Thoughts & Sayings (April 2013)


Here are some thoughts and sayings I posted on Twitter and/or Facebook in March. To my knowledge, I made these up (for better or for worse). Sit back, relax, and enjoy the write!

Encouraging Words

1. I aim to confuse so you don’t have to.

confusion

2. A smile is what happens when something inside comes out.

smile

3. Exercising your mind is better than food for thought.

thought

4. When brilliance strikes, fight back.

brilliance

Twisted Words

5. Cleaning windows is such a pane, but I want them to look smashing.

window

6. I’m always getting into travel on the road.

travel

In Its Own Write

7. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone wrote fill-in-the-blank stories we could buy and turn into our own books?

books

8. Twice upon a time, there was a story and a knock-off.

knockoff

Holidays & Events

9. I filled out my brackets for March Madness. The Vatican Conclave is my top seed with the North Korea Nukes as potential spoiler. The Venezuela Chavistas should go far with Nicolas Maduro at center while the Washington Sequesters could bow out early.

madness

10. I’m happy to be Irish for a pot of gold. Okay then, how about a pint?

irish

11. Ides don’t know what Ides gonna do on March 15.

caesar

12. Happy International Women’s Day! Enjoy your day off.

women

13. Happy Sequester Day. Where are you hiding?

sequester

Random Musings

14. Wouldn’t it be nice if advertisements featured what we wanted to buy rather than something to be sold?

15. I’m like an onion. Peel away some layers and I’ll make you cry.

onion

Click here to visit the Thoughts & Sayings page, or click here to read the previous batch of Thoughts & Sayings.

clip_image0044M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander and Ellie the Elephant, two books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day


Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a day to reflect on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy. I remember standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. looking down on the Reflecting Pool in 2004.The place looked much as it did when Dr. King stood in the same place on August 28, 1963, and delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. I imagined the National Mall filled with a diverse audience listening intently to Dr. King. It must have been an amazing day. I remember hearing Congressman John Lewis talk about it in the 1990s when I worked in the U.S. Congress. I recall how his eyes lit up when he spoke of that historical day. I wish I had been there to see it.

The March on Washington, August 28, 1963

We have come a long way as a society in countering racism. While racism still occurs in the United States and around the world, most Americans would agree that racism has declined since Dr. King delivered his speech in 1963. We now have an African-American president, President Obama, whose father was from Kenya, mother a Caucasian from Kansas, and has a half-sister whose father was Indonesian. Income inequality, particularly among minorities, still exists and worsened during the recent economic downturn, but the days of segregation and institutionalized racism are over. This is Dr. King’s legacy.

When President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, a fact few remember, I wondered why the Federal Government would establish a holiday dedicated to someone who had not been elected to public office. I thought of Chief Joseph, Susan B. Anthony, Malcolm X, and Frederick Douglass, other influential pioneers of human rights in America who deserved to be honored. Now that we have an American-American president serving during a divisive period in U.S. history, I appreciate more than ever that the honor went to Dr. King, who rose above politics to focus on ideals. Each of us has our own view of what this holiday means to us. To me, it represents the celebration of unity and freedom regardless of race and creed. As Dr. King said in his 1963 speech:

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Most people have never read Dr. King’s speech, one of the greatest orations in history. It sends a powerful message that still rings true today. What strikes me most is that Dr. King called on us to join hands in unity with those who are different. Therein lay the essence of freedom. This message is easy to disregard in our supercharged political environment. Americans need to come together in unity, not as Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, urban or rural, Red or Blue Stater, Tea Partier or Occupy Wall Streeter, African American, Caucasian, Asian, or Native American, but as Americans. The day this happens will be a very tremendous one for America. I can only hope and pray that day comes soon.

Here is Dr. King’s speech in its entirety.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I Have A Dream”

The March on Washington

August 28, 1963

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity. But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free.

One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.

So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition. In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.

So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights.

The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. we must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” we can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Here are previous posts I wrote in honor of Dr. King and Rosa Parks, another pioneer in the American Civil Rights movement.

https://worldadventurers.wordpress.com/2005/01/19/reflecting-on-dr-king/

https://worldadventurers.wordpress.com/2006/01/17/martin-luther-king-jr-s-legacy/

https://worldadventurers.wordpress.com/2005/11/03/thank-you-rosa-parks/

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He recently published a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories available as an ebook and in print on Amazon.com. His upcoming travel novel, Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, will be available in March 2012. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex. For books and stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or contact him at me@mgedwards.com.

