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01/30/10 08:43 PM: If you ever read this site...

You might be interested in:

Last Good Country. It’s my “tumblog” which apparently is the style of the time.

Also, I have a Twitter.

Dave Stroup    Comment [1] 

01/20/09 11:12 AM: Eight Years.

I am not old by any definition of the word. In fact, I suppose I am now at the age I always sort of “imagined” myself when I was younger. You know, living on your own, out of school, being able to “do whatever you want” and all of that.

I can only vaguely recall the specifics of what I was doing 8, 10, 15 years ago. I know that it’s been over eleven years since I started my first web site, and a decade or so since I spent most of my spare time administering IRC servers.

It was eight years ago that I launched this web site. At the time, it was a Blogger powered site located at I have since forgotten to renew that domain, so it’s gone. Most of my other web projects have expired and vanished from the web. And, I suppose, that’s quite alright. My main web presence now exists on other sites, each with their own purpose. for music, flickr for photos, Twitter for micro status updates. There’s little need to put all of those things under the umbrella of a “personal web site.” Even the best designed personal web sites are islands in Web 2.5 or whatever we are on now.

Eight years ago, something else happened. George Walker Bush became President of the United States. The election in 2000 was the first that I was very much involved in, following the election process and even covering it for WHFH-FM. Alas, I was a year too young to vote, but I was amazed. I was also terribly disappointed by the outcome in Florida.

I started this blog on January 20, with the intent of making political observations throughout Bush’s administration. In the course of those eight years, I have neglected the site on-and-off. I have had other writers come and go, and I’ve had the readership rise and fall. I’ve posted about politics, sports, finance, and personal matters. I moved from the suburbs of Chicago to Washington, D.C. I applied to college, was accepted, attended, and graduated. I’ve had relationships come and go, I’ve had jobs come and go, I’ve made money, lost money. I’ve made new friends, and lost others.

A lot of things can happen in eight years. In four. In one. In a day. Today, January 20, 2009 is but one day in history. However, unlike that day eight years ago, today is a day of hope and promise. We do not know what the future holds for us or for President Barack Obama. It’s going to be a long road, however you look at it. But at least we are back on the road.

History can be made in a day, or a year, or a lifetime. I certainly hope that President Obama’s history will be much greater than just this day. But it’s a good one to start with.

01/19/09 03:10 PM: I know, I know

I haven’t updated here since the day before the election. I was pretty close with my electoral predictions (within 1% and 1 EV). But anyhow, that’s all in the past.

I’ll be making a larger post to mark tomorrow’s occasion. I cannot believe that it’s been eight years since George W. Bush was sworn in as the 43rd President of the United States.

At 12:01 PM tomorrow, this web site will have outlasted the presidency of Bush. So let’s hope the server makes it through the next 20 hours or so.

11/04/08 01:47 PM: Election Day

In January of 2004, I was in Iowa just before the cacuses. I was volunteering as part of Howard Dean’s “Perfect Storm” operation. I knocked on doors in the town of Keokuk, IA, located right on the Missouri border. It was cold, dreary, and discouraging. For every Dean supporter we encountered, there were plenty of Gephardt or Kerry supporters, and countless more Republicans. In all, it was a fairly unorganized effort that ended in defeat at the caucuses.

Something was happening, though. You could see it, you could feel it. Young people from across the country had come, to knock on doors in the snow. People who had never volunteered before, people who had never donated before. A lot of us had never voted in a Presidential election before. Just before I went to Iowa, I voted for Governor Dean in Washington, D.C., in a symbolic “Presidential preference” election. Dean won.

After the loss in Iowa, and John Kerry’s nomination, a lot of people were disenchanted. The system was so broken, it seemed. No one with a message that was different than the status quo stood a chance. The only candidates who fared well were those who offered little more than the same thing. We had somehow gone from eight years of Clinton, to what seemed like an endless period of darkness. It was cold and dark in Iowa, and that’s how the rest of the country felt.

