Why I support President Obama…

I am your typical married, 42 year-old American with two young children, girls 9 and 6. I think having kids has changed my perspective on where I want my country to go. Before I had kids, I was a just left of center moderate on fiscal issues and a bit further left on social issues. My fiscal view was that every individual American has personal responsibility to earn a living and provide for themselves and their family. And for those that could not, maybe a little short-term safety net should be provided by the Government but in no way should people feel entitled to anything. Everyone for themselves and there will be winners and losers.

Now that I have a children and a broader view of the world, my view has been enhanced. Not a major shift but just an additional perspective. I want my kids to grow up in an America like I grew up in. It felt safe… it felt like a leader in the world… we had the good jobs (higher paying, higher educated, more creative/entrepreneurial) in the world… you felt like you can make anything out of yourself with hard work and little bit of luck… there was a good solid middle-class population. You know the people in your old neighborhood. They weren’t ultra-rich nor were they really poor. Just good people going about their life with the American ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It seems to me that a) the disparity between the have and the have nots continues to grow and we are ending up with an America with more ultra-rich people and more really poor (and this has been going on for a while, see graph below), b) we’ve lost the will (or the intelligence) to be on the cutting edge of things (i.e. have the best infrastructure, invent the coolest technology, grow industries that will be industries of the future) and c) we’ve gotten more negative as a nation… Americans are supposed to be the optimists… we think everything is ‘Awesome!’.

I was originally of the stance that I wanted President Obama to be re-elected but I didn’t think it was a big deal either way. But now that I think about it more, I want a different future for my kids. Rather than go down a path where America gets more socially conservative and there is no apparent vision of the fiscal future (except we are going to cut taxes, not get rid of any of the expenses that people want, balance the budget and reduce the deficit), I want to go with President Obama. Why?

  1. I think he has a positive vision for the future. Better educated Americans. The leaders in new industries. A focus on building out the middle class. I don’t think he has made much progress in the first 4 years and my hope is that more gets done in the second term.
  2. I would really like us to invest in more infrastructure (which can spur on new industries). 20 years from now, I want my kids to live in an America that has better infrastructure than other parts of the world. Living here in Southeast Asia, it feels like other countries are investing more into this which may set them up to out pace America in the long run. How about some high-speed, energy efficient rail across America? How about high-speed Internet everywhere? How about electric car charging stations everywhere?
  3. I don’t want my kids to have to worry about getting health coverage or going bankrupt because of health issues. I think, as an American, you should be ‘entitled’ to get preventive healthcare and medical treatment when you need it, paid for by ALL Americans. We are all in this together and if you spread out the cost to everyone, it may actually be better and cheaper.
  4. I think changing presidents after 4 years, is a waste of time. There should be a new amendment that gives the incumbent president a 10pt. advantage so you can get rid of somebody that is really terrible, but if its close, let the person finish his/her job. My hope is that more can get done in the second term as there won’t be any concern of being re-elected.

I do have my negatives for President Obama…

  1. He seems to be really bad at politically gaining consensus with Republicans to get things done. Governor Romney seems to be better at that.
  2. This may be because he is trying gain consensus, but I wish he would be bolder in his initiatives (i.e. go single payer with healthcare)
  3. I think he should move on from David Axelrod and David Plouffe. Everytime I see them on Meet the Press, they seem to be source for the previous two items. This is more emotion based and not fact based. I don’t know why. They just seem to come across whiny.

Trains, trains, trains…

I think I’ve discovered that I really like trains. They seem to be so predictable and you feel like your not wasting as much natural resources as driving a private car or taking a taxi. I’m also cheap and taxis outside of Hong Kong are really expensive. In the last 2 1/2 weeks, I rode a total of 10 different train lines. Here’s a recap and my awards…

