Yes we can, yes indeed

November 5, 2008

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

It’s the answer that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain.

Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he’s fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

I congratulate him; I congratulate Governor Palin for all that they’ve achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton… and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation’s next first lady Michelle Obama.

Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the new White House.

And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother’s watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you’ve given me. I am grateful to them.

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best — the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.

To my chief strategist David Axelrod who’s been a partner with me every step of the way.

To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

This is your victory. And I know you didn’t do this just to win an election. And I know you didn’t do it for me.

You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime — two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage or pay their doctors’ bills or save enough for their child’s college education.

There’s new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can’t solve every problem.

But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To those — to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

That’s the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we’ve already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons — because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin. And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America — the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can. At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can. When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

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singing the jetblues

July 30, 2007

I was looking forward to flying JetBlue for the first time. As a marketing geek, I appreciate their hook, their savvy marketing chops and their rabidly loyal customer-base. Hub and the Things flew to NYC without incident. A slight weather delay, but they were able to wait it out in the terminal – no tortuous wait on the tarmac. The staff was friendly, the flight comfortable. So I had little preparation for the return home.

Our flight from JFK to California was the last scheduled flight of the day. Before leaving our rented cottage upstate, we tried to check-in online. There were error messages, but no explanation. To us it appeared to be a web issue. The weather bulletin on their website was from the evening before: no indications of problems. Their flight schedule showed our flight on-time, as scheduled. We checked other web weather sites. Some rough weather had blown through the night before and there had been some residual morning fog, but at the time we left our internet connection, the weather at JFK was clear and expected to remain so. Our flight still showed as on-time, so off we went.

Once we arrived at the terminal, two hours before our flight, we tried to check-in at the computer kiosks, but received an error message and print-out requesting that we go to the counter. Standing in the now very, very long line, my cell phone rings. It’s JetBlue! Cool! Oh, not so cool: our flight has been cancelled and we should contact JetBlue to make other arrangements. We’re still hopeful. The board shows that every other flight is leaving; some on-time, some with slight delays or gate changes. And most encouragingly, a flight to San Francisco will be leaving soon.

I tried to call JetBlue to make best use of our time in line, but the phone response portended the service to come: “We’re unable to handle your call, please try at another time” or words to that effect. No hold? No hope for customer service? Surely this is a mistake. Uh, no. Same message, over and over.

At last it was our turn. The Things were growing increasingly anxious about not arriving home as soon as anticipated, but Hub and I were hopeful. JFK is a big place, there would be options. We cheerfully, with a touch of rue, alerted the counter agent that we were supposed to be on that flight to San Jose. “What are the alternate arrangements? Do you have another flight later? How about that flight to San Francisco?” Nothing. The downturned eyes, the shrug of the shoulders. Not at all the response I was expecting. “Why is our flight cancelled?”. Weather. “Uh, can we all look outside together? It’s a lovely afternoon!” Domino effect. Weather earlier. “But other flights are leaving. Other flights are going to the West coast. Why our flight?” Weather. Domino. Uncontrollable irregulartiy. Ah! Code for “we chose to re-arrange our staff and equipment and we’re covering our collective asses so we don’t have to abide by our own customer bill of rights. Gotcha. So, how about another flight to a city that will have a connecting flight to San Jose? Nothing available. A partner airline? We don’t have any. A competing airling? No agreements. So, what CAN you do for us? Same flight, TWENTY FOUR HOURS LATER. We were struck dumb. Without a word from us, he booked us on that flight, seats all in a row (which means there was plenty of room – a clue).

Okay. Big sighs all around. Thing Two standing there with tears streaming down her cheeks. So, how about a hotel? Transportation. A firm shake of the head. No. Nothing. “We on our own?” Yes, you’re on your own. Call JetBlue if you want more. Gee, thanks. THAT is a hell of a resolution. Stranded in a terminal with no wifi, no travel agent, no staff ombusdman, zip. Thanks JetBlue. Now I’m pissed.

We call American Express to look for another flight. Nothing on any airline will get us close. If we’d had just a few hours more notice: no problem. Trying to get a flight to the west coast at 5:00 p.m.: not going to happen. Funny thing, Amex tells us that our flight shows up as on-time, still scheduled to go with seven empty seats. Clue number two: they chose to impact an underbooked flight to minimize their inconvenience.

Next try: Hotel. American Express tried to find us a hotel near the airport. Not much and so expensive! Damn JetBlue. The thought of hanging out in a thin-soap motel in Queens for twenty four hours with the now bereft Things? Not so appealing. Amex tried NYC: how about a Quality Inn on Times Square for $350? I tried calling the Affinia Dumont in mid-town where we had a lovely stay: nothing. The steam pipe explosion had forced thousands into area hotels. This wasn’t going to be easy. But thankfully the Affinia folks were not schooled in the JetBlue MO of customer service, they found us a SUITE in a partner hotel for $250. That’s what I’m talking about!

