Monday, January 29, 2007

Broader Focus

Monday morning - 10:50 a.m. In ten minutes the first class of my last semester of undergraduate studies begins. It’s been a long time coming. This coming June will mark 26 years since my high school graduation. Twenty-six years. At times it seems like just yesterday and at others it feels like a lifetime has passed. To say that I am somewhat reflective is an understatement - sometimes I sit in amazement when I think about the series of events that landed me here - right here, right now.

School has been a relatively solitary activity for me. At least, or especially, since attending Sacramento State it has been. Obviously, I am significantly older than the average undergraduate, but there are some from my generation. But it’s more than that… I have several friends (outside of school) who are much younger than I am, it doesn’t seem to matter. It’s more to do with purpose. I am not here to establish or augment a social network. I have one that I am more than satisfied with. I am here to obtain a degree - that’s it.

Perhaps my age does have something to do with it. Of course there is maturity and experience to consider - qualities that can only be acquired through living a certain number of years. But there is a time factor as well. In addition to attending class and keeping up on my coursework, I have other responsibilities - time consuming responsibilities - such as fatherhood and maintaining a household. Although these and other responsibilities put a great demand on my time, it’s not even the type of time I’m speaking of.

It’s more like time left. I am motivated not because I don’t have time to do it all (I think I have proven that I probably do), but rather that I used up more than 25 years of “career building” time. I have to work fast; I’m playing catch-up. If I want to be, for instance, a syndicated columnist (AP reporter, NY Times writer, novelist, fill-in-the-blank), I need to be either damned lucky or damned good. Since I don’t believe I can count on luck that only leaves one option. I need to work three times harder because I do not have the time to be wishy-washy. I need not only good grades; I need to get this stuff.

This doesn’t mean I’m some kind of recluse on a campus of more than 30,000, it means I am focused. It doesn’t mean that those who incorporate the “party” scene as part of their academic experience are doomed to failure. Many, maybe most will strike a balance and get through without incident. I have academic relationships outside the classroom with many of my classmates and more than a couple of my professors. They are not, however, part of my social group. They’re not precluded - I simply don’t have the time.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Comment Conundrum

I don’t know - yet - what I want to say. I have written a few hundred words already, only to delete them into the cyber ether. I want to go this way… then that way. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say - those who know me know that this is rarely an issue - I’m just having trouble getting my thoughts to flow into anything that makes any sense.

So I write about it - and the words start to come.

This blog started as a tool to keep me writing during the break in between the fall and spring semesters of my junior year at Sacramento State. Monday morning will mark the start of my final semester of undergraduate studies. I will graduate with my bachelor’s degree on May 26 (or 27). I started off by writing about my favorite subject (me) and expanded into a number of other areas. One genre I have re-visited regularly is that of politics.

Over the past thirteen months, I have been able to pick up on some patterns. I don’t have any independent empirical data - no dependent or independent variables, no control sets - just some observations as determined by my hit counter and the comments and emails I’ve received in response to what I’ve written. Before I get into my analysis, I have another set of very subjective observations regarding my readers.

My regular and semi-regular readers are highly intelligent. I would like to think that I attract those who think for themselves - an ideology I encourage and respect. I’m not one for blind loyalty; I question authority; “Because I said so” has never worked for me. It would appear that my readers are cut from the same cloth - no matter what political party they might be aligned with.

I don’t take politics personally. If you think the war in Iraq was the right thing to do and you think so based on your own weighing of the issues, I can respect that. I certainly don’t agree and will say so and why if asked, but it’s not personal. I don’t hate or even dislike our president. I have other strong opinions regarding his decisions, but it’s not personal. However, after watching politics closely for many years, it is apparent that not everyone reacts as rationally. To disagree with some politically is tantamount to a personal affront. I don’t play that game.

More objective (though, as noted earlier, certainly not scientific) observations are based on numbers. They are generated through the comments registered and the visits to my blog as documented through my hit counter. One of my first (and earliest) observations is simple enough. Shorter is better. Generally 600 to 1,000 words are the most anyone is willing to commit to. It’s a general rule in news writing. There are, of course, exceptions, but in the blogosphere, it seems to be true as well.

The subject matter, although much more difficult to isolate, seems to make a difference as well. Even within the same field, some matters garner more opinion than others. For example, my recent post, “The Left Coast,” was about a proposed law by a Democratic California Assemblywoman that would outlaw spanking. Although this post probably could be categorized a number of ways, “political” would have be one of those categories. However, political though it may be, it is also a decidedly social issue. It was a post that generated comments very quickly.

The next two posts were political as well. Both were oriented towards national politics and as such dealt with the war in Iraq. The first, “The New Way Backward,” was a preview opinion on the State of the Union address. It generated only two comments. My last piece, “Democratic Response,” was an analysis of the SOTU address and of Senator Webb’s response to it. Initially, it didn’t garner many comments either. It took some time before visitors felt compelled to comment.

There are of course many other factors that I can’t even begin to account for. What day of the week a post is put up and how long it stays on top is a factor as well. Furthermore, although my comment count varies, my hit counter does not. I still get the same number of visitors - roughly - regardless of the comments left behind. And even on a highly remarked piece, the visitor count outnumbers the comments… by a lot. What’s it all mean?

I haven’t a clue, so I’ll just keep writing.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Democratic Response

What a difference a year makes. In his State of the Union Address last night, President George W. Bush was, as expected, conciliatory - almost sheepish. Where last year he lead off with what he thought was his strength, Iraq and the “War on Terrorism,” this year he did not bring it up until after more than 3,000 words into his address. It was, interestingly enough, a placeholder Hurricane Katrina held in his address last year. The "failed policy slot," I guess. He ultimately acknowledged that it is “not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we’re in.” Last year those opposing the president’s policies were labeled “isolationists,” this year he is begging us to “give it a chance to work.”

It’s been more than three years. More than 3000 of our brave men and women have been killed and thousands more maimed. His “new way forward” is nothing new. This war has been, from the start, ill advised and mismanaged. I’ll not waste anymore time on an address that was entirely predictable and luke warm save this: His acknowledgment of “Madam Speaker” Nancy Pelosi was classy even if it was necessary and proper. Acknowledging her father’s service in the House a generation earlier was a nice touch.

Let’s now turn to an address that contained some real substance, the Democratic Response.

