Last night, Becca and I went to the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville. Amazing. I forgot how much I like good old country music and bluegrass. We saw some legends - Little Jimmy Dickens, John Conlee (Common Man), Charlie Pride (Kiss an Angel Good Morning), and Charlie Daniels (Devil went down to Georgia). Afterward we went to Roberts Western World - a good ol honky tonk.
Today, we're going to the new Nashville Planetarium, paletas, and Christmas lights at the Opryland Hotel!
Yay for friends and yay for Nashville!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 2:33 PM
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I was talkin' to my sis the other day, in person. Which is something right there. But we both agreed that at times, we are a bit jealous of each other's lifestyles. I feel blessed to have been able to meet so many interesting people, travel to so many interesting places, and live in such an interesting city. But I also would like (someday) to have a nice home with a fireplace, and cute pictures of my honeymoon, and photo albums arranged under the coffee table. Fortunately, or unfortunately, today is not that day. But on the other hand, our realization helps me to appreciate more of what I have, and what I am, everyday. Being happy in the present moment.
I feel like every time I come home, it seems so short, and it seems like so much has happened since the last time we saw each other. Which is fine, but at some point, you just want to be close to your family - to the people that mean the most to you. You want to stop missing all the things that happened in between. But these short trips help me to remember how much my family really means to me. Really, in a real way.
I am thankful for Park Slope, my first New York home. And my New Orleans home. And my Africa home. And my home that's always waiting for me in Kansas. And especially, right now, for talk of future visits, and hugs waiting for me in all my homes.
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 4:10 PM
Thursday, November 13, 2008
It's a busy time for us at work right now... we're wrapping up a 30 month long project, and I'm writing the report. But I still have a lot of thoughts floating around from the past few weeks, and I'll gradually be posting them here, so stay tuned.
Biggest news: I'm going to be moving to Park Slope, Brooklyn in a few weeks - my job offered me an extension (paperwork isn't totally complete yet though), and hopefully with that comes a raise. So, I'm gonna take the chance and move to the place I've always wanted to live. Mostly, because of this.
Also, a friend sent out this group of pictures taken by a photographer for Time magazine over the last 2 years. There are some great shots of Obama. Very emotional.
Marathon training is going well, and this past weekend I ran 6 miles, including across the Williamsburg bridge. It was a beautiful night. Clear, cold, and the lights of the city spread out in front of me. It felt great.
Hope you're all well. Hopefully I'll see some of you back home next week at Cam's wedding!
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 6:43 PM
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Today, a columnist for the Washington Post made the argument that Al Gore should become Barack Obama's Secretary of State. I think it would be a bold and clear move that Obama is elevating the climate/energy issue to the very top of his agenda. In no way do I expect this to actually happen - but it's going to take bold leadership of this sort to make the real changes that Obama stressed during his campaign.
Gore has been shopping around his plan lately to not only rid our country completely of its dependence on foreign oil in the next 10 years, but eliminate all fossil fuel usage in the country completely in that time frame. Of course it's a huge task - but it's also a huge problem. As a country and as a world, our efforts to slow global warming over the past 10 years (since Kyoto was signed in 1998) have been by nearly all accounts a failure. Not only have we failed so far to make any reductions in CO2 emissions, we are actually still increasing the rate of emissions. And a recent report said that not only are we increasing emissions globally, but emissions are increasing at a rate above the worst case scenario set out by the IPCC in 2000. Above it! Now, emissions in Europe have begun to peak, but those reductions are more than offset by the rise of China, India and the rest of the developing world. We're going to need a truly global agreement in order to save ourselves. Maybe Gore is the person for that job, maybe not - but it definitely deserves attention as one of the very most important issues of an Obama administration.
Below is an excerpt from Gore's oped in Sunday's New York Times:
What follows is a five-part plan to repower America with a commitment to producing 100 percent of our electricity from carbon-free sources within 10 years. It is a plan that would simultaneously move us toward solutions to the climate crisis and the economic crisis — and create millions of new jobs that cannot be outsourced.
First, the new president and the new Congress should offer large-scale investment in incentives for the construction of concentrated solar thermal plants in the Southwestern deserts, wind farms in the corridor stretching from Texas to the Dakotas and advanced plants in geothermal hot spots that could produce large amounts of electricity.
Second, we should begin the planning and construction of a unified national smart grid for the transport of renewable electricity from the rural places where it is mostly generated to the cities where it is mostly used. New high-voltage, low-loss underground lines can be designed with “smart” features that provide consumers with sophisticated information and easy-to-use tools for conserving electricity, eliminating inefficiency and reducing their energy bills. The cost of this modern grid — $400 billion over 10 years — pales in comparison with the annual loss to American business of $120 billion due to the cascading failures that are endemic to our current balkanized and antiquated electricity lines.
