Monday, February 28, 2005

My Photography Wishlist

Alton gets run again

Two more papers printed my story on Alton Brown:

The Abuquerque Tribune

The Abilene Reporter

The end is nigh!

I swear, the way the weatherman was talking yesterday would make one think he needed a sandwich-sign announcing the end of the world. Apperantly a chance for midday snow is a sign of the apocalypse to these people, because they start repenting at the thought of fresh powder.

I just hope to God their absolute fear of snow and ice doesn't rub off on me. I can just imagine myself curled up under a desk after hearing about an approaching Kansas ice storm, begging for someone to "make the wet stuff stop." The horror, the horror.

I hope you, my readers, understand by now how deeply Washingtonians fear snow, because I've used up every metaphor I could think of, and doubt I shall write of it again.

Well, at least not until the next time it snows.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Family Matters and a walk around Woodley

A few months ago I was told by some relatives that they would be taking a trip to D.C. while I was here on my internship.

Then last night I found out they'd be here today. Ain't that nice?

I got a phone number at which to call them, and made an attempt early this afternoon. They answered, and said they'd call me back later since at the time they were on the bus. That was about 9 hours ago, and the ball is still in their court as far as I'm concerned.

I got some stuff done today. I got out of bed (more than some can say on a Saturday), did laundry, and I shipped a package to a friend back home who had his birthday today. I got him a "space pen," -- you know, the ones that write at any angle, humidity, or temperature-- which was decorated with the Senate logo, and a T-shirt from a stand that I thought was rather funny.

What did it say? Crap, I can't remember.

After all that, I sat down and watched "Catch me if you can" on DVD; it was a Christmas gift that I tucked into my suitcase just before I left. Twas a good movie, and it was strange find myself liking Leonardo diCaprio. Back in the days of Titanic, I hated the guy for, well, it just felt like the right thing to do.

But now, oh crap, I can't believe I'm saying this...

I like his work. He's good.

Dammit, I guess I'll have to watch "The Aviator" now.

After that, I went for a nice little walk with my iPod to keep me company.

Now, I don't think my iPod itself makes me happy, oh no. I'm not one of the real nuts who go so far as to name their device.

Now that I think of it, mine sure seems like a Mary, or a Shelby, perhaps an Abigail... Aw crap, I can't believe I'm actually looking at names. Now I'm going to have to start wearing maroon turtlenecks and light blue sunglasses like... nevermind, back to the rave-in-progress:

It's what it does that makes me glad to have it. You've seen people carrying Walkmans and CD players and such, but this thing is worlds better, you carry your entire music collection in it.

But no one, myself included, really understands what that means until trying it. It used to be that you just took the album you knew you wanted to listen to where ever you were going. This lets you take every single one with you, and thus you can, at any moment, listen to any song your heart desires. Even better, the shuffle function keeps a continuous flow of variety going.

(Good God, this is turning into an Apple advertisement way too quickly, moving on...)

The result: the the destination matters even less while the trip becomes even more precious. You go for another lap around the block when you're walking home from work or down another road while out on the town, just so you can hear some more of the stuff.

I think it may prove itself a weight-loss device in the future.

The walk was wonderful. My feet were still a little sore from my having galavanted all over the Capitol yesterday, but they actually feel better now.

But nothing can do justice to today's sunset. South of my apartment is deep creekbed with the great Taft bridge linking Woodley Park (My neighborhood) with Dupont Circle (the one south of us). While you're on this bridge you can see just about forever because the treeline drops with the creekbed.

The clouds were brilliant and majestic; the National Cathedral in all its glory turned purple in the waning light while U2 gave a private performance of "Grace" inside my head as I walked home.

Yes, it was wonderful, but words do not provide a just description to its grandeur. Cars were speeding by, people hustled along, and there I was sauntering about, stopping every so many steps to stand at the ledge and take it in.

I wondered if I was the only person who could actually see, because no one else seemed to notice the sunset at all.

And with so many cars roaring by just a few feet from me, I became deeply worried.

So I told myself they were all merely colorblind, and was content.

Fortune Cookie Food for thought

Found in the fortune cookie that came with my lunch from Violet Garden:

"In god we trust;all others must pay cash. "

Wire Story

‘Running Dry’ paints bleak picture of world water supply

By Logan C. Adams
Scripps Howard Foundation Wire

WASHINGTON - The screen fades to black, and brilliant white capital letters appear: “Worldwide, a child dies every 15 seconds from water related diseases.”

The lights go up, and Thursday’s premiere showing of “Running Dry” is over at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The audience of more than 100 – government officials, dignitaries and representatives of aid organizations – was deeply affected.

“I think it’s an excellent movie. The information it gives about water and sanitation is all accurate,” said Albert Wright, co-chairman of the Millennium Project’s Task Force on Water and Sanitation, an independent advisory body commissioned by the United Nations.

The movie focuses on the present or developing scarcity of water in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the American southwest. The causes vary, ranging from rapid urbanization in India to waste and over-consumption in the United States.

“By the end of this year, I want every decision-maker in the world to put water as the number one priority,” said James Thebaut, who wrote, produced and directed the film.

Thebaut, who owns a production company in Redondo Beach, Calif., plans to show the film at film festivals and on college campuses and is looking for a commercial distributor.

The movie was inspired by the book “Tapped Out” by former Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., who worked on the project with Thebaut before his death in 2003. Simon’s wife, Patti, has been involved since fall.

“Every day, 14,000 people die because of a lack of water … and 9,500 of these are children,” says the narrator, Jane Seymour, before the film shows an African woman placing the body of a child in the back of a truck filled with countless other corpses of children.

The film is filled with images of environmental devastation, disease and poverty caused by the unavailability of clean water – children drink from water sources contaminated by untreated sewage and fights break out at wells.

But those fights pale in comparison to the armed conflict the film says will occur when nations are unable to provide enough potable water. “Nations fight over oil, but as valuable as it is, there are substitutes for oil,” Seymour says in the film. “However, there are no substitutes for water.”

Koby Koomson, executive director of the Africa Works Foundation and Ghana’s former ambassador to the United States, praised the film. “Most diseases in developing countries are water-borne. If we could have a strong focus on eradicating water-borne diseases… I think we’ll see a major reduction in mortality rates among children who are the most vulnerable,” he said.

To prevent the crisis from growing worse, the movie and its creators advocate cooperation among governments, businesses and non-profit organizations. Thebaut said the purpose of the film is to send a wake-up call to the world and warn that much work will be necessary to guarantee clean water for everyone.

Estimates for the costs of such an endeavor are hard to make, but the film says it would cost $16 billion per year.

Which, the narrator adds, is what North America and Europe spend annually on pet food.