Rather than run through the Democratic Party platform plank by plank, Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., chose “two areas where our respective parties have largely stood in contradiction.” He addressed the economy first, pointing out that although certain specific indicators show a healthy economy, other broader benchmarks exemplify the severe disparity in the distribution of wealth. He fears “the middle class of this country, our historic backbone and our best hope for a strong society in the future, is losing its place at the table.” Although he scored high marks on his criticism of the administration’s economic policies, he saved the big guns for his second “area of contention.”

Senator Webb is a military man. His family has served with honor for three generations in three different wars, including this one. Ironically, the war Webb and his brother served in was equally controversial and has some ironic historic parallels to this current war - a war Webb’s own son is fighting at this very moment. Although Webb didn't say it, I will - it's the sort of military duty our president and vice president conveniently avoided. He presented his audience with a photo of his father while serving in Germany during World War II. What he said following the introduction of his and his family’s military background (he left out far more than he included - he was not boasting) was delivered in grim monotones… he was - angry.

“Like so many other Americans, today and throughout our history, we serve and have served, not for political reasons, but because we love our country. On the political issues - those matters of war and peace, and in some cases of life and death - we trusted the judgment of our national leaders. We hoped that they would be right, that they would measure with accuracy the value of our lives against the enormity of the national interest that might call upon us to go into harm's way.

We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it. But they owed us - sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.

The president took us into this war recklessly. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the Army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable - and predicted - disarray that has followed.

The war's costs to our nation have been staggering.


The damage to our reputation around the world.

The lost opportunities to defeat the forces of international terrorism.

And especially the precious blood of our citizens who have stepped forward to serve.”

There’s nothing more I can add. Webb nailed it - and he’s right.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The New Way Backward

For his seventh and second to last time, George W. Bush will be speaking about the state of our Union. I’ll not waste my time or yours writing about the civil war in Iraq. Suffice it to say that I agree with roughly 70 percent of the population. In his address last year, we were told to remain “steadfast in our resolve,” whatever that means. This year, I expect to hear more about the “new way forward,” whatever that means. There is, however, more to the state of our Union than the goings on in Iraq.

I expect that we’ll hear more on these other issues, if for no other reason than to divert attention away from Iraq. I know that this characterization might sound somewhat “unfair,” even cynical. Am I accusing our president of raising important domestic issues only to divert attention away from a critical foreign policy failure? It does sound that way, but I’m not even talking about what specifically needs to be addressed in our nation vis-à-vis health care, Social Security, education… the list goes on. I’m talking about attitude.

The nation is in an emotional tizzy. It’s difficult to know where to put our allegiance - pledging it to the flag is not a one-dimensional declaration. Can we support our troops without agreeing with the president? It depends on whom we ask. Can we say we’re in support of reducing green house emissions while we continue to consume fossil fuels at an alarming rate? Talk is cheap. What about health care, poverty and - with Katrina serving as a backdrop - racism?

These are all polarizing-turned-paralyzing issues. Our leaders, ostensibly led by the president, keep talking and people keep dying. Where do we stand? The State of the Union Address could be used to unite what is becoming an increasingly divided country. I don’t believe, however, that Bush has the wherewithal to sufficiently move anyone anymore. In a weird sort of way, he is creating the unity he has so effectively destroyed in his six years at the helm. Granted, it’s unity in opposition, but it’s unity - national unity - all the same.

With no less than 18 candidates vying for the presidency in 2008, it would appear that this president’s dismal performance has spawned a new activism. His ineptitude has woken many of us up. I dare say that we’re paying attention now - and it’s certainly not too late. The mid-term elections have tempered his arrogance, but his field of view is as narrow as ever. In the final analysis, the opposition has not jumped ship; rather, Bush is backing up to the plank. His legacy? Splash!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Left Coast

Although the Republican Party has been an easy target in recent years, it’s important to remember that there is plenty of criticism to go around. My last post dealt with the feasibility of a third party having any realistic hope of influencing national politics in any kind of meaningful way. I more than alluded that no real difference exists between the Republican and Democratic Parties; a position I still hold. However, in respect to isolated policies, certain positions can be attributed to one party or another.

Even with a Republican governor, California is a state dominated by the Democratic Party. Indeed, in many respects, it has earned the moniker, the “left coast.” In fact, had Governor Schwarzenegger originally run in a conventional election with the closed primary system California uses, it is highly unlikely he would have gained his party’s nomination - he’s far too moderate to have made it to the general election. It was only because of the nature of the recall that he was able to appeal directly to the more moderate masses in the recall election.

Last week, as reported in the Sacramento Bee, Assemblywoman Sally Lieber (D, Mountain View) proposed a law that would criminalize the spanking of any child under four years old. Her proposal would make it a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $1000 fine and/or one year in jail. "To my mind, there's no amount of physical force that's appropriate on a child 3 years old or younger," Lieber said. For the record, Lieber has no children.

My youngest child is 17. His brothers are 19 and 22. They are too old to be spanked and quite frankly, financial coercion is far more effective at their age. Whether they were spanked as children or not isn't relevant. That I had the legal right to choose how my kids were disciplined without government intervention, however, is. Lieber claims, “"The only thing a child learns by being beaten is that it's OK to beat or dominate children or animals that are smaller." Apparently "beating" is the same as spanking, at least under four years old.

Besides taking the legislature’s attention off the real problems that this state faces, her proposal is aimed at addressing child abuse, which, by the way, is already illegal. Her agenda is, of course, myopic and not so hidden - her law is an attempt to redefine abuse. It's based in the firm belief that we, as individuals, do not know what’s good for us and if the state doesn’t regulate our behavior, all hell is going to break loose. Coincidentally enough, she is also in favor of a recent ruling in California that lethal injection might be cruel or unusual. And of course, according to Planned Parenthood, she has a “100% pro choice” rating.

The contradiction is striking, but not surprising. And it’s interesting that each party has its own set of issues about where to get involved in our personal lives. On both the right and the left, our elected officials just know what’s best for us. I’m all for protecting the defenseless, especially children, but it could easily be argued that restricting parents’ ability to discipline their children is harming the children even more. And as far as those many, many laws already on the books that are for my own good - don’t even get me started.

