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DorobekInsider: Judging DC’s funniest celebrity… and the winner is…

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I mentioned that I got to be one of the judges for the 16th annual DC’s Funniest Celebrity contest last night — even despite a bit of controversy. Given that I was seated between between WTOP “Man About Town” Bob Madigan and the Geico Gecko, the night is already a big hit… but there were also some very funny people there.

Now I consider myself to have a decent sense of humor, but I just cannot imagine having to stand up and be funny. That’s not my thing. So I give the folks who were there a lot of credit for signing up for it — this isn’t their day job. They were asked to do it — and most did quite well.

The big winner, however, was White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, who was quite funny doing political version of the Kevin Nealon-SNL classic Mr. Subliminal.

You need to get into his presentation, but… you’ll get it…

The big target of the night across the board — the one and only Sarah Palin, but VP Cheney, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, health care… there were plenty of barbs to go around.

Politico’s Patrick Gavin — also a judge — has more on Politico.com:

White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee took home the top prize in the 16th annual “D.C.’s Funniest Celebrity” contest on Wednesday evening, and he did so in a very unconventional way. Instead of adopting a traditional comedic routine of joke buildup and punchline, Goolsbee peppered an otherwise expected stump speech on the Obama administration’s goals with subtle asides that constituted a humorous, sarcastic, self-deprecating and conspiratorial insight into the administration’s most accessible punchlines. The targets? Hillary Clinton, Sen. Ben Nelson, Rod Blagojevich, Sarah Palin and Fox News.

Read Gavin’s full story.

Some photos from the event…

The DorobekInsider and the Geico gecko

And the winner is... Austen Goolsbee with Baratunde Thurston

And the winner is... Austen Goolsbee with Baratunde Thurston

Written by cdorobek

October 1, 2009 at 1:15 PM

DorobekInsider: Fleshing out the funniest celebrity “charity” controversy

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I noted earlier that I am one of the judges tonight for the 14th annual Funniest Celebrity in Washington “charity” event.

Well, the Washington Post’s Reliable Sources column reported yesterday that the term charity apparently deserves to be in quotes. The WP headline: ‘Funniest Celeb’ Charities Get Little Aid

For all the obvious wisecracks about its name, the annual “Funniest Celebrity in Washington” contest has triumphed in getting some of this city’s major players to cut loose with surprisingly outrageous stand-up comedy acts — with the rationale that it’s all for a good cause, of course…

But despite the VIP luster — and tickets starting at $200 — tax records and interviews show that the D.C. perennial has failed in the past five years to make any contributions to the charities for which it promised to raise money. Virtually all revenue appears to have been eaten up by the costs of putting on the one-night show, plus a year-round part-time salary for founder-CEO-host Richard Siegel and administrative expenses that charity-finance experts say are unusually high for such a small organization.

Siegel — whose tax-exempt organization “supports children’s charities,” according to its IRS filings — blames the charities. He says they failed to live up to agreements to sell $20,000 worth of tickets and sponsorships, an assertion at least one charity disputes. Ticket sales by Funniest Celebrity “essentially cover operational costs,” Siegel said in a statement.

Read the full WP story here.

There was much discussion around the WTOP-WFED offices yesterday about whether it was appropriate for me and WTOP Man About Town Bob Madigan should participate.

Here is how I am going to deal with it…

Frankly, I am always a bit uncomfortable when we wrap these kids of events with some charity. Generally, I want transparency in where my money is going, so… I’ll pay for my entertainment, and I’m happy to pay the charities that I deem worthy. A few years ago, I rode in the new defunct AIDS Ride DC, which was supposed to benefit DC’s Whitman-Walker Clinic. Unfortunately there was a loathsome organization, which seems to have dissolved, that was taking more than half of the money that people donated. So when I did the ride, I asked people to give specifically to Whitman-Walker — and I would match their donations by covering my bicycling expenses. In the end, I don’t expect for people to pay for me to bike.

