Archive for December, 2016

Merry New Year!

By From • Dec 31st, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local

If you choose to venture out tonight, be safe and be alert. I wish you all a healthy, prosperous, and blessed 2017. The future is certainly looking brighter for freedom-loving Americans than in recent years. Let’s keep up the momentum in 2017!
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There are no Christmas Card friends on Facebook

By From • Dec 29th, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local


Back before the Internet, many of us sent out lots of Christmas cards every year. For many people on your Christmas card list, it was the only contact you would have with that person every year. Long distance phone calls were stupid expensive back then. So once a year you’d hear from your former neighbor and get caught up on what was happening in their family and get a picture to see how the kids were growing. Other friends were bar friends you only saw at the pub, or the people you only saw in your adult softball league, or your work friends that you rarely saw outside of work and the occasional Friday after work happy hour. All those friend groups were siloed, with little crossover.

Then the Internet happened.

And not much changed. I launched ODonnellWeb in 12/31/1995. By 2005, I think I had reconnected with exactly one old friend due to my blog. My blog was not obscure. It was #1 on just about every search engine for my name for that entire time. Anybody from my past that had a fleeting, “I wonder what Chris is up to” thought was one search from knowing the answer to that question. As far as I know, not one person ever did that. The one old high school friend I did reconnect with was also an early blogger, and although I don’t remember exactly how we reconnected, I think it was more serendipitous than either one of us actively seeking the other out. So even 10 years after the introduction of the Internet, Christmas Card friends were still that, people you heard from once per year with a very sanitized, upbeat summary of how life was for them.

I did make many great new friends because of blogging though. Shared interests in home education, the Boston Red Sox, music, and Purdue led to many new acquaintances that I’m still friends with today. In many cases, I consider these people close friends, even though in some cases we still haven’t met in real life.

But there was no crossover at all. My friends from a certain Red Sox blog had zero interaction with the home school activist community, and probably didn’t know each other existed. The Internet had delivered the ability to connect and form communities with far flung people, but the communities for the most part enjoyed the same separation in your life that existed prior to 1995.

Then Facebook happened.

Suddenly, all those Christmas Card friends were now in your feed every day. That guy you knew only as a diehard Red Sox fan turned out to also be a diehard homophobe, and your best friend from junior high is also a conspiracy nut. Meanwhile your chief rival from high school hit the dot com home run and updates Facebook 4X a day with photos of his fabulous appearing life. The Internet, or at least the Facebook part of it, had delivered on the promise of a global melting pot. Whether or not that is a good thing is questionable.

It turns out that people, or at least this person, likes some silos in their life. Not knowing the politics of those folks from the Red Sox blog comments was a good thing, and my junior high best friend being a Christmas Card friend was also a good thing (Not referring to anybody real here, as far as you know). It turns out that we lost contact with our high school friends for a reason, we had no real reason to stay in close contact.

It’s not all bad though. I’m better friends today with some folks from high school than I probably was back in high school, and that is because we reconnected on Facebook and then in some cases have reconnected in real life. Some of those imaginary Internet friends from the blog are still friends that I’m in regular contact with via Facebook, and more than a couple of them have become real life friends too.

So I can’t just hate on Facebook, because there is some good there. But the friends with context issue is still there too. Obviously, we can not connect with anybody we choose on Facebook. However, the societal pressure is a little more subtle than that, and it’s damn hard to silo people that way. There is a general expectation of being friends on Facebook if you know people in real life. Facebook’s tools to manage those silos are pretty much unusable. Even if you try, you are likely to screw it up at some point, and suddenly your parents are very confused by the pictures of you from the Furry convention.

If you’ve read this far hoping for an answer, you are going to be disappointed. I don’t have one. But I think it’s a conversation worth having. I don’t think I’m alone, or even in a minority, in thinking the great mash up of our various social communities into one Facebook feed is generally speaking, more of a PITA than a blessing.

Thoughts? Use that nifty comment box below, or if you must, you can comment on Facebook too.

Another Trip to the Range

By From • Dec 28th, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local

It had only been a little over 24 hours since my son and I were at the range, but since I’m on a “staycation” I decided to squeeze in another outing yesterday. This time I opted to visit the local indoor range in order to get in some practice doing quick followup shots. Where we shoot outdoors, we are allowed to draw from the holster and even shoot on the move, however the rules call for a couple seconds or more between shots; the actual required delay depending on the whim of the range officer. One can’t draw or move indoors, but you can shoot fast if desired — go figure.

I had a short wait to get checked in at the range, as the proprietor was processing paperwork and explaining the rules to first timers. It seemed there were a lot of Christmas guns in play, as well as apparent first time shooters. That time was spent observing and sizing up the other folks using the range.

I set out my target between 7 and 10 yards, and varied the number of shots in the fast followup from one to four, depending on how I felt. Shooting in the low light of the indoor range added to the challenge, and I frequently brought my target in to check the hits. I was pleased to see decent groups, at least keeping all the hits within the -0 zone of my practice IDPA target. Eventually I grew tired of hunting down the lone range stapler to change my target, and switched to using some stick-on splatter targets.

