In which they tour the West Wing

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The old expression, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is truer in D.C. than anywhere else, I think. It was a case of this who-we-know that found me and the little sister on a private tour of the West Wing recently. After hours certain staff can lead appropriately vetted friends, family, or (in our case) friends of friends through the outer sanctum of the inner sanctum.

And yes, it was incredibly cool.

The husband was skiing with his brothers that evening so the little sister was happy to accept the other half of the invitation. A friend stayed with the sleeping little oyster, and the little sister and I went off to see just how Obama’s White House compares to Jed Bartlett’s. Short answer: It doesn’t, not even a little.

Photography isn’t allowed in the West Wing, but I like to think I can paint an accurate word picture (like what I did there?) for you, dear readers. The photo at the top of this post is outside the president’s entrance to the West Wing. His motorcade picks him up and drops him off there. It’s also where dignitaries and the vice president and cabinet members come and go from the West Wing. The blacked out windows over my left shoulder are the White House Situation Room–more on that later.

The immediate entryway to the West Wing looks like a nice and yet ever so slightly outdated office building. It could pass for an upscale insurance agency anywhere in the country. Really, the whole place was remarkably humble. Unlike the Capitol Building with its marble floors, soaring ceilings, and antique detailing, the West Wing has standard ceilings, clean but worn carpet, and plain off-white walls. For as much as this president likes to spend our money, he’s not spending it on redesigning the West Wing. I know, I was kind of surprised, too.

On the walls are large prints of recent events and activities from the president and vice president. The photos are large, full color prints, something you could order from Snapfish (although I’m sure they don’t). The photos are swapped out often, the hard-copy version of digital photo frames. This is one of them:

obama-mckayla-maroney

The flow of the West Wing is nothing like what I’ve ever seen on a show or in a movie. As in, there is no flow. And the hallways are most definitely not wide enough for senior-level staffers (who would probably work next door in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building anyway) to walk-and-talk as Aaron Sorkin would have us believe and none of the rooms lead to any of the other rooms. Once you arrive at your destination, you have to turn around and go back the way you came to get anywhere else.

The White House Situation Room was like going to see the Great and Powerful Oz. At the risk of accidentally giving away state secrets, I’ll say no more except to say that the Situation Room isn’t–it is rooms. Many of them. And unlike the imaginary Situation Room of many a movie, the rooms are well-lit. With that, I’ll say no more.

The West Wing cafeteria is near the Situation Room. And by cafeteria, I mean china-and-crystal with fancy linens and real silverware. The cafeteria (I feel like I should call it the “cafeteria”) has paneled walls and the feel of a ship captain’s private dining room. The United States Navy has had the responsibility of feeding the first and second families since, um, a long time ago, and the little sister and I suspect that’s why. Why not, you know?

Before we knew it, we were at the Oval Office, across the tiny round hallway from the Roosevelt Room. Neither looks like it does in the movies. Both were extremely cool to see. Fun fact: The only individually alarmed item in the West Wing is Teddy Roosevelt’s Nobel Peace Prize, which hangs on the wall in the Roosevelt Room.

obama roosevelt room ww roosevelt room(See? The top one is the real one, courtesy of Wiki. The bottom one is the fake one. Totes not the same, not even a little. In real life, the Roosevelt Room is named after both Roosevelts, not just T.R.)

The Oval Office is smaller than I thought it would be. And like I said, we were there before we knew it. The important rooms in the West Wing, these super historical places that most people don’t ever get to see, snuck up on us one by one. It’s not a large complex of rooms, it’s a moderately sized office building where really important stuff happens. Actually, that makes me feel good about things. As beautiful as the Capitol Building is (and should be), the White House and West Wing are more utilitarian. Not shabby at all, and they shouldn’t be, but we’re definitely not talking Versailles or Buckingham Palace here.

photo(12)Sneakily tucked under the White House is the White House press room. Officially the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. The room is built over a pool that FDR had for exercise. Nixon boxed it in but there is still a trap door that gives access to the pool, if you have the key to said door. The little sister and I were a little bit hoping we could “accidentally” pull an It’s A Wonderful Life and go for a dip but it didn’t happen. Probably for the best, since it was cold out.

