Earthquake in D.C. Really???

I was on the 6th floor of a Senate building when the rumbling started.  There were 7 of us around the table all looking at each other wondering what the hell was going on.  Then the alarms sound and one of the attendees start to panic, “We have to get out of here.”  As we start to head out of the office someone says the thing that all of us were thinking but were not going to say out loud, “Is it a terrorist attack?”

I immediately try to send a text message to may family that says, “I am fine. Evacuating the Capitol Building.  Unsure if Terrorist attack or Earthquake.” Then we proceed down several flights of stairs with hundreds of slightly panicked people trying to get out of the building.  I was cursing myself for having chosen today of all days to wear the 3” heels.   My text was having trouble getting out so I was also trying to send an email while descending stairs in my fabulous heels.  I think I should get a medal for this type of multi-tasking.

The saddest part about today was that when we got outside my colleague and I immediately looked up in the sky and he said, “No smoke.”  That was a good sign.   Luckily my colleague was quick thinking and basically stole a cab from the 100 of people standing around.  It was a good thing because I was not looking forward to walking 10 blocks back to the office in my fabulous heels!  I have now decided I need to add some sort of flip flop or shoe to my purse for these types of situations. I have a pair of tennis shoes at the office…I learned that one on 9/11.

By the time we sat in the cab we were able to confirm it was just an earthquake. But my heart was still beating fast.  It was scary.  I was physically moving back and forth on the 6th floor of a building.  Without warning!  I have decided I don’t much care for earthquakes.  I don’t like the sudden arrival of them and the lack of warning.  I will stick to my hurricanes.

Speaking of which…they are predicting we will have a hurricane here on Sunday.  Can we reflect back on what I have been through in my decade of living in D.C.:  1 Hurricane (already), Terrorist attack, Anthrax attack (you haven’t lived until you have been evacuated from a building with men in head to toe white suits), the sniper, the 100-year locust invasion, and Snowmageddon 2010.

Remind me again why I live here?

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Texas on My Mind

This is a fantastic article about living in D.C.  It nails this city exactly and I have felt every emotion this writer discusses.  

It is actually a timely piece.  I just attended one of the most amazing meetings of my time in D.C.  Actually, I think it is my 2nd most amazing meeting (I’ll tell you the first one at the end of this).  I attended a White House meeting announcing a new cyber security strategy.  The meeting included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, White House Cyber Security Czar Howard Schmidt, Chief Counter Terrorism Advisor John Brennan, and Attorney General Eric Holder.  I was 5 rows from them. It was amazing!  I had never seen that much fire power in one room. I was in awe.

But..even as exciting as that meeting was I still miss home.  More and more lately I am thinking it might be time to go back to Texas.  I have been here almost 12 years and not really sure this is where I want to end up in life.  So…perhaps Texas is in my future!

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Social Media & OBL

I love that this guy (@ReallyVirtual) unknowingly tweeted the raid on OBL.  He just happens to be a Pakistani IT guy living in Abbottabad who was up when he started hearing helicopters.  I find it fascinating the role social media plays in today’s news.  Apparently he is inundated with interview requests so he updated his blog with a FAQ section on that night. (   Pretty funny.

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End of an Era

Wow, Bin Laden is dead and just short of 10 years from 9/11.  I was only sad we could not have gotten him when George W. was President.  It was something he felt strongly about.

I stayed up late to watch the press conference.  I am grateful President Obama made this a top priority and was able to deliver such great news. But (you knew there was going to be a but), I wish it had been Bush.  We would have gotten more emotion.

I also felt a tinge of annoyance when Obama spoke about remembering where we were on 9/11.  I was annoyed that he wasn’t in D.C. or NY when we were attacked yet he was delivering this news.  It’s a completely silly reaction. I feel like I went through this traumatic time with a different President who understood what it was like to live in a city with Anti-Aircraft Missile Launchers placed throughout the city, military Humvees on most street corners, snipers on the roof of government buildings and military aircraft patrolling the sky.   I think this announcement would have been much more emotional if Bush had delivered it.  I think I would rather someone who has been through the trenches to give me the good news.

Don’t get me wrong…I am not dissing the President.    He did a great job.  Now…let’s see how the GWOT (Global War on Terror) changes…if it does.

I loved watching the Video from outside the White House.  If I were younger (and didn’t have a big day tomorrow) I would have probably headed down there just so I could tell my grandkids where I was when we killed OBL.

So now what? Has anything changed?  I will tell you this…keep your eye on how how much “help” we got from Pakistan.  That could be a game changer.

I have actually gone over board on being “prepared” the past 6 months. I don’t really call it going overboard…I call it being prepared when living in the Nations Capital.  All I know is that I am going to make every effort to get to my cousins in the Country.

