Sunday, September 28, 2003

The Cubs have clinched the National League Central Division title. What's more, they look good going into their playoff against the Atlanta Braves, which starts Tuesday night. Confident. Motivated. Capable.

Good god, could the Cubbies actually go all the way?
Posted @ 9:57 AM

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Before I get totally swept away by the pace of this Isabel-shortened work week, let me just point out that we're half way through Banned Books Week. Go read a book that pisses people off.

Heck, if you want to, read a book that would piss me off. Something from the Limbaugh oeuvre would do nicely in that regard.

That's what freedom's all about, after all.
Posted @ 9:29 AM

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Almost two days without power were followed by computer problems preventing me from logging on for several hours today. I find myself wondering if somebody's trying to tell me to take the rest of weekend off from the computer.

Who am I kidding? I've missed my little electronic baby so much, and now that my personal clean-up from Isabel is over, I doubt I'll be away from its side for several hours.
Posted @ 6:29 PM

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

As part of my job, I regularly read profiles of Capitol Hill staffers. As you'd expect, these folks tend to have similar pedigrees: they come from great schools, were active in campus politics, worked on their bosses' campaigns, etc.

That's why Delta Whitfield's story stood out for me. She's a staff assistant to Mark Dayton, Minnesota's senior senator. Twenty years ago she was a cashier and trainer at Washington National Airport. She put in time at Hecht's, a local department store chain, as well.

She started on the Hill as an elevator operator, which is where she caught the senator's attention. Impressed by her unflaggingly positive attitude and her impressive people skills, he brought her on board as part of his office staff.

Now Ms. Whitfield works alongside the best and the brightest, one of their number. She strikes me as a genuinely impressive individual. Senator Dayton summed it up best. "I think Delta is an ideal person. She has the qualities Id like to see in every staff member."
Posted @ 10:31 AM

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

"You can't change the goalposts of cool just because you've been shoved off the field."

John Scalzi buys a minivan. More power to him.

David Gallagher briefly abandons the Big Apple for the Windy City and provides some great pictures of Chicago from the air.

Anyone who's ever flown into O'Hare will recognize these shots, and anyone who loves the city will feel a little thrill of "coming home" shoot down his or her spine upon viewing them.
Posted @ 10:51 AM

Monday, September 15, 2003

Over the last few years, I've become less and less aware of weather forecasts. This has as much to do with my own apathy for the subject (I drive everywhere and rarely spend significant time out of doors) as it does with my perception that said forecasts seem less accurate than they were seven or eight years ago, a situation which I blame on meteorologists' growing overdependence on computer modeling.

So it's come as something of a shock to find out there's a hurricane barreling down on me. Isabel will come knocking later this week, and I didn't even know she existed until late yesterday.

Guess I'd better locate my hatches and batten them down ASAP.
Posted @ 11:09 AM

Thursday, September 11, 2003

I wanted to be alone this morning at 8:46 am, the moment two years ago when American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston hit the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City and it became clear that the United States of America was vulnerable to international terrorism, just like the rest of the world.

I found a quiet, rarely-visited spot outside my office building. It struck me that the weather is so very close to what it was two years ago: crisp early autumn air and a brilliant blue sky. I think there were a few white clouds on the earlier date, while today the Washington sky is completely clear. Otherwise, the feel is the same.

There's a government installation across the street from my office. At about 8:43, I heard "The Star-Spangled Banner" playing from inside their fence line. Looking at the front gate, I saw they were doing a flag-raising ceremony. I put my hand on my heart and watched. The flag went up to half-mast.

8:46 arrived. A commercial jet that had just taken off from Dulles flew across the sky, left to right from my perspective, at a grand and leisurely pace. I thought about the passengers on those four planes two years ago.

A few seconds later, a helicopter came in low from the same side, quickly disappearing behind some trees within the government compound. I thought about the changes we, as individuals and as a nation, have made in our lives over the last two years.

As the sound of the chopper faded, another plane from Dulles traced an invisible line across the blue, following the path of the first one. I thought about how life goes on, and how life must go on.

It was 8:47. I went inside and got back to work.
Posted @ 11:46 AM

Sunday, September 07, 2003

The sky is bluer today. My coffee tastes better. And don't quote me on this, but it's possible I've grown the eighth of an inch I needed to finally reach 6'2".

Kickoff for the first Sunday of the football season is just thirty minutes away. How I've missed this game.

And Washington's already won this week, so it's nothing but watching the games, keeping an eye on my fantasy teams, and seeing whether my picks are better than my dad's.

Life is good.
Posted @ 12:46 PM

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Moms know from good advice, so I tend to listen up when a mother passes on a nugget she's run across. This morning's blogscan turned up some wise words which Wil Wheaton's mom picked up from

The bushy-bearded physician's suggestion is for people to take a "news fast," avoiding news for a few days in an effort to reduce stress levels. It's an idea I've contemplated in the past, but never even came close to executing. The thing that made me sit up and take notice is his first point on why this fast could be beneficial:

"Both local and national network news have increased their emphasis on crime, even as U.S. crime rates continue to decline. This is particularly true of local news."

I have been saying this for years, and I think it goes further than just crime reporting. Correspondents are immediately dispatched to accidents and natural disasters, giving gruesome details in only slightly restrained language. Special reports on health, consumer affairs, education, you name it, invariably hammer home the downside of the spotlight issue, with perhaps two sentences at the end trying to bring things into perspective. This usually takes the form of a statement that less than 2% of those affected will actually encounter the dire outcomes they've just spent five minutes working their audience into a frenzy about.

This negativity is why I don't make a habit of watching news on TV. But even though I don't have a regular show I tune into, I probably still catch at least an hour or two of broadcast and cablecast news each week just from flipping through the channels or as something I leave on for background noise while I do chores at home. And, even though I think my main news sources are considerably less prone to sensationalism, public radio, newspapers and online newsfeeds still bring plenty that's negative into my consciousness.

So the next time I'm feeling stressed, I'll take Dr. Weill and Mrs. Wheaton's advice. There's only so much one person can do, and the world's problems will still be there when I check back in.

A 20th Century maxim reworked for the Aughties: Home is where you hang your hat recharge your cell phone.
Posted @ 3:14 PM

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Oh happy day, oh most happy day! Firefly: The Movie has gotten the green light! And creator Joss Whedon will both script and direct the flick, making this his feature film directorial debut.

Fans of the short-lived sci-fi show, which FOX in its infinite myopia smothered in the cradle after only half a season, have been clamoring for this and hearing rumors that it might come about ever since the series ended. Now it looks like all the speculation and hopes will come true.

Justice is mine, sayth the Joss. Sweet, sweet justice.

May our cousins, the similarly-wronged Farscape fans, get equally good news sometime soon.

</frothing fanboy geekout>
Posted @ 7:55 AM

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, my office had the rather enlightened and generous policy of extending Casual Friday to the whole work week. With the latter holiday just past, we went back to regular attire today.

After three months of falling back on a more relaxed wardrobe, there was a very real danger I'd forget about the switch back. To make sure I wouldn't accidentally throw on a Hawaiian shirt, jeans and Chucks again, I even wrote myself a reminder note: Wear big boy clothes today.
Posted @ 8:59 PM

Monday, September 01, 2003

You can't say the man isn't a trailblazer. President Bush eschews "Wag the Dog" tactics, opting instead for a more aggressive "Drop the Dog" approach.

Sure hope the little pooch is okay.
Posted @ 2:59 PM

Sure, "crooks are stupid" stories are cheap and easy entertainment, but they're such good cheap and easy entertainment:

Man Charged With Stealing Tracking Device
Posted @ 10:28 AM


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