The press room is small. Really small.

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But not so small we couldn’t play!

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But big enough that the names on all the chairs should be spelled correctly:

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As we left, staffers were coming to work. Returning to work, maybe. Perhaps they were Very Important People who have Very Important Things To Do. But it was 9 p.m. and people were coming to the office, parking and getting out of their cars in suits, wheeling their briefcases behind them, and that was sad to me.

The little sister and I had a grand adventure. As we left the grounds, completely turned around from where we came in and disoriented, which I think was on purpose, a man dressed in black and armed to the teeth suddenly appeared from the trees to our left. We both saw him for a second, this guard whose job is to be unseen, and in two shakes he was gone again. Were we sure we saw him? Pretty sure. These guys are good, we said. Very good.

And then we went home.

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Excuse me, but you put my husband’s name on that yard sign

Dear readers,

I wrote this piece before we moved to DC. In fact, I wrote it before we moved to the carriage house. The facts (e.g., our jobs, which book club I belong to) are outdated but the principle still holds. I pitched it to a political commentary magazine at some point but it wasn’t picked up. So now I’m posting it on my own blog because I still like what I have to say, publicity be damned. 🙂

Excuse me, but you put my husband’s name on that yard sign

When cleaning out a closet not long ago, I found a disposable camera that I had never developed. The camera contained photos from rallies and events during the 2008 presidential campaign, to which I, as a political junkie, holder of a political science degree, and someone with the right friends, had many a front-row seat. I took the camera to a well-known big box store and was told they no longer develop film and I would have to take the little disposable to a specialty camera shop on the other side of town.

My party lost key seats in that election and I wasn’t particularly fond of the candidates whose likenesses were stored in the camera, so I pitched it on my way out of the store. In recounting the tale to a casual acquaintance at a wedding that had a disposable camera on each table, she interrupted me to rib, “Ah! ‘The ’08 campaign…’ spoken like a true political wife!”

It’s true, my husband is in politics. But so am I. He works for an individual congressman, doing policy research and having the time of his life. I work for the Republican caucus in the state House of Representatives, managing communications for a dozen lawmakers. He went to school to be a high school history teacher, and stumbled into his current work when the planets aligned one day. I went to school for my political science degree, confident from sixth grade that politics is where I wanted to be; my current job is my dream job.

Earlier that week my husband and I fell into conversation with a fellow dog owner while our pups played at the local dog park. Our new acquaintance asked what we did for a living, and I responded that we’re both in politics; my husband works for a congressman doing policy and event coordination and I work for the state House of Representatives, managing communications for a dozen lawmakers.

“So, are you planning to run for office someday?” asked the fellow dog owner.

Having considered what running would be like, I have a response to that question. But he wasn’t asking me. When I returned from my brief mental victory party, the fellow dog owner was looking at my husband.

The two events reminded me of an email I received over the summer. The night before, my husband and I had been out for drinks with our county GOP leadership. In close proximity to the only woman on the executive board, she and I talked quite a bit. We also overheard one another’s conversations with various supporters. The next day she sent me an email, saying what a nice change it was to meet a normal, intelligent, competent woman in conservative politics.

Having now twice been assumed the supporting actress for my husband’s unintended political career and being praised for the anomaly that I am by another creature of the same breed, I can’t help but wonder what gives? Why are people, and especially those of my own generation, so quick to assume that if our last name is ever on a yard sign, it will be preceded by my husband’s initials?

Maybe the high-profile women currently carrying the conservative torch shoot the credibility of the rest of us in the foot. Reality shows, hair too long for their age, and ill-fitting “Jesus Saves-Go USA” shirts at 4th of July parades have done plenty to damage the reputation of the rest of us before we even arrive at the party (headquarters).