Reader Mail

The following was a response I recieved to my "eff censorship" post that I'm posting because it deserves some public reading. Don't think I'm making fun of it, she's pretty much right.

Just for the record, our firewall blocks a lot of stuff, including,, (until I unblocked it.) Real human beings don't do the blocking, and it is far from a perfect science. After all, in order to publish on this blog, you have to abide by certain rules and maintain certain standards. If you don't, they won't publish you.

Throwing a term around like "censorship" is kind of a red flag for me since librarians use the term in odd ways all the time, but every time we choose to buy a book and not to buy another, in a sense, (in the sense you use the term), we are "censoring" the book we choose not to buy. So in that case, what is the difference between "censorship" and "discernment?"

It is extremely difficult to squelch ideas as extremists of all types have discovered to their sorrow. Our streets do not flow with the blood of people who have said or written what their governments do not allow them to say or write. It seems a bit bombastic for Americans to even use the term "censorship" as if it were something we seriously suffer for. MH

7 Weeks down, Seven to go: The halfway point

So, after I finished my story today I took a little trip down to the Capitol for a little exploration, and to check out the gift shop.

Up and down and all around I went, the Capitol building is great for when you want to get lost. The place is a maze and there are precious few signs to help you find your way, especially if you're a reporter. Thus, it was good to get some practice with the place.

The place was packed with tourists, it was a Friday after all. Maybe I'll make a trip back just for kicks one of these weekends to see what the place is like when it's a real zoo.

I left the capitol around 4:40, and went back to the office to do some paperwork and prepare for the weekend.

Around 6:00, I left for the apartment and arrived without incident. I changed, got online, and recieved an invitation from my friend Scott to go hang and watch South Park, which I was more than happy to take him up on.

45 minutes later I was in Maryland, and all was well. I had a drink, watched some of the best work of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and hung out with a friend I hadn't seen in almost six weeks.

After who knows how many episodes, I took off for the night. The ride home was something else.

The Red line has a large section between Union Station and Takoma that is above ground. As I rode, the land seemed different. I felt like I was in Kansas. Yes, I saw the city lights. Yes, I was in the Nation's capital. Yes, there was a woman yelling at one of the windows at the other end of the car.

And yes, I felt like I was in Kansas again. The street lights and all seemed to be weak and distant, with plenty of seemingly-open land out there.

Maybe I've just been gone long enough to no longer know what Kansas felt like, but maybe not.

I'll just have to find out in seven more weeks, I suppose.

Friday, February 25, 2005

My Oscar Picks





DIRECTING: Alexander Payne - Sideways

BEST PICTURE: Finding Neverland


Thursday, February 24, 2005

Water, Water, every where, nor any drop to drink

I spent all morning not doing anything at all because I was covering the premiere of a documentary called "Running Dry" at the Woodrow Wilson Center (a part of the Ronald Reagan building) at 3:00 P.M.

And the only other media organization present was Voice of America, and that's it. I was the only reporter there besides them because I, unlike the news media, was not afraid of the snow.

Either that or reporters snuck into the Russell Senate Office Building showing of the film that was just for lawmakers and staff, and if they did, I'm going to be pissed off. But I still doubt they did.

"Running Dry" was interesting to watch. It's about water mismanagement and drought worldwide. It was filled images of drought, destitution, pain, suffering, all from the want of water.

Jane Seymour narrated it, and yes, I interviewed her.

I interviewed the director, and the wife of Sen. Paul Simon, who inspired the project. I also met the former ambassador to America from Ghana. Nice guy.

I'm doing the story in the morning, and hoping I have an exclusive.

BTW, if you ever have an opportunity to watch "Running Dry," and this is not an endorsement, go for it.

And now I'm going to go savor a glass of water.

The final column of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

I know, I know, I seem to be really interested in HST. I've been interested in this guy for a couple years, not a fanatic or anything, just really intrigued.

Anyways, here's a link to his final column. It's something any golfer, writer, or fan of Bill Murray would find very interesting. Trust me, now read it.

Mmmmmm, snow

It's snowing outside my window right now, and it pisses me off.

Not that I have anything against snow, oh no, not at all. I love snow.

But what has me angry here is that all Washington-area schools have been closed, and the streets are barely moist. There is no accumulation, no ice, no slick streets and sidewalks. It's all good, my friends.

I remember one time in High School when we got 8 inches of the white stuff and still had school. Two buses lost control on separate routes and wound up in the ditch that day (my memory is a little fuzzy on that one, I could be wrong), and we still had school. I had trouble making it to class from home in a 4x4, and we still had school

Washingtonians see snow, and they cry like little babies and run for cover, even if it has yet to touch the ground. Hell, Lauren, the Cuban-American-in-residence, our little Miss Miami, got along just fine today.

But the District people dared not try to make it outside in fear of facing the perilous precipitation.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Thoughts on the Boulevard

I've seen several, ok, three or four, dear friends quote the song "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Green Day in the past week, and it's got me thinking.

Now, it could be that Billie Joe Armstrong's voice is just that endearing and melodic and everyone just happens to like it, but I know that they're all just feeling lonely.

It's a deep song that precariously across a narrow region that is surrounded by depressing overkill on one side and petty whining on the other. That's what all good songs about pain and sadness need to do.

Although it would be better if they didn't make the video so melodramatic, but I'm talking about the song here.

It's been one of the most often-downloaded songs on iTunes for the past two weeks, so I know a lot of people like it.

And they feel lonely.

And that's sad.

Not only because it keeps me from going on and on in a long emotional schpiel about what it means, but more importantly, because I can't do a damned thing about it.

I'm in Washington, D.C., 1200 miles away from almost all of my friends and family, and I hate being unable to help.

Thanks a lot, Green Day.

Working with models, so stressful

Today, Lauren may have started her own private modeling career.

You see, the News service had to photograph a giant paper-mache bowl. So they had her sit in the green dish and peer out, holding a giant fake flower by her head. It's supposed to go on the cover of some Home and Gardening Magazine, who knows what it'll look like.

Don't worry, the chilly Cuban* hasn't let it go to her head. She thought it was funny, but not as much as we did. And they let her keep the massive flower, which now resides by her computer on her desk.

*It's supposed to snow here tomorrow.

To check for my stories:

If at any time you wish to check online for my stories, Go here.

Cue "Twilight Zone" Music

Remember that Saturday Night live sketch that took place in a diner and the cooks would chant "cheeseburger! cheeseburger! cheeseburger!" all the time?

Today, I ate at Ollie's Trolley, a burger joint with "Famous Fries" that's next door to our building on L Street. I ordered a 1/4 lb. Cheeseburger special, they asked what I wanted to drink. I saw bottles of Pepsi, and said "Pepsi" mistakenly believing that since it was on display it was for sale.

