Archive for February, 2010

Names for Safeway

We had a saying in the newspaper world: there’s no writer’s block on deadline. And, while any deadline for a blog post currently would be merely self-imposed, I’m going to make myself post even though I’m suffering from writer’s block, a bit of mild exhaustion (the last three months have finally caught up. You know how you just push through difficulties because you have to? And then, only later, when the crisis has passed, does your body allow itself to feel the stress? Yeah, so do I. All I want to do lately is sleep. Of course, things have begun to pick up, both professionally and personally, so, ya know…), and am battling the pull of negative thinking because things are moving slower than I’d like. I’m just going to chalk the last up to personal responsibility and work harder. I don’t know what else to do…So this post will have final thoughts on CPAC, some thoughts on yesterday’s bloggers briefing, softball excitement and an overview of a really cool thing I did Monday with some really cool folks.

I’m glad I waited on CPAC wrap-up thoughts because something has gelled in my head after hearing a representative from this organization say yesterday at the bloggers briefing that both Democrats and Republicans are suffering losses in membership. After reading reports on this a few days ago, a question keeps popping up: do these things mean that the reality of a third party is actually at hand? I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure, at this point, that having a viable third party might be just the thing that curbs some of the waste and excess of government. Does this make me a libertarian?

  • Ann Coulter hates Keith Olbermann. I almost feel sorry for him because she is a brilliant critic and has no use for diplomacy when it comes to telling the truth. Frankly, I admire that. Best thing she said, IMHO, was, when asked how conservatives should handle discussion of climate change, that the issue had “already been handled by God.”
  • George Will’s speech was amazing. Best thing he said, IMHO, was when he referred to envy as the only deadly sin that gives the sinner “not a moments pleasure.” I won’t deprive you of the speech so if you want the context, go here.
  • I met a fellow blogger and will link his site in the blogroll. In the meantime, read his site here. Fellow Georgian. I’m a Southern snob. No kidding.
  • I was glad to see representatives from Google at the Digital Bootcamp Saturday. They clearly are beginning to see the writing on the wall and, well, they are genius business people. I took copious notes again. And found out that the number 2 search engine after Google is…wait for it…YouTube.
  • Learned about this at the bloggers briefing. Healthcare wish list from the perspective of employers. Interesting.

Now, on to a softball update. All I’m saying is that today I was involved in an email conversation with several of the people on my team wherein it was discussed that someone hit a line drive and caused a player on the other team to lose a piece of his male anatomy that, well, he could lose one, but I’m sure it was a blow to his manhood (no pun intended). After this conversation, my excitement to meet the team grows. That makes me weird. I know…

Finally, I actually got out and made new friends Monday when I attended a clothing swap with a few women friends of a gal I met in dance class. We swapped old clothes, drank wine, got semi-naked (to try on clothes but it’s always nice to feel that kind of comfort level with complete strangers — think what you want people. I ain’t ashamed.), and talked a bunch — a whole bunch — of trash. It was hilarious and fun and I felt like I was hanging out with my girlfriends back home because these ladies are in the theater etc. and so have that crazy/awesome creative edge I must — and I can’t stress this enough — must have in my life. They told me about this for example. I live near the Sandinista Safeway by the way…

Anyway, stealing from a friend, (well, him and childhood friend Will McLaughlin, who kept a “bible” of quotes, which is where the “Man, donuts are the best!” quote comes from for all my Facebook friends) here are a few choice quotations from the evening that will not be funny to you but I’m giggling just writing them. Can’t wait to hang out with these ladies again.

“Logical reasoning, rational argument — and also, what the hell?!”

“There were six of us. We went to ‘Nam. We came back. We hump. Its what we do.”

first lady: “I can’t do ‘everything’ bagels because they try to be all things to all people…”
second lady:”it’s like the hat! Tell the hat what you need it to be.”

“I’m surprised you haven’t whipped out your bagel.”

“I’m pretty sure at the last clothing swap my actual pants got stolen…”

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Neo neocon

I'll have a proper post with thoughts from Days 2 and 3; till then, meet the new conservatives ya'll...

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Because everybody and their best friend’s neighbor is talking about the details I’m going to talk briefly about the general tone of the first day of this three day conference, my first, of conservative political nerdy types. The shindig is about a 10 minute walk from my house so I’m forgoing live blogging — having trouble logging in anyway — and just coming home for a bit to write. I’ll head back over in a bit to hopefully meet up with a few people I’m in contact with but have never met. New faces are always good.