  1. Hardest Train to Get Off (as everyone tries to get on without waiting for you to get off) – MTR (Hong Kong Subway)
  2. Most Convenient Way to Get to the Airport (you check your bags in town before boarding) – Airport Express (Hong Kong)
  3. Most Canadian (you can get on the train without a ticket. silly trustworthy Canadians) – Skytrain (Vancouver)
  4. Most On Time (I love the down to the minute schedule) – Metra (Chicago)
  5. Best Value for Money (16.5 miles to the airport for $2.25USD) – CTA ‘L’ (Chicago Subway)
  6. Most Sheep and Rolling Hills (that stretch from Manchester to Sheffield) – Transpennine Express
  7. Best WiFi (surfing the web from Sheffield to London) – East Midland Trains
  8. Ugliest Interior (the material on the seats looks like your grandma’s couch) – Tube (London Underground)
  9. Longest Undersea Rail Tunnel (under the channel from London to Paris) – Eurostar
  10. Most Likely to Get Pickpocketed (or at least it felt liked that as I was packed in the train like a sardine) – Paris Métro

p.s. I did push my luck and tried for an 11th train ride. I decided to take the RER (Réseau Express Régional) to Charles de Gaulle Airport. It started off of o.k. with the receptionist at the hotel giving me some simple instructions to get to the train. After figuring out how to buy the special ticket from the French-only vending machine, I was on my way. When I arrived at the train platform I was immediately worried whether this was the right place. After trying to speak to a few people, I came to understand that there were some lights that light up that tell you which stops that the next train will stop at. All settled, I just need to wait for the train with the CGD stops lit up. Train 1 goes by… train 2… train 3… and so on. To make a long story short, the train to CGD were not running that weekend and the French speaking announce explained to all of the French speaking passengers that they need to head to the Mitry stop and catch a shuttle bus. Now this where I really thought the French people were great. The train was packed. I had my luggage with me. The doors were about to close and I was in a panic that I couldn’t make it on the train. A kind gentlemen grabs my arm, pulls me and my luggage up and pushes me into this ultra-packed train car. After riding a few stops crushed against a number of people the train started to clear out. Lo and behold, I made it to the airport finally and made it home.

Working for a Living

I rode a commuter train to work the past couple of days. For some reason, I reflected on the jobs I’ve had and the things I’ve learned along the way and jotted them down…

1980s

Free-Lance-Star – Paper Delivery Boy – How to throw a newspaper on a porch from 30ft out without causing too much damage.

Mechaneer Construction – Warehouse Labor – How to work hard for little money and still save up for a BMX bike.

Shopper’s Food Warehouse – Dairy Stocker – How to use a box knife and palette jack really well.

Bojangles Famous Fried Chicken – Biscuit Maker – How to make fluffy biscuits using a ton of lard.

4-Star Pizza – Delivery Man – How to stretch pizza dough by throwing it in the air.

Crest Foods – Bag Boy – How to put heavy stuff on the bottom and the loaf of bread on the top.

Johnnies Charcoal Broiler – Busboy – How to refill Heinz ketchup bottles and then set them back out on tables.

Burger King – Burger Flipper – How to get fired from a job the exact moment I had earned enough to fix my car.

Pizza Hut – Delivery Man – How to total another car in my driveway by backing into it when I was in a hurry to get to work.

Apollo Twin Movie Theatre – Popcorn Sales/Projectionist – How to up sell someone to a large popcorn and get held up at gunpoint.

Circle K – Sales Clerk – How to smoke a lot.

National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation – Secretary – How to make a million photocopies of briefs to be filed with the Supreme Court.

1990s

University of Oklahoma – Undergraduate Instructor – How to talk in front of a large audience.

Kerr-McGee – Intern – How to be useful without having someone tell you what to do.

Amoco – Computer Programmer – How to think like a programmer.

KPMG – Retail Systems Consultant – How to think like a consultant.

Business Data Services – How to think like a systems person (and drink a lot).

Leo Burnett – Systems Analyst – How to think more architecturally (and smoke a lot).

Calypso – Systems Consultant – How to think more creatively and entrepreneurially (and play foosball).

Enjin Interactive – Partner/Systems Consultant – How to start my own business and spend half your time following up with clients to pay you.

2000s

Household International – IT Manager – How to be a manager.

HSBC – IT Director – How to see the bigger picture.

3 Years Ago

Wow… almost 3 years ago, The Sawin Family packed up in Singapore and headed back to Hong Kong… and that was the last blog entry I made. Well, I think it is time to bring back Sawin.com as The Sawin Family starts a new chapter when 3/4’s of the clan head back to Chicago.

