Hallandale Beach Blog - A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden.
In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Photo in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A, September 2008; March 2018 photo below of North Beach, looking left-to-right, looking north, HYDE Condominium, Etaru Japanese Robatayaki restaurant, and Hollywood Beach in the distance, with umbrellas. All photos by me, © Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 30, 2011

"A lonely species in a merciless universe anxiously awaits an answering voice amid utter silence." That would be us. No, not Dolphins fans or Hallandale Beach, but humans. Classic Charles Krauthammer!

"A lonely species in a merciless universe anxiously awaits an answering voice amid utter silence." 
That would be us. 
No, not Dolphins fans or Hallandale Beach, but humans. 
Classic Charles Krauthammer!

The Fermi Paradox and Goldilocks in one column?
Charles Krauthammer zings us out of our post-Christmas/holiday blues -sorta!

But if what Charles Krauthammer says is true about intelligent life in the universe, does this also mean that for many single people who've been looking for a serious long-term relationship, for some of them, despite what they and their friends have convinced them of otherwise, there really is no "special somebody" or future "significant other" out there, just waiting for fate to intervene?

Just an empty universe?
That's too depressing to even think about!  

Which is why they make films like New Year's Eve, to fool us into believing something that, maybe, isn't there.
And why there are TV marathons this time of the year:

The Washington Post
Are we alone in the universe?
By Charles Krauthammer
December 29, 2011
Huge excitement last week. Two Earth-size planets found orbiting a sun-like star less than a thousand light-years away. This comes two weeks after the stunning announcement of another planet orbiting another star at precisely the right distance — within the “habitable zone” that is not too hot and not too cold — to allow for liquid water and therefore possible life.
Unfortunately, the planets of the right size are too close to their sun, and thus too scorching hot, to permit Earth-like life. And the Goldilocks planet in the habitable zone is too large.
Read the rest of the column at: 

The Wrap

63 TV Marathons for New Year's Eve Weekend (Including Every Episode of 'The Walking Dead') 
By Kimberly Potts
Published: December 30, 2011 @ 2:23 pm 

Charles Krauthammer columns at The Washington Post:



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

And not for the first time... a Miami Herald reader reveals more insight in their comments about the news than the Herald reporter does in their reporting of a news story; re Miami-Dade lobbying fees

And not for the first time... a Miami Herald reader reveals more insight in their comments about the news than the Herald reporter does in their reporting of a news story; Miami-Dade's lobbying fees

A well-informed and observant Miami Herald reader states what radio industry icon Paul Harvey used to famously call "the rest of the story" in his syndicated show, via the comments section of Monday's article about Miami-Dade's tortured handling of its lobbying fees. 

The reader states factual connections with devastating aplomb: " Becker & Poliakoff also employs Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Carlos Gimenez Jr, and George Burgess."
As someone has no doubt said a few times before, though never in my family, "Eureka!"

Which is to say, 
a.) Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, the former Miami-Dade County Commissioner and current FL State Senator for District 36, who replaced one brother, Alex, currently a lawyer/lobbyist and former State Senate Majority Leader, and another brother, Renier, who's currently on the Miami-Dade School Board.
b.) Carlos Gimenez Jr., the son of Miami-Dade County's current Mayor, and, 
c.) George Burgess, the former Miami-Dade County Manager who resigned in March, after his job was overwhelmingly eliminated "with prejudice" by county voters in August of 2010, presaging the delicious and much-deserved recall of County Mayor Carlos Alvarez earlier this year.

It's helpful context alright, especially for those of us who have followed how the M-D lobbying process/charade has been abused over the years so that commissioners could make sure that their pals kept getting their cut of the American Dream, Miami-style (crony capitalism), which to cite but one example, where Comm. Sally Heyman kept Carrie Meek on the reservation regardless of her actual use, or the fact that her team was not one of the lowest bidders, but useful context of the sort that for the past few years has routinely NOT appeared in Herald articles, and Laura Brannigan's article is no exception.

(No serious follower of Miami-Dade politics and government that I know ever asks what a particular decision, vote or legislative bait-and-switch means on its face without first mentally scrolling thru his head the family trees of the county commission -and their assorted unofficial "families"- and then thinking about which members of la familia works for which one of the companies, firms or parties involved. 
Yes, just like in a banana republic, that's just the fundamental default question you have to ask.)