Third, we should help America’s automobile industry (not only the Big Three but the innovative new startup companies as well) to convert quickly to plug-in hybrids that can run on the renewable electricity that will be available as the rest of this plan matures. In combination with the unified grid, a nationwide fleet of plug-in hybrids would also help to solve the problem of electricity storage. Think about it: with this sort of grid, cars could be charged during off-peak energy-use hours; during peak hours, when fewer cars are on the road, they could contribute their electricity back into the national grid.
Fourth, we should embark on a nationwide effort to retrofit buildings with better insulation and energy-efficient windows and lighting. Approximately 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States come from buildings — and stopping that pollution saves money for homeowners and businesses. This initiative should be coupled with the proposal in Congress to help Americans who are burdened by mortgages that exceed the value of their homes.
Fifth, the United States should lead the way by putting a price on carbon here at home, and by leading the world’s efforts to replace the Kyoto treaty next year in Copenhagen with a more effective treaty that caps global carbon dioxide emissions and encourages nations to invest together in efficient ways to reduce global warming pollution quickly, including by sharply reducing deforestation.
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 12:30 PM
Monday, November 10, 2008
Yes, you read that right. A new analysis by Deutsche Bank out today is predicting GM stock to be worthless in the next 12 months. What impact would that have on the American economy?
Now I'll be the first to say that GM has gone down the wrong path over the last few decades - encouraging over-consumption with the SUV craze and ever larger, more powerful engines. But that doesn't mean they can't recover.
GM has been our family's business since my first birthday. I would be extremely sad to see the company go bankrupt. But at this point, it seems like nothing less than a complete overhaul of the entire operation could save it. GM burned through more than $7B in cash in the last 3 months alone - and is forecasted to run out of cash completely as early as 6 months from now. They called off merger talks with Chrysler, and are now begging Congress for money. Even a government bailout at this point will only delay the inevitable unless it is accompanied by a complete restructuring.
From a climate perspective, maybe that is a good thing. GM could retain its profitable truck models, scrap many of the overlapping brands and models in between (SUVs and full size cars) and shift the rest of its focus entirely on small hybrid/electric cars and remake itself as an environmental leader, pushing for cutting edge technology adoption, and positioning itself as a future-looking growth company. At least that would keep the factories and retail outlets open - and could maybe save a million jobs.
As of today, here are some companies that now have approximately the same market cap (value of the company) as GM:
Abercrombie and Fitch
Smuckers (yes, the jam and jelly maker), and
Wabtec Corp (which makes brakes for trains)
For the record, GM finished at $3.36 today, down over 22% to a 62 year low. As a result, the S&P cut GM's credit rating further into "junk" status.
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 3:58 PM
Sunday, November 9, 2008
So, the NYC subway system is officially a mess. For some reason, almost ALL the lines are doing construction, but suspiciously absent are any construction workers.
This is how I got home tonight from my friend's house in Queens, normally about a 50 min ride.
10:31- get to the 30th Av N stop - wait 16 min for a N shuttle train to Queensboro Plaza.
(the N/W trains are running in sections - and there's no N/W train service between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza)
10:58- at Queensboro Plaza, take a 7 train to Bryant Park.
(Here I intended to take a F train to Essex St, but instead...)
11:10- at Bryant Park (which has some awesome mosaic murals inside, btw), take a Brooklyn bound R train which I'm surprised to find is running on the 6th Ave. line but crossing the Manhattan Bridge. I need to cross the Williamsburg Bridge.
11:16- on the R train. Normally I would get off at 14th st to take the L, but the L has also been running in sections, stopping at Myrtle Av. with shuttle buses running the rest of the route. My stop, Wilson Av., is 2 stops past Myrtle. So I decide to keep going to Grand St., where I'll have to go up to the street and walk to Bowery St. - the J train stop 3 blocks from Grand St.
11:40- at Bowery St., swipe my Metrocard - and realize the the J is ALSO running in sections, to Essex St. The sign says one train every 20 min, so I decide to go back out to the street and just walk down Delancey to Essex.
11:46- at Essex St. Finally. Swipe my Metrocard for the 3rd time this journey, and race up the 3 flights of stairs to the J platform where I find a crowded J train waiting for me. Two people are sleeping stretched out on the bench inside, holding each other and sleeping - taking up 6 seats. I smile. Life is good.
12:07- at Chauncey St. and home.
In total, 4 trains, 1hr, 36 min.
But, Miranda, those brussel sprouts were SO worth it. =)
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 12:11 AM
Thursday, November 6, 2008
There's those words again. "President-elect".
I feel like today is still "the day after" because yesterday, like most people I know, I was still in a haze of joy and disbelief.
Today the happy reality is settling in a bit. A smile is still on my face, and a "Hope" button is still on my jacket, but the reality is that no single person can fix all the world's problems. Still- this victory is a sign that great things are possible when a group of dedicated people share a common vision - and a little luck.