I am going to use a similar model for the event tonight — I have donated $200 will be donating money to the cause — StandUp for Kids

STANDUP FOR KIDS, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded in 1990 to help rescue homeless and at-risk youth. With national headquarters in Atlanta, GA, STANDUP FOR KIDS is run almost entirely by volunteers. For more information, please visit www.standupforkids.org

Written by cdorobek

September 30, 2009 at 2:10 PM

DorobekInsider: Ho-ho-ho… and recognize our troops

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Santa Claus came to Federal News Radio 1500 AM this morning — yes, a bit early, but… it’s all for a good cause. For the past three years, Microsoft Federal the the USO of Metro DC have led a program called A Salute to Our Troops. The program is dedicated to recognizing and thanking service men and women for their commitment by providing… well, some fun for them and their families.

Santa and the DorobekInsider

Santa and the DorobekInsider

The past two years, the focus has been on New York — Microsoft bought out Radio City Music Hall for a performance of the remarkable Christmas Spectacular. This year, the Rockettes are on the road — including a trip here in Washington, DC — and Microsoft is hosting a performance at DC’s Verizon Center.

And Federal News Radio and the Washington Capitals are participating through the Courage Caps program — and on Nov. 11th, 50 wounded soldiers will be treated to a special Veteran’s Day Capitals game.

From the press release:

Microsoft and the USO of Metropolitan Washington will kick off the third season of the annual A Salute to Our Troops program on Wednesday, Sept. 23 with some help from Santa Claus. On Wednesday morning, Santa will be traveling around Washington DC on a pedicab, giving out goodies from his sack and promoting the A Salute to the Troops program.

After lunch, he will meet up with the Radio City Rockettes near the White House as they then travel together to see some DC sites and head to Fort Myer, Virginia for a meet and greet with troops and to kick off the excitement for December’s Radio City Christmas Spectacular show, which is coming to D.C.

WHO:  “Salute” Santa Claus on a Pedicab (all morning)

The World Famous Radio City Rockettes (with Salute Santa, in the afternoon)

WHEN: Wednesday, September 23, 2009

WHERE: Santa stops and times mapped out on www.salutesanta.com

Locations include Pentagon Metro Station, Navy Memorial/China Town Metro Station, Union Station, Constitution Ave, 14th Street, K Street, GW Student Union, Kettler Iceplex, PA Avenue/Lafayette Park, Lincoln Memorial, Fort Myer

BACKGROUND:

WFEDs Amy Morris and... Santa

WFED's Amy Morris and... Santa

This year, A Salute to Our Troops will take place in Washington, DC and will include multiple activities to brighten the season for U.S. troops and their families. Activities will range from an Operation USO Care Package day with the Washington Capitals and WTOP/WFED Radio; to the USO of Metropolitan Washington “Courage Cap” program which will be announced at a special game of the Washington Capitals where 50 wounded warriors will be in attendance.

Finally, in keeping with the USO tradition of entertaining the troops, on Sunday, December 20(th), Microsoft will treat 8,200 troops and their families to a private showing of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes at DC’s Verizon Center. Ticket information can be found at http://www.salutesanta.com.

Founded in 2007 by Microsoft in cooperation with the USO of Metropolitan New York and USO of Metropolitan Washington, A Salute to Our Troops program honors the many faces of courage and inspiration belonging to individuals who demonstrate selfless dedication to our country. For more information on the 2009 A Salute to Our Troops program, visit: www.salutesanta.com.

I don’t typically post full items, but I will post this one from Teresa Carlson, the head of Microsoft Federal, who wrote about the program her FedFocus blog:

A Salute to Our Troops

By Teresa Carlson, Vice President, Microsoft Federal

Santa Claus is coming to town early this year! In fact, he’ll be travelling around Washington D.C. tomorrow morning, handing out goodies to promote the 3rd annual A Salute to Our Troops program. A Salute to Our Troops is dedicated to recognizing and thanking our service men and women for their commitment to our country by providing entertainment for them and their families.