John Kerry, a patriot who served out country with valor, was discredited and openly mocked. There was little to no outrage. Some of the young people who were energized turned out in November, but there was no sea change. People, it seemed, resigned themselves to another four years of Bush. Perhaps it was inevitable, or perhaps people weren’t motivated enough. It was another year of voting against Bush.

The awakening that happened in 2004, though, wouldn’t be lost. When Howard Dean became the DNC chairman, he advocated for building a strong Democratic party in all 50 states. There should be no uncontested elections, there should always be a choice. It’s not about red or blue states, or red or blue districts. It’s about offering the Democratic alternative in each and every race in the United States. No one should be handed the title of Congressman, Senator or Governor simply because their “party” has historically won elections.

In 2006, things began to change. Democrats began to win races. In traditionally “red” states. Tester in Montana, Webb in Virginia, to name a few. The tide was turning, it seemed. The policies of the GOP had not been working, things were not getting any better, and people were growing tired of it. And now, it seemed, they were ready to do something about it.

What we’ve seen over nearly the last two years is nothing short of incredible. The Democratic party endured a grueling primary fight. Yet, at the end, the party was more unified than ever. When Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses earlier this year, I knew something was happening. Something big. Where Dean had failed in 2004, Obama succeded. In doing so, a little bit of that hope that had been left behind all over Iowa was restored.

“Yes we can.” Three simple words, that now evoke tears in many people watching this election. We’ve seen too many leaders fail to lead, taking us only deeper into a darkness that has now surrounded everyone. Millions without health care, hundreds of thousands losing their jobs and their homes, troops continuing to fight without proper equipment and not receiving proper care when they return, homelessness, skyrocketing energy prices, global warming, the infrastructure collapsing, are just a few problems we are facing. Problems that those we entrust with leadership should have seen coming. Problems that those who lead us have simply run away from.

Not again. Yes we can. Yes we can solve these problems. Yes we can provide health care to every American who needs it. Yes we can take care of our veterans and make sure they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Yes we can ensure that children are provided a world class education and the chance to go to college. Yes we can rebuild our national infrastructure, one that will be more efficient and less reliant on fossil fuels. Yes we can.

Millions across the country are standing in line right now to cast their vote for Barack Obama. Millions of people are not simply voting against John McCain, but for a vision of America that over the past eight years has been lost.

There has been, and perhaps always will be, talk of the decline and fall of the United States of America. That we have overspent ourselves, our reputation is too tarnished, our economy is in shambles… we will never rise again to be a great nation.

The only way we fail is if we lose hope. The only way this country will crumble will be if everyday Americans stop believing that things can be better. That tomorrow is a new day, and that just because today wasn’t so great, it won’t always be like that. The only way we fail is if we give up our dreams, choose fear over hope, and continue to remain lost in the darkness.

Today the American people will once again come together, and choose to vote for someone who understands the American dream. Someone who has lived it. Someone who believes with every fiber of their being that the sun will rise again tomorrow, and that no matter what the challenges may be, we can meet them.

Yes we can.

11/03/08 08:20 PM: Election Prediction 2006

I’ll perhaps write a little more in depth tomorrow, but here’s my prediction:

* 56 Democratic Senate seats * 41 Republican Senate seats * 269 Democratic House seats * 166 Republican House seats * 364 Obama Electoral Votes * 174 McCain Electoral Votes * 53.7 Obama Popular Vote Percentage * 45.1 McCain Popular Vote Percentage

We’ll see. I think he might get Ohio, but I’m not super optimistic.

Also, RIP Madelyn Dunham.

10/29/08 08:01 PM: Quick update

I will be writing a big update prior to the election. In 2006, I wrote a post predicting the outcome of the midterm elections. I was fairly dead on with those, and I’ll be writing about my prediction for the presidential election.

Anyways, a thought I had… I think Obama began to finally hammer this home tonight in his 30 minute piece.

