D.C. should pay for my daily Metro fare

The Bush administration expects the District of Columbia to pay for security for President Bush’s inauguration next week. Consider:

OMB spokesman Chad Kolton said no additional appropriation is needed for the inauguration.

“We think that an appropriate balance of money from [the annual reimbursement] fund and from homeland security grants is the most effective way to cover the additional cost the city incurs,” Kolton said. “We recognize the city has a special burden to bear for many of these events. . . . That’s expressly why in the post-9/11 era we are providing additional resources.”

Allow me to pull out my Official Bush Administration Buzzword Checklist&#153. I see here that “homeland security” is on the list, “9/11” is on the list, and what’s this? Oh, good one, Mr. Kolton. You get triple, super-duper bonus points for “we are providing additional resources” in a situation in which you’re not providing additional resources.

To clarify the issue a little further, consider:

[Mayor Anthony A.] Williams estimated that the city’s costs for the inauguration will total $17.3 million, most of it related to security. City officials said they can use an unspent $5.4 million from an annual federal fund that reimburses the District for costs incurred because of its status as the capital. But that leaves $11.9 million not covered, they said.

“We want to make this the best possible event, but not at the expense of D.C. taxpayers and other homeland security priorities,” said Gregory M. McCarthy, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff. “This is the first time there hasn’t been a direct appropriation for the inauguration.”

But really, why should D.C. officials complain? They were going to waste the $11.9 million on “increasing hospital capacity, equipping firefighters with protective gear and building transit system command centers.” No one will miss those in an attack on The Homeland.

Surprisingly, my congressman has condemned the Bush administration. Consider:

A spokesman for Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, which oversees the District, agreed with the mayor’s stance. He called the Bush administration’s position “simply not acceptable.”

“It’s an unfunded mandate of the most odious kind. How can the District be asked to take funds from important homeland security projects to pay for this instead?” said Davis spokesman David Marin.

A good question indeed.

Current events matter, however “quaint”

The Senate Judiciary Committee began confirmation hearings today for President Bush’s nomination for Attorney General of the United States, Alberto Gonzalez. I haven’t written too much about this aspect of politics (the war and its surrounding issues) over the last year, but this is important. Rather than go into the details of Mr. Gonzalez’s past regarding his previous justification for prisoner torture, since I assume everyone has at least some knowledge of the issues, I’d rather discuss the implications. “Slippery slope” is a term thrown about recently, which is interesting because it applies so much more specifically to torture than any other context in which it’s being used. Our military, with approval and legal justification from Mr. Gonzalez and other government officials, raped, sodomized, and electrocuted prisoners (many of them innocent of any crime) to gain information. This is wrong. We can believe in an eye-for-an-eye, however useless it may be, but in the current context, it will only fuel further hatred and vengeance. We are better than this and hopefully smarter.

One common argument is that captured terrorists must be made to reveal any information that might be useful to American authorities. I do not disagree with that, but is this the best way to get it? Does torture fit the bigger goal of preventing terrorism? How does torture help our image with the world? What does it do to the respect we believe and teach about our ideals? Does it encourage our allies to support us when we claim the moral high ground but routinely violate the basic human rights that we claim to represent? No, it doesn’t, and that’s because there is validity to the “hearts and minds” aspect of this war.

Just as significant, how can we reconcile our ideals of freedom and human rights with these occurrences from 2002?

o February 7: Bush signs an order declaring he has the authority to suspend compliance with the conventions and reserving the right to do so “in this or future conflicts.” The order also says the conventions on treatment of prisoners of war do not apply to al Qaeda or “unlawful combatants” from the Taliban.

o August 1: Bybee writes to Gonzales arguing that the president has the power to issue orders that violate the conventions as well as international and U.S. laws prohibiting torture. Bybee’s memo also argues that to be defined as torture, conduct must inflict pain severe enough to cause organ failure or death. In addition, the memo lays out several defenses for military members or other U.S. government workers were they to be accused of torture.