Shooting at the indoor range is seldom without some paranoia on my part. I keep an eye on the other targets around me to see how accurate the folks in neighboring lanes are being. I step out of my lane regularly just to see who’s around and what they are doing. Watching a woman enter the range and adjust her hearing protection with the same hand holding her rental gun was a gut-wrenching moment. Despite some distractions, it was an enjoyable time. I go through ammo much faster than at the outdoor range with it’s multi-second shot delay rule, but still found the practice beneficial, and fun.

After I finished shooting, I used my phone to go online and check out Facebook statuses of some local breweries with new beers I wanted to try. I figured I go have a beer somewhere. (Vacation, remember?) Sadly they were all closed for at least another hour. I guess that’s the drawback of being off during the week. Not wanting to wait around, I headed home to raid my own beer fridge.

[ This content originated at Musings Over a Pint ]

Annual "Day After Christmas" Range Trip

By From • Dec 26th, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local

For the third year in row, a group of us gathered at the range the morning after Christmas for a bit of shooting fun. We had a smaller crowd than in years past; just two friends, my son and myself. (The rest of you missed a good time.)

I packed three different pistols that my son and I took turns shooting. He’s been mostly a rifle shooter, but now that he’s approaching the age when he can buy a handgun, it’s a becoming a more pertinent topic. I suspect before long he’ll be outshooting me with the pistol too. As a good dad, I’m working on his appreciation of SIG Sauer craftsmanship. 😀

We enjoyed about an hour of shooting before a large family showed up and wanted to share the range. When it comes to strangers at the range I’m anti-social, so we packed up the gear and let the new folks have the range. We had brought along the rifles too, but the rifle range was full by this time. The boy has a long break before he heads back to school, so I’m looking forward to shooting more in the coming weeks.

[ This content originated at Musings Over a Pint ]

Looking Ahead to 2017

By From • Dec 26th, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local, Politics

Dumpster Fire

I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about 2016 for a couple of weeks now, and I’ve decided maybe it’s best if we just never speak of it again. So onward to 2017. It has to be better, right?


OK, maybe one last thought about 2016. Did you ever find yourself wondering how it felt to live through the decline of the Roman Empire, or maybe closer to home, how it would have felt to be an antebellum plantation owner in Virginia in early 1865? Hopefully 2017 won’t give us a chance to feel a kindred connection with citizens of previously fallen societies.

Seriously, looking ahead now…

Michelle’s last radiation treatment is January 12th. Then I guess we enter that weird phase where she doesn’t have cancer anymore, but we get to worry about it coming back. I wonder if it ever fades from being omnipresent in our consciousness, or if this is the new reality for us now? I guess we’ll find out.

Blocking every news source that shows up in my newsfeed on Facebook turned out to be a brilliant idea. My Facebook wall is now mostly pictures of kids, my friends’ travels, and my friends out drinking. Facebook is much better that way. So I fully expect FB to change something to stop me from blocking all news sources fairly soon.

I wrote 14 blog posts this year. Counting this one and one more planed post, I’ll finish with 16. I’m certain that is the lowest number since this site became a blog in 2001. I’ve been thinking for months that I need to get back to writing here regularly. Writing on Facebook is not the same. However, I’ve been lacking inspiration. I’m sick of politics and current events, and I’m out of the homeschooling game. That was probably 75% of my content in my heyday. However, I do have some ideas about how to get back on the writing wagon though. We’ll see how that works out.

Anybody else with a neglected blog want to commit to bringing it back to life in 2017? Seriously, Facebook does not need any more free labor from us. Also, Facebook encourages consumption of more and more content so they can serve more and more ads. I’m convinced that this is not good for our mental health. If blogs ruled online communication in 2016 they way they did in 2006, Donald Trump would not be president. I’m convinced of this fact.

One more blog post coming this year, the annual happy birthday ODonnnellWeb post on 12/31. The site turns 21 this year. It may need to drink itself silly. Or maybe that is me I’m talking about there.

Merry Christmas

By From • Dec 25th, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local

The first Christmas gift received today was the joy of sleeping in. We celebrated at the Midnight Mass, so the extra sleep was welcome and appreciated. I am sure the rest of the day will entail good food, good drink, and even an extra nap or two. I hop…

A Christmas Childhood Favorite

By From • Dec 24th, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. …

[VIDEO] International Student Reckless Driving Defense

By From • Dec 16th, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local

If you are an international student and you were charged with reckless driving, you’re in the right place. This video and article explains what we can hopefully do together to avoid a criminal conviction in your case. Any time a person with immigration concerns is accused of a crime in Virginia, you definitely need to […]

The post [VIDEO] International Student Reckless Driving Defense appeared first on Andrew Flusche.

[Quiz] Do You Know Your Rights During a Traffic Stop in Virginia?

By From • Dec 15th, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local

Back in October, the City of Fredericksburg published a video entitled What to Expect During a Traffic Stop. There is a lot of great information in the video, and I commend the city for proactively educating people. I also felt obligated to respond to a few of their points to help you, the citizen, understand […]

The post [Quiz] Do You Know Your Rights During a Traffic Stop in Virginia? appeared first on Andrew Flusche.

[VIDEO] Law School Student Reckless Driving in Virginia

By From • Dec 12th, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local

If you are a law student or hoping to go to law school, and you received a reckless driving ticket in Virginia, you need to talk with me about what your options are and how we can hopefully handle the case together. Contact me today. As you know by now, when you apply for the […]

The post [VIDEO] Law School Student Reckless Driving in Virginia appeared first on Andrew Flusche.