Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Although it was a close contest, the Democratic presidential nominee is all but decided. And though there might be a sliver of hope for Hillary Clinton, that hope relies not on what she does or does not do but rather on the fortunes - no, misfortunes - of Barack Obama. Since Hillary pretty much already did, I’m just going to go ahead and say it. You know, the answer to the big question: Why is she still in the race? It appears patently obvious to me, but for some reason everyone is afraid to come out and say it, so I will.

She is hoping… praying for an Obama meltdown.

Her most recent gaffe last Friday reveals her reasoning and although I am quite sure her referencing Bobby Kennedy’s assassination in June of 1968 was not some kind of literal death wish for her opponent, politically speaking, it was exactly that. It’s all she has left to hold on to and, after Obama survived the Reverend Wright fiasco, it is a slim hope indeed. The delegate count and popular vote numbers, as close as they are, will not come around for her. It’s well past the two-minute warning and she’s out of time-outs. Unless Obama stubs his tow in a big way, she is history.

The other possibility is the unthinkable and no one would dare mention it except in hushed tones, hidden from public scrutiny. What if something were to happen to Obama? Yet, Hillary Clinton did. It was an act of desperation from a desperate candidate - one who is about to see the ultimate prize… the most coveted job in the history of the world, slip right through her fingers. She obviously did not think about the implications of what she said. She did not mean to suggest that she thought there was some kind of deathwatch. However, her excuse that it was merely an example of how a primary campaign can run into June is simply not plausible. Her only hope is Obama’s demise - it is much too late for a good offense. She not only said as much, but she did it by taking it to an extreme that is abjectly taboo.

All Obama need do now is be sure there are no skeletons ready to fall out of some overlooked closet and keep his mouth shut - for now. It is an area he seems to be having some difficulty with, but so far his boo-boos are relatively minor. They are nothing like the magnitude of which Clinton needs to revitalize her campaign. I don’t believe for an instant that she wishes any physical harm to befall her opponent, but political harm? No question about it. At this point she’ll take what she can get. The stakes don’t get any bigger, the prize doesn't get any grander.

Whether or not she concedes in June is still a question. If nothing worse than good ol' Reverend Wright hasn't shaken out by now, it is doubtful anything will. If she sticks it out much farther than the bitter end, then perhaps her recent slip was more Freudian than careless. And as quiet as it’s kept, the very real possibility of becoming the first black president of the United States carries with it very real risks. There are still too many in this country who are not all that well - and some of them have guns. Not only does Obama need to be careful what he says - he needs to be careful period.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Plan "B"

As anything is as likely to appear here as anything else, the following is written knowing it will not have mass appeal. In fact, unless you have an acute interest in my life and where it’s heading, you might just as well stop reading now. You know who you are; you have been warned. However, for those of you who have found my journey of trial and tribulation… of insightful, blinding flashes of the obvious and (dare I say) redemption intriguing, I offer you this, a status report - of sorts.

As revealed in my previous post, I was not selected to be a California Assembly or Senate Fellow. Although I am consoled that I came closer than most, it is also true that no one remembers who finished second. But not all of my eggs were in that basket - I did and do have a Plan “B” and although it has not been given nearly as much press, it has been running silently parallel to Plan “A.” My application to the communications studies Masters program at Sacramento State is on track and looks promising.

So my eggs have fallen safely from the “A” basket to the “B,” it would seem. There are, however, no guarantees that my application will be accepted. I have very high hopes that it will, but even a good Plan “B” is nothing without an equally well thought out Plan “C.” I don’t have a clear one yet, but I am working on it. Currently it consists of employment in various different capacities, some of which are so new I am only now exploring them. The plan exists, but it is still somewhat nebulous.

