Monday, May 30, 2011

It really is the people

We just returned from the Outer Banks of North Carolina on a trip that involved vacationing and visiting both friends and family along the way. We stopped in Washington, D.C. (friends) on the way to, and Cary, North Carolina (family) on the way out- with stops at Young's Jersey Dairy both directions. We spent most of our time, however, in the cities of Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head- and despite all the things to see and do there, I'm declaring it's the people that make it special.

A few examples. We had car trouble. The nice people at The Front Porch Cafe gave us a phone book and recommendations of local repair shops. (and darn good coffee, too) We called ABC Towing, who was willing, just on the strength of our phone call, to call in rush parts orders to the mainland before we had even brought the car in to them. It was a major repair- six hours labor, by the book- and it had to be done twice, because the first time it broke again on the test drive and they had to repeat the work with replacement parts. So again they paid for rush shipment of new parts- got the first batch approved for warranty, no extra charge to us- and got it all finished before we were due to leave... and the final bill was, according to my brother, the mechanic, not only fair but less than many places here in Indianapolis would have charged.

One restaurant we went to, Owen's, was so superb that even though we normally never repeat a restaurant while on vacation, looking for new experiences, we knew we'd have to go back there before leaving, and we told them so. They said it was their pleasure, and they'd watch for us. Well, any decent businessman would say that, right? But they must have meant it... when we were there the first time, I had asked to swap chairs; because of some back and hip issues, I cannot sit in some armchairs. When we returned a few nights later, and the hostess led us to our table, there was my chair, waiting for me!

Lots of other experiences... chats with people as I flew a kite in Ocracoke while Ginger was admiring the wild ponies... a discussion of the scandalous Washington infighting surrounding the Smithsonian, Professor Langley, and the Wright brothers with chatty and knowledgeable rangers at the Wright Memorial... nice ladies at Enterprise Car Rental pulling out three different cars before finding one that we and our stuff could fit in, and being helpful and cheerful the whole time. Thank you, OBX!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

That was then...

This is now...

Three years ago, when I was predicting that Obama's war policies would be exactly the same as McCain's, everyone thought I was crazy. Perhaps now that the President has renewed the Patriot Act, kept Guantanamo open, restarted the military tribunals, launched new offensives in both Iraq and Afghanistan, (not to mention quietly giving up on timetables and admitting that we're not leaving 'til it's done), launched a war "of choice, not necessity" in another Middle Eastern country, and violated the sovereignty of a supposed ally by sending a mordgruppe in to launch an attack on their soil without their permission or consultation, my predictions look a little less silly.

I am not criticizing President Obama; it was, and is my contention that a President's actions are largely defined by physical and political realities, and that Obama isn't, and Bush wasn't a villain. No matter how much they might long to, a President cannot effect real change by himself; I wish people would invest some of their attention into the Congressional, Gubernatorial, and State Legislature races instead of thinking a single vote every four years is going to fix everything.