29 March 2007

Karl Rove is the Worst Dancer in the World

As if things weren't bad enough for Karl Rove, he had to unveil his dance skills, or lack-there-of, at last night's Radio & TV Correspondents' Dinner last night in Washington. Now that's funny...

26 March 2007

Going Home

On Sunday BL and I made our first of hopefully many summer trips out to Great Falls. It was absolutely gorgeous out, the first true shorts weather of the season. If you’ve never been to the falls and you live in the DC area, you don’t know what you’re missing. A season pass is only 20 bucks, $5 for a day (I think). There are plenty of hiking trails meandering between the Potomac and the C&O Canal as it makes its way toward the city along the MD/VA border. There are some more treacherous, rocky trails for the slightly more daring, or the tow path for the everyday walk or jog. There’s even a newly built working canal boat and a few locks for the history buff. People watching opportunities abound on a beautiful spring day. You’re guaranteed to see the spectrum from tiny tots bundled and strapped to daddy’s chest to grandma and grandpa out for an afternoon stroll. We came upon at least one second date…that’s our guess judging by the conversation…and quite a few dog lovers. As we strolled and chatted we were absolutely blown away by the thought that the first time either of us had been there had been together…10 years ago! TEN YEARS? Granted, we were only in middle school at the time, but wow! It’s hard to believe we’ve even known each other that long.

The thing that struck me about the falls 10 years ago is still the very same thing that strikes me today. I didn’t have words for it then, and I only have a fleeting comprehension of it now but the best words I can muster to describe the beauty, the power, the smell, the overwhelming calming effect of watching the waters of the river rush by me are these: God lives here. I’m not a conventionally religious person, but I shudder at the cliché, I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual. It’s hard for me to describe what I believe about the great unknown besides to say that there is some amorphous, incomprehensible, ineffable something out there that is bigger than I. However, when I come upon a place like this, there’s an overwhelming awe. Not an awe that strikes me back as in the sight of a massive building or amazing machine, but an awe that draws me in…calms me…grounds me…allows me to feel like and be me again. I feel the same way floating on my back in the Atlantic, watching a thunderstorm roll in, or gazing upon the rolling mountains of the Allegheny Plateau. I feel at home. I feel wrapped in the arms of some greater existence.

I need these experiences that I can’t quite explain, I can’t quite describe. I long for them. It’s been a long winter, my life is totally and completely up in the air right now. This weekend, though, this one short day strolling around the falls, has grounded me again. I’m ready again to go along for this crazy ride until the next time I get the chance to go home…

22 March 2007

Penn State Women's Basketball Coach Resigns

Embattled Penn State women's basketball coach Rene Portland resigned today, just a month after settling out of court a discrimination lawsuit filed by former player Jennifer Harris.

In 2005 Harris filed a discrimination lawsuit against Portland and Penn State, alleging that Portland discriminated her on the basis of sexual orientation and race. Harris claimed Portland had a strict "no lesbian" policy-- not the first time the coach had been accused of discrimination in her 27 year tenure-- and said she was ostracized and eventually asked to leave the team because "she needed to look more feminine." The incident caused an uproar on the Penn State campus and with the ACLU, as student groups, including the LGTBA and the Black Caucus, petitioned for Portland's firing.

Portland's resignation has to be seen as a victory for civil rights. Public institutions like Penn State should not and cannot tolerate bigotry at any level, let alone a position as visible as the head coach of a major sports team. It's a shame that the university stood behind Portland for so long, even after investigating her and ordering her to take professional development course on diversity.

19 March 2007

The Birthday Dinner

BL took me out for an amazing dinner Friday night at Indique Heights. The chicken chettinad was absolutely killer, and the atmosphere was more than I expected from a place in Friendship Heights. If you like Indian, it's definitely a place worth checking out, though admittedly a little on the expensive side.
BL and I were entertained this evening by a combination of our observations and our dorkiness, as usual. Since she was treating and I was being lazy, she chose the bottle of wine, and we waited to see how it would be presented. The waiter, true to the decade in which we live, presented her the bottle and poured her taste, then poured me the first glass. We both smiled. Dinner was rather uneventful, but definitely wonderful, and when we had finished, our waiter brought the check, and, once again, handed it to BL. This guy's good. He pays attention and he doesn't make the assumptions that are often made at a dinner for two. The assumption that the man will pay, that the man will choose and approve of the wine. It always pleases me to see that every once in a while that mold's broken.
But then, of course, the egalitarian bubble was popped. Another waiter came by and picked up the check from our table with BL's credit card inside. He ran the card, brought the check back, and...yep...you guessed it, handed the check with her card inside directly to me. Eh, you win some you lose some, but it's always interesting to watch.
Just as a little aside, I wonder how much age affects this phenomenon? Our waiter was young. Probably mid 20s. The second waiter was a bit older, probably mid to late 40s. Have we broken these assumptions somewhere in that 20 years in between?


