Marketing Note

There are things that I’m cool eating, even though I know they will cause me pain later. Spicy chicken wings? Sure, I know that when my bowels finally shoot them out again, I’m going to be walking around like I was humped by an elephant, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. However, any hot sauce which purports to be so hot that it will cause my penis to burst into flames is something I am going to stay far, far, far, farfarfarfar, the fuck away from. Gaaah.

Steele in Charge

Change has truly come to America: with the election of Michael Steele to head of the RNC, African-American men are leaders of both our major political parties.

Steele, the first African-American to hold the post, defeated South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson, 91-77, in the final round of voting among the RNC’s 168 members.

“This is our opportunity. I cannot do this by myself,” he told the crowd at the annual RNC meeting Friday. “God bless you, and God bless our party.”

Earlier Friday, Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan, who was elected to lead the committee in 2007, dropped his re-election bid, telling committee members: “Obviously the winds of change are blowing here at the RNC.”

Two others also dropped out of the race Friday, leaving Steele and Dawson running against each other. After the sixth round of voting, Steele received 91 votes. Only 86 votes were needed.

Obviously, the direction of the Republican Party remains uncertain, and the schisms in the party remains. They may move further to the religious right, or they might move to solidify their reputation as the only libertarian choice: they might fracture and come apart. Symbolically, however, the election of an African-American to this leadership post is a huge step. The Republican Party, fairly or not, has for the last forty or so years, had a reputation as being interested only in the well being of White America.

This is a big step, potentially opening up the Republican’s message to whole swaths of voters who’ve never considered them before. I hope they don’t blow it, and I also have a prediction: in 2016, Barack Obama will leave the White House … and Michael Steele will be inaugurated as #45.

The Daily Read

I’m going to keep this one kind of simple. Pretty self explanatory, too: the websites I keep visiting over, and over, and over again. Literally, my daily reads.

DCBlogs — An aggregator of blogs local to the DC Metro area. Some blogs are good, some blogs suck, some blogs are amazing (some are amazingly awful). It’s a good way to keep up with my daily blog reads, since I’m far too lazy to use Google’s blog reader. My only complaint is that DC Blogs doesn’t enable a full-read, forcing interested readers to go to the blog they’re interested in. Enable full feeds, DC blogs! Full feeds is the way of, well, the past: but is still your future! I still check Blogtimore frequently, as well, although it seems a lot of the bloggers up there that I knew have given up shop. (I might set up Google Reader this weekend – it’s gotta be a lot easier.)

Brickshelf — My first stop for a daily Lego fix. The website allows Lego builders to upload pictures of their creations. Some are good, most suck, a handful are amazingly artistic and make me drool. My Brickshelf folder is here (look for the giant Hogwarts).

Although CNN.com is my top choice for my news fix for the day, I’m also a fan of WTOP’s website (particularly for local DC stuff), and The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun (although the latter two aren’t technically daily reads, per se).

Astro Empires — Highly addictive text-based MMORG. Did I mention I’m addicted?

Speaking of addictive, although I was a late comer to the crack that is Facebook, I’m now a huge fan. Sometimes I think Facebook is like the ultimate cross between blogs and twitter, packaged in an attractive format, yet unfortunately visible only to those select few in your network.

Possibly the only blog that I make sure to visit repeatedly throughout the day is Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish. I don’t always agree with him, but I enjoy his frequent postings and his pro-liberty opinions. Sadly, Right Thinking From The Left Coast just hasn’t, to my mind, survived its transition from a one-man’s opinion site to a group-site. Lee, come back.

It would totally be a daily read if not for all the bandwidth it sometimes — inexplicably! — uses at work (that’s a no-no): Apartment Therapy. The Metrosexual part of me that thinks it’d be cool to run an interior design business loves contemplating how I’d set myself up in a loft, or a cramped studio (well, that one I know, I’m in my second), or …

Enjoy Swimming While You Can: The Jellyfish Are Taking Over

No, seriously, the oceans are going to be full of those fuckers:

The Turritopsis Nutricula is able to revert back to a juvenile form once it mates after becoming sexually mature.

Marine biologists say the jellyfish numbers are rocketing because they need not die.

Dr Maria Miglietta of the Smithsonian Tropical Marine Institute said: “We are looking at a worldwide silent invasion.”

The jellyfish are originally from the Caribbean but have spread all over the world.

Turritopsis Nutricula is technically known as a hydrozoan and is the only known animal that is capable of reverting completely to its younger self.

It does this through the cell development process of transdifferentiation.

