Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Intern Update: Weeks 2 and 3

I have tricked myself into blogging tonight by using the excuse that really, this is like homework. In reality, I'm sitting here with a huge reference book on my lap and attempting to avoid "real" work. But, since it's been took long since my first intern update, I think I need to discuss some of the happenings around the office so that when I do need to write this up into a journal, I'll actually remember some of it.

Two weeks ago is pretty fuzzy already, but I did pretty much the same things. After mastering the art of inputting constituent cases into the computer, I was handed an enormous stack of them and went to work. On the first day (and the second, I think), the pile that I set aside, because I either couldn't read the rep's handwriting or had no idea what to do with it, was way bigger than the pile of casework that I actually finished. I also learned how to print stuff out and I had some fun with a stapler. And, on Groundhog Day, I got to have my own office. Pretty sweet, huh?

This week was a little bit different and I can't go into too many details just yet (IM me if you're curious and I will fill you in as I am able to), but Monday will be an interesting day. I basically filed and did more constituent work this past Monday. I'm getting better, the "I don't have a freaking clue about these" pile is now smaller than the "Yay! I did these all by myself! I'm a big kid now!" pile. Then on Wednesday, I found out that my supervisor is going on leave and I am about to be stranded. Yeah, not a good day at all. I did learn how to use the calendar (which is apparently a big deal because the two staffers below my supervisor get yelled at a lot for messing around with it) and RSVPed for a few events.

Thursday night was my first community outreach program. Every now and then, our office puts together a meeting of sorts about an issue. Thursday was a college funding seminar, where panelists from financial aid programs, college admissions counselors, and military people came to talk to parents and adults who are going back to school about paying for college. We had a fantastic turnout and I got to meet a few other Republican state reps who co-sponsored the program. I also had a blast with staffers from the other offices. One of them was kind enough to obtain for me the phone number of the really hot guy from the National Guard who spoke. (And then my supervisor tried to take it back when she found out how old he is.)

All in all, I'm having a good experience thus far. I am afraid that will change next week when my fantastic supervisor leaves and the workload changes, but I have done enough stressing and worrying about this since Wednesday. I will have more to say after our meeting Monday afternoon. But so far, the only good thing that will come from this is that I will be getting my own office, which I will adorn with pictures of Ronnie.

But not Pat. No, no, I blame him for my current sad state of affairs.

This has been your Intern Update from Mary, the best damn intern since Monica Lewinsky!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

I realized today that I have not made a post in over a week, nor have I written anything in almost two weeks. In fact, no post of mine even shows on the front page, though my friends have been kindly providing content in my absence. This has to stop, though.

I don't quite know what happened, but my writing muse has been basically asleep for the last month or so. Well, I think it has something to do with the ongoing stress and frustration of my job search. It leaves me mentally drained almost every day, and though I enjoy writing, when I feel like that, blogging feels like a chore, and I don't want it to feel that way.

That said, I don't want to end up like a writer I greatly admire, Steven Den Beste, who quit blogging because it was simply no fun anymore (though I've been occasionally tempted to try my hand at anime blogging, as he has). I'm hoping my disposition in all areas will improve once I finally secure employment, but I don't want to leave things hanging here. I do feel a bit of an obligation to blog, and I don't believe it's good for me to not write. So, starting today, I want to try to make a short post every day commenting on just about anything.

I'm not going to worry about whether it's insightful, informative, or even interesting (though I would hope it's that at the very least). I just need to be writing. Another problem of mine is my perfectionist streak, which makes me often feel that unless I'm on top of things right away like Hugh Hewitt, Captain Ed, or Glenn Reynolds or I have something insightful to say, like Power Line or the Corner, or am bringing important links or news to people like Drudge and others, I have no reason to post. Likewise, if I don't cover the issue I'm posting about comprehensively, I feel I've come up short.