I don’t like being told what to do; not as a parent and not as an individual. Where my actions in either capacity might harm my children or another person, there is moral and legal justification for society to provide consequences for such behavior. Those bases, however, are pretty well covered. Our civil liberties are constantly being threatened by not only those that mean us harm, but also by those that mean only the best for us. I don’t want to live in a bubble. I don’t want to be insulated from risk. I don’t need to be told not to abuse my children and I understand that if I do there are consequences. Spanking is not abuse, whether Lieber thinks so or not.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


I’m in tune with the body politic. I sort of have to be. One might also say that, due to my profession, I approach these matters objectively. Actually, objectivity is part of my make-up anyway; I’m not known to make snap judgments and decisions based on emotion. This does not mean, however, that I do not have an opinion on any number of matters currently on the national and world agendas. I do, and I intend to weigh in on one right now.

I come from good Democratic stock. I am not, however, a registered Democrat. There are idealistic differences between what I believe and planks in the Democratic Party platform. The bulk of these “incompatibilities” are in the form of “nanny” laws. I just cringe when the government tells me what I must do or not - under penalty of law - for my own good. I believe in liberty over control at every possible point in the policy making process. I’m realistic, but all things being equal - I’m with liberty first.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have a Republican Party that is very selective in which of its principles it will stand by. Of course, it’s the party of small government, decreased regulation, etc. - except when it comes to issues of personal liberty. A woman’s right to choose is always a headline getter, but it’s not the only instance where government control is given priority over personal liberty. As far as small government is concerned… well, I don’t live under a rock.

Both parties are ripe with hypocrisy and corruption. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, yes, but power of any kind is a corruptive influence for some. No, not all and perhaps not even most, but enough that the entire capital emits a fouls odor. Unfortunately, even the good ones will protect the bad - a saga both parties have reveled in exposing in the other year after year. Change is again in the air - but where to go?

Keith Brumley, a minister from the Milwaukee, WI area and a fellow blogger has brought to my attention an interesting possible direction. As you may have surmised, I am not affiliated (read, registered) with either the Democratic or Republican Parties. I plan to re-register as a “decline to state” voter (for professional reasons) but I think it’s quite obvious that I identify with a certain third party. The Libertarian Party could be described as more conservative than the Republican Party - especially these Republicans, but at the same time, depending on the issue, it is more liberal than the Democratic Party.

How in the world could a third party candidate make any real inroads into the “system” that is set up to elect only one of two parties? Indeed, how can a real option become available for the office of, say, president? There is precious little real difference between the two parties currently. Oh, sure - there is plenty of difference in what they say, but look at what they do.

U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) has recently formed a presidential exploratory committee. What’s that you say? There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell for a Republican to win the White House? Perhaps, but this is no ordinary Republican. He was the Libertarian nominee for president in 1988. From a conservative idealistic point of view, Paul’s Libertarian ideals are far more representative of the Republican Party than the party is acting right now. From a liberal point of view, getting government out of certain social entanglements looks like a good thing. From every perspective, it would be difficult to be worse off. It would be a breath of fresh air and maybe, just maybe, it might bring some common sense back to government.

I want to be clear that I am not endorsing Paul. Honestly, I know very little about him. I know my friend Keith is behind him, and I am glad to see Keith involved in politics again - he has been so disgusted with the entire process. I know that he has hope and faith in our nation, as do I. My point in all this is to encourage participation in the political process. Pay attention. The quagmire we are involved in might be avoided in the future if we hold our elected officials accountable - and we do that at the ballot box. There are other options.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Stumbling on Happiness

I received an email from my father that contained a link to a 2004 lecture by Dan Gilbert, Harvard Professor of Psychology and author of the New York Times bestseller, Stumbling on Happiness. I knew nothing about Gilbert before viewing this 22-minute lecture, but I get what he was saying. I’ve lived it; I plan to read his book. However, my purpose here is not to sell his book or his theory to anyone (I don’t think he needs my help), but rather to reflect - again - on what happiness is to me.

Perhaps it’s easier to start with what happiness is not. It’s not wealth or, more simply, money. I have had (past tense) many dollars at my disposal - it didn’t make me happy. Although I have never been “independently wealthy,” I have traveled down that road far enough to know that it is not, in and of itself, the key to happiness. Furthermore, I have heard enough stories of those who have come into large sums of money - inherited, won and even earned - and it has served to complicate their lives to the point of misery.

Fame, like wealth, does not appear to be the magic formula either. The list of tragedy is endless. Marilyn Monroe, Hunter S. Thompson, James Dean and countless others whose fame made them so damn happy it proved fatal. And power in all its various manifestations does not appear to guarantee happiness either. With great power comes great responsibility and that often brings a great deal of stress. Often the expectations are so exceedingly tall that failure becomes the only option.

Yet for a very long time I felt that one or any combination of these things would make me happy. Indeed, my happiness was totally dependant on external conditions. Certainly these conditions could be created and often they just happen, but unless realized somehow, I could not be happy. It's how I’m built - or so I thought. Until very recently and for well over 40 years of my life, sustained happiness had eluded me. I thought I was somehow cursed or at the very least, defective.

For the past two plus years, I have not had a bad day. Not one. I have been happy. I’m not totally sure why, though I have some pretty good ideas. It would appear that in my quest for happiness, I have indeed stumbled onto happiness. In his lecture, Gilbert presents a number of statistics from studies that show how happiness can be “manufactured,” that we as humans are the only species that can rationalize happiness. And… we can rationalize it away as well.

My happiness comes from the inside - truly. It comes from a sense of accomplishment and usefulness. I am happy because of the things I do; I don’t do them to be happy. There is a huge difference. I’ve written about sincerity before and I believe one’s motives play a significant role. I could do all the things to get the stuff that I used to think would make me happy. Indeed, I did do many of those things - but my motives were to get to the end, to grab the brass ring and be done; to only focus on the external condition no matter what it took to get there - so long as it did not require too much effort. There was no sincerity.

Some say that charitable acts are all based in selfishness. People are selfless only because of the return or benefit they gain from it. Inasmuch as this return takes the form of tax shelters or write-offs or profits of some kind, perhaps it is so. Give a little, save a lot. But when the pay-off is solely the positive feeling it gives the giver for helping out his fellow man - is that still selfish? It’s the ultimate trump for those who say there is no true charity. They say there is always a carrot, that nobody does anything unless there is something in it for them. This is a cheap argument, and not fair. It discounts the sincerity - sincerity that must be present for the happiness to come.