How can the president give himself a blanket exemption from international conventions, signed in good faith by officials of the United States? How does the president have power to issue orders that violate U.S. law? Are these arguments we really want to accept? We do not need to be beholden to international will, but we can’t agree to a set of rules and then abandon them because they’re inconvenient. It would take a long time (realistically never, but…) before we reached dictatorship, but how much closer to empire do we wish to come than we already are? Our current streak of unquestioned nationalism (“homeland”) and “with us or against us” patriotism is scary to me and I’m not the only one who is noticing. America is the greatest country in the world, but that doesn’t mean we’re perfect.

From today’s confirmation hearing, Mr. Gonzalez said something interesting:

“I will no longer represent only the White House. I will represent the United States of America and its people. I understand the difference between the two roles,” President Bush’s counsel told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Gonzalez will not represent me because I know that torture is unacceptable and any attempt to elevate the president above United States law is illegal and unacceptable. Being against Mr. Gonzalez’s nomination isn’t about attacking President Bush or scoring political points because the ideals of human rights and freedom which America stands for are more important than that. This is about what’s the morally right path. We can’t talk moral values and “What Would Jesus Do” and still support the barbaric treatment of other human beings, no matter how evil those people may be. If there is a vengeful God, as many believe (myself not included), He will hold individuals who perpetuate evil and terror responsible for their actions. Our task is to limit (end) the threat to America the world posed by these individuals, not to extract our own vengeance. We must not let those responsible for policies of torture slide by because of indifference or worse, because of acceptance.

For more info, please read this and this. For an interesting historical note with some (however minor) correlation, consider this.

That sound – you know that boom? That’s my mind blowing.

Today is January 5, 2005, so everyone knows what that means, right? You have it marked on your calendar so that you remember, as if you need a reminder, of exactly where you’re going to be at 9:01 pm tonight. You have it marked, don’t you? It’s only the most special day of the year. Really, there’s no other way to describe it than to say it’s Christmas in January. Alias, The Greatest Television Show Ever&#153, returns for Season 4 after a long hiatus.

When we last left our heroine, Sydney Bristow, she was sitting in a bank vault in Wittenberg, reading a Top Secret CIA folder implicating Sydney’s father, Jack, in some horrible secret, a present from the presumably please let it be true but not really dead Lauren Reed. Jack walks into the room as Sydney begins to cry from the newly revealed secret. Moments before, we’d been fooled into believing the world might get a little sweeter. Sydney and Agent Michael Vaughn were embraced in a passionate kiss, standing next to a big hole in the ground dug by Lauren Reed, who’d been looking for a Rambaldi artifact. And the kissing was very open and determined, since they didn’t have to worry about Lauren any more because Sydney pushed her into the hole. The kiss was important, since the two lovers were separated after being taunted by circumstances for nearly three years. And when I say circumstances, I really mean deliciously bizarre chaos.

At the beginning of Season 3 (really, at the end of Season 2, but that’s semantics), Sydney returned from an unremembered journey to find her hard-earned love affair with Agent Vaughn demolished, lost in his struggle to move beyond the perceived reality that she had died two years earlier in a post-fight-to-the-death fire with her evil nemesis Allison, who had taken the appearance of Sydney’s ex-roommate Francie. In his efforts to start his life over, Vaughn quit the CIA and became a teacher. During that time, he met, fell in love with, and married NSA agent Lauren Reed. Ms. Reed turned out to be a double-agent, working with (and sleeping with) Mr. Sark, former independent assassin/terrorist turned leader of the North American cell of The Covenant. The Covenant used Ms. Reed to seduce Agent Vaughn to convince him to return to the CIA so that she could steal secrets and generally be evil.

The plan worked until Sydney mysteriously returned from the dead. Only she hadn’t been dead, she’d been a brain-washed secret agent for the Covenant, which had faked her death after the fire. Allison was Sark’s lover before Sydney killed her. Sark doesn’t like Sydney too much, but that’s okay because she’s not a really big supporter of him either. Their relationship works that way.