And then the dude taking my order said, in the exact "cheeseburger!" voice from the same SNL sketch that they had coke. I knodded "ok" and I got my order with time.

I swear, it was the same characters, different diner. Or one really unimaginative conspiracy.

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

These guys also printed my story, minus a nice chunk.

53,067 readers

The Quad-City Times in Davenport, IA printed my Alton Brown story.,1045974

It has a daily press run of 53,067.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

One more post before bed

I bought a nice amount of music tonight as my internet connection was running especially well and I wanted to take advantage of it.

So I bought my favorite album that I did not own yet: Collective Soul's 1995 Self-titled album. It's one of those rare albums that I can listen to, beginning to end, and enjoy every single song. It only cost me $10, better than any store, but I'm going to stop downloading them for a while now. I've got all the music I really need to keep happy for the time being.

I read about 1-2 dozen columns about Hunter S. Thompson's suicide today, and some things seemed to stick out of each of them:

He once said "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they always worked for me," and just about everyone quoted him on that line.

2. No one in the writing community was surprised his life ended violently or at his own hand. In fact, m ny were surprised he lasted this long.

3. Journalists hated him out of sheer envy and loved him dearly because he was doing what they really, really wanted him to do. He cast all objectivity aside and went savagely after his targets and relished in their destruction on paper.

4. People miss him already because he'd already died inside long, long ago.

There's something else that develops, in my view, at least. Thompson was devoured alive by his demons; in his case, "
drugs, alcohol, violence (and) insanity." His pain and suffering snuffed out the brief candle of his life, and created works that will keep alive the flame of his memory for ages.

And while the whole world savors the product of what killed Hunter S. Thompson, those who knew and loved the person take little pleasure or comfort at all.

That's the price you pay.

For what?

Let's just say... Greatness.
This is Alton Brown. Posted by Hello

The Alton Brown Story

They put it out on the wire yesterday.


Kiwanians, Food Network chefs, and beer

It's 3:20 P.M., the time I used to get out of high school every day, you know, way back when.

I got a message, through my mom, the other day that the Kiwanis club back in my hometown wants me to speak to them when I get back about my experiences in the nation's capital.

And so I asked myself:

"Self! Do you want to talk to these people about your internship?"

Then, once I had finished stealing a bad joke from Emeril Lagasse, I thought over the following:

1. I've been wanting to talk to CG people about what I'm doing here.
2. Kiwanis chartered the Boy Scout Troop (good ole' 65) I have been a part of for 8 years.
3. When I graduated High School, only one entity on the face of the earth considered me worthy of a scholarship: Council Grove Kiwanis. $500. An honor and a kindness I have not forgotten.

So, it was a very, very easy decision. My people will get with their people, their people will get with my people...

or they'll just call me with a time to show up at the Pizza Hut by the Neosho Riverwalk, and I'll give them a presentation to remember.

I'll just remember to bring a few kegs of beer. That'll make it memorable, all right.

Or, even better, it'll help them forget the whole thing, if neccessary.

High School Censorship

My brother Drew told me the other day that when my blog has a curse word on it, it gets censored by his school's firewall.

I found this very interesting.

But, as always, F*ck Censorship.

Monday, February 21, 2005


Well, it appears I screwed up. I think I have mistakenly quoted Oscar Wilde, on several occasions, when it was really Red Smith who said the following, I think:

"There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and open a vein."

If I was wrong, my deepest apologies to both Mr. Wilde and Mr. Smith.

If I was right the first time around, nevermind.

If I was wrong both times, well, the hell with it.

At least I went outside...

Today I did what I really, really wanted to to.

I rested, relaxed, and generally enjoyed myself. I left my apartment twice today. First to buy breakfast from McDonalds, second to buy lunch from Chipotle's. I did shower before going out in public, and my hair was halfway decent.

But I didn't shave or brush my teeth. Before I came here I had never worn formal clothes all that often. When I worked at The Manhattan Mercury, I wore fairly nice clothes, but I never wore a suit or a tie. Nowadays I rarely leave my apartment without them. In fact I'm afraid to leave my bedroom unless I'm all gussied up and professional. It just feels wrong.

Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide over the weekend; you could say he was a small influence on my writing. I'll just say I was disturbed by his actions.

I read a little about his exploits with the Hell's Angels, a little about "gonzo journalism," and I was intrigued by his coverage of the 1972 election.

But I've never really read too much of his work. Pity.

This week is supposed to be a slow one. I heard that Congress is taking the week off, but I have trouble believing that. They're supposed to be working on the legislation that holds the nation together; they're not going to take a week off, are they?

I guess I'll find out tomorrow if I'm right, or if I'm still just horrifically naive. I've only been here a month now, remember?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

A monumental experience, nudge nudge

Today I journeyed out of the protection from the outside world that my apartment offers me and took a trip to the mall with my iPod to keep me company.

I enjoyed my music right until I got to the WWII memorial, then I turned it off and put my headphones away. It is a place for reverence and respect, not rock and roll. I left my camera at home today, I just wanted to see it through my own eyes, unaltered by a man-made lens.

The memorial is beautiful, and there was every kind of tourist walking about it. There were boy scouts galore, strollers everywhere, and tons and tons of little kids, and the occasional veteran in a wheelchair. You show extra respect to them.

But the kids really got to me. At first, I felt it was an insult for them to be running around this place, treating the monument like a playground. They squealed and screamed, they picked fights and played games. They expressed no concern for the 405,399 American soldiers who lost their lives in that conflict. They just giggled and played and went about this place they found to be far too boring like chickens with their heads cut off.

But, then again, perhaps it is best this way. The men who died in that war did so with the hope that future generations wouldn't have to know hardship and depression as theirs did. They wanted their children's children to live happy lives, and I perhaps it just means they got their wish.

I strolled down the side of the reflecting pool and saw oodles of tourists, and I found my way over to the Vietnam memorial.

It really hit me to see those thousands of names on that wall, and it was a much more emotional scene than the WWII memorial. The wounds this country endured in Vietnam may have scarred over, but they have yet to truly heal. Widows and children and fellow soldiers walked with tears in their eyes and pain hanging off of them like gym weights.

As you walk along the length of the monument you see the occasional bundle of flowers or momento for one of the fallen soldiers. The one that hit me hardest was a framed photograph of a family at christmastime with a note written on it. It began:

"Panel 27E Row 84

I didn't read further, I didn't need to in order to know what it said.

And more importantly, what it meant to those who left it, and to the one for whom it was left.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

iTunes and iPod: Now that it's out of the box...

I'm sitting here listening to a live recording of Collective Soul's "December" I got from iTunes.

