buzzword compliance, gallagheria

government 2 dot oh

I am at the Government Leadership Summit today in Williamsburg, where I just moderated a panel on Intellipedia, a MediaWiki-based wiki that the us intell community is using to share data.

And as I type this on my Blackberry, folks from the Navy, State Department and GSA are talking about blogging. You wouldn’t think there would be so much regulation standing in the way of government talking to itself–let alone the public–via Web 2.0 tech. Procurement, congressional oversight, policy and administrative rules are all tooled against direct communication.

*and an edit from a real computer*

After taking in the whole conference, and looking at what 3 cups of coffee and a crackberry wrung out of me, I figured maybe I should expand on the buzziness above.

I had been away from covering government stuff for almost 15 years before this January. And as much as things have changed, the people in government IT largely haven’t. The average age of the Federal IT workforce is 47, according to a factoid I heard yesterday–which I’m going to have to get a cite for, but based on the folks I’ve seen at various events, it seems on target. Unlike the commercial world, there has long been a culture of risk-avoidance, and resistance to change is embedded in both the regulations and culture. One person I spoke to talked about how regulations are to the point that government employees now have to basically break them in order to get anything done.

Another problem is that there’s a dependency on contractors to do much of the deep technical work in government IT, and contracts are generally driven by specifications from within government. Cross pollination of new ideas — and a flow of fresh blood into the Federal IT gene pool– is something that hasn’t been made easy by the way the government does business.

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Baltimore, gallagheria, General Chaos

Dashboard Lights That Tell You Your Day Isn't Going To Go Well…

As I returned home today from dropping Z. off at school, I recieved a notification from my dashboard that was about as welcome as finding a drowned Chinese cockle picker on my lawn. That would be the “low tire pressure” light.

Sure, it’s nice that my shiny new minivan has such wonderful features as a “low tire pressure” light. But generally speaking, that’s not a feature you want to reveal itself less than a month after you bought the damned thing.

Apparently, something nicked the sidewall of rear left tire. When I got out of the van, I heard a loud hiss coming from the rear left side, and I followed the sound to a rather innocent looking little scratch on the tire that was rather non-innocently spewing the tire’s gasses into the atmosphere.

One feature I neglected to opt for when I purchased the van: that damn tire and wheel protection plan. So now it’s sitting over at D&J waiting for a tire.

F***socks.

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Baltimore, gallagheria, General Chaos

Dashboard Lights That Tell You Your Day Isn’t Going To Go Well…

As I returned home today from dropping Z. off at school, I recieved a notification from my dashboard that was about as welcome as finding a drowned Chinese cockle picker on my lawn. That would be the “low tire pressure” light.

Sure, it’s nice that my shiny new minivan has such wonderful features as a “low tire pressure” light. But generally speaking, that’s not a feature you want to reveal itself less than a month after you bought the damned thing.

Apparently, something nicked the sidewall of rear left tire. When I got out of the van, I heard a loud hiss coming from the rear left side, and I followed the sound to a rather innocent looking little scratch on the tire that was rather non-innocently spewing the tire’s gasses into the atmosphere.

One feature I neglected to opt for when I purchased the van: that damn tire and wheel protection plan. So now it’s sitting over at D&J waiting for a tire.

F***socks.

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Baltimore, Family, Friends, gallagheria

Weekend Idolatry

And now for something a little lighter.

Saturday was Soccer Day, with my Under 12 Boy’s CYO team on the road with a 2 pm game. J. had been skating the night before at a Katrina relief ice-skateathon or something with his friend C., and then had a sleepover at C.’s, so perhaps he was a bit more sluggish than usual. But in any case, we all managed to get out the door to the game together this week (the whole crew in one place…the logistics are mind-boggling).

K., now hard-core as he’s playing JV soccer at Poly, wanted to run the kids into the ground as a warm-up. I eased him up and reminded him that it was going to be a long, hot game. And it did get hot–90’s again. I don’t remember September this late being this hot recently.

In the end, it was a tie again (making Brood X’s record for this year 0-2-0, at least 50% better than our record at this point last year). Then we grabbed lunch and headed for HampdenFest.