Just like the Herald NEVER mentioned in the days and weeks leading up to this decision that the subject would be taking place, much less, when the vote would be taking place.
Just keep the readers in the dark:THAT'S the Herald's local coverage policy -always after the fact.
And sometimes, NOT even then.

As it happens, the Miami-Dade County vote described took place last Monday, Dec. 19th.

Correct, it has taken the Herald exactly one week to report upon this vote in Miami, not in Timbuktu, in Mali, where a past housemate of mine in Arlington county served in the Peace Corps, and explained to me many times how difficult it was to communicate with the outside world from the village that she lived in.

Should a professionally-run news organization, esp. one that still claims to have a degree of relevancy and currency in the South Florida market have the same problem reporting from Miami in the last days of the year 2011?
I don't think so. 

For more on this point, see my post of November 27, 2010 about the use of technology, wherein I draw a comparison between the ability of a great song performed at a Paramore concert last year in Stockholm -at the bottom of this post- to be uploaded to YouTube and be seen by me thousands of miles away within hours, and the Miami Herald's myopic Pony Express-style of news reporting, where they constantly miss what's current because of their conscious decisions made by editors and management, leaving readers who want fresh news in the lurch.
How a video of Paramore in Stockholm and Razorlight at the Cuckoo Club, London proves the Miami Herald is moving too damn slow in its news coverage., Iceberg dead ahead!

That the powers-that-be at One Herald Plaza chose to print this story about lobbying and the commission vote that decided it -at least temporarily- so long after-the-fact, and on the day after Christmas, instead of in Sunday's paper, their largest circulation day, well, to me, that's a very curious conscious choice indeed.
Yes, more Pony Express-style news coverage from the Miami Herald, but it doesn't end there.

Also as it happens, Monday marked 13 days since the Broward County Commission voted on redistricting and approved new district maps, and the Herald has STILL NOT printed anything in the newspaper or posted anything online about it.
Even though it directly affects roughly 40-45% of their readers.

Seriously, is it really asking too much of a local daily newspaper to actually report news within 24 or 48 hours?

For more on los hermanos Diaz de la Portilla, see also: http://www.ccfj.net/CCFJDeLaPortilla.htm


Miami Herald 
Miami-Dade Commission aims to cut lobbying tab, ends up paying $50,000 more 
By Martha Brannigan
Posted December 25, 2011

Facing a tight budget, Miami-Dade commissioners launched plans this fall to ink new contracts with Tallahassee lobbying firms. Their goal: to slash spending. 

The two firms that had the business offered to reduce their prices, but the county rebuffed them.It was a costly decision. When commissioners doled out four lobbying agreements last week totaling $450,000, they wound up spending $50,000 more than the reduced price offered by the two incumbents.

After 90 minutes of debate and five failed motions, the vote was 10-3 — with Commission Chairman Joe Martinez voting against an initiative that he had spearheaded.

Also voting “no’’ on Dec. 19 were Commissioners Lynda Bell and Xavier Suarez, who argued for reduced spending.

“Nobody wants to cut out one of their friends,’’ Martinez said wearily from the dais. “Why doesn’t someone make a motion to defer and put us out of our misery?’’ 

In an interview afterward, Martinez added: “It was my item, but it didn’t turn out the way I expected. That’s why I voted against it.’’

Under the deal, sponsored by Commissioner Barbara Jordan, a team of lobbyists led by the two incumbent firms — Ron L. Book P.A. and Rutledge, Ecenia & Purnell P.A. — were kept on, but were scaled back each to $170,000 a year from $225,000. Erased, too, was $50,000 for special projects, or “work orders.’’ 

Two additional firms — Akerman Senterfitt & Eidson and Ballard Partners Inc. — also were awarded contracts for $55,000 a year each. Akerman already does federal lobbying for the county. Book subcontracts with the Pittman Law Group. Rutledge subcontracts with Becker & Poliakoff, Dutko Worldwide LLC, and Gomez Barker Associates Inc. The one-year contracts come with annual options to renew for three years.