Before making a purchase through this service, you're allowed to listen to a 30-second preview of the song in question, which is almost cruel. If you're listening to emotional music, you get cut off from the song just when you start getting into it. Very dangerous.

But I really love the Pepsi deal where you type in the code from a bottle cap and get a free song, especially since my kind family back home has been emailing me codes.

So far, I have downloaded:
-"Mr. Jones" by Counting Crows
-"Iris" by Goo Goo Dolls
-"Angel" by Sarah Mclachlan
-"December" by Collective Soul, iTunes exclusive live version.

All iTunes albums are $9.99 apiece, which is very nice because they're $20 or higher in CD form from just about every place I've been here in D.C., so I expect to save some money in that respect.

Should you start using iTunes like me?

Hell no, you should send all your Pepsi bottle codes here:

As for the iPod, it's an awesome thing to have. I'd reccomend it to anyone who wants to have their music with them, and I mean all their music. I've put nearly 200 songs on mine, and it's taken less than 1 GB of the 18.5 actual GB of space my "20 GB" iPod has.

Don't worry, I was expecting that. That doesn't mean I like it, however. But hey, what can you do?

Finally: No, I have not started dancing like they do in those damned commercials. I was afraid I'd start bouncing off walls, rearranging my spine, and doing backflips like the commercials, but I'm still the awkward, uncoordinated, clumsy guy with two left feet you all know and love.

Wire Story

Button, button, whose got the button? It’s Md. collector Frank Enten

By Logan C. Adams
Scripps Howard Foundation Wire

WASHINGTON - Frank Enten knows his political buttons – he’s been selling them for more than 43 years.

Enten, 75, owns PC Button Co., PC being short for political campaign, in Bethesda, Md., a Washington suburb. He was running a booth Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, held in the Ronald Reagan Building.

“I was selling this the day Wallace got shot,” he said, holding a black-and-white button that changed between “Stand up for America” and “Wallace for President” as he rotated it. He was referring to the 1972 assassination attempt that paralyzed Alabama governor George Wallace and ended his bid for the presidency.

The shooter, Arthur Bremer, “was wearing this button, not this same piece, but one like the ones I was selling,” Enten said. “I may have even sold him the button, who knows?”

Once an insurance salesman, Enten started his business in 1961 after discovering he could make money manufacturing and selling political memorabilia.

Enten’s convention booth was covered in posters, medallions and bumper stickers, but the majority of his stock is buttons he has acquired from other collectors. He has bins and books of them with the older, more rare ones sealed in plastic and paper. A lifelong Republican, he sells few Democratic items, although he did have some FDR buttons.

His oldest? A button from the 1896 campaign that elected President William McKinley priced at $45.

Enten, a Korean War veteran, wore a Disabled American Veterans cap covered in buttons. Standing out among them was a badge he got as a part of the staff of the 1985 Inaugural Committee. He said he made more than a million buttons for the 1984 Reagan campaign.

He said he had a lot of fun with one from that era that said: “Redheads for Reagan.” “Every time that I saw a red-headed woman, I’d go over to her and show her the button and she would buy it,” he said.

Enten sells other political knickknacks from days gone by, including a bottle of cologne named “GOLD WATER” from the 1964 election between Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson. Another treasure was a 6-inch statue of an elephant from the 1980 Republican National Convention.

Those in possession of potentially rare items sometimes seek Enten out for an appraisal. One woman who visited him at the conference left disappointed.

“A lady came in here with a frame of buttons, and they were all reproductions, and I hated to tell her that,” he said. “She had it for 40 years, but these things were reproductions back then, and they’re still reproductions today, so they’re worth maybe 10 cents apiece.”

Enten’s time in the business and the age of his collection have given him a unique perspective on the style of political buttons over the years.

The color tone in the faces of the candidates on the buttons has changed, he said, comparing today’s flat color reproductions to yesteryear’s rosy-cheeked candidates.

“Look at the color tone on this Teddy Roosevelt piece,” he said. “This is a lost art. They don’t know how to do this today.”
Yes, I saw them moving, they're real. Posted by Hello
This guy started roaring really funny, I thought he had a hairball. Posted by Hello
Those kids should've been scared, the lions kept looking at them like steaks in the butcher's section.  Posted by Hello
This was one of my best pictures from that day. Now if I only knew what species the little *%&$ was. Posted by Hello
This Baby Hippo just popped up out of the water suddenly, I guess a fly must have insulted him. Posted by Hello
The pandas were somewhat shy, but I squeezed off a few frames. This is the female, I'm told. Posted by Hello
These are all the people waiting in line to see the Cheetah Cubs. Posted by Hello
This guy, a Bactrian Camel, came right up to the fence and smiled for people. Kate told me he was urinating all over himself the week before. Posted by Hello
These are the cheetah cubs that so many people wanted to see. Posted by Hello
Here is the National Zoo's Flamingo exhibit. This one had apparently eaten too much beans with breakfast. Posted by Hello
This is Annette, the gal that went to the zoo with me last week. She doesn't like having her picture taken. In fact, she's probably going to kill me for this, and take pictures of it just for spite. Posted by Hello

I can finally talk about it.

Posted by Hello

Ok, the profile I did on Alton Brown was made available to newspapers this week, so it has finally become ethically acceptable for me to write about it here. Here's how it happened:

It's January 18, two days before the Inauguration, and I was in Virginia. I arrived at the bookstore, a Barnes & Noble at a nice little outdoor mall near the Clarendon stop on the Orange line. This place is spacious, there's even, GASP, free parking!

Well, whenever there isn't a big book signing there's free parking, today, there was no parking.

I entered just after noon, and Alton was already doing his Q & A. He's nice, I thought, as he engaged the crowd rather well.

I introduced myself to the store's manager and the book tour's publicist as the dude who'd be interviewing Brown later on, and that I'd be going around asking questions of his fans. They were cool with it, so I got to it and interviewed people at random.

Cue to a nice amount of time later, like 3-4 o'clock. I can't remember how long later, but our interview was scheduled for several hours later. He was in a hurry and wanted to get it over with, I couldn't blame the guy as he'd been standing longer than I had.

We were going to do the interview at his hotel, so I had come prepared to have to hunt down a cab. But he was hungry, and there was food right there at the bookstore. And a table nearby where I could do an interview.

So instead of having a few hours to prepare questions, I was going to shoot from the hip and do an impromptu interview.

I'd like to think it went perfectly, I really would, but it was clumsy and there were times I couldn't think of what to ask him. But it was a grand experience, nevertheless.

I learned a lot, most importantly, never leave your tape recorder on the table in front of someone who is eating. Every rustle of food wrapping, every thing that gets picked up or put down makes a crapload of noise on tape. When I went back and listened to it I thought in interview had occured in a clothes dryer full of butcher's paper, forks, and glasses.

