This is the personal Blog home of Brian M. Westbrook. I make no guarantees you will like what you see here -- or receive any value. If you're looking for my radio stuff, it has (for the most part) moved to:

12 November 2008

Vote For Me! UPDATE: I won, or... did I?!

Regular readers of this blog (big shout out to all three of you!), recall my August post where declaring my write-in campaign for the position of Democratic Precinct Committee Officer for Washington State Precinct #87-1895.

I'm please to announce that I received this letter, dated 13 October 2008, last month from the King County Elections Division. The letter reads, in part:
"At the August 19, 2008, primary and special election, you were elected as SEA 37-1895 Democratic Precinct Committee Officer. A cermonial certificate of election has been sent to the party to which you were elected."

Congratulations, right? Not so fast...

So while I'm waiting for my "ceremonial certificate" (and presumably instructions on how to fulfill my duties as official flier-boy/intern for my fellow Democratic neighbours, today I receive a second letter -- this time from Mr. Dwight Pelz (Chair WA State Democrats) himself.

"I want to thank you for offering to serve as a Precinct Committee Officer (PCO)," Chair of the Washington State Democrats writes.

He continues with a boldface slap to my pride, "However, I must inform you that you have not met the threshold for PCO as defined by our State Party."

It seems, after reading the complete letter [page 1 | page 2] a few times over (being new to this process, as I suspect many are) that there is some disagreement between what, exactly, it means to be PCO. You see, according to Pelz, Secretary of State Sam Reed waived rules requiring a PCO candidate (via. votes or write-ins) to receive 10% of that of the highest vote getter. (In all likelihood, we're talking 10% of the votes cast for Gov. Christine Gregoire [or Barack Obama?].)

The best part of this letter, in my opinion, is the justification. Mr. Pelz explains that the reason for this system is: "One person could write in the name of a Republican as a joke and she would be the 'elected Democratic PCO' under these rules."

(I digress, but wouldn't it make sense to disqualify the 'bad apples' rather than discourage those, like myself, legitimately interested in the position?)

I'm informed that my name has been passed along to a County Chair for possible consideration as an 'Appointed PCO'. (Appointed PCO's, I learn, are not able to vote in Re-Organization Meetings, only those PCO's that were Elected. Discouraging.)

I'm no political expert (and if you're counting obvious statements, that's number four), but this entire circus is somewhat frustrating. Either I am the Democratic Precinct Committee Officer, or I'm not... I'm either receiving a 'Ceremonial Certificate' or I'm not... Either I'm the local volunteer representative of the Democratic party... or, well, not...

[Before you ask: Yes, I had every intention of serving as PCO and taking the position seriously. I was actually a bit excited to have "won" my write-in candidacy. Until today I was looking forward to serving in my official (pseudo-official?) capacity.]

I'll keep you posted.

For now, however, I think I'll hold off on any further write-in campaigns until I've sorted this one out. :-/

I look forward to your comments, suggestions and similar experiences.

15 October 2008

California's Proposition 8 -- My Letter to Calif. Family

[This is a copy of the letter I sent to my California in-laws urging them to support efforts to defeat Proposition 8. Do what you can to encourage your relatives, friends, and network to squash this ridiculous attempt at discrimination... --BMW.]

Dear Family,

You know I'm not a huge fan of email pleas, political campaigning via. email (okay, with exception of my write-in campaign earlier this year which I lost on technicality), or other frivolous messages....

This is no such message.

As smart people, you've no doubt heard about the battle raging in California regarding Proposition 8 -- heading for a vote November 4th. Despite any other political views, you've no doubt decided to join those who respect the rights of others to defeat this ridiculous measure.... I mean, seriously... what are they thinking!?

What you may not know is how desperate and important the fight to defeat Proposition 8 really is. Your ballot in California will read:


Changes California Constitution to eliminate right of same-sex couples to marry. Provides that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

The State of California has the unique opportunity to separate one group of Californians from another and exclude them from enjoying the same rights as other loving couples. This, as I'm sure you will agree, is simply insane.

As you know, Richard and I enjoy our time in California and enjoy visiting as often as we can (as recently as two weeks ago (photos)!). While we have no plans to relocate to the State in which we were both born, we'd love to know we would not be discriminated against should our future together bring us back. (And how depressing would it be to get together this holiday season in California knowing that we are being specifically discriminated against... in California... really?!)

The nationwide repercussions are even scarier. If the proponents of this effort are successful -- IMAGINE for a moment the momentum this will create in other states such as ours. This is truly a landmark effort that must be stopped NOW.