Scientists believe the cycle can repeat indefinitely, rendering it potentially immortal.

While most members of the jellyfish family usually die after propagating, the Turritopsis nutricula has developed the unique ability to return to a polyp state.

Having stumbled upon the font of eternal youth, this tiny creature which is just 5mm long is the focus of many intricate studies by marine biologists and geneticists to see exactly how it manages to literally reverse its aging process.

Now, if only they carried little swords and dueled each other to the death.

sometimes, it’s okay to be selfish

CNN:

“A family of four has been found dead in a Whitehall, Ohio, home, in what’s believed to be a murder-suicide, authorities said Thursday.”

The bright side of all of these murder-suicides is that if I ever decide to kill myself, people will say, “Well, at least he didn’t take his whole family with them.” I mean, not that I’m married or have kids, but I think the point still stands: sometimes, it’s okay to be selfish. Not killing your family? Totally an acceptable selfish practice.

Pride and Prejudice (now, with ZOMBIES!)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies covers the same ground as the original masterpiece – only that ground is full freshly-vacated graves. The “strange plague” has been the scourge of England for years. London has been walled off, and the countryside is riddled with zombies (politely referred to as “unmentionables”). Attacks occur on a daily basis – overwhelming the conventional army, and leaving England’s defense to a small band of highly-trained hunter/killers.

The Bennet sisters have spent their lives training in the deadly arts, and are considered among the finest slayers of the undead. None is more feared or admired than the lovely Elizabeth – a serious girl who has no time for silly things like love. But when Elizabeth meets a haughty fellow slayer named Darcy, she discovers there’s one thing she can’t defend against…Cupid’s arrow (cue sweeping romantic music).

Seriously, someone needs to buy me this book

UPDATE: And, since we’re talking about the Living Dead … they’re in Texas. Really.

Ice! (Or: If I’d Known How Long It Was Going To Take To Get To Work, I Would Have Taken PTO And Vegged Out)

If you go to the Zoo a lot — or even just once or twice — you’re probably aware there’s a lot of bamboo. My apartment building sits next to the National Zoo, and parking here usually involves close encounters of the bamboo kind (seriously, I’m right at the construction entrance). Yesterday morning, after I decided I was going to turn off the alarm and go back to sleep after turning on the heat, and, uh, after I eventually dragged myself out of bed “for real”, I looked out the window and noticed the bamboo and other trees hanging low over the unfortunate people who parked along the Zoo’s fence.

Since I didn’t have to work at the Bookstore last night, I decided I’d go in late and stay late. I left my apartment at 9pm. I usually walk south to Woodley Park, but looking south, it did not appear that any de-icing efforts had been attempted on the sidewalk. Instead, I chose to walk north, where blue-jacketed contractors were salting and shoveling. The Zoo’s guardian lions were coated in light snow, and I noticed the Kennedy-Warren hadn’t taken their Christmas lights off the trees in their half-courtyard.

It’s a bit further of a walk to Cleveland Park, but I made good time, even accounting for the weather. I made sure not to slip on the steps into the station, and made it onto the platform about a minute before a train pulled in. I was pretty sure I’d have no problem making it to work by 10, which is the latest they like us to arrive.

I didn’t know there was a track malfunction north of Bethesda (a coworker said there was a fire). I didn’t know trains had broken down at Van Ness and Glenmont. There were problems on the Orange line, too, but I rarely — if ever! — ride the Orange line, so I didn’t care (sorry). The upshot of the problems with the Red Line meant that trains were forced to single track, and that by the time I got to Grosvenor, and caught my shuttle, and go to work, it was just a little before eleven.

It’s a good thing I always carry a book with me — I’m trying to make my way through Greg Bear’s EON, but I find myself wanting to dive into some more Jack McDevitt.

Well, That Sucks

I’ve been at my Office job since the end of March. Today, I was passed over for a promotion for the second time. It didn’t bother me the first time, over the summer — the people I was vying for the position with had all been with the company a lot longer than I had, and our continued recruitment effort (and our turnover) at the time meant that I’d be made a team leader by the end of September or early October.

And then the economy tanked, and I got stuck. I got a nice little raise on my 6-month anniversary date, but I later learned it really wasn’t much: I probably should’ve asked for more money when I was hired.

The second possible promotion was brought to my attention a couple of weeks ago, for a position in a different department, with the potential to make a lot more money: possibly even enough not to need a second job. I put in for it, and along with two other folks from my current department, interviewed with the appropriate management types.