But, really, I'm comparing myself to the wrong people. I'd love to be like Den Beste or Lileks or Jonah Goldberg someday, but I'm one of the tiny fish in this big pond of the blogosphere and I shouldn't be comparing myself to the masters of the lake.

The bottom line is, I love to opine and I like to write. I want to blog and I should be able to make a little blog post every day, as it should be theraputic. All writers struggle through writer's block, laziness, etc, and I this is all an effort to dump my muse out of bed and wake her up. I believe not writing is bad for me, so I need to get back in the saddle. I'm well aware this whole post makes me sound like Piro of Megatokyo, and I'd be loathe to continue in that vein, despite the personality traits I share with him (though I doubt we share political views).

Anyway, at the very least, not writing has been bothering me, so writing a little, I think, can only help. If anyone still reads this, thanks for your indulgence.

HPQ

Well I will have to admit today’s news brought something I would not have guessed to be coming. Carly Fiorina has resigned from Hewlett Packard Compaq today. Her replacement of Robert Wayman the current CFO will be temporary until a more formal search can be undertaken. The conflict among the company has finally worn it down and this Silicon Valley giant can try to right itself. There will always be great debate about the merits of what Fiorina did at HP but I think history will look positively on her. She did save the company with the merger but sadly mismanaged it once it was underway. Too much reliance was put on HP which in computers does not have the brand power of Compaq. They literally tried to compete against themselves and this only works if you are McDonalds. HPQ will have a tumultuous time ahead however the interim CEO knows the company well and will keep the ship afloat. It could not come at a worse time however with Dell launching into the printer market. This will be a strain on an embroiled HP which will have to fend off this attack. Dell can be a very tough competitor when they have a good idea and if their printers are of sufficient quality they may be onto something with their direct to consumer marketing plan that was popularized with the computers and picked up upon by Gateway. Either way this is going to be a great business battle to watch in the upcoming months.

Suggested Reading
“Perfect enough: Carly Fiorina and the Reinvention of Hewlett-Packard” by George Anders
Direct from Dell: Strategies that revolutionized and Industry” by Michael Dell

A new look at an old subject

If you are looking for a different perspective on the profiles of dictators I just finished a book called “Argentine Caudillo: Juan Manuel de Rosas” by John Lynch. This book focuses on the story of Rosas who was a dictator in Argentina in the 1840’s. He was a vicious ruler who also worked hard to try and modernize the country bringing it to the stage where Juan Peron could enact many of his reforms for better or worse. Rosas was a rancher and social elite in the country who started from meager means. While he did use the standard secret police (gauchos) he also tried wide sweeping social reforms to integrate the city with the countryside. This is a pretty short book and an easy read for anyone remotely curious in how modern Argentina was shaped.

Soda discrimination

Mary as a quick side note to your argument for why men should not drink diet soda I wanted to provide another perspective. Although I do try to watch my weight and diet soda helps the greater benefit is that diet soda does not have sugar. The advantages of not drinking sugar on your teeth are important enough and are the main reason why I drink diet soda. Also lets not have a sex divided society based on food groups. Freedom for everyone with no special treatment for one group over the other.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Happy Birthday Ronald Reagan

Well as Mary has already put up the Happy Birthday to Ronald Reagan post and since I am too tired from my Martindale application to think of anything even remotely coherent to say I will leave it at we miss you Ronnie and I hope that your family has made it through the day as best they can. Simply put thank you for defeating the Soviets as no one else could have. Happy Birthday and you are missed.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Ronald Reagan, Feb. 6, 1911 - June 5, 2004

Happy biiiiiiiiiiiiiirthday to....you.
Happy biiiiiiiiiiiiiirthday to....you.
Happy biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirthday....Mister....President.
Happy biiiiiiiiiiiiiirthday to....you.

Ahh if Marilyn was still around on February 6, 1981, she would've been wishing Ronnie a happy 70th birthday, because he was definitely the hottest president of the 20th century. (And yes, he would have kept his hands off her!)