I cannot do anything beneficial for others or myself simply because I know I’ll get the “feel-good” or any other kind of payoff. I can’t, in part, because I know I won’t. Insincere motives cheapen the whole affair. It nullifies the payoff before it even has a chance to happen. Even the term "payoff" smacks of insincerity. Any positive benefit is superficial and fleeting at best. It only mimics happiness. The true happiness is a bonus, a side effect if you will. It can’t be planned for or expected, but can be counted on all the same. It is a paradigm that works like nothing else ever has. It’s like magic.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Easyriders V-Twin Bike Show Tour - 2007

Those that guessed the "mystery" photo in my previous post ("Preview") is part of a motorcycle - you are correct. In fact, it is a velocity stack to a Harley Davidson (actually, this one is a custom, but for the sake of this discussion…). I took the photo today at the Easyriders V-Twin Bike Show Tour in the Sacramento Convention Center. Between the bikes parked outside and those on display inside there were literally thousands of motorcycles there - most of them Harleys. Of course, custom accessory manufacturers, apparel companies and all kinds of other peripheral business interests that could tap into this multi-billion dollar industry were showing their wares as well.

What’s a velocity stack? Well, I’m glad you asked!

A velocity stack is part of, or might be used in place of the air cleaner for a gasoline (or equivalent)-powered internal combustion engine. As the air enters the outer bell-shaped opening, it is funneled down to a smaller exit before entering the carburetor or the throttle body (if fuel-injected). At this point, the basic principles of physics take over – since the same volume of air that enters must exit, the speed of the air must increase to make up for the decreased space in which it is able to travel. In other words, it speeds the air up, allowing for better air flow. Maximizing the air flow through an engine is the key to better performance. More air and fuel equals more power. More power equals… well, you get the picture.

The photo in the "tease" post ("Preview," below) is looking directly into the velocity stack. I was on my way out – it is one of the last photos I snapped. It was the shot, not the bike that was calling to me. On either side of the stack the twin sides of the motor’s “V” can be seen. The bike was like most of the others – shiny, clean and glistening from polished chrome. This particular one had the theme of the local NBA franchise, the Sacramento Kings. It was impressive, even in a sea of impressive bikes.

This is the second year in a row I’ve attended this show. It was pretty much the same as last year. Mostly the same vendors, some with the same scantily clad women, were advertising their merchandise. Even a few of the bikes were returnees from last year. It was still, however, simply remarkable how much cold hard cash is represented by each one of these bikes. Many - strike that - most of them would carry a price tag well in excess of $50,000. Well in excess. And that’s not even counting the bikes that were outside, some sporting comparably lofty price tags, waiting for their owners to return and ride them home.

I am a newbie at all this. Although I’ve owned several motorcycles and have had a motorcycle license for many years, for most of that time, owning and riding a Harley was only a dream; a dream I've had as long as I can remember. The mystique has always been just out of reach. Until a little over a year ago, I could only imagine. I can report today that the mystique is everything I dreamed of and so very much more. The sound, the presence, the look… and the chrome, everything that I admired so much about these American legends is not just hype. It’s real and I get to relive it every time I fire my bike up.

In the world of Harleys, my bike is the lowest rung of the model line. It is the smallest, least expensive, entry-level bike available. It is not the one I wanted or is it the one I will end up with. But it's a Harley. It has two cylinders - one in the front and one in the back. It was available at a price and terms I couldn’t refuse. I got me back on two wheels much sooner than I had hoped. Sooner than I had dared to hope. And although it may be on the bottom of the heap as far as Harleys are concerned - in the world of motorcycles - it’s a Harley. It’s mine. And I get to participate in the mystique.

And that... is enough. More than enough.


This is what’s known as a tease. I don’t have time right now to write now but I am posting this photo. I’ll leave it to you all to think about what it might be. Some will know exactly what it is; others will have no clue. I chose this one from more than 150 shots I took today because it is intriguing despite knowing what it is. I’ll post the complete story later tonight and link some of the pictures on Overflow. Now it’s back to my busy Sunday!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Time to Post

It’s been a while since I’ve written from my favorite little coffee shop. It’s not like I don’t come here often, I do. And it’s not like I don’t have my iBook with me almost always, again, I do (and my camera, a handy-dandy reporter’s notebook, voice recorder, battery chargers, cables, card reader, etc., etc., etc.). And although it’s certainly not necessary to be connected to the web to write these musings, for customers at this establishment, wireless Internet is provided free of charge.

It’s just that when I’m here, it’s for a limited period of time. That’s not to say it’s about killing time – I will often plan for time to be here – but when I’m here, I am constantly running into friends. It keeps me busy. In fact, I used to bring the iBook in with me all the time, however, it came to the point where I’d open it, check my mail while talking, give up and close it up. Tonight, I have the luxury of killing a substantial amount of time. Although my pecking at the keys has been slowed considerably by numerous happy interruptions, there is time to complete a sentence here and then.

But it’s taking some time. I stop and talk, type and talk… I've got a lot of balls in the air. In addition to this Word widow I have open, I have three Firefox windows and an email window open. I’m tracking the Saints and Eagles, keeping an eye on my blog’s hit counter and… I guess I’m in my element. There is one issue that’s going to stop me for sure: I only have 20 minutes of battery life left and I don't feel like plugging in.

Time to post ~

Home Field Advantage

I have come to the conclusion that in Texas Hold ‘em, there is no home field advantage. A rotating but regular group of my friends and I get together every few weeks or so to engage in this friendly little game of chance. The game moves from home to home without any regular schedule or destination, however, like the Superdome for the Super Bowl, my house is one of the better suited for the game. It comes here often and it landed here last night.

Of the several times I have hosted the event, I think I have only come out ahead once – and it wasn’t last night. We’re not talking about huge sums of money here. No one will win or lose their rent – not even close. It’s about bragging rights and fellowship as even the “losers,” such as I was last night, thoroughly enjoy themselves. I lost $20. Having said that and all things being equal, it’s always more fun to win.

