Study shows 44 percent of Americans are cowardly protofascists

This study from Cornell University found that a staggering 44 percent of Americans polled would favor curtailing the civil liberties of Muslim Americans.

This is how fascist dictatorships get started, of course.

1. Instill fear in the populace and irrational "patriotism at all costs";
2. wave the flag at every rally (or football game, or NASCAR event, or fricking Wal-Mart sale) to the point of it becoming a mere prop for the repressive policies of the government;
3. wage never-ending wars in far-off lands and glorify the militarization of the country at all opportunities;
4. scapegoat and demonize a "scary" ethnic group and use the fear of this group to justify your repressive policies;
5. curtail said group's civil liberties, imprison them with little or no legitimate pretense, and eventually lock them up for the good of the fatherland.

These are fascist policies folks, and it's pretty sickening that almost half of the people in the country seem to be open to at least some of them.


Merry Christmas!

Jenny and I want to wish everybody out there a very Merry Christmas! We cherish each and every one of you. We truly believe that we are so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family. We think of you all often, and hope that you are able to be with your loved ones this Christmas day, even if only in your hearts.

Merry Christmas!


Man Room

Originally uploaded by Xose.
Now that I'm FINALLY going to have a basement, or Man Room, as it is to be known from this day forward, I need to figure out a decoration theme.

A sports bar theme is a little too obvious, and I really don't have any favorite teams anymore, since I've been moving around so much, so that's out.

Jason's suggestion of an Amsterdam red light district scene (complete with painted murals of windows with naked women in them) was nixed by Jen.

I'm leaning toward an homage to guitar amps, with a giant schematic painted on one wall and framed photos of classic amps everywhere.

Your thoughts are much appreciated.....


Dioxin...the gift that keeps on giving

Originally uploaded by Xose.
The Monsanto pledge:

"Integrity includes



consistency and


Some folks at Monsanto apparently haven't been following the pledge too closely. Or at least they weren't when they were releasing tons of the super-dangerous chemical by-product dioxin into tiny Nitro, WV and its environs.

According to this depressing report by The Charleston Gazette's top environmental reporter, Ken Ward, Jr., the company is being sued by Nitro residents for releasing the poison, and subsequently, trying to cover up the resulting scandal.

According to Ward, "Starting in the late 1990s, St. Louis-based Monsanto--now called Old Monsanto--engaged in a complex series of spinoffs, name changes and corporate buyouts to distance itself from potentially massive environmental liabilities."

Not too honest, huh? I don't think it's too damn decent, either.

As for courage? "Officials from Monsanto did not return phone calls Friday afternoon." Hmmm....

They have been consistant is denying their liability for the last 50 years, so I guess one out of four ain't bad.

Unless you're a resident of Nitro.


Man, is it cold today. Last night a winter front swept into the D.C. area, bringing with it bitter temperatures in the teens (and wind chills in the single-digits). Right now it's 13 degrees. For the first time I miss California weather....

Must...not...forget $600K condos.....Keep...perspective.....

perspective...freezing...as is...ass....


Only Americans Need Apply

While I was applying to get insurance coverage for our house, the insurance agent and I had the following conversation:

Agent: "In accordance with the Patriot Act, are you and your wife both American citizens?"
Me: "Umm....yes. [pause] So I guess a lot of terrorists are signing up for home insurance these days?"
Agent: "Well, we have to refuse to write coverage for persons from certain geographic areas."
Me: "What areas?"
Agent: "I can't reveal that information; although I will say that most of them are in the Middle East."
Me: "So if my wife was Saudi Arabian or Iraqi you wouldn't give us house insurance."
Agent: "We wouldn't write the policy, no."
Me: "That's terrible."
Agent: "Yeah. We refused coverage a week ago to a couple because the wife was Cuban, even though she had been in America for 20 years."
Me: "Are you serious? That's unbelievable."
Agent: "Yeah."

What the hell is going on in this country people? THIS IS INSANE!!!!!!!


Inspection...check. Termite inspection...check.

The home and termite inspections turned out about typically for a 53-year-old house. Needs: new windows, new furnace (although it could hang in there for quite a while, you never know), paint to cover up the lavender walls. Nothing too crazy, thank goodness. The electrical systems were pretty top notch, with proper grounding and no aluminum wiring anywhere (woo hoo!).

Now we just have to pay more money than we ever have for anything and close on this sucka.

Thanks to Jen, Gabe, Anne, Sarah, and Jane for the comments....we miss you guys terribly and of course you are all ALWAYS welcome to visit scenic Silver Spring! (You may want to check out our humble neighbor, Washington, DC, while you're here....he he.)

Come visit soon!!!!


The Old Homestead

Originally uploaded by Xose.
Well, we went ahead and done it. We bought a house.

Barring any major catastrophes during inspection and closing, this little house will be ours by the first of the year.

We are psyched about the house, which is a 3bd/2ba with GIANT finished basement and cool new brushed metal stove and fridge, and the neighborhood is just our speed. Everyone keeps up their yards and it's close in to D.C. (The house is located in the Woodmoor area of Silver Spring, right outside the Beltway.)

Goodbye, loud downstairs neighbors!

For more photos, click here.


Dimebag Darrell, sanity dead in Ohio

I don't know if you have ever heard of the heavy metal band Pantera or not (probably not, as most of the readers here aren't down with Satan), but they were pretty groundbreaking in the genre. I was never a big fan, but you've got to hand it to them for sticking to their roots. When other "metal" bands were parading around in lipstick and makeup, looking like Capp street queenies with Les Pauls strapped around their necks, these guys were decapitating audiences with a no-compromize brand of bone-crushing destructo-grind that stood the test of time and made them gods in the heavy metal world.

Then they broke up.

Well, apparently, that shit didn't sit too well with Marysville, Ohio, resident Nathan Gale, 25. Last night he took to the stage of former Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell's new band, Damageplan, and shot the six-stringer dead. WHAT THE HELL???????

We are living in a crazy, crazy world, folks. I mean, it really sucked when Metallica totally sold out after "...and Justice for All." But does James Hetfield deserve to die just because he decided to make wimp rock? Of course not. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?????

Since a cop on the scene rightfully blasted Gale back to Hell where he belongs, we'll never know exactly what was up in this wack-o's brain that convinced him that breaking up Pantera was such an affront to humanity that someone, specifically, Dimebag Darrell, had to pay with his life. But what is horribly conveyed by this twisted, beyond-Spinal-Tap insanity is that we live in a world of massive fuck-ups, so please be careful out there people.

I hope you all will cherish every minute of life, because you never know what...or who...is waiting for you around the corner.


People are disgusting pigs.

Originally uploaded by Xose.
Jenny and I are trying to find a house to buy, and so we've been looking around the area at homes for sale. Nothing has struck us so far, other than one house that was on the verge of out of our price range that we made a laughable offer on (and, of course, didn't get).

What has struck me, though, is that apparently, most people are lazy and disgusting. I'm not talking about leaving-dishes-in-the-sink-for-one-day-too-long disgusting. I'm talking about having-a-layer-of-grease-all-over-every-surface-in-the-kitchen-so-thick-that-you-could-measure-it-with-a-ruler disgusting. I'm talking about carving-your-name-in-the-bedroom-door-with-a-pocketknife disgusting. I'm talking about what-the-fuck-is-that-on-the-bathroom-floor disgusting (see photo).

When I saw the house in that photo, I asked my agent if it was rented out. "No," he calmly replied. "They're the owners."

Are these people really stupid enough to throw away tens of thousands of potential added dollars to the asking price of their house because they're too lazy to pick up a mop? Yes, apparently, they are.

The good news: still haven't topped the dog-shit-covering-the-entire-basement-floor Oakland house yet.


How much does a Schwinn Stingray really cost?

"It may not be the engineering marvel that was the old Schwinn, but it retails at Wal-Mart for $180, about a third of the original's price in today's dollars."

Of course, it's not a real Schwinn, it's just using that brand name, which Pacific Cycle, a Canadian conglomerate, bought in 2001 after the orginal, family-owned, U.S.-based company went bankrupt.

At its peak, the Chicago-based Schwinn company employed about 2000 mostly high-school educated workers, paying them a decent salary, and making great bikes. Now a Chinese factory makes the bikes and a Canadian firm gets the profits. (For the whole Schwinn story in the Washington Post, click here.)

The worst part of this story is that this Christmas the American workers who lost their good-paying jobs to foreign, bottom-of-the-barrel labor pools will be forced to buy foreign-made TVs, DVD players, and, yes, bikes, because that's all they can afford on their measly $5.50/hr. incomes at Wal-Mart. At least they get the employee discount, right?

Today, 99% of the bicycles sold in the U.S. are manufactured overseas. That figure boggles the mind.

This holiday season, I hope that those of you who are able to will join me in making an effort to avoid Wal-Mart and the other mega discount chains and buy your gifts from American companies (and especially small businesses) who still make most of their products in this country. The Internet makes finding them easier than ever. Here are some of cool, American companies:

Carhartt (Fuck Dickies. They import everything.)
American Apparel (Proving that a tee-shirt doesn't have to come from El Salvador.)
Gibson guitars (Only their Epiphone line is made abroad.)
Venture Snowboards (I don't even snowboard, but if you do, check these guys out—made in Colorado.)
Manhattan Portage (Great bags, made in USA!)

