Everything you need to know to participate in the WA Democratic Caucus

On Saturday, March 26th at 10a neighbors will be gathering to participate in the Democratic Caucus in Washington State. There they will cast their support for either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. Here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know to participate in this process.

Validate your voter registration

In Washington, any registered voter can participate in a caucus. Start by validating your registration to ensure your name and address are correct. If the address is incorrect, that site will allow you to change it.

Not registered to vote? You can fix that right here.

Find your caucus location

Caucuses are local events near you, not in some far-flung corner of Olympia. To find your caucus location, fill out this simple form at the Washington State Democrats’ website. This will also pre-register you for the caucus. The site may ask you to print out a pre-registration form. If you are unable to do so, don’t worry about it! Pre-registration (and the form they want you to print after doing so) is entirely optional and is in no way required to attend the caucus.

If you have problems finding your caucus location on the website, I encourage you to contact the WA Democratic Party for assistance.

Be sure to mark your calendars for the caucus on March 26th at 10a. Block off at least 2 hours.

Show up and caucus!

It sounds intimidating, but it’s really easy even for us introverted techies. Just show up at your caucus location on Saturday, March 26th at 10a. There will be someone from the Washington Democratic party there, probably with Starbucks coffee and Top Pot donuts, to walk you through the details, but it basically amounts to raising your hand for the candidate of your choice. Before the vote you have the opportunity to discuss your candidate with others present, but your only real requirement is raising your hand for your candidate.

That’s it, all there is to it!

Can’t make the caucus?

If you are unable to make the caucus for religious, military, or work reasons, or have a disability or illness that prevents you from attending the caucus, you can fill out and mail in a surrogate form. When filling out the form you can use the voter validation website to confirm the exact spelling of your name as it is registered.

I’ll point out that the 2016 Washington State Delegate Selection and Affirmative Action Plan in no way specifies what counts as “observance of my religion”. I leave it to you to apply that phrase to your life however you see fit.

Note that the surrogate form must be received no later than 5p Friday, March 18th so get that done sooner rather than later if necessary.

Washington state also has a primary, why should we caucus?

From the Washington Secretary of State’s 2016 Presidential Primary FAQ:

The political parties retain the authority to decide if they will use the Presidential Primary to allocate delegates to the national nomination conventions. The political parties may also use caucus results, or a combination of primary results and caucus results.

The Republican Party will use the Presidential Primary results to allocate 100% of their convention delegates. The Democratic Party will not use the Primary Election results to allocate any of their delegates. They will rely solely on the results of their Precinct Caucuses on March 26th.

So for Democrats the caucus is your one and only chance to select between the two candidates.

Two good candidates, only one President

We Democrats are fortunate to have two good candidates running for President this year, but only one of them gets the job. If you’re passionate about which one it should be, participating in your local primary or caucus is your most direct method of voicing that opinion. I encourage you to participate!


Post updated 2016/02/27 @ 2215 with additional information based on submitted questions.

If the FBI wins against Apple, we all lose

The following is a letter I’ve written my US Senators and Representative regarding the FBI’s attempt to force Apple to provide a backdoor into their iOS encryption framework.

Dear $CongressCritter,

I am strongly against the FBI’s attempt to force Apple to provide a backdoor into their iOS encryption framework.

I am not an iPhone user, but as a 15-year veteran of the tech industry, I am intimately familiar with the importance of encryption in today’s technology ecosystem. If the FBI were to force Apple into providing a backdoor into their encryption framework, there is little to ensure that this capability is limited to this one case and absolutely nothing to prevent others from using it once created. To expect that the custom iOS provided to the FBI would never get into the hands of hackers and enemy states is naive and dangerous. Nor is there anything to prevent the FBI or other government security agencies from using this against US citizens in the future.

Forcing Apple to provide a backdoor sets a terrible precedent. It will negatively impact the US technology sector, and thereby the US economy, as individuals and businesses (both within the US and outside of it) stop purchasing US-made equipment knowing that the US government has, or can have, a route into their data.

Privacy and security are inherently at odds with one another and I acknowledge that it is hard to find a balance between the two. But the US government should be directing tech companies to do a better job of protecting citizen’s privacy, not providing backdoors to allow the US government and others to violate that privacy.

Please put pressure on the FBI to withdraw their request from Apple and make it clear that American citizens need strong encryption to protect our privacy and the US economy.

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

— Benjamin Franklin

Casey Peel

Retirement is wasted on the old

Youth is wasted on the young.
Retirement is wasted on the old.


Retirement. It’s the goal to which we all aspire. To gain enough financial security such that we no longer have to work for the rest of our lives.

When I started working at IBM at the height of the dot-com boom I had visions of retiring by the age of 30. Six months later the bubble burst and I was fortunate to have a stable job. What was I going to do when I hit 30 and was able to retire? I don’t know, but I knew that “retirement” was the goal.

For many people in the US, the magic age for retirement is 65 when Social Security kicks in to supplement your income. For others it may be a decade earlier.

But stop and think about it: why are we waiting to live until we’re old? Why do we think that when we reach retirement that we will be content not working? As someone in their 30s who has taken six months off work test-driving retirement, I’m here to tell you that we’re doing it all wrong.

