Much like Robert Hamburger, I can't stop thinking about politics, and how awesome it is. Or how not awesome it is. This is helped by the fact that elections are now a never-ending feature of American life, with no ideology or party ever able to grab a middle ground or consensus. This is actually how the country was designed to work: a politics of so many fations that nothing could ever get done too easily. Be that as it may, thinking about American politics has given me the anxiety of a loyal sports fan, and the attendant mind for facts, figures and possibilities.

But I have to be honest with myself, and ask myself why I identify so strongly with a liberal ideology, and with the Democratic Party. After all, What have they done for me lately? There are large parts of Democratic ideology, as well as their demographic base, that I don't find especially appealing. And yet, over all, I find myself subconsciously identifying with them. And I have to ask myself why: I am not particularly fond of big government bureaucracies, and I don't think paternalistic, top-down programs are the best way to solve problems. I often think the Democrats do forge together a coalition by stitching together hand outs, and...well, I may have made my case already. But my answer is: I don't identify as a Democrat because I have been very poor, and believe in soaking the rich. And I don't identify because I am young and college-educated, and thus part of the current target demographic. Both of these do play in to why I identify as a liberal, though: I feel that the world around me is not what it could be, and I want to live in a world that is changed. Life as it is, whether growing up poor, or even of the prospect of the typical suburban life, seems like a stifling, confining trap. I have felt, hovering just out of reach, the possibility of a world where human potential can be reached in ways we could only dream of, and where stultifying power structures are removed. And this is the driving basis of my politics.

It is a fair question to ask how I get from this urge to supporting a party that often seems to represent a middle-of-the-road, paternalistic approach to life. It is something I ask myself a lot, but my feeling is still, that at its heart, the Democratic Party is more open to the idea of a future that could change radically.

Yesterday evening a girl came in the store, younger than me but old enough, and I sold her a pack of Marlboro menthol. As I gave her the change, she said "I like your pants." I realized I had on my "golfer pants" (anyone who has come in my store and seen me in them knows...), and I replied "Yeah, they're old-fashioned, huh?"

And then the tone of her voice changed somehow, just slightly. "I like old-fashioned things," she said. I felt myself blush, and like a nerd all I could say in return was "So do I," as I began to take notice that she was dressed retro too.

We locked eyes and there was... chemistry. She had this odd little half-grin, and I'm sure I did too, and for that moment time and the world just seemed to stop. My mind and heart flooded with - not solid memories - but just good warm happy feelings of nostalgia about my "college and coffee shop days" when I was so much more carefree.

I don't know if it was her short messy hair, or our matching retro styles, or maybe just her calm sweetness, but something triggered those happy feelings. I didn't think to ask for her name, and I doubt I'll ever even see her again, but the compliment and the moment made my whole week, and I can't help thinking that I could handle being with someone like her.

Maybe what they say is true; when you're not looking is when it comes to you.

So I've found another convert. A convert to what, you ask? Why, the magnificent IBM Model M keyboard, of course!

The watch supervisor's desk has two workstations at it, that used to be linked with a USB KVM. Well, that went tango uniform, unsurprisingly, so we replaced it with another PS/2 KVM. Of course, that meant we had to swap the keyboard. My opposite number on the day shift grabbed this utterly bletcherous Compaq thingamahootey that felt like typing on stale marshmallows. Yeuccch! I couldn't stand typing on that for a whole watch, much less the rest of deployment, so I went up to our seldom-visited supply locker and ferreted around, and much to my surprise, I turned up a 13 year old IBM Model M. Unsurprisingly, it was in good working condition, and after a once-over with a dust rag, I brought it back down to radio and hooked it up.

The other section's supervisor thought it was too old to be useful. Not surprising, I suppose, for someone born in 1990 - though I bet if I'd looked hard enough I could have found one from before then! (Gah, I feel old!) Of course, after one watch of using it, he changed his tune. "Wow, that one doesn't give me nubble fingers!"

Must be quite the experience, using a real keyboard for the first time. Maybe I'm just spoiled by starting out with 'em...

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