David Gregory's Dance Dance Revolution
My man David Gregory got all kinds of attention for his smooth, or not-so-smooth dance moves, depending on your point of view. Huffington Post said "Gregory set white men back sixty years", but other bloggers disagreed. ROCK ON DAVID GREGORY! I LOVE YOU!

Wonkette: David Gregory helps white boys everywhere learn to show their appreciation for the awesomeness that is Mary J. Blige. Sadly, he dances about as well as one would expect, but at least he knows good music when he moneymaker just can’t stop shakin’.

Faded Youth Blog: He’s a dance, dance, dance, dance, dancing machine. Watch him get down, watch him get down. As he do, do, do his thing right on the scene!

Pushing Rope: The Today Show becomes Gregory's personal disco inferno.

Entertainment Weekly Pop Watch: I hereby call for a formal apology to David Gregory by anyone who slighted his spontaneous dancing. And I so hope that he finds a way to work those moves into the next White House press conference. Don't you, P-Dubs?
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2007: Rewind
New Responsibilities: Owning a home, a dog, and a "serious" blog
Star Sightings: Luke Wilson, Don Cheadle and finally, finally, Harry Whittington
Noteworthy Discoveries: The $1.50 hot dog and 20 ounce drink meal at Costco, Troopers Black and Brown, Gummi Hot Dogs
Major Disappointments: The night of woe in the DFW airport, Miss Teen South Carolina, Anonymous Fastball fan, Not seeing enough of my family
Trend that I wish would retire for good: Crocs
Biggest Accomplishment of the Year: Breaking free from my Sprint contract without charge

2006: The Best of Times, The Weirdest of Times
2005: A Jack Look Back
2004: More Year in Review
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The Purge, Part 8

Let's get caught up on where we are in this open-records journey. (If you are new to the blog, click on the Open Government category to your right to read previous Purge entries).

Open-records requester John Washburn hasn't been able to get copies of the Governor Rick Perry's office emails because of the cost charged by the office. The governor's office said it would fill his request, but only if he paid a few thousand dollars for about a month's worth of emails.

This triggered a complaint to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's office. Washburn received a response yesterday. In part, it reads:

To determine the appropriateness of the charges, we consider the following elements:
The test performed;
The number of computers that will require a search for responsive records;
The volume of emails responsive to the request and;
The charges used in the calculations.
Upon review of those elements, we find that the estimated charges are appropriate.
The complaint file is closed.
UPDATE:Download file
Washburn has responded, though it's unclear what he can do now that the AG's office says it won't play. Parts of his response are below:
My objections to the dismissal of the complaint are:

1) You have accepted Ms. Thornton method of records production as reasonable. It is not. As I stated to Ms. Thornton in my telephone conversation with her on November 12, 2007, her client side approach is inefficient and excessively costly. During that telephone conversation I offered to provide the server-side programming* which would be more efficient, less error prone, easier to review and redact, and would not bother the 250 staff members of the Governor’s office.

2) You have accepted Ms. Thornton’s unsupported statement that it is beyond the technical capabilities of the IT staff to export the responsive records using programmatic means. Ms. Thornton’s statements of incompetence are difficult to believe and I don’t believe them. The close parsing of her words would indicate she has never asked her technical staff for assistance in exporting the requested electronic records and has instead deliberately chosen the most inefficient and expensive method to produce the requested records.

3) By deliberately choosing costly and inefficient methods, The Office of the Governor is deliberately overcharging for the requested records. This is, as you know, tantamount to blocking the release of the requested records.

The Governor’s office is pursuing a series of decisions and methods which evinces but one object; the execution of tactic three of the attached essay, “How to Hide Public Records”. Tactic three is excerpted below:

Make them pay for what they really want. Like a parking ticket or a speeding ticket, levy a fine. Claim that finding the record will incur a tremendous amount of time. You can charge for time to find long-buried records. If your budget is tight, urge your superiors to set a higher per-page copying cost to help offset those copier expenses. You're not responsible for reducing costs. You are able by law to charge to help offset the cost of producing some kinds of records.

*You see, in an effort to help streamline the process for future requests of governor's office email, Washburn himself -- a software designer -- actually took the time to create a program by which the office could easily extract the emails being requested. He believes his program would reduce the time and number of employees required to fill his request, thereby reducing the charge for the emails. But the office never responded to his offer, even though it appears he designed what could be a very helpful program for other state agencies to use to fulfill the TPIA.

I'll upload the actual documents in a few hours.