Microsoft created the program in partnership with the United Service Organization (USO),and the conclusion of this year’s program will include a complimentary showing of Radio City Music Halls’ Christmas Spectacular at the Verizon Center for 8,200 troops and their families. We are so excited to bring the program to D.C. for the first time this year, and we hope that through highlighting the courageous stories of our service men and women that we can inspire others to get involved and volunteer. The event is always such a great time, and the Washington Capitals will be adding to the fun this year through the Courage Caps program. On November 9th, the USO is partnering with WTOP/Federal News Radio and Capitals players to stuff care packages for our warriors overseas, and 50 wounded soldiers will be treated to a special Veteran’s Day Capitals game on November 11th.

Santa’s visit tomorrow morning officially kicks off this year’s festivities. After his tour through downtown, he’ll be meeting up with the Radio City Rockettes near the White House to do some site seeing before heading to Fort Myer, Virginia to visit with troops. If you spot him, let us know on Twitter (@FutureFed #salutesanta) and take a photo and send it to salutesanta@live.com for a chance to win a prize! Tomorrow I’ll post some photos of his tour, but in the meantime, visit SaluteSanta.com to get involved!

What a great program!

Written by cdorobek

September 23, 2009 at 1:46 PM

DorobekInsider to judge Funniest Celebrity in Washington Contest

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Coming up in just a few weeks — a great benefit: The Funniest Celebrity in Washington Contest… and the great part about it — I get to be one of the judges.

The contest is in it’s 16th year — and it is an opportunity for journalists, politicians, sports figures and other celebrities to compete for the title of Funniest Celebrity in Washington.

The Funniest Celebrity in Washington Contest, now in its 16th year, is an opportunity for journalists, politicians, sports figures and other local celebrities to compete for the title of Funniest Celebrity in Washington…

There are three rules defining who can compete for the title:
* Someone who is from Washington can compete
* Someone who lives in Washington now can compete
* The person can not be a professional comedian who performs comedy for a living.

The event features anywhere between eight and twelve celebrities, each performing three to five minutes of stand-up comedy. If they prefer to do a humorous skit or song, that is fine.

Contest Information:

Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: The DC Improv Comedy Club and Restaurant
Address:
DC Improv
1140 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036-4001

More information on this year’s event…

REP. JACKIE SPEIER, DAN GLICKMAN ADDED TO FUNNIEST CELEBRITY LINE-UP
GEICO Gecko to Appear; Washington Legend Chef Geoff Tracy, Washington Examiner’s Mark Tapscott and Others to Compete for Comedy Crown on September 30

WASHINGTON, DC – Washington’s most entertaining night just got funnier, as producer Richard Siegel announced more politicians, pundits, policymakers and general celebrities to compete in the 16th annual Funniest Celebrity in Washington Contest. The event takes place on Wednesday, September 30th at 7pm at the world-famous DC Improv (1140 Connecticut Ave, NW).

Newly-announced contestants include Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), former Secretary of Agriculture and current President of the Motion Pictures Association of America Dan Glickman, prolific Washington-area restaurateur Chef Geoff Tracy and Washington Examiner Editorial Page Editor Mark Tapscott. They join political commentator Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher, veteran contestant Grover Norquist (President, Americans for Tax Reform), Richard Miniter (Vice President of Opinion, The Washington Times), Count Gore De Vol (WDCA-TV), Anna Mulrine (US News and World Report) and Jeremy Ben Ami (J Street Family of Organizations) in competing for the title of Washington’s Funniest Celebrity.

Also added to the show are special performances by the GEICO Gecko, star of nationwide advertising campaigns and Robert George from the New York Post. Former Funniest Celebrity champion Matt Cooper of Talking Points Memo, will also perform in a non-competitive set.

