2011 Worldwide Day of Giving

There is a certain self imposed pressure being the brother of the guy who started the Year of Giving. I somehow feel that I should be very good at giving $10 away. The problem is, I'm terribly shy. Many people who know me don't believe it, because once I know you, or if I meet you when I'm with others who know you, I don't appear to be shy at all. But ask me to initiate a conversation with a complete stranger all by myself--well let's just say it is very difficult for me.

While I didn't do nearly as good of a job as Reed, this year's experience went better than last year's. Last year I got refused several times, before finally giving my $10 away. This year I was only refused (sort of) once. I approached a man just sitting on a bench peacefully. As soon as I started asking him if he could participate in the year of giving, and that I'd like to give him $10, he pulls out his phone and says it is work, and he has to take the call. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

I was at the intersection of Washington Blvd and Clarendon Blvd in Arlington, waiting to cross the street, when Maria rode up on her bike. She smiled at me, and I so I said hello and went into my spiel about the Worldwide Day of Giving. Despite a morning prep talk from Reed, I still got very little information about her, despite the fact that she was very willing to participate. All I know is Maria is from Mexico, and she was very honored to be chosen. I spent more time telling her about the project than I did asking her questions about herself. How self centered is that? I did remember to ask her what she would do with the money, and she said that this seemed like a very special $10, and that she should find someone special to give it to.

Oh, and I did get a picture of her. Her first response when I asked her was "I will break your camera." I told her that my brother wouldn't believe me that I gave my money away unless I had proof, so she obliged. She was eager to help me prove it to Reed and so she is shown displaying 10 digits in the photo (her idea, not mine).

All in all a good experience, and I look forward to 2012 being even better!

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Fighting the Man

I'm outraged over a $25 penalty Montgomery County local government is trying to make my wife pay. I think normal people would get mad, get over it, and just pay it; but I can't seem to let go. Let me explain.

She received a Notification of Delinquent Account on January 19th, 2011. Allegedly, my wife's car was recorded as traveling 41 mph in a 30 mph zone at 11:11 am, August 29, 2009. I say allegedly, because to the best of her and my recollection, she should not have been in Montgomery County that day at all, much less at 11:11am. Anyone who knows her knows that her weekends are precious, and being awake at 11 am, much less being 30 miles away from home at that time, is a rare occurrence. Furthermore, we attended a party the night before, increasing the chances of a sleep in.

To date we've been presented with no photo evidence that her car was there. But despite all of that, she and I are both willing to admit that we could be wrong about events that took place 17 months prior. But this was the first notice she had received. The fine was $40, and the late penalty was $25.

Despite paying the $40 fine, and placing a phone call and a letter, explaining that we never received any notice of the violation until the January 19th Delinquency notice, they are threatening to turn the account over to collections to collect the remaining $25. They maintain that despite the fact they did not send the notice certified mail, it is not their fault that we did not receive notice. I don't even doubt they sent the notice, but the US Postal Service has been notoriously bad at this address. I have countless examples of mail not being delivered here.

So why should my wife be liable for the US Postal Service's poor delivery service? I believe that if law enforcement want to ensure proper notice, they should send the violations certified return receipt requested. Or better yet, get rid of those traffic cameras, and put a few more officers to work pulling over people to issue the citations the old fashioned way.

I want to fight this. Does anybody have suggestions on how to effectively fight this injustice?

Update: We just solved the mystery of how her car was up there. It was the one time she lent the car to a friend (who incidentally returned the car with an empty tank). Thanks to digital cameras which digitally encode the day pictures are taken, and the fact that Mandy and this friend posed for a picture the day the car was borrowed. But I'm still upset about the late penalty on general principal even if the friend offers to pay the fine.

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10,000 Tastebuds

Saw a bilboard with a picture of a McDonald's Egg McMuffin, with a slogan that said "You have 10,000 taste buds, use them all."


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Year of Giving

I've been remiss at blogging about the wonderfully inspiring project my brother Reed started in December. I have lots of excuses for not blogging about it until now. I could blame the fact that I was in the midst of planning my wedding. But honestly, writing a short blog post takes minutes. Really, it is more about me not feeling like blogging anything. I've only posted three things in the past year. And I've had a growing sense that there it is a waste of time. Just about nobody reads this anyway, and I rarely have anything thought provoking to say that couldn't be said in a 140 character tweet.

Anyway, I feel bad that I haven't mentioned how proud I am of Reed's Year of Giving. My first reaction when he told me what he was thinking about doing in early December, was "what a great idea, I wish I'd thought of it." But even if I had, I rarely stick with something as well as he has. He is more than a third of the way through the project, and he hasn't missed a day yet. Those who know of my 365 Days project where I was supposed to take a self-portrait everyday for a year, know that I missed at least a third of the days in the year!

I seriously doubt anyone who reads this isn't already aware of his project, but if you aren't, go check it out now. It is very inspiring. I'm proud to have Reed as my brother.

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NHL Southeast Division

You know, it is an accepted fact that the NHL Southeast Division is consistently the weakest of the 6 NHL divisions. I'm not really debating that, as it generally feels that way. But I thought how can you quantify that?

A Southeast Division team has won the Prince of Wales Trophy 5 out of the last 15 seasons for being the Eastern Conference Champions. With three divisions in the conference, it seems they win exactly as many times as they should. If the Caps can win it this year, the Southeast Division would actually be ahead of its statistically predicted average.

OK, well that is all well and good, but the Western Conference is better than the Eastern Conference, right? Well, the Western Conference has one 8 of the last 15 Stanley Cup's, but if an Eastern Conference team wins this year, then again we'll be at exactly the statistically predicted average.

OK, but how does the Southeast Division fare in the Stanley Cup Finals? Turns out they've just notched two wins in the past 15 Cups. With 6 divisions, you'd expect them to have won 2.5 times. So wait, if the Caps (or any other Southeast Division team) win the Cup in the next 3 years, then the Southeast will be exactly on target of its statistically prediced average.

I'm just saying....

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