It’s not about the government taking over and doing things for people. It’s not about a bigger government that “takes care of you.” It’s never been about that. It’s about one thing, a very important thing.

Life is very hard. It’s never been easy, and no one ever said it would be. Today, just keeping a job and taking care of your kids and maybe saving a bit for retirement is very very difficult. Sending your kids to college is more difficult than it’s ever been. Costs are skyrocketing. It’s getting harder to even have health insurance.

It’s not about the government doing all of this for us. It’s about making it just a little bit easier. Times are hard right now, and people are having a very hard time just making ends meet. They don’t want the government to do it for them, but the government (or large corporations) shouldn’t make it harder. We all pay taxes. We all put this money in some big, invisible pot. There’s nothing wrong with using that pot to make things just a little bit easier for everyone. That’s not socialism, that’s not communism, that’s not capitalism—that’s community. That’s country. That’s what it means to take care of your fellow citizen when times are hard.

So let’s make paying for health care just a little bit easier. Let’s make affording college just a little easier. Let’s make saving for retirement just a little easier. No one is saying you can’t do it for yourself. No one is saying we’re going to take your money away and say you have to do it this way, or that way. No, that’s not what it’s about. It’s about taking just a little bit of that burden off your shoulders. It’s about making your life just a little bit easier so that in turn, we are all better off. That’s what defines us as a country, that when times are hard we stick together and we have each other’s back.

I’m voting for Barack Obama because I sincerely believe that he has my back. That he will look out for not just people like me, but everyone. That he will work to make all of our lives just a little bit easier. That if we go to work everyday, that if we pay our bills, that if we are responsible with our finances… we can do better. We can all do better.

10/10/08 11:05 AM: Race to the Bottom

So it looks like the stock market is currently free falling. There is seemingly no end in sight for the current drops, amid all sorts of fear and worry. The credit markets are still not functioning, and it appears as though it’s going to take a lot of effort to get them back on track.

A few thoughts, even though I’m by no means any sort of expert.

While the current situation shares some features of the Great Depression, a lot of things are different. First off, the FDIC has raised insurance limits, and is discussing possibly removing limits all together. It’s not so much whether or not the FDIC could actually pay out if every bank failed (they couldn’t), but to encourage people to keep their money in the bank. Secondly, in the event of massive bank failures, it would be better for the Treasury to simply “print money” (not exactly how it would work, but the idea) to cover losses. It’s better to inflate the currency than to have people completely lose all of their money. I’d take my money even with a 20-25% devaluation than have 0% of it.

Second, the world appears to be working together to find some sort of solution. There is talk of a possible worldwide suspension of trading while specifics of new regulation are hammered out. I worry that this might cause markets to plunge right before this happens, but it might not be the worst idea in the world. Close all the major stock markets to allow people to figure some things out.

My major concern is the fact that Congress has recessed until after the election, and we have a lame duck President. When the election is over, it will be very important to get the new person’s economic team in place ASAP. This will require all sorts of cooperation with the Bush administration. I hope they will agree.

09/22/08 11:08 AM: Current Events and the like

A few years ago when I was taking Economic Statistics and Econometrics at Georgetown, I remember other students talking about their awesome internships at Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs. Most of these kids had fathers or uncles or whatnot who worked for an investment bank and had gotten them that crucial summer internship. The summer interhship of getting coffee and possibly reading the Financial Times leads to getting paid to get coffee and read the Financial Times, eventually hopefully leading to lucrative career as an investment banker.

I suppose now the tables have turned, and I’m glad that I didn’t get into that rat race. For a while I thought, what if I had really pushed myself, and tried to get a job in New York with a bank, even though I didn’t want to move to New York or work for a bank. If I had, I’d probably still have a job (for now) but would be terrified and under so much stress.

It all works out in the end, right?

I haven’t really had time to pour over the specifics of what exactly is happening, and the details of this proposed bailout. I can’t help but think this is going to potentially cause more problems than it fixes, though. Gold has been rising obscenely fast the past few days, I’m guessing on fears of serious inflation.

