Top of the Ticket

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Clipped from the SAMPLE ballot in my home jurisdiction of Santa Clara County, Calif.

My choices in this state for the next President of these United States on Nov. 8 (or before, if I choose to vote early):

Gloria La Riva, Peace and Freedom Party – This party is farther to the left than the solidly progressive Green Party. La Riva makes Jill Stein look like Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump, GOP – [sigh] Where do I start? You know what, I won’t. Next ticket…

Gary Johnson, Libertarian Party – While Johnson has the right idea on some issues, he has some misguided views or has waffled on others. If Bill Weld was at the top of this ticket, I would have given this team greater consideration.

Jill Stein, Green Party – I was for her, albeit reluctantly, as she is closer to being a progressive as Bernie Sanders than Hillary. While I uneasily put up with Dr. Stein’s reluctance to fully denounce people who are against mandatory vaccinations and her openness to clinging to certain nutty conspiracy theories on a variety of issues, there came a point where I could no longer reasonably support her.

Hillary Clinton, Democratic Party – She’s always been a strong, well-qualified candidate. My interest in her declined upon Sanders’ entry into the race and after learning about her insufficiently progressive credentials. My distaste for her became even more pronounced when the Democratic National Committee, in those leaked emails from Wikileaks, revealed how the party establishment was unsurprisingly in the tank for Clinton while trying to undermine the Vermont senator. I don’t care that much about the emails, Benghazi and a bunch of other issues surrounding her like the Right does. Some of them are problems in their own ways but she has settled those issues in various ways. Still, I’m unsure about throwing my support around her just yet.

______________ (write-in candidate) – The California Secretary of State says I have these five options for this line. It’s good to see Bernie as a legitimate choice although it was not organized by the senator himself. Even if I did write in Bernie, he has virtually no chance of winning. In the off-chance he did win this and enough of other states to receive at least 270 electoral votes, there’s no guarantee he will even accept the offer to serve as the 45th President of these United States.

I didn’t struggle this much with the down-ballot races and propositions. Never have I struggled much about voting for anyone of any level since I began voting in 2008. You can easily deduct who I might gravitate toward at the top of the ticket but even I’m still not sure if it is a done deal just yet. I also know there are at least two candidates I definitely will not be voting for. I know, I live in a solid blue state so it doesn’t matter what I think.

I’ll be glad when it’s finally Nov. 9.

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Winners and Losers: It’s Not a Normal Year

It’s been about two years since my last edition of Winners and Losers. Had to bring it back as so much has gone on in the world since my last edition. As always, I’ll be highlighting people who deserve our deepest respect as well as those who should be called out somehow.

Winners

Team U.S.A. – I did not watch the Rio Olympics, which continues my long-standing happenstance tradition of not watching the Olympics. However, the U.S. Olympics team often leads the world in the medal count including gold medals in these games. If those athletes were able to deal with competing in a country dealing with rampant political and socioeconomic turmoil as well as one of their own ruining some of the glory for the rest of our home team, I say they deserve all the credits and sponsorships they can possibly get. Except Ryan Lochte. The man is a douche.

Ellie Goulding – Only because I’ve become a big fan of her music for a full year now. I went to her concert in April at the SAP Center in San Jose and I still listen to her songs on Spotify. I just wanted to throw this in here to vainly make that point clear.

The mother and daughter at this Bernie Sanders rally I attended in Oakland on Memorial Day

Losers

Roger Ailes and Bill Cosby – These men both established themselves as monumental figures in news and entertainment, respectively. Their fame, wealth and power allowed them to allegedly mistreat women in such unspeakable ways that, at the end, we see them both in a much different light.

Before their misdeeds became public, I always thought Bill Cosby was generally an okay actor and comedian. Roger Ailes, on the other hand, launched Fox News — a platform that I would say is the worst if not for more rabid right-wing outlets Breitbart that have emerged since then. Nevertheless, I have no respect left for any of these men although I never had an opinion on Ailes anyway.

Bernie-crats – Yes, I was among the millions that supported and voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary here in California back in June.