But that didn't stop me.

The interview got done, he hopped in a car provided by the book tour, driver included, and was off to another signing in Maryland. I took pictures, fear not.

And then I walked back to the Metro station and was on my way back to the bureau. I dropped the tape, the notes, and everything else into a manilla envelope that remained sealed until the next week, when I would be allowed to start working on the story as I was not to do so until after the Inauguration was long over.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Almost halfway there

This marks the end of six weeks in Washington, and for me one of the hardest.

A lot of old demons came back for a visit this week, and I would like to extend a personal thank-you to the friends who took the time to look into my well-being.

You've probably noticed the occasional mentioning of "public bloodletting." That's a reference of how writing was once defined, I believe by Oscar Wilde:

"Writing is easy; just sit down at a typewriter and open a vein," he said. And he was right.

Writing is therapeutic for me, but not just the act of writing it all down is enough. I have a big problem with people who write things down and plan on never letting another human being see their words. Writing was created as a means of communication, of exchanging information about the world around us, and ourselves. To write something down without the full intention of never letting it be seen is a violation of the natural order, in my opinion.

But enough blabbering.

Last night was something else. I went to the National Press Foundation Dinner at the Washington Hilton here in D.C.

This is a big deal, Scripps had one ten-seat table there, and to get that they had to make a donation of $3,000. Do some math, come on, wake the hamster up and get him running.

By now you should have calculated that my seat at this dinner cost Scripps $300. And people wonder why I never speak ill of the organization.

Not that I have anything ill to say in the first place.

Several amazing journalists were honored. The biggest? Tim Russert, for a lifetime achievement award.

All the speeches were great, and the food was, too. I even had wine.

It would've been tacky to card people, after all.

I got a package from home today, and it really made me feel special. My mom put in a bag of chocolates, my copy of Newsweek, and a friendly note.

But what got to me the most was what my little sister put in the package: a valentines gift of a box of Whoppers, one of my absolute favorite things on this earth. Right up there next to pottery and the first amendment.

It really touched my heart to open the little card and find an Andes Mint, another favorite.

Thanks, guys.

Wire Story

Convention offers something for every conservative

By Logan C. Adams
Scripps Howard Foundation Wire

WASHINGTON - Look at a few bumper stickers, and there’s no mistaking the politics of this convention.

Says one: “Ted Kennedy’s car has killed more people than my gun.” And another: “Forget 911 Dial .357.” Also available for purchase from the booth of Accuracy in Media, President Bush-bobbleheads, books by Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity and ties decorated in your choice of elephants, the stars and stripes, or the Confederate flag.

The 2005 Conservative Political Action Conference, sponsored by the American Conservative Union, began three days of events Thursday, appropriately, in the Ronald Reagan Building.

The building’s Atrium Hall was packed with people, some standing in the exits to hear speakers, including Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Karl Rove, deputy White House chief of staff for policy and the president’s close political adviser. Dozens of booths were set up outside the hall for conservative organizations to lobby for the attention of the 4,500 expected convention-goers.

The Walt Disney Co. had a dual purpose. Politically, it was to increase awareness about intellectual property rights.

“We’re raising a whole generation of young people that think it’s fine to steal stuff over the Internet,” said Preston R. Padden, executive vice president of worldwide government relations. He said that up to half a million movies are downloaded illegally each day worldwide.

However, Disney representatives spent more time calling attention to “Operation Uplift.” Passers-by were invited to address postcards to “Dear Serviceperson” and add a personal message. Disney provided postage and promised to deliver the postcard to a member of the nation’s armed services stationed overseas.

Padden said Disney had already delivered more than 50,000 such postcards.

The Government is not God Political Action Committee, or GING-PAC for short, has nothing to do with former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who is scheduled to speak Saturday. “It’s just the initials. When he was around, everybody thought that’s what it was,” said Chairman William J. Murray.

He said the organization supports politicians whose platforms include conservative stances, and not just Republicans. “In one instance, several cycles ago, we backed a Democrat against a Republican up in New York,” he said.

Murray said he expects the organization to reach out to “qualified, social conservative minority candidates” in the next election. “Conservatism is not a racial issue, and it shouldn’t be viewed as a racial issue.”

Amid the bumper stickers and conservative tracts for sale was one group usually associated with the other end of the political spectrum.

The American Civil Liberties Union’s booth appealed to conservatives on the issues of smaller government and protecting personal freedom, said Matt Bowles, a national field organizer for the organization.

“We actually have a lot in common with a lot of the many groups here. We work with the leadership, for example, of the American Conservative Union,” he said, adding that the group’s chairman invited the ACLU to participate.

The table featured information detailing instances when the ACLU supported conservatives’ free speech rights. One document, “The ACLU: A Conservative Organization,” features quotes by famous conservatives about civil liberties and the ACLU. It includes statements by former congressman Bob Barr, R-Ga., who has worked with the ACLU, and Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Apprentice Pictures

Come and see people, and realize how far up the food chain you really are in this world.
Here we go Posted by Hello
This guy had no problem identifying himself to me, he even gave me his business card.  Posted by Hello
This woman waited with her 11-week-old baby in under-40-degree weather for more than 7 hours before she got an interview, and yes, it was Martha Stewart's show she was trying for. Posted by Hello
The smartest person I saw there, this guy brought coffee pots from his shop and sold the stuff for $2 a cup. He sold 25-35, even though the dealership had been giving it away for free with Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Posted by Hello
Can you spot the loser with no life? (Other than the one behind the camera) Posted by Hello
In the white coat is my comrade-in-arms Glenn Omanio. Posted by Hello

Fedex better be true to their word

This is the tracking info on my iPod. When I last checked it was in Shanghai, China, and it said I should have it by Friday morning at 10:30 AM.

Is that an aneurism I feel?

Lyrics in my head:
I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I'd heard the music years before
But the man there said the music woudn't play

Well, I got a whopping 3 hours of sleep last night.

Fortunately I the meeting I was supposed to cover wasn't scheduled until 2:30 today, so I had plenty of time this morning to sit around, calm down, clean myself up, and go to work.

I went to the bureau first, and checked my email, sent a few others, and then I left for the Capitol Building an hour before it was supposed to start. I went outside, it was raining lightly. I got out my umbrella, and the wind damn near stole it from me.

The wind and rain were south-blowing, so I got on the north side of the street and kept my umbrella sheathed. It's a small, weak umbrealla I use, and it would've easily been destroyed by the weather.

I got to the metro station, and got on a train. It was the wrong train, and it took me in the wrong direction, and it made me get very angry with myself.

I switched trains and started going in the direction I needed, and by this time I was worried I would be late.

