Half-Life and Times 

Saturday, August 28, 2004


Piedmont Bloggers Conference

(The following post was hand-written while eating lunch and downing a couple of pints of Rogue Dead Guy Ale at Pepper's Pizza immediately after the conference.)

First of all, let me say thanks to Ed Cone and David Hoggard for instigating the whole thing (Ed won't take credit for actually organizing anything, but I think he's being modest) - what apparently started as a local gathering for five or six people turned in the course of about three weeks into an auditorium full of bloggers, blog commenters, blogging reporters, non-blogging reporters, local office holders and would-be office holders (some blogging, some non-bloggers) and radio talk show hosts discussing blogs and local politics, blogs and other media and blogs as social agents.  My biggest regret is that neither Lex nor JennySlash were able to join us.  My second biggest regret is that once again I missed an opportunity to introduce myself to Ruby Sinreich and Todd Morman, both of whom I've read in various newsgroups and publications for years.  On the other hand, I finally got to meet JW (yay!).

I'm sure one of the biggest surprises for anyone that reads my blog will be to hear that for the whole conference, I didn't say a fucking word.  Okay, there was one across-the-aisle smart-ass aside to Todd Morman, but that was it.  In retrospect, that's not that big a surprise, at least to me.  Some years ago, while interviewing for a job with Duke Henthorne (from whom I learned more about people management than anyone ever except my dad), he made a comment about watching me in meetings listening to people talk (I mean really listening rather than just waiting for a gap so that I could say my own piece) and noted that when I finally did say something, it meant something.  (JennySlash is probably shrieking hysterically right now as this is not necessarily a skill that has translated well into my home life.)  I was really in that kind of listening mode today.  Okay, I've also had a stress headache for a couple of days too, but that only had a little bit to do with it.

Another realization that I finally made is that for many people that I read, blogging is an extension (if not a core part) of what they do either for a living or as their avocation.  What that means is that while I may disagree vehemently and totally with John Hood from the John Locke Foundation on many issues, I'm not in a good position to actually debate him since he has much more time to research issues.  That doesn't mean he's right (well, okay, he is right as opposed to left, just not necessarily right as opposed to wrong), it just means that in an argument, I'm probably going to lose big time.  I'll say the same thing about folks like Ruby and Matt Compton and WillR when it comes to local politics - they seem to live and breathe this stuff while I'll sheepishly admit that I'll hit a few local candidate websites and then carry my little clipping from the Indy's election issue into the polls on Election Day.  With work consuming 45-50 hours per week and marriage, running, photography, keeping up a house and yard and the other things that interest me taking the rest of my time, I don't have the cycles to delve deeply into these issues the way some other folks do.  And before JennySlash take offense at being just another one of those things I've gotta do, let me say now (and for the record) that being JennySlash's husband is by far the most important and most rewarding and most enjoyable part of my life.  So hush.

The biggest downside of the conference for me was that there were way too many people that I wanted to talk to and there was way too little time to do it since I had a hard stop at 12:15.  There were a whole bunch of upsides, meeting JW (she's shorter in real life than she looks on the blogosphere) being one of the principal ones!  Putting faces to blogs was certainly another.  And I did have a chance to meet a few folks during the breaks, like Billy Jones and DK Beckwith and others, which was all icing on a very good cake!  Kudos, by the way, to the Greensboro News and Record for being pretty cutting edge as far as blogging goes.  As (I believe) Todd Morman pointed out, you don't see any blogs out there from people admitting a relationship with the Charlotte Observer or the Raleigh News and Observer like you do with the N&R.

So it was good!  It was very good and I'm hoping it will spawn all kinds of side projects and smaller group get-togethers and larger conferences and such because I think there's something to all of this.  I'm not sure what yet (and no, I'm not succumbing to blogger utopia think) but I'm interested in seeing where all this leads.

Posted by Tony @ 4:55:00 pm |

Friday, August 27, 2004



From ACT via The Poor Man, comes a transcript of then-Governor Bush with Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation during the 2000 campaign:

So is his new call to stop 527's a flip?  Or a flop?  Or is there some nuance I'm missing...?

Posted by Tony @ 4:45:00 pm |



Had a chance to catch a little bit of the US vs. Russia women's basketball game during breakfast this morning and I wanna know where they recruited some of the Russian team - Moscow School of Modeling?  Yowza!

Posted by Tony @ 4:30:00 pm |

Thursday, August 26, 2004


Being Judged

We dropped off our entry forms at the Carolina Club tonight for the Paint-By-Members Show.  This is the third year that JennySlash has entered her work, the second for me.  Understand that JennySlash has been showing her artwork for something like 35 years now and I've been showing my photography for, uh, exactly one year (since last year's Carolina Club Paint-By-Members Show).  It's a weird thing.  I'm no stranger to public performance, having played the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar in 8th Grade at Lilburn Middle School in Gwinnett County, Georgia (I was a STAR!) and having performed in every freakin' school band I could find in high school (except for orchestra), in competition with a couple of friends to have the longest credits in our senior yearbook.  From memory, I count:

There was more but my yearbooks are all in storage somewhere.  The point is that those performances happened and then they were gone (except for that crispy old cassette tape of JCSuperstar that Mom insists on dragging out from time to time.  Hearing oneself at 13 singing "Gethsemane" is not something I'd recommend without the serious lubrication afforded by prior consumption of 2 to 7 beers.) whereas the photos I entered in the club show last year were displayed for a month.  At the Carolina Club next to the Alumni Center. During football season (not that more than 7 or 8 people were showing up to games by the end of that pathetic year).  The wonderful thing was that a long-time University booster actually bought one of my photos opening night as a gift for a writer than I am somewhat acquainted with - that was extremely cool!  The less wonderful thing was then waiting for another month hoping that the phone would ring and being at least a little disappointed that it didn't.  The totally bizarre thing was standing around at the opening reception while people looked at all the work - I have no idea how artists deal with those gallery openings when they're the sole artist being featured.