As for the 1% of bikes still made in this country....
Waterford (This is the Schwinn family's new business, which caters to high-end bikers.)
Merlin (Sponsor of the West Virginia Road Team!)
Calfee Design
Trek (Trek's high-end bikes are made in U.S.)

Check out the US Stuff product list for hundreds of links to American made products.

If you have any favorite companies that make their products with American labor, comment here and let us know!

Of course, these days it's impossible to buy 100% American goods (try finding a camera made in this country, for example). But by supporting the companies that do employ our friends and neighbors (and us!), we can show that you can, indeed, make profitable products without going to Asia and exploiting their people.


Sweet mother of God, no.

Originally uploaded by Xose.

My psuedo-sister, Suzi, turned me onto this grossness: According to BoingBoing.com, a company in South Korea will gold-plate your child's umbilical cord and frame it for display. They call it a "Blinged-out baby umbilical cord gift atrocity," and I couldn't agree more.

According to the site, "Among new mothers, ordering a custom souvenir made from an anatomical part of their babies appears to be a growing trend. An increasing number of companies are finding profits in processing umbilical cords and hair from newborns." What's the deal Koreans? You can't just have creepy bronzed baby shoes like the rest of us? You just know that some entreprenuer somewhere in Asia is gearing up the placenta-o-matic plating machines as we speak. Yuk.


Who knew?

When calculating for gain in an audio amplifier stage that includes resistances in parallel, you have to take the reciprocal of the sum of the reciprocals of the individual resistors. Duh!

Hence, Gain=(75K OHMS)||(100K OHMS)||(1.47M OHMS)/(1/1400 uMHOS + 0 OHMS)=58.3




Truly scary stuff

This kid freaks me out. Supreme talent for an 11-year-old.

I must be in front row!

Jenny and I went to San Diego to visit her parents and sister for Thanksgiving. We had a nice time (she's actually returning tomorrow) and ate too much, of course.

I scored first-class tickets both ways by cashing in a bunch (30,000) of MilagePlus miles on United. It was worth every mile cashed in, as anyone who has ever flown in a cramped coach cabin across the country can attest. For those not experienced in the front cabin experience, here's an inside view: Hot fudge sundae, hand-made? But I'm still sipping my after-dinner champagne! Well, twist my arm....

As they say in your country: schweet!


More cowbell.

Cowbell.com supplies sheep, goat and cow bells used for sporting events, promotion gifts, cheerleading, dog training, and the Olympics!

Rock. On.


Black Velvet!


Warning: Don't get started reading through all the weekly cocktails on this site or you'll be sucked in for hours....

Also, you MUST check out this bizarre Cinzano ad (click on the "Zoom" button to watch it). Those Italians are something else, man.


I haven't been sleeping too well lately. I think it's a mental thing having to do with my abhorrence to neighbors' sounds past 11:00 p.m. Thanks to the unwashed Dungeons and Dragons geek and his cackling bitch of a girlfriend who lived under us in Oakland, I'm now super-conditioned to become enraged at the slightest noise from neighboring apartments. This is not good.

Even when the folks are just making normal apartment noise (no thumping bass, thank god), it keeps me up because I'm mentally bracing myself for the next sound. I've tried to Zen out to no avail. Calgon take me away! I've half a mind to buy one of those white noise machines for the bedroom, but I don't want to spend that dough if the things don't work. Have any of you tried them? Help me Obi-Wan, you're my only hope....


Register no more

I found this cool site in this month's WIRED magazine. In a nutshell, it supplies you with log-ins and passwords to free sites that require registration. Everyone justs puts in bullshit information anyway, so it saves a lot of time. The site does not give out registration info or passwords to sites that charge for access. The next time you go to a site that wants you to register before you can read its articles (more and more newspapers' sites are doing this), give bugmenot.com a try.


New York City!

Just got back from four days in NYC at the 2004 Folio:Show magazine convention. A couple of the seminar speakers presented useful information, but too many of them seemed to have made up their presentations the night before. That's not cool when people (or their companies) are paying more than a grand to attend this thing.

Met up with my friend Nevena while there and we got some yummy paella at a Spanish restaurant in the Village. The restaurant's name? La Paella. Catchy, huh?

I stayed at the Herald Square Hotel, which was only a little over a hundred dollars a night, yet not in the hood. It was also clean and the staff was friendly. I can recommend it for those going to NYC on a budget. My room had two double beds and a private bathroom and was fine by all accounts.

I also ate at a Turkish restaurant called the Turkish Kitchen. (NYC is not so original in the restaurant naming area, as it turns out.) The food was the most original and tasty I've had in recent memory. If you have occasion to be in New York, you must try this place!


Blech! Rain!

Today the weather here in D.C. is cold, rainy, and pretty miserable all around. I had a couple of comp days coming from my last business trip to NYC, so I took today off to write a story for FRETS. When Jenny gets home, we'll curl up with a video and some cocoa or something. ¡Qué romántico!



Last night Jenny and I watched the DVD of Saved!, the movie about a pious girl at a Christian school who gets pregnant by her gay boyfriend. Many hijinx ensue, of course. It started out pretty funny, in an independent film kind of way, but got progressively schlockier as the film wore on, until it morphed into just another feel-good, stupid teen Hollywood movie. Disappointing.

The premise of the movie, though was very true-to-life. If you've ever been exposed to these crazy, ultra-Christian youth groups and their insane brainwashing, you'll recognize that the film's directors did their homework. During middle and high school, I was sucked into this freaky world in a big way, even going so far as to be appointed to the WV state Baptist youth council (the committee of young people who plan all the year's events throughout the state).

The way these churches suck in impressionable youth is pretty insidious, really. They use peer-pressure, parties, and what seems to a 15-year old kid as compassion to lure you in, and before you know it, you're learning how to hate, instead of love. You're programmed to believe that Jesus is the only one who really loves you, that you should devote every waking second to Jesus and Jesus alone, and that he's always watching you. Then the real hate kicks in: The gays are going to Hell. The Catholics are going to Hell. The Rock and Rollers are going to Hell. The abortionists are going to Hell. African pygmies, the poor things, are going to Hell. One might ask, "who isn't going to Hell? The answer, of course, is "just us."

Thank god I had the miracle that is freedom-loving, open-minded parents as a counter-balance at home. Still, looking back, I have to cringe at my naivete. Some sore spots between the church and me: heavy metal music, abortion rights, my refusal to sign anti-porn petitions and join anti-porn boycotts, and the fact that they thought all my Catholic relatives were going to hell.

That's the ugly secret behind this brand of evangelical religion, they use hate and fear to motivate people instead of compassion and love. (Sound familiar since Nov. 2?) It's pretty sick when you think about it, and what's more, if they really believed in Jesus, they wouldn't do it. (Does "love thy neighbor as thyself" ring a bell?)


More Guitar Player and Frets articles on the way

I'm still getting work from GP and Frets, so I guess they like my writing. My Reverend Horton Heat article was held over until the January issue, and I'll be doing a BUZZ section article on this cool, instrumental band called Grails in the same issue. I've also been contracted to write a fairly long story on an expert guitar inlay artist for Frets. Let's hope the assignments keep on comin'!


My mom deals it like it is from a Red state

My mom is fantastic. She worked her butt off for Kerry's campaign in WV, and she should serve as a reminder to us in the majority-sane Blue states that it's not just stupid, bigoted hicks living in Redland. The following is her amazing letter to the editor of the Washington Post. I don't know if they'll have the guts to print it, but I sure want to show her off. Here it is:

Dear Sir:

I respectfully ask that you publish the following letter to President Bush from me. This is the only way that I think anyone will see it.

Thank You.

President Bush:

The people of this country have just given you permission to do whatever you want. I just hope I can live long enough to see them get what they have coming.

I hope it will be worth it to them to see the middle class completely destroyed just as long as they can keep homosexuals from marrying and put abortion back in the back alleys for everyone except the wealthy.

I can’t wait to see the only jobs ordinary people will have will be serving you and your rich friends for $5.00 an hour, which is what this country is coming to.

I can’t wait to hear the old people crying because they have nothing to live on because Social Security has been destroyed by you. We have it coming.

I hope all the parents who are willing to give up their children in Iraq just so you can get the oil for Halliburton and Cheney will still feel that way when their kids’ body parts come back because there was no armor on their vehicles. I don’t blame you for not giving them the equipment they needed to fight this unjust war. None of your friends or their children are over there.

You were right when you said you had been given the capital and you were going to spend it. Oh, and you are right, we don’t deserve health care, because we think it is more important that no one is going to take away our right to own any kind of weapon we want to keep in our homes. If we don’t have the money to buy insurance, we don’t deserve health care.

In this country from now on it is survival of the fittest and God help the poor and the sick because, in this society, no one else is going to. Have at it, Mr. Bush, and have fun.

Your humble servant and member of the dead middle class of America,

Pat V.

I love you mom! Jenny and I are so proud of you! Never give up the fight!