I got out of the station at the capitol and started walking South to Dirksen Senate Office Building. The rain had picked up, so I was forced to use my umbrella and hold on for dear life. After a fun little walk, I arrived and was relieved to find I was ten minutes early.

But I was not relieved to walk up to the door and find that the hearing had been cancelled.

So much for that bright idea.

I crossed over to Hart and went to SH-303, the office of Sen. Sam Brownback.

I requested his press secretary, because I'd been planning on meeting him at the hearing, and he came after a few minutes. We shook hands, I found out a little about what had happened, and was on my way home.

I want some sleep, badly. Goodnight.


Well, dammit. It's 4 in the morning and I haven't slept a wink.

A personal issue came up between me and a friend last night, and I've been rather messed up as a result.

As if the last post didn't tell you that.

I'm not going to discuss the issue here, because I want to respect his privacy.

But I will say it was my own dumb fault.

Right now I'm just trying to figure out the pickle I've put myself in, how I got here, and how to get out.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Bleeding in public again

I disabled comments on this blog for a reason, but I also have an email address and cellphone for a reason. Just don't reach any conclusions about me from the words below.

I dwell too much on death, I really do. Several of my friends can no doubt vouch for that, and are probably screaming "I told you so" at their computer screens this very moment. Some have already voiced concerns, others have kept quiet for they feared I would lash out at them. Hard.

Such fears are absolutely justifiable, and I'm just utterly ashamed of myself.

I've thought about things I shouldn't talk about, or even think about for that matter, but it's too late to go back now. That bridge has burned, its ashes have reached the ocean, and fish are eating them up like aquarium flakes.

All this time I've been trying to do the right thing, trying to help others and be the person I thought I should be; and I refused to listen to the people who tried to tell me I was taking the wrong path. I ignored the warning signs, and I let myself get pulled down to the very threshold of sanity.

I am completely disappointed with myself right now, and I wish I could express how sorry I am to all the people I know I've hurt despite what I thought were the best of intentions. There are so many things I thought I knew, so many things I completely screwed up.

And there are so many people I have hurt needlessly while they just kept quiet out of courtesy and I just kept steaming on because above all I'm an arrogant jackass.

If I die before I get the chance to... well, I just want them to know...

I'm sorry.

For everything.
Here I am, at my desk. Posted by Hello

Monday, February 14, 2005

An investment in my own selfish self

I purchased my iPod online today. It's the 20 GB model, and after my student discount I got it for a little under $300.

They threw in free laser embossing on the back, so here's how it's supposed to look:
Posted by Hello

I bought it for several reasons, as follows:

1.) I really, really wanted one, and I am able to afford it.

2.) I'd like to be able to listen to music to the way to work, while I'm at work, and on my way back to work. Oh, and while I'm at home and don't want to be on my computer and while I'm walking around D.C.

3.) I need a means of backing up important files that is as portable as my laptop. I'm going to be going almost all-digital with photography later this spring, and when your pictures start out digital there is no negative to fall back on if the computer fails. There's also DVD burning, but that's not cost-effective for just loading up my daily shoots. Of course, I'll do DVD backups from time to time for extra precious redundancy. Thus, my choice of words on the iPod.

4.) My brother, Drew, was buying a Dell equivalent of the iPod, and there's no way he's going to get that far ahead of me technologically. Sorry Drew.

Plus, it'll be great to have at college.

Shame on me. Shame.

And good listening, too.

Wire Story

Would-be ‘Apprentices’ brave long, cold wait to audition for hit show

By Roque Glenn Omanio and Logan C. Adams -- Scripps Howard Foundation Wire, Washington, D.C.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – They stood in the cold wind at a car dealership, some since before 6 a.m., most of the 600 knowing they would get fired even before meeting Donald Trump or Martha Stewart.

There was Jolene Sugarbaker, an “ageless” comedienne from nearby Washington, wearing a pink Hawaiian muumuu, a Victorian-style hairdo and a “real-cicada” pin.

“Martha Stewart is great, and I think I have the style and talent to be in her show,” Sugarbaker said, batting thick, black eyelashes.

And there was Dan Alford, 51, of Washington, an instructional technologist at Northern Virginia Community College, sporting a striped prison outfit made of duct tape and a picture of Martha Stewart on his chest and carrying a scrapbook labeled “Martha Stewart Not Guilty.”

“This is a career shift for me,” Alford said, adding that his background in arts and interior design are advantages over his competitors. “I’m here to start a second career, as a designer.”

In a sea of men and women in black business suits, the two delighted the crowd that descended on a suburban Washington Mercedes-Benz dealership to try out for the fourth season of NBC’s hit reality show “The Apprentice” and the premiere of its new show, “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.”

It was one of 27 venues nationwide set to choose contestants. Interviews began at 9 a.m. and were still going on after 4 p.m. The show’s producers expected to notify some of the group Friday night that they had made the first cut. That group faces more interviews and two more rounds of cuts before the show’s cast is chosen.

Contestants for “The Apprentice” compete for a job running a business for Trump with a $250,000 annual salary. The spin-off show will be centered on Stewart’s expertise in media, entertainment, home renovation, design and style. Stewart is serving a five-month sentence for obstructing justice and is due to be released from federal prison March 4.

One at a time, Apprentice wannabes introduced themselves to cast producer Scott Salyers or another producer and joined one of three roundtable discussions with nine other applicants.

Salyers fanned the group’s applications on the table. He posed a question to start the discussion: “Do you think the U.S. should have a national I.D. system?”

A policewoman said yes, citing security, but a majority said no, and a debate ensued. Salyers said the free-form discussion was not designed to gauge the contestants’ knowledge but is an indicator of “group dynamics.”

When the session ended, Salyers took the pile of resumes to a private room to evaluate the contestants.

Nigel Henry, 24, of Washington, takes evenings classes at George Washington University, but his morning was open for a try at Trump’s show. “I can’t name anyone on the show. I’ve maybe watched it two times,” he said. “What I did see when I looked at the show, though, is it seems like they were doing something that was very easy. Anyone can do it.”

Barry Florence, 48, of Washington, owns an advertising company and has already had a successful business career. He couldn’t decide which show to apply for.

“I’m debating because I’m a cook, and I love, I actually love to cook as a hobby, so it could be interesting to be on Martha Stewart,” he said. “But, my background is, you know, corporate. I’ve been president and chief operating officer of one of AT&T’s subsidiaries, so the Trump show also is an enticement.”

Erica Francis, 28, came from Winchester, Va., with her 11-week-old son, Pierce, whom she kept in a stroller while waiting to interview for Stewart’s show. “We’re kind of a package deal,” she said. “I found something to do with my almost-3-year old, but the baby, kind of small to pawn off on somebody at this point.”