Besides the lobbying team, the county has its own government affairs staff and assistant county attorney Jess McCarty doing work in the state capital.

Brian Ballard said his firm won’t be doing work for the county on the casino issue. Ballard represents Genting Group, the Malaysian gambling giant that is pushing for legislation to permit destination resort casino gambling in the county, a pivotal issue now before the legislature. 

Akerman partner Mike Abrams said in an email that his firm has represented a Genting affiliate, Bayfront 2011 Property, “in several real estate matters,’’ but has “not been contacted or engaged to lobby on behalf of Genting or any of its affiliates with the state government at any level, including the legislature.’’

The commission’s money-saving effort began a week into the county’s new lean budget for fiscal 2011-12. “The ominous specter of layoffs threatens employee morale and the county’s ability to deliver services to our residents,’’ Martinez said in an Oct. 7 letter to Mayor Carlos Gimenez, adding that to “drastically reduce’’ costs it would be necessary to advertise for lobbying firms through a competitive selection process. 

In a bid to hang onto the lucrative and prestigious county work and to head off a competitive search, honchos at Ron L. Book P.A. and Rutledge, Ecenia & Purnell offered on Oct. 24 to cut their annual contracts to $200,000 each, from $225,000. The firms took reductions in 2009 and 2010 as well. 

But commissioners brushed aside the offer, pushing forward with a selection process and giving themselves the broadest latitude in handpicking the new team. “I thought we could get it down to $350,000 or $300,000 [in total],’’ Martinez said. 

The commission named the selection committee members, and rather than have the committee rank firms with numerical scores, asked simply for a list of firms meeting the basic qualifications. 

At the commission meeting, Bell recommended spending a total of $300,000 for three firms. But the measure died for lack of support, as did four other ideas.

Some commissioners fretted that changing lobbyists with the legislative session set to begin next month was ill-timed. Others said cutting spending at a time when Tallahassee is facing its own severe budget constraints was ill-advised. 

“This is a very tough year in Tallahassee,’’ said Commissioner Jose “Pepe’’ Diaz. “It’s a chaotic situation, plus there is redistricting,’’ he added, referring to the drawing of new political boundaries. 

Finally, Jordan successfully proposed the $450,000 deal, divided among all four firms that had applied. 

“If this was really about saving money, when you add it up, it cost $50,000 more than the two firms agreed to reduce their fees to,’’ said Commissioner Sally Heyman, who voted for the measure but was unhappy with it. She said by being on the prevailing side she is in a position to bring the issue up for reconsideration. 

“I question whether we need lobbyists in Tallahassee at all,’’ Suarez said afterward.

The commission plans to take up the issue of reducing payments to the county’s Washington lobbyists next year.

Incumbent lobbyists in Tallahassee: Ron L. Book P.A. and Rutledge, Ecenia & Purnell P.A. Book subcontracts with Pittman Law Group. Rutledge subcontracts with Becker & Poliakoff; Dutko Worldwide LLC; and Gomez Barker Associates. Additional firms receiving state lobbying contracts: Akerman Senterfitt & Eidson and Ballard Partners Inc.

Paramore - Misguided Ghosts - (Acoustic) LIVE at Fryshuset, Stockholm, Sweden, November 30, 2009, http://youtu.be/O9OuNtlXiGA

Sunday, December 25, 2011

On 40th anniversary, NFL Network revisits "NFL's Longest Game" in a special tonight at 6 p.m. on Dolphins-Chiefs classic for the ages


Above, capturing THE moment of one of the most amazing NFL games ever played, the moment the Miami Dolphins beat the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 in double-overtime at Municipal Stadium, December 25, 1971, as "Miami's Garo Yepremian Ends the Longest Game"; the placekick holder is Karl Noonan
Sports Illustrated of January 3, 1972.
And only one of the most joyous days of my life!

Must-see TV! 
Today on the 40th Anniversary of NFL's "Longest Game" between the Dolphins and Chiefs, a divisional playoff game I remember like it was yesterday, the NFL Network will air a special commemorative program at 6 pm tonight, with old NBC-TV footage from the ballgame, and, apparently, sideline conversations, which I can only imagine will be augmented by NFL Films footage.

