Jun 7, 2009

Grandma Goes Abroad...hopefully

I can't think of anything useful for this blog anymore, but I may keep this site alive for one reason: to document my 87 year old grandmother, Mary Cuthriell (dad's side), on our trip to Italy in November 2009.

Mary has never left the country, except for a few cruises to Nova Scotia and up to Alaska with her widow friends. In the last 2 years, I've realized how I need to learn everything I can about her while I can, and I'm no longer taking our relationship for granted. Since then we've become very close friends.

My promise: I'll take her to Italy, a top place she really wants to see, and dedicate nearly my entire time to her while there. This will be pending doctor approval, which as of today he says he can neither say yes or no. I'm telling her to go for it, and will be meeting the doctor this summer in person.

As well, I've now made the decision to document the entire trip with video and still photography. I'll be interviewing her daily as we travel, asking her about every year and decade of her life, ups and downs, times that have been scary, euphoric, alone, overwhelming, most memorable, incredible, regretful, full of love or loveless...and the list goes on.

Here she is with my brother, sister, and me...can't you tell how groovy she is already?

-msc, listening to Beirut - Carousels

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Jan 3, 2009

All I Want For Christmas - Part 2 (and the subsequent end)

So as mentioned in the "All I want for Christmas" post, for two months I've been anxiously awaiting a response from seemingly a black hole known as my congressman Jerry Connolly regarding the lottery being held for inauguration tickets. Well, midday NYE an email had arrived and I can't begin to tell you how excited I was. Here's the opening paragraph:

Dear Michael,

Thank you for contacting the office of Congressman-Elect Gerry Connolly with your request for tickets to President-Elect Obama's Inauguration. We will be sending emails to lottery winners in the next few minutes. If you do not receive a subsequent email from us today, your name was not selected in the lottery.

Sounds good to me. I'll hang tight Gerry!

I caught it on my blackberry and I literally stopped everything, waiting very impatiently for the follow up email to arrive. I've always defined "a few" as three, not sure why, so I figured I'd take a break and just stare at my phone screen for (much longer than) three minutes.

I have to say, I was very optimistic. 10,000 ticket requests for only 200 available tickets. 2% odds...but hey, better than any other lotteries I've played. I also must admit that for me it's felt like the movie A Christmas Story. I wanted the Red Ryder BB gun sooo bad that it just had to come. How could it not?

Lastly, I recently saw this short on The Secret and was convinced that me thinking about it constantly would make it happen. Right? Those people wouldn't lie.

What I learned:

  1. The Secret doesn't apply to the historical Obama inauguration event, so go ahead and bite it you stupid secret cult scam fancy ass.
  2. "A few" may not be three, but I know it's not 1000 because I still don't have an email.
  3. Who voted Gerry Connolly into office (maybe I did)? But I hate suspense, and now I don't like you either. Where's your compassion? Not getting an email from you was like breaking up over facebook - I felt cheap, used, and led on.
  4. I'll be one of the other 4.99 million Americans crammed on the mall watching from a distance on Jan 20. Whatever, at least I'm tall.
  5. Instead of getting my Red Rider, I got the pink bunny PJs.
Who knows, maybe something amazing will happen in the next couple of weeks and I'll be blessed with a ticket to the event. Either way, I'm still excited and only hope it's not freezing out that day. I plan to take lots of pictures, and maybe even get a decent few shots with Mr Pres Elect in them (which I'll share of course).


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Dec 14, 2008

I Think I'll Be In Italy A Lot

It's final, and already in motion in fact. My mom, Molly, and her husband JC, are off to Naples, Italy as of next week. It's a 2-3 year time frame, and where the majority of my travel money will be donated toward for that same time frame. Usually for long trips, mom gets all sappy and leaves me letters on how amazing I am, that I'm the best son in the world, and that my future is bright like a flashlight with new batteries (no bias there whatsoever).

This time I got none of that - she knows I'll be there soon, and lots.

That said, I just had to throw a surprise party for her and JC - b/c like me, they are the best parents in the world, amazing, and with a bright future like a flashlight with new batteries. I wanted to share the invitation I created for this - it mocks JC's "Change of Command" invite for his recent departure from Bahrain. For better preface, see previous blog "My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad" by clicking the "King Kong" link on your left. While he's not my dad, he can still have you lasered to death, among other really shit-hot things. You call him King Kong.