I predicted $1000/ounce for gold last year, but that was too premature. Maybe this year, though. I really hope not, though. For everyone’s sake.

09/17/08 09:23 AM: The Dilemma of the Blog

I was reading this post yesterday, and it got me thinking about the purpose of a blog.

I started my first “blog” back in 1999, before I knew what a blog was. It was a simple site, with a backend written in Miva, where I posted links and blurbs about things I was interested in. It even had Miva-powered comments! If you ask me to recall how to even write “Hello world!” in Miva, I won’t be able to tell you.

Anyhow, when I launched in 2001, it wasn’t simply with the purpose of being a “blog.”

I’m going to differentiate here between the word “blog” circa 2001, and Blog, present day. Today there are more Blogs than ever, many of them located on free hosting services such as Blogger or Typepad, etc, etc. Many people write very anonymously, often never giving away more than a first name or initial. This is completely different than what I was accustomed to when I started this site.

I was used to the idea of a blog being a personal web site of, well, a specific person. It was more than just a blog, the weblog was a portion (often the primary portion) of a person’s web site. The author would try to convey aspects of their personality through the site—and not just with the weblog. Subtle things such as the layout and typography, or the artwork/photography that went a long with the text… it all established a very personal presence on the Internet.

As such, you read a person’s blog… you were interested in what this person had to say, and you were curious as to what else they were interested in. Maybe you read it because they were from the same town as you… or they liked the same kind of music, or you actually knew them in real life. Or maybe you stumbled upon it and just became fascinated for some reason.

In my own life, I know I’ve ended up meeting people in the real world because of their web presence. A few of my good friends, in fact, resulted from coming across a link to their web site somewhere.

But, it’s different now. Blogs of 2008 are often divided into such niche areas, such as a “wine and food blog of Washington, D.C.” written by anonymous. Perhaps this is because people feel that they should write what they know, or at least write about something they feel they are qualified to write about.

I’ve toyed around with this idea, of writing about something very specific that I have a good deal of knowledge about. But each and every time I try to actually go ahead and do that, I’m very turned off by the idea. I don’t want to tailor my writing to attract an audience, or sell advertising. Sure, if I could manage a very popular home improvement blog, I could probably make some money from it. But I wouldn’t want to limit myself to only writing about that.

So instead, I fall back on the 2001 concept of the blog. That this is a site about Dave Stroup. It is, in a way, a little bit egotistical. Sure, you probably won’t come across this site when searching for any specific term. This isn’t a D.C. blog, or a photography blog, or a design blog. It’s not a wine blog, or a hardware blog.

Instead, it’s my site. I write about D.C. I write about photography. I write about travel, wine, hardware, railroads, design and technology. I write about myself. I’d rather have 20 readers who are interested in what I think, or interested to read my prose… than 500 who come to read something I had to force myself to write.

At the end of the day, the best niche is your own—yourself.

09/08/08 01:12 PM: Weekend Roundup

So DC survived Hanna, with some moderate-to-serious flooding in the suburbs in Fairfax County. Otherwise it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as Hurricane Isabel back in ‘03, so that’s good. An Isabel-sized storm could always happen again, though, so hopefully having TS Hanna come through at least gave the government some practice in responding. Maybe.

Election Watch 2008 is still on, and McCain is enjoying a bit of a post-convention bounce. The Gallup/USA Today poll that puts McCain-Palin up by 10 points is crap, it’s clearly an outlier. The other post-convention polls pretty much put it at a dead heat (nationwide, likely voters).

However, we have to remember these polls mean little or nothing. Not only is the election still two months away, but national polls don’t measure a whole lot when it comes down to the votes that count, and that’s the Electoral College. Check out for an amazingly intricate look at state-by-state data and EV projections. Some of you might remember from previous elections… 538 seems to be much more in-depth.