Friday, September 29, 2006

A New Baby

As many of you know, the wife and I are currently expecting... but I have a confession to make. We already brought home a new baby earlier this month. Yes, that's right. Three weeks ago today, we welcomed a shiny new Vespa 50 LX to the family.

My brother-in-law calls it a glorified leaf blower, but I tell ya', it can sure fly for a leaf blower. It's certainly not a crotch-rocket, but it can cruise at speeds up to 50 mph. Plenty fast to get me to the store and shuttle me to the nearby metro and back, and slow enough to keep the wife from nagging me too much.

I've run up a hefty 212 miles on it so far and haven't even burned through 2.5 gallons of gas yet. A refreshing change of pace to the rape I experience at the pump with my car. Unfortunately, however, the bike did just incur it's first war wounds (In case anyone was in doubt, doing a Chinese fire-drill on a clutch-less scooter while holding onto the throttle is a bad idea). The way I like to see it though, I no longer have to worry about that "first scratch" anymore. A weight has been lifted... and our baby now has that much more character.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mormons ≠ Cool?

"[Y]ou can't be a Mormon and be cool! But I'm trying my best!''
Brandon Flowers
Lead Singer for The Killers
Quoted in the
Observer Magazine
(Hit Tip: David Kennedy)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

He Said... He Said...

"And I will make decisions based upon -- the level of troops based upon the recommendations by the commanders on the ground. If they tell me we need more troops, we'll provide more troops. If they tell me we've got sufficient level of troops, that will be the level of troops."
George W. Bush, November 29, 2005

"Many of us routinely asked for more troops. There simply aren't enough troops there to accomplish the task."
Retired Major General John R.S. Batiste, September 26, 2006
Former Commander of the 1st Infantry Division of the US Army in Iraq

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Quote of the Day

When asked why he wouldn't accept campaign contributions from political action committees or community groups, Ken Wegner, a Republican congressional candidate from Nevada's 1st district, used an analogy comparing campaign fundraising to extramarital temptation. He explained to the Las Vegas Review-Journal that:

"I have a really cute secretary. My wife's had a few kids, doesn't have a great body anymore and my secretary is really hot... It's that first kiss that's going to kill you. My secretary just wants a kiss."

Campaign finance issues aside, I say Wegner's a brave man. I'm pretty sure my wife would be demanding a new secretary on principle.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

"Guys" and "Places"

A friend recently wrote about the phenomena of "Guys"... how when you live in a certain place for an extended period of time you amass an army of "Guys" to do just about everything. People typically have a "Car Guy", a "Jewelry Guy", an "Investing Guy", and maybe even a "Fix-it Guy." I'd say that your doctor, dentist, and hairstylist could all qualify as "Guys" too. Overtime you come to depend on and, in many cases, implicitly trust these "Guys"... you return to them faithfully and usually recommend them to others (I've channeled at least two dozen people to my former "Car Guy" in Utah).

These "Guys" are one of the reasons that moving can really suck. You pick up your life and truck half-way across the country and you're back at square one. You eye all of your new service personnel with suspicion until they gain your trust, a process that may entail an awkward "dating" stage with several "Guys" until you find one that works for you.

I think the same is true for "spots" or "places." After living in an area for awhile, people usually settle on their favorite restaurants, burger places, concert venues, stores, ad infinitum. Often out of the way or lesser known, they are places you love to take others to, especially when they may not have known about them.

I've found this is especially true with the outdoors. When I lived in Utah, my friends and I had our favorite camping spots, hiking trails, ski/snowboarding resorts/runs, climbing routes, natural hotsprings, canyon firepits, etc. We found these places and developed our preferences over the course of years, and we always enjoyed sharing our finds with others. Sliding Rock was one of these places. It is a natural waterslide formed by the icy run off of Lone Peak in Alpine, Utah (see Melbo on the left). First shown to me by a friend's former girlfriend, it became a place I loved to bring people to (even after local residents gated off the trail).

Moving to the D.C. area necessarily entailed losing all the "Sliding Rocks" we'd found over the years. Our first month in Virginia we went camping and ended up pitching our tent in a commercial camplot because we didn't know where else to go. While it's taken a couple of years and a LOT of so-so recommendations, we've finally begun to find new "places" to call our own... and among them is a new Sliding Rock.