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Don't Need No Hateration, Holleratin' in this Dance for Me
In the lifetime of this here blog, a few of my favorite things have become clear:

Office Space
The Wire
The Office
Laguna Beach
Stephen Colbert
Inspirational quotes from Stiles
Poking fun at South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre B@uer
Hating on Rita Cosby
And we can't forget... NBC's David Gregory, who I love even more, now that I've found this:

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Waiting for The Wire
When it first came out, it was easy for critics and other observers to label The Wire as simply a "crime drama". But Law and Order or CSI or NYPD Blue it is not. The Wire is far more true-to-life, far more complex, far more satisfying. It is a novel-on-television, a five season story of urban and moral decay in America. It is set in Baltimore, but The Wire is also Detroit and Atlanta and St. Louis and Philadelphia and anywhere with an underclass that you don't see but ought to. The final season starts January 6 on HBO. Here's a look ahead:

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Tie Me Up
I just finished devouring the all 13 episodes of The Wire's fourth season as if I was some kind of heroin addict. Fitting, I thought.

The fifth and final season premieres January 6 on HBO. The theme will be the declining state of the newspaper industry, and how that relates to the decay of our communities. The show that Slate calls the best television show ever on television is about to tackle something that will hit real close to home.
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How I Came To Love Terrell Owens

First, he started catching crucial passes, which was the primary reason I started liking the guy. Then, he stopped trying to kill himself and subsequently causing galactic media frenzies. But the real clincher for me was this:

IRVING, Texas (AP) - Terrell Owens has a message for Jessica Simpson: Stay

Simpson has become Public Enemy No. 1 among Dallas Cowboys fans because of a link being made between her appearance at Sunday's game and the poor performance of her new boyfriend, quarterback Tony Romo.

Right now, Jessica Simpson is not a fan favorite - in this locker room or in Texas
Stadium," Owens said Wednesday.

The Cowboys lost 10-6 to the Philadelphia Eagles and Romo had what was statistically the worst game of his career, all while Simpson sat in a luxury box wearing a pink No. 9 jersey she proudly showed off for television cameras.

The problem for her is, Romo's previous worst game came last December at home to the Eagles when then-girlfriend Carrie Underwood was in attendance.

"With everything that has happened, obviously with the way Tony played and the comparison between her and Carrie Underwood, I think a lot of people feel she has taken his focus away," Owens said, echoing the chatter on sports-talk radio and blogs. "Other than that, she was high on my list until last week."

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Weekend Replay
Drew from the days at Ol' Mizzou came into town to do a feature on UT basketball phenom D.J. Augustin for his magazine. Antics included:

-A dive bar with my drunken girlfriends and a random dude named Lou. After that night, we toasted "To Lou" every chance we got.

-Accidentally smashing my hand in between a car door and a newspaper box, leading to my new friend, the bag of ice. A bartender at a restaurant Friday even added a little mint to the bag. Awwwww.

-Holiday parties galore

-Pretending to be a sports reporter: Snagging our station's UT basketball credentials to hang with Drew and the other sportos at Saturday's game

-Drew falling in love with Austin in 2.5 days

Belated Snippet from Stiles
"I think that dude in the DVD store was drunk. I smelled it on his breath. His breath smelled exactly like that Korean grocer from when I lived in DC. I think it's a combination of working 17 hours a day and drinking the whole time."
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The writer's strike needs to end ASAP. I'm starting to see ads for more game shows. I thought bringing October Road back was bad enough.
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Happier Times
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The Odyssey
Was I in purgatory? It was two o'clock in the morning, and I was freezing my ass off on the cold, hard tile in the baggage claim area of DFW International Airport.

I'd been flying since Saturday -- 12 hours from Shanghai to Chicago, then an abhorrently long delay in Chicago forced me to miss my Dallas connection to get home to Austin. American Airlines (my #2 nemesis behind Sprint) could only put me on a Monday morning flight home at 9:30am.

I was supposed to be home already. My tickets had me back in Austin on Sunday night at 11pm.

Wanting to better control my fate, I decided to abandon my luggage (which was booked for the morning flight) and attempt to drive home from Dallas in the middle of the night. After standing in four lines, four different car rentals told me no, they didn't have cars available that I could take just one-way.

So I returned to the original option of getting a hotel room courtesy of AA and staying until the morning. But the original option vanished with the AA agents who had gone for the night. No hotel voucher for me.

Which brings me to purgatory. Couldn't go into the warm terminal where there were seats and vending machines. That would require a boarding pass, and I was only standby for the morning. Couldn't go outside - there was no place to go.

The temperature in the baggage claim area dropped below sixty degrees and all I had was the latest Newsweek to keep me warm. (They aren't thick.)