My senior thesis in college explored the question of why we have never had a female president. My conclusion included nods to military experience,  block voters, a good ol’ boys mentality, and the typical pool of candidates from which we choose a president. Since my college days, two Republican women have launched serious campaigns for one of the two highest offices in the land and neither has been elected.

Fine, so there are no female American presidents yet. But how come a girlfriend from my book club is the only woman on our county commission? It’s hardly the presidency, and this constituency is about as red as you’ll find anywhere. When your own people won’t let you in, the vicious cycle continues.

Let’s face it. Liberals love it when conservative pundits open their mouths because whatever comes out gives the liberals something to eat for the rest of the day. It’s the conservatives who wish rhetoric within our own movement would be toned down.

So do I roll my eyes and later vent my frustrations to my husband when people assume I’m not someone to be taken seriously? Do I pity the ignorance and lack of thought behind titles such as “true political wife”?

Maybe conservative women in American politics will go the way of the disposable camera, although even those continue to make appearances at special occasions. I’m too much of a free market conservative to advocate for women-in-office movements; if there aren’t women in office or in leadership, it’s for a reason. That reason could be that the few that sneak in ruin it for the rest of us. It could be that, facing discouraging assumptions at the earliest stages, we don’t have interest in developing further. But I’m pretty sure the fault is within our own party.

Our civic duty

This week there was a special election in our neighborhood to replace our delegate in the state assembly. Not because we didn’t like the guy who was in there before, but because he quit on his own or something.

Our plan was to eat dinner and walk Dietrich up to the school where the voting was taking place. Turns out that around here the polls close at 7, not 8 like we are used to, so we had to drive to do our civic duty.

As we pulled out of the parking lot, our neighbors and friends from down the street tore into it. While he ran in to vote (she had done so earlier), our two cars idled while we talked local politics like we were old hands and true grown ups with an interest in the community. It was fun.

Since Dietrich didn’t get to go with us, I tried to console him by giving him my ‘I voted’ sticker. He liked it but was still kind of pouty. He really wanted to participate in the process himself, I think.

A handsome offer extended

After two weeks of hearing nothing since I last met with The Good Congressman and his office, I decided to bite the bullet and follow up with an email, asking what they thought of the statement I wrote for him regarding a hot topic du jour and suggesting that I’m available for part-time work if they are reconsidering a full-time press secretary.

Then I went to the bathroom.

In that three minutes, the chief of staff responded to my email with a voicemail, which I always find ominous. He simply said that he was planning to call me this morning anyway and to give him a call when I could.

Gulp.

So I went to the bathroom again and then puttered around the house, avoiding what I assumed would be a phone call ending with my chirpy-cheerful voice explaining that I understood their decision to go in another direction.

Finally the waves of anticipatory-disappointment nausea subsided sufficiently for me to return the chief of staff’s call and after polite chit-chat about last week’s holiday, he offered me the job.

It’s a handsome offer, for sure. And they would like me to start this week so I’m on the payroll for July. And I told them at the last meeting that I’m pregnant and due in September, so that won’t be a surprise to them if I take the job.

I love my furry clients, and was looking forward to three walks a day with some of them next week. As God would have it though, the second I hung up with The Good Congressman’s office, two of those walks were canceled all week. And so the plot thickens.

I called the husband and will meet him for lunch to discuss our options. On one hand, the income, the job that advances my career, the fun of going to work (which I realized I miss while walking Dietrich this morning) and having coworkers, the pride of working hard and playing hard, all those things are, again, on one hand. On the other hand, should I take the job we’ll be looking at daycare for the little oyster on very short notice, long days away from home when I will want to be there most, hiring a walker or sitter for Dietrich, and planning the intricacies of doctor appointments and maternity leave. The husband and I must discuss.