So what has happened in the past 3 years since my last post…

We took a helicopter to Macau for our 10th Wedding Anniversary and stayed in the high-roller suite…

Chopper to Macau for our 10th Wedding Anniversary.

We celebrated New Year’s in Phuket, Thailand…

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Had a visit from my Sister…

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Went snorkeling in Cebu, Philippines…

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Turned 40 at South Bay Beach…

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Spent a summer in Oklahoma with my Dad…

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Rescued 2 adorable dogs…

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Celebrated our 11th Wedding Anniversary at the Gold Coast (Hong Kong not Australia)…

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Hiked 100km in 41 hours…

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Took a business trip to Hanoi, Vietnam…

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Celebrated New Year’s in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia…

Malaysian Dancing Show

Bought a townhouse in Chicago…

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Went sailing in Bintan, Indonesia…

Jean's Sailing Lesson

Saw the Taj Mahal…

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Went down the lazy river at Chimelong in China…

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Road the Orient Express from Bangkok to Singapore…

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Had a visit from Malen…

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Went to the Australian Open…

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Saw a Cubs Game in Las Vegas with my Fraternity Brother…

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Experienced an earthquake and Tsunami warning in Phuket, Thailand…

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And paddled in my first Dragon Boat race…

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And Jean took a trip to Cambodia and is in Nepal right now. I can’t believe it has been 3 years already and it is interesting to look back. Since I will stay in Hong Kong for a bit longer, I’ll have to think of something clever to do with this blog.

So stayed tuned as I hope to get inspired to do something interesting with this soon…

The Move Back

After only a year in Singapore, The Sawin Family moved back to Hong Kong. Singapore was great and we really were just getting settled when we left. I’ll miss the people, the Singlish, the Laksa (the food in general was great/cheap), the easy driving/parking and The American Club. On my last night out with my colleagues from work, I played a tune (the only one I ever play) at the local pub at the office.

We were lucky enough to take Singapore Airline‘s A380 service to Hong Kong. The size of the seats are nuts compared to what we took 4 years earlier on United Airline’s 747.

Then
Business Class Baby

Now
Business Class Baby Take 2

We moved to our new flat on The Peak. The place is nice and Jean and the kids are really happy with it. Once again we have new view and this one is as spectacular as our last one in Hong Kong.

Then
A New View

Now
A New View 2

Both the kids have just started school. Riley goes to Highgate House. Grace goes to the ESF‘s Peak School. It’s strange that Grace is in the equivalent of the U.S. 1st Grade. Her uniform is cuter than they were in Singapore.

Then
Last Day of ISS School Year - 2008-2009

Now
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Well, The Sawin Family is getting settled now. Our shipment has arrived from Singapore so we have all our “stuff”. Now comes the slow process of organising our home and getting settled. Our domestic helper from Singapore agreed to move to Hong Kong which is great so the kids have some continuity and the adults can get out of the house. It is good to be back in Hong Kong and seeing old friends. This place is such a special place and has a unique buzz about it. Even better that our good friends from Chicago live here and are in the same apartment complex as us. O.K. lah.

July 4th – Singapore Style

For the first time since we’ve been in Asia, we were able to celebrate the 4th of July. The celebration was sponsored by the American Association of Singapore. There were bands, food, kids’ stuff, and fireworks.

The Sawin Clan
Sawins on July 4th
Our friends Mike and Janet Mako
Mike and Janet Mako on the 4th
Grand Ole Flag
Ole Glory
Festive Night
Am Assoc. of S'pore 4th of July
Patriotic Grace
Patriotic Grace
Happy Riley
Cheeky Little Riley
Sliding Sisters
Sisters Sliding

Grace Has Been Busy

The end of May was a busy time for Grace. She had a ballet recital rehearsal and swim gala on the same day. Here are the highlights

Dance Recital Rehearsal
Rehearsal for the Dance Recital - May 2009

Getting Ready
Getting Ready for the Dance Recital

Waiting to Go on Stage
Waiting to Go On Stage

Post Recital Lunch
Post-Recital Celebratory Lunch

Grace and Jean at the ISS Swim Gala
ISS Swim Gala - May 2009

Grace and Dani at Swim Gala
Grace and Dani at Swim Gala

Fun with Her Class
Grace with Her Class At the Gala