"This fellow they've nominated claims he's the new Thomas Jefferson. Well let me tell you something; I knew Thomas Jefferson. He was a friend of mine and Governor... You're no Thomas Jefferson!"

I miss Ronnie so much. I fear there will be no other like him, unless Pat Toomey takes the White House some day. And not even Pat has that same witty charm as Ronnie. He was one in a million. No, one in a billion. No, one in infinity!

Give it to me baby!

I don't know about the rest of you, but I've got my fingers crossed for a Paul McCartney wardrobe malfunction at halftime!

Blogger Bowl 2005

Since the boys are all off at various Super Bowl festivities and I am staying at home (in the kitchen, like a good girl!) and getting some work done, I thought I would offer some commentary.

1.) I am a sucker for hearing the military sing the National Anthem. I'd much rather hear military choirs open up the game than MTV pop stars. I also loved the tribute to the WWII vets, who truly are members of the Greatest Generation. I had tears in my eyes throughout the singing of our anthem, but this was short lived because as soon as the song ended, my TV screen was overwhelmed by a tight close-up of Bill Clinton. Fox sure knows how to ruin a moment.

2.) Where are the animal rights activists when you need them? As they were coming back from a commercial break, they showed a poor, helpless, defenseless dolphin in an aquarium tank. It was trained to surface at the edge of the tank with a football in its mouth. One of the commentators asked if it was actually real. Shame on the NFL and Fox for torturing that sad creature to entertain humans with silly tricks!

3.) I have to say that I was unimpressed by the Diet Pepsi commercial with the hot guy walking down the street, diet soda in hand. Though he was pretty attractive, this would have been much more effective for me if he was drinking a regular Pepsi. Guys, let's get something straight. Diet colas are for girls. We are always obsessing over calories. If you are also concerned about nutrition information labels so much that you can't drink a regular sugary soda, I recommend that you drink water instead. It's much more macho.

It's already the start of the second quarter and I'm amazed that the Eagles are not being spanked. Perhaps there is some small hope for them after all! Just before the game, the Philly news was live at a block party and a tiny one-month old baby boy was asleep in his father's arms, all decked out in Eagles clothing. I have no clue how the kid slept through all the screaming and singing going on around him, but what a doll! I hope they win for him! I love babies :)

Tsunami article for VRWC, let the hate mail flow in

Tsunami relief gone too far!

By Kevin Frost

Panhandle \'pan-"han-d&l\ v: To stop people on the street and ask for food or money

Are there panhandlers at Lehigh? Some of you may have run into people on the Southside (or your favorite large city) who fit this description. This practice probably bothers some of you. On a recent trip to Washington D.C. I ran into a few panhandlers. It bothered me that I could not comfortably walk down the sidewalk because of the anticipation that I was going to be approached by someone asking for money. But that’s only something you will find in the big city, right? Look at the definition: it is exactly the same thing being done by countless groups on campus, all in the name of “charity.”

We’ve all seen them countless times. Can you remember the last time you walked through the Upper UC or Ulrich during lunch hour without being accosted by students asking for money or your signature? I know people who walk the entire way around Ulrich to get to their mailbox because they are sick of having to face these panhandlers.

Recently, I had a discussion with someone running a “Tsunami relief” drive in the Upper UC. The sense I got from this person and from others I talked to was that Tsunami relief is a good cause which gives them the right to ask passers-by for money. According to supporters of the presently-used tactics, passer-bys can “ignore” the panhandlers if they so choose. Really, can you really ignore panhandlers? I feel you can reject them, but that is not the same as ignoring them.

Let’s say charity drives were run the way I would prefer: they set up tables a reasonable distance away from high traffic areas in Ulrich and the UC, they advertise through the Daily News Digest or fliers, the tables are made noticeable at their locations through posters and signs, and people are only asked to donate if they approach or take a noticeable interest in the table. I think people could truly ignore the drives under this formula, as they have a right to do.