In other news, there’s a special election to replace the congressman who represents the district I grew up in, because he bailed on his job with only weeks to go until an election he wasn’t even running in this time. The cost of this special election to a district in a severely cash-strapped state grates on me, and the husband and I briefly laughed about the possibility of me running in the special election to replace this man. A temporary job with good pay, I wouldn’t be a threat in the general election, I know the district well, and I already live in DC so the taxpayers of the former home district would not be shelling out more money for me to maintain two residences. Plus, the little oyster’s grandparents live in that district, so obviously it’s in my own best interest to represent these fine people well. If only I had a way to gather 1,000 signatures 700 miles away in nine days, I’d say the matter was settled.

Instead, I’ll meet the husband for lunch and we’ll discuss the handsome offer that has been extended.

A day to remember

Yesterday was Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer and the day Americans go out of their way to honor and, obviously, memorialize the men and women in uniform who have served and given their lives for our country.

It would have been a crime to live in DC and not take an hour to go to Arlington National Cemetery.


The husband had never been, and I hadn’t been since the family spent part of a summer in Virginia while the dad did his Navy stuff, more than fifteen years ago. It was 95 degrees and while we were as dressed for the weather as possible, it was still slow going for the husband and ol’ preggers and after shuffling our way up the hills to watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we shuffled our way back down and went home.

As we walked past a group of veterans clad in their biker gear and looking at a map, I caught part of their conversation:

“It’s a half-hour.”
“How do you figure?”
“Well it’s ten minutes to Kenny then another twenty to Mikey.”
“Oh, I thought you meant a half hour to get to Kenny in the first place.”

So many of the markers at Arlington are uniform. Crisp, white-and-gray marble lined up flawlessly, like the soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen they stand tribute to. On Memorial Day each stone gets an American flag poked into the ground in front of it so not one grave is left undressed even if no family and friends come to lay flowers. The markers might all look the same for the most part but each one represents a life that was unique and valued, each one stands for an individual man or woman who was gone but is not forgotten, like Kenny and Mikey.

A few military jets did fly overs and salutes to Arlington as we arrived and that was something to see. We’d like to bring our kid/s to the cemetery each Memorial Day for as long as we live in the area so that they are neither sheltered from nor ignorant of the sacrifice, loss, dignity, and honor that accompany serving our nation in uniform.

Thank you to all who serve and their families who share them with this country. The husband said he was proud to go to the cemetery with the daughter of a veteran. I was proud to be one.

Thank you, readers!

Yesterday this blog crossed the 14,000 hits threshold–thank you, readers!

Some of those views are one-time, and some of you are faithful readers. I appreciate each one.

The stats tell me where in the world my blog has been viewed on any given day, and redwhiteandnew has made appearances this year alone on screens in Canada, Turkey, the Philippines, Italy, Ireland, France, the Czech Republic, Germany, the UK, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Nigeria, Vietnam, Colombia, Malaysia, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand and, most interestingly to me, the Maldives.

I started this blog to keep friends and family up to date on our lives as we moved from the old home state to the center of the free world, and assumed that the blog would be primarily work-related and work-focused. Life takes some funny, not funny, unexpected, exciting, and terrifying turns, but it’s never dull and realizing that has helped me feel just fine blogging about What’s Happening Now, whether that’s Martha, moving, having the little oyster, looking for work, or just walking Dietrich.

Redwhiteandnew is a biographical statement, nothing more and nothing less. What I post is an honest account–or my best interpretation–of daily life, milestones, and unique events or experiences, nothing more and nothing less. I have fun writing, and I love reading comments when readers post them and so, for all the time and attention you all have put into pushing the blog over the 14,000 mark, thank you! Nothing more and nothing less.

Them’s goode readers, they is

A few weeks ago I blogged about negotiating with customer service/challenging late fees/catching more flies with honey. At the end of that post I offered a list of five lessons, of which the following was #4:

4. Make sure the error actually is on their end before going all Erin Brockovich on someone. (Future blog post about this.)