So Sydney came back to a life that didn’t make any sense. Her lover, Agent Vaughn was now married to Lauren Reed, so there’s obviously conflict. But Sydney faced a bigger immediate problem. While she was gone, her intelligent, intuitive father knew that she wasn’t dead. When he went looking for her, believing that a conspiracy existed, he became so determined that he skirted the rules. He’s a spy, too, so he’s good at that stuff. Anyway, the CIA didn’t like this, so they locked him up in a scary institution. Jack got all weird Zen during his imprisonment, growing a beard and speaking in double-speak. Eventually, Sydney got him released because she needed an ally. She’d done some bad things during her lost two years, things that couldn’t come to light if she wanted to stay in the CIA. And since Agent Vaughn was in the CIA again, she wanted to stay. Screw Lauren. So the conflict and back-stabbing continued throughout the season as Sydney (our heroine, remember) worked through every bad situation. Sometimes, she even had to beat people up. It was cool.

And that’s where we left our heroine (and hero, Vaughn, because he kicks ass, too) in May 2004 when Season 3 ended, sitting in a bank vault in Wittenberg with new information about her father. And now, tonight, Alias is back with the two-hour premiere of Season 4, which I will watch in High Definition, which makes me happier than it should. (That’s a lie. It’s Alias, so all other rules of logic and common sense aren’t applicable.)

Of course, I could be a little apprehensive about tonight. I’ve waited a long time for the return of Alias. What if it doesn’t live up to expectations? What if J.J. Abrams is too distracted by his newest creation of genius, Lost? (If you’re counting excellent television shows, Mr. Abrams is three-for-three with Alias, Lost, and Felicity. What can I say, I’m a 12-year-old girl…) Most worrisome, what if the hiatus was too long and not enough people return to the series? I spent less time in my mother’s womb than the eight months that Alias has been gone. But I’m confident and there’s a simple reason: after only 7&#189 months of gestation, look at how perfectly I turned out. If the new season of Alias is even close to that level, I’m sure we’ll get the best season yet of The Greatest Television Show Ever&#153.

Bowling gutter balls through 9 frames, with a Turkey in the 10th

Rather than review last night’s game, I decided ahead of time to try an experiment. It wasn’t an original experiment, because I stole the idea from Bill Simmons, but it was still an experiment. The idea was simple: I kept a running log of everything bouncing around my head or coming out of my mouth during the game. I recorded emotions, thoughts, reactions, opinions, and conclusions as they developed. I may be the only person who finds this interesting, and at 2302 words, I don’t truly expect everyone to read it through to the end, but it’s preserved here for anyone interested in knowing what I thought about the Sugar Bowl or what it’s like for me to watch a game. What follows really needs no other explanation, so here it is. (Editor’s note: No remote controls were harmed in the watching of this game.)


