Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Greatest Place on Earth

Who knew that Texas had more to offer than humidity and good Mexican food? Texas also is home to a little town called Austin that captured my finicky heart.

Austin, TX is an oasis of awesomeness so vast that I was barely able to scratch the surface. Now before you start looking up the airfare prices to Austin or packing up your suitcases, let me break down why this place is so cool.

First, the people are awesome. This point is the most important but also the most biased of all categories. I was privileged enough to be hosted by a good friend of mine named Bevin Gaines. Not only did she boost the cities coolness by a couple of percentage point, but she was also patched in to the Cool People Association of Austin Texas (CPAAT). The members of this group also happen to be MBA students at the University of Texas. Regardless, Bevin was able to introduce me to a lot of people during the weekend and all of them were as friendly as Casper (the friendly ghost, in case you did not catch the pop reference). But the cool people did not stop there. From the lady that helped me with directions to the bouncer with a tattooed ear, all of these Austin folks were cool as ice.

Second, the city is built for relaxing in the sun, and partying in the dark. If you take the hippieness of Portland, OR, mix it with the good times of New Orleans, and splash it with a dash of Chicago’s club scene, you get Austin. The stores are eclectic, the bars are cheap and plentiful, and the clubs are so close that you can walk to several in one night. But what about the cover charges? Glad you asked, because there are none! Come in, go out, does not matter, just have fun. The most important part of Austin is the live music. You gotta love a city where live music venues are just as plentiful as a bar or club. Imagine spending the fifteen minute wait for a restaurant table listening to a band blast Ray Charles in the restaurant’s outdoor cantina area. The parks are full of dog owners and dog lovers, and there is a lake that runs through downtown that incorporates the perfect amount of natural elements into the urban setting. By the way, dog owners in Austin seem to let their dogs be real dogs. They play and wrestle and growl and bark at each other without anyone throwing a hissy fit about how scared they are for their dog. They are about the only city in Texas (or in the south for that matter) that seems to really promote fitness.

I am just thoroughly impressed with the city. It has the student life and all that comes with it through the University of Texas. It has awesome whether 300 days a year, and lacks the ridiculous humidity of Houston. Surprisingly the terrain has character and the ground is fertile enough to promote wineries in the surrounding areas. The only drawback to Austin seems to be the fact that people are catching on to how great it is. The city seems to be growing quickly, and when the masses come, creativity goes out. It does have its bad neighborhoods, and a large amount of homeless, but the city also does a lot to help those in need.

Austin gets two thumbs and two big toes up, I just have to create more reasons to get up there now.


The shame, the shame, this is why you should never lie in the first place. They come back when you least expect it. I was talking to my sister the other day and she reminded me of a night in high school in which I encountered my first real hook up. I was at a house party and one of the girls that I had a crush on (who happened to be a white girl) pulled me into a dark room and proceeded to give me the ole’ Georgia Dome. That would be fallatio for all the squares in the room. It was nice being reminded of that house party, but it rehashed the fact that I had fabricated the entire fluid exchange.

It was a lie, a bold faced lie, told in defense of my shameful innocence. I had honestly forgotten about the whole thing (funny how things that never happened slip from your memory) but once my sister brought it up, the whole scenario reshaped itself in my head. I wanted to correct her then, but I just could not bring myself to doing it. I was afraid of the disappointment or the shock incurred from this revelation. Most of all, I did not want to damage the rock solid trust that we share.

Well Nichole, the truth is out, I am sorry for lying and I hope you can forgive me. The reasons for putting this in a blog and not in a private note or convo with the sis, is because she might not be the only one that is in the dark on this secret past. My best friend Jon may have gotten the story too, and likely anyone else that was curious about my sexual past during the time that I had none. So to all of you also, I am sorry, and slightly ashamed.

I remember how it all started too, I felt jealous of all the attention my sister was getting form the opposite sex and coped by making something up that would give me some credibility in the game area. The story was definitely all fantasy because I did feel pretty left out in high school when I was lacking in the female attention area. Honestly, I put this into one of those insecure high school efforts to make myself into someone much cooler. This is the only really big lie that I can remember from that era, but I am sure little ones such as “I did not break the cafeteria window” or “Really Mom, I do not know why the teacher hates me” also are somewhere in the history books.

Well that’s it. I really do feel bad about betraying my sisters trust, even if it was a long time ago, so please make it easy on me and don’t yell too much at me about it.

Now that I got that out, why not another one. Confessions on a two for the price of one sale.

I used to steal from my mother. GASP!!! When I was in elementary school, I would take money from my mom’s purse and buy candy with it. The school had a candy store that tempted all the kids to get candy, and I was sucked in like a…well like a kid in a candy store. The sad part is that I do not think that I was deprived of candy money on occasion, but I wanted more to increase my cache of goods. The thievery manifested itself mostly in the quarters and dimes. But I remember on some particularly bold days, I would go for the dollar, and the coup de grace was that one day I snatched a $5. That was so much money to an elementary kid that it satisfied my fix for a couple of weeks.