What's getting me today is what this means - the deeper meaning. This campaign was about way more than Dem vs Repub, Red vs Blue, or even the economy, Iraq, or Bush - it was a fundamental choice about where we want to go as a country. Do we want to make that leap into a 21st century America, a post-racial America where we give ourselves an opportunity to overcome our past and work together for a better future, or are we ok with the way things are? For Obama, "Hope" was much more than just a campaign slogan. Hope is what Americans see in Obama - hope that the future of America can be here, right now.
This week, all the thousands and millions of people that gave their lives to the evils of slavery and the struggles of the civil rights movement played a part. America came full circle. America became a symbol to the world again of the promise of justice and equality that every person deserves. Never before has a minority been elected president in any western country. That's why people cheered and cried. And if America can come together to overcome all this, what more is possible?
I wanted to give an impression of just how big this moment was. Strong words, but I think that never before has there been such a mass celebration across the country at precisely the same moment. It gives me chills thinking about it... and reliving it in my mind. Without a doubt, it will always be one of the happiest moments of my life.
Below are a few glimpses into the shared joy our country experienced Tuesday night.
chicago rally at the exact moment
spontaneous national anthem in portland, or
east village nyc
on the subway - nyc
outside the white house
and finally, in Kenya, which declared yesterday a national holiday in celebration
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 5:14 PM
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
As the results keep rolling in, the fact is still sinking in to my head. Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States.
Below are county results from the places I campaigned and places I've lived. (Obama/McCain)
bucks county pa 54/45
scranton pa 63/37
osage ks 34/64
st louis city mo 84/16
mountrail nd 50/48
marshall al 21/78
marion or 50/48
cleveland ok 38/62
orleans la 79/19
kings (brooklyn) ny 79/20
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 11:30 PM
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 4:40 PM
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
VT(3) for Obama
KY(8) for McCain
Maybe McCain's only lead of the night.
No call yet for GA, IN, SC, VA...
Good sign if they can't call GA or IN yet!
OMG... CNN just hologrammed in their Chicago correspondent.
Maybe she'll give us the secret Obama jedi mind tricks?
MSNBC has Indiana too close to call, Virginia too EARLY to call. Big difference there.
Made it to Andrew's house, and we have such a 21st century watch party going on here.
We have 4 laptops going, MSNBC live, Democracy Now live, Pollster.com and 538.com.
Biggest news I missed on the subway - MSNBC called PA for Obama with 0% reporting. Good sign but maybe premature??
VA is 56/43 for McCain right now, FL is 54/46 Obama. The difference - nothing from northern virginia is in yet, and Orlando, Tampa, and Miami are almost the only ones reporting in florida.
3 Senate pickups (NH, VA, and NC) and NH and PA for Obama so far. It might be a pretty good night.
Virginia is still too close to call (with a pretty big McCain lead) with 38% reporting. This is what McCain people were hoping for. This is their last hope.
GA just called for McCain. This might be a longer night than I thought. from MSNBC: VA was the capital of the confederacy. what a huge message if it votes for an african-american for president tonight.
First Chuck Todd sighting of the night: coming up after these messages.
Chuck Todd: Obama has not yet flipped a Bush state yet. But Florida is looking good. IN still has 0% reporting in Lake County. Nothing unexpected has happened yet. Still no projections in the 8 tossup states. McCain needs all 8-0.
Conversation around the laptops: Obama has run a very predictable, safe campaign (with a lot of money) - but if he can transfer that practicality into his administration, we'll have a whole new approach to effective government.
Chris Matthews to Tom DeLay: looks like the Republican House has gone to hell since you left.
Tom DeLay - you're absolutely right.
KS for McCain
NY for Obama
AZ too CLOSE to call....
but, ND is called for McCain. This might be a close night.
Andrew: "I'm starting to rue my recent confidence"
OH too EARLY to call, for Obama. That might be the clincher.
Chris Matthews: The main policy fights over the next 2 years might be between Obama and Nancy Pelosi.
Rachel Maddow: Bring it on. I'll take it.
Chuck Todd: Virginia is tightening.
Reality check: Obama needs only 95 more electoral votes. With California it's less than 50.
IN: McCain up by 40,000, still 0% from Lake Co
VA: McCain up by 30,000, still 10% from Arlington
FL: Obama up by 200,000
Live from Grant Park in Chicago - THOUSANDS of cheering supporters anxiously biting fingernails.
Ohio for Obama!!!! That's the election!!!!!!!?
If Obama wins CO, it's over.
VA: down to a 10,000 vote difference.
NM for Obama.
195 + 55 (CA) + 11(WA) + 7(OR) + 4(HI) = 272.
But still no one has called it yet.
Chris Matthews is writing the obituary for McCain.
Keith Olbermann picked up on the above math.