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Lighting Myself on Fire

I had a dinner party tonight and I decide to cook my Mom’s famous Shish-K-Bob recipe. I prepped everything early and let the food marinade over night. I was determined to make a splash.

I went to light the grill and it wouldn’t light.  I kept pushing the light button, but I wasn’t getting the “clicking” noise that I normally hear.  So I leave the gas on and go get a lighter.  I go downstairs, stand before the grill, and click the lighter.   I am not even close to the grill when the entire air around me goes up in flames.  This includes my arm hairs, the front of my head…everything!    I quickly put the fire out on my head and run inside praying to God I still had eyebrows.

I did.  But the entire front of my head was filled with little curly cues of singed hair and it smelt awful!  It immediately took me back to when my brother was 18 years old and worked a fire in which he had a flame come  up under his helmet and it burnt his eyebrows and his hairline on his forehead.   Well when he came home he looked so funny I couldn’t help but laugh at him.  I told him the girls would be all over a guy with little eyebrows and curly cue hairs.

So tonight, after I confirmed my eyebrows were untouched and remained intact, I called Rob and apologized.  Lighting yourself on fire is really traumatic!   Good news is, I have a bunch of hair on my head so you really can’t tell other then the short curly cues!  Oh, and I learned a really important lesson.  Don’t leave the gas on while you go get a lighter!

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My Online Life

I worry a little bit about having a blog.  All of my information is just out there for anyone to read.  What happens if I run for office (never going to happen so I really don’t ask this question.)   But seriously, I realized how much information there was online about me when I started interviewing people for a job. I had to give these recent graduates credit because they took my name and did some research.  They knew way more about me then I knew about them. They would ask me questions where I started to wonder if we had ever met.  Then I realized they got it all online.

That made me a little nervous. But in todays world and in my world, blogs, twitter, facebook, social media, linkedin…its all part of the job.

But that wasn’t really the reason I started this particular blog post.  I wanted to point out one of the things I love about having a blog.   I love being able to read old stories.  This is a great blog post and really makes me miss the Carsonator.  He was so damn stubborn…I think that is why I liked him so much.  Never thought I would lose an argument with a dog.

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Who is Working on Monday?

I was just forwarded an email from a government employee where they were told to “take everything you have out of the fridge and take your personal items like plants home.”  They are preparing for a shutdown.  How long will it last?  My bet is everyone is back to work on Tuesday.  However…I also bet we play this game of chicken again at the end of the year.

It is irresponsible on everyone’s part to shut down the government at midnight because Congress has failed to do their job.   Appropriating funds for the Federal Government is the only TRUE job these Members have to do…and they have a year to do it.  And every year they can’t seem to get the job done.   What really angers me is that this budget, the Fiscal Year 2011 budget, should have been passed by September 30, 2010.  They have been failing to do their job for 7 months.  In fact, 7 months ago the Congress and the Administration were all controlled by one party.  So…couldn’t they have passed a budget?

We do need budget cuts, we do need to revamp non-discretionary spending (entitlement programs), and we do need to find saving in DoD.  But the only thing we are doing by continuing to pass one and two week continuing resolutions and focusing spending cuts on discretionary funding is avoiding the real problem.

It’s kind of like if you suddenly realize you are spending $5000 more a month than you bring home and that is largely because you can’t pay back the interest on your credit cards and you can’t afford your mortgage.  So, you decide you are going to tighten your budget and you cut funds from your grocery and dining out budget.  You can’t make up $5,000 a month out of your grocery budget (can you?)   You have to change the fundamentals…get a cheaper house, focus on paying off the credit cards.  It is unrealistic to continue to focus on the very small portion of the government budget that is discretionary funding. 

The President put together a Commission that examined our fiscal situation and came up with a set of recommendations to reduce the debt.  Nobody loved the recommendations because they were painful across the board.  But, they are a good starting point.  Why aren’t we having debates around this?

So we shut down the government and at some point we get agreement on the Fiscal Year 2011 budget.   But what next?  We only have 5 months left until we have to pass the FY’12 budget.  We are going to be back in the same exact position unless they start getting real and dealing with the issues.

(For the Record, I am working on Monday..I don’t work for the government).

Oh yes..and Members of Congress and other “essential” government personnel will get paid during the government shutdown. In fact, 60% of the government workforce is deemed essential.   There is legislation introduced in both the House and Senate that would prevent Members of Congress from getting paid during a shutdown.  The legislation is widely supported and I suspect most Members will return their pay to the Treasury or donate it to Charity.