8:01 pm – Enough about the Tigers!
8:02 pm – Auburn thinks they’re going to walk over Tech. We’ll see. “Don’t sleep on Virginia Tech” is right.
8:05 pm – And now the nonsensical advertising starts.
8:08 pm – Terry Bowden looks like one of the lollipop kids from The Wizard of Oz.
8:11 pm – Hey, look, it’s the Auburn kick line. Where are the Jazz Hands?
8:15 pm – Frank Beamer for President!
8:16 pm – Bryan Randall, ACC Player of the Year. That sounds sweet, doesn’t it? Not bad for the projected 6th 1st place Hokies.
8:19 pm – That ball wasn’t catchable, but if it’s any closer, that’s pass interference. Not a good sign that that wasn’t called.
8:21 pm – Where the fuck is the flag on the block in the back?! The incessant phone calls to my brother begin.
8:25 pm – This is not a good start. Maybe a tackle would be good…
8:26 pm – Get a little more excited. You won the SEC Player of the Year. It’s a major award!
8:28 pm – Oh, it sucks to settle for a field goal, doesn’t it? It seems to me that part of mentioning that Auburn has the 1st ranked scoring defense is to also mention that Virginia Tech has the 3rd ranked scoring defense. It’s so obvious, it’s scary.
8:32 pm – Oh, it seems like good plays won’t be exclusive to one team. Eh, heh.
8:34 pm – We’re aiming for the other end zone, guys. Turn around and run that way.
8:39 pm – It’s 3rd and 16, contain the quarterback. Over-pursuing him only lets him find his receiver. Damn.
8:42 pm – I’m pretty sure that guy’s head isn’t in the helmet that flew off.
8:43 pm – 4th and Goal from the 2 and you need to think about it? Oh, and doesn’t it suck to get stopped in the red zone? Again. (I’m officially frustrated. One more bad offensive play, and I’ll be jumping off the deck onto the back porch.
8:46 pm – Oh, you thought you were going to get us to jump offsides. Instead, you wasted your second timeout. Hahaha. Coaching wins these games. Just ask Frank Beamer if he wishes he’d kicked the field goal on the opening drive of the 2000 Sugar Bowl.
8:56 pm – One quarter down. The defensive is playing brilliantly in tight situations. I’m ignoring the aspect of this game that involves the offense putting the defense in this bad situation. Just completely ignoring it.
8:57 pm – Much better start to the 2nd quarter. Keep throwing the ball with some authority.
8:59 pm – You tell ’em, Frank. Forward progress counts in this game. Maybe it only counts for Auburn… They are really good, which I know because you’ve been telling us how awesome Auburn is. For the entire game. On every play. But it’s not getting old. Boy, I could listen to that all game.
9:05 pm – 47 hours, 56 minutes until Alias!
9:06 pm – That was an awesome sack, Burchette! Nice job!
9:06 pm – Don’t lateral the friggin’ ball when half the field is wide open. Instead of a big gain, it’s a penalty. Play what’s in front of you. But we’re having such an easy time gaining yards…
9:09 pm – The first tinge of pain from screaming just snuck into my throat. Not a good sign.
9:13 pm – That’s a nice fucking throw, Randall. Way to thread the needle. Fuck, yeah!
9:14 pm – Play action to the tight end. King is always open. Just do it. I’m telling you.
9:15 pm – Not Mazzetta. Throw it to King. (And that was pass interference on that defensive back. His hands were all over Mazzetta.)
9:16 pm – Damn. That hole closed quickly.
9:18 pm – No, don’t go for it on 4th down, Frank. Did you read what I said about coaching winning these games? We should’ve kicked the field goal to open the game in 2000 and we should kick the field goal now. Auburn is out of timeouts now. That’s bad. Think. I’m going to throw up.
9:19 pm – Stupid, stupid call. Allen has caught, what, one pass all season, so you throw it to him? How about a reasonable play if you’re not going to call the smart play?
9:21 pm – And now the defense has to protect the rest of the team’s stupidity.
9:23 pm – What is this coverage? Just let Auburn walk into the end zone.