But to the tone — excitement is in the air people. You may have read that Dick Cheney made a surprise appearance and stated that he believes Obama is a one-termer. I’m going to have to agree if the momentum holds because conservatives are feeling empowered by what’s happening — or, rather, what hasn’t been happening — in Washington. And, while I had a brief conversation earlier with a more liberal friend about the lunatic fringe being welcomed into the new conservative movement and how that’s frightening, I’m going to have to beg to differ. I think the strength of this new excitement is actually borne of the fact that it’s grass-roots in the best sense: this crop of conservatives — and it’s no secret that CPAC this year is aimed squarely at the under 30 crowd — is welcoming and tolerant of all ideas. One of the last things I watched today was a speech given by Congressman Thaddeus McCotter, who I didn’t know too much about but now I think I’d like to know more, and he said the following:

If we don’t know where we’ve been, where we are or where we’re going, any road will take us there. And that conservatives should “remain philosophical, not ideological.” I like that. Because it’s about ideas — all ideas and philosophies, grass roots or otherwise. Have some good ideas, bring them to the table, let nature take it’s course and the things that work will just naturally work. This is an organic approach that makes me feel comfortable and relaxed. And hopeful.

Other highlights:

  • Cheney’s cool. I don’t care what anyone says. He’s a tough old coot and I wouldn’t want to be on his bad side but these are actually qualities I admire. And he’s comfortable passing the torch to the next generation and I like how he pays deference to his daughters. Reminds me of my dad.
  • Romney was my guy in the primaries and I’m reminded why. He thinks like a businessman, he’s self-effacing and funny. Not unlike Reagan. He knows it, too. Most promising thing I heard him say was when he acknowledged that Obama has failed to fix the economy because he lacks focus (which Romney cited as the main reason for the failure of new business — no reason not to trust him on that). Obama opted instead to continue playing politician and just trying to pay back favors and pander to his cronies and constituencies. He has yet to get to work. At least that’s what I think Romney was saying. And I’ll call it here: It will surprise me if he’s not our next President.
  • As I was traipsing down the hall from a reception last night — I had a jack and coke at the NRA reception because what else would you have at the NRA reception? — I spied Lt. Col. Allen West and, of course, with the liquid courage of Tennessee’s finest flowing through me, I marched right on up to him and said, “Lt. Col. West? My brothers are huge fans. I’m from Georgia…,” much to the horror of my companion, someone I barely know but he seemed to handle it well, to his credit. See, when I like someone, I feel almost obligated to let them know they inspire me. So I did. And the Lt. Col. was incredibly kind and genuine and completely proved why folks instinctively took a liking to him. Not an ounce of shallow or superficial in this man. So very nice. He’s speaking Saturday brothers — I’ll do my best to get pictures.

The nerd factor just grows exponentially doesn’t it?

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Oh Comcast, you are becoming tragically similar to Charter back home. Not a compliment. But that’s cool because my trusty haunt has free wireless and coconut cake. And the Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’s playing overhead. So, hey, Comcast, take your time…

The hardships of having the internet go out at home...

Yesterday’s blogger briefing was fascinating, and not just because I got a free t-shirt (thanks Chamber of Commerce! New running shirts excite me…and this one says “I dream BIG” on the back. Which I really, really like…). No, it was fascinating because it was all about business (and small/new business in particular) and (a) I’m a nerd who loves this kind of stuff and (b) small business is why I managed to survive past birth and, indeed, thrive in this world. Pops was a small business owner so my affection for the concerns of this sector of the population are written in stone. Those interests kept me fed and clothed.

Anyway, representatives from the US Chamber of Commerce spoke about this lovely little bill, also known, with not a little bit of dripping contempt, as the American economy’s public option.

