Candidates Forum!


Well, well….looks like we're gonna have us a little candidates forum.  Mark over at HMI asked me to put this up here so folks would know that it's happening.  Since we don't have a paper anymore, I agreed.  This should be a relatively interesting deal.  We have 4 candidates and 3 jobs.  The candidates are also pretty diverse in terms of worldview and experience.  You have Mr. Aveni who has 8 years in office.  He is pretty far to the right and his priorities are social and budget issues.  Also in the mix we have Sheryl Bass who has a bunch of years in government experience divided between the School Board and Council.  She's a bit right of center and her priorities will be oriented more towards what I would call traditional local government activities.  

Also up for election are Ken Elston and Patricia Richie-Folks who are with the newly resurgent democrat party in Manassas.  They're both newcomers to elected office and I've chatted with both a bit.  I think they'll be pretty centrist (at least on local issues) in their thinking and voting.  However, you just don't know until you actually have to vote!  Ultimately at least 1 of the democrats will get elected and that's bound to change the Council's thinking somewhat.  That has the potential to be positive.  I'd rather they were republican candidates but new blood and thinking can be useful in the life of any organization.  Hard to tell how that will emerge or what it will look like but whatever happens we need to pull together for our shared success!  Come on out and see the candidates for yourself!

This will not be televised as the City's TV channel can't be used for political activities.  I wonder who gave that opinoin and intend to seek clarification.  I can understand that we can't run ads for the republican party but the citizens interest is certainly served by being able to see their candidates in action…

Posted in Politics | 12 Comments

College Night!

college night

Mark another notch in my long Fall of Lasts: College Night!  I have a confession: I was not tremendously excited to go to college night.  I knew it would be mobbed and outside of Manassas – but my daughter thought it would be important so I went.  It was, indeed, mobbed and at Patriot HS but tolerable.

A little about the setting into which I ventured: I've heard a lot about PW County's new High Schools.  Patriot is a nice school, the layout is a little wonky and the parking lots were shoe-horned in but it's beautiful.  There were, as expected, legions of teenage girls in "the uniform": jeans tight enough to threaten some interstellar maxim, knee-high boots, whatever shirt and a smartphone dangling perilously from their back pocketses.  Easily snatchable whenever an urgent text needs to be dashed off.  The boys, as always, suffer from the same malady that teenage boys have always: "huh"?  That sort of "other" state teenage boys inhabit.  Somewhere between too cool to be bothered and keeping an eye out for the previously mentioned girl….whilst hanging out with his bros.  The layout of the cafeteria at Patriot is a bit of a divided affair.  The kitchen seems to be in the middle of the space and so divides it in two.  This does keep noise down but constrains the space a little.  I'm sure it works fine for serving kids lunch but when the space was filled with bewildered parents, children and colleges it got pretty jammed.  We were not, however, window shopping.  We had a plan and a list of colleges to visit.

We visited with the normal big VA schools – VCU, VT and UVa and the I-81 corridor list of schools – Hollins, Mary Baldwin, etc.  We also chatted with folks from Alabama and Kentucky, mainly because they were there.  See, Sarah and I have been oddly fortunate – our daughter is a diligent student and scored well on her tests (SAT, ACT).  This means she has options!  And the options are so much easier to quantify these days.  I don't remember if we had college visits when I was a kid but I certainly had almost no information about all of the different colleges in Virginia.  I think there was a huge guidebook that was published and I might have had some info from guidance…but that was it.  These days, there is a website where you put in your preferences (small school, hard to get int, etc) and it'll give you a list of colleges!  In any event, the recruiters were very nice and, since most of the parents had the same motivation – to get the hell out of there – it went as well as can be expected.  The only thing I would have done differently would have been to put Va Tech and VCU in the main cafeteria rooms instead of the side hallways.  Those are big schools and lots of people wanted to talk to them so it was a bit of a mess.

Overall it was enjoyable and Erin did better as the night went on in interacting with the college recruiters.  The recruiters are, necessarily, approachable people but they're still adults and it can be a bit of a challenge.  So, that's done and we have a little more information about the college situation.  No, we haven't made a decision yet.  I really don't expect that will happen for some months yet.


Posted in Information Only | 2 Comments

Quick City Update

Just a couple of quick hits:

1.  For all of you that were wound up about the re-write to the zoning code, the draft of the first stage will be reviewed in a Land Use meeting on Thursday night.  This would be the definitions section and the review appears to be right on schedule.  No, I don't know if there is specific language on abortion clinics but I'm guessing we'll find out on Thursday.

2.  The "Stormwater Utility" is one step closer to reality.  I really don't like the thing – it's essentially just another tax that will fund Chesapeake Bay related stuff.  I think if the Feds want the bay cleaned up, they should have the guts to pay for it themselves but that isn't the trend these days.  We'll cover that on Tuesday.  Plus, it just distracts our Public Works and utilities people who seem to struggle somewhat with their current workload.

3.  Yet another work session on opening Lake Manassas.  Why on earth we continue to beat this particular dead horse I don't understand.  2 things:  1:  if you think it can be done at no cost to the citizens of Manassas, you're dreaming.  If the water utility wants to spend money on recreation, they can fund a Parks & Rec department for the citizens.  2: why we spend time considering funding & opening a water attraction 10 miles outside the city while we have no Parks & Rec program is beyond me.  I'm sure the residents of PWC would appreciate it but we should be spending our time on sorting out the problems we already have….inside the city limits.  Also on Tuesday

Busy Week…..

