Monday, November 26, 2018

Musings on Risk at a Certain Age

Today, during lunch with a group of former colleagues, one of them made an observation about risk that resonated with me.  As someone who skis, hikes, bikes, drives, flies and loves to travel, risk has not been high on my list of worries. Or, subconsciously, has it?

"As I get older," he said, "the risks seem riskier." That put into perspective feelings of anxiety I've been having.   I recently told my Montreal relatives that it was unlikely we'd drive up from Philadelphia for the holidays, a tradition of several years. Last year, on our way home, we skidded off the road. I don't relish tempting slick highways again. I nag at my husband to drive more slowly. (He, in return, accuses me of driving "like an old lady.")

Are our growing concerns about risk because we realize that there is so much more to lose? For one,  our bodies are less able to bounce back from injury. For another, if we're lucky and now have grandchildren, we'd like to see them grow up.

My friend tied his thoughts about risk to his increasing unwillingness to move out of his large, longtime house in order to downsize.  Why, he said, should he take the risk of moving from a community he has nurtured for the last 36 years to one where he would have to start all over? "The longer I'm here, the harder it is to move,"  he said.

Hmm... We've been in our house 40 years, the last decade of which we have thought about moving.

At the same time that cocooning seems to be working to envelope me, I know I must keep fighting to break free and take  risks that bring excitement, diversion, and adventure. Risks that keep me engaged, indeed, young. 

Perhaps that's why we've begun to thread the risk/reward needle. 
For one, we don't travel independently as often as we once did, driving on unfamiliar roads in unfamiliar countries where people speak unfamiliar languages. Instead, we go with organized groups and let a guide and driver  lead our explorations 
We caved after many decades of skiing in knitted hats and invested in helmets, though we told ourselves it was to set an example for the grandkids.
And last year I bought Yaktraks to clip on our boots so we don't slip in winter -- though we have yet to put them on.
Over Thanksgiving, with 10 grandkids and grand nieces and nephews in the house, I was careful to watch for toys underfoot. (A close friend recently broke her wrist in multiple places after stepping on a toy truck while kissing her grandson goodnight.)

But there is reward in confronting  such risk in our big old house:  having the place and space to bring a large and loving family together. I would risk everything for that.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Tips for Inside Voting Booth

Some tips on voting

Please circulate widely amongst all voters that you know.  Philadelphians, please add Philly-specific information for your contacts at the end of this message.

There have been reports from TX and GA about voters noticing the machines switched their selection from the Democrat to the Republican candidate. This is your reminder to ALWAYS CHECK THAT THE LIGHTS ARE ON FOR THE CANDIDATES YOU WANT TO VOTE FOR before you hit the cast vote button. While we don’t anticipate this being an issue here, it never hurts to be prepared; particularly since our machines are on the older side so could be glitchy. This is true whether you like to push each individual button or push D11 to vote straight Democrat.
Check your vote before hitting the “cast vote” button.
IF YOU HAVE THIS PROBLEM HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO DO.  If you are having a hard time getting a candidate to register properly DO NOT HIT the Cast Vote button. Stay in the machine and call for help from the judge of elections. If the judge of elections cannot fix the problem ask to cast an EMERGENCY BALLOT instead. (Please note this is NOT a provisional ballot, and it should be clearly marked Emergency at the top. If the precinct is out and need to cross out provisional and write emergency that is Ok.)  Other actions and options are just below.
Double-check that the voting machine registers your vote properly.  Do NOT hit the cast vote button if you see any problem.
  1. DO NOT press the "cast vote" button and DO NOT leave the booth.  
  2. Stay in the booth and ask for a poll worker to examine the problem
  3. Insist that you be allowed to vote on a different machine 
  4. Request the Judge of Elections to take the broken machine out of service
  5. Write down the ID # of the machine
  6. If the judge of elections cannot fix the problem ask to cast an EMERGENCY BALLOT instead. (This is NOT a provisional ballot, and it should be clearly marked Emergency at the top. If the precinct is out and needs to cross out provisional and write emergency that is OK.) 
  7. Follow up Afterwards (see below)
If Your Name is Not in the Poll Book and You are told You Can’t Vote, ask a Poll Worker to:
  1. Check and make sure this is the right precinct. Sometimes more than one precinct is housed in the same building and you may just in the wrong room.
  2. Spell your last name again and look on the book yourself while they search for your name. Sometimes they just misheard you.
If you are still not able to vote
Ask a Poll Worker to:
  1.  Call Voter Services About Your Registration
  2. Direct you to the Correct Polling Place
If none of that works, ask for a Provisional Ballot You Can Track
Please be courteous, these are volunteers who are spending the day helping our democratic process run smoothly.
You have the right to vote with a provisional ballot if: 
  • You registered to vote in Pennsylvania and are eligible in the election district, but your name is not in the voter roster and Election Officials cannot determine your registration status.  
  • You do not have an approved form of identification when you go to vote in an election district for the first time.  
  • Someone challenges your eligibility to vote. You may produce a witness to sign an affidavit to affirm your identity and residency. If you produce a witness, you can vote either by paper ballot or on the machines. If you are unable to or choose not to produce a witness, you can vote with a provisional ballot.  

How do I vote on a provisional ballot? 

If you vote by provisional ballot, you will be asked to follow these instructions: 
1. Complete and sign the provisional ballot affidavit on the back of the provisional ballot affidavit envelope. 
2. Mark your provisional ballot in an accessible and private area of the polling place. 
3. Seal your provisional ballot in the secrecy envelope. 
4. Seal the secrecy envelope in the provisional ballot affidavit envelope. 
5. Sign the front of the provisional ballot affidavit envelope. 
6. Return the sealed provisional ballot affidavit envelope to a polling place election official. 
7. Receive your provisional ballot identification receipt. 
Other Follow Up 
Call the Election Protection Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE)
  1. Email your county voting office and cc yourself.  For Montgomery County, email  For Delaware County, email
  2. Use our Contact Form to report issues
For more information:
See CBE’s web page on Election Day problems