Now I think it's just a wait-and-see. Ohio was the deciding factor.
Wow. I just got chills. Obama is our president.
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 7:00 PM
I just voted. I'll always remember what I felt at that moment.
Today, I feel a little like part of me is dying. It's the part of me that is holding on to the past... the cynical part of me that thinks it's ok to sit back and let other people do the hard work. That things are always going to go from bad to worse in this country. That individuals can't make a difference.
In a real way, a new hope is growing inside me. On the street, people are uncontrollably happy. Like good New Yorkers, they're trying to hold it in, but you can catch glimpses - smiles exchanged with strangers on the subway platform, mothers holding their children's hands walking in to the polling places, friends joking and laughing waiting in line to vote. The American flags around the city seem especially colorful today.
Finally, the intangible is becoming a reality. Voting in East Harlem, it seemed especially fitting. This is a culmination of all the civil rights movement worked for. This is a beacon of hope - an American Dream fulfilled - for all those who came to this country as immigrants. And for my generation - we are finally learning, for the first time in our adult lives, that the America we learned about in our history books - the "shining beacon on the hill" - is being restored.
This moment is so important because of Obama's story. Obama symbolizes 21st century America. Mixed-race, the son of an immigrant, with roots in the west, the midwest, and around the world. If his amazing story is true, if Obama is a sign of our country's future, then truly anything is possible - for us too. If a "skinny black kid with a funny name" can be president, then why can't we turn off the TV and read to our kids? break an addiction? volunteer at a shelter? Why can't we all make our little corner of America a better place? Truly, America is a different place, a better place because his story is true. America will never be the same again.
This is a before and after moment in American history. And I'm proud to be a part of it.
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 3:40 PM
Monday, November 3, 2008
Our GOTV routes today in Pennsylvania put us in the upper-middle class northeastern suburbs of Philadelphia. A little out of my league - and a little out of Obama's league as well - there were plenty more McCain signs than Obama signs... but the Obama campaign has consistently done a truly game-changing, amazing job with defining, re-defining, and narrowing down likely voter lists using all sorts of Google-inspired, super efficient techniques. Not a moment is wasted, and not a household is overlooked that may still be thinking about voting for our man. Not to mention the overwhelming volunteer turnout (our group had 3 high school girls, 2 New York City school teachers, and a guy who ran the NYC marathon YESTERDAY). The office we worked out of, in Warminster, PA was a satellite office of the main Bucks County office - itself one of over 80 Obama campaign offices JUST IN PA.
Today we were told that time is so critical that we shouldn't knock on any doors, and should try not to engage in any conversations - only work your way down your pre-defined sheet of undecided/lean Obama voters on your route, and hang a tag with information about their polling location on their door. I got through 3 lists and 95 doors myself yesterday, and since we were in spread out neighborhoods with big lawns, did probably 3-4 miles of walking in the 8 hours we were out.
The only people I talked to was a housewife who thought I was her husband coming home from work, and a 10-yo girl walking home from school that said she was voting for Obama in the "Kids vote" election at school tomorrow.
Below is the record of my day.
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 11:58 PM
Sunday, November 2, 2008
So tomorrow I'll be riding the bus down to the outskirts of Philadelphia to the small town of Doylestown, PA - for Barack Obama's 72-hour get out the vote efforts in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, one of the four most important swing counties in the country, according to politico.com.
This is such an exciting time to be alive.
More tomorrow night.
UPDATE: Monday 11:40pm
Just got back from Bucks County about 10 minutes ago. It was an inspirational day, if only to know that I've been able to be a very small part of this historic campaign. When we arrived this morning around 10am, the field office organizer said that over the 2-day weekend the campaign knocked on over 2 million doors. Wow. At the time, I assumed that was across the country... but later on I found out it was JUST Pennsylvania. Really wow.
Today, the 9 of us that travelled from Brooklyn put voting information (polling times, precinct location, number to call if you need a ride) on 550 doors. We each did three shifts, and left PA at 9pm. The field staff were still there, and planned to be back in the office by 6am.
This is happening all over the country.
Please vote tomorrow. 18 hours to victory.
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 8:36 PM
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Last night, my friend and I decided to skip the halloween festivities (although we did get to see some good old fashioned door-to-door trick or treating in the village!) and go see this documentary, which is getting rave reviews from all over.
We had an extra special treat in that this was the theatrical premiere in New York - so the director and filmmaker was present in the theater after the showing for a Q&A. The theater people had to kick us out after an hour because we were so engrossed in hearing more of his story.
If you live in or near a city where this film will be showing, I highly recommend making the trip. It's one of those life-changing films - that uniquely captures the emotional journey of a family. It made me appreciate everything that parents do for their kids - and gave a glimpse of the unbreakable bond of love.
Here's the AMNY review:
You can read more reviews of the movie at: http://www.dearzachary.com/
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 12:53 PM