Luck is a fickle thing. I thought my pocket aces with an ace on the flop was a pretty good hand. It was probably one of the best hands I had all night. It was not, however, as good as the flush that beat me. That one cost me. I had some early success – not usually a good sign – as well as a late comeback, but in the end the cards just didn’t come for me. Maybe next time, for it’s not as though I always lose… it just seems as though the poker gods do not smile upon me in my home court.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Priorities and Privileges

One of my unwritten, unspoken goals for this New Year was to try to post something here daily. It was not set in stone, just an internal push to keep me writing. So much for unwritten, unspoken goals. Conveniently enough, since it did not take the form of a “resolution” or any other concrete affirmation, I need not feel as though I have failed anyone – and I don’t.

I have spent much of the last four days resting. I went on a short road trip over the weekend with a friend of mine who was suffering from this nasty little cold that’s been going around. Indeed, it seems as though virtually everyone has either had it already or is going through it. Often, when the cold season comes around, I take the opportunity to say to whomever, “I never get sick.” And for a number of years, it has been true. Until…

That’s right, the universally humbling karmic forces hunted me down to afflict me with this nasty little cold, thus nullifying my claim. And I thought I had learned to never say never. In all honesty, it has not been “stay home from work” sick, but since I’m currently working freelance, that’s exactly what I did – for the most part. I still had errands to run and other responsibilities that needed tending to, but intertwined with the very limited number of tasks I had to do was a substantial amount of time where I didn’t have to do anything – and nothing is what I did.

Although this illness was far from debilitating, it was in a voluntary way. In other words, things that are priorities for me – those that contribute to my sense of accomplishment and make me feel like a participant rather than a bystander – fall by the wayside in the name of comfort. Or at least in the mitigation of discomfort. It was relatively easy for me to put off things like cleaning my office (it’s reaching critical mass once again), laundry, making my bed… and blogging. The rationalization I used was tried and true – “I feel icky.”

But after so many days of putting some things off, I have found that the combination of feeling better and neglecting some of the chores I am privileged enough to have (that’s right… I get to do the laundry, lest I forget…), I am again motivated to get back into action. The post I wrote Sunday was about getting busy even when there was nothing that had to be done. Perhaps that post was a karmic red flag. Although I knew I had a little scratch in my throat - that was historically the extent of my illness. This time, not so much.

I managed to write on Monday and Tuesday, because even in the world of “chores” – privilege or no – some I enjoy more than others. Yesterday and much of today, however, I guess the virus was in its death throws, giving me everything it had before it passed on – leaving nothing but antibodies. Although I have managed to drag my butt to the keyboard to read and comment on a few blogs, I let yesterday go – I had nothing. I was just not feeling it. There was no energy there.

Hopefully tonight, I’ll get a solid night’s sleep and tomorrow I’ll be back to my old self. I have a lunch date with my former editor that should result in a story or two. I’ll make a few bucks and keep my clips current. Perhaps there will be space for an Op-Ed. I absolutely love breaking free from objectivity! And there will be time to clean my office, make my bed, do some laundry and get some house cleaning done as well. It's good to be back!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Forbidden Photo

Although it’s true that every picture tells a story, many have stories behind them that are even more interesting than the actual photo. This seemingly innocent picture of Eduardus Halim performing in a recital hall at Sacramento State last November is an example. Booking a recital of this caliber (Halim is, I am told, a world famous classical pianist) at a small venue such as the Sac State recital hall is quite an accomplishment. But that's not the story.

I am not a classical music fan. I don’t dislike it; I just don’t feel a need to be at all educated on the ins and outs of the trade. I was, of course, in the extreme minority. Most in attendance were well versed on the “players” (sorry) in the classical music game. They knew the music. Others were music majors. And they knew the music as well. It was, in a round-about way, the music students that I was there to cover; not the event, not the music.

The task was an online, multi-media story for an online journalism class. My press credential allowed me free admission and access. The story was not on the performance of Halim or even that one among the upper echelon of concert pianists world-wide was gracing humble Sac State. The story was about the struggle of the music student and the recital experience - an experience that takes place in that very same recital hall. Halim’s success represents the epitome of his industry. I was there to document the contrast - the ultimate goal of so many up-and-coming music students, classical or otherwise.

Halim came to Sacramento by airplane. I’m not sure where he came from, but the sponsor(s) of his appearance no doubt paid for his airfare and lodging. I’m quite sure he received a percentage of the $10 admission fee as well. What I didn’t know until I started taking pictures was that he also had an entourage. He had people. It turns out that his people did not like me taking pictures – not one little bit.

I wasn’t given a reason, and I didn’t ask. I had enough shots by the time they stopped me. I was also recording audio… I’m sure they would have stopped that as well – if they knew. But maybe not - here’s the thing: I did not see any signs forbidding photography or audio recording anywhere. It wasn’t stated anywhere on the ticket or any of the flyers and brochures distributed. It wasn’t on the program anywhere. I appreciate that the camera’s shutter noise might have distracted him and I did not shoot during the quiet passages. And, of course, I didn’t use a flash. It’s highly unlikely that he could see me at all with the lights focused on him. Indeed, it’s unlikely he even knew I was shooting.

But his peeps knew. As soon as the brief intermission came, they were on me. Ok, not on me physically, but two or three rushed up to where I was seated and told me in hushed whispers that photography was not allowed. Again, I didn’t ask why but I have a couple of guesses. It could be that, like his music, his image has some monetary value to it. Usually, they are cool with the press but I don’t think they knew whom I represented. It could be that they felt I was a distraction (during the quiet passages, you could hear a pin drop!), but I don’t think I was. Maybe that was just their job and they didn’t even know why.

I was told once upon a time that I should never ask for permission. It was explained to me that someone without the authority to say yes will always say no just to cover his or her ass. If there is no communication to the contrary, my assumption will always be permission is granted. Let them tell me and, if I deem it necessary, tell me why and under whose authority as well. Is it any wonder I shoot with a Canon Digital Rebel?

I’m not sure what the status of this photo is. It’s mine – I took it. And I took it under the rules as I understood them at the time. The entourage was not particularly aggressive, but they did seem a little amazed – as if this just isn’t done. Sorry, no one told me. And they didn’t ask for my memory card, not that it would have done them any good. I wasn’t going to give it up... not without a major “distraction” anyway. And the rules are different for the audio I captured as well – that’s bootleg. Bootleg Chopin - gotta love it!

