Time tells us: “. . .what began with college students has found its fullest, richest expression with us, the middle-aged.” My favorite reason is #9: “We don’t understand Twitter. Literally. It makes no sense to us.”
One of the lesser-known items on the job description of a General Assembly member is “Wallpaper.” That’s where you appear at a press event to serve as part of the scenery. You don’t have a speaking role — rather, your job is to provide a supportive backdrop to the event going on in front of you.
One such Wallpaper event occurred yesterday. Along with about a dozen other members of the House and Senate, I drove down to Croc’s Restaurant in Virginia Beach to participate in Governor Kaine’s signing ceremony for the bills banning smoking in Virginia restaurants. The bills were sponsored in the Senate by Ralph Northam, a Democrat from Norfolk, and in the House by John Cosgrove, a Republican from Chesapeake. John’s remarks highlighted why the Republican House, which had killed smoking bills in previous years, had come around to support a smoking ban this session: he said as he went door-to-door in the neighborhoods of his Republican-leaning district, his constituents would tell him, “John, we love what you’re doing down there — but when are you going to do something about smoking?”
With my cell phone camera, I got a shot of the Governor signing the bills in front of me. Unfortunately, it was at that moment that the Virginian-Pilot took a picture of the tableau, making it appear that I was checking my email rather than attending to my wallpaper duties.
On this historic day, a number of Members found themselves in Washington DC on “pressing personal business.” For those of us who remained in Richmond, we had a brief session at 10:00 AM. Then we gathered around television sets to take in the goings-on 100 miles north of us.
Over a dozen Members — a mix of Democrats and Republicans — remained in the House chamber and watched the ceremony on the Jumbotron screens that usually carry floor proceedings and roll call votes.
Happy Inauguration Day, America. And thank you, Ken.
Here are the best political ones. The #1 entry on “Top 10 Political Sketches From Saturday Night Live” may be my favorite for the year.
Yesterday Virginia’s Presidential Electors met in Richmond for the ceremony officially bestowing our 13 electoral votes on President-elect Obama. As Governor Kaine noted, December 15 is Bill of Rights Day — the day Virginia ratified the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. He also observed that the Capitol, the scene of this historic event, earlier was the Capitol of the Confederacy and the place where Massive Resistance was hatched as a legislative strategy to thwart integration. It also was where in 1970 a newly sworn-in Governor (a Republican, his father-in-law Linwood Holton) pledged to make Virginia a model for race relations in the United States, and where 20 years later the grandson of slaves (L. Douglas Wilder) became the first black to be elected Governor in the U.S.
In case you had any doubt there was a website for every interest, Logo Design Love shows the alternatives that were considered in coming up with the now-iconic Obama Campaign logo. This is my favorite second choice:
Erol Onaran could be called “The Friend of the Early Adopter.” He was a Turkish immigrant who started as a TV retailer in Northern Virginia. Back in the 1980s, just as families in Arlington were buying their first home VCRs, he went into business renting videos of movies (in both Beta and VHS formats); for a long time, the store on Columbia Pike near Glebe Road was the only rental outlet in Arlington. Then in the 1990s, after selling his rental chain to Blockbuster for a gazillion dollars, he became an Internet Service Provider as the main competition to AOL in the area. I signed up for dial-up service and created my first email account: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through the years, even though Erols was successively bought up by larger ISPs Starpower and RCN, I kept the @erols.com address as a cultural artifact. (One friend suggested that I must also eat at Hot Shoppes, go for ice cream at Giffords, and buy my suits at Raleighs). All was well until yesterday morning, when my email stopped cold. When I couldn’t access my account, I tried to reach a live body at Erols/Starpower/RCN to find out what the problem was. After 2-1/2 hours on the phone (2-1/4 on hold, 15 minutes with friendly but unhelpful call center personnel in the Phillipines), I learned that a subscription renewal notice had been sent to my twice removed home address several months ago. When they didn’t hear from me, they pulled the plug on my email account. Since they were discontinuing email, I asked, had they thought of sending a notice by . . . email? Umm, no. So I grumbled, gave them my credit card information over the phone, and waited to be turned back on.
Now, 24 hours later, my Erols account is still blocked and the 100 or so people who send me messages get the following back by way of explanation:
“This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification.
Delivery to the following recipients failed permanently:
Well, two can play the “permanently” game. After all these years, I’m putting Erols in my rear view mirror. My new email address is
robertbrink AT comcast DOT net
Sorry, Mr. Onaran. It was great while it lasted.