January 14, 2005

*Carpe Bonum Interview

It's the Carpe Bonum interview!

In the extended...

Tell us a little about yourself--married? children? career?

I'm married and have four children, ages 2 to 11. I am a software
engineer turned system integrator turned manager turned sales guy.
I've worked in the defense, personal computer and telecommunications

When/how did you learn about blogs?

About a year ago I saw something in the news about blogs. I
bookmarked a few like Scrapple Face, Belmont Club and Betsy's Page. I actually used Scott Ott's ScrappleFace blogroll as my blog reader. I just clicked through to
newly updated blogs as they popped to the top of the list. That got
to be too unwieldy, so I experimented with an RSS feed reader (don't
remember which one). But I soon lost interest.

A few months ago I read an article in a magazine singing the praises
of RSS Bandit. I was wanting to keep up to date on electoral
shenannigans anyway, so I downloaded it and starting using it. Soon I
switched to SharpReader. Now, it's just about the only means I use to
read regularly updated content online.

I actually started a blog on Blogger in August 2003. That was only
because I wanted to play with the Blog This! button on the Google
toolbar. I didn't make any public-interest posts on it.

Did any bloggers inspire you to start your own?

Well, the main inspiration to start making public-interest posts was
to have a place to point stuff out to family and friends. Previously
I was doing this by sending out spammish emails to people. I decided
to leave their mailboxes alone and post the same kind of stuff on a
blog instead.

I was very inspired by Little Green Footballs' and Power Line's coverage of Memogate. I typed up one of the bogus memos myself in about five minutes.

Milbloggers like Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette and Neil Prakash at Armor Geddon are also inspirational. Here are service members in harms way making history day by day, and posting it to the world in something near real time. I have a similar feeling toward diplomablogs Diplomad and Daily Demarche.

Shortly after I started Carpe Bonum, I noticed Joe Carter's awesome
"How to start a blog" series. He's got tons of great information for aspiring bloggers. I try the best I can to follow his advice (except I use Blogger, oops!).

I really adimire the rapport Frank J has with his IMAO readers, not to mention his outrageous humor and his unbelievably bold t-shirt babe/girlfriend search ruse.

Inspirational, but in a different way are leftie bloggers like Kos, Kevin Drum and Atrios. I've gotten in the habit of
ankle-biting these guys by sending trackbacks to their posts. A lot
of my traffic is click-throughs from these trackbacks. In accordance
with Joe Carter's etiquitte guidelines, my posts always link back to
theirs and are on topic. And my summaries generally make it clear I
am in dissent. But I get the clickthrougs anyway, so that's fun. And
I haven't gotten banned.

What do you hope to accomplish with your blog?

At first, I just wanted to post stuff for friends and family to read
that they might not otherwise find themselves. But there is something
addictive about seeing those hit counts incrementing througout the
day. So my goal now is to build a group of regular readers who get
something out of reading the blog each day.

I'd like to contribute in whatever small way I can in the battle
against what Melanie Phillips called "media induced ignorance." I
wrote about it here.

In the same vein, I'd like to help route around the mainstream media
by posting original content that we will never see there. Keep
checking with Carpe Bonum for more on this.

How do you have so much time to keep your blog up to date?

Ah, yes. Well I don't really have the time. I started the blog over
the Christmas (yes, Christmas!) holiday when I had lots of time to
write and tinker with the blog (between family Monopoly games, that
is). Now that I'm back to work, there is less time. This first
couple of weeks definitely seems like a honeymoon period.

I have written down a routine of what I'd like to accomplish daily or
weekly on the blog. I'll plug away on the list as best I can. But
several times I have seen something I absolutely had to write about to
the exclusion of unimportant things like exercise, sleep and eating.
I assume that as time goes by, I'll be able to let things go a little

I'd like to see (or write) an article on the phases of blogging. I
know Honeymoon is first. What's next?

Where do you get such wonderful insight?

Ha ha haa, I think I can guess who sent this one, and she's on sitting
the couch watching Brit Hume on the TiVo.

Well my father is a Jesuit-educated US Naval officer so he instilled
in me a strong sense of morals and rigor. My high school was very
serious about academics: huge vocabulary lists, lots of AP History,
English, Science, Math and foreign language classes. So that filled
my head with lots of facts. And as an undergrad, in addition to my
Computer Science major I minored in Philosophy. So that sharpened my
critical thinking skills.

All of which helps explain that bad habit mentioned below...

What politicians do you admire?

Zell Miller: "George W. Bush wants to grab terrorists by the throat and not let them go to get a better grip."

That speech still gives me goosebumps.

Dick Murphy, Mayor of San Diego. He understands things like
separation of powers, which is so rare in politicians. Yes he's got
some leadership problems, and the election was a bit irregular. But I
admire his clarity of thought.