So here I am, throwing caution to the wind. Published for the entire world to see is Mr. Eduardus Halim, pianist extraordinaire.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Serenity Index

In a blog I read regularly, the question of success was raised. I got me thinking about what success really means. It is, like so many other arbitrary assessments, a very personal definition, but one that has some universality associated with it. How do you define success? Is it in terms of title, accolade, prestige, wealth, influence, etc.? Does any one of these denominators in and of itself define success? I believe it does. I believe success is situation specific and that even in the midst of failure, success can be found.

Financial success can be fleeting. It has come and gone in my life more than once. It has mirrored my serenity and it has not. I used to think that being independently wealthy would make me happy. I no longer measure success this way. If the question was one of only financial security, then no, I am not yet comfortable – but it will come. Oddly enough, although I would not consider myself successful financially at the moment, I sure wouldn’t say I am a failure either. Perhaps success is not the opposite of failure.

Today, I feel as though I am successful as a father. However, fatherhood, like life, has many aspects to it. I am not as successful as I would like to be in all areas of fatherhood, but taken in total, I am definitely not failing. And I have had my moments where success at fatherhood seemed to be eluding me as well. As it turns out, it is never too late and in at least one aspect of fatherhood, I have been ultimately successful – unconditional love.

Socially my success today is proven out by a solid group of very good friends. I have had to leave many friends behind at various times in my life, but recently due to many factors, not the least of which was a move to a new city, all of my day-to-day friends are relatively new. It has taken a little bit of time to rebuild a social network – it always has for me and my (ahem) age doesn’t help – but today I have a home. Moreover, if I had to do it again, I know I could.

My success as a student is measured primarily in GPA. In this respect, I have been very successful. However, it’s only a number – one that can be manipulated if one so desired. Cheating is perhaps the most obvious means of establishing an artificially high GPA, but there are others. The bottom line is that success for me is not what my GPA is, but rather what it represents. In my case, it means I have participated in my own education so much that I have earned those grades. The success is in the absorption of knowledge and experience.

On a more abstract level, success can be defined in terms of contentedness. Happiness is a good measure of success. But how does one measure happiness? Is there a “serenity index?” It is a relative term to be sure and to a certain extent it must be measured against one’s own experience. To know happiness, must I know sadness? To know peace, must I know conflict? To know serenity, do I have to experience chaos? I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, it appears to be so.

A friend of mine recently told the story of a friend of hers that was complaining how boring her life had become. She had escaped the chaos and instability it once was. She had taken steps to ”straighten” her life out and was apparently successful in doing so. She was experiencing success but complained to my friend how boring her life was. My friend, who had escaped from the same lifestyle years earlier, told her what must’ve been a revelation to her. “It’s not boredom, stupid, it’s lack of drama.”

It’s personal, it’s perception and it’s relative. To me, it sounds like success.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Just Another Saturday

It’s getting to be about that time. Time to get back into a routine. I have not been working, regularly anyway, since before Christmas and school doesn’t start back up again until the end of the month. I have enjoyed my break; it came not a moment too soon. However, it is now time to get busy again. There are a number of things I have been saying I would like to do if I only had the time. I now have the time – this is where the rubber meets the road.

Tomorrow is Monday. It’s the first “normal” Monday in three weeks. Christmas Day and New Years Day always turn whatever day they land on into “special” days – well beyond what a day off work normally represents. The last two Mondays were graced by this phenomenon. Tomorrow, Monday in all it’s associated lore returns. For me, there is nothing that has to be done. It could realistically be just another Saturday. For the next two weeks, it could be a series of Saturdays.

But that won’t work for me.

I need to get busy.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Blogging Meme

I don't usually do "memes" and never do tags. However, once in a while, a meme that grabs my attention is posted in one of my friend's blogs. The following "Blog Meme" was posted over at "Here in the Hills." It looked interesting, so here is my version.

1-Do you like the look and the contents of your blog?

The look of my blog is pretty simple. It’s just a standard template from Blogger with a custom header created just for me by Bohica. Eventually, I’d like to get a truly custom and unique layout… and my own domain name as well, but that will not happen right away.

As for the contents, well, I’m happy with about 85 to 90 percent of what I’ve written and perhaps a little bit higher percentage of the photos I’ve taken. It all depends on when I’m asked!

2-Does your family know about your blog?

Yes, and I know my parents are among my most loyal readers. Other family and extended family members read it as well – my sister even left a comment recently. My kids, however, only frequent this site when I direct their attention here. Although they are online regularly and often, their pursuits do not include reading my musings. Besides, they get the live version of me on demand.

One of the benefits of recording my thoughts here is that I will have left them with something more than my “stuff” when I leave this planet. They don’t have to read it now; it’ll be there when they’re ready to.

3-Can you tell your friends about your blog?

Yes, the URL is on my “freelance” business card. Some read it, others don’t. Believe it or not, I have more than a couple of friends that do not own a computer, do not use the Internet and don’t want to learn. Crazy, I know!

4-Do you just read the blogs of those who comment on your blog?
No, I read many blogs and some have, to the best of my knowledge, never even visited my blog, let alone commented on it. However, if there is a blog or another website that I can go to through a comment, I always do and almost always leave a comment in return, even if it’s just to thank the blogger for stopping by.

5-Did your blog positively affect your mind?

Blogging has been a proven to be positive influence in many areas of my life – my mind incuded.

6-What does the number of visitors to your blog mean?

Only that there are a number of people that think what I have to say is worth a few minutes of their time. I’ve said this before and it’s still true: I write for a number of reasons, one of them is to be read. For someone to stop what he or she is doing to read what I’ve written is the ultimate gift. I very much appreciate it.

7-Did you imagine how other bloggers look like?

Sometimes. Often there is a photo in their profile or post – I don’t have to guess. The ones I wonder about the most are those that have a caricature or some other abstract representation of themselves.

8-Do you think blogging has any real benefit?

Absolutely – and apparently so does Time magazine. The benefits are realized on so many different levels… Political, personal, economic, spiritual, the list goes on and on. There are, of course, detractors and they too have some valid concerns, but blogging is here to stay and the benefits far outweigh any problems.

9-Do you think that the blogesphere is a stand alone community separated from the real world?

No, it has become an integral part of the global community. In fact, it is more than a part of the global community, it is now part of the world’s communications infrastucture. I get visitors and readers from all over the world – a feat I could never have accomplished without blogging. ‘Nuff said.

10-Do some political blogs scare you?