Teaser alert: watch out for Marv Fleming, #80, in the end zone on this next play. 
Just saying...

As of today, Sunday morning at 1 a.m., according to DirecTV's on-screen schedule, there is no scheduled encore of this program scheduled, so make sure you have your DVR/VCR's at the ready.
But if you know how many times they will run a special program over-and-over, they'll do it -eventually.

Two short sneak peeks of the one-hour program are here; sorry, no embedding possible because that's how the NFL rolls. 
You have to go to their sites so that way you have to see the advertising of their partners.
Sort of makes you wonder if they've never heard of blogs, since they can load the ads into the video if they want.  

(Code Red head's-up to Google and Blogger: Blogger is NOT one of the NFL Network's listed "SHARE" partners. Why?) 



In that afternoon game on Christmas Day 40-years ago today -the Christmas where my family finally got into the 20th Century and bought more than just a half-way decent stereo system- the pressure from the game got to be so much for my father.
He had to walk out of our apt. in North Miami Beach and pace out in the hallway, refusing to watch with me and my mother and two sisters as Garo attempted his winning 37-yard field-goal.

Less than an hour after the game, my family and I and tens of thousands of other Dolfans from all over South Florida had driven out to Miami International Airport to greet the team on their Eastern Airlines charter.
We had lived in South Florida for three years by then and I heard South Florida yell that day like I'd never heard it before.

One of the most joyous times of my life!!!

Chiefs running back and return man Ed Podolak's performance that day was one of the greatest individual football performances that I ever saw in my life, ranking at the top with there with watching a very sick Bob Griese go from Mercy Hospital to throwing some long bombs to Paul Warfield, in-person at the Orange Bowl, in a 1971 MNF comeback win against Pittsburgh; watching O.J. Simpson make one amazing move after another against the Dolphins, in-person at the Orange Bowl in the mid-'70's; Bert Jones, Roger Carr and the Baltimore Colts throttle a good Dolphins team at the Orange Bowl, showing amazing athletic ability and speed at the ballgame in 1975 where the stadium was used as footage for the film, Black Sunday that had a story-line involving Middle East terrorism and the Goodyear blimp possibly crashing into a stadium during the Super Bowl; and finally, in 1981 up in Bloomington at Memorial Stadium, seeing Marcus Allen personally destroy IU with 274 yards rushing, the year he won -and earned!- the Heisman Trophy.

As one of the many Dolphin fans who purchased the record albums that WIOD put out after the 1971 season and the 1972 Perfect Season, I have listened to that call by Rick Weaver about a thousand times.
"Noonan to hold..."

They were stolen from my apt. while I was attending IU, along with my high school ring,  my beautiful blue satin NMB Soccer Florida State Champs jacket, my NMB letterman patch for gymnastics for being the manager of the Women's team that won the 1979 State championships at a meet I ran and coordinated at NMB, easily one of the lowest days in my life, to say nothing of the money that got stolen.
It was like I was having my identity stolen before it was the thing to do on the Internet...  

And who would steal THOSE two Dolphin albums?
That's what made me think it was personal -the items stolen versus what was left behind.

By the way, I still have all my Dolphin PRO game programs, starting from the first game I went to in December of 1970 against Buffalo, a 45-3 win that clinched a playoff spot, their first ever, to the last Dolphin game I saw before leaving for college at IU in August of 1979.
Plus, I also have the various pro football annuals like Street & Smith and Athlon, great for reading on car trips to North Carolina seven months after this ballgame, still smarting from the Super Bowl loss to the Cowboys and seeing Roger Staubach on the face of every guide cover.
I probably have about 100 of the programs and guides in total.

And to think, about 25-years ago, I almost sold them -my precious memories!
Thank goodness I didn't!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas cheer straight from the heart of Scandinavia: Yohanna - "Don't Save It All For Christmas Day"; Jill Johnson -"O Holy Night", "Christmas With You", "Away In A Manger"

Yohanna - "Don't Save It All For Christmas Day" - 
TV3's "En Sång För Hemlösa 2009" (A Song For The Homeless 2009) in 
HD. Stockholm, Sweden. December 15, 2009

Jill Johnson - "O Holy Night" at Jullotta På Liseberg, Göteborg, Sweden. December 8, 2011

Jill Johnson - "Christmas With You" on TV4's Bingolotto, Stockholm, Sweden, December 23, 2011. 