I always admired Bernie for his genuinely populist streak that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump only pretend to have. I was disappointed but not surprised like everyone else that Sen. Sanders didn’t get far but I have no regrets as I truly believed in his message and still do. I’m skeptical that Hillary Clinton will even care to pursue the same vision and policy proposals Sanders put forth during his campaign. Very, very skeptical.

The American electorate – Oh, what the hell. In this instance, we’re all losers in this election cycle. Unless you are among the handful of people who are genuinely enthusiastic about Trump or Clinton, none of us will get any real satisfaction no matter who gets elected. Even if you’re voting for Jill Stein, Gary Johnson or some other third-party or independent candidate, we all still lose. I’m voting for Stein to break from my usual tradition of voting for a major party ticket. I’m not entirely thrilled about it but it is an option I am choosing to exercise this time around.

If only Pres. Obama could run for a third term in office. I always liked him and probably more now than ever before. His approval ratings in his final year in office is no joke.

What’s your take on these subjects? What’s your take on what I have to say? Chime in below. I’d love to hear from you.

Reflections and Expectations: Pomp and Circumstance

Feel free to run this music as you read on.

All set? Let’s look back at the month that was in the latest Reflections and Expectations.

June

Relay for Life, June 4 & 5 – I joined the Canedy family — by association of my friends, Robin and Brett — and their friends for this weekend-long fundraising event at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo. After donating money to their Green for Bean team over the last five years, I was finally able to join them by participating in the event. I mainly contributed by taking turns walking laps around the track in the campus’ football field. The team as a whole walked 262 laps that weekend and I was proud to have walked as many as I could for them.

The American Cancer Society hosts Relay for Life events in communities across the country each year, benefitting cancer patients and survivors as well as raising funds to support research for a cure to this disease. The Canedy family has been participating for 11 years after their grandfather passed away from cancer in 2003. Having known this family through Robin and Brett over the last six years, I am grateful I was able to catch up with them over that weekend and support this great group of individuals I am glad to call friends. It became somewhat emotional for me as well because I greatly value their relationships but do not get to see them as much. This was good for all of us in many ways.

California presidential primary election, June 7 – Yes, I voted in the much-ballyhooed Golden State presidential primary election. I voted for Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination, Kamala Harris for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) among a bunch of other Democrats in local, state and federal offices. I’m disappointed Bernie will not be the nominee although it was always a long shot. I’m voting Green for the first time ever in November as I have soured on Hillary Clinton over the course of this election cycle.

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MTI convocation ceremony at SJSU, June 18 – The Mineta Transportation Institute hosted this ceremony for graduates of the Master of Science in Transportation Management degree program at San Jose State University. While my official end in the program won’t come until December after finishing out one more course, the ceremony was the time for recognition and celebration.


Despite a series of personal and professional setbacks over the last six months that threatened to damper the significance of this event for me, it all worked out in so many ways at the end. I met with fellow classmates, instructors, industry leaders and professionals and even some elected officials. My most notable encounter was with the living legend himself — former USDOT Sec. Norman Mineta, founder of his namesake research institution.

It was a gratifying and exciting moment as I rarely get in front of a large group of people, for which I’m one of the few people that doesn’t see that as scary. I learned a great deal from the program as it helps me develop into a more competent, well-rounded transportation professional who is prepared to take on management roles in this business down the line. I’m forever grateful for all the people, inside and outside of the program, who became some of my best supporters and mentors over the course of this effort.

Back to work, June 22 – Four days after that last item (and partly as a result of said event), I joined VSCE as an outreach project analyst. At this small civil engineering firm based in Downtown Oakland (close to BART and many fantastic restaurants!), I’m brought on in a part-time role to work on proposals and community outreach for local transportation clients in the Bay Area. A determination regarding a promotion to a full-time status will be determined this fall.

This new role marks a return to my roots in community relations in transportation, a kind of opportunity that’s been difficult to find since the end of my two-year internship at the Orange County Transportation Authority in August 2012. Regardless of how long my current role lasts, I’m glad to be back to where I really belong in my career. I’ve been long overdue for a comeback.