No, but I tend to stay away from the extremists. I don’t have time for thoughtless, myopic rhetoric – there is far better political material to read.

11-Do you think that criticizing your blog is useful?

Criticism from others or myself? I will always be critical of my own output, especially when it comes to writing. Although the feedback I’ve received through comments is overwhelmingly positive, I have had a few who disagreed with what I had to say. For the most part, these were written respectfully and not delivered as personal attacks. That kind of criticism is appreciated. However, if one wishes to engage in a verbal war, well, I can do that too.

12-Have you ever thought about what would happen to your blog in case you died?

No, hopefully my family will keep it alive in some form or another, even if it’s just for them.

13-Which blogger had the greatest impression on you?

I can’t answer that. I read a number of very different, very distinct blogs and all have had an impression on me – I wouldn’t return to them if they didn’t.

14-Which blogger do you think is the most similar to you?

Again, I can’t answer that. There are far too many facets to writing style, content and other inter-personal characteristics I share with other bloggers – some compliment my own personality while others contrast it.

15-Name a song you want to listen to?

Veteran of the Psychic Wars (Blue Oyster Cult)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Report Card

The fall semester I just completed was the most challenging of my educational career thus far. Besides being a collection of very heady, very theory oriented, very upper division courses that are required for the completion of my BA, I was also working nearly full time as a staff writer at a small newspaper while still taking care of my (single) parental and household responsibilities as well. It was not a surprise that I was busy, I knew I would be. I was not “in over my head” either; I was always confident that I would prevail. It was not, however, easy - not by any stretch of the imagination.

In addition to the expected, my share of the unexpected materialized as well. Those that have been reading here recently know of my son’s injuries sustained as a passenger in an automobile wreck and the pensive holding pattern my world entered for a few days – just as the semester came to a close. My priorities are non-negotiable; my son's needs came before my own. Yet, with the help of family and friends, I was able to be with him when he needed me most and still persevere in school... and my job.

The schedule I set up was of my choosing. It is conceivable that I could have been all but done with my education had I not chosen to accept the opportunity to write professionally. Only one class was unavailable last fall, which would've left only those three units to complete this spring - my final semester. After assessing, cutting back and considerably juggling my fall schedule, I was able to make the commitment to work until the end of the year. However, the option was mine as to whether I would continue until this coming summer and beyond – class schedule permitting. As it turns out, I could have worked it out again. I just didn’t want to.

I never took the job for the money. Although I’m not inclined to reveal the pay, suffice it to say that it was very “entry-level.” No surprises there and I expected nothing more. The real value has a much more lasting effect. I now have tons of clips. I don’t have to gather the few published works I have and submit them all - the good, the bad and the ugly - to a potential employer. For an inexperienced writer, that’s the hard part. My problem will be deciding which clips to use. Indeed, although I might still be inexperienced, I am far less so because of this internship-turned-employment opportunity that was laid at my feet.

Although more experience never hurts and the pay, modest as it is, always helps, I decided not to extend my employment beyond my initial commitment. My spring schedule could have been arranged around the job again this semester. However, it would have again demanded a great deal of sacrifice. I know I am up to it, even more so than before. I know this because of my marks this semester combined with the feedback I received from my superiors at the newspaper. My grades this past semester?

American Foreign Policy: A-
Public Policy Development: A-
Public Affairs Reporting: A-
Online Publishing: A
Dean’s Honor List for the third consecutive semester.
That totals a 3.775 GPA!

Now, for sure, I know I can do it. But I don’t have to endure that kind of pressure going into my final semester at school. Not working has also afforded me the time to take two courses that aren’t required but will be extremely helpful in furthering my career. And I can relax a little and enjoy this last semester. Freelancing is still an option – in fact, I’ve already turned down two or three requests… I’m still decompressing. But it is an avenue I will be pursuing in the very short term. School doesn’t begin again for another three weeks – I’ll be ready to kill some of this abundance of time very soon.

I approached the last semester, with all the attendant demands on my time, with a “can-do” attitude. There were times, however, that I felt I would have to sacrifice some of my GPA. In fact, right up to the end, I felt like I had a tiger by the tail. It was all I could do to hold on at times, yet I always knew I would. It seemed I was always scrambling to keep up, I never felt like I was ahead. I accepted that my GPA would probably take a hit.

But it didn’t.

It wasn't easy.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Remembering - 1965

I’ve got to learn how to fine-tune the secretion of these “creative juices.” Waking up at 4 a.m. only to fight the urge to write about something – sometimes anything – is somewhat inconvenient. Perhaps it’s better this way. The world is quiet right now. At least my world is quiet right now. Globally, of course, there is much to be concerned about. However, my thoughts this morning are much more benign – almost innocent.

For some strange reason, I found myself searching my memory for my first memory. Actually, I’ve known what it is for quite some time, so I guess I was again trying to authenticate it. You know, asking myself if it was even real. Am I remembering an actual event, or is it the memory of a memory? I know, I know – but I’m not dangerous to myself or others. There is a significant gap between my first memory and the next, and although there is little doubt about that very first one, I cannot be sure which of several snapshots in time follows it, chronologically.

I was born in December of 1962. No, I don’t remember that, but I am told it’s true. In November of 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated. Don’t remember that either, but the historical record is pretty clear, conspiracy theories notwithstanding. I also don’t remember anything about the first home I lived in, an apartment in what was then unincorporated San Mateo County, California – south of San Francisco, north of San Jose. I do, however have some sketchy recollection of my second home – the first house my parents purchased.

It was on Ralston Avenue in the city of Belmont, California. My own internal historical records don’t contain that much detail, it is hearsay, but reliable nonetheless. I remember dream-like details of the front of the house, the road it was on and, to a lesser extent, the interior. We lived there around two or three years… I know that in November 1964 when my brother was born, we lived there and in September 1966, when my sister was, we didn’t. I do remember when my sister came along – not vividly, but indelibly. It is among the contenders for my second memory.

The first one involves my little brother. It had to be some time in 1965. The recollection is like a photo or, at most, a very short video clip – two or three seconds, tops. It is a frame of my paternal grandparents and me standing in front of that old Belmont house, at the top of the driveway. My brother was in a stroller. It was windy and cool, if not cold. According to my parents, it was usually windy and cold there. The house was at the top of a hill. When they were shown the house, they say, it was one of the two nice days of the year. When they sold it – same story.