Because I've gotten behind in posting here about the terrific St. Lucia telecast on SVT, I'm going to go ahead and post one of the songs that Jill sang so well recently at Gothenburg Cathedral.
Teaser Alert: The Lucia telecast was sublime again!  

Jill Johnson - "Away In a Manger" from SVT's St. Lucia/Luciamorgon telecast of December 13, 2011 

Jóhanna Guðrún Jónsdóttir a.k.a. Yohanna

Jill Johnson

Damian at SwedishStereo, http://swedishstereo.blogspot.com/ has a great compilation of new and traditional Christmas songs from recent TV shows and performances at his post today, http://swedishstereo.blogspot.com/2011/12/christmas-weekend-on-swedish-tv.html
I encourage you to check it out.

Sweet & smooth Christmas a cappella from the sextet called "Vocation" - Ett barn är fött (A child is born) & Sleigh Ride -LIVE on Abbey Road, TV4's Nyhetsmorgon


TV4's Nyhetsmorgon: Vocation – Ett barn är fött (A child is born) LIVE on Abbey Road, December 22, 2011.


TV4's Nyhetsmorgon: Vocation – Sleigh Ride -LIVE on Abbey Road, December 22, 2011.

This music makes me think of the music I heard one odd pre-Christmas night 21 years ago at the Abercrombie & Fitch at Georgetown Mall, where, within 15 minutes, I ran into and spoke with both then-Rep. and future UN Ambassador and New Mexico governor Bill Richardson and then-ABC News correspondent and Gator alum Forrest Sawyer, wearing a trench coat that made him seem like Joel McCrea in Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent, one of my all-time favorite films.


I was the first person to tell Richardson about his future House colleague -and present U.S. Senator- Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and because he had never heard of him, at first, I think he thought I was joking about Sanders' VERY liberal politics.
"Even for Vermont" I think I told Richardson a few times.

The store had too many contrasting colognes being sprayed into the air for my tastes -by the adorable sale clerk from Kentucky who worked there- but when you were there, it felt like you were in the most Christmas-y place in all of Washington, D.C., besides near the National Christmas Tree on The Ellipse, where I'd been earlier that night.

(Far away from the decidedly un-Christmas feel of SE Broward County this week.)

Yes, back when the late and much-missed Au Pied du Cochon was just a few blocks away up on Wisconsin Avenue, the default hangout for my friends and I after we saw a film in Georgetown, esp. a foreign film.
Back in the early '90's, there were sometimes even two new au courant foreign films playing within four blocks that had the New York Times film critics abuzz, like Indochine or the Chinese film, LIFE.

When I was there with my friends and my then-significant other, the restaurant seemed almost magical, straight out of a film with interesting, attractive people, delicious-smelling aromas, and some "wicked" people-watching wherever we turned our heads.
We felt so "civilized" when we were there, which as pretentious as it sounds -and no doubt was- was no less true.
At certain points in time in the 15 years I lived up there, Au Pied du Cochon was one of the best places in all of Washington, D.C. to be.  

That's where we ate and drank after seeing all three films of the Three Colors trilogy of Krzysztof Kieślowski, starring, respectively, longtime HBB favorites Juliette Binoche, Julie Delpy and Iréne Jacob. (I actually bought the film posters of "Blue" and "Red" and had them in frames in my home.)

Boy, thinking back to THOSE days, it REALLY makes this area seem underwhelming, fun-wise.

Downtown Hollywood could do worse than to have one-tenth of the sort of magnetic persona that area of Wisconsin Avenue had at night. 
But in order to have even that, you need something for people to do at night besides eating, drinking or shopping, and right now, what is there?
No movie theaters, no bookstores with either charm or programming, no old-style news stands...

It's completely lacking in energy.

Maybe once the FEC commuter train is running in a few years and most of the shop owners in Downtown Hollywood who are now so rude and unfriendly have fled, someone with some common sense will invest some money and take advantage of its natural advantages.

I must tell you, though, among my friends, many who used to regularly patronize Downtown Hollywood at night, the collective corrosive effect of so much rudeness, second-rate service and products, and perennial worrying about both parking and safety/crime, has burned too many people, too many times.
"They're just not that into you."

