Ficklish Blog

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I had a hot, strong flat white at Melbourne airport this morning. Flame Trees was playing in the café and I couldn’t stop myself from singing along as I waited for my flight.

Then we took off and I scribbled away happily as I sat and watched the muted olive, grey and brown patchwork of the landscape stretch out below me, with the clouds shining in the bright sun.

It’s really good to be home.

My four days in Melbourne were utterly wonderful. I love that town. The weather was wonderful – breezy and sunny and hot. The coffees were uniformly excellent.

I watched the sun go down on the balcony at the Espy, with jugs of cold beer. I ate a perfect steak, organic salads, gluten-free cakes and the ubiquitous chicken parma. I shopped all over town and bought three pairs of fabulous shoes. I spent long, lazy hours in the company of my favourite people in the world.

Yesterday, I drank champagne on the banks of the Yarra with Nat and Greenie, and we all marvelled at how good it felt to be in Melbourne, having come from so far away. There’s something that feels a little dangerous about that town – it is so good that it makes me question my desire to be elsewhere in a way that no other city can. I know I could be happy there.

This afternoon I’m sitting with my brothers on their balcony in the sun, looking over the Story Bridge, catching up on our lives and hurting from the laughing.

This is my 100th post on this blog.

It’s my 30th birthday.

I’m having an excellent time.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Tuesday

Guess what? I get to vote in the US Presidential election primary tomorrow. There are a number of things that are remarkable about this, and not just because I am a giant nerd. Okay, mostly because I am a giant nerd. Anyway.

Firstly, that I get to participate at all is really quite amazing. As some of you know, due to a mix of peculiar circumstance and surprisingly broad citizenship laws, I am an American citizen. My parents were working in the US in the late 70s, and I happened to be born while they were there. Unlike the UK and Australia, the USA automatically confers citizenship to those born on its soil, the fact of which I was unaware until a few years ago when a routine visa enquiry turned into a surreal interview at the US Consulate (which featured detailed scrutiny of my baby photos) and then a shiny new passport with an eagle on the front.

Given that I do not identify in any way as an American, my newly-discovered status was of little relevance to my life for some time – other than as an amusing story down the pub. Then in 2004, I realised the full scope of the opportunity that had been presented to me: I could vote. What’s more, I had the chance to vote against John Howard and George Bush in the same year! This pleased me no end, futile though it turned out to be.

Almost four years later, one of them is gone and the other is on his way. All of a sudden, anything seems possible.

I do have some misgivings about participating in an electoral process for a government that is not my own. However, as has been pointed out to me on numerous occasions of late, the results of the US Presidential election affect us all in some way. Mine can be the ‘Rest of the World’ vote. I’m doing it for all of us.

The second noteworthy point is that this is no ordinary absentee ballot. I am registered to vote in the 2008 Global Presidential Primary. The Democratic Party actually allocate Convention delegates to represent the six million US citizens that live in more than 100 countries around the world. I find it intriguing that the diaspora is considered as a distinct group of voters and a mechanism is provided for them to participate in the democratic process accordingly. Actual recognition of an electorate without borders!

The Republican party do not have separate delegates allocated to overseas voters, requiring instead that each individual vote by absentee ballot in their home state.

If you’d like to read further about this, AB wrote an interesting piece a few weeks ago that is worth checking out.

Finally, the other cool thing about tomorrow’s primary is that I can vote via the interwebs. They are doing some in-person and mail voting here in the UK, but I am delighted at the prospect of casting a vote online. They’ve emailed me a login and password, and as of 1pm UK time tomorrow, I can get some hot electoral action, 21st century style. I’m hoping like hell that there aren’t any pesky hackers out there who are going to try to undermine my vote. Please note that I do not consider all hackers to be of the 'pesky' variety. I happen to know at least one who is a lovely human being, and not pesky in any way. I am referring only to those who might be tempted to break into the voting site. Please stay away, Pesky Hackers! Thank you.

As for who I’m going to vote for, well, let’s just say that the temptation to try and match a PM called Kevin with a President called Barry is just too much to resist.