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A Fall of lasts…

Change in life is inevitable.  I also tend to think life without change would be unbearable.  I know it would be for me.  Perspective and exposure to new ideas are crucial to the process.  photoThe most productive period in one's life is short – 15 years or so?  Not that the other parts aren't productive but the part where you somewhat understand how the world works and how to move stuff along.  Maintaining that sense, that perspective is important.  I don't really like traveling all that much but "seeing how other people do it" is more efficient than re-creating the wheel.  Honestly I'm not sure what the preceding has to do with the subject but I like it so I'll leave it.

For both my family and myself this will be a long fall season of "Lasts".  I'm transitioning off the City Council and my daughter is a senior at Osbourn.  Our family has had our "last first day" of school.  I've had my last "first fall meeting" on the Council.  It is tremendously exciting but all tinged with equal parts energy and sadness.  I'm more excited for my kid – "going off to college" is the ultimate life changer.  I'm sure I'll miss her and I'll miss that predictable school schedule where the whole family ends up under one roof at night.  I'll also miss having her around in the afternoon to help with the house!  To further bring that fact home, we met with the "college guy" over at OHS a couple of days ago.  His name is Mr. Gilligan – if your kid is at OHS and he/she is going to college, you should talk to this guy!  I thought he was outstanding.  In the college process, I'm trying to be helpful without bringing too much pressure to bear.  How successful I am in that probably depends on  who you ask but in my defense I'd say that at least I'm aware of it!  

As for the Council stuff, I'm enjoying sitting out the election.  I was chatting with a former elected official and he told me "once you're out of office, you'll resent anyone who wants you to leave your house at night".  I'm close enough to being out of office that I can see and understand that now.  I don't know that I would refuse to go out to dinner but I'll be pretty selective about what I do.  I know I'll miss the fraternity of folks that I served with but I really don't think the nostalgia will last long for the job itself.  I enjoy serving but it will be a relief to dedicate the mental energy from what has become a frustrating endeavor to other pursuits that may provide more dividends.  

Next up will our first college application and my last 5-year forecast meeting!!

Posted in Andy's Stuff, Information Only | Comments Off


It all started, as most good stories do, a long time ago.  I was attending summer school at Longwood (don't ask).  At that time (1987 or so) Longwood was a fraction of the size photoit is now.  There was no off-campus housing to speak of and the physical condition of the college (not yet a university) was between faded glory and three newer buildings.  One of those newer buildings was the Lancer gym.  It had a built in pool, basketball courts and a great weight room.  It also had 4 or 5 outdoor tennis courts that were in great condition.  I was staying in the high-rise dorm right across the street.

That summer I was taking two classes.  An art history class that started at 7:30 in the morning (totally incongruent with our desired lifestyle) and a science class after that.  Every day was the same:

7:00 – wake up, shower and complain
7:25 – leave for class
11:30 – leave second class for lunch
12:30 – 2:00 – peak tanning hours!  layout on roof of dorm
2:00-4:30 – go to gym and lift weights
4:30-5:00 – shower and brag about how much we lifted
5:00-6:00 – go eat everything in the dining hall
7:00 – whenever – hangout, party or if there was some kind of crisis, study.

Yep, it was a tough life.  I really did enjoy learning to weight lift and it's an activity that I've returned to for long stretches of my life although currently it's been about 8 years.  My peak form came around 1993 (gawds that was forever ago) when I topped out my bench press at about 285.  I'll never forget that day (glory days indeed !!)  I was on the bench and, after running through a brief warmup session, plunked 285 pounds on the bar.  I had two spotters.  I got the weight up (easy part) and brought it down to my chest.  After a brief pause I started pushing…I remember two things from then on.  The first was that I thought the veins in my head and neck were going to explode.  The second was that I really didn't care because the bar was bending under the weight I was lifting!!  That's superstar territory right there.  Declare victory and leave.

I again got serious about weightlifting about 10 years ago.  I had a good routine where I would go to the gym, go home and takeover for Sarah and then drop my daughter off at daycare.  That program required that I get up at about 5:30 in the morning.  Not terrible unless it was winter time.  Even then, the problem isn't going in, it's coming out.  You're typically soaked in sweat which then instantly freezes to your hide when you leave the building.  Yeah, you can bring an extra shirt or whatever but you're already hauling too much crap to be bothered and it's 5 in the morning.  In any event, that stint lasted about 3 years at which point I transitioned to running.  My rotator cuff was giving me fits anyway and I needed to back off.

This time around is still early going.  Been to the gym about 4 times but I can feel the pull when I'm not there.  I want to lift.  However, it's different this time, I don't have a group of boys to hang with and I'm older.  Now, not only is my rotator cuff sensitive but I have to be careful with my back.  Yeah, my back talks to me on a regular basis.  The rotator cuff, not so much.  That'll be a use injury at some point.  While the physical limitations are starting to build, 90% of the game is half mental (go Yogi!).  It's a constant mental battle to throttle the effort.  You want to push just that little bit more or bang out another set – but you know…..oh yes…you know just how screwed you are if you go past that threshold.  And if a woman walks by while you're lifting?  Some things never change and Richard Pryor was right – "girls will get you killed, tryin' to be cool."  Even when you're 48 and should know better!  You've got at least appear not to shake while pushing….

So it's early going but I'm thinking it's going to stick for awhile.  The urge has hit at the right time of year – closer to fall when it starts to get cold – and I'll be transitioning from the bike to the gym anyway.  I haven't picked up any of the usual gear yet – gloves, etc as I'm holding off on that for a bit but it won't be too long before I make the pilgrimage to get the proper equipment.  I'm looking forward to it.  I guess the only part I'll really miss is the almost exclusive use of free weights.  I've always thought that free weight was a much better training medium than a bazillion machines but there are some things I just can't do with my back the way it is.  I guess it's a small price to pay.  Plus it's easier to look cool.

Posted in Andy's Stuff | 2 Comments