9:26 pm – This is why you kick the field goal. Not converting the 4th down shifts the momentum back to Auburn. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
9:28 pm – Hey, what do you know. Auburn’s third 4th and Goal. And what are they doing? Kicking the field goal. Why? Because that’s the right call. Damnit! And now it’s a 2 score game. If we kick the field goal, we’re still within a touchdown. Instead, we’re now down two scores. Why are we so stupid?
9:34 pm – Nice run, Eddie! Way to juke that defender. Excellent. Now score!
9:35 pm – Run, Bryan, run! Call a timeout! We have three and we can’t take them into the locker room.
9:36 pm – Instead of a timeout, you give me a false start. Rock.
9:37 pm – Now we take a timeout. A dropped pass and a penalty. At least we wasted 10 seconds off the clock. We don’t need those.
9:39 pm – 47 hours, 22 minutes until Alias!
9:40 pm – Oh, Auburn has the. Hardest. Defense. To. Score. On. In. College. Football? Really? Who knew? I’m glad you finally told us.
9:44 pm – Halftime. It’s 9-0 Auburn. This is the worst coached game in years for Frank Beamer. Tech highlights so far: we got to see Bruce Smith on the sideline. The highlight of the game so far: announcer Aaron Taylor being so excited that he appears two seconds away from crushing a beer can on his forehead.
10:04 pm – I want football, not a special video from Tom Petty. Give me football. (Remember, some of us have to work tomorrow.)
10:12 pm – Darryl Tapp, you rule! The lunch pale rocks.
10:12 pm – What is that scatter play? I’m amused, but that’s just ridiculous to waste time allowing VT to close in on the ball. Keep making stupid mistakes, though.
10:14 pm – We need a turnover. Now.
10:15 pm – Bam! Keep smacking him like that all night long.
10:16 pm – Again with the over-pursuing the quarterback. That leads to a 53-yard gain for Auburn. Stop it. These big plays are KILLING us.
10:18 pm – HOLDING! Where’s the flag? Come on.
10:19 pm – We’ve been playing with fire all night with the bad defense. We got burned and I fear we may not recover from this. If we don’t score on our drive, this game is over. Oh, and a roughing the kicker penalty. Good move. At least if we’re going to implode, we’ll do it completely.
10:25 pm – False start. That’s okay, because there’s no life left in the team. At this rate, the rest of the night should be fairly quick.
10:27 pm – Auburn sacks Randall. The collapse is almost complete. It’s not the coaching now; they’re just outplaying us. This defensive stand will determine if this game continues with any sense of drama.
10:31 pm – Defensive sack. That’s a good start. A turnover/defensive score would go a long way to making this interesting again.
10:33 pm – Three and out and Auburn must punt. I’m optimistic.
10:34 pm – Damn. It was the right call to set up the return there, but if we’d tied to block that kick, it was the perfect snap (so high that it delays the punter an extra moment). Oh, well. Now it’s Randall’s time to step up. Finally.
10:37 pm – Down 16 points with 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter may not be the best time to try to establish the run. I’m just saying.
10:38 pm – Three and out and Tech must punt. This is ugly. I saw better offense on my high school team and we won about four games during my high school years.
10:43 pm – INTERCEPTION!!!!! Come on, come on, come on. Time to take advantage of this. We must have a touchdown.
10:45 pm – Running the ball for 8 yards is nice, but we have to score soon. Realistically, we need two touchdowns and a field goal to win this game. With only 16 minutes to play, time is becoming a factor.
10:46 pm – 4th and 1. We MUST get this first down. Must.
10:48 pm – Just enough for the first down. I don’t know why we’re letting the clock run out but that plays ends the 3rd quarter. Fifteen minutes to play. I have faith but I have to dig deep. I’ve seen weirder comebacks, though. I can’t think of any right now, but I’ve seen them.
10:53 pm – Wow, when did Auburn get the number 1 scoring defense in the nation? Why hasn’t ABC told us about it?