Read it - it's a funny joke, like ha.

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Nov 28, 2008

I Know You're Excited, But Stop Texting Me

Disclaimer: This is not to oppress the happy and excited people I know, nor derail our beautiful friendships.


It occurred to me that every holiday brings an influx of text messages to my phone. This Thanksgiving I received nearly 30 individual texts from friends and family simply stating "Happy Thanksgiving!!" For me to text all my friends would take forever, via multiple texts (since I can't just send one text to unlimited people at once). Am I missing something here? Do my friends gawk at my lack of response or lack of equal initiative? Are you seriously that excited to text bomb everyone you know with the cliche?

It reminded me that once I even received a text from a girl friend saying "Happy Daylights Saving" - wtf dude, where are you? Naturally, she's one of the happiest people I know, but still, that's just dodo.

So in response, and per daily inspiration from the wonderful Lifeku by Rachel, I've generated a Lifeku of my own; my first:

30 texts, really?
think green and save battery
My network is clogged

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Nov 15, 2008

Reverse Bradley Effect....suckers!

At a now later point in time I decided to add a quick blurb on what the "Bradley Effect" is. After telling this to some people in person, they didn't have a clue what I was talking about. Sorry, since Bush began sucking at life (and more importantly, since I started realizing this for myself) I listen to NPR in the morning these days - I hear crap like this.

[The Bradley Effect] theory proposes that some voters tend to tell pollsters that they are undecided or likely to vote for a black candidate, and yet, on election day, vote for his white opponent. It was named after Tom Bradley, an African-American who lost the 1982 California governor's race despite being ahead in voter polls going into the elections. -Wikipedia
Over the weeks leading up to the election I was of course having lots of conversations with people on their choice for president. One friend in particular was dead set on McCain. I didn't try to sway her vote, but I was truly surprised in following up that she had this to say:

"Last second in the booth, I voted Obama. Dont know why, I just did."

I didn't inquire further, but it was the best email all week, and that's all she wrote.

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Nov 11, 2008

All I Want For Christmas

I'll keep this short and to the point - I want tickets to the friggin' Inauguration of Barack Obama. If anyone cares to share just one with me as they become available the week prior (date is Jan 20) I'd surely love you forever, as well as offer to buy you fancy things like toothpaste with baking soda, and Hershey's chocolate bars, among other things.

Per the VA government website - beware of fakers! It states:

Tickets to the 56th Inaugural Ceremonies will be provided free of charge and distributed through Members of the 111th Congress. The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies does not provide tickets to the public. Members of the public interested in attending the Inaugural Ceremonies should contact their Member of Congress or U.S. Senators to request tickets.

The public should also be aware that no website or other ticket outlet actually has inaugural swearing-in tickets to sell, regardless of what they may claim. Tickets will not be distributed to Congressional offices until the week before the inauguration and will require in-person pick-up.

“Any website or ticket broker claiming that they have inaugural tickets is simply not telling the truth,” said Howard Gantman, Staff Director for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. “Tickets for the swearing-in of President-elect are all provided through members of Congress, and the President-elect and Vice President-elect through the Presidential Inaugural Committee. We urge the public to view any offers of tickets for sale with great skepticism.”

Seriously, I'm dying over here - hook me up! I don't have faith that I'll win the lottery that's being used to handout tix. That is, so many people have already requested tix, including me, that they are having a lottery for the tickets. (giant sighs).

I'll post up in my scuba gear at the reflecting pool the night before if it comes down to it. Nasty.

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Oct 29, 2008

"Buy when there's blood in the streets, even if the blood is your own."

Baron Rothschild, an 18th century British nobleman and member of the Rothschild banking family, is credited with saying this. Rothschild made a fortune buying in the panic that followed the Battle of Waterloo against Napoleon. This is contrarian investing at its heart - the strongly-held belief that the worse things seem in the market, the better the opportunities are for profit.
I first heard this quote in a movie - Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York after one of their bloody battles I think. The point is, and as I've been discussing with close friends, this is the perfect opportunity for us young folk. Which means, if you have cash and have thought of getting into the stock market, now is your golden opportunity, seriously.