She arrived at 9 a.m. and finished her interview a little after 4 p.m. She said she was optimistic.

Mike Fleming, 38, was selling cups of hot coffee for $2 from his nearby coffee shop, Cameron Perks. “I got a call saying that they desperately needed coffee,” he said. He sold more than 25 cups of coffee, even though the dealership had been giving it away.

Donald Trump himself came to be interviewed, sort of. A man wearing a Trump mask would only identify himself as “Donald Trump.” He said he thought his chances of getting on the show were “pretty high.”

Wire Story

GOP lawmakers call for active approach to endangered species

By Logan C. Adams -- Scripps Howard Foundation Wire, Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON - Four lawmakers said Thursday that the result of endangered species legislation should be to make species recover instead of only staving off extinction.

“Our goal is to strengthen the Endangered Species Act by improving habitat conservation and recovery, providing more and better incentives and enhancing the role of states where appropriate,” said Sen. Michael Crapo, R-Idaho.

Crapo, with Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., and Reps. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Richard Pombo, R-Calif., called for members of Congress to work together on a new approach to protecting endangered species. Several of them are planning to introduce bills in the coming weeks.

Environmental activists said they will need to see the language in the bills, but their reaction was generally favorable. “We’re heartened to see both chambers of Congress joining forces to craft a reasonable approach to the conservation of species at risk,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president of Defenders of Wildlife, in an interview, “and we look forward to engaging in a dialogue where appropriate.”

Four large charts stood next to the speakers at the news conference to illustrate the effect of the Endangered Species Act, all comparing two numbers: 1,264 and 10.

The first was the number of domestic species on the endangered species list. The second was the number that have been taken off the list since the act was passed in 1973.

“I don’t think anybody, if they had a veterinarian with this kind of a record, would take their pet to that veterinarian,” Pombo said.

John Kostyack, senior counsel for the National Wildlife Federation, welcomed the idea of bringing more species to recovery, but disagreed with calling the act a failure. “What it doesn’t show is that hundreds of species have been saved from extinction by the endangered species act,” he said in an interview.

Crapo outlined four “general improvements” he hoped Congress would adopt. First, he said “biologically based priorities” should be used to make all decisions about endangered wildlife.

Second, incentives should be offered to private groups to encourage their help in protecting and learning about endangered species. Third, land managers of critical habitats should be rewarded for efforts to improve those areas.

Finally, he said federal teams that work with endangered species should be open to involvement from state and private parties, giving a stronger role to state wildlife experts.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Lions, Tigers, and Panda Bears; Oh My!

This afternoon, my friend Annette came up from Georgetown to hang with me and go check out the National Zoo. It's just a couple blocks from here, and the admission is cheap.

As in: FREE! You gotta love seeing your tax dollars at work.

Except when the zoo is in piss-poor shape, but more on that later.

We left a little after noon and our first exhibit was the new cheetah cubs. There was a 20 minute wait, but I'd like to say it was worth it. I really, really would like to say it was worth it.

But that would be a lie. The little turds were looking away, and no, a cheetah cub's butt is not all that cute. My guess is they saw all these people looking in one direction, and turned to see what we were looking at. How modest.

Also interesting were the hippos, because it was downright depressing. There was this huge one that was eating, and he could barely fit in his own cage. There was only room for him to rotate and shuffle his feet around a little.

It wasn't his 24-hour housing, he had a bit more room in his pool, but obviously not enough. He looked glad to be eating, but there was something in his eyes that caught my attention. It was the admittance of defeat, the painful acceptance that he'd never know a real river, and it poured from his eyes and hung from his shoulders.

He was born in captivity. His name: Happy.

We walked out to the bird house, which is accessed by a long, winding road with one side for walking and the other side for police cars to drive on. I don't know why.

But the zoo wanted to better illusrate that rule. So on the side people were not supposed to walk on there were little stick people with giant "X"s on them, as if they marked victims. There were at least 13.

There are only two words needed to describe the Bird House: 1.) Ducks and 2.) Flamingos.

I say that because there was a whole lot of ducks and flamingoes, and they did act rather funny.

We saw the Pandas, and they're names were something you'd expect to see on the menu at a chinese restaurant.

Just imagine it: Tsing-Tsing (the old panda that died) over bamboo with white and black sauces.

The lions were also funny. The male of the pride would growl a little every once and a while, and then this kid standing by us roared at him. The male actually replied to him with a mild roar to establish his dominance over the toddler. Then he started growling funny.

Ever heard a cat cough up a hairball? Take such a cat and hook him up to a few massive subwoofers, and that's what this Lion was doing.

He also reacted funny to this little window that was really close to the cats, where kids could come to get a closer view of them. The male would go up to it every once and a while, as if he was eyeing a meal. It was 6-year-olds teasing these beasts, who were obviously hungry. I must admit the thought of the glass giving way did cross my mind.

Don't worry, no kiddies got eaten. Although I know many a soul who would love to feed a sibling to a lion, but don't we all?

The tiget next door had similar ideas. There was a set of double doors at the zoo, and every once and a while he would run up to it, stand against the door, put a paw on the door handle and peer through the window. I bet whoever was on the other side must've needed a new pair of underwear.

One dissapointment was that the lemurs were not in season, that is to say they were locked away for the winter and their exhibit was closed. I like Lemurs a great deal, they have been endeared to me ever since I first watched Fierce Creatures.

But there were none. I guess I'll have to try again later in the spring.

I want my lemurs.

When inspiration strikes...

Kate & Jessie ham it up. They're good at that Posted by Hello

Another Photoshop experiment

My Brother Drew with his Girlfriend Anna. Posted by Hello

Photoshop Experiment

Happy Valentine's Day.
Click on it and look at the enlarged version and tell me what you think of it. Posted by Hello

Just to be clear, this kind of image is the result of a service I would like to offer when I get home. The model is a good friend of mine. I'm hoping her boyfriend, family, and friends like it.

Friday, February 11, 2005

So this is Virginia!

Lyrics in my head:
"We'll meet again, don't know how, don't know when,
but I know we'll meet again some sunny day."

Today I took a trip deep, deep into the very heart of Virginia.

Ok, ok, I just went to Alexandria with Glenn, but still, I went.

We took the train to the Van Dorn Station, and then we were supposed to take the #7 DASH bus out to a Mercedes-Benz dealership where they were having tryouts for the "apprentice."

Only we took the #5 DASH bus. Because I am a freaking idiot who writes news stories for a national wire but can't tell the difference between a seven and a five.

I guess I could say that if you rotate a 7 it becomes a V, which is the Roman numeral for five.

Or I could say that we were tricked.