Not that this avoidance has helped The Village at Gulfstream Park at night very much, though, because they are NOT going there either.

Some new faces with common sense and personality at Hollywood and Hallandale Beach City Hall, on the City Commissions, wouldn't hurt, either.

Notice all the 4's for Channel 4 above the ginger bread house doors!


Helena Insulander of Vocation is interviewed by Nyhetsmorgon hosts Kristin Kaspersen and and Steffo Törnquist. December 22, 2011.


Nyhetsmorgon homepage full of video clips and info: 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Is 2012 the year you finally become a blogger?; New monthly record for eyeballs coming to Hallandale Beach Blog: November 2011 Pageviews: 22,430

Late Fall evening in 2002, looking south at The White House from Lafayette Park, with statue of Gen. Andrew Jackson in the foreground. Photo by South Beach Hoosier. If only I'd started a blog back then -or earlier!!!

I've been meaning to post this bit of positive news for a while now, but kept shunting it aside because of other matters, including what has been a LOT MORE time this past month dealing with family health concerns, and then coming home exhausted, only to run head-long into longstanding problems with AT&T's U-Verse service.

Thanks to you readers out there in the blogosphere, especially a very loyal core of large-volume readers in certain cities, including some in Europe, which the Feedjit widget never fails to disclose in the right-side column, last month set a new record for eyeballs coming to your humble blog: November 2011 Pageviews: 22,430.

Hallandale Beach Blog also set a new daily record on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, November 22nd, with approximately 2,863 individual pageviews of something on the blog, for whatever rhyme or reason. (More than 119 an hour.)
That's more than one-tenth of the month's total!

Who says that people who work in offices aren't hard at work the week of Thanksgiving?
Uh... the actual evidence.

Doing simple math, that monthly total means that there was a daily average for the 30 days of November of 747.66 pageviews.

Before the end of the year, I'll disclose some of the positive changes that will be coming to the blog in the new year, as well as some of the new tools I'll have that will play an important  role in what you can expect to see here.

I'll also probably have some practical suggestions for those of you who have written and asked what sorts of common sense things they should consider or have before starting a blog, since a new year always gives people the chance to do lots of things they've heretofore put off doing, learning or experiencing, including reinventing themselves as bloggers, after putting it off for years, so they can finally share some insight, curiosity and experience they have with the wider world.

That's especially true when they want their newly-christened blog to have at least an occasional oversight element that involves informing the public about local, county or state government chicanery, skullduggery and crony capitalism.

What do you know, Florida is not only the Sunshine State, it's the home of both Old Style and New School govt. chicanery, given the number of Floridians I've heard from who say that when reading the posts here, their favorites are not necessarily the ones about pop culture or sports or the news media -MSM and local- but rather the ones where they can really sense the delicious satisfaction (and occasional glee) I feel in helping to expose elected officials and highly-paid govt. staffers to a degree of scrutiny they hadn't counted on.

Of showing them becoming so blase about riding the gravy train in the Pay-to-Play culture hereabouts, that they forget the public duty they have to those they they are supposed to serve, not become affluent off of.

Of simply taking the time and energy to do some of the investigatory research and field work that the local and state news media should be doing -but isn't- to show the public thru both self-evident photos and hidden records what the genuine reality of their actions, words and policies are.

I can't deny that when you have the goods on one of them, and they can't explain away the facts they find so uncomfortable because you have stolen their crutch or wrath, it's a good feeling.

Given what we already know about the caliber and competency of many elected officials and government employees at the city, county and state level here in Florida -and probably where you live, too- this is a particularly target-rich environment for would-be bloggers who want to hold them accountable thru old-fashioned reason and common sense, regardless of whether you are conservative, liberal or just plain angry at the intersection of political culture of self-enrichment and ego-tripping.

My experience is to let the facts tell the story, along with some informed commentary that you can back up with hard evidence.

There are clearly a lot of people in South Florida who possess the intelligence, common sense and tools to make a positive, tangible difference in their own community, they just need some positive encouragement.