Screw depression! 2006 Baby!

Okay, folks, you've had enough time to wallow in your sorrow. There's work to do. We've got a Congressional election coming up in two years, and we're already behind the 8-ball, so let's get cracking.

Step 1: Write an email to the DNC demanding the ouster of Chairman Terry McAuliff, who is a fundraiser, not a strategist. We need someone with long-term plans and the cojones to make them happen.

Step 2: Quit bitching to the opposition's supporters. They don't want to hear it. Instead, offer solutions. Suggesting that "isn't it a shame Johnny lost his job? You'd think the congress could do better, huh?" is better than, "Johnny fucking deserved to lose his job, think he's happy about Bush now?" I know the latter is MUCH more satisfying, but it's less effective. Plant doubt in the common voter's perception of their Republican congressional representation, and it just may stick in 2006.

Step 3: Donate your time and money to Moveon.org and the DNC (but not until McAuliff is fired).

We can do this. It took the Republicans 40 years to get control of the House. We can't wait that long to get it back!


Fear defeats hope

It goes without saying that I am disheartened and disappointed. It breaks my heart that the Republicans and George W. Bush have transformed my country into a land ruled by fear.

Last night it became readily apparent that a majority (a slim majority, but a majority nonetheless) of the people in the United States are driven not by hope of what's to come, but rather by fear of what could be. The message the Republicans were able to drive home with 58,319,499 of our fellow citizens was this:

The terrorists are coming: Be afraid.
The homosexuals are coming: Be afraid.
The abortionists are coming: Be afraid.
The gun ban is coming: Be afraid.
They'll take your Bibles away: Be afraid.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, a man who no one would argue faced some of the most dreadful times the world has ever known, said the immortal words, "All we have to fear is fear itself." It's staggering that the exact opposite message would resonate so deeply with so many of our fellow citizens. Maybe that's why I'm so disappointed. I thought we were braver than that.



I'm sure I don't need to remind you, but this election is kind of important. YOU HAVE NOTHING...I REPEAT....NOTHING BETTER TO DO TODAY THAN VOTE. Unless you're a Republican. You all can stay home.


Pre-election day material happiness list

Okay, with an hour to go before election day, I thought I'd list 10 things that bring me joy, just in case I need a pick-me-up after tomorrow. I'm not listing family or friends in this list because if I need a pick-me-up tomorrow, so will they, and that won't do anyone any good. With that in mind, here are the 10 material things that make me the most happy:

1. Gibson Les Paul guitars
2. Playing through an amp I made with my own two hands
3. "All Hail the Black Market" by the Archers of Loaf
4. Dooce.com
5. AX84.com
6. Being able to read El Mundo and La Nueva España on the Net
7. The Asturian-American Migration Forum
8. My iBook G4
9. iPod Mini
10. Port wine

Not an all-exclusive list, by any means, but if I was stuck with any three of the ten on this list, my psyche could survive. Here's to hoping that I won't have to refer back to this post.


Dear California Lesbian Friends: Did your $25,000 check arrive yet?

I thought I'd seen it all from the disgusting vat of vile, ignorant, scum-ridden puspool that is midwestern Republicanism, but this whack-job takes the cake:

[From Salon.com--full story]

"Jesus! Jesus!" screamed 26-year-old Joe Robles, pointing to his Bush-Cheney sign. "The man stands for God," he said of the president. "We want somebody who stands for Jesus. I always vote my Christian morals." Robles, a student at Ohio State University, told me that Kerry's daughter is a lesbian. I said I thought that was Dick Cheney's daughter, but he shook his head no with confidence.

Robles said that Kerry would make it illegal for preachers to say that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. In California, he informed me gravely, such preaching has been deemed a hate crime, and pastors who indulge in it are fined $25,000, which "goes to lesbians."

I don't know about all California lesbians, but the ones I know deserve much more than $25,000 apiece, just for having to put up with ignorant, simple-minded, culturally retarded, cowardly shitheads like this every day of their lives.


Thanks, Mom! (Volunteering for Kerry)

Well, I went to Kerry/Edwards national headquarters last night after work and volunteered for a couple hours. I was inspired by my Mom, who has been doing the same thing in West Virginia for a few weeks now. You're the best, Mom!!!!

I manned the phones, calling non-senior voters in Jacksonville Florida to get them to early vote (if, they were for Kerry, that is). I didn't get ahold of too many people, and most of the ones I did were voting for Bush. :-|

Still, it felt good to volunteer for the cause. God I hope Kerry wins so I can go up to every smug ass Republican I see and go, "FACE!"


"Caging Lists" are unAmerican, Mr. Bush

A damning investigative report from the BBC's Greg Palast provides even more evidence that if the Republicans can't win an election, they'll just steal it. According to Palast's report, the Republican party in Florida is developing what's called a "caging list" that will be used to disenfranchise thousands of black, Democrat voters...again.

The deal is this: In Florida, among other states, it is perfectly legal to challenge a voter's eligibility right there at the polls, preventing him or her from voting. The challenged voter then receives a "provisional" ballot to take home and fill out; a ballot that usually ends up in the trash can right outside the voting booth. The real problem though, Palast says, is that the goal of the Republicans is not to directly disenfranchise these voters (although that's a convenient benefit for them), but rather to gum up the works, so to speak.

In places like Jacksonville, the Republican-controlled state government has ensured that thousands of minority neighborhoods have insufficient voting areas, causing long lines and substantial waits to vote. Challenging voters at the ballot box will cause massive delays that the Republicans hope will grind the system to a halt and yet again, lose thousands of votes for the Democratic candidate.

Palast's report goes on to bring to light the voter intimidation and outright fraud currently occuring in Florida. For example, Palast confronts a mysterious man caught outside an early voting area videotaping every voter who enters and exits the polling place. He is driving an unmarked, black SUV with blacked-out windows, and he admits to Palast that he is a professional privite investigator. He somehow forgets the name of his employer, though. I have a feeling that he wasn't hired by the Rainbow Coalition.

Additionally, a county election chief's daughter was the victim of a scam wherein she was tricked into signing what she thought was a petition to legalize medical marijuana. Instead the document was a voter registration for Tampa, hundreds of miles from where she lived. This would invalidate her vote in both places. Jeb Bush's government says that they don't have time to track down the con artists right now. Hmmm... Luckily, her father caught the scam in time, but how many other young, left-leaning students have a nasty surprise awaiting them at the polls on Tuesday?

You can, and should, view the video report here. It will be the lead on BBC News tonight, but don't look for it on your local ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, or god forbid, FOX affiliate: The Republican National Committee has threatened to block access to sources and candidates to the BBC if they air it, so you can imagine that the same goes for our "news" outlets.

[Breaking news] Jeb Bush supports challenging voters at the polls...what a surprise!


Joe gone. Jenny sad.

Joe's in NYC and I am left to my own devices here in DC. Went to Target (tar-JHA). Then went out to dinner with the ladies...had a good dinner at Sorriso, an Italian restaurant in Cleveland Park. Met a great woman who personally knows the person at the IRS who would need to file the papers for my not-for-profit to become "official." Then I went to this fellow David's house and he is in a band, owns his own recording studio and makes bass guitars. I am trying to hook him and Joe up...he even has industial space that he rents out and one of his renters makes acoustic guitars. I see some cool connections beginning to start. See Joe, I am your own personal marketing team! This other band, BluFunk also played at this house party tonight and they were really good....Who knew.


Iran endorses Bush for president! No joke!

Originally uploaded by Xose.
I thought for sure that this was bogus when I saw it, but after doing some research, I've verified the story in several major U.S. newspapers. It comes from an AP Wire story on Tues.

Yes folks, the Islamic Republic of Iran has officially endorsed George W. Bush for president.

It seems the Iranian government would much prefer a tough talker to someone who would actually take action against them. To quote from the article (emphasis mine):

""We should not forget that most sanctions and economic pressures were imposed on Iran during the time of Clinton," [Head of the Supreme National Security Council Hasan] Rowhani said. "And we should not forget that during Bush's era - despite his hard-line and baseless rhetoric against Iran - he didn't take, in practical terms, any dangerous action against Iran."

Rowhani is also quoted as saying, "We haven't seen anything good from Democrats."

This shows explicitly how weak Bush appears on the world stage. What's next, North Korean foreign ministers campaigning in Florida for Bush?

And more importantly, why aren't the Democrats raising holy hell to get this on the news and the front pages of papers everywhere?

Spread the word, people! This is great stuff!


You've got to see it to fully appreciate it

Originally uploaded by Xose.
I know this is sort of old news, but if you're like me and missed it the first time, you've got to see John Stewart's utter smackdown of Tucker Carlson on Crossfire. Go here to view the video.

I know that I've called that pretentious, elitist, bow-tie wearing dolt a "dick" many times, but it's got to be great to say it to his face, as Stewart does here. We need more folks with the guts that Stewart has to tell these jackasses to cover the news, not just be flaks for the party lines.

John Stewart for president 2008!


How gross are you?

I've just discovered a great new site that lets you create free polls and track the answers. It's called SurveyMonkey.