It was somewhat surprising to realize that the Chamber was waging an active campaign to decry what this bill seeks to do — they are, after all, a federal entity and so I expected at least some attempt at “playing nice” in the interest of teamwork (or whatever). Then Pops reminded me that the Chamber and the current administration have pretty publicly declared some differences of opinion. After hearing what they had to say, I can see why. Basically, it sounds like — and there’s a laundry list of concerns but this one seems to be the biggie — the idea of a single, stand-alone regulatory entity — a Consumer Protection Agency (emphasis mine, because one of the concerns seems to be that the only people this kind of entity actually protects are representatives of Big Labor, and that’s just political favoring. Prove me wrong…). As one of the Chamber reps noted, they were all in favor of consolidating regulatory efforts, but this answer is nowhere near consolidation. Rather, it appears to be nothing more than redundancy of regulation in order to give more political leverage to the unions. But then, is anyone really surprised that this is what the Chamber believes after studying the bill? Wish I could say, limited in my understanding of the bill as I am, that they are being paranoid; but, alas, this administration just keeps proving that what interests them seems to be paying back political cronies. And, the worst part are the euphemisms — consumer protection agency…bah. I’m so, so tired of euphemisms or calling destructive things by pretty names or assigning some good quality (“it’s in your best interest”) for things that are damaging or demeaning. The creation of the agency, as Chamber members noted, is “based on the idea that consumers can’t make the right decisions for themselves.”

A final thought — the Chamber reps brought up something I found so revealing, and I’m not sure I can convey how stunning it was here: they said that after polling people concerning a consumer protection agency — before these people knew what the agency would actually do — they were apprehensive of a new, large bureaucratic agency regulating their lives. When told the details, they were more apprehensive. But the point is that people instinctively do not like large federal government intervention. Shouldn’t that mean something?

Oh man, this song is playing. I love this song. Thank you haunt…

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True love and nothing else

Okay, it’s a day I can safely talk about love without people looking at me with pity for being so naive and hopelessly romantic. Because it is true: there’s nothing more tragic than an aging romantic. But I’m allowed to talk about this stuff on Valentine’s day, and you can pity me if you want or think I’m unrealistic or have my head in the clouds. Don’t care, because today is the day for all that gushy stuff. And I love it.

Here recently I was reminded of just how rose-colored my world glasses are. I’ve always lived in a fantasy world of Hollywood endings and transcendent love. But — and this should please my family — I’ve always been aware that it wasn’t the way things really worked. Didn’t know that did ya? I understand — have always understood — how brutal the world is and I’ve always known that retreating into movies, or books, or music is just that — a retreat. It’s just, well, I prefer the retreat. I like it better there.

This is the judgmental part…

People call a lot of things “love.” And people enter into relationships with one another for a lot of different reasons. I’ve seen lasting relationships between people that started from very painful and selfish circumstances. And I’ve had to rethink the morality of those situations because they didn’t fit in with my concept of love but they still turned out to be “successful” relationships. I struggle with this stuff. More than I can ever convey. It keeps me up at night sometimes. Told you — hopeless romantic.

But here’s the thing: I’m still holding out — and the way it’s looking, I may always — for what you see in the clip below. Because while some of those relationships I was talking about are “successful” from the perspective of longevity or procreation or any other number of factors people use to judge such things, too many of them seem to be inhabited by hollow people just going through the motions. But that’s just an outsider’s view. I suppose you never really know what goes on between people…

And, for the record, I’ve seen the other kind of relationship, too. Where the people battled long and hard for their love, and put their own needs aside in the interest of the relationship, and poured their efforts into being together rather than getting what they wanted in the immediate. And they’re out there, too. So, maybe it’s okay to be a hopeless romantic. I think you just have to continue to be inspired by the real stuff and recognize the other stuff for what it is. I just wish the other stuff didn’t make me so sad. But I’m working on it.

So, I’ll continue to wait for an intense talk on the porch. Because really, nothing else makes me feel — well, anything. All the other stuff people call love — hello cynic! — drama, manipulation, jealousy, the excitement of the fleeting moment, braggadocio — pales in comparison to what M. Night has written here. For some context, the girl is blind; a beautiful detail.

(An aside, there’s not a film this man has made that isn’t great, despite critics’ views to the contrary. There’s always something interesting about them. Signs is one of the deepest films out there, and Unbreakable is, well, genius. Also, be sure to listen to a great love song that discovered me around the age of 14. It finds me again every once in a while and it’s like snuggling up under a blanket…Happy Valentine’s Day.)

