Michael Steele

There’s a guy named Michael Steele running for the Senate in Maryland. Take a look at the videos of his campaign ads. They do not contain the usual political trash-talk and mud-slinging one sees on TV this close to the elections.

Michael Steele may not win the election, but he certainly has my vote for the most entertaining political ads I’ve seen in a long time.

Speech Accent Archive

I found out from one of my fellow bloggers that George Mason University has a web site called the Speech Accent Archive. This extract from the home page explains its purpose:

“The speech accent archive uniformly presents a large set of speech samples from a variety of language backgrounds. Native and non-native speakers of English read the same paragraph and are carefully transcribed. The archive is used by people who wish to compare and analyze the accents of different English speakers.”

Since I’m a GMU Alumnus, I dutifully made a recording of my voice and sent it off to GMU. Maybe it will end up in the Archive…or maybe not. But it is preserved for posterity (or however long HR’s halfVAST Blog exists) right here.

So do I have a regional accent? And if I do, what region of the US?


I was at FedExField for the Washington Redskins home opener against the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately for the Redskins, they lost the game 19 to 16. The Redskins had a chance to tie the game in the waning seconds with a 48-yard field goal attempt…but it was no good..wide left I think.

Since the game was played on 11 September, the pre-game and half-time festivities were focused on it being the fifth anniversary of 9/11, with lots of patriotism and martial music. American flags were passed out to all attendees at the gates (the crowd was over 90,000).

At half-time, a Pentagon policeman who had led a number of peope to safety on 9/11 was honored. And what was really impressive was rather than giving a speech, he invited the crowd to join him in singing “God Bless America.” It was really something listening to the better part of 90,000+ people singing and waving US flags. And to top it all, the policeman was actually quite a good vocalist.

That was the upside…now the downside. After the game, the parking lots were strewn with American flags that people had thrown away. I guess many of the crowd that were waving flags and singing “God Bless America” at half-time were really, as Tom Paine so aptly put it many years ago, “Summer Solidiers and Sunshine Patriots.

And now the trivial.. The Redskins owner, Daniel Snyder, recently made a deal with Tom Cruise’s production company. So Tom and Katie were enscounced in the owner’s suite as Danny Boy’s honored guests.

9/11 — Where Were You?

It’s been five years now since I stood looking out the window on the 10th floor watching clouds of black smoke billowing from the Pentagon. The company I worked for at the time had offices on the 10th floor of a building in an office park about 10 miles due west of the Pentagon.

At the time, no one really knew any of the details about what was happening. Someone poked their head into my office and said there must be a huge fire someplace in or near DC and to come and take a look out the window. And at just about the same time, we heard the news that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon. Since Reagan National Airport is just south of the Pentagon, we initally assumed that this was an accident and really had nothing in common with the events taking place at the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York.

As the news of these events unfolded, a sense of fear and foreboding grew among us. A fairly tall building close to Washington, DC was not the place to be at this time. And, to make matters worse, the security people did a lock-down of the building…nobody in (or out) until further notice. So we had no choice but to sit there and wait it out…and listen to the ominous and confusing news reports about the second plane hitting the WTC and the plane that eventually crashed in Shanksville, PA.

Stickers and Plates…

Some new neighbors moved into the rental house a few doors down four months or so ago. They have twin girls about seven years old and are expecting a new baby in November. They are friendly and get along with others in the neighborhood.

But, like all else in life, there is one thing about them that I really do not like. They have three vehicles…and all have expired State Inspection Stickers! And one has expired license plates. In addition, two of the three vehicles are inoperable. They haven’t moved from where they initially appeared weeks ago…the curb in front of their house…and part of their next-door neighbor’s house.

They are breaking the law and they may even be driving an unsafe vehicle that could bring harm to them and/or others.

So what does one do about this:

  • report them to the appropriate authorities?
  • confront them about the issue?
  • nothing?

What would you do?