My first poll, which Jenny insisted that I tell you she had absolutely nothing to do with, is meant to determine how disgusting our readers are. Don't worry, I've set up the poll so that your anonymity is assured. Have fun, be honest, and I post the results of our gross survey later!

Click here to see how disgusting you really are.


Wet, Wonderful West Virginia

Jenny and I went home to WV this past weekend to see my parents and go to Bridge Day. On Bridge Day every year, the authorities close down the New River Gorge Bridge to vehicular traffic and set up a street fair. You can walk across the bridge, which is the longest arch span bridge in the Western Hemisphere, and watch the hundreds of BASE jumpers legally line up and jump off. Wow, has that got to be exhilarating!

We met up with a couple old friends, Amy and John, who was the other guitarist in my college band, the Feast of Stephen (FOS). Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate, and we were forced off the bridge by some cold rain....brrrrrrr. Still, the leaves had changed and were very beautiful. Fall in my home town of Oak Hill is wonderful. The smell of leaves, the taste of homemade potato soup....it was really awesome to be back again.

The next day, John and Amy came over for my family's traditional Sunday dinner of Spanish arroz con pollo (chicken and rice). John and I played some guitar together for the first time in a great while, and we even remembered how to pluck out some old FOS oldies....great fun!

Of course, we also got to hang out with mom and dad and granny for a weekend, which is always great. We love you all!


We are noisy neighbor magnets

We were awoken (again) at 3 a.m. last night by our college-aged downstairs neighbors' loud talking and door slamming. I had to get the guard at the apt. to go tell them to can it...again! What the hell is it with Jenny and me? In Oakland we had the squealing über-bitch and her slovenly, loud-laughing, D&D boyfriend, and now we've got the stoner fraternity....

All we want is a peaceful night's sleep! Realtor.com, take me away!


U-S-A! U-S-A!

I'm so psyched! I'm going to RFK Stadium tonight to watch the U.S. Men's national soccer team take on Panama in a World Cup qualifier. If the U.S. wins, we will go on to the final round of the qualifiers, where the top three teams go to the World Cup in Germany in 2006.

I've never seen the national team live, so I'm really looking forward to it. Go USA!

The propaganda just keeps on comin'

Good news, bretheren! In case you haven't heard about it, there's an alternative to that lying, naysaying Michael Moore film for all of you evangelicals out there. Faith in the White House tells how our wonderful president prays constantly on his direct, exclusive line to God. Hallelujah!

Man, people are messed up in this country. Here's some of the drivel on their Web site promoting this hogwash (emphasis mine): "According to BBC correspondent Justin Webb: 'Nobody spends more time on his knees than George W. Bush. The Bush administration hums to the sound of prayer. Prayer meetings take place day and night. It's not uncommon to see White House functionaries hurrying down corridors carrying Bibles.'"

Does that scare you as much as it scares me?

Sad Movie + Green Leaves

After going out to a bar/restaurant w. Jason to watch the Red Sox (we won't talk about the game -- too depressing), I came back to the hotel and watched The Notebook. Predictable, but still very sad. The main character had dementia and had no memory of her life, her children, her husband. It is so painful to watch what heartache these types of diseases cause to loved ones. It also shows you how lucky you are if you find that person who just "gets you" and accepts you with all your flaws.

On a lighter note, no major leaf turning here yet. I am guessing that peak leafing will hit the Boston area in about 10 days.


Where do you fall on the political spectrum?

Originally uploaded by Xose.
I recently discovered a cool web test, The Political Compass, that asks your opinion on lots of different topics to determine where you fall on the political spectrum.

I've always thought of myself as moderate (with my conservative views on crime and punishment and welfare reform "moderating" my liberal views on pretty much everything else), but it turns out I'm more left and more libertarian than the Dahli Lama and Nelson Mandela. At least I'm in good company down in the SW quadrant.

Where do you fit in?


After work tonight (I am here in Boston for work) found a neat restaurant called Mantra and Jason and Sara met me there for dinner. It is an old bank converted to a bar and restaurant. The bathrooms are bizarre. The doors of the stalls have one-way mirrors. So you look out at the sinks but those at the sinks cannot see you. SO weird. I now know what it would be like to be a vampire (sans the urge to drink blood -- phew), where you have no image in the mirror. I kept waving and waving and it's so odd to not have the mirror on the opposite wall reflect your image.


Jenny gone. Joe sad.

Jenny is on another Boston business trip, leaving me to my own devices here in D.C. Of course, my devices include not much more than playing guitar in the living room; driving around random neighborhoods, map in hand, jotting down notes as to which would be acceptable for us to buy in and which are not; and watching unending episodes of Seinfeld reruns.

None of it blunts my horrific trauma of missing Jenny. :-(

Come home soon, honey!


"You can run but you can't hide." Unless your name is Osama bin Laden.

Originally uploaded by Xose.
How can this be a contest at this point? Bush is so outclassed by Kerry it's almost funny. Well, it would be funny if 51% of the jackasses in this country didn't buy it.

Listen up people. Just because Bush says he'll make you safe DOES NOT MAKE IT TRUE!!!!! If you want a cowboy, rent a John Wayne movie and quit ruining the 49% of the rest of the country's lives!

Do you want to talk about being unsafe? Your odds of losing your health insurance are hundreds of times greater than your odds of getting attacked by a terrorist. If you vote for Bush, the terrorists win.

Mr. Bush, you are a cheat and a liar

Originally uploaded by Xose.
George W. Bush is a liar. I think we all knew that. Well, it also seems that he's a cheater.

Several blogs around the Net and a great article by Salon.com are speculating on a mysterious bulge between the president's shoulder blades during the last debate. The bulge, combined with Bush's long lapses between question and answer, his weirdly blurting out "Let me finish!" when no one was interrupting him (at least no one we could hear), and the fact that he's known to be unable to think under pressure are leading some to believe that the commander-in-chief of the nation was cheating in the debate.

Heaven's no. That couldn't be...gasp...could it?

Let's just hope that the moderator tonight pats the sumbitch down and takes an otoscope to both of his doofy ears before they begin.


Passing it on

Originally uploaded by Xose.
When I was 14 and first learning how to play music, guitar magazines were my #1 lesson books. I would get Guitar for the Practicing Musician and Guitar Player every month and spend hours upon hours up in my room learning the tips and tricks (and whole transcribed songs) in those pages.

I'd devour the articles where my favorite guitarists would talk about their playing, their influences, and how they made the guitar do mind-blowing things I couldn't even hum, much less play along to! (My main men were guys like Jake E. Lee, coincidentally, another West Virginian; Randy Rhoads; Tony Iommi; Warren DiMartini; and, of course, the man who started it all for me, Ace Frehley, "lead guitar!")

For an obsessed kid like me in small town USA, those magazines were my connection to the best teachers rock guitar could offer, and it's no stretch to say that I learned how to play guitar well by studying those magazines every night (to my grades' detriment). Getting encouragement from my favorite players and hearing them in interviews tell me to keep practicing and learn more gave me the confidence to keep going and say "I can do this!"

Now it's my turn to help the next generation of guitarists by writing those very articles. Turns out that Guitar Player is owned by my former company, CMP, and before I left California, I pitched them on an article about home amplifier building, a new hobby of mine. Long story short, they took the bait, and my first article was published in the October edition of Guitar Player (see photo). Click here to read the article (you'll need to scroll down once you get to the Web page).

Since this first article, I've written two interviews for the upcoming premiere issue of FRETS magazine, the new acoustic counterpart to Guitar Player, and I just interviewed the Reverend Horton Heat yesterday for an upcoming issue of GP. The fact that I get paid to do this is icing on the cake.

I just hope that somewhere there's a kid in West Virginia who has just picked up his first guitar who reads my article and says to himself (or herself), "I can do this!"


Journalism at its most disturbing

According to this article on ABCNews.com, Cheney dominated the debate by a 43% to 35% margin of victory.

Wow. I thought it looked closer than that....but wait! Let's check out the fine print:

Methodology: This survey was conducted by telephone Tuesday night among a random-sample panel of 509 registered voters who watched the vice presidential debate. The results have a 4.5-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation were done by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

509 registered voters? Criminy! I ask more than 509 people for advice on what to wear to work in the morning! Seriously, I'm sorry, 509 people IS NOT a true representation of the entire 291 million people in the U.S.

This shows you what crap these polls are. They are really just headline tools, but unfortunately, a lot of the time they turn into self-fulfilling prophecy....let's hope this one is viewed as the shit is truly is.

Dick Cheney lives up to his first name

Originally uploaded by Xose.
First, let me qualify my post by saying up front that I hate Dick Cheney. He is a ruthless, immoral, devious, cheating, lying, stealing, skulking lump of pure, 100% unadulterated evil, as far as I'm concerned. To me, he is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with our government today. He stands for giant corporate interests above the health and welfare of the common folk, he got into "public service" by boot-licking and using underhanded tactics and ethically bankrupt business connections, and on top of that, he's a classless prick.