I appreciate we can't all open our checkbooks (trust me, I know!), and I -- for one -- am not as famous as Ellen DeGeneres (yet! ;) )... but we can still help squash this attempt at blatant discrimination. Here's how:
  • Talk. Tell your friends, neighbors, and everyone you meet to VOTE. And to especially vote NO on 8. (CA voter reg. ends 10/20!)
  • Contribute. Give money, volunteer your time to help educate the influential voters that may be led to support the lies.
  • Educate. Yourself, others -- find out what's at stake and make an informed decision.
For more information / ideas / to donate:

If you promise to help me spread the word among California voters, I'll promise to not send another emotional plea or call to action this election year. If you do nothing else this November... VOTE NO ON 8.

Or trust me, it's gonna be a really awkward holiday dinner table! ;-)

Thanks for listening and being smart people,


11 October 2008

Happy Coming Out Day!

With recent celebrities making public their homosexuality, or "coming out" as it's colloquially known -- it seems each year's "Coming Out Day" just get more relevant.

Some resources for those who may be struggling with coming to terms with their sexuality:
  • The Coming Out Project, from the Human Rights Campaign helps GLBT, as well as straight-supportive people live openly and talk about their support for equality at home, at work and in their communities each and every day. The resource contains coming out guides, a list of National Coming Out Day events, and helpful information for straight supporters.
  • The Trevor Project runs the nation's only 24/7 "crisis and suicide prevention helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth." The helpline can be reached at 866-4-U-TREVOR. I'm proud to donate my time and efforts each year during Gay Days Anaheim to producing the Wonderland kick-off party where all proceeds benefit this extraordinary organization. Consider making a donation in honor of those struggling for the acceptance many of us take for granted.

08 September 2008

Dick's on Broadway: Closed for "Extensive Plumbing Repairs"

Fans of late-night Dick's Drive-In location on Broadway take note: The burger joint will be closed for three days until Sept. 11th for "extensive plumbing repairs". The other locations of the popular local eatery remain open -- and contrary to speculation, there's no reason to be concerned the location made famous by Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Posse on Broadway" song is closing.

Photo by Joe Mabel, originally uploaded to Wikipedia

(Other storefronts along Broadway, including Jack-In-The-Box, have -- as you may have noticed -- closed for Sound Transit light rail station construction.)

A message left for callers on the Dick's Broadway answering machine explains:

"The Broadway Dick's Drive-In will be closed for three days starting Monday September 8th for extensive plumbing repairs we will reopen Thursday Sept. 11th we apologize for any inconvenience. If you'd like to leave a message please wait at the beep."

From now until Thursday, Queen Anne Dick's (500 Queen Anne Ave. N., 1.7 miles away) is your closest alternative (see map, below). I also recommend In-N-Out -- the nearest is in Redding, California (1275 Dana Drive, 595 miles away) -- as a temporary substitute (not mapped below).

View Larger Map

22 August 2008

Back-to-School Technology Guide

Smaller, faster and less expensive are the trends in portable computers this year. Apple announced this past year the super-slim Macbook Air, and computer makers on the other side of the aisle were quick to match. Look for

HP 2133 Mini-Note PC -- "Honey?? I shrunk the laptop!" Once you get this (large) paperback-book sized notebook in your hand, you likely won't be able to set it down. Sporting an impressive 8.9" screen, I was especially drawn to the durability of this sub-notebook -- the thing just feels like it can be tossed in a backpack among the school books and gadgets. I will say, use caution when buying -- there are a few different models, the basic configuration comes with an Open Source Linux installation, if you're hoping for a Windows Vista-based machine, it's $100 more. Take a look for yourself here.

On the Apple side, there are two products worth mentioning. The first, my favoritate, is the super-slim Macbook Air. You've probably seen the launch commercials where it slides, no kidding, out of an envelope. It's eco-friendly and made from recycled parts. The keyboard is perfect for long hours of note-taking, and the brilliant display perfect for unwinding with a movie.

Both of these options are best as a second machine. While both are completely capable and run full versions of their respective Microsoft Office software (check with your school for academic pricing), you may consider taking a full-sized computer with large music-storing hard drive and standard keyboard for those all-nighter typing sessions.

Other must-haves? An external USB hard drive. Western Digital makes my favorites for around a hundred bucks. Cheap insurance against lost, stolen, or malfunctioning computers. Plug it into the campus computer lab and you're back up and running.

Finally, textbooks are an expensive part of any back-to-school budget. There's a great website that lets you rent the essentials, and it works a lot like Netflix. For more information on check 'em out online. They'll even let you keep the books if you decide you can't give it up at the end of the quarter.