The airport at 2am is a strange place. Four or five fellow interlopers were also attempting to keep warm or get some sleep, I observed one guy curl up in a wheelchair, another wrap his hood backward around his head. None of us spoke to each other.

I began searching for survival items, wandering behind ticket counters and TSA screening areas to find blankets or even consumable liquids. Eventually, my search through Terminal A led to two AA blankets that some security guards left at their chairs. They smelled like ass, but this was purgatory. I also got my paws on the DFW Employee newspaper, DFW People. The police blotter was interesting, detailing car burglaries in the parking lot and fights that broke out at the baggage claim.

Ultimately, I decided the conveyor belt in the corner would provide the softest surface on which to sleep, but the florescent lights and the loudspeaker's constant "DFW Airport forbids smoking" announcement pretty much shattered any chance to get some shuteye.

By four am, I was so desperate to get home I called AA crying and got myself confirmed on a flight out of a different Dallas airport. I traded forty dollars for a ride there and made it home this morning.

My bags? Still waiting...
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The Negotiation
No one should go shopping in China without my mom. Homegirl knows how to drive a price down. We just snagged a hugeass Samsonite suitcase that wheels both front-and-back and side-to-side for about $30USD. The asking price was $65. Stiles got dress shirts for work for $8 each, they wanted $26.

Let's say you are in China and want to purchase a particular item. This is how the negotiation works:*

1.) You express interest in the item.
2.) Seller tells you how awesome it is and names a ridiculously high price.
3.) You express indignation. "THAT IS A RIDICULOUS PRICE!"
4.) You explain that the same item at another location was _____ much. Or that you don't even really like the item, really. Or that the item is much too small for you.
5.) Seller asks you how much you want to pay for it.
6.) If it's a high priced item, you name half the asking price. If it's a low priced item, you name two-thirds of the asking price.
7.) Seller expresses total indignation.
8.) You say it's reasonable given the things you expressed in step number 4.
9.) Seller continues to express total indignation, or they come down a tiny bit.
10.) You stick to your guns.
11.) Seller says that's impossible.
12.) You say fine, act kind of disappointed that things don't work out, and begin walking out of the store/kiosk/alleyway.
13.) Walk slowly, but mean it.
14.) Nine times out of ten, the seller will agree and ask you to come back in to pay the price you asked for.

*None of this works if there's a serious communication barrier. Speaking the language is half the battle.
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Chinese Medieval Times!

We went to the Wuxi "Three Kingdoms" TV and Movie Sets and witnessed a battle. It was a war reenactment circa sometime right after the end of the Han Dynasty. There were lots of swords, spears (Stiles loves the spears) and big silver balls at the end of sticks. Lots of warriors fake-died and had to be carried off the battle field. The leader of one clan looked a strikingly similar to The Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

P.S. I miss Wikipedia.
Posted by Picasa
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Al Gore Would Be So Pissed
WUXI, CHINA - The four of us have been riding around in a full sized bus with "King Long" emblazoned across the front end. Yep, just the four of us. We hired the tour guide, Mr. Pan, to take us around China privately, so usually we're in small cars. But for these past few days Mr. Pan's bus and driver haven't had anywhere else to be, so he got us King Long.

The White Man
We're in smaller cities midweek - populations of only one to two million. In these small cities, the locals tend to stare at Stiles like he's a dancing bear. Today, when we were walking back from some computer gadget mall, we walked past a tall white guy. The site of Stiles so excited the man that he yelled out "Hi!" as if they were long lost brothers.

Housekeeping Item
I can't read any of your comments, if you are leaving any. I can't read any of your blogspot hosted blogs, either. The Chinese don't allow us to read blogspot sites because of some pesky dissidents that started blogging a few years back.
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Minority Report
HANGZHOU, CHINA - I'm watching a rather elaborate fireworks show going on outside my window. It's not a holiday. Perhaps it's someone's birthday. Either way, I think it's safe to say there aren't fireworks ordinances around here.

We landed in Shanghai on Saturday. Since then we've been on the move, traveling from place to place via train, bus and plane. And goat.

Just kidding. The locals in smaller towns call Stiles "lao wai", which is a slang term meaning foreigner. Today, our private tour guide was ordering food for my mom and me when suddenly the waitress noticed a lao-wai was with us. She promptly offered us various fried foods for the American.

We went to a leather apparel mart. Shoes on the first floor, bags on the second, clothing on the third. (Don't know what I'd do with a discount leather vest, so I didn't buy anything on that floor.) I tried to buy some shoes, but alas, my Chinese shoe size (41) is three sizes larger than the biggest size they keep in stock. I am Sasquatch.
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