I Am No Longer A Foreign Service Officer


KilimanjaroA post I wrote in October 2006 called “What is a Foreign Service officer?” ranks among this blog’s most popular entries. I wrote it during the heady days when I was looking forward to a long career as a diplomat and retiring from the Foreign Service. Alas, it was not meant to be. I resigned from the U.S. Department of State last year to pursue other interests, a decision that I do not regret and am thankful I made.

I owe it to readers who read my earlier post a balanced view of the Foreign Service that cannot be found in the Foreign Service Journal, AFSA press releases, State Department literature, or blogs written by diplomats or their dependents. Most of what you read online about the Foreign Service is rosy and, in my opinion, defends it to a fault. Perpetual sunshine about the Foreign Service does not tell the full story and does a disservice to those who are interested in becoming Foreign Service officers and need a more realistic picture of what to expect.

If you are interested in a career as a Foreign Service officer, you should seriously consider these points before embarking on the lengthy and competitive application process. I do not want to dissuade you from pursuing your dream, but you should be aware of some realities of Foreign Service life that are not well publicized. These views are my own but have been reinforced by years of firsthand observations and conversations with peers. Many of my colleagues shared these sentiments.

1. Worldwide Availability. You are expected to be available for service worldwide, and your personal preferences may not be taken into account. You may be called to go somewhere you don’t want to go that could put your life at risk. The needs of the service supersede yours. Expect to serve in places you may not want to be.

2. Separation. Be prepared at some point in your career to be separated from your family and serve unaccompanied. If your spouse or partner also works for the Department, expect to do separate tours at least once in your career, possibly more. As of last year, over ten percent of all posts were unaccompanied. If keeping the family together is your raison d’être, you may be disappointed.

3. U.S. Interests. Expect to promote U.S. foreign policy. There is little room for altruism and idealism if it does not coincide with U.S. interests. These interests depend on the administration in office, and whatever you advocated may change at any time. You do not serve your country. You serve the Federal Government and hope that it is doing what’s best for your country.

4. Frequent Moves. Be prepared to move frequently. In some cases, this may mean a short tour of one year or less in a conflict zone, a short-term assignment, an evacuation, or a reassignment to another post. You will move from place to place every two-to-three years, or sooner, unless you can find a different assignment at the same post. While moving from country to country may seem exciting to some, relocation ranks as one of the biggest headaches for Foreign Service families.

5. Bureaucracy. Get used to working in a bureaucracy. You work for the Federal Government. It may be “cool” being a diplomat, but you are still a member of the bureaucracy. Expect decisions and paperwork to move slowly through the system, if at all. Often they will be “overcome by events,” a fancy term that means you did a lot of work for nothing. You will do an immense amount of paper pushing in the office until you’re senior enough to have support staff to do it for you.

6. Unfair Rules. “Fair” is a four-letter word. Do not expect justice or fairness. The rules are written to be equalizers and may make no sense. Expect “no” as an answer to even the most logical requests and massage the rules until you get to “yes.” You are subject to the Foreign Affairs Manual and federal regulations. In a rule-based organization, those who know the rules and how to work the system tend to do better. Those who expect fairness, justice, or hold firm in their resolve often go wanting. The Foreign Service has few options for those who want to pursue a complaint because the rules were written with the Department’s interests in mind.

7. Multiple Clearances. Do nothing until you have cleared with everyone who needs to approve whatever you’re doing or face potential consequences. Your superiors are ultimately responsible for your actions under mission authority and can take disciplinary action if you misstep. If you’re a free spirit or like to do things your own way, think twice. Measure as many times as it takes to get full clearance and then cut.

8. No Privacy. Do not expect to have any privacy. Your life is on public display, and you are expected to lead yourself in public responsibly. Do nothing privately you would not want to see end up in the pages of the Washington Post. Everyone wants to know what you’re doing. Everyone, inside and out.

9. Unhealthy Work Environment. Expect to work with a variety of personalities from many cultures. Given its high-pressure working environment, the Foreign Service has elevated levels of stress that can negatively influence behavior. While many employees are excellent colleagues, the Department has its fair share of bad bosses and nasty coworkers. The Department’s hierarchical clearance and promotion systems are designed to give leverage to those in positions of authority. They can make your life miserable if you’re not compliant or simply rub them the wrong way. Try to get along, even if it goes against every fiber in your being, because with perseverance you too will rise to a position of authority and eventually exert your own leverage.

Michael Gene (M. G.) Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. A former U.S. diplomat, he served in South Korea, Paraguay, and Zambia before resigning in 2011 to write full time. He is recipient of numerous State Department awards, the Joint Civilian Service Achievement Award from the U.S. Department of Defense, and a commendation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Paraguay. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex. For books and stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com or on Facebook or Twitter.