Senator Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from bringing good humor to Congress, as well as to his home state of Nebraska, where he served as Governor before joining the Senate.

Baratunde Thurston, a popular Washington-born comedian and editor of The Onion, will serve as Master of Ceremonies.

Former CNN Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre, WFED-AM anchor Chris Dorobek and WTOP-FM’s “Man About Town” Bob Madigan have been added to the list of judges. Previously announced judges include, Karen Tumulty of Time Magazine, Patrick Gavin from Politico, Margaret Carlson from Bloomberg News, Kiki Ryan and Jeff Dufour from The Washington Examiner, Clarence Page, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist from The Chicago Tribune, and Nora McAlvanah of The National Journal will lead an all-star cavalcade of judges for the event.

Legendary ABC news anchor Sam Donaldson will throw out the ceremonial first joke.

Individual tickets for the event are $200, while a VIP package of a table for eight, seating with a celebrity and VIP reception passes costs $5,000

Proceeds from the event will benefit STANDUP FOR KIDS, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded in 1990 to help rescue homeless and at-risk youth. With national headquarters in Atlanta, GA, STANDUP FOR KIDS is run almost entirely by volunteers. For more information, please visit www.standupforkids.org.

For more information about the Contest and tickets, contact Richard Siegel at (202) 250-9193 or visit www.funniestcelebrity.org or www.dcimprov.com.

Written by cdorobek

September 15, 2009 at 8:32 PM

Posted in Circuit, community

DorobekInsider: 9/11 remembrances… and 9/11 hopes

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This day always has a somewhat odd feel to it. People walk around and remember where they were… and how things have changed. I would argue that few sectors have changed as much as government.

I mentioned earlier that I recently re-read parts of the 9/11 Commission’s final report — it is still a remarkable read. If you either haven’t done it or haven’t done it recently, it is worth the time and will remind you about theimportance of working toward ways to share information effectively.

The Newseums 9/11 exhibit

The Newseum's 9/11 exhibit

Reading the report, one can’t help but remember where they were. I was Federal Computer Week’s Defense Department reporter. I was making my way to Capitol Hill to cover what I expected to be a contentious House hearing on the Defense Travel System. The first plane had already hit the World Trade Center in New York — and from theMetroRail station, I had called my parents in California, where it was still quite early, to tell them about it.

While I was in the Metro, the second plane struck in New York. And when I arrived at Capitol Hill, I believe that I heard the plane crash into the Pentagon. Of course, I had no idea what the sound was at the time. I was listening toDC’s WTOP radio where there were reports of all kinds of incidents. Oddly, I continued to make my way to the Rayburn House Office Building — I guess I was going to go to the hearing? By that time, they were evacuating Capitol Hill.

If the goal of terrorists is the elicit terror, it worked. Immediately, my mind ran wild with questions — if this is part of a broader attack, what if they attackMetroRail? How do I get someplace safe, like home?

I merely decided to transit home — Washington was largely gridlocked and increasingly shut down. As I was riding MetroRail home and trains were filled, people were talking about what was going on. And people spoke of a building collapsing in New York. I had limited access to news and hadn’t seen a television for hours, so when people talked about a building collapsing, I thought it was hyperbole. It happens in developing news events — stories can take a life of their own.

Of course, it wasn’t hyperbole, unfortunately. I remember getting home and… well, words can’t describe the feeling. Shocked somehow just fails to capture the scope of it.

At FCW, we just weren’t in a position to cover those developing events — and people weren’t paying attention to anything but those incidents… and rightfully so.

Two days later, I was in the Pentagon interviewing the DOD chief information officer. It was eerie because other side of that huge building was literally still burning. And it was one of the few times that I was at a loss for words. What do I ask the DODCIO? Where does one begin?