Listen to this report, originally broadcast on KXL-AM Friday Aug 22: kxl_techexpert-backtoschool_20080822.mp3 (MP3)

Got questions? Feel free to drop me a line (techexpert (AT) brianwestbrook (DOT) com) and I'll do my best to steer you in the right direction! Happy studying! :-p

12 August 2008

R.I.P. "Kadoka" - Our Family Dog: Sept. '94-Aug. '08

With appropriate apologies for dominating this infrequently-used personal blog with memorials (previously on this blog), I regret to inform of the passing of my family's first canine: Kadoka. My parents called to share that she had been laid to rest today after prolonged illness and deteriorating health.

"Kadoka" was fourteen years old.

South Dakota Roots
Shortly after graduating High School, the remaining members of my family (with Sister in college and Dad already there) packed the (ugly) green Ford Taurus, the pop-up tent trailer (yes, we were *that* family) and headed East from Vancouver, WA. Destination: Homestead, AFB, Florida.

Years later, I've blocked out most of the trip (as you can imagine) ... but one memory remains vivid: South Dakota. At the time, the State's tourism board offered cassette tapes explaining the various sites and history along Interstate 90. The "rental" was free, so we picked up a set. Along the way we learned more interesting facts about South Dakota than any of us ever thought possible. (Seriously, South Dakota?!)

Among the many factoids: The City of Kadoka, South Dakota is famous (again, we're talking South Dakota here) for it's annual International Outhouse Race (sorry couldn't find a link). After the obligatory round of jokes, puns, and amusements that would make our cassette-tape narrator proud, we collectively came to the conclusion that "Kadoka" would make a great name for our dog. (We liked the name and the story, without trying to extract any symbolism or create correlations between dogs and outhouses.)

Meanwhile, Back in "The 'Couve"
It wasn't until we (to be fair, I flew ahead) trekked back to Vancouver, WA later that Fall (having deemed the Florida experiment a humid disappointment) that we found the family's first canine. A newborn Shetland Sheepdog puppy.

Kadoka was a playful dog, happy and content. Never argued with you, always enjoying company and great with kids. Kadoka was well-traveled and has left her mark on more States than many humans can claim to visit. Kadoka is survived by her two cocker spaniel siblings and a family that misses her already.

I learned a lot from that dog... patience, appreciation, and most importantly, an extended appreciation for our 40th State.

Next time you find yourself in South Dakota (after accepting my apologies), think of Kadoka...

Yes, I'll post photos when I can find some...

Update: Thanks to a reader I'm reminded that Tom Brokaw is from South Dakota. Brokaw, as you may know, is something of a hero of mine. I watched him nightly on NBC growing up and he tops he list of "people I'd like to meet". And, for the record, I enjoyed South Dakota -- I've been there a few times... just, well, you know: a bit of a "flyover State". Ehh? ;-)

06 August 2008

Vote For Me! Washington PCO for 37-1895

UPDATE 11/12: I won... but didn't... but... Read MORE here.

I'm pleased to officially announce my write-in candidacy for position of Precinct Committee Officer for Washington State Precint #37-1895.

Now, since it's past the deadline for me to have my name on the ballot (dammit!) I'm asking everyone in my neighbourhood to write-in my name and party affiliation ("Prefers Democratic party").

Please tell everyone you know in the 12 square block area in the map shown here to add my name ("Brian M. Westbrook") to the ballot as-shown.
Your assistance in helping me be elected during the August 19th primary is appreciated.

If you would like to help with my campaign, door-to-door efforts, or have ideas that can help me get elected -- please send them to: elect AT brianwestbrook DOT com.

For more information on the position of Precinct Committee Officer, view:

10 June 2008

R.I.P. Northwest Afternoon (1984-2008)

Word today is that KOMO TV's Northwest Afternoon will soon end its 24-year run. A local talk show produced by Fisher-owned KOMO (Ch. 4 / ABC), "NWA" featured a 15-20 minute "Soap Report" by anchor Cindi Rinehart followed by variety topics ranging from "Ambush Makeovers" to interviews with celebrities, authors and experts.

As you've no doubt learned from my countless shameless plugs and blog posts, I've been a regular guest covering gadgets, websites, and technology for the show. Each time, the entire gang at Northwest Afternoon has been very enthusiastic, supportive and a pleasure to work with -- a far cry from the fake "made-for-TV" pleasantries you might expect.

View some of my past appearances on NWA here.

The show wraps in August to be replaced by the nationally syndicated show "The Doctors," this Fall.

13 February 2008

Northwest Afternoon: Gadgets for Gals - Video Replay!

As-promised, video of Monday's show.

For the full recap and product information, view the original blog posting

11 February 2008

Internet Party: When Google's parents leave town...

Check this out and let me know if you can identify all the partygoers. ;-)