Thursday, February 28, 2008

Emily returned from her brief stint in Savannah with a preliminary RSVP list of who's coming to the wedding. It's quite a mighty stack of paper, and so far the response has been pretty positive. Unfortunately, it looks like almost none of my friends are going to be able to make it. I'm kinda bummed about that, but not altogether surprised. Hotels and plane tickets aren't cheap, and it's a long drive. And taking time off can be difficult this time of year with no holidays in sight and PTO reserves still recovering from winter illnesses. I know more people would have come if the wedding were here in Fairfax instead, but Emily wanted a wedding in Forsyth Park, and once I saw it myself, the decision to have the ceremony there was a no-brainer. Plus, I think weddings are really for the bride anyway, so as long as Emily's happy, I'll be happy. And in the end, the wedding will be fun no matter what, I just wish more of my friends could be there to help celebrate.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Time for a little political discussion: The GOP has all but annointed John McCain their candidate. Certainly they could have done a lot worse. I think he's a hard sell to the more conservative membership, but I said I would have voted for him in 2000 had Gore not been running. He's a good middle-of-the-road candidate on most issues but with a strong sense of personal direction. As for the Democrats, they've got a mess on their hands. The sooner Hillary backs off, the better off the entire party will be. I don't say this to be mean or because I don't like her politics or because Obama has a slight lead in the primaries. I say it because when you come down to the constituency of your party, Hillary is far less electable than Obama.
Here's my theory (that I've been espousing for months to anyone who will listen): What is Hillary Clinton's most obvious "flaw" as seen by voters? She's a woman? Her husband was already president (dynasties are just a bad plan... See: Bush, George W. and Adams, John Q.)? Unless you really really liked Bill Clinton, regardless of how much he says he will or won't be involved, you have to be prepared for him to be involved. We've never had a spouse of a former preseident run before and no one really knows what to expect. But coming off having an, as NOFX puts it, idiot son of an asshole for president, it makes having a dynasty link a tough sell. As for the woman part, that's an immediate turnoff for a lot of people. I would venture a guess that most men aren't thrilled about a woman weilding supreme executive power in this country (they do enough of that at home, right?). Then there's the fact that a lot of women think she's a bitch. Some idolize her for it and some despise her for the same reason. But let's say that it's a 50/50 split, that's already roughly 25% of your party voters, then add in the men who won't vote for her. And this isn't an issue where if she's the chosen candidate, they're going to change their minds about her. This seems to be a fairly cut and dry, I'm not going to vote for her issue.
On the other side, what is Obama's most obvious "flaw" in the eyes of voters? That he's black? That he's a junior senator and lacks experience? The lack of experience is the hardest issue to get around because there's no way to magically gain experience. But there's also this aura of "untaintedness" about him that may offset the lack of experience. As for being black, it's important to remember that a sizeable portion of the Democratic party is black. Plus, bigots who wouldn't vote for an otherwise qualified person based solely on the color of their skin are probably all Republicans anyway.
As for me, I'll probably be voting for Ralph Nader... ;)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

We did succeed in getting the apartment cleaned up and we had a nice visit from Emily's parents last weekend. It sounds like everyone had a good time at Emily's bridal shower and I will personally vouch for everyone who came to my party at Dave & Buster's having had a good time. Unfortunately, Manish got snowed in in Boston and missed the party, but he came later anyway and we had lunch at Logan's yesterday. It was just like old times. Emily's drove home with her parents for her bridal portraits. She was supposed to fly home today, but is currently stranded in Savannah due to weather also. So it looks like I'm all by my lonesome again tonight, and since I ate the leftover lasagna last night, I might have to actually cook something tonight. *gasp*
Work is going fine I guess. I had an interview last Friday that I'm fairly confident I'm going to get an offer from. I'm trying not to give too much thought to it until I know for sure what position they may offer and what kind of compensation is involved. Then I'll have a very tough decision to make. We'll see.
Not too much else going on. I'm ready for winter to be over. I'm ready for the wedding. I'm ready for a vacation and an awesome trip to Malta. I mean seriously, who wouldn't want to see this is person?

Monday, February 18, 2008

It's been a busy week and this week is shaping up no differently. The ice storm on Tuesday put a damper on elections and a planned dinner with my dad. Wednesday night we had our dance lessons. We're learning a lot, but still need a lot of practice to look smooth and like we didn't actually have lessons (our stated goal). Thursday we had a really nice dinner at The Prime Rib downtown. It's a very classy (without being snooty) restaurant that has a kind of 50's revival of the 20's thing going on. Lots of black with gold trim, nightly piano and bass performances, and really well prepared food. Not exactly an everyday eatery when you get the bill, but a really nice romantic spot for a special dinner.
Friday I had to work late teaching a class. It generally went well, but I don't especially enjoy doing it. It's not even really supposed to be my job anymore, but the guys taking over have been dragging their heels. And it's more important to me that the crew of a billion dollar war machine be well-trained than me not having to be the one to train them. So whatever. On a day-to-day basis, I basically love my job, but I'm starting to get tired of all the peripheral stuff I have to do just to be able to do my job. I came across a posting for what sounds like a very similar job elsewhere and decided that it's worth at least investigating even if nothing comes out of it.
Saturday I finally caught up with my dad for lunch. I had my yummy Outback ribs and we had a good talk about a number of relevant subjects including work, buying a house, marriage, family, and so forth. It was nice to kind of catch up. Once upon a time, I dreaded father-son chats because they usually meant I was in trouble or something else bad was going on. Sunday Emily and I ran some errands and tried out our brand new Belgian Waffler (the resulting waffles were delicious in case you were curious). We met my mom at the craft store to hash out some ideas for the rehearsal dinner and just make sure everyone was on the same page.
I'd been hoping to see Brian while he was in town and we had tentatively planned to hit up the Spy Museum on Saturday, but at 10 AM, he was already out at Udvar Hazy and it looked like the day was a no-go. Sunday we had talked about maybe Great Falls, but the weather appeared to be less than cooperative, certainly not as nice as Saturday or today. Anyway, he's back in Florida now I suppose and we didn't get to visit while he was up, but then again, we'll all get to hang out two weekends in a row when we head down to Savannah for our wedding and then Melbourne for Tim and Teragram's.
This week looks equally hectic with Emily's parents arriving on Friday and the apartment in a currently less-than-presentable state. We've certainly got the time to scrub everything down though. Then this weekend is Emily's bridal shower and my Dave & Buster's trip to look forward to, so at least there's some fun after all the cleaning!