I found out today that I didn’t get it. What burns is that the guy who did get it only started working here three months ago or so (literally, he’s “the fucking new guy”), one of the last hired before the hiring freeze went into effect. I know it’s all kind of cry-babyish to be bringing this up, but I’m a little bitter at the moment and I need to vent — punching walls in the Office wouldn’t be good for any future promotions I might hope to get, and punching them at home would hurt my hands (they’re concrete). I remember an e-mail sent out by the CFO a while back, stating that only employees who’d been here for six months or more would be considered for an in-Office promotion. Baloney. Dammit, I would’ve done damn good work, too.

In any case, this make the part-time job decision a snap: without the added income from the in-Office career switch, I am still very much reliant on a secondary source of income. And while I haven’t heard specifics on why I was passed over, I’m finding myself desiring a move from this Office job. In my daydreams, on the Metro, I envision myself opening up my Gmail account to find a request from an editor for NPR, or The Washington Post, wanting to know if I’m available to interview for a job. People say that those who blog do so because they want to be paid for writing, and I’m no different. However, it’s probably time to dust off my resume and start looking for a realistic job.

Seriously – if you know anyone who is hiring, point me in their direction.

Sometimes, I’m Glad I Don’t Have Kids

A few weeks ago, I was surfing through YouTube when I came to a video that claimed to show an actual suicide. A guy on the screen put a gun to his head, and his face turned into such a look of horror and fear as he pulled the trigger, I think that more than any other special effect convinced me the video was real. It shook me.

I wrote earlier this week about the anxiety I’m feeling as a result of the economic downturn in general, and in specific about the security of my Office job, and my part-time Bookstore job. I would not say my financial situation is desperate, but it is tight: I live very much paycheck to paycheck, and part of the reason that I was working so much (before hours got cut at the part-time job) is because I was hoping to build up a safety net: well, that, and to make sure I could fill up my Smartrip card every month, and keep my fridge full of groceries, and to enjoy the occasional night out.

I think what Ervin Antonio Lopez and his wife did was awful: so deep in a pit, with no hope, they shot their children and then took their own lives. It seems selfish to me, to make their kids pay that price, out of some sort of notion and misplaced pride in their role as parents. When times are tough, kids grow up to say, “I don’t know how my parents were able to do it, but they put food on the table every night.” Obviously, these kids will be saying nothing, and their graves will be a testimony not to their parents’ fight for them, but to their failures. It was probably a rash decision, fueled out of desperation, and, unfortunately, I think we’ll see more of these cases as the economy crumbles around us.

While I sometimes despair over my own situation, I remind myself that I’m fortunate: I’m employed, and I make enough that I can usually cover all of my expenses and debts. Should the worst case happen, my parents would probably let me move back in with them (although I might have to give my cats away, which would break my heart).

If there’s a bright side to this story, it’s to know that I can’t even picture a scenario where I would despair to the point of taking my own life. I can still see a light at the end of the financial tunnel, and even though it’s a little farther away than it was in September, it’s still there, and I can still make it. There’ve been stumbles in the past, and there will be stumbles in the future, but sooner or later (probably later), I’ll make it.

And then I won’t feel as guilty as I do now, having four of my five weeknights free of work.

(I do want kids … just not until I’m on firm financial ground.)

In Step With … James Brady: by Malnurtured Snay

I used to read Parade: that bright, shiny, silly advertisement stuffed into the Sunday section of newspapers like The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun. Now, it’s been a very long time since I’ve had a subscription to either paper, and these days, I read newspapers through the wonders of “teh internets.” I think the last time I actually held a copy of Parade was the weekend after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, when it ran a front-page story and never actually mentioned her death.

As a teenager, especially, I always enjoyed the “In Step With…” by James Brady. As I’m older, and hopefully wiser, I realize these were little more than fluff interviews with some big-name celebrity who needed to do some promoting: certainly, once the relevant biographical details were released, there wasn’t room for much more than “what’s your favorite color?” and “how cool is it to work with [other celebrity]?”

Anyway, so James Brady died recently. He was eighty, and the brief CNN article about his death reveals he was a Korean War veteran who wrote a book called “The Coldest War.” I know that book! I haven’t read it, but we have copies of it at the Bookstore and it seems to sell reasonably well (especially for a book nearly two decades old). I’m having a hard time getting my head wrapped around the notion that Parade‘s celebrity interviewer wrote a war memoir.

I also think it’s kind of sad that I can think of three paragraphs to write about James Brady’s death, and only one or two about John Updike. Then again, Brady, even in such a minor way, was a far more significant part of my life than Updike has been. (And, also, I was really busy yesterday).