The memory is not nearly as concrete as the rest of my early childhood memories. It has an ethereal quality, far more dream-like than real. If it were not for the connection between what I remember and the reality years later when I drove past that old home, I would discount it as nothing more than a surreal dream. The gap between my first and second mental imprints is lengthy – perhaps a year or more. It is among the reasons that I question the authenticity of that first one. Furthermore, it is the only solid memory I can actually form from those times. There are other wispy images, but I just can’t quite crystallize them.

I always used to think that for one to have memories, one must have a language to remember in. I never had any factual basis for this theory; it just made sense to me. In my thinking, it is one of the things that separate us from other animals. And although language certainly does, I no longer believe it is necessary to form memories. I have friends that say they “think in pictures.” That never made any sense to me – I think in words… and sometimes numbers. But it was perhaps this myopia that prevented me from lending any real credence to what are, in actuality, real memories from my very early years.

So what does all this mean in the quiet pre-dawn hours of a Wednesday morning? I’m not quite sure – I never am. This is what came out. It wasn’t on the “back burner;” it wasn’t on any burner, it was, like so much else it seems, just there. And I wrote about it. Now I’m done. It’s time to either put on a pot of coffee or go back to bed…

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Years Day Run, 2007

California is arguably one of the most desirable places in the entire world to live. Often the Californian will crow, “Where else can you snow-ski and water-ski in the same day?” Although quite a trick even in California, it is not an idle boast. It can be done. However, the more day-to-day manifestations of our mild climate are far more impressive. Today, New Years Day, we managed and absolutely balmy, sunny, 67 degrees in the Sacramento area.

A winter storm passed through about a week ago. It was cold, rainy and windy. The stormed dumped a couple of feet of new snow in the Sierras, just a short drive to the east. It was the second storm to come in rapid succession. Around here, they say the “storm door” is open. However, the past two or three days have been dry and today the wind was insignificant; the sun’s warmth burned off the fog and won the day.

It was a perfect day for a ride! After ringing in the New Year last night, coming home at about 1 a.m. only to write for two more hours, I didn’t think I’d be up for it. Apparently my “Harley sense” knew better. I was up at 8 a.m., getting the bike ready and my camera gear packed. It looked cold and the fog appeared persistent, but I knew that we would at least be riding up above the fog - and I can dress for the cold.

I met my friends, Art and Steve, at Art’s house and we rode to meet the rest of the Sacramento contingent at California Burgers in Roseville. From there we rode up Interstate 80 to Starbucks in Auburn where we met up with our Auburn friends, some more from Sacramento, and the Grass Valley posse. By the time we had all gathered, there were about fifty of us – a thundering herd of American Iron… pure V-Twin power. The fog was gone and the chill had subsided. Our route was a short one, but scenic and serene as could be.

We headed south on Route 49, across the North Fork of the American River and up the other side of the canyon. Turning right on Salmon Falls Road, we made the final 20 miles of the ride on a two-lane, winding, mountain road - across the South Fork of the American River and into Old Folsom. We filled the parking lot at Hacienda’s where we ate lunch while basking in the sun’s warmth on the deck, watching the world go by. By the time lunch was over, we were shedding layers before heading our separate ways – some up to Placerville for coffee before heading back to points north, and home. Others went back toward Sacramento to whatever activities they had planned for the rest of their day.

I was among those headed for our Sacramento homes – for I did indeed have a plan for the rest of the afternoon. After making the two-mile or so ride from Folsom, back across the American River (below the Folsom Dam, all forks now converged) to my home in Fair Oaks, I parked my bike in front of my house (usually it goes right into the garage) and stripped off various leather components as I made my way to the couch. Remote in hand, head on the armrest, I proceeded to take a much-deserved nap – there was nothing else to do.

The Days to Come

Between this and my other three blogs, I am approaching some 200 posts. On this, my main blog, I am now writing what will become post number 166. It is not my first writing for the year (I’ve left comments on a few other bloggers’ posts), but it is the first post – the first substantive writing for 2007. It for sure won’t be the last. In addition to a couple of freelance stories I’ll probably pick up next week, there will be much more written for the sake of writing. And it will be housed right here and on my other sites.

Although I didn’t, nor will I make any resolutions, I do intend to put a little more time into writing fiction. I have a blog dedicated to it and a story is in the very early stages of development. For me, it is absolutely “writing outside the box.” It feels unfamiliar, uncomfortable and unsteady. However no matter how it “feels,” I am, so far, pleased with the results. It is still difficult to start the task of writing even though I know that once I’ve started, it always comes. I can usually call up the verbiage on demand; it’s just the initial spark that is so hard to fire sometimes.

Another area of concentration will be my photography. I have enrolled in a photography class next semester – basic photography – not because I need it for graduation, but because I don’t know everything. Photography is something I know only a smattering about, and I want to learn much more. I have the time and the units to spare, so photography it is. It will be my first photography class since high school – some 25+ years ago!

As far as my writing is concerned, my schooling is not yet complete there either, although it will be complete enough for a BA degree next June! Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself – I didn’t get this far by “future-tripping.” My journalism classes will include “media law” and “war, peace and mass media.” The second class will be the very last class taught by a retiring professor with a 40-year tenure at Sac State. He is highly respected by students and staff alike. I am very fortunate to be among his last students. I’ve had the media law professor previously; he’s tough, but intriguing. I’m looking forward to the class, I kind of like law. Scary, I know!

I enrolled in another journalism course that is not required but interests me very much. Magazine writing is an area that might appeal to me. My first journalism professor who happens to be my academic advisor is teaching the class. I have an excellent rapport with him and he is a working journalist. One of the goals of the course is that students sell an article to a magazine. Don’t worry; you’ll all be the first to know when and where it will be published.

My fifth and final class is to fulfill a stupid requirement called a “writing intensive” course. You’d think that a journalism major would be well versed in writing… that virtually every journalism class would be “writing intensive.” Believe it or not, not a single one is. Furthermore, my major is government-journalism (essentially a dual major, poly-sci and journalism). Only a couple of government section classes qualify. Of course, they aren’t classes that could be used to knock off other requirements with the same stone.

So my “writing intensive course?”
RLS-122. “RLS” stand for “Recreation and Leisure Studies.”
Hey, I didn’t make the rules!