We’re troopers; we made the best of it. Mid-town, shut down to traffic, was crawling with FDNY and NYPD, but the bars were open, the streets were closed and it was a party. That helped to cheer up Things One and Two and distracted us from the unexpected cash we were laying out. The mental tally: taxis back into and out of midtown: at least $100. Another day of pet boarding: at least $50. Meals: Don’t wanna think about it. Hotel: $300 with taxes, et al. Keeping the Things entertained an extra day: whatever it takes. JetBlue: Thanks! Love that sensitivity.

It was a beautiful day on Friday July 19th. We were able to check-in online from our hotel room (another $10 for internet service) AND print boarding passes in the lobby. Good signs. Got a Town Car to the airport with a wily driver: arrived in plenty of time. Bag drop: a breeze. And then we waited. All of us anxious that there would be another unpleasant surprise. In the end, though we had to wait an extra 45 minutes to take-off, we were so happy to be on a plane headed for home, it just didn’t matter.

As a company that prides itself in doing things differently, as taking to heart their experiences this past winter, I am astounded at the treatment from JetBlue. I get that there were earlier weather issues; I get that flights are sometimes cancelled. But it’s all about how you handle it, and we – nice folks, no attitude – we treated badly. Even worse, it was the lack of options. No supervisors at the counter. Nobody answering the phones! No partnerships with other airlines. No accomodations for a TWENTY FOUR delay. No voucher offers. Just a shrug and a firm shake of the head.

We did contact JetBlue after our return and they offered us $50 vouchers for the Hub and each of the Things. Nothing for my flight. It was a canned response (I checked) and it ain’t enough. With Virgin’s new schedule and a healthy response from Southwest, JetBlue has to step it up. And they can start with us.

my intentions were good

July 26, 2007

I really did mean to take lots of meaningful, entertaining and illuminating pictures. No excuses, it just didn’t happen. But here are a few select images.

Lessons learned on the road:

1. If you’re going to move from here to there, it really is a good thing to actually cross the terrain between points A and B.

2. While it’s best to traverse from Elko, NV to Salt Lake City, UT fresh and alert, it really doesn’t matter. The soul sucking yellow smoky pall will sap your reserves. Food note: Chinese food in Elko: surprisingly good.

3. Just because a roadside stop reminds you of Bagdad Cafe, it might actually be a scary, scary place.

4. Wyoming: lovely. Driving fast: good (unless you’re a trailer, then you can expect to be dumped by the wind). Geology: excellent. Roadkill: exotic. XXX Adult rest stop: we’ll always wonder. Little America: Had to. And now I’d recommend it. Food note: fine trout, loved the Madonna Inn meets Cowboy decor.

5. Nebraska? Goes. on. forever. You folks have a lot of corn there. And so do you, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

6. Iowa, you were a pleasant surprise. Dug the rolling hills, tidy farms and the hip Iowa City vibe. Who knew? And the pork tenderloin? Just like Dad loved.

7. The word must be out in Ohio, because everyone drives 55 mph. And drinks a lot of pop. Food note: The Bob Evans marketing roped us in, but the food? Meh.
8. Until our dying day, we will be certain that we did in fact spy an runaway Amish woman driving while talking on a cell phone. Uh-huh. You can’t tell us otherwise.

9. Until now, all the Poconos meant to me were punchlines a la Jackie Mason and round honeymooner’s beds. In real life? Pretty nice. Food note: Outstanding Irish pub fare at Siamsa.

10. New Jersey, Connecticut, et al: Where do you people learn to drive? And who’s the clown that designed those expressways with no left turn, no u turn, no hope, no exit? On my list, people.

rhode trip

July 6, 2007

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Every now and then a girl has got to do something out of the ordinary. And so. Dr. Suz, minus dear sweet dad and Things One and Two will be traveling from California to Rhode Island with N. and our distinguished companions, Alexander and Napoleon. The latter of the feline variety. Auspiciously, our venture launches around 0700 hours on 07.07.07.

This is what abundance feels like!
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humor is good

July 2, 2007

Thing One is at that age wherein we are led to some challenging conversations. Like the one recently about cleavage. Not being so endowed myself, I wasn’t really prepared. And didn’t handle it well. Worse still, the showdown discussion took place in a trashy teen fashion store in a hellhole shopping mall. I nixed a low-cut top, which led to stomping out of the store and an afternoon of sulking and door slamming.

Revenge, with a grin, was hers when she threatened to wear this to Thing Two’s softball game:

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It’s official. I have committed. Now maybe I should be committed. Jen and I have signed up for the Nike Women’s Marathon through Team in Training. Actually Jen should be committed, she signed up for TWO marathons! But we all know it’s because she really wanted to go to Maui in March and the universe has informed her that she was wrong and she’s going in September.

What was the point here? Right. This is about more than “See Dr. Suz get fit”, it’s also about a good cause. In exchange for training support, Team in Training asks that participants raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. Maybe it’s because I’ve reached a certain age, or maybe it’s something else altogether, but it seems that cancer is affecting someone dear every day. This is one small way I can make a difference. But – and here’s the hard part for me – I need your help. Please support the people I know and those you know who are fighting blood cancers by donating to this cause.

Stay tuned.  I will use this space to track my program, both financial and fitness.