So what do you buy? My advice has always been to make a list of 10-20 companies that you like (i.e. Apple - because you love iPods and macs; or Jiff b/c you just love their peanut butter; Chipotle - the burritos are amazing!, and so on).

This is because one golden rule of investing is that you should be able to devote 1 hour per week, per stock, to read up on the company and what it's doing. (I don't even get to do this, though) BUT, if you're buying stocks in companies you like, the more motivated you'll be to read about the company.

Here's a few that I own (and love):

  • Research In Motion (ticker: RIMM) (they make blackberry phones, which I think are amazing)
  • Apple (ticker: aapl)(need I justify? Apple is a superstar company)
  • Visa (ticker: V) (nothing fancy here, but I bought on their IPO per much excitement from the investment community)
I hope that helps get anyone started on making their list.

Also, Yahoo Finance is one of the best go-to pages to get good information (finance.yahoo.com).

That said, here's an article from today that I'll share - if you like any of these companies, they are worth checking out and considering for stock purchase.
Oh, and one more golden rule (from me at least) - BUY FOR THE LONG TERM! I don't flip stocks or day trade - I don't get hung up when the stock drops by 20+ percent (usually), b/c I am in this for years to come. I'll sell when I need to buy a house, or college education for my kids, and I know the stock will have grown almost guaranteed. So stick with it, and DO NOT freak out when things happen that scare the majority (like what's happening right now).

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Oct 13, 2008

Don't drink and ride the metro...

...because then you'll get the urge to hop the turnstile when you get off the train, and a metro cop will come over and give you a ticket for it whether you had the money for it or not.

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Oct 8, 2008

AIG, are you that retarded?

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- Days after [AIG] got a federal bailout, American International Group Inc. spent $440,000 on a posh California retreat for its executives, complete with spa treatments, banquets and golf outings, according to lawmakers investigating the company's meltdown."

I think it's a great idea. Celebrate the awarding of $85MM from the government (aka us taxpayers) by treating yourself to the spa during a royal retreat. Besides, $440K is a drop in the bucket of the $85MM package...and the fact that AIG was in absolute turmoil was no big deal, really.

It's no surprise that things like this happen. Why? Because the concept of money (or credit) is severely blurred and for many reasons, 1) the company is so big that the majority of employees aren't eying the "budget" b/c they aren't privy to it, 2) there's this feeling of "oh this won't happen to us" when it comes to actually running out of money 3) management is pleasantly hammered at nighttime soirees and says "ahhh f*** it, let's put this all on the company card...and like magic, life is glorious...and free.

Damn it feels good to be a banksta.


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Oct 5, 2008

McCain Ads Dig Deep...

I have to post this...nonsense. From crooksandliars.com

These smears have been floating around in email chain letters, but even still, this really shows just how low and how desperate the McCain campaign is. Not Larry Sabato:

The LA Times scoops the Virginia media with this column from the McCain campaign's official Buchanan County representative. You need to read this column to believe it. In "humor" he accuses Obama of wanting to paint the White House black, supporting reparations, changing the national anthem to the "black national anthem", teaching "black liberation theology in all churches", and replacing the flag with a "star and crescent logo".

Nothing like a little race baiting four weeks before the election...why does this guy still have his job?

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin brings up Bill Ayers at a campaign stop in Carson, California:

"Evidently there's been a lot of interest in what I read lately," she said. "I was reading today a copy of the New York Times. And I was really interested to read in there about Barack Obama's friends from Chicago. Turns out one of his earliest supporters is a man who, according to the New York Times, was a domestic terrorist, that quote 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and the United States Capitol.'"

Saturday's New York Times story, an investigation into whether Obama had a relationship with Ayers, concluded that the men were never close and that Obama has denounced Ayers' radical past, which occurred when Obama, who was born in 1961, was a child. It also found that he has downplayed their contacts.

"This is not a man who sees America as you and I see America," Palin said of Obama. "We see America as a force for good in this world. We see America as a force for exceptionalism. ... Our opponents see America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who would bomb their own country."


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