Under the present system, passers-by are approached, called over, or flat out asked to donate money (or time, blood, food) with little regard for their right to get from point A to point B with reasonable insulation. My favorite was last year when, while carrying a full lunch tray and a forty pound backpack, I was stopped dead in my tracks by a member of the PSA trying to get me to support their windmill initiative. In fact, he tried to hand me a fact sheet! What hand was I supposed to use? I don’t support the windmill initiative, as I told this person, which of course let open the flood-gates. To these people, it was a worthy initiative, a moral cause. Apparently that gives them the right to stop you in transit.

To the Tsunami relief people their cause is a worthy one as well. The most common answer I got when I asked them to justify their tactics was just that – it’s a worthy cause, even a moral imperative. So, are they forcing their morality on the rest of us? What if you were stopped by a Christian group in Ulrich asking you to convert to their religion, or telling you about the true way to salvation? I know a whole group of people at this school that would go nuts. Ironically, if it was a Muslim group, they might defend them in the name of “tolerance.” Most likely, they will also defend the charity groups, all the while imposing their own morals upon the rest of us.

You have a right to go certain places in this world without being flat out bothered by other people. I am not against charity, though I am against institutionalizing charity. I don’t think the United States government should give money to Tsunami relief: they should allow for the private sector to do this under their own free will. Your tax dollars going to Southeast Asia is an example of someone forcing their morals onto your wallet (you may be confused if you read the last issue and my article about Tsunami aid – I will explain the difference in depth if you contact me at kpf2@lehigh.edu). Lehigh allowing charity groups to use these tactics is nothing different. Charity at Lehigh is a fine thing, but it is certainly not everyone’s thing. Just as religion and politics are not to be forced upon someone, charity should not be forced upon someone. All three of those things are important, but they have their rightful place.

Damn Liberals!!

Recently Al Sharpton has combined with PETA for yet another crazy campaign to get better rights for chickens. Their demands are that KFC first put the chickens to sleep before they are killed and that the chickens have room to wander. Now I am not sure about the advantage of free range chickens over cooped up chickens but I don’t think their demands hold much weight. These people are beyond insane and as I think back to a man who came into the main dinning hall at Lehigh University last year and decided to dress in a chicken suit we are coming to the same conclusion. These people should be separated form society. Put them on an island where they can worship animals (and not care about human life of course since I am sure brutally slaughtering embryos is not a problem for these people) and live in one with nature. The fact that Al Sharpton is leading this hopeless campaign is a tell tale sign that losing the presidency has finally driven him completely mad and the last bastion of sanity that we all hoped he possessed is now completely gone. Liberal crusades like this drive me over the edge and I am hoping that we can see for ourselves one day that chickens are chicken and we need to protect human life first. The suffering of chickens is very low on my priority list. Hopefully these activists will find a decent cause to take up. I am reminded of a Simpson’s episode where Marge and Lisa get a new doorbell. A group of Jehovah’s Witnesses come up to the door and before they get there one reflects “gee do you think we are bothering people by trying to change their religious beliefs” the other one says “you are right lets go get real jobs”. I am hoping that a similar realization can hit upon the people who are taking up the many activist cause. Please see Kevin’s article in the VRWC on Tsunami relief because I closely echo his thoughts on the way it is being collected.

more Napoleon

As I have finished reading yet another round of Napoleon books I wanted to point one out to our blog readers. This book is fairly recent and is entitled “The Terror before Trafalgar: Nelson, Napoleon, and the Secret War” by Tom Pocock. The book focuses on the competition between Britain and France and looks especially close at the Egyptian campaign, Irish Campaign, and the invasion plans for England. The beginning looks at what the Americans would develop as a submarine from Robert Fulton’s plans are also discussed while he is trying to sell them to both the French and the English. Instead he develops a steam ship which is employed around the world as time moves on. The book is very well written and incorporates a great deal of primary sources without getting bogged down in quotes. For those interested about what led to Trafalgar this is definitely a book worth reading.