Some of his lowlights as VP: Telling a U.S. Senator to "go fuck yourself" on the Senate floor? Really classy, Dick. Taking money from your former employer while making sure its billion-dollar no-bid contract goes through? Conflict of interest much? Having a gay daughter, yet "supporting the President" in an attempt to amend the Constitution to forbid gay marraige? Hypocracy of the highest order.

Of course, he's a fricking liar, too. (Thanks for the heads-up on the link, Gabe.) But you knew that, right?

We learned some new goodies about him last night: Voting against plastic guns and head start? Good call...not.

That said, I think he carried himself well during the debate and came off looking a little better than Edwards, which I found very disappointing. He successfully put Edwards on the defensive about his senatorial career, and stated blatent lies convincingly (to the masses at least) as indisputable fact.

Edwards didn't totally blow it, though. He brought up the Halliburton record, and plainly stated again and again that Hussein had NO connection to 9-11, which can never be said enough.

Overall, though, I thought the debate was a tossup at best, and that's scary, since I'm a rabid Democrat. One can only imagine what the "undecideds" made of things.


Fear the Reaper

Originally uploaded by Xose.
You may be reminded of Joe's rugged good looks by the hard-core, scythe wielding tough guy in this photo. That's due to family resemblance.

You see, dear reader, this Old Country badass is none other than my great-great-grandfather, José G.

He emigrated from Castrillón, Asturies (in northern Spain) to work as a foreman in a zinc smelter in Clarksburg, West Virginia. He dragged his wife, daughter (my great-grandmother Tomasa G A de V), and other kids along for the ride, and that's where my great-grandparents met. The rest, as they say, is history.

After getting his fill of the U.S.A., he and Dionesia, my great-great grandmother, returned to Spain, bought a farm in Lluanco, Asturies, and lived out the rest of their days. Obviously, my great-grandmother Tomasa stayed in the U.S.

The moral of this story: whenever you think your work sucks, remember that your lazy ass could be melting in a giant metallurgy works instead of surfing this blog. Thank your stars that your ancestors did the dirty work so you don't have to....


It's official: God is a Democrat

Originally uploaded by Xose.
My Uncle Bob sent me this great graphical representation that proves beyond any resonable doubt that God is, indeed, a Democrat. You'd better think twice before November, Florida!

[Booming God voice] And West Virginia voters reading Jenny and Joe's blog, take heed! You wouldn't want several billion locusts to come to Thanksgiving dinner....would you? [/Booming God voice]


Finally! Photos!

Originally uploaded by Xose.
I think I've finally found a way to upload photos to the blog, which has been requested by many folks so far. Here's a photo from our Labor Day trip to the lake in MD. The program I'm using is called Flickr, and it seems to work like a charm, so far.

Viking Fun with Millionaire Finns

One of the officers at Jenny's company hosted a party at his schweet four-storey townhouse just south of Dupont Circle on Friday. He's Finnish, so every year he puts on the "Viking Party," and invites the entire D.C. office, complete with s.o.'s. The couples are seated a different tables from each other to encourage mingling, and never-ending glasses of ice cold Finlandia vodka keep the conversation flowing. The food was also plentiful (I gorged on what turned out to be the opening course of a four-course meal, yet still managed to throw down on some meat and smoked fish in subsequent courses), and seriously, they must have spent five grand on liquor alone.

Our friends Jordan and Kristin spent the night on our Aerobed in the living room since they live way out in Frederick, MD. We all went to breakfast on Saturday morning and had good eggs and good conversation.

I went to play soccer later that morning, and while I still haven't scored a goal in D.C., I did notch another assist and had two other passes that led to goals. I'll take it.

Saturday night and Sunday we didn't do jack or shit, and it was very nice to just have a day or so to relax. Actually, Jenny did a little organizing, but nothing too crazy.

Luv tools

Gag.....Too....sweet.....hack; cough.


Pres. Eisenhower's Son will vote Kerry in Nov.

Add Ike's son to the list of former Republican presidents' children who have come out against the current Republican nominee (Reagan's son did the same thing, although to be fair, he's always been a Democrat). Eisenhower's switch is more telling, as he has always been a staunch Republican, and now feels that his party has abandoned him...and the middle class.

In his own words: "The Republicans used to be deeply concerned for the middle class and small business. Today’s Republican leadership, while not solely accountable for the loss of American jobs, encourages it with its tax code and heads us in the direction of a society of very rich and very poor."

Of course, he's right.

Read the whole article here.

Debate #1: Kerry's problem, Bush's idiocy on display

The bar where I watched the debate, Millie and Als in Adams Morgan, erupted in laughter and applause last night when Bush yet again mixed up Sadaam Hussein with Osama bin Laden. Granted, the crowd was pretty much 99% pro-Kerry (with the obligitory lone Bush wack-o screaming "you voted for it!!!" at the screen whenever Kerry brought up Iraq), but all bias aside, the consensus was that Kerry won this round easily.

Bush often had that "we just got attacked but I'm reading to school kids" look of dumbfounded uncertainty whenever he was forced to make an unscripted response to one of Kerry's assertions. The answer he came up with, time and time again, was the one Karl "Evil Personified" Rove scribbled down for him to say whenever he didn't know what to say: "Mixed signals. Wrong war, wrong time." Bush obviously cannot think on his feet (some would say or anywhere else, for that matter), and when he tries to, it makes you wonder what the hell anyone who votes for this moron is thinking.

But then he gets onto one of his prepared speeches, and you find out how he gets all the yokels to vote for him. He turns on the "good ol' boy" factor. Leaning over the podium and delivering his lines with a smart-ass tone that basically implies "Jesus, this is so obvious, how can my opponent, THAT ELITE LIBERAL, not understand us?" The "us," of course, being the under-educated, over-religioned masses that buy into his bullshit hook, line, and sinker. He succeeds in portraying himself as a down-home, regular guy, which is no small feat considering that he was born a millionaire, never had to work a day in his life, went to Yale, is a member of an elite fraternity, and didn't have the guts to show up to his military service.

And that's Kerry's problem, in a nutshell. He's obviously head-and-shoulders above Bush in intelligence, intellect, and honor, but while Bush can cover up his priviliged past with a bullshit "country" persona, Kerry just comes across as richer, smarter, and more inside the Beltway than you or me. Not good when you're trying to get the Joe Schmoe vote. (Actually, Schmoe is a Jewish name, so Kerry's probably got his vote....er, maybe the Billie-Bob Adkins vote? Whatever, you get the picture.)

That said, I hope Billie-Bob and all his buddies come to the correct conclusion that the reason they lost their good job at the call center and have no income or health insurance is due in large part to Bush's economic policies before November. Hope against hope, I know.

Best Kerry line of the night: "We could've caught bin Laden at Tora Bora if we'd have used U.S. troops, but Bush outsourced that job too."



I think that is Sanskrit for Triangle Pose. I found yoga in Bethesda. I like it. No chanting. It's the Iyengar style which is very different from the style I learned in SF. This style is much less obviously athletic. They like to teach you the poses and are VERY precise about things so you can then practice at home. Like the gnome in Amelie...I now do either tree pose or mountain pose in every city that Joe and I visit. I can't wait to do my new pose when I am at work.
I call it Worksucsasana.

Burn baby burn

I am quite excited. I just burned my first CD. Very exciting. Not music though, data.
Photos and random stuff just to get it off my laptop.

Liz's (my sister) visit was fun. First night she was in town we took her to eat in our neighborhood at Dehli Daba. Just say that out loud: Dehli Daba. It's just fun to say.
Sat. we went out to the suburbs to shop, then Sat. night went out w. friends to Alero - tried a new drink. Lemon juice + beer. yum. Then headed to 4P's for the Irish Pub experience. Liz said that she liked the Irish singers...Then Sunday morning we met up w. my friend Michele and walked around Eastern Market then Joe peeled off to watch football and the girls went to brunch at Bread and Chocolate. mmm. It was fun to have my sister in my hood.

Far-away Friends

I was thinking this morning after writing an email to one of our S.F. friends that Jenny and I are both very lucky to have so many fantastic people in our lives. I, especially, have moved around a lot in my life, and now that Jenny has done the coast-to-coast transplantation, she's getting a taste of how bittersweet it is to know that you have friends all over the world, even though you might not get to see them in person as often. Still, no matter where you all are around the world (10 states and five countries...and counting!), please know that we value your friendship immensely and love you all! Keep in touch with us and we promise to do the same!

And start a blog, for god's sake!


Great Weekend in Der West Virginia

This past weekend Jenny and I trekked out to WV for a weekend away from the city. Well, "trekked" may not be the best description, since we were in the Eastern panhandle, which is only an hour and a half away.

We started out at the Angler's Inn in Harper's Ferry, which was a cute 1800's house with a comfortable feel and friendly owners.

Saturday morning we drove over to the nearby Mountain Arts and Heritage Festival, held on a farm between Harper's Ferry and Charles Town. There were dozens of vendors, and most were demonstrating their craft onsite. One of the coolest things we saw was a lady who wove baskets. I'll look for her card later so I can post a link you can check out. Jenny bought a cute necklace made from old, broken china patterns, and we also bought some yummy, hand-made apple butter (Jenny hadn't tasted it before this weekend) and a small bearful of WV honey. Yum!!!!