But back to Plan “B” - earning my Masters degree. Among my long-term goals has been a teaching position in some capacity; I seem to have some aptitude for it and in my limited experience, I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Combining it with my love for writing seems like a match made in Heaven, but it won’t happen without some more work. A Masters will allow me to teach at the community college level and in some cases at the university level. In my humble opinion, community colleges provide access to more opportunity, to more people than any other educational venue. And in my experience as a student at three different such institutions, there is more genuine desire to learn there than anywhere else.

My recently completed journey to obtain a Bachelors degree started at a community college. Not to take anything away from a host of excellent professors at Sac State, but my teachers at American River College ignited me. They went beyond teaching; they were fully vested in my success. They more than convinced me I could do this - they believed it themselves. I have life experiences that are similar to those of many community college students. Many are students that, for one reason or another, have taken the road less traveled. Many, like myself, are lost souls in search of something more. And I am convinced that they, too, can find it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Close, but no cigar...

The results are in. There will be no California Assembly or Senate Fellowship in my future. Although not the outcome I would have preferred (obviously!), there is comfort in knowing with some degree of certainty which direction my path will now take. That is a post that will be written in the short-term future, but for now, here is the sad news as it was delivered to me.

First, from the Assembly program:

May 19, 2008

Mr. Michael Althouse
Fair Oaks, CA 95628

Dear Michael,

Thank you for your interest in the Assembly Fellowship Program. It was a pleasure speaking with you and hearing about your accomplishments and interest in public policy. Regrettably, we are unable to offer you a position as an Assembly Fellow.

As you are aware, there were more than 250 individuals who applied to the program. The 75 applicants who we chose to interview were highly competitive, making the selection committee’s decision very difficult.

I encourage you to continue pursuing opportunities in public policy formation and the political process. Talented individuals such as you are essential in shaping California’s future.

On behalf of the California State Assembly, California State University, Sacramento, and the 2008-2009 Assembly selection committee, I thank you for taking the time to meet with us. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors.


Consuelo Hernandez

Consuelo Hernandez
Program Director

And then from the Senate program:

May 19, 2008

Michael Althouse
Fair Oaks CA 95628

Dear Michael:

Thanks so much for meeting with the Senate Fellows selection panel. Although you are a very impressive individual, I regret that you are not among those selected as 2008-2009 California Senate Fellows.

The panel’s decisions were extremely difficult because of the outstanding group of candidates. As one of the 69 applicants interviewed, you were selected from a nationwide pool of more than 340 candidates.

California faces many difficult public policy issues and needs the help of talented and committed people like you. I hope you will choose a career path that allows you to pursue your interest in public policy work.

Finally, on behalf of the California Senate and Sacramento State University, I congratulate you with respect to your academic achievement and record of community service.

Sincerely yours,


David Pacheco, Director
California Senate Fellows

Finally, my resume will receive an additional kudo:

"Finalist, 2008/2009 California Senate Fellows & California Assembly Fellows"

It's time to turn the page...

Monday, May 12, 2008


The 25 Year Plan is, or at least has become, something of a hodgepodge. There is no telling what might show up here. Although its subtitle is generous in its breadth - perspectives, purpose & opinion - and most of what is posted here comes straight out of my head, there are some rules… subject to change without notice of course, but rules all the same. In addition to using correct spelling and grammar, my intention is to be at least somewhat relevant. I certainly don’t want to waste my time - or yours. It’s not always easy finding something relevant and compelling to write and often I don’t know what it will be until it is written, but in an odd sort of way when it makes it this far - it has a purpose.

Which brings us back to one component of this blog’s subtext. I guess that makes it relevant.

I often write about writing. I have been told by far more experienced writers than I that we all do. I suppose those versed in any art enjoy sharing it… painters paint, actors act, musicians play and writers write. Since the writer’s medium is a form of precise communication, it makes sense that that which we share of is the art of what we do. Most of my writing has nothing to do with my art or me. Most of the writing I do is for money. It wasn’t always this way. Until recently, the vast majority of my work was for school and there was quite a lot more posted here and to my other blogs - one of which is for my photography. Since school ended and career began, writing for money has become the priority.