So whether you know someone like this who has talked to you in the past about their desire to start a blog, and you didn't take it upon yourself to encourage them, or you yourself are that would-be blogger who has let things get in the way, DON'T procrastinate this year like last year.

Get organized and get started on giving your community the added oversight and accountability that only serious concerned citizens can give.

I know from personal experience how procrastination is the creative blogger's worst friend
-or even the would-be blogger- since while I was living and working up in Washington, D.C., many of my in-the-know, tech-forward friends on Capitol Hill, in the myriad federal agencies, think tanks and news media, encouraged me to start a blog right at the point in the late 1990's when when blogging was becoming easier to do for non-techs like myself.

A blog that would incorporate many of the interesting and delicious tidbits of information and insight that my friends and I knew first-hand, whether thru discovery or, sometimes, literally, stumbling into it, which we mentioned whenever we got together.

But lacking a blog or website of my own to tell the tale, I shared it with people who already had a news media perch, many whose names you'd recognize, who eventually got the word  out, via print or TV.
Me, I always had an excuse not to do it, usually, involving lack of time.

This was back when I was averaging going to about 25 Baltimore Oriole home games a year at Camden Yards, despite living in Arlington County, so I really didn't have a lot of free-time during the baseball season, since I'd usually not get back home from those long American League ballgames until about 1 a.m., and had to leave the house by 7:15 to walk to work via the Ballston Metro station.

Even after returning here to South Florida, it took me a few years to finally bite the bullet.
Every day that I stare at my computer screen now, I think, "If only I had started this
blog earlier!" 

When I think about all the crazy, amazing and useful things things you readers would already know by now -but don't!- about many nationally well-known pols, pundits, reporters and Washington-area institutions, to give you a sense of why they are the way they are, both good and bad, but don't because I hesitated, it's frustrating beyond words.
(And perhaps best explains why my posts on Washington tend to be so lengthy?)

In the hands of a serious and dedicated blogger, truth, fairness, context and facts are king.
But they're meaningless if you don't jump at the opportunity that presents itself.
Don't repeat my mistake by procrastinating too long!

Like I have with Twitter, which will change in the new year!

Update on singer Chris Medina -Interviewed on TV4's Nyhetsmorgon on performing at funeral for Utøya massacre victim who loved his song, his new album, and life since American Idol made him well-known; a guy you clearly have to root for!


TV4's Nyhetsmorgon, Abbey Road LIVE -Chris Medina talks about his music
with co-hosts Jenny Östergren and Peter Lindgren. December 14, 2011.


TV4's Nyhetsmorgon, Abbey Road LIVE -Chris Medina talks with co-hosts Jenny Östergren and Peter Lindgren about his life since American Idol and the months since his successful visits to Scandinavia this past summer. December 14, 2011.

My last blog post about Chris Medina was on July 16th of this year -less than a week before the bombing in Oslo and the massacre on Utøya Island carried out by Anders Behring Breivik- when he performed LIVE on VG Lista Topp 20 at Rådhusplassen, (City Hall) Oslo.

My post then about his American Idol performances and his successful trip to Sweden and Norway was called, A talented & worthy American takes Scandinavia by storm: up-close with Chris Medina - One Day In Stockholm (What Are Words)

As I mentioned at the time, and for reasons I explained, I'm NOT an American Idol viewer, but you don't need to be Quincy Jones to see that Chris Medina CLEARLY has a unique voice and talent.
It's hard not to root for him to have nothing but success.

As I said back in July, the more I see of singer Chris Medina the more I am impressed, and the more he reveals himself as one very-grounded individual in a very cynical world.
And with this interview and these performances -in English- from December 14th on Sweden's most-popular TV morning program, Channel 4's Nyhetsmorgon, he proves that all over again.  

In the TV interview, Medina also discusses his feelings about being asked to perform at the funeral of 18-year old Monica Iselin Didriksen, one of the 77 Norwegians murdered at Utøya on July 22nd, whose very last conversation with her parents -on her cell phone, while taking the ferry to the island- was about her intense feelings for his song, the popularity of which had led him to be performing in Oslo just a few weeks earlier. 


TV4's Nyhetsmorgon, Abbey Road LIVE -Chris Medina sings One More Time. December 14, 2011.