After the Festival, we drove back down to Harper's Ferry and walked around the old town, reliving the history of John Brown's raid and the events leading up to the Civil War and subsequent birth of WV.

After trying to get a beer at a Saloon exhibit (It looked real, honest!), we cruised up to Sheperdstown for our last stop of the weekend. We stayed at the hilariously decorated Bavarian Inn and even had an olde-school Kraut and Weiners dinner straight outta Deutchland. Actually, the Inn was a four-star hotel, and was quite pleasant. We had a lovely view of the river from our room, although we pretty much passed out instantly after our mega-heavy (and mega-yummy) dinner.

On the way home to D.C. on Sunday, we decided to check out Rockville and Kensington for house hunting areas. We LOVED Kensington, and are going to start looking there immediately. Anyone want to give us money? ;-)


Bugs are yucky

Ok. I don't know if it was that mystery bug that got me last night night but I am itchy! Or maybe I am having a bizarre side effect from Alka Seltzer. Eyes itch. Skin itches! Nose itching. ARGH! Problem is if I take an allergy pill I will fall asleep. But at least I won't itch.


So I have lived thru the end of spring (May) and a DC summer.
I loved it! It was so hot. Heat is my friend. Except for the one day (pre-Joe's arrival) when I decided to take the metro from VA to the Smithsonian, in flip-flops, walk thru two museums and then walk to the WWII memorial, then I was going to trek back to the metro then decided forget it. Before I melt I will take a cab to Georgetown where I was meeting friends.
That day was too hot. But I survived. Kudos to my Old Navy flip-flops.

I thought it was Fall the other day. But it was a tease. It got hot again the last two days. The only hint that it's fall is that the lighting has definitely changed. It's that mellow, glowy fall light that I think is beautiful. Gives me the same feeling as when I am able to exerience twilight. You know when all the yuck from your day is just erased, just by being in the aubergine hued light.


Austria:wine as yummy:poop

We went to the Austrian Embassy for a wine tasting tonight. "Just don't," you say. "Run away quickly," you say. "Just grab a bucket and scoop some semi-wet sludge from the Potomac," you say.

I say: You are correct sir. Austrian wine is pure ass.

Seriously, it's bad. Thank you Jane and Sarah for turning us into total California wine snobs. You and your fancy "tasting" parties. :-( We really miss y'all.

Anyway, back to the smelly crack vinyards. We tasted all four wines they had on offer (two red, two white), and instead of waiting for the movie that was planned, we bailed to Guapo's on Wisconsin in Tenleytown and got yummy take-out burritos. Damn were they good! All the dirty Austrians gave us to eat was bad cheese and pumpkin oil (don't ask). The Austrian Embassy itself was okay, but the UAE Embassy next door was totally cool! The architecture was modern-meets-Alhambra, and we're sure that the Egyptians next door were really jealous, since they basically have a concrete box for an Embassy.

Slovakia was also having some sort of event, which we were tempted to crash, but we were afraid they would think we were Austrian invaders (since we were coming out of the Austrian Embassy....get it....oh, forget it. It's too late and I'm too full to be funny). Jenny got totally chomped by a massive mosquito and now has a giant West Nile infected blazingly red welt on her arm. Gross.

That's it for now, we have to get one more Angel episode in before we crash out for the night. As Ozzy says, we love you all!

Screw the poor....again

This just in: Republicans are assholes.

They don't even bother hiding their disgust for the poor anymore. Ack.


The only good thing to come out of the Iraq war

This is brilliant!

The Moral Issues

“'It’s the moral issues for me,' said Vicki Burgess, 49, a hairdresser from Fraziers Bottom, W.Va. 'He’s pro-life and that’s what I am. ... I’m for a marriage between a man and a woman. ... Those issues are my top issues.'”

How can you debate people like this? In a day and age where we are murdering innocent Iraqi children with giant bombs and letting the real 9-11 plotters off the hook for killing 2,000 Americans, hairdressers in WV list gay marriage as their #1 issue. This is insane.

But let's forget about the Iraqi children for a second. Since the news never shows them, maybe you can make the case that it's not her fault that she doesn't care about the bloody, unjust war in Iraq. So one would think that she might be more concerned about her own welfare or the fact that her county in WV has an annual per-capita income of only $20,471 and ranks 16 out of WV's 55 counties with a 6.17 personal bankruptcy rate.

On the other hand, who cares as long as we do everything we can to prevent two people who love each other from getting hitched, right? THAT's what's really important. Unreal.


How much is $87 Billion? Check this:

A whole lot of dough.

SICKENING. Esp. the quote about how much we spend on homeland security.

Make No Mistake: McCain is a tool/New Jenny-Joe News

From today's Washington Post.com (bold is mine): "Senator John McCain, the maverick Arizona Republican who has lately emerged as a strong supporter of President Bush, called Thursday for the Supreme Court of Florida to allow Ralph Nader's name on the state's presidential ballot.

The state's highest court, which was deeply embroiled in the contested election in Florida in 2000, is to hear arguments on Friday on whether the Reform Party is a legitimate national party and whether Mr. Nader can run as its party's presidential candidate in the Nov. 2 election.

Polls indicate that Mr. Nader draws votes from Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, which could help President Bush in close states like Florida. Mr. Nader won more than 97,000 votes in the state in 2000. Most of those votes, analysts from both parties agree, would probably have gone to Al Gore, the Democratic nominee, and would have won Mr. Gore the presidency."

On the Jenny/Joe front:
Last weekend my folks were in town, and we had a real blast hanging out with them. We went down to the WWII Memorial on the mall, toured Julia Child's kitchen at the American History Museum, and went to the National Cathedral, where it was—unbelievably—West Virginia Day. Is that weird, or what? We even ran into and met Gov. Bob Wise in the Cathedral. Strange how things work sometimes.

This weekend Jenny's sister, Liz, is in town. Should be a good time if Ivan doesn't rain on our parade the whole time.

I've been loving my new iPod Mini that Jenny got me for my b-day. I'm rediscovering CDs and music long lost in the CD collection, till now buried under a pile of god knows what in my closet. Current playlist: Smiths Best Vol. II, Lou Reed Vicious, Archers of Loaf vs. the Greatest of All Time. Good stuff.


Beach Trip and a new guitar!!!!

This past weekend, Jenny and I went down to the Delaware shore to visit Rehoboth Beach. Our hotel was a total dump from the outside, but the newly renovated rooms were okay, and most importantly, clean. For the record, we stayed at the Henlopen hotel. It's right on the beach, so the locale is nice, but Rehoboth seems to have changed a bit since my last visit in '95 (or maybe I'm the one who's changed). We were looking for something a little more quaint and quiet. Lewes beach perhaps? We may try that one next time. Still had a good time overall, and the weather was fantastic (although the water was pretty chilly).

When we got back to D.C., I noticed that someone was selling a Les Paul Standard (with DesertBurst finish) on craigslist. Craigslist.org, for the uninitiated, is a Web site that is sort of like online classifieds. Anywho...I contacted the guy, went to see the guitar, and bought it from him. I've been wanting a L.P. Standard for a while, and this one amazingly has all of the features I would have ordered from the Gibson factory were I custom ordering a L.P.: '60s style thin neck, desertburst finish, chrome hardware, lots of great flames in the maple top, and the price was $600 lower than a brand new one (it's a 2003). Check out the photos of the beach trip and the guitar here.

My birthday is on Thursday, so we're going to Millie and Al's in Adams Morgan for beers. Fun! Then Jason is coming down this weekend to join us for a group house with some of Jenny's work friends at Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland. Let the fishing begin!!!!


Tennis Anyone?

Joe and I went to the Legg Mason Tennis Tournament last night. My office took us and about 15 other employees. It was fun and we got to see Andre Agassi play and win!

The New Jersey Devil

Went to the New Jersey shore with my mom and her friend Jane to stay at Jane's Beach House (Jen's writing the blog entry this time). It was fun. Had a great timing riding the bike around from the bay to the beach -- the island is only 3 blocks wide!
Coming home we had to make a pitstop and I tried to stop in Piney Barren to do so. No such luck. It turns out that there are "no working restrooms" in all of Piney Barren. Very weird. The area is odd as it's the 28 mile drive between off-island and on the island and it's pine trees in sand as far as the eye can see. I could see Tony Soprano, taking care of business there, if you catch my drift.
I guess there is a ton of folklore associated with the area. Supposedly there is a devil/dragon-like creature that lives there in the woods. Didn't see any dragon...bummer.


Follow-up to the idiot king

From the Washington Post's late edition, reporting that today's terror alerts were based on intel gathered BEFORE 9/11:

"President Bush and Vice President Cheney said in separate appearances yesterday that the new alert underscores the continuing threat posed by al Qaeda. At a news conference announcing his proposed intelligence reforms, Bush said the alert shows 'there's an enemy which hates what we stand for.'"

No it doesn't. All it shows is that you, Mr. Bush, are more than willing to exploit Americans' already frazzled nerves and play on their insecurities (which you carefully cultivate) for your own political gain.

"'It's serious business,' Bush said. 'I mean, we wouldn't be, you know, contacting authorities at the local level unless something was real.'"