And in the days following 9/11/01, a depression set in. Here in DC, the city was too quiet. Of course, planes at National Airport were grounded, so that ambient sound was missing. And yet there were Air Force fighter jets flying overhead providing a very different sound. And I remember feeling — and saying — that nothing good would come from this event. As a glass half-full kind of guy, it was hard to find a shiny side to this incident.

In fact, there was a bright side — the way this country — and the world — came together. There was near unity. Suddenly, we were focused on important issues. News stories that seemed trivial on 9/10/01 felt almost embarrassing and abundantly unimportant. And many people decided that government work mattered. Lewis Shepherd, who worked for the intelligence communities and now is the CTO of Microsoft Institute for Advanced Technology in Governments, tweeted this morning:

8 yrs ago, woke up in boho Telegraph Hill SF: instant I saw 2nd plane strike WTC, thought I’d wind up in DC fighting a complex terror war.

He wasn’t alone.

People valued public service — and government workers.

And it is one of the great things about what I get to do — provide people with information that helps government operate better. In general, most of the people I talk to on a daily basis are extraordinarily smart, extraordinarily passionate about what they do — and they get to deal with some of the most interesting and most complex problems and issues on the planet.

Times have changed as time has marched on. Those trivial stories are back. And our divisions and bickering is back — on both sides. Ferocious debates can be positive and worthwhile, but in the end, we agree on more then we disagree. The end goal is largely the same. The differences are on how we get there. And those who disagree with us force us to ask questions that we might not ask otherwise. We can disagree — without being disagreeable.

We make choices — and those choices matter and have consequences. Why do we get television and radio where people yell at each other? Because we listen and watch. My recommendation is turn off most cable television or programs where people yell at each other. I have taken to watching PBS’s NewsHour — a show that dares to be dull… and perhaps succeeds too well sometimes. (HT: Ted Koppel)

Trust me — it will make a difference.

My hope coming out of 9/11 is that we can remember that unity as much as we remember New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania.

I hope you will share your thoughts — on Twitter… on Facebook… or here… We’ll talk about some of them today on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris.

Written by cdorobek

September 11, 2009 at 10:50 AM

DorobekInsider: Federal News Radio is going to shake our groove thing… with a famous fed

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You’ve heard the song “Shake Your Groove Thing” by the group Peaches & Herb. But did you know that Herb — yes, the Herb of Peaches & Herb — is a fed. Yes, he’s a U.S. Marshall… and technically it is Herb Fame, formerly Herbert Feemster.

Friday on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we will be talking to Herb of Peaches & Herb… about his career… about how he balances these two very different careers… and his new album.

More info on

* Washington Area Music Awards recognition

* Biography from Last.fm or Answers.com

Written by cdorobek

September 3, 2009 at 5:46 PM

DorobekInsider: CGI Federal scores a coup hiring former EPA CIO Molly O’Neill

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The DorobekInsider has learned that that former EPA CIO Molly O’Neill will join CGI Federal as a a vice president. Expect the official announcement any time now. She starts work on Monday, Aug. 10.

It is something of a coup for CGI Federal. O’Neill had been recruited by several organizations, including some state governments who were hoping that they could entice her back to government work.

O’Neill is well respected for her work at EPA, winning the 2009 Federal 100 Eagle Award for her initiatives.

Insiders said that O’Neill was enticed by the opportunity to create a role that will allow her to focus on thought leadership in the government IT space.

Congratulations to O’Neill… and to CGI Federal.

O’Neill’s bio from when she was EPA:

Molly A. O’Neill, confirmed by the U.S. Senate on December 8, 2006, is the EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Environmental Information (OEI) and Chief Information Officer (CIO). She is responsible for EPA’s strategic planning concerning the collection, management, and access to the Agency’s environmental information. As EPA’s CIO, she is a member of the Federal CIO Council, where she currently serves as the Co-chair of the Architecture and Infrastructure Committee.

Prior to joining EPA, Ms. O’Neill was the State Director for the National Environmental Information Exchange at the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS). As State Director, she was responsible for coordinating, supporting, and leading the efforts of 50 state environmental department participants, and interfacing with U.S. EPA counterparts and other partners.