And rightfully so. I am neither complaining nor am I surprised. True, the minutia of how the transition would arrive was not known, but in general I knew things would change and, more or less, in which direction they would move. That my time has become much less free only means that others are paying for it. Interestingly enough, this is not only not a destination, but also not necessarily a firm direction. My career and my post-graduate education are as yet still undefined. Although in one week I will know with much greater resolve which path both will take, the inconclusiveness has a certain reckless nature to it.

Those who know me well and those who have been reading my dribble here for the past two and a half years know that I have been a risk-taker for a long time. Risk comes in many forms and certainly there are healthy and unhealthy variations. I did not make any distinction for most of my life. Throwing caution to the wind sometimes paid off, but most often not. However, striving to achieve that which I thought unattainable is also taking risks. I like not knowing what’s going to happen as much as I long to know the outcome. It makes life exciting. But the downside doesn’t have to have the same dire consequences of days gone by. In other words, the rush is still there.

I applied for three fellowships in the California state government. There are around 300 to 400 applicants for each and out of those, about 20 percent are asked back for an interview before the selection panel. Of the 75 to 80 interviewed, 18 are awarded an 11-month fellowship with a stipend and benefits. I made the cut with the Senate and the Assembly. I beat the odds on two of the three I went for. The interview with the Assembly selection committee could have gone better, I think, but the Senate interview went exceptionally well - again, I think. In seven days, I will know far more than I do now and if I succeed, I will know far less.

And I wouldn’t want it any other way…

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Will Work for Serenity

It has been many moons since anything new has graced this site. Actually, due to some complications I’ll not go into now (there will come a time, this is not it), my last piece has been taken offline. Regardless, even if included, new postings have been sporadic - more thin than thick. To say I have been busy would be an understatement, but therein lies today’s epiphany. Although being busy is welcome most of the time, there are those moments when things get so hectic that I find myself longing for the lazy days of idle luxury.

Ok, not really… at least not very often. And I don’t mean to sound put out because I am really quite grateful. I know that many, perhaps most people are driven to get things done. Some are more motivated than others, but I think that for the most part, people generally don’t hold any disdain for work, per se. I did. I went out of my way to avoid putting forth anything more than the absolute minimum effort it took to get by and if I could get someone else to do it for me, so much the better. I was cursed with a sense of entitlement that told me I was exempt… that the rules did not apply to me.

Or perhaps I felt I was going to outsmart everyone else; I would succeed where so many others had failed. Poor souls, foolishly working their lives away while I found the magic formula - the right combination that would deliver me to the finish line - not passing “GO,” but still collecting my $200. I would be the one who somehow managed - without wealth of family or good fortune - to circumvent all that nasty work. I was, after all, destined to be independently wealthy… all I need do is coast along until fortune found me.

It never did. Hold on. That’s not exactly true, for today, although not measured in dollars, I am far wealthier than I have ever been and it keeps accumulating every day. Those “poor souls” had it right all along. They had the magic formula, the right stuff, the keys to happiness and prosperity. It’s not about where I’m going and it’s not about where I’ve been; it’s about now - right now. All the work I’ve done for the past five or so years - every year busier than the last - is what makes the fruit of it taste so sweet. Even when I was able to “beat the system,” the rewards always felt so shallow.

The epiphany is likely lost on those who have earnestly done their best; worked their hardest; and always with good faith put their best efforts forward. But for me, the experience and the returns are still somewhat unfamiliar. I have been working so hard to beat a system that was only and, eventually, always beating me. It manifested in gambling, retail therapy and of course consumer credit… anything that gained my gratification for the moment. The problem with instant gratification is that it only lasts for an instant. Until I finally surrendered, there was no peace. Serenity was fleeting if ever really truly attained.

So yes, I am busy. But not too busy too remember from whence I came. Not too busy to thank all those “poor souls” who have been doing it right, plugging away day in and day out and making a difference. And certainly not too busy to take a moment to feel the peace I have earned.