This is that future blog post.

Please, read on.

The nature of his work demands that the husband has had to learn the fine art of explaining the obvious to angry people. When he tells me stories like the one below (really, it tells itself), I get nervous about a nation where we tell kids “you can be anything you want to be when you grow up.”

First let’s teach them how to read. And then we’ll work on manners. And THEN we’ll see what you’re good at being when you grow up. God bless America.

Once upon a time, a family requested a White House tour and a Capitol tour. The husband processed these requests. A Capitol tour is pretty easy to come by but a White House tour takes advance planning and is never guaranteed. A visitor won’t know until two weeks before an approved tour date if that tour is granted, even if the request for one was put in months ahead of time. This is just the way the federal cookie crumbles.

In January the family’s request for a Capitol tour was granted and the information, including a tour confirmation number, tour time, date, and number of passes granted (same as the number requested) was emailed to them.

The email looked like this:

Dear Visitor,

Here are the details of your reservation for your tour of the U.S. Capitol. Attached to this email is a reservation confirmation that includes information on visiting the U.S. Capitol. Please bring the attached reservation confirmation with you.

Then followed the date, time, etc. of said tour. Please note that in the introduction alone, the words U.S. Capitol were used twice.

Then the conclusion of the email:

Please click here for a map of the U.S. Capitol complex. For general information about touring the U.S. Capitol, go to www.visitthecapitol.gov. Please note that the U.S. Capitol is subject to temporary suspension of tours. Thank you for visiting the U.S. Capitol.

In that paragraph the words U.S. Capitol are used four times and the web address also uses “capitol” right in it, so let’s say five. To even the average reader, a confirmed tour of the U.S. Capitol should be evident from the email communication.

But it wouldn’t be a day in the life if there wasn’t some confusion.

Remember how a White House tour may not be granted just because someone has requested one? And how visitors to the White House don’t find out whether their tour requests have been approved until two weeks before a scheduled tour?

If your White House tour request is denied, you get an email like this one, which the family in our story received, two weeks before their requested White House tour:

Dear Visitor,

I regret to inform you that the White Hour Tour Office was unable to schedule your request. 

The White House only has so much space available for tours, and it makes its decisions entirely on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that the White House does not process your security information until after the tour is approved, so your information is still private.

Please feel free to contact our office for assistance with White House tours in the future. For best results, contact us as far in advance as possible – up to six months ahead of time.

The email goes on to give contact information for your representative, and also kindly offers alternative forms of White House-centric entertainment:

…In addition, you are free to visit the White House Visitor Center, located at the southeast corner of 15th and E streets in the Department of Commerce building. The Visitor Center is open seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and features many aspects of the White House. The National Park Service is also able to provide your group with a variety of alternative experiences related to the White House. These include guided walks, talks, films and lectures.  For more information, you can contact the Visitor’s Center….

With all that said and done, can you imagine the husband’s surprise when a member of the family in our story sent this polite and measured email in response to the White House rejection?

This is completely unacceptable.  You’ve already given us a reservation with a confirmation number for our specific day/time (XXXXXXXXX) to tour the white house.  Why are cancelling it now?  We were sent an approval by the white house with the confirmation number.  Are you kidding?  READ BELOW!!  Are you honestly going to cancel this now, days before we are about to leave?  My family is looking forward to this tour.  Please explain again…..

 Confused and disappointed,

XXXXX

“Confused and disappointed” then copied and pasted exactly the confirmation letter she was referring to. You know, the one that itself referred to the U.S. Capitol a half-dozen times in as many sentences.

Before calling Confused and disappointed to explain the difference between the Capitol and the White House, the husband called me, laughing. Because that’s just what you have to do sometimes.

That, and then blog about it. People like this make me confident in my ability to do my own taxes.