The views in this blog entry are solely those of the writer and do not represent the views of the U.S. Department of State.

Happy New Year


Happy New Year, dear reader!  2004 has been quite a year for us.  It started in the Seattle area, where I was working for a local accounting firm as an IT consultant.  It ended in the Washington, D.C. area working for the Foreign Service, studying the Korean language in anticipation of our departure to Korea.  Although the tsunamis put a huge damper on this year’s festivities worldwide, life is good in our home.  I am very thankful for the changes in our life and the unique opportunity we have to travel and work overseas.

Have you made a New Year’s resolution?  I usually make a few, but this year I haven’t thought about it much.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve been too busy.  If I were to make some resolutions, they would have to be as follows:

  1. Finish Korean language class with an adequate testing score
  2. Arrive in Seoul safely
  3. Take a real vacation

Weight is always something to watch, but fortunately I don’t have to check off a lot of the typical New Year’s resolutions.  The three goals listed above are definitely achievable.  I feel a lot better about learning Korean now.  It will always be an uphill battle for me, though.  I’ll know soon whether we make it to Korea safely without event.  Hopefully the worst that will happen is dealing with a fussy child on a trans-Pacific flight.  The third may not happen anytime soon because I first need to adjust to working in Seoul, get through my job’s busy season, and prepare for the upcoming APEC Conference in late 2005.  If the APEC Conference in Seoul is anything like it was in Chile this year, it should be interesting.  I’m sure that President Bush won’t have to pull his security guard into meetings like he did in Santiago.  We may not be able to go on an extended vacation until next November or December.  I have plenty of vacation saved up already.

I hope you had a wonderful 2004.  Please pray for the safety and restoration of those affected by the tsunamis in Asia and Africa.  Let’s hope that 2005 is better than 2004 for everyone.

A Long Break


I spent the time during the holiday break studying Korean.  The department was kind enough to let me work one-on-one with two instructors who came into work during the break.  It helped me substantially improve my Korean conversation.  I wasn’t able study outside of class as much as I would have liked, but at least on Monday when classes start again I’ll be better prepared.  I have one month to polish up this infernal language, and after four days of tutoring I feel much better about my ability to meet the language requirement.  I’ll never complain about learning German, Spanish, or Chinese again (until I start learning Chinese characters again).

The death toll from the tsunamis rose to 116,000 after Indonesia reported that over 80,000 people had perished.  What a tragedy!  This is the single worst event in world history since the 1976 earthquake in southern China that killed more than 500,000 people.  I’m my American mind these events are unfortunately measured by numbers of casualties; in reality the situation is much, much worse than merely the death toll.  This will have substantial repercussions for years to come throughout the Indian Ocean Rim–devastated families, lost livelihoods, destroyed villages and towns, ruined local economies, international economic recession, a huge debt burden for donor and recipient nations.  The prospects just don’t look good.  This event does not impact the average American like 9/11 did because it didn’t hit so close to home, but in the coming years it will have just as much impact on the world as 9/11 did.  What a tragedy.

I’ve been following the Washington State Gubernatorial race very closely.  The Secretary of State Sam Reed (R) just certified Christine Gregoire (D) as governor over Dino Rossi (R).  Gregoire won the second recount, a hand recount, by just 130 votes out of 2.8 million cast.  Rossi won the initial machine count and machine recount by 261 and 42 votes respectively.  It’s been 8 weeks since the election, and this may continue to drag out in the courts for weeks or months.  The GOP is now calling for a revote.  Based on all the potential irregularities, a run-off may be the best option.  Most countries mandate run-off elections when a candidate garners less than a majority vote.  Most Washington voters agree that a revote is the best option based on a recent Elway poll.  It’s a tainted race, and no one can know for certain who won regardless of who becomes governor.  I suspect Gregoire will be governor because Washington State is heavily Democratic, but she will carry a burden that President Bush carried for four years after the 2000 Presidential Election–she will have won the governorship based on state supreme court rulings.  It will be interesting to see what the Republicans do in the coming weeks.  This was the GOP’s best chance in decades to win the governorship, but if they aren’t careful they will come off as spoilers.  The Dems were spoilers when they insisted on a second hand recount, a method that is inherently less accurate than a machine recount and prone to divination to determine voter intent.  The Dems took a risk and won–so far.  It’s politics at its worst, unfortunately.  A run-off is definitely the better course of action than conceding in a tainted race or dragging the fight out in court.  The best results are that it will shine a spotlight on the Washington State electoral process and hopefully improve it before the 2006 election.