July

  • Fourth of July – It appears I will be staying in town this year for the Independence Day holiday. Each year since 2012, I either traveled to a different city or lived in a city where I previously have never attended fireworks shows. The Bay Area will become another new place for me to enjoy this holiday with plans to attend a show in San Francisco or San Jose.
  • Dallas – Later in the month, I’ll make my first visit to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to meet up with a long-time friend of mine living there as well as to check out the rest of the region itself. Glad to finally get a summer trip in somewhere.
  • One year of yoga! – July 18 marks my first full year of practicing yoga anywhere! I still practice vinyasa yoga almost every Wednesday night at The Yoga Studio in Downtown Campbell. I love how yoga has changed my life thus far and I am eager to see how it continues to help going forward.

Enough about my month. How was yours? I’d love to hear from you by sharing your thoughts below.

SPOILER ALERT: It’s Unavoidable in the Age of Social Media

In this age of social media, we are often subjected to information we want, don’t want or don’t want YET. When faced with spoiler alerts, we often decide whether to go ahead and read it or choose not to if it is of some importance that would ruin what we are anticipating.

Last night, I decided to post (and tweet) two “spoiler alerts” on Facebook and Twitter, respectively, about some moments people can expect on Saturday Night Live. As I now live on the East Coast, I have the advantage of seeing it first before my West Coast friends do.

Here’s the following post on Facebook (the Twitter post was similar to this and I did not get any reactions there so I’m not posting that):

Before I go on, notice that I did not go into specifics such as what Big Bird said or did that night nor when he would even come on during the course of the show. The other SNL-related post, which was about the cold open, was the same idea.

I expected some backlash but I was actually met with a universally positive reception — except for one person who, in the unseen comment thread, was upset and threatened to unfriend me if I did not stop posting spoiler alerts. I refused and he followed through with his intentions. He unfollowed me on Twitter as well for the same reason.

Of all the people that I have known that have unfriended me on Facebook and unfollowed me on Twitter for various reasons (or maybe even no reason at all), I find this to be the most baffling and peculiar ever. If he maintains a presence on social media and uses it regularly, why would he take such a petty matter like that so seriously?

(full disclosure: something like this happened just a few weeks prior with the same person but like with what happened last night, I did not get too specific on the details either)

In this age of social media, no matter how much we try to resist it, we are inundated by all sorts of information, whether we want it or don’t want it. From winners of awards shows to the details of the latest blockbuster film to hit the theaters, it is difficult to control the flow of information and how it is worded.

Nobody likes spoiler alerts, especially if it is something we are anticipating, but as users of social media, we have the moral responsibility to forewarn the audience to avoid becoming the detestable figures around. As you saw in that image above, I plainly worded spoiler alert in all caps and was careful not to divulge too much details on what Big Bird said or did during the show.

I expect most people that are exposed to spoiler alerts to react passively but on rare occasions, you might find people like the man I referred to who don’t fully understand how social media works and have that knee-jerk reaction to it.

Spoiler alerts are not anything new. Even before social media (and it still goes on today), television and radio news networks reveal details in real time about an event that is underway before people in subsequent time zones get to watch it themselves due to a little something called “tape delay.” Imagine the dismay of people on the West Coast finding out who won the Emmy award for Best Actor or the winner of American Idol before the show even starts.

If you don’t want others giving away information you don’t want yet, don’t blame me. Blame social media. If you don’t want to know what really happens before you see it for yourself, either not go on social media at all for however long it takes for you stay out of the loop or disconnect yourself altogether.

Now, for your viewing pleasure, here is the Saturday Night Live clip of Big Bird’s appearance on last night’s show.

UPDATE [6:29 p.m. Sunday]: The unnamed person that was the subject of this post personally apologized to me this afternoon, less than 24 hours after the incident occurred, and I accepted his apology. Despite that development, the rest of this post still serves as a valuable lesson on how to adapt to rapidly changing times.