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I’d rather be warm

Warning: much of this post is personal, once again proving that I really should start another blog that is purely dedicated to this kind of thing. Mixing business with pleasure is kind of ill-advised. Or so I’ve heard…

So I have this friend right. Someone I like very much. Even though at times I find myself on the verge of tears because we don’t always communicate very well…and man, I am definitely not at my best when I’m on the verge of tears. I tend to let whatever’s making me feel that way wash over me and take hold and my natural desire for optimism disappears and I become this negative little gloom-n-doomer, not unlike the Doc Marten-wearing rebel I was as a teenager. And the thing is, I suppose it would be easy to blame my friend — again, this is a person who’s company I truly enjoy despite our sporadic communication issues — for bringing out this side of me. I’ve retreated into the blame game in the past and have even structured my life to excise any person who I begin to feel remotely maudlin around. To the degree that lately I’m more comfortable making very shallow connections so I don’t have to worry about this kind of thing. But I’m beginning to think that this is an even bigger problem. Milquetoast is just as boring and exasperating as melancholy. So, what to do…?

My Pops says it’s all a matter of “growing a backbone,” but I think on this point — and there aren’t many my father doesn’t nail dead on with me, but this is one — he misunderstands his daughter. Because I have a backbone. A pretty strong one. In fact, that’s partly why I tend to cry rather than yell or decide not to care — I have your temper Pops. And I don’t know how others will handle it and if what flies out of my mouth will be irreparable or horrifying. And I’ve gotten really good at not caring. And sometimes I think that’s a huge — huge — flaw. So this friend of mine has just been a catalyst that’s led me to examine these things lately. And I’m not sure what that means either, but a good catalyst is never a bad thing to have around. Combustible, yes. Volatile, yes. Also interesting, thought-provoking, full of heat and life and energy. And maybe I push a few things his way as well, things he needs to think about…Okay, self-reflection ends here. Thanks for your time.

So, my mom pretty much double-dog dared me yesterday to go down to the second snowball fight in Dupont Circle and, well, if your mom is pretty much calling you a chicken, you kinda have to address it. So, I put on some thermals, three shirts, two pairs of socks and headed out into, no lie, a blizzard. (Oddly, while dressed like Ralphie’s kid brother from A Christmas Story I am incredibly hot. Some dude was yelling at me from the back of a truck and begging me to jump in, even though my face was completely obscured from view and, as I said, I had on 12 pounds of clothes…weird…) It takes me 20 minutes to walk down there on a good day and I made decent time — and took my real camera this time rather than just my phone so I could take some pictures where people are actually identifiable. I’ve included a few at the bottom. The guy with the scraped up nose is so beautiful I can barely look at him. And the guys in wigs — somehow I’m supposed to get this photo to them so I might post it to the Facebook event page that was responsible for organizing both of the fights. Yesterday’s only had a few hundred people — Saturday’s of last week numbered in the thousands — but still a respectable group. And mom, the walk back wasn’t too bad — after a few glasses of wine (ahem). And, I made Grandma’s snow ice cream. You were right, sugar and vanilla in anything is going to taste pretty good…

So, I have to go for a run — in 20 inches of snow — because somehow I’ve got to figure out how to get to Alexandria, Va. this afternoon for a job interview…cab I guess…I just don’t know…

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Sorry for being out of pocket for a few days. I’ve actually been busy — thank goodness — what with the freakshow snowstorm here (with more on the way apparently), and other work-related and personal things and events. So, to jump in…

Okay, good for you Saints. I’m happy for you. You played a better game Sunday and you earned that win. And you played with class, so I’m proud of you. Can’t complain. But it was a little painful. I’m such an outsider…

Also, I finally got to see the Hay Adams Hotel because I attended a new media event there given by this organization. Well done and very informative. It was basically a panel of government reps (DOD and others) and private enterprise reps (the digital communications guy for the Washington Capitals was there. I liked him. Very relaxed, yet in control. I aspire to these things.) talking about the ways they use Web 2.0 and new media technologies. I took copious notes but the one thing I really came away with was this — new media is opening up a whole new vein of free exchange of information, immediately editable, and open to all levels of an organization. Things like Twitter and blogs are changing the way things get done people. And it was refreshing to be in a room where people acknowledged and celebrated that fact. Remember: I started out as a reporter at a newspaper and that kind of conversation is still a little contentious in those environments.