Our Christmas


We had a wonderful Christmas.  We were very busy, and the time passed by too quickly, as you  can probably tell from the delay in blog postings.  My cousin Wade came for a visit, so I didn’t have much time to spend on the computer.  He’s a saint for helping me rebuilding my computer.  I upgraded the hard drive, RAM, and the power supply, so it now performs as it should have all along.  It turns out that the culprit was the power supply.  When I last updated about 3 years ago I did not change the power supply.  I upgraded from a 550MB Duron microprocessor to a 2.4GHz P4 chip, but I didn’t change out the power supply.  It never did run right.  Now it does, thanks to cuz’.

While Wade was here we visited the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center located next to Dulles International Airport.  It’s an extension of the Air & Space Museum located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  We also went down to the National Mall and visited the Museum of American History, the National Archives, and the Air & Space Museum.  I had never visited the first two museums, so it was a treat for me to see them for the first time (I never tour the Mall anymore).  We also did a “Lord of the Rings” marathon, watching most of the extended versions of all three LOTR movies.  It’s absolutely mind numbing after about 8 hours.  If you sit and watch all three movies, it will take you about 12 hours to do it.  Definitely not for the faint of heart.  I thoroughly enjoyed it though because I consider the trilogy three of the finest movies ever produced.  They are masterpieces.

On Christmas Eve we searched frantically for dinner.  We arrived home too late to cook and decided to order take-out food.  I contacted at least 5 restaurants until I found a Thai restaurant open.  Lesson learned–don’t try to go out to eat after 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve!  The selection is grim.  We spent Christmas day with Wade’s Aunt Joann, whom I’ve also adopted as my aunt.  She prepared a delicious Christmas dinner and decorated her home for the holidays, putting us all in a festive mood.  Our son was the hit of the party though as we spent much of the time following him around, making sure that he didn’t break anything or fall down the stairs.  We usually spend Christmas with my parents, but because our short time in the Washington, D.C. area we weren’t able to make it home for the holidays.  We have no Christmas or decorations at home other than a single stocking that holds the Christmas cards we receive.  Not too festive, methinks.  Still, it’s nice to have a chance to take a break from the rigamarole of Korean class and briefly enjoy the holidays.

Power Outage


A freakish storm came through here last night, knocking out power in our area.  It also dropped the temperature down to about 14 degrees F.  The wind was harsh, and the windows in our apartment are ill-fitted to stop the cold from seeping in.  The power went off temporarily at about 10 p.m. and then came back on for about an hour before going off again for another 10 hours.  Before the power went off I found a battery-powered clock my sister had given me for my birthday, and I set it up so that it would wake me up just in case the power failed again (which it did).  I didn’t know whether the power would fail again, but sure enough this morning we had no power.  The apartment hall lights and elevators were working, backed up by a backup power generator.  However, the rest of the building was dark and cold.

I still went to work today.  I decided to leave our car with my wife in case she needed to evacuate the family to a warmer place–like a nearby mall.  Thus I had to use mass transportation to get to work.  I caught the apartment shuttle to the Metro station, then took the Metro to another shuttle that then took me to work.  Easy enough, but unfortunately a train had stalled on the Blue/Yellow line, causing significant delays.  I was absolutely freezing waiting on the platform for the train to arrive.  14 degrees isn’t extremely cold, but after Saturday’s balmy weather it was a shock to my system.  Everyone waited in huddled masses for the train, and once it arrived we crammed into it Tokyo-style.  I’ve never been on such a crowded Metro train before.  I held my breath and finally made it to my destination, catching the shuttle to work.  After that I was fine until the power went off at work.  I thought, “Oh no, here we go again!”  Fortunately, the power came back on about an hour later.

My wife picked me up after work, and we ran Christmas errands.  I missed that car!  We shopped for presents, delivered a Christmas gift to someone, and waited an hour at the post office to mail our Christmas presents to loved ones.  Christmas is the one time of the year when everyone waits at the post office in pressure-cooker fashion and yet manages to be polite and cordial to one another.  Waiting at the post office to mail packages made me wonder whether e-tailing would really do away with in-store shopping.  I talked to a store clerk last weekend who mentioned that Christmas sales were down because more people were shopping online.  I still saw a lot of people shopping for Christmas the old fashioned way.  As for me, I bought one gift online this Christmas, but for the most part I went the traditional route and went to the mall and factory outlet stores.  I limited my gift card purchases to two.  It just hasn’t been a good year this year for me to exercise creativity (too busy).

D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams and Council Chair Linda Cropp met today to discuss stadium financing options for the Washington National baseball club.  It sounds promising; hopefully they can broker a deal before Christmas that will bring the club to Washington, D.C.  The next time I return to D.C. I hope to watch baseball in their new ballpark.