This has probably been circulating for a while, but BL sent it my way today at work. I'm all about breakin the mold, shakin up the status quo...check this out:

14 March 2007


Ah, yes. The brackets are all filled out. Most of the online pools lock at noon tomorrow. Some are scurrying through their last minute research while others, like me, just wing it...just in it for the fun. It's NCAA March Madness time and it seems appropriate that we hear some words of wisdom from the illustrious Frank Deford.

Anyone have any favorite picks this year?

12 March 2007

On Dealing with Intolerance

How does one handle the intolerance of others, especially when those others are ones oldest, dearest friends?

A couple of weeks ago I was in Pittsburgh with my girlfriend visiting some college friends. One of these friend’s best friend from high school, who I’ve also come to adore, is gay (we’ll call him A). A is quite open about his sexual orientation and quite comfortable talking about it and often cracking jokes about it. Let’s just say A makes no attempts to lead you to believe he is anything but exactly who he is.

So Saturday afternoon, we meet an old friend of my girlfriend for lunch. We have a nice time at a little Lebanese place. He tells us he’s going to be out in the same neighborhood we are Saturday night, and we leave saying we’ll try to call and hook up later in the evening. As we drive back to our friends’ house we start to discuss the lunch and the coming evening, and my girlfriend tells me that we can’t meet up with her friend if A is going to be with us… “it would just be awkward.” Apparently, he’s not comfortable with A’s sexuality. This got the old wheels spinning…what is the reaction one ought have to a friend, a dear friend, who maintains this worldview that simply will not jive or mesh with one’s own?

I suppose the moral highroad would be confrontation of some sort, a sort of coaxing in the direction of tolerance. I’m sure that our friend, and many of my friends from the small town I call home, would warm to the personality of A, who is just a riot to hang out with. I would love to be able to say that given this situation I would invite my friends along without a mention of A and force them into a friendly interaction…force them toward change. But this is just my head in the clouds. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if simply exposing someone who leans toward closed-mindedness to a variety of people would open them up? I fear that what would truly happen is defensiveness, a closing off of avenues of conversation, a willful avoidance of commonality. But then again, what if, by some off chance, all would have a good time and get along famously? Is it worth the risk?

Unfortunately, the path my girlfriend chose and the path I often do choose with many friends in this and other morally sticky situations, is the path of compartmentalization. I find it exceedingly easy to say to myself, “Yes, self, your old friend is flawed in his thinking and has done some wrong, but he’s still your friend and he still has many good qualities and he is still good to you.” Its so simple, the bad things, while acknowledged, are tucked away neatly in a little box and set aside…the good times roll on. The ease with which I do this, the ease with which I see my friends do this, regularly is, to be quite honest, somewhat frightening. Does this loyalty behoove either party, or is it actually one of the many problems of human interaction? We can, it seems, set aside almost any dastardly deed if we can find some redeeming quality…even if that quality is just that he’s a good drinking buddy. Or is this just immaturity? Does this fade with time, or does our daily tolerance of intolerance go on?

08 March 2007

You ever just have one of those days?

Honestly...I was just off from the start. Couldn't get outta bed this morning. Found my keys dangling in the front door since last night. Just completely out of it at work all day. Sent two emails to the wrong recipients (why are so many people suddenly named Karen?). Got nothing...NOTHING...accomplished. And, yoy, was the drive home entertaining. First, Carpool Buddy (henceforth; CP) and I are talking about the spring ahead this weekend, and:
OP: Well, at least it's on a weekend, makes recovering from that lost hour easier.
CP: strange look.
OP: What? What's with the look?
CP: It's ALWAYS on a weekend?
OP: Yeah, I'm an idiot...long day...
Literally less than a mile later I'm talking and CP suddenly bursts out laughing.
OP: What? (again...this was a common theme of my day)
CP: You know that was a red light?
OP: Where?
CP: Where you just went around a car to run it.
Yes...I went around a stopped car to run a red light. I don't know...I suppose I thought they were making a left turn. Luckily, everyone else on the road was paying attention and no cops were around...but seriously, who goes around a stopped car to run a red light? Just one of those days.
Tomorrow's Friday...

