Friday, April 30, 2010

I'm An Affiliated Voter Now

Discussing communism is one thing. It's a different matter when you're discussing communism with the student from China. In Communist China, membership in the Party is dispensed on an exclusivity basis. In fact, only 7% of the population is a card carrying member. In Comparative Politics, we learned that some young Chinese die to be members. You must love communism to be a member, though. Such an affiliation can put you on the US blacklist. The Party's less ideological now than it was in Mao days. In fact, there are now businessmen in the club. We call this hypocriticism. Fortunately, our student sees a future in a free world enterprise and does not expect to be a technocrat. Being a member of the Party, he says, doesn't guarantee you the best job anymore.

In America's multiparty system, parties vie for membership. Exclusive parties don't work. Maybe they used to in the 19th century, but not today. From my laptop, I can join any number of political parties, from the GOP to the DNC to Larouche's cult or the Greens. I just did join one, and it only took about 2 minutes.
They fiddled around with the idea about being 18 in the disclaimer, but they didn't ask anything of it. If you can register to vote prior to 18, then so goes.
Some day, I'll come out of the woodwork on which one I joined.

In support group:
"Yes, I have something to admit."
"We're behind you all the way"
"I'm a member of the ********** party.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


2 gymnasiums, 2 full sized fields and a lax area.
There's probably a jousting area that I didn't get to see. This is Landon School, on Wilson Lane in Bethesda, MD. Years ago, I was at this athletic-heavy school for a tour. Now I was here for track.

2" 45' was all the time that I took to round the track twice (800m total), but I could feel those 8 seconds. I promised myself that I'd give my all in the final 200m. I did; I passed and charged. I knew today would be better; I relieved myself, removed a retainer, tightened my laces, and did not have a cold rain on the parade. Yet, my lungs were pressing against the ribcage. I suspected I ruptured a few capillaries; I think that explains the metallic taste that I had internally after the run.

Was it really 7pm? It was. But I was home by 8pm. Sometimes, track meets are held- locally.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

School Concert

A novel concept: the choral and orchestral concerts were combined this season. This was done for a number of reasons: larger audience, less dates on the calendar, etc. I noticed that first point as we circled around the campus to find a parking spot coming in. The two sections were separated by an intermission in which the orchestras prepped up. All the ensembles played well, and the semi-pro Jazz ensemble rocked the house as usual. As a special tribute, the Hearn brothers (with Brendan, the cellist, a graduating Senior) played a virtuoso Irish jig. Although I'm a bit peeved about the refreshments being finished before the end of the orchestral performances, the sum that I did have before playing was gorgeous. It seems to be a great way to close an Alumni weekend.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Not for money but for glory

Amazon the web retailer has started to offer cash to bloggers who drop the name of specific products in their posts. The pay rate is based on how many click-throughs you get from your blog to an embedded link to Amazon. This, of course, causes partiality which some would say is hazardous to the free-minded world. That said, if I were to sell promotions on this blog, then I would clearly identify the pay-to-say sections. But from my point of view, it'd take a lot (and not pennies or dimes)for me to sell out my audience.

(note that name-dropping in content-enbedded ads is different that a general sponsorship or advertising that is kept separate from the journalistic material).

Friday, April 23, 2010

The You-Can't-Join-Club

How does a prestigious club become prestigious. Is it exclusivity? If so, then does it mean the lower the invitation rate is (if there is one at all), the higher the response rate will be? In a prestigious and secretive Facebook group that I am in, new members are discussed before being sent an invitation. Turns out, the invitation acceptance rate is a clean 100%.So then, does being exclusive imply prestige? No, not as cliques are involved. Could selectiveness be used as a marketing tool? It sure has been and is.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hot Water

Yesterday was Secretaries' day. But most officials consider this day "Administrative Professionals' Day", for the sake of professionalization of every career path, or just for greedy managers who want in. Else, it could just be that Secretaries are synonymous with pensions-disappearing.
To the satisfaction of "working girls" (quoting the 1991 Carly Simon movie), there is now (and has been for a while) a day called "Take your Daughter to work day. Egalitarian fathers, or mothers, bring their daughters to work so they can see that their opportunities aren't limited to secretary, stewardess, nurse or teacher. Now I remember the grade-school debate about TYDTWD: why couldn't the boys take the day off from school? (One boy did; he was ridiculed for the rest of the year). So, in a bow to gender equality, more and more boys took part in (and ruined?) the tradition. Today's Earth Day as well, and being the busybody that I and all my friends are, were unable to attend the festivities on the Mall. Thus, the isolation between us working conformists and environmentalists with leisure time grows.