TV4's Nyhetsmorgon, Abbey Road LIVE -Chris Medina sings What Are Words. December 14, 2011.

A few days after his calm and earnest appearance on Abbey Road, Aftonbladet columnist Ronnie Sandahl pondered what it must be like to be Chris Medina now,
and suddenly go overnight from unknown singer working hard to become a success in the industry on his own terms, to becoming a beloved American Idol contestant and popular singing artist whose songs are famously sung back to him with gusto at performances.
But inevitably, he knows that at nearly every performance he gives, the question will arise about his  fiancée, Juliana Ramos.
Medina talks forthrightly about that very issue in the second video above.

Chris får berätta samma berättelse tusen gånger 
av Ronnie Sandahl

För vilken gång i ordningen står han där med samma milda sorgsna leende, samma fruktansvärda berättelse?Femhundrade? Tusende?
Det är ännu en dag i nöjesfabriken. Den amerikanske sångaren Chris Medina försöker variera sina intervjusvar,fastän frågorna nästan alltid är samma

As you know from my earlier blog post, for weeks earlier this year, What Are Words was the number-one song on the best-seller list in both Norway and Sweden.

UniversalMusicSweden video: Chris Medina - One Day In Stockholm (What Are Words). Chris appears on Rix FM in Stockholm. 
Yes, they DO have 'Morning Zoo' radio formats in Sweden. http://youtu.be/eNjSIKIBE1U 


As I wrote back in July, I received the behind-the-scenes Chris Medina video above within about ten minutes of it being posted to YouTube by Universal Music Sweden, and thus was one of the first persons to see it.
That's the kind of video I want to see more of! 


ABC News Good Morning America
Robin Roberts with Chris Medina.

NRK-TV video: Chris Medina LIVE on VG Lista Topp 20, Rådhusplassen, (City Hall) Oslo, Norway. June 2011





#HollywoodFL based photographer/entrepreneur Esther Chuang

#HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy
Thumbs up! What a night! #HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with a very elated Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy at his Victory Party, held at Leo Anato's Atelier3/AT3 on Harrison Street & S. 19th Avenue, Hollywood. AT3's great environment and the amazing variety of food prepared by chef Kevin Dreifuss, former owner/chef of now-closed ENDS MEAT restaurant, was SUPERB! November 8, 2016 Esther Chuang, Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2015
Above, perhaps my most-favorite photo ever of Esther, which is really saying something considering the THOUSANDS that I've actually seen of her, from all over the world. But despite the fact that you can't actually see it here, trust me, her amazing smile and inner and external beauty are there. This photo is an even more amazing achievement when you know the backstory of what it took for Esther to get to the top of the mountain, since it's NOT for the faint of heart. Next time you see her, ask her about that! Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on her birthday, July 10, 2015. That's the Christ The Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado way out in the horizon on the top of another mountain, to the left of her head. To the right is the world famous beach of Ipanema and to the left is the equally famous beach of Copacabana. In case you forgot what the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio looks like, up close, plus the Amazon area of Brazil that Esther grew up near in Manaus, here's another Brazilian beauty to connect-the-dots for you: Gisele Bündchen, aka @Gisele.

Abençoado por Deus e bonito por natureza!✨ ������

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A floresta Amazônica tem um papel fundamental no equilíbrio do clima na Terra e, portanto, na vida de cada um de nós. Nos últimos anos a proteção diminuiu e o desmatamento aumentou drasticamente. E o que já era ruim, pode ficar ainda pior. Se as medidas que o governo vem tomando não forem vetadas, nosso futuro estará ameaçado. Diga NÃO à diminuição da proteção da Floresta do Jamanxim! Diga NÃO à exploração de minério no coração da floresta! #TodosPelaAmazônia #342Amazonia #TodosPelaAmazonia Assine a petição: link na bio. ������✨���� The Amazon Rainforest plays a key role in balancing the climate on the Earth and therefore in each of our lives. In recent years, protection has decreased and deforestation has increased sharply. And what was already bad can get even worse. If the measures that the government has been taking are not vetoed, our future will be threatened. Say NO to the reduction of the Jamanxim Forest´s protection! Say NO to ore mining in the heart of the Forest! #togetherfortheAmazon

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