Finally my father-in-law. At age 66, he ran for a seat in his state
legislature. It was his first run for public office, and he won. He
has been like a kid in a toy store ever since. So excited. His first
chance to say the opening prayer, he asked God to bless all the unborn
babies. Imagine the uproar it caused in his Democrat controlled state
house! He has been reelected twice.

What kind of music do you prefer?

Headbanger cranked loud when I am on the way to or from a mountain
bike ride, or when I am angry. Country and classic rock otherwise.
Blues when I have a CD at hand. And I would really like some good
Gospel Choir music, but I have no idea what group to look for down at
the record store.

What kind of music do you avoid like the plague?

Show tunes: "Each Gaaaame of CHESSSS, means Therrrrs one LESSSS,
variaaaaaaation tooo be PLAYYYED..." Ugh.

If you could watch just one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Can I make it a book instead? The Silmarillion by Tolkein. If it has
to be a movie I'd say The Blues Brothers. Great music and Carrie
Fisher getting dropped in a sewer. Runner up: The Committments.

Do you have any bad habits? If so, did you resolve to break them?

Yes. And no.

Oh you wanted me to say what they are? I'm not going to tell any of
the juicy ones, but here's one. I often toy with people by catching
them in dumb little logic traps like the one above. Annoying, isn't

Do you believe in ghosts? Would you be willing to spend the night in a supposedly haunted house?

I believe in Angels and Saints, so I guess that means I believe in
ghosts. But there is nothing in my faith or in any science I know of
that gives credibility to ghost stories where the ghost chases people
around and throws things at them, or whatever.

So yes, I would spend a night in a supposedly haunted house. Just
like all those other white guys in horror movies, a la Eddie Murphy.

Having said that, I'm not going camping in any haunted forest, no.

If you had to live somewhere other than the USA, where would you go?

Italy? Austrailia? Ireland? I don't know really. There are so many
great places to live in the USA, I haven't really considered leaving.

Do you think the world will be better or worse off in 100 years than it is now?

Definitely better. There is no question in my mind.

Worldwide in the last 100 years, we have boosted the population, the
amount of food produced per capita, the amount of leisure time, and
education levels. We have reduced poverty and infant mortality. We
have made astonishing advances in technology, science, art and
culture. Known oil reserves are increasing.

Yes we have a lot of problems to solve, and we may even face
considerable periods of regression, but today's kids are great. They
and their kids will carry the world forward, I know it.

Which sex do you think has it easier in our society, and why?

Even though men are pulled in lots of conflicting directions in terms
of gender roles and behavior, it is more difficult for women. They
are pulled at least as many different directions as we are, but they
are the only ones who can actually bear children. And the window in
their lives when they can safely do it is narrower than ours. That
makes the pressure that much worse.

Describe a perfect weekend in your world, please.

I would like to spend the weekend mountain biking with my kids and
having them kick my ass. It will be a few years yet, but I'm sure it
will happen.

What superpower would you choose?

America, f__k yeah.

See, there I go again.

Ummm, I choose super strength. That way, even though I am not
permitted to arm myself in many likely targets (airplanes, schools,
etc.), I will at least be able to kill the terrorists with my bare

As a teenager I would have chosen invisibility.

What is your most treasured childhood memory?

Oh, lots of holiday moments with grandparents. By the time I turned
twelve, three of them had passed away.

What is the best thing anyone ever did for you?

About fourteen years ago a photographer/sailing buddy invited me out
to shoot pictures of a couple of aspiring America's Cup teams. The
teams were out doing an exhibition race as a publicity stunt. I spent
most of the day bombing around the bay in a little Boston Whaler.
Toward the end of the day we rotated out to a helipad. We waited
around while photographers took turns going out in a little MD 500 helicopter, two turns each. When it came time for my buddy's second turn, he let me
go instead. What a blast: feet on the skid, leaning out over the
water, with all of my weight hanging in the harness. Took some great
pictures too.

But really the best thing was my wife marrying me and having our four kids.

Oh, stop blubbering, everybody says that.

Have you ever done a good deed anonymously?

Well this question is a paradox. If I talk about an anonymous good
deed it won't be anonymous any more, will it?

Actually, I can't think of a significant and truly anonymous good
deed. I used to put a lot of hours in volunteering with a County
disaster services organization, and we make charitable contributions
mostly to or through the Church. The beneficiaries will never know
who I am, but there are records. So are those anonymous? I don't
think so.

Thanks, readers, for the questions. They were very thought provoking.
I hope you enjoy the answers.

And thank you very much Jennifer for running these interviews.

Posted by Jennifer at January 14, 2005 11:00 AM