Just before summer break wrapped up last month, we sneaked off to some nearby mountains for a day with some friends and discovered White Oak Canyon, a gorgeous hike nestled in the Shenandoahs that has several impressive natural waterslides... including one that's even bigger and faster than our beloved Sliding Rock (see me on the right). While the search goes on to keep finding new "places" to replace those old "places" we left behind, finding something like White Oak Canyon almost makes up for the lack of respectable ski resorts any where in our vicinity. Well... actually, that might be stretching it a bit, but it was a nice find nonetheless.

Note: It has been pointed out that, embarrassingly, I failed to give proper credit to the individual who brought Melbo and I to White Oak Canyon... as such I'd like to publicly thank this kind GW International Law Review Articles Editor.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Why I Love Colin Powell

Yesterday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell sent a letter to John McCain stressing Powell's opposition to White House efforts to amend the Geneva Conventions as part of its current military tribunals legislative proposal. The bill being pushed by the White House essentially redefines how the United States understands and complies with Common Article III of the Conventions (i.e., it would "legalize" techniques now understood to be prohibited under Common Article III):
"The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. To redefine Common Article III would add to those doubts," Powell wrote. "Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk."

Powell is certainly not alone in his belief that the proposed legislation is bad policy. He joins former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Jack Vessey, Democrats, and Republicans John Warner, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain, among others, in opposing the President on this issue. Not bad company to be in.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Pipe Dreams

When you're a teenager, you typically have lofty visions of what your life is going to be like. As you think about your future, you have all sorts of ideas of things you'd like to do and careers you'd love to have. These usually mirror your interests at the time. Back in the day my friends and I would dream about, among other things:
  • Circling the globe in search of the endless winter (ala Endless Summer II)
  • Becoming pro-snowboarders/skiers
  • Designing ski/board/skate/outdoor equipment
  • Becoming independent filmmakers (ala Jackass and/or skate/snowboard/skiing flicks)
  • Making it as musicians
  • Becoming journalists for Rolling Stone or some snowboarding/skiing magazine
  • Opening an independent music venue/lounge
  • Opening a skate shop/skate park
  • Making killer investments and living off the fat of the land
My friend Geoff Tice dreamt of inheriting some inordinate sum of money and buying a huge house, complete with all the fixins' (a skate ramp/park, swimming pool, pool table, huge screen T.V., etc.), where all of his friends could live and/or crash. This would preferably have been in some SoCal town right near the beach (like some skater friends he had in High School).

Soon, however, reality set in. We got in line and acqueisced to more traditional fields of work. In the process we've become (or are on the road to becoming) accountants, lawyers, teachers, professors, social workers, techies and/or managers of some sort. We have day jobs with offices or are slaving through grad school. We have families and responsibility and have lost those grand visions of our youth.

Most of us that is. I do have one friend that dropped out of college several years ago to become a professional cyclist. He's now sponsored, lives in Austria, and rides for Volksbank.

Another friend, Geoff Tice (the kid with the pipe dream above), seemingly had given into "the man," graduating in communications from BYU and settling down with a nice job for an ad agency in Salt Lake... but now he's turning back to the roots that most of us have begun to forget. This past year he came up with an idea for an online snowboarding magazine. Initially many of our friends thought it was just another bright idea that would burn out under a bushel. But Tice, while slugging through his day job, hired a web-designer, sought out and signed several pro snowboarders, and worked to drum up advertisers for the site. He sold a duplex he owned in order to finance his efforts, and, this past week, brought the project online. While Tice's magazine may make you feel like an old hack who's become part of the establishment, it's definitely worth a look: Who knows, you might just find yourself crashing at Tice's pad in a few years.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Refresher on Government Hierarchy

"Let me explain the government to you. There’s God, then there’s the president and then there’s my father."

— Jack Roberts, the 6-year-old son of Chief Justice John Roberts, overheard speaking to one of his young peers on the last day of summer camp (as reported by the Examiner)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Play of the Day

AND HE COULD... GO... ALL... THE... WAY...

My dear friends, I'm pleased to introduce you to the little squirt that will be my son
(due January 15th)