Monday, February 11, 2008

When I was a host at the college fair a while back, people asked me if Tech was hard. I was not about to lie to a 17-year old kid. I figure they get lied to enough already by teachers, parents, friends, etc. Anyway, I said, "yes, it's damn hard, frankly, it kicked my butt a lot of the time. But when you're accustomed to being near the top of your class, sometimes an ego-check is exactly what you need. And getting your butt kicked is what forces you to really learn and ultimately succeed rather than just skate by." They wanted to know if I thought it was all worth it and why I chose Tech. Recently I was looking at PayScale and the median income for a Tech grad was something like 87K this past year. Then today I found this article showing that my chosen profession has a current median income around 80K. That's why I chose Tech. Not because of greediness, but because of the respect that degree earns you in the industry and the level of preparedness and expertice that Tech provides (by constantly kicking your teeth in) translates into better graduates who make better working professionals (who are compensated accordingly). I think I'm going to print those things out and distribute them at the next college fair. Of course, I suppose I'll have to put a disclaimer on there that says, "if you don't love what you do, no amount of money will ever make you happy."

I wish I could open my office windows. It's currently a balmy 82 degrees in my office while the outside temp is 29 with a wind chill of 13. Or if not full on opening, maybe just a little air leaking? Maybe I should bring in a couple rolls of aluminum foil to coat my windows so I can keep the light and heat from that stupid flaming death orb in the sky outside where it belongs. Anc of course, since it's god awful cold outside in the mornings and evenings when I come and go, I'm wearing heavy-weight cords and a thick sweater. From now on, I'm going to start bringing my light-weight chinos into the office along with polo or something to change into after lunch when the temps in here begin to approach unbearable levels.

I haven't sparked a heated debate in a while, but I figured it might be about time for one.
"You forgo your right to privacy when you are seeking admission into the country. This is the kind of scrutiny the American public expects." - Ross Knocke, DHS Press Secretary
The above is a response to accusations that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have been a bit too thorough in their mission. Specifically, they have been snooping into laptops, PDAs, and other electronic devices, demanding passwords from users, and confiscating electronics and detaining passengers who refuse to provide officials with access to their digital data such as personal finances, emails, health records, and so forth. In a particular instance, an American citizen who travels out of the country frequently on business has been searched repeatedly upon reentry, supposedly because he's a Muslim and was born in Pakistan.
Is this guy just really unlucky or is he being singled out because of his appearance? I dunno, probably a little from Column A, a little from Column B. Probably a little more from Column B given the hypersensitivity of American authorities towards the Middleeast. But let's face it, that's not going to change anytime soon, so for now, let's just assume this guy is any American citizen and deal with the search of his personal property.
As I understand it, Customs has the authority to search your personal belongings before allowing you to enter the country, regardless of your citizenship. Mostly they're trying to prevent you from smuggling illegal things into the country or avoiding paying import duties on high-value items. But thanks to their integration with DHS, it's apparently also their mission to prevent terrorists from entering the country. I'm on board with this so far. Certainly, there's enough wackos already resident in the USA, we don't need anymore.
As for searching my personal belongings, I understand that doing so is the only realistic way to find out what I'm bringing in. However, if you need a warrant (and therefore probably cause) to sieze my home computer, why can a Customs agent sieze my laptop simply because I'm reentering the country as U.S. Citizen? More importantly, according to DHS, why do I have to forgo my privacy as a pre-requisite for entry? If that's what the American people expect, than why don't all citizens have to forgo their privacy daily? In principle, I understand the necessity of random searches. In principle, I don't really have an issue with a cursory search of my laptop. My bigger concern is that data on my computer is really no one's business but my own and who's to say how secure it is in the hands of a Customs officer? Instinctual distrust of a central authority is what makes America great and provides the important checks-and-balances of our system of government.
Whatever. Can we just tattoo a barcode on the back of my neck or implant my RFID tag and get it over with? Have it linked to a national database with all my personal data so I won't have to keep track of anything for myself anymore since I know the government will always have all my data anyway?
Besides, I guess this is all moot since you can't use American law to defend actions that take place outside of America, since, as a person trying to clear customs, you technically haven't yet entered America. Think of it like all those movies where someone is desperately running and juking and shedding grabbed clothes trying to get into the American Embassy to seek the of protection United States. If you can just bum rush the Customs officials and get past the official "Welcome to America" sign, you're on U.S. soil, and as a U.S. citizen, presumably guaranteed more rights than you were just on the other side of a largely imaginary line.

Friday, February 01, 2008

We got our wedding invitation from Tim and Margaret yesterday. The next couple months are going to be so much fun! There's a lot to get done in the next 8 weeks for us, but hopefully that won't interfere with all the events we've got planned. In case anyone is curious, we're registered at Macy's, Crate & Barrel, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Feel free to have stuff sent directly to us rather than carting it down to Savannah, because that means we just have to cart it all back. We promise not to be upset if you show up for our wedding "empty-handed."

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  • I'm Rev. Adam
  • From Oakton, Virginia, United States
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