At least Confused and disappointed kept it to one paragraph. When someone is so obviously right and you are so obviously wrong and stupid, the email tirades tend to ramble. I admire Confused and disappointed’s ability to get to the point, although I would rather admire the ability to read and then display adult manners.

Oh well. It’s a free country, as they say.

The end.

Black Jack and the Pearl Dive

Or, Why the bar scene is not our scene.
Or, Where are your manners, people?

On Saturday night the husband and I went out to meet some back-home political friends who were in town for the weekend and to catch up with a few of the husband’s coworkers who had an evening out planned at this particular establishment.

Our plan was to meet our back-home friends around 8:30, join up with the husband’s coworkers when they arrived at 9:30, and be home by 11. We drove.

14th St. NW is a popular strip but the nearest Metro stations are some blocks away so we felt that driving ourselves and paying to park would be the best option. It was not. Although drive time from our street to Black Jack and the Pearl Dive was seven minutes, we spent an hour in the car searching high and low for a place to park that was still within the District. We almost took a chance on a place that had uniformed parking “attendants” but when the man directed us to park behind two BMWs that obviously belonged to residents of the condos above us, and to leave the keys and be back by 2 a.m., we decided it wasn’t worth $16 to be parked shadily in someone else’s private garage with our keys left behind.

At 9:10 and running out of gas in the car, the husband dropped me off at the door to meet our friends who had been comfortably wedged in by the indoor bocce court for about half an hour. Not too long after that, the husband himself appeared, having made a deal with a less shady parking lot much closer to our evening venue.

With four of us now crammed into the amount of personal space comfortably shared by two Americans and shouting at one another to be heard, conversation went easily enough considering all outside factors. When the bocce court opened up, we hustled ourselves into the narrow court for a game, mostly to have breathing room for a few minutes.

As we left the court and the husband reset the scoreboard for the next group, a young man tapped him on the shoulder for attention.

“Are you gay or straight?” he inquired of the husband.

“Straight,” replied the husband, obviously.

“Oh good, because these lovely young ladies would like to meet you,” said the (rude) young man, gesturing to three preening girls who appeared to have left no merchandise whatsoever on the shelves at H&M.

“I’d like them to meet my wife,” said the husband, to the unmitigated shock of all four.

Ahem. Nicely done by the husband, of course, but excuse me? Since when is “are you gay or straight?” the first and an appropriate question to ask of a stranger in a bar? What about “are you here with anyone?” What about, if you’re an interested young lady, approaching a guy on your own instead of sending your front man to check out the situation a la 5th grade? And why would either gay or straight be a fine response to your question but “I’m married” comes out of left field? How about some subtlety, people? How about some art?

Our group of sardines moved then to the other end of the bar where we continued shouted conversations until midnight. By then, having chosen only Pepsi and a piece of pie as my bar fare for the evening, I was more than ready to wander down the street to the little Toyota and coast our way home.

Waiting by the stairs with the back-home friends, we ignored the bouncer telling us we had to move until, at last, the husband appeared. His delay was attributed to another string of foolishly primped women who grabbed his arm and wanted to know “where you’re going so early, handsome.”

What happened to buying someone a drink, eh? And does NO ONE do a ring check anymore??

The bar scene has never been our scene. If we are out and about, the husband and I would much rather be sequestered in a little Irish pub with one or two friends, generally the youngest patrons in the place, enjoying a drink and a sandwich that comes with too many specialty house fries. We have never been part of the see-and-be-seen, come-in-with-friends-leave-with-a-cute-stranger crowd. The thrill of the getting dressed up and seeing where the night and the drink take ya is not a thrill that appeals to us. Well, at least not around others.

Although we had arrived at the bar in cold, clear weather, we exited into a freezing and swirling world of stinging little snows. I was glad–it reminded me of home.

An unrelated victory, also, I’m an American and prefer to do my own black bars

Dietrich waited on the edge of my seat as they announced the Golden Globe winners on Sunday night.