The blogger’s briefing today was fascinating. Bob Grable (from NFIB) was there speaking about ObamaCare and its relationship to small business, which Mr. Grable contends, if I’m distilling his remarks correctly, is proof in the pudding about how damaging ObamaCare would be to the general economy because small business is the engine that drives free enterprise. Also, Lindsey Burke from Heritage gave a fascinating overview of this paper and the irony that, apparently, the President’s budget continues to throw money at a program that has been — if the impact study is accurate — a failure, while cutting funding to a program that actually works. As one attendee of the briefing noted, Obama’s dedication to school programs that work are only in the event that the unions aren’t upset by the success of the program. Politics at the expense of the kids man. That’s bad business.

Also, the landlady came down last night and had a few glasses of wine with me and told me that the location of the Harris Teeter down the road used to be an arena where, get this, she saw the Beatles — you read that right — play on her 16th birthday. And they threw jelly beans because “that’s just what you did in those days in your sweater sets.” Considering that the Beatles only toured for like a year or something, there aren’t that many people who can say they saw them live. I thought that was the coolest story.

Okay, that’s all I got.

Here’s something that’s been bringing me a little peace. I hope it does for anyone who happens to listen.

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Holy cow John Locke is the smoke monster. Well, more accurately, whoever is inhabiting John at the moment. Also, fascinating idea to juxtapose the past-tense, lovely, crinkly-eyed John Locke in the wheelchair with the Lord of the Flies baddie he’s become. These parallel universes are a writer’s dream. Think of all the possibilities when you’re talking jumping through space and time. Okay, I digress from my LOST geeky fandom. Gonna be a good season though. Without question.

So, the blogger’s briefing yesterday was interesting. I’m liking these get-togethers. Meeting smart, interesting people and being exposed first-hand to things I may not have the opportunity to learn about except by accident. As always, you can listen here, but I do want to include this video of one of the participants, Marc Thiessen, former W. Bush speechwriter who has penned this book. He said something yesterday that shook me a bit, and he echoes it in this video sparring with Christiane Amanpour. He said that one of the terrorists they interrogated (you decide for yourselves if “tortured” is the right word. I think not; but then you knew that…) thanked his interrogators when they were done for relieving him of his moral responsibility. He was free at that point to spill what he knew because he was only required to take as much as he could. And then — freedom from the burden of the jihad I guess. He also suggested that all the Muslim brothers be given the same courtesy. Does that strike anyone else as just a little odd? I mean, admiration is heaped upon those down with radical Islam for their dedication to the cause, but this just seems to fly in the face of that dedication. But maybe it’s just me…

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I’m changing my little header picture you may notice. The last was my old town and the current is an interim I’ll use until I manage to take something I think truly representative of where I find myself, both physically and intellectually. But my grandparents house on the Potomac in Southern Md. works pretty well for the time being. For a lot of reasons.

So, something occurred to me as regards the snark factor I seem so preoccupied with in politics. I was reading this article the other day — I know. The Economist is pretty ambitious stuff for a simpleton like the kid here, but my landlady stuffs her old ones in my mailbox so I put them in the bathroom. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn something. — and I’m reminded of a problem I saw time and again while working in a bureaucracy where everything was decided by committee. Ultimately, the really tough decisions that no one wanted to be held responsible for, the riskiest ones I guess, were put on hold indefinitely. People rarely took a stand, made a final decision and were therefore never held responsible. And the committees just continued to meet to discuss…on into eternity it seemed. I’d wager they’re meeting still.

And then this paragraph jumped out at me: “Rhetorically at least, Mr Hu had shown more enthusiasm for reform than did Mr Jiang who, as party chief from 1989 to 2002, made no obvious effort to change the party’s top-down dictatorial style. But in September Mr Hu dropped a not-so-subtle hint of his own reservations, emphasising the principle of “centralism”—which means upholding party decisions without dissent. The party’s own literature, especially that intended for official readership, suggests his reforms have often resulted in more pointless rubber-stamp meetings, confusion and disillusionment. They have also been a drain on government funds.”

Ah, the criticism of Democracy right out of red China. Kinda makes the snark I saw on the SOTU address make sense — someone has to call the shot, be bold, be the hammer of the God.

Right? If not, then what?

These are actually not rhetorical questions. I’d really like for people to try to answer them, at least for themselves. I think you all know where I stand. I just find it fascinating to point out how the idea of Democracy — as much as it leads to red tape and bureaucracy, etc — does not lead to “upholding party decisions without dissent.”

LOST starts tomorrow!

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