After grabbing beers and snow-cones, we wandered down toward the Hampden Idol contest in time to catch:

  • An adequate execution of “Gloria”
  • A woman who made “Whole Lotta Love” sound like a cat in a dryer
  • Ali’s inspiring rendition of “Don’t Stop Believin'” (to which K. and I waved our cell phones)
  • Chris, the “Thin White Guy”, performing “Let’s Go Crazy”, and stealing the show

My ex A. and her husband D. arrived in the midst of this. As we stood there on the Avenue after the wrapup of Hampden Idol, Benn came by. He pointed out that the spot where P. and my ex were sitting on the curb was in fact the scene of a murder:a street person, known for being a loan shark to addicts, had grabbed a little girl walking to the community center after school, and she ran in to the center crying; her grandfather emerged with a cane and beat the guy to death in broad daylight.

On that note…we headed out shortly thereafter. The boys left with my ex for the night, and P., Z. and I headed to New No Da Ji for dinner before calling it a night.

Sunday, we met up with the boys and A&D at the Irish Festival at the Armory. Nothin’ is as Irish as passing through an armed checkpoint to get a beer, I suppose; the Guard was conducting ID checks on every person who entered the Armory. Aside from the asses from Noraid (or, perhaps, the “reformed asses” would be more appropriate now that they’re allegedly behind the peace process–but from the stickers they were giving people, you’d think they were still shipping the Provos Armalites), it was a pleasant enough event, with Z. enthralled by the Irish dancing and K. intrigued by the Irish dancers. I got a free Smithwick’s as the beer concession tried to empty the kegs. J. shook us down for money for a shamrock ballcap and a faux-celtic dragon pendant. It was a Gallagher family heritage event.

Then, it was home and back to homework and other work and the grind of the week ahead.

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Baltimore, gallagheria

Lemmings


Gas scare
Originally uploaded by packetrat.

We were in Sam’s Club today, when one of the staff came by to our cashier and said, “They’re closing all the gas stations until Tuesday. If you don’t get gas by 4, you won’t be able to get any all weekend.”

The woman in front of us in line turned to us and said, “That’s not true. My sister just called me and it’s only a rumor.”

Indeed, it was only a rumor. But that didn’t stop people from being lemmings.

On our way home, we ran into heavy traffic right after we got off the JFX. “I bet it’s the gas stations up at the corner that are causing this,” I said to P. A police car blasted its siren a few times as it tried to go up the median to the scene of the congestion.

I turned down a side street and took a detour home. When we got there, the same thing was happening in front of our house–a line of traffic had formed trying to get to the Royal Farms a block away. I had to drive through alleys to get home. After unloading the groceries, I turned on the TV and caught a report of how widespread the madness was.

So I took a little walk up the street to document how much humans are like lemmings. It seems everyone is so ready right now to believe the worst case scenario, to be frightened into irrational behavior. People didn’t seem to care that the Governor was denying the truth of what they had heard, or that the gasoline stations were telling them it wasn’t true. They were creating the crisis all on their own.

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Family, gallagheria

I can't believe I'm buying another minivan

Somebody shoot me.

The old Dodge Grand Caravan urban assault vehicle (well, it’s 6 years old, but it looks older) has been drawing all sorts of snide remarks from the family. My eldest son keeps talking about getting it on “Pimp My Ride”, or painting it all haze-grey and adding gun ports. My wife is embarrassed to ride in it. Even my 4-year old says she wants a new car.

Well, today, just to humor them, I stopped at a few dealerships to look at my options. I tried steering the discussion something less…vanny, like a Pacifica, or maybe a hybrid Highlander.

Well, after being reminded why we had gotten the Dodge Grand Caravan UAV in the first place, I was left with the realization that I was stuck in van-land. And with all this “employee pricing” stuff, and my political bent, we were pretty well set on going American. So, we’re going with the Chrysler Town & Country Touring. At least it’s a little more tricked out than my current ride.

But it’s still a minivan. And even though I’d come to love the old champagne Grand Caravan for all its dents and scratches, it’s gonna take a while to get to love the new one, which we need to negotiate the details on on Monday.

But the Sirius satellite radio will probably help.

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