I am constantly judging myself and my work, sometimes looking at a particular photo and going "damn!  that's pretty fucking good!" and then an hour later looking at the same photo and deciding that it's hackneyed crapola.  Sometimes my inner argument is more along the lines of "is this art (or Art) or are they just pretty pictures?" which is a much more pleasant argument since pretty pictures (like pretty girls) need no excuses.  I can live with (and probably sell) pretty pictures.  But it's this whole judging thing, including my own self-judging, that's kept me from doing more promotion of my photography.  I did take one positive step towards actually identifying myself as an artist by joining the Orange County Artists Guild, which at this point just means that I gave them money.  Prior to actually showing in the spring show or the fall studio tour or whatever, I have to be juried in (yep, more judging) so I'm still a little in limbo until then.  In the meantime, I've done little else to promote my stuff, I think in large part because I'm not sure I'm ready to ask people to judge if it's "good enough" for them to show or sell or promote or buy.

None of this is some sort of transparent attempt to get you folks to praise my photography, by the way - I'm for the most part convinced that it's pretty good.  And having my performance appraised is certainly nothing new - that happens informally every day and formally at least once a year at work.  But this is different somehow (not quite sure HOW yet) and it may be my resolution of that question that gets me to move beyond the club show and into other venues.

Anyway, after much analysis, coin-flipping and entrail reading, I finally decided on the three photos for the show - I'll let you know which ones and how they do in a later post.

Posted by Tony @ 10:10:00 pm |

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


Things I Think About While Running - Inspiration Edition

Weird running mix today - not sure what I was thinking.  Led Zeppelin to the Pretenders to New Order to Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) - thanks (or blame) to PC for that last one.  And my current favorite original soundtrack cut - Ming Tea's BBC from the closing credits of the first Austin Powers movie.


Will ya.

A couple of months ago, to mark the 4th anniversary of my self-identification as a "runner", I started writing a post about what inspires me to run.  I wasn't very happy with it and never posted it, but watching the Olympics brought some of it back to mind.  I started running when I had a pre-fortieth birthday physical and realized that not only was I sixty pounds overweight (no surprise that) but that my blood pressure had also gotten pretty high.  That was enough to get me started.  After a couple of months, I apparently hit some threshold and realized that I was actually enjoying it (that had never happened in previous attempts to run).  But after 4 years and many, many miles, sometimes it ain't all that fun and I need something else to keep me going.

Make me tea?

Make love to me.

The young guys running without shirts on the trails around here don't inspire - I didn't have washboard abs when I was in my 20's and that's not what I'm aiming for today.  Their female counterparts are no inspiration either, although they certainly improve the scenery until they quickly move on beyond my failing sight.  The 40-year-olds that look like I did a few years ago might remind me of how far I've come, but they're really only a sort of "before" picture and I've got plenty of those around.  Watching Olympians like Bekele run a faster last lap in the 10K than most 1500 meter runners will run or watching Deena Kastor run a beautiful marathon to take the bronze is inspiring in the way that incredible feats of human will and endurance are always inspiring, but they don't make me want to go run 5 miles every morning (sometimes they just make me tired!).

Put on the telly

To the BBC!

Nah, the people that inspire me to run are the folks like the guy running towards me on the Greenway Sunday - well into his sixties, shirtless and brown like he was competing with Zonker Harris for the national tanning championship, looking a little like Ray Walston did as Popeye's Pappy.  It's the petite woman at least 20 years older than me that is out on the Greenway almost every morning I am, no matter how cold - walking a lot early last year and now running every day I see her.  It's the 70+ year old guy I've seen out there a number of times over the years,  bushy white hair and mustache and seemingly no end of stamina.  I spent the first 40 years of my life NOT running - I'm now planning to spend the next 40 running and these guys are my heroes.

BBC one! BBC two!  BBC three!  BBC four!

BBC five!  BBC six! BBC seven! BBC heaven!!

You see, I realized over the weekend that I've really been training for the Senior Olympics.  I figure that the folks that have been running since their teens or 20's will have so many joint problems and injuries after 40 years that they'll be hitting the pool or cycling or something with less impact, while I'll be fresh and injury-free!  Winning through attrition!  Well, it's a plan...

BBC peace!

Posted by Tony @ 11:00:00 am |

Monday, August 23, 2004


Safe Rule

Last Christmas, Dad gave a bunch of us those little RC stunt cars.  They were quite a lot of fun as long as they lasted, but in the end that wasn't very long.  However, I've continued to get lots of enjoyment from the instruction sheet that came with them.  You can click on the picture at the bottom of the post to get the full effect, but I've gone ahead and typed in the "safe rule" for usage below:

1. prohibition against 3 year old below of child usage;

2. play attention, you of finger, hair, clothes...etc. don't touch and car wheel, in order to prevent quilt harm;

3. car while driving not want to by hand grasp it;

4. don't let the remote control close to any fire with car original;(such as electric stove, stove beside or mightiness of sunlight bottom)

5. not want the place in danger to play;(such as street, steep slope...etc.)

6. don't let the wet water of car, and not want under the rainy day is open-air usage;

7. not want on the sand ground to play;

8. forbid the child to tear open the remote control with the car;

9. if the car dash to piecesed, and should pass by the per son check or professional personnel maintain the rear can continue to use.

I'm particularly fond of number 2 and 4 - gotta prevent harm to quilts and keep away from Mr. Sun's mighty ass!  And I'll admit that while I'm usually pretty good at figuring out what was really meant by these, I have no idea what number 9 implies.

Posted by Tony @ 1:25:00 pm |