In recognition for her leadership on the Exchange Network, Ms. O’Neill received a 2004 Federal 100 award as one of the top executives influencing government technology.

Prior to her work on the Exchange Network, Ms. O’Neill spent 14 years working as a management and information technology consultant in the private sector focusing on the environment, health, and safety industry. She has many years of experience working on organizational and performance assessments; performance measures; business process reengineering; and large-scale information management system implementation projects. She is a graduate of Virginia Tech.

Written by cdorobek

August 7, 2009 at 1:19 PM

DorobekInsider: More details on Pat Knapp, mother of Qwest’s Deirdre Murray

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I mentioned earlier that Qwest’s Deirdre Murray‘s mother passed away suddenly over the weekend. Knapp’s obituary was posted in the San Diego newspaper yesterday:

KNAPP, RITA (Pat) RIEHLMANN Beloved wife, devoted mother of four, age 83, died peacefully on July 24, 2009, at her home in Solana Beach, CA. Born October 5, 1925, in New Orleans, she personified its joie de vivre. She is survived by her children, Greg (Tujunga, CA) and his wife, Cathleen; Sam (San Diego, CA); Deirdre (Arlington, VA); and Steve (San Francisco, CA); her brother, Bernard; and a host of nieces, nephews and cherished friends. She was married to Norbert G. Knapp for 45 years; he died in 1993. Avid beachgoers, they loved tennis, baseball, dancing, and world travel. An LSU English graduate, Pat was an avid reader and letter writer, raconteur, crossword puzzle enthusiast and bridge player par excellence. She will be remembered for her strong faith in the Good Lord, her devotion to her family, her wonderful acts of kindness, and extraordinary intellect. Visitation on Thursday, July 30th, 6 p.m.-9 p.m. at El Camino Memorial, 340 Melrose Ave., Encinitas, CA 92024, with Rosary at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 31st, Funeral Mass at 11 a.m. at St. James Catholic Church, 625 S. Nardo Ave., Solana Beach, CA 92075, followed by a private burial at El Camino Memorial Park. Reception at 2:30 p.m. at the Knapp’s, Del Mar Beach Club, 163 South Shore Drive, Solana Beach, CA 92075.

I spoke to Murray from London Tuesday… and, over all, I’d say she is doing as well as one might imagine. She was totally surprised — in fact, she barely was able to pack to get out to San Diego.

As I mentioned previously, she had just had a 10 day trip with her mother across Southern California that I had helped Murray plan… Deirdre was thankful that she had that time with her mother.

But reading the obituary, Knapp’s background in English reminded me of a story dating back to the now infamous Waxman-Doan hearings when then GSA Administrator Lurita Doan had, somewhat oddly, gone off on a rant about the hortatory subjunctive tense. (I blogged about it when I was over at Federal Computer Week… and you can hear Doan talk about the hortatory subjective from YouTube here.) Anyway, I remeber at the time that Murray and her mother had discussed this event — and the tense…

Anybody who knows Murray knows she is close to her family — close enough to discuss the hortatory subjunctive.

Written by cdorobek

July 30, 2009 at 5:56 AM

DorobekInsider: Godspeed to Pat Knapp, mother of Qwest’s Deirdre Murray

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A very sad note… I just learned that Pat Knapp, the mother of Qwest’s Deirdre Murray, passed away suddenly over the weekend.

Murray had literally just returned last week after spending a week with her mother on a Southern California journey — they got to see Jay Leno perform in Hollywood and they traveled to Santa Barbara. I had helped arrange a meeting with my favorite artist, B.J. Stapen, who invited Deirdre and Pat to her home. They had also visited Los Olivos, CA, and dined at the Los Olivos Cafe where parts of the movie Sideways was filmed. Murray had a remarkable time. She is very close to