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Cancer Stinks..but you knew that

Yesterday God received another angel.  One of my classmates, Michelle Tull Bynum, passed away from Breast Cancer.  I knew of Michelle in high school.  She was on the dance team and friend with several of my friends.  But I did not really get to know Michelle until Julie got sick.  As soon as she found out I get this message from this feisty woman with this amazing story about how she was in remission from Cancer and Julie can beat it too!  She had taken God into her life (see Video Below) and he has been with her every step of the way in her battle against cancer.  Michelle told me she was an avid speaker about her battle with cancer and her faith and she offered to help in any way possible.  She even offered to speak at our annual BTHO Melanoma Event (but we had scheduling issues).

Unfortunately as Julie continued her fight against cancer, Michelle found out her cancer was back.   Michelle then reached out to us to ask, “What did you tell your kids?”  This was toward the end of Julie’s battle and I shared with her the name of a Children’s book Julie & Brendan had found.  She was really worried about making sure her son was okay.  But, even as she was facing her own trials, she continued to say Yay God and support Julie’s fight.

Julie, Michelle and a dear friend of mine, Kathy, were all featured in an amazing news story called Classmates with Cancer.  If you haven’t seen it you can see it here.  (Be careful…it’s a tear jerker).

In this video you can see Michelle’s spunk.  Much like Julie, she had this amazing attitude, smile and faith.  Julie had her Army of Ants…Michelle had her Angels.   Both women had similar stories: you know your body – you have to take your health into your own hands, don’t be afraid to question a doctor’s opinion; don’t be afraid to be your own patient advocate.  Both women inspired a whole world of people they never even met.  And now, both women are Angels in heaven.  I can only imagine what kind of Army of Angels they have amassed in heaven to continue their fight against Cancer.

When I got the word Michelle was in the hospital on Friday and not expected to make it through the weekend it brought me back to the final days with Julie.  I had an awful day because it forced to me to remember.  (Blogged about that day here).  Like Julie, she was expected to go into a coma.  I can remember praying that God would let me get to that hospital before she was gone.  Julie never woke up while I was there, but I think she knew I was there.  I think about those hours after Julie died and how we felt.  Just standing in the hospital waiting for them to take the was heartbreaking.   But then it got better…slowly, but it did get better.  Soon we started to focus on the life lead, not the life lost.  We focused on the lessons learned, and the gifts received.   As I have always said, I was truly blessed to go through life with a Best Friend for 28 year and be able to be by her side as she died.  And I was blessed to know Michelle.  She showed me the power of Faith and a Positive Outlook.  I only hope that Michelle’s family and friends can find peace in her passing.  I ask you all to keep them in your prayers.

As Julie would say:  Yay God.

As Michelle would say: Eat Life with a Big Spoon.

As I am reminded:  Every Day is a Gift, Don’t Waste It.

Michelle’s Own Words about her Faith and Cancer

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I Survived the Thunder Snow!

We got about 9” of snow and normally I would think that is a lot, but nothing really compares to the 33” of last winter.  Luckily, I got home just before the snowstorm started at 3 p.m.   Some of my colleagues were not as lucky.   We had something I Had never heard of before yesterday: Thunder Snow!  It’s when it is Thundering (and Lighting) while it’s snowing.  During Thunder Snow you can have snow fall at 1-2” an hour (that’s a lot).

So the Thunder Snow happened during Rush Hour and it was a mess.  Apparently people were abandoning cars on the major roadways so then the snowplows could not get through and do their job.  It was a mess.  My boss lives 5 miles from the office.  It took her over 5 hours to get home.  It was fascinating watching Twitter and everyone commenting on their commutes.

I hunkered down and made some Chili and enjoyed the snowfall.  But the very best part of the snow fall is my new House.  By the time I woke up this morning my parking lot had already been plowed and the roads in my neighborhood had been treated.  This is amazing!  I can’t believe I spent 10 year in a house where we had to hire our own snowplow off Craigslist or wait days until our street got treated for the most minor snow fall.  I can actually get places after a snow!

Pictures Coming Soon…

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Good Speech

All in All, I thought it was a good speech. I thought it read better than it was delivered.  But I liked the message.  Now the devil is in the details.  Can we innovate and invest without breaking the bank?  Can we make cuts without hurting our systems and security?  Can we work together?  We shall see…

Here are a few photos of my War Room tonight. I had to make sure I had all my media coverage:

  1. TV with the State of the Union
  2. Computer with White (visual aids for the SOTU..(this really fell flat) and CSPAN2 for live tweets from Members of Congress
  3. Laptop for Twitter, so I could see what was happening
  4. iPad for Facebook and Emails.

Yes, I can’t live without technology!

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