10:53 pm – Wide open receiver. Randall missed him. Nice.
10:54 pm – Field goal attempt. This is almost useless. We should be going for the touchdown on 4th and goal.
10:55 pm – He missed the field goal. Completely useless.
10:56 pm – Not only have I passed the point of being surprised, I’m past the point of caring. This is the worst coached Virginia Tech game I’ve ever seen. We’ve beaten ourselves in every facet of the game. Stupid play calling, bad defensive set up, taking risks when we shouldn’t, being cautious when we should be aggressive, and lacking any motivation or sense of importance.
10:59 pm – Is Alias on yet?
11:04 pm – Tech is playing as though we’re already defeated. This game is over.
11:04 pm – Auburn fumble, Tech recovers. If we could’ve picked it up, we would’ve run it back for a touchdown. Because it’s this game, we could only fall on it. At least no one spiked himself with his cleats.
11:09 pm – I’ve resorted to dangling string in front of the cats for entertainment. The game might as well be over, so I’ve lost interest. But I’m stupid dedicated, so I’ll watch until the clock hits 0:00.
11:10 pm – Pass interference. 15 yards, a first down, and the clock stops. That helps, but we’re only fighting for self-respect now.
11:13 pm – Touchdown Hokies! Going for 2-point conversion.
11:14 pm – The throw is too low, bouncing off the turf. Auburn leads 16-6. That’s why we should’ve kicked the field goal on 4th and Goal in the first half. With the field goal, it’s 16-10. Down six points with almost seven minutes to go is a nail-biter. Down ten points with almost seven minutes to go requires a few answered prayers. I’m pulling it from places I didn’t know I had, but I still believe.
11:19 pm – 45 hours, 42 minutes until Alias!
11:21 pm – We’re close to needing to use our timeouts if we intend to keep this close. We can’t give them 45 seconds for every play. (We could if it was 16-10. Have I mentioned how we needed to kick the field goal in the first half?)
11:23 pm – Fourth down for Auburn. Tech must take a timeout. Timeout Hokies. We need this ball back immediately. And then we need a quick score. A punt return for a touchdown, maybe?
11:25 pm – Block that kick! Block that kick!
11:26 pm – Downed at the 2 yard line. Classic.
11:28 pm – It’s nice to see a little life in the team, but we’re wasting too much time.
11:29 pm – Randall forced the throw instead of throwing it away. Auburn intercepts. That’s the end.
11:36 pm – 2:21 left in the game. Auburn has to punt. Tech will get the ball back, but I don’t see how we use the last 2 minutes to overcome the first 58 minutes.
11:38 pm – Absolute stunned fucking silence! 80-yard touchdown to Josh Morgan. Auburn leads 16-13. 2:01 left on the clock. I doubted Tech and we’re in this again.
11:40 pm – Auburn recovers the onside kick. We’re done, barring a miracle.
11:43 pm – Auburn sits on the ball. The game is over. The referees allow some shenanigans with the clock in the last two minutes. It doesn’t matter because we deserve to lose. Auburn is a great team. They outplayed us and out coached us. But Tech fought all the way. If we had found that spark earlier in the game, we win. If we make better decisions early in the game, we win. (Did I mention that we should’ve kicked the field goal in the first half? 16-16 makes it a different game, no? I’m just saying.) But we didn’t.
11:50 pm – Virginia Tech finished 10-3. We won the ACC in our first season. We played in a BCS bowl, barely losing even though we played our worst offense of the season. Two of our three losses came against #1 USC and #3 Auburn. That’s a good season. I can’t wait for August.
11:54 pm – 45 hours, 7 minutes until Alias!
5:41 am – I awake after a few hours of sleep, having dreamt of championships lost, slipping just out of reach for all time. I realize it was just a dream. Dreams fade and dreams return. I drift back into slumber. The sun will rise in less than two hours.