Living in the now

I love to travel and have always assumed that I would do much more of it when I retired. And perhaps I will, but after doing quite a bit of traveling over the past 6 months I realize just how taxing it can be. Fast-forward to 30 years from now and how much more taxing will it be when I’m 68? Will I still want to be gone from home for weeks at a time? Will I still be able to hike up mountains? Will skiing in the winter still sound like fun? Will the mountains still have snow 30 years from now?

I want to take every opportunity to travel and live in the now while my body still works. While my knees don’t hurt. While I can still see and hear. While I can still remember things.

Every year I use up every single hour of my vacation and sick time. Some years I come skidding into the last few months with virtually nothing left and throw myself on the mercy of my manager to work from home for a few days around the holidays.1

It’s not enough.

A few weeks of vacation a year is not enough living, it’s still pinning hopes on retirement, biding time until that fateful day. I have to learn to live outside of vacation time, get more of it, or both.

Doing nothing is boring

One of the realizations that I had during my sabbatical was that I love to work. Perhaps not the 9-to-5 job in front of a computer for someone else, but I love programming. Creating something useful. Working with a team. Who’s to say that I won’t want to continue doing something like this after I reach retirement age?

What if retirement wasn’t “not working for the rest of our lives” but “working differently or working less” instead? My good friend John Martin retired over a year ago and has been doing some contract work for his prior employer. Not because he must, but because he enjoys it.2

Why can’t we have a better balance between work and living and stretch out both for longer?


My uncle died last month from pancreatic cancer. He was 69. He went from diagnosis to dead in 5 weeks. His father, my grandfather, died from pancreatic cancer at 83. My grandmother tells me that my grandfather’s father also died from pancreatic cancer. As you can guess, it can be hereditary.

From the American Cancer Society:

Almost all patients [who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer] are older than 45. About two-thirds are at least 65 years old. The average age at the time of diagnosis is 71.

I may not make it to retirement to begin living; I have to live now.

1 Thankfully, every manager I’ve had has been most forgiving with vacation hours. Also, I love working around Christmas and New Years because no one else is around which gives me tons of uninterrupted Maker time.

2 He recently came out of retirement for some great reasons.

Millheads: a great place to get your ears lowered

Four years ago I walked into a Great Clips and got the absolute worst haircut of my life. It was so bad that when I got home, Benjamin said “oh wow, that looks terrible — what happened?!”. I turned around, went back, and had a different stylist “fix” it by buzzing my hair. Vowing never again to set foot in that establishment, I switched to the Rudy’s in Belltown, always taking the next stylist in line.

Flash-forward about 6 months and I find myself getting a haircut at Rudy’s by a stylist that looks familiar but who I just can’t place. About half way through, I realize it’s the same stylist who butchered my hair at Great Clips and she was doing it again! After she had completed her hatchet job, one of her coworkers Paul Pugliese came to the rescue. I specifically requested him the next time I went in. Now, Paul is the only person who I will let touch my hair — he always does a fantastic job.

Last month, Paul opened his own place down in Pioneer Square: Millheads Hair Cutting Company. They cut men’s and women’s hair at reasonable prices and accept appointments and walk-in traffic. Being down in Pioneer Square just off South 1st and Yesler Way they’re easy to get to via bus, lightrail, and the new streetcar. Their location is doubly-good for me being just a few blocks north of my office.

If you’re looking for a place to get your hair done, I highly recommend giving them a chance!

Millheads Hair Cutting Company
83 Yesler Way
Seattle, WA 98104


In case you didn’t get the title, it’s an old saying from my Papa Jack meaning “to get a haircut”. Think about it…

Don’t call me queer

The past two decades, LGBTQ folks have been taking back the once-pejorative ‘queer’ as their own. Many folks elect not to identify as an individual letter of the alphabet soup, but solely as queer, seeing any individual letter as too constraining or restrictive. Others are adopting queer as a political identifier, often indicating their rejection of heteronormativity.

Groups have started incorporating queer into their names as an indicator of broad, general acceptance of all shapes of gender identity and sexual orientation. Just a few days ago, the Seattle Gay and Lesbian Film Festival announced that they’ve renamed themselves TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival. Other examples of LGBTQ groups that use queer to try and encompass a larger audience are QueerPeopleOfTech and MN Queer Science (the LGBTQ science group at the University of Minnesota that Daniel co-founded).

While trying to be more encompassing, queer can be othering and divisive, and is far from being a generally accepted umbrella term in the community. There are many people, myself included, who do not identify with the word queer despite broadly identifying with many aspects of the above definition.

Some of us have proudly identified as gay or lesbian for years, fighting for our families and communities to treat us as equals despite those labels and can’t fathom switching now. Or maybe it’s that queer’s modern definition still leads with ‘strange; odd’ and many of us have been called that enough already in our lives. Perhaps it’s a generational thing and that generations younger than mine are embracing and reclaiming queer the way my generation and those before me embraced and reclaimed gay.

Regardless, if you really must call me something besides friend or fellow human1, stick to gay before queer.

1 Even better, pronounce it like the Ferengi: hyoo-män.