Um, you know, for some reason, I don't, you know, believe him.

The idiot king who cried wolf?

We're on heightened alert here in Washington, D.C.'s financial district. What sucks even more than being the target of some fundamentalist nutjobs intent on instilling fear in my heart and mind is the actual danger posed to me by Islamic terrorists. I'd like to know, mr. fundamentalist nutjob president, when I'm really in danger. But thanks to your outrageous policy of using the "terror alert system" to further your political gains, I can never be sure if I'm really in danger or if I'm just being played by you and your cronies. That sucks. And so do you.

Okay, breaking away from politics and terrorists and Islamic crazies for an update: Jenny is on another business trip to Boston this week, and I miss her already. She got to have dinner with Jason last night, though, which is cool. I just received the 20-disc Fugazi live retrospective on Friday. It's awesome, of course, and the best parts are when Ian berates the moronic slam dancers in the crowd. Priceless.

The Scotch tasting was pretty fun. I learned about how Johnnie Walker Black Label is made, how to drink Johnnie Walker Black Label, and how a splash of water can "open up the aromas" of a shot of Johnnie Walker Black Label. Can you guess what type of Scotch they were advertising at the event? Actually, it was kind of interesting to see how such targeted marketing works. I basically paid $50 to sit through a 2-hour infomercial. At least they plied us with free whisky. Better than a Johnnie Walker Pocket Fisherman event, I guess.



Jenny and I finally got the DVD player set up properly again. Of course, Buffython ensued. After a bunch of sangría from Kramerbook's Afterwards café, the demon dance numbers are, shall we say, bizarre-o-ramic.

Johnny Walker Scotch tasting at the British embassy tomorrow night. Wish me luck!


Aborted Pandathon transforms into Ethiopian lunch

Try googling that headline...I bet its the only one you come up with! ;-) Jenny and I got up this morning with full plans to visit all of the city's panda statues, but were thwarted by a trip to Eastern Market (where we bought a cool formica cocktail tray that perfectly matches a set of formica coasters we already had). I think it may...wait for it....be time for a swanky D.C. cocktail party at our abode! Of course, that would mean actually fully unpacking the boxes that have begun to plague our life. Anyway, back to our day, we ended up in Adams Morgan for Fasika's, which was closed. I was hoping to have Ethiopian for my late celebration of job getting, so we went across the street to Meskerem, which was just as tasty. Mmmmmm.....injera! I fricking LOVE Ethiopian food, man! Jenny puts up with it 'cause I love it so much, but I'm just glad she'll humor me.

Yesterday we went to see the Orioles versus the Twins in B'more. Fun (and fast—under 3 hrs!) game, but we couldn't get the hell out of there and ended up in helltown trying to get back to I-95 (along with some other gamegoers). No fun waiting to get carjacked while inching through a crappy neighborhood in bumper-to-bumper game traffic. I hate Baltimore. We're hopeful that the Expos will come to D.C. and we'll get to inch through Anacostia instead. MUCH safer. ;-)


Kerry party time! Bush sucks major dookie!

Jenny and I attended a Kerry fundraising party tonight in the Kalorama neighborhood hosted by a super-nice dude named Ed. Ed is a realtor, and his apartment is the most amazingly decorated space I've ever been to in my life. Seriously, we wanted him to come do our house. We donated $200 to the Kerry campaign and enjoyed Ed's catered snacky-poos, wine, and beer. We met a nice girl named Julia, who is also a California transplant, and had several enjoyable conversations with other guests. The big thing though is that everyone there hated Bush, which felt SO good. Back to Texas, son. You've f*&#ed up America enough. Time to go back to that Saudi oil money you've been hiding in your sealed records. What a bozo. Ker-ry! Ker-ry! Ker-ry!

GO DONATE MONEY TO THE KERRY/EDWARDS CAMPAIGN NOW, DAMMITT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! www.johnkerry.com


Salsa/Merengue lessons

Jenny and I joined a group called The International Club of D.C., which sponsors cool Embassy events and other stuff. Last night we went to learn how to do Latin dancing. Pretty fun. It's funny to see how the 3/4 English/Scottish/Irish/German/Dutch side of me takes over completely and kicks the 1/4 Spanish side to the curb whenever a latin rhythm comes on. On the flip side, maybe I could really swivel my hips to some Highlands bagpipes?



It's about time.

After a tough month of interview after pointless interview, the American Academy of Actuaries has hired me to be their Publications and Marketing Production Manager. The title ain't much, granted (I'd rather have something with "editor" in the title), but they actually offered me a decent salary with full bennies, and the office is a mere four stops from my METRO station (UDC/Van Ness). It's a small staff of 40 or so people, which means I'll be a man with many hats to wear around the office. My main job will be to coordinate the production of Contingencies, the bi-monthly magazine they produce. Check the place out at www.actuary.org. In addition, I'll be doing the newsletter and tons of marketing collateral. I'm going to try to push the editing/writing angle as well once I'm fully entrenched in the place. I'm psyched.

The apartment is currently awash with cardboard, as we've yet to find the floor since the move. Slowly but surely, I'm digging us out into the land of normal people again. It's been f*&king hot here this week, so I'm concentrating my efforts in the "cold room," aka the sun room with the glass doors closed off and the A/C blasting as hard as it will go. Ahhh, sweet Freon.

Jenny's computer won't recognize our new wireless network, but my Mac did with few problems. Macs rule. PCs suck. I must say, dragging the laptop all over the apartment, sans wires of any kind (I'm writing this from the living room comfy chair), is pretty damn cool. Technology is a wonderful thing sometimes.


Fahrenheit 9/11 + CIA trouble

I thought I couldn't hate George W. any more. I was very wrong. Went with friends last night to see Mr. Moore's newest at the Loew's Theatre in Georgetown and left thoroughly disgusted. It's not that I didn't already know about the way that asshole Bush and his fat brother stole the election, how he swooped his bin Laden buds out of the country after 9-11, or how he and the über-evil trio (Rummy, Wolfowitz, and oil-tanker Rice) got us into an unmanageable, unnecessary, illegal, and totally stupid war in Iraq; but having it up there in all of its ten-foot, silver screen glory was infuriating in a whole new way.

What I can't figure out is this: Why is it that I, an admitted foreign-affairs junkie who watched the news almost every day, saw my first graphic image of charred, blown apart, and dead Iraqi children yesterday in this movie? Maybe if the "Christian" Bushies out there were forced to watch "compassionate conservatism" at work, they might change their minds about our current illegitimate regime. Other firsts: scenes of wounded and dead U.S. soldiers; out-takes of a glib, monkey-faced George W. cracking jokes about his golf game moments after taping an oh-so-concerned warning to the American people about the dangers of Al-Queda...er...Saddam; Congressmen literally RUNNING away from Moore on the streets of D.C. rather than having the guts to explain why THEIR sons and daughters are too valuable to send to the war they themselves voted for. It's disgusting. Go see it. If you're a Republican or a "swing" voter (god only knows what that means), DEFINITELY go see it.

Okay, enough ranting. Here's a funny/scary story. On our way home to McLean after the movie, already chock-full of anti-Bush hatred and paranoia, Jennifer accidentally takes a right hand turn 1/2 mile too early...straight into the CIA headquarters at Langley. Easy enough to do; it's really dark out there, and the road is not marked enough. No big deal, think I, and we pull up to the intercom to tell the guard that we just made a wrong turn and want to turn right around and go on our merry way, thanks a lot, God Bless America, and all that.

"Please pull forward to the barrier and the officer will assist you."


"Please turn off your lights and your car's engine."

Two squad cars swoop in behind us, blue lights going full bore. I'm now convinced that if these guys find out what movie we just went to see it's going to be "next stop: Guantanamo."

"Hi, officer, just wanted to turn around, made a wrong turn, sorry."

"This is a restricted government facility and property of the CIA. We must do a background check on every person who comes through the gate. What is your social security number?"

Thirty minutes later, after running both our license plates, SSN's, and DL numbers, they tell us to leave and not come back. Of course, according to the officer, we are now on file and will be charged with trespassing should we return. No chance of that, I assure him.

All this happened, because, as you all know, spies and terrorists usually pull up to the front gate in S-10 pickups and Hondas, announce themselves, and politely ask to turn around. What the f@#k? What are we coming to in this country?

On another note: Moving into the apartment today. Wish us luck that everything arrives, and in one piece!


Great news!

I hadn't written about this before, but my father has been having some serious medical issues. So much so, that he needed to come up to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore to get a second opinion on a pretty grave diagnosis. Well, after our appointment this morning in B'more, we are elated, since his oncologist told us that although he does have the disease, it is so early and the disease is so slow moving that he doesn't even require treatment and should only go in for blood work every three-to-five months. We are so excited. It's really great news!


Good news/too-soon-to-tell news

First the good news: Other than an annoying cold, everyone here in D.C. is doing fine, and the job search is coming along. Lots of interviews, and a few call-backs. The weather out here has been amazing in the last couple of weeks, and although it's supposed to rain for the 4th, it will still be nice and warm.