Take this to the typing pool and leave in the 20th century.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Retrocession: Modern Precedent

Some say that to think that Maryland would ever want to take back DC is crazed talk. There is no Civil War, and lots of people actually live, today, in Maryland's part of DC. Thus, there is to be only one big city in Maryland, not two. But the State that is is not gobbling the whole city, but nibbling it from the tip. No one seems to ever think of this friendly precedent: For one reason or another, the Wilson Bridge from Oxon Hill, MD, to Alexandria, VA, was built so it crossed across DC's very southernmost tip. All that is at this tip is water and an apparent sandbar. When a new bridge was built last decade, Maryland urged the DC council to cede the part of the city's aqueous holding that was under the bridge. That way, neither VA or MD could ask DC to pitch in to the maintenance fund. This change may have affected the residency of several bald eagles and sea gulls, but, as for humans, no one maybe except the guy who opperates the drawbridge.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fling on Mt. St. Alban's

After a few minutes of door-checking, my mother and I came across a medieval-looking door at St. Alban's in Washington. Inside was the party we were looking for. At St. Thomas, I had been spoiled with these sort of social events. Alumni get-togethers with the choirboys present and obedient as live entertainment, and, on some rowdy occassions, napkin. But the older I've gotten, the more I've got to contribute to these get-togethers. As a chorister, all I could say was yessir, nomaam and dunno. It's nice that the choir came to see me. Yes. As part of the Development program, the choir has been travelling on 2-day junkets. But they particularly like the DC area: Overall, a nice place to be, lots of alumni, lots of high-church families to share their homes with the choir. Having read the prep-school analysis book "Preparing for Power", I was particularly attuned to what was going on. How little could you eat? I had one macaroon. How long could you talk? COuld you gracefully exit a conversation? Any faux pas? So, it works out for both of us.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Only 50 years til retirement?

A firend, then 14, said that you're old at 17, not 16. I sure feel different than I did last year at this time. Nevertheless, I received a great outpour of encouragement on Facebook. Everyone knew the date.
4/17. Atticus Sawatzki's birthday. My parents did, too. My mom had something to say: "And me? I was the one who did work that day."

I didn't make a big deal about this birthday. I don't know why; it could possibly be due to entitlement fatigue. At age 13 I was able to put my life on the internet. At age 14, I was allowed by law to work, at 15, get a joint card account, sit in an airplane exit row and be a lifeguard (by US standards). At 16, a library of congress card, a motor vehicle learner's licence and most adult benefits. Some of these benefits are leagues deep in the law. Why'd I want to start riding a bike helmetless? Or ride in the back of a speeding truck, unsecured?

But about the anticlimax- it's because it's on a Saturday! I don't have to worry about bruised arms until Monday.

Thank you, Tom and Kathy, too.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Tax Death Spiral

Sometimes, a politician will decide to raise taxes for whatever purpose. This is done early in the term, so folks will forget Indeed, what happened in Maryland happened to be a smart move: The bottom fell out mid-term, and no one's discussing raising taxes. But when your neighbor Virginia manages to keep taxes low through fiscal responsibility, that's when you know you don't have a captive population. Indeed, tax records presented by the right-leaning Washington Examiner indicate that over 100 millionaires have left one county of Maryland for Virginia, presumably, since the instatement of the populist-based millionaire tax. What do you do when the result doesn't work as intended? Hold the tax rate? Bad idea. Raise it? There goes the Tax Death Spiral. As taxes rise, more and more people will flee. Then, when you start taxing the middle class- whizz bang, there goes your neighborhood. Thus, what remains is a failed state with a chronically ill budget. Witness any big city in the last part of last century.

So what do you do when you become the maverick of tax increases? Lower them. While that means less revenue in the short run, this is the only redeeming path to a decent state future. This applies to all sorts of taxes, including real estate, income, sales tax and any fees one thinks of imposing.

Friday, April 9, 2010


What a rough week back! At least by Monday night I was back in the academic spirit- sort of. It took til about last night to get that get-go fervor back into me. As for chem test, well, if it takes 2 days to fill out your index card cheat-sheet (vs the usual 45 min session), then I should have taken it as a cue. Oh well. Fortunately I get a second shot backed up by an alternative third shot. In retrospect, I coul've kept a 1-hour-per night study hall standard. But I was burned out over break. The week was occupied much by sports practice, but c'est la vie. Think of this- now, over the weekend, I have all the homework time I need!I've been ferociously working on a play for the VSA young playwright's competition. I'm trying to do a decent job, and not to rip off too much from my classmates' life experiences. What I mean is not to pull a Marcel Duchamp and skirt work to make a point. If I wanted to make a point, I think I'd put some effort into it.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Great Vigil of Easter

I took my first trip to the local parish's GVE (Great Vigil of Easter) service. It was a big deal. The service started at 9; when I checked my watch after service, it was past midnight. We had run the whole gamut. I've done GVE's before, but none as late or as lengthy or spiritually intense. Think of this: Now how did a friend from St. Thomas Choirschool land at our same church? "The music world's really small. So, naturally, I happened upon St. Paul's". It is a special place that offers three choral services each Sunday, and one of few US Churches to offer weekly treble Evensong. Said a former classmate from NewYork now at Georgetown Univ., "That is the loudest congregation I've heard". At St. Thomas in New York, the parishoners let the choristers do the singing.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Oh busy week

There are two camps that the school students fall into: Going on vacation or doing lots of work. And by going on vacation they mean actually up-and leaving by car or plane: one more day in Washington and they're on the work train. Seeing that I'm still in Washington,one can conclude this break doesn't feel like a vacation. Internship and summer program apps, job apps, vague homework assignments, you name it.

Mon- Orthodontist (braces off- yeah!), Nat'l Geographic- special film on Terra Cotta Soldiers (tix for exhibit sold out), Orthodontist for retainer.
Tues- Jog, movie @ Nat'l geographic on shipwreck research, Church rehersal @715p.
Wed- Supreme Court Marshal's list invitation to court hearing, CPR renewal@ 5p.
Thu- Do money moving with savings act. b/c interest rate is so low, Lifeguard Backboarding review, CPR Class part 2.
At least I've been getting enough sleep this week!