifting session. One of the reasons I skipped a run on Friday was the desire to rest my heel because of this morning's race -- Camire's 10th annual Firecracker Four-Miler -- but when it came time for the race I decided that it would be foolish to inflict that stress on my poor heel (and end up limping for days). I've got to get back to my HMO gateway physician and get a referral to a different podiatrist -- I've lost all confidence in the one I've been seeing.

Saturday after noon we met Myrth York, candidate for governor. One of the features of living in a state as small as Rhode Island is that politics is not just television advertising, politics can still be practiced at a retail level. We had been invited by a friend of Nancy's, one of her tennis partners, to attend a small meet-the-candidate get-together. Regular readers may recall mention of Champlin's, a seafood restaurant in the Pt. Judith/Galilee area. Part of their ground floor was recently remodelled and turned into a bakery/coffee shop. This had been reserved for this private party and set up with iced tea, lemonade, etc. and several varieties of cheesecake and snacks. It was a small gathering, about fifteen or sixteen people, mostly middle-aged women (plus two of us token males). Sit around for a while, social chit-chat, and then the candidate appeared.

I had been aware of her as a political figure, recalling her loss to the current incumbent governor, but didn't really know that much about her, other than that I knew of no negatives against her -- and I truly dislike both of her opponents in the coming Democrat party primary. Having now met her in person and listening to what she had to say on various issues, I have become a strong supporter. She had to be impressive to win over someone like me who has a very cyncial attitude about Rhode Island politicians. She does seem like a strong reform candidate (and the kleptocracy that runs state government here is certainly in need of reform) -- and I find that I am in agreement with her on every major issue that was discussed: the BlueCross scandals (the state has signed a cost-plus contract to cover state workers with no incentives for BC/BS to prevent fraud and over-billing; also in a prior contract, the state had somehow overpaid BC/BS by around nineteen million dollars and in secret negotiations got only about one third of that back and now the governor refuses to release any documents related to that); the MegaPort the governor has been pushing for Quansett Point (spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer money to build a huge container port, trashing the ecology of Narragansett Bay, creating huge increases in truck traffic, etc. -- almost every town government in this area of the state has voted to fight this but the state is pushing and pushing -- obviously the opportunity for good old Rhode Island graft and kickbacks is enormous); the tobacco fund misuse (to plug current budget gaps, the legislature voted to mortgage future tobacco settlement funds); cuts in education spending while continuing a $14,000,000 bonus payment to politically connected dog owners who race at Lincoln Park dog track; a huge increase in the budget for state legislature operations at the same time that the size of the legislature is being decreased.

Nancy was equally impressed. So... we will be sending in a campaign contribution and Nancy plans on becoming a volunteer campaign worker. I'm not enrolled as a Democrat, so I can't vote in the primary, but if Myrth wins in September I'll be supporting her in the November election. (She is a very dynamic and impressive person; check out a link to a brief biography.)

It is another beautiful summer day here in South County. On our schedule for today: a bike ride (as soon as I get this posted), a lot of yard work, and we have theatre reservations for tonight and we'll probably eat out before attending the play.

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