Jenny and I are going to our first MLS game in D.C. tonight, where we'll see United take on the MetroStars at RFK. Should be fun, I hope!

I am weighing an offer (well, not an offer, exactly, but they are courting me pretty hard) for a printing sales job, that would eventually let me develop an editorial department within the company. My last printing sales job was, to put it mildly, hell, so I'm carefully considering this option. That said, I was only 23 when I had the last sales job (and fresh out of college) and the company was full of pretentious pricks. We'll have to see how the money issue pans out for this job.

Jenny has a "second life" in Boston lately. We were up there last weekend for a 50-year anniversary party for her uncle and aunt, and she stayed on to train in the Boston office until Monday. She then had to fly back on Wednesday for another meeting....Whew! Mucho travel! We flew Independence Air (www.flyi.com), which was totally awesome! Brand new small jets, leather seats, nice customer service, zero hassles..... We can completely recommend them to anyone flying around the East Coast. And you can't beat the price: $111 ROUND TRIP from D.C. (Dulles) to Boston (Logan). Schweet!


Almost heaven

Well, Jenny and I drove to the river on Friday to spend the weekend with my folks. It's so great to be able to go home without having to go to the airport. The drive is just long enough to be a pain in the neck (5 1/2 hrs), but not so long as to be out of the question. In fact, once we got past Centerville and out of the Rt. 66 traffic hell, it's a pretty easy drive.

The best parts of the weekend:
1. Seeing the look on Dad's face when he saw us drive up to the camp (he was not expecting us since it was a Father's Day surprise)
2. Seeing my Mom and Granny again after too long
3. Catching a few small bass (even the little ones jump a foot out of the water!)
4. The stoned idjuts that (a.) made our Subway sandwiches in Harrisburg and (b.) sold me my fishing license in Lowell, WV
5. No humidity! A miracle if there ever was one
6. Jenny's day of antique-ing with Mom and Aunt Agnes

All in all a wonderful weekend in WV!

Now back to job-hunting hell....


A small job setback

Well, the small publishing firm I had a couple interviews with decided that they didn't want to pay me a living wage, so scratch that one. It's very frustrating though, since they FORCED me to give them my salary requirements up front, then proceeded to waste my time in two hour-and-a-half interviews before telling me that they couldn't match what I wanted (or even be in the ballpark). Why waste everyone's time when you could just tell me from step one that my requirements are too high for their budget? On the bright side, it was good interview practice, at least. Still, it's not like what I'm asking for is outrageous, by any means (according to the Folio magazine salary survey, it's right in line with the industry average for the position). Next....


Company retreat/Marginally successful job interviews

Lots to report, so bear with me.

The BCG retreat was a good time. The resort (owned by Anheuser-Busch, oddly enough) was spectacular, the food was great, and the weather was phenomenal. My golf game, alas, was not. But no worries, I still had a blast, as did Jenny. I got to meet a lot of her co-workers and all of them were super-normal and friendly. Even the officers were very down to Earth and easy to talk with. All in all a fine time!

Well, I went to my second interview at the as-yet-unnamed trade mag today (to meet with the publisher this time%97as well as the editor again). Things seemed to go pretty well, although I had to convince the publisher that I was not overqualified for the position, since in my last job I had five direct reports and in this one I wouldn't have any. I assured him that I was looking for a big fish/small pond type of situation (true) and that I wanted to get back into the writing and editing side of the business (also true) and that the direct reports thing wasn't a big deal (marginally true). They asked about salary AGAIN. What is going on nowadays? It used to be that salary was not discussed until after an offer was made. Now you are forced to begin salary negotiations way too early in the process, which can lead you to not get all they are offering or worse, be put out of contention for the job due to asking for too much. All of the interviewing technique articles say "NEVER give a number....let them do the talking." What planet are these writers on? I'm telling you, if you refuse to give a number up front, the interviewer just gets pissed off, which is not the best way to get your foot in the door of any company. Christ I hate looking for work.

The second interview I had today was really more of a sales pitch, as I'm trying to convince this custom publication printer in Rockville to hire me to start up an edit side to their business. The VP that I talked to was a big soccer fan, so the Euro 2004 results were a great ice breaker. I gave him my verbal pitch (the PowerPoint presentation was locked and loaded in my briefcase, but I never got the chance to pull it out), and he seemed to buy into the concept. I'm scheduled to go back in on Thursday of this week to meet the company president and pitch it to him. The only glitch in the proceedings occurred when he asked me to give him hard numbers of the kind of revenue they would be able to bring in should they add this department (and hire me to sell and run it). I didn't know, although I told him I'd do more research on it to present on Thursday. Now I'm screwed. I have no earthly idea how to work up those numbers. Everything is variable on the type of job, number of pages, type of editing, blah blah blah. I'm going to put SOMETHING together for them, but it may stink a little, being that it will be coming straight out of my ass and all....

On another job lead front, a woman at another turn-key, custom publishing firm (this one in DC) FINALLY got back to me after stringing me along on a job since April. Yes, April. For those of you keeping track, it's mid-June now. I'll probably go talk to her, but I'm pretty leery of a company with that kind of crap followthrough.

I'm interviewing with a famous association in D.C. tomorrow. Can't name names here, of course, but suffice it to say that should I get the job and find myself in legal trouble, I shouldn't have a hard time finding counsel. Wish me luck.

Jenny is in Boston, training for her job. She says hello to you all and will return tomorrow. I miss her, and since Jane and Marty are at their beach house, I'm all alone here. :-(

Hello, Mr. Ravenswood 2001 Zinfandel and Netflix.....


Reagan distrupts my economic life one last time

Even in death, Reagan screws with my life. In addition to irreversibly pushing down real wages, beginning the elimination of the middle class, and putting more homeless people on the street to bother me as I exit the subway, today everything in D.C. is shut down for this never-ending funeral procession (actually, not everyone is off today—the revisionist historians are out in full force), which means I can't contact job leads and schedule interviews until next week. Strike one last blow for the money man.


Cicada report

Well, the little buggers are dying out. I'll miss them, as will Jenny. They are cool to look at, with their little red alien eyes and all. Since they don't sting (unless one flies into your truck window while you're doing 60mph on the beltway—luckily you never get past 35mph in D.C. traffic) we can enjoy their ultra-loud song.

Jenny and I were taking a walk around the block the other evening when we saw this lone cicada (they're almost all gone out here in NOVA) buzzing his head off. We felt sorry for the little guy. I mean he waited 17 years to NOT get laid and then die. That sucks no matter what your species.

The job search update

Well, I interviewed yesterday with an as-yet-unnamed-on-the-blog company, and the interview seemed to go pretty well. The subject matter of the magazine is interesting, and I'd be doing a lot more writing as well as being a "face in the industry." That's exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for, so we'll have to see if they make me an offer after my second interview next week (and if that offer is acceptable).

I also had the interview this mornig with the house restoration magazine in GTown. What they didn't mention in the ad (or until halfway through the interview) was the small fact that IT WAS A FREAKING PART-TIME POSITION THAT PAID $25K. Crap that sucks! What a waste of my time! Oh well, more interview practice, I guess.

Jennifer and I are going down to Williamsburg this weekend to attend her company outing. I'm playing golf with a bunch of other staffer significant others, and my tee time is at 8:05 a.m. Ugh. The good news is that the event is being held at this ultra-posh resort and everything is on Jenny's company, BCG. Schweeeeet!


Feria de Sevilla

Well, on the good news front, immediately before our ill-fated trip to the apartment (see previous post), we attended the Spanish Festival of D.C. (aka Feria de Sevilla) where we visited the Asturias/Galicia/Pais Vasco booth and ate our weight in my favorite Asturian and Spanish foods like empanadas (meat pie), tortilla (Spanish omelet), and arroz con leche (a type of rice pudding dessert). We went with Jenny's new friend, Michelle, who's father is from Galicia. A good time and much flamenco dancer watching was had by all.

Apartment hell + interview purgatory

Our apartment is not going as smoothly as we had hoped, alas. We went to take a look at it yesterday, and the tenants (who had supposed to have been gone by last week) were still there! The management company thought the tenants gave a 30-day notice, when, in fact, they had given a 60-day! Arghhhh..... So...we are working out a plan whereby we stay in another apartment in the building temporarily until July 8, when we can move all of our crap into the real apartment.

The apartment company wants us to move all of our stuff into the temporary apartment, then move it again to the real apartment when it becomes available on July 8. That would mean that we would lose all of our moving company liability protection, though, so no dice. We are trying to get the management company to pay Atlas (the moving company we're working with) to store it in Atlas' warehouse until the 8th. They seem reluctant, and the lowly assistant manager had the unmitigated gall to gave us some attitude yesterday, which did not sit too well with our now-fragile sensibilities. That said, we kept our cool, and are confident that things will work out in the long run. Hassles, hassles....

I have a job interview on Thurs. in D.C. for a home restoration magazine. The subject matter is very interesting, although the Georgetown location could present some transportation problems (no METRO access in GTown). Still, at this point, I'm just happy to get a callback!

I may have another interview this week as well, although the pay scale for that job would have to be seriously negotiated. Wish me luck!