06 March 2007


Sitting around the kitchen at lunch today the conversation veered toward internet providers. Now, I work for what I would consider a tech company. At least half of the staff has some sort of IT degree and/or background, so this was on the low end of the techie conversations that often come up. To my surprise, I was part of the minority of my coworkers who actually pay for their home internet services. The rest of them don’t go without, of course; they piggyback. We all NEED the internet…I swear it’s an addiction of our entire culture.

Anyways, with the copious number of wireless networks crisscrossing every neighborhood in the greater DC area, it’s not hard to believe that a good number of the people using the internet are doing so on their neighbor’s buck. This essentially means that we’re stealing each other’s internet, right? It seems unethical, by why do so many of us do it without thinking twice? Hell, we even seem proud about it at times. It’s a small victory, I got online and didn’t have to pay a dime! I would bet the majority of us, even if we don’t do it regularly, have jumped on a neighbors signal when our own network was down. It’s just become common practice, and so long as no malicious activities ensue…well, it just doesn’t seem that bad.

(Funny, my router just dropped my signal mid-post, and now…well, I’m on my neighbor’s network. Thanks ‘emerge,’ whoever you are.)

The common thinking seems to go like this. My neighbor, let’s call her Jane, doesn’t have her wireless network well protected. I don’t need a key or a password to log on, and she doesn’t have a firewall up. Therefore, Jane’s internet is fair game, she doesn’t mind if I or anyone else in the vicinity piggyback on her connection. If she did, obviously she’d lock it down. If I do piggyback, I’m only taking something that Jane has put out there for the taking.

Now, let’s apply this logic to another situation. Say Jane has a sweet ride…a Beamer, for argument’s sake…and I’m a broke recent grad with no vehicle and it’s a long-ass walk to the Metro. Now, Jane, being the naïve small town girl in the big city, doesn’t always remember to lock up her beautiful car. She often leaves it sitting in the lot, unlocked, keys in the ignition. If I wander out one day trying to figure out the quickest way to get to the bar (let’s be honest, where else am I going) and see Jane’s keys dangling there in her open car, jump in and drive off, I’m stealing. Right? This is obviously wrong. Even though the keys were in the car, the car was unlocked, and it took no malicious effort on my part (actually saved me effort) to drive off in the car, it’s still unacceptable. So what’s the difference? Why can I steal Jane’s unlocked internet but not Jane’s unlocked car?

I tend to think that the difference is in the exclusivity of what is being stolen. If I steal Jane’s internet connection I’m just taking a bit of bandwidth. She can still get online, check her email, chat, surf the net, etc. But if I steal Jane’s car…well, Jane’s shit outta luck. Even if I leave the spare tire behind, it’s not doing her much good. Because me taking the car excludes her from using the car it causes her a greater loss, it is ethically more wrong.

Some other ideas batted around were the tangibility of what was stolen. You can’t see a wireless connection, you don’t really know you’re missing out on anything, etc. The idea of finite source also came up. There seems to be an infinite source of “internet,” whatever that is. You wouldn’t be so upset if someone stole a bucket of water from your hose to wash his car, but you would be upset if they stole your only bucket. To you, the bucket is an immediately finite thing, the water seems rather infinite in comparison.

Anyone out there got any thoughts on this quandary?

04 March 2007

Back from the Burgh

Just back from an incredible weekend in the Burgh visiting two of my best friends with the GF. Have to say, even though I rip on it from time to time, I do love that town. Yinzers are some of the best people you’ll ever meet. It was also a gluttonous weekend…in 2 days we managed to hit up a diner, a Lebanese restaurant, a dueling piano bar on the South Side, a gyro joint, and a pizza place…and topped it off with a few meals cooked at the house. Yoy!

I’m still processing some thoughts on the happenings of the weekend. There’ll be a post or two to come, but for now…I need sleep.