Set up ten pins tonight, we’re going bowling

Tonight is the night. The Hokies play Auburn tonight in the Sugar Bowl. I’m more excited for this game than I have been for any football game in the last five years. I won’t regale bore anyone with the details of tonight’s game because it’s not necessary. And I’d probably suffer an aneurysm if I get any more excited about this game. Go Hokies!

So instead I offer a glimpse back to five years ago. No game will ever hold the same level of unbridled enthusiasm that I felt for the 2000 Sugar Bowl. Virginia Tech rose from the obscurity of my undergraduate years of the early ’90’s to national prominence in the BCS National Championship game against the spawn of Satan Florida State. We had Michael Vick. We had Frank Beamer, the master of Special Teams play. (We still have him, but stick with my creative license.) We had Bud Foster, the defensive genius. (Ditto, which is not a person but a reference to my last side note.) The Seminoles had 783-year-old Chris Wienke, a stupid tomahawk chop, and Peter Warrick getting the team a 90% discount on flights to New Orleans. The victory and our first national championship in the new Hokie Dynasty were a lock.

Like every epic mythical adventure, destiny conspired to land me smack in the middle of it all. I flew to New Orleans on the morning of the game with a return ticket for the next morning. I planned to spend fifteen of my twenty hours in New Orleans on Bourbon Street either counting down the end of my B.N.C. Hokie Time (Before National Championship) or celebrating the first exciting moments of P.N.C. Hokie Time (Post National Championship) because I refused to let my inability to find a hotel room deter me from seeing the biggest game in Virginia Tech history. I believed.

I was forsaken. Instead of that dream, I walked around Bourbon Street in the freezing cold, journeyed on a quest for one vegetarian dish, watched us fall far behind Florida State, screamed myself hoarse as we fought back to take the lead at the end of the third quarter, deflated as the comeback fell short, wandered Bourbon Street in a haze of depression, discovered that many Florida State fans are sore winners assholes, dozed in McDonald’s, caught a cab to the airport at 2am, slept on the cold floor of New Orleans International Airport, contracted bronchitis, and spent the next five days suffering the pain of violent coughing. All of it added up to the single greatest sporting event of my life. To quote Garth Brooks, “I could have missed the pain, But I’d have had to miss the dance”.

Leading up to the 2000 Sugar Bowl, Virginia Tech had to beat Boston College to finish the regular season 11-0. That game started out with a freezing, driving rain storm and ended with the Hokies standing victorious and hordes of fans throwing sugar cubes indiscriminately in the air as the crowd (55,000 strong) danced and cheered in unison as the scoreboard reported Oklahoma’s squeaker win that guaranteed Virginia Tech a spot in the National Championship. This picture from the fourth quarter of that game shows that there can be a storm before the calm.

I'm in this picture, however small I may be.

My passion for Virginia Tech isn’t forged in football trophies or other fleeting awards. Like most college students, I experienced Virginia Tech in my early adulthood, when I hadn’t fully formed my understanding of who I was and where I fit in the world. I arrived in Blacksburg unaware of what lay before me, other than an external view that I was slightly inferior because I had to attend Virginia Tech and not the University of Virginia. I bought into the feeling that I needed to defend Virginia Tech against its external image. Over the years, through maturation and the values embodied by Virginia Tech, I learned to set that aside. Virginia Tech instilled in me a respect for the community of Hokies that exists worldwide. (I’ve encountered fellow Hokies as far away as Krakow, Poland.) We may be a little crazy, but Hokies love being Hokies. The outside world doesn’t understand us because we’re a strong community and indiscriminately rabid supporters of Virginia Tech. Few universities foster the same attitude. I believed then, I believe now, and regardless of tonight’s outcome, I will still believe tomorrow. I never want to be anything other than a Hokie.

Now that I’ve gone all weepy and precious, join with me in wishing for nothing but a good, old-fashioned ass-whooping of the Tigers… Go Hokies!

On the 24th day of Christmas

I’ve been away for a bit, but I got busy at work, then vacation came so it was time to step away from the computer for an “extended” break. (Just because my optometrist told me I need to step away from the computer occasionally doesn’t mean anything. Seriously, you guys, it doesn’t.) Over the last few weeks (fine, it was close to a month), life has been quiet. Thus, I stepped away. But I’m back now, and what better way to come back than open mockery of something sacred…

While visiting my family last week, Danielle and I saw this scene in the front yard of a house near my mom’s house. Behold:

Who knew that Santa visited Jerusalem?

I know a picture says a thousand words, but after “repent” and “materialistic” and “sinner”, I’m not sure what the other 997 words are that this picture is saying. Maybe it says something about how spry Santa is to still be traveling the way he is after 2000 years. Maybe someone could corner him and get a first-hand account of the birth of Christ.