In October I took Dietrich to the vet for his annual shots and all that good stuff. I didn’t realize, having never taken a dog to the vet for shots, that the body part of choice for vaccinations is one of the front legs, and between the shoulder blades will work for back up if necessary.

Dietrich came to us not liking his front paws handled and until October, that really wasn’t a problem. It turns out he also doesn’t like being poked in the back with a syringe.

I’m ashamed to say that I let the vet take Dietrich to The Back Room for his shots and am pleased to say the pup forgave me the second he was back in the exam room, wiggling his 85 lbs. into the safe haven of my lap. I was sitting on a chair.

In short, the vet told me that Dietrich is spoiled and to bring his dad next time he needs shots. Ahem. Well yes, of course he’s spoiled, he’s an only dog and cute as a darn button and have you felt those soft-as-a-lamb ears he’s sporting??

But I took to heart what she was saying because Dietrich is a big dog to act spoiled and touchy about his paws and I have been working with him ever since.

Three months, a few bags of treats, lots of patience and praise, and a chomp on my arm which HE then cried about, and this week when we came inside from a muddy walk, for the first time everDietrich lifted his front paws (not at the same time!) to be wiped!

I was so proud of him that I gave him extra treats and promised to take him to Disney World.

This victory, really unrelated to much, makes me confident I can write a book. Daily effort, patience, and starting from nothing to eventually produce exactly the result I’m going for? Having a dog and writing a book can’t really be that different.

In other news, I, like many Americans who have a certain veneration for thinking for ourselves and making our own decisions, am opposing the SOPA/PIPA legislation currently under consideration by our Congress. Why? Because in an attempt to stop online piracy (good), the government is about to overstep its bounds and restrict the rights of private citizens to share and access information across the interwebs (so so so bad).

Please see this page for information, and then click on the Wiki home icon and you’ll see our point.

Want to contact your representative about this? Look up your lawmaker here, if you don’t already know who it is: http://votesmart.org/.

Bloggers unite! Doing our own black bars is our right!

New Year’s Eve, farm style

On Saturday the husband and I packed up the dog, an overnight’s worth of food for him and clothes for us, and headed north to the in-laws’ farm for the second time in a week.

Dietrich was elated to be back with his cousin–a long-haired female German Shepherd who was far more welcoming to the mild-mannered chap than anyone expected her to be–and the husband and I enjoyed the relaxed pace of not-Christmas.

Shooting guns at midnight is the standard celebratory measure on the farm. The husband and I thought ahead to put Dietrich in the barn so he wouldn’t be scared, but he found his way out and shortly after hearing 13 rifles fired in quick succession and close proximity, also found his way into the house and hid out, shaking, under the table. The mother in law was kind enough to pretend she didn’t notice him inside.

When we got home, we washed the dog in the bathtub, a first for us all. He did his best to stoically resist, pretending his legs gave out after we lured him into the bathroom with treats and then stiff-arming the bathtub as the husband lifted him in, one half at a time. Eventually all four paws were in the tub, the bag of bacon treats was empty, and the forlorn but clean Dietrich emerged.

That’s when we realized how much water an 80 lb. Rott holds and decided to blow dry him for all our sakes. Although not thrilled with this, the dog has the patience of a saint (something about he knows he was rescued and we are the bearers of the treats or whatever) and bore his 1800 watt ionic burden with steely resolve.

I can’t believe you are photographing this humiliation. I smell like a girl.
But I am ready for my close-up!

Thursday morning is a second phone interview with A Certain Organization. I had a phone interview with them about two weeks ago, for an editorial position, and was referred to the media relations director after that. So really it’s a first second phone interview. I have heard excellent things about A Certain Organization and would really love to work for them.

Tonight the husband is at a watch party for the Iowa caucuses and I am home, blogging and plotting how to begin a freelance career. And also eating cookies before they go stale.