But then I'd be ignoring the truth: I am a freaking idiot.

And I know for a fact that everyone at home is nodding they're heads saying:

"Well, I could've told you that, now send me to D.C. why don'cha?"

But my self esteem did get a nice pickup once we found our way there after taking a fast-paced, guided tour of Alexandria, Virginia against our wills.

That boost came from comparing two things:

A) Me, and B) the really disturbing people I met

Fortunately, I had the Foundation's digital camera and took quite a few pictures out there, and I'll be posting them here.

After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

And a thousand words can give you serious wrist cramps from all the typing.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Quoting Matchbox 20

All day long I've had these lyrics in my head:

"I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell
I know, right now you can't tell.
But stay awhile and maybe then you'll see
a different side of me.
I'm not crazy, I'm just a little impaired
I know, right now you don't care.
But soon enough you're gonna think of me
And how I used to be."

A couple nights ago, Lauren and I were getting ready to leave the newsroom and chatting about stuff and at one point remarks: "I luv ya Logan."

I can tell you from personal experience that a kick to the groin wouldn't have caught me so far off guard. (Thanks so damned much to my younger siblings)

Lauren has a boyfriend, probably soon to be her fiance, and she speaks of her love for him very, very often, so I'm certain this was platonic love she was talking about.

Or maybe she just really, really wanted another piece of beef jerky. Who knows?

I had a very disturbing dream this morning that made me late for work. Fortunately they're rather forgiving here, especially when they sometime have you work almost double shifts for free.

The general rule of thumb, as I see it, is as long as you get the story, they don't care.

And that's about the best rule as I ever seen.

Of course, it probably expains how journalists as a whole earned the reputation for being drunks and the like.

Whatever the case, I have to get up early tomorrow to cover tryouts for "The Apprentice" that are happeing across the Potomac tomorrow. That's both the regular one with "the Donald" and the new one with Martha Stewart that will get going once she takes care of this little thingy called a prison sentence.


Two awesome websites

I discovered today that the following websites have been publishing my stories:

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

this is an audio post - click to play

Wire Story

Bill would ban sale of powerful rifle

By Logan C. Adams
Scripps Howard Foundation Wire

WASHINGTON - Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., was surprised she couldn’t lift the gun sitting on a table at a press conference and asked if it was stuck in place. After several police officers told her the 34-pound ArmaLite AR-50 .50 caliber rifle wasn’t attached, she let go.

McCarthy, whose husband was killed and son was paralyzed in a 1993 shooting, joined Reps. James Moran, D-Va., Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., and Henry Waxman, D-Calif., Tuesday to introduce the “50 Caliber Sniper Rifle Reduction Act.”

Rounds from the rifle can pierce inch-thick steel from a distance of a mile under certain circumstances and are more likely to cause fatal injuries than smaller-caliber weapons. The rifles unleash a great deal of noise and kick when fired. In fact, Armalite includes earplugs and Tylenol with the purchase of the $3,000 AR-50.

The bill would make such weapons illegal for purchase, except by the military and law enforcement, and would require current owners to register with the government. Such a law went into effect in California at the beginning of the year. A similar bill died in Congress last year.

The Violence Policy Center owns the gun and brought it to the Capitol with a police escort and without its bolt, a component necessary to fire the weapon.

“We have been told that al Qaeda representatives have acquired at least two dozen of these rifles,” Moran said. The lawmakers said the rifles could be used to target aircraft, trains and automobiles.

“This has nothing to do with the Second Amendment,” McCarthy said. “This has nothing to do with taking away the right of someone to protect themselves.”

Gun rights advocates disagreed.

“This has everything to do with the Second Amendment,” said Kelly Hobbs, spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association. “It’s unfortunate that some politicians are using America’s terrorism concerns to further a gun control agenda. After all, the hijackers of September 11 were not armed with firearms.”

The lawmakers also said that a weapon as powerful as the .50 caliber rifle should be more difficult to obtain. “It is easier in this country to buy this weapon than it is to buy a handgun,” Waxman said.

According to the FBI, 9,638 homicides were committed with firearms in 2003. Handguns were the weapon in 80 percent.

Tom Diaz, senior policy analyst for the Violence Policy Center, said that .50 caliber weapons had been used by the Irish Republican Army to assassinate officials in Europe. He also said criminals have used them, and police have found them in the arsenals of drug dealers in California, Missouri and Indiana.

One of the three rifles Marvin Heemeyer had in his armored bulldozer when he drove it through buildings in Granby, Colo., over a zoning dispute in June was a Barrett 82A1 .50 caliber rifle, according to the Violence Policy Center.

Diaz said he saw .50 caliber rifles that had been used to fire at federal agents during the raid on a religious group in Waco, Texas.

However, no American has been wounded or killed with a .50 caliber rifle in the United States, according to both the NRA and Diaz.

“There is no rifle or firearm manufactured anywhere in the United States or any other country that enjoys a safety record comparable to the that of the .50 BMG,” said John Burtt, chairman of the Fifty Caliber Institute.

The institute is associated with the Fifty Caliber Shooter’s Association, an organization of .50 caliber rifle enthusiasts. Burtt said the group has thousands of members who use the weapons mostly for long-distance target competitions.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Is this Irony?

I am a reporter, and one person whose actions I'm covering here in DC is Senator Sam Brownback. His daughter, Abby, is a reporter at the Collegian back home, my old paper. She even interviewed a friend of mine.

I find this ironic, what do you think?

Liars, Guns, and... Send me money

Well, today was lots of fun, I covered the introduction of a bill to outlaw .50 Caliber Sniper Rifles.

And the only completely honest person I spoke to today was a spokesman for the White House who told me what the President's position on the bill was.

Which means he just quoted the president. That's it.

Everyone else tried to bullsh*t me at some point, some were semi-accidental, others ignorant, and some outright dastardly.

But I won't get into that.

What I will say is that it was a great deal of fun, and I got to check out one such weapon, an AR-50 worth $3,000. When ArmaLite sells one of these babies, they actually include earplugs.

And Tylenol.

Depending on who you ask, these things can pierce:

A) inch-thick steel at a mile's distance.

B) half-inch steel at 2 kilometers.

C) that semi-edible thing the lunchladies at my old high school cafeteria called a "hot pocket" from point-blank range.

To be truthful, I doubt an M1A1 Abrams tank's 120MM smoothbore cannon could take out that last one.

Also, I must say I'm very proud of the story I just put out on the wire, I tried my darn-tootin-est to be objective and all, and I think I did a pretty good job of making a story that most people will enjoy and walk away better-informed.

And I'm glad I don't have to eat a hot pocket tomorrow.

An excerpt from my interview with Sen. John McCain, R-AZ

this is an audio post - click to play