In the end, I had more candy (and cavities) than I knew what to do with. I had the guilty conscious from stealing from my mother to buy candy at my Christian Elementary School, and I had the realization that I had way more candy than I knew what to do with. I was a duffle bag boy when it came to the stuff, I literally had one of those gym bags filled with candy. To ease my conscious slightly, I decided to give the candy to charity, and by charity I mean the kids of the neighborhood. I put a disclaimer on the next series of recollections, as I often wonder if this story has been inflated beyond recognition in my head over the years.

I took my gym bag full of gobstoppers, airheads, bubble yum, sugar daddies, etc. and got together all the kids in the back yard. I then proceeded to throw handfuls of candy into the air and let the kids try and pick it all up. Now that I look back on this, I was the first one to ‘make it rain’. True I was raining down gummies instead of twenties, but to kids it was the same. So this giant free for all of candy continued until there was no more candy left to give, and I felt better about the whole endeavor.

I will have to wait until I get my life rewinder to see how it actually played out in real life, but I am pretty sure the part about me being hoisted in the air and carried on shoulders is 100% accurate.

Well, stealing from the hand that fed me is the other big bad of my life, and it is a shameful moment that tarnishes my otherwise impeccably behaved childhood.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

My Beef with Barack Obama

Once upon a time, a man entered into a hateful world preaching words of peace and hope. The man died at the hands of those he tried to help. He was thirty-three years old.

No I am not trying to say that Barack Obama is comparable to Jesus Christ, but I do believe that a message of hope is a dangerous one to preach…particularly to a people that are truly not ready to listen.

Every day I shift allegiance between Barack and Hilary, mostly conceding to go with whatever the current polls are reporting. Hilary appeals to my logic and sensibilities, while Barack pulls at my heartstrings. Reflecting my own values, I have most often sided with Hilary. She is a more electable candidate with more experience, clout, and defined initiatives. Barack is inspiring, young, charismatic, but lacks the credibility that can propel him into the presidency.

Strategically, Hilary is a shoe in for the democratic candidate. McCain will most likely be the republican candidate, and he is a VERY strong candidate. He has limitless experience, charisma, intelligence, and a war veteran to boot. Not only that, he is fairly liberal. The Democratic party will have to enter a strong candidate if they wish to defeat the Republican candidate. So we have Hilary and Obama, neither of which will have an easy fight. But who has the better chance. I say Hilary solely on the basis that she has strength in the same areas as McCain (experience and policies) but also has the advantage of the nations current anti-Republican sentiments. Obama would truly be pitting radical versus moderate change. That fight would be lost in the same way that Kerry lost the election. We are forgetting the demographics of this nation. We, as educated young people look around us and see this tremendous momentum for Barack, but we do not consider the fact that most of this country does not believe in undefined change. America can only take so much change and I am afraid Obama crosses that line of moderation.

I am even switching my mind as I speak this. Obama won South Carolina, but more importantly, he did so with more Democratic voters showing up than the Republican voters of 2004. What that means, in a red state, he could win the democratic vote assuming that voters supported their parties candidates. Something to think about. Perhaps things are more ready for change than we think. Contrarily, Bill Clinton hit on a good point when he stated that Jesse Jackson won that state in 1988 (I think that was the year). He was pointing out that a widely supported African American candidate could win in South Carolina because of the large numbers of African Americans, not because of the popularity of his policies.

Switching speeds. Let’s think about what would happen if Barack wins. First, he has to escape the inevitable risk of assassination. I will be the first to admit that times have changed for a black man running for president, it really seems feasible these days to have a black president. But, the risk is there. My thinking would put him at highest risk the moment it seems that he will win the democratic nomination. If after Super Tuesday, he has a commanding lead, he better double his bodyguards. Luckily, he is probably more valuable alive than dead, in the eyes of his opponents. Barack is more likely to loose the general election than Hilary, but who knows. So lets say he gets elected, and survives long enough to shake things up in Washington. The message of ‘I am going to change Washington’ is dangerous because Washington cannot be changed by one man. Washington was built on distributed authority, between the White House and Congress. One cannot make real change without the other, it is the safeguard built into our government to prevent dictators and such. So in order to actually create the change that he speaks of, Barack needs to have the support of those he is trying to change. People do not like change, and congressmen are people too.

The most terrifying result of an Obama election is a stalemate between a wishful president and a stubborn congress. It will be nearly as bad as having an incompetent president and a semi-intelligent congress. I like Barack, and I want to vote for him, but I do not think the time is right. There would need to be a middle (wo)man between what Barack wishes to do and what can be done in the current situations. The world needs to be ‘softened up’ to his kind of change. Who can best do that, Hilary! She knows how to play the game. She is a bit slimy, a bit too political, but that is the game they are playing. She is trained in the ways of Washington. I once watched a movie where a card prodigy enters a poker game with slightly less talented players. All was well until, unbeknownst to him, the other players started playing by their own rules. Through cheating, his opponents put the best player into a large amount of debt that essentially kept him in their pocket. The moral, you can only succeed to the level in which you understand the game. The game of Washington seems to far removed from hope and optimism to enable Barack’s success.

I still am pulling for the guy though. If the giants can win, Barack can have a successful presidency. Anything is possible.