Looking For Something More…

Note: This is a post about political discourse not about political ideologies.

I’ve always been interested it in politics. I’m sure a lot of that stems from all the great time that I spent with my dad growing up, when he worked for various politicians within the Michigan legislature.  I remember, when I was as young as 8, going door to door to pass out fliers for a political candidate.

I remember when I came to Washington, DC when I was in 8th grade for a Promise Keepers conference.  I remember being in awe of all the austere buildings and the powerful men and woman that worked in them to make our country as great as it is.

It’s kind of ironic that I now live inside the Beltway, inside Washington DC, and a stones throw from the Capitol Building.  (Well maybe it’s a bit more than a stones throw but I can see the Capitol Building out the window of my apartment.)  Plus I don’t work in politics, like I would have originally thought when I was a youngin’.  I work in technology.

While I’m still very interested in politics,  I grow exceedingly frustrated with the level of political discourse that I hear day in and day out coming out of the hallowed halls and from the political mainstream and even Internet media.   At times, it feels akin to baboons throwing feces or baboons thumping their chests, while they wait for the rest of the animals in the jungle to acknowledge how they are the greatest in all the land.

Instead of hearing true discussion of the ideas, with the goal of coming to the outcome to best serve the American people, politics is more how can someone craft a strategy which will allow them to best their opponents and ride back to their districts on white horses so that they can preserve their powerful positions for as long as humanly possible.  It seems like politicians only really care about listening when it comes time for them to get re-elected.

Granted, I realize that I’m making broad generalizations.  I’m sure there are politicians across the country whom really care about actual governing and whom thrive on the what their constituents have to say.   These are just my general feelings after 25 years of life.

Tonight, I went a bookstore in Northern Washington, DC to see Joe & Mika from MSNBC’s morning television news show Morning Joe.   Mika was out promoting her new book.    I’m drawn so much to their show because I feel like it’s the only political show that doesn’t make me feel stupider for having watched it.   I don’t feel like it’s trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator.  There are smart guests and thoughtful discussion from all the parties.  While there may be heated discussions over times, it’s always in the spirit of wanting to work together and flesh out the best way to look at the issue.

It was interesting at the talk/book signing that Joe and Mika were doing.  You’d think that with Joe taking more of the “first chair” on the show and him being a Conservative Republican that the bookstore would have been teeming with Republicans.  It was actually almost the opposite.  My buddy Shaun and I were some of the only Republicans in the room.   I think the popularity of the show amongst both sides of the aisle shows that the desire for thoughtful discourse is something that transcends political party.

My only beef with the television show Morning Joe is, what am I supposed to do after the show is over at 9am?  Television is great but it’s only a one way medium.  I can’t have that conversation back with the people on the set of Morning Joe.

There needs to be some type of grassroots organization that’s built to help extend and promote these type of thoughtful conversations between people that want to see progress in this country.  I guess maybe it’s why I ultimately moved away from a career in politics to that of technology, entrepreneurship, and working at a start-up.  Entrepreneurs look to how they can work together and solve problems.

The thoughtful and intellectual conversations that I had around the tables of coffeehouses and out in the quad, while I was at university, were amazing and some of the best experiences of my life.  Now that I’m out in the world, working, and trying to find my way, where and how can I find the community that wants to find and discuss ways to move forward and then actually go out and pursue them?

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My 2010 New Year’s Resolutions

So, it’s the beginning of 2010.  In the past, I’ve done a lot of thinking about setting goals for myself for what I want to do for the year ahead.  It’s something that I thought I’d give a whirl again this year.  It forces me to think about where I’ve been, where I am now, and where I want to be over the course of the next year.

Here are some of the things that I resolve to do in 2010.

1. Run at least 5 times per week.

One of the most important things that I did in 2009 was getting in the habit of running regularly (Thanks Kat!).  I’ve always been interested in sports and physical activity but, until this point, I’d never found something that fit for me.   In 2009, I ran two 5k’s and a 10k.

I’d love to say that in 2010 that I’ll run the New York Marathon but I don’t want to set goals that I’m not going to accomplish.  Heh.  My goal is to run at least 5 times per week.  I also want to run a lot of races.  I’ve entered in the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Race in April.   I want to do a couple more 10 mile races in 2010.

Did you know that you can follow my running?

2. Get a book deal.

Over the last few years, I’ve gotten a front row seat to see how the role of a Community Manager within an organization can help improve how well the organization is able to get its message out and better serve its customers.   Recently, I’ve gotten comments from a few people I trust that I should write a book that shares my insights and experiences as being a community manager, as well as taps into some of the insights of some of my brothers-in-arms.  This is something that I’d like to pursue or figure out.

3. Cook a large meal at least twice per month.

I read about cooking.  I write about cooking.  I eat other people’s cooking.  I do some cooking but this year I want to do A LOT more. I’ve picked up and been given a couple of great cookbooks that I really want to work my way through.   I figure it’d be a great opportunity to bring friends over to my home.  If you want to read about my culinary adventures, check out my food blog, Justin Loves Food.

4. Write every week in each of my blogs, Oatmeal Stout (this one) and Justin Loves Food.

All too often, life can get away from me.  I find that it’s been a long time since I’ve written in either of my two blogs.  I can’t let this happen in 2010.  For me, blogging and writing in general is when I slow down to reflect and think about what’s going on.  The act of putting my thoughts down helps me to articulate what’s going on in my head.  When I don’t write, I find that I’m less clear about what I want to do.

5. Drop 30 pounds.

Isn’t this everyone’s favorite New Year’s resolution that they never do? I really need to do this.  It’s not that I don’t exercise.  (See resolution #1.)  It’s more that I don’t eat healthy enough.  I have a subscription to the online version of Weight Watchers with the point system.  I really need to use it.  I’d love to be in the position where the next time I go to the doctors that he’s like “daaaang”, in a good way.

6. Go on at least one trip every month.

Traveling is such a part of who I am.  I don’t want to move away from Washington, DC.  I love Washington, DC but I love seeing different parts of the country and I’d love to see other parts of the world.  Whether it’s for work or it’s personal, I want to go on at least one trip every month.   I especially wanna focus on places that I’ve never been before or that I haven’t spent a lot of time.  It was really fun last year to go to the Pacific Northwest (Portland and Seattle.)

7. Take a one week vacation, where I am completely disconnected from the world.

I wanna go on a trip this year where I’m completely cut off from the Web.   I want to have our ops guys forward all of my e-mail to someone else.   I wanna go study the art of pasta sauce making in Italy or go crush grapes in Bordeaux, France.  I need to re-energize so that I’m ready for this new decade.  It’d probably good to do this sooner rather then later.   It’s been too long since I’ve given myself some serious time off.

8. Become a better writer.

Writing is SUCH a part of who I am and what I do everyday.  It’s something that I really want to excel at.  I think I do okay now but I could get a lot better, especially since I aspire to write a book.  (See resolution #2.)  I need to firm this goal up some more so that it’s more measurable.  There has to be a way to tell if I was successful at it.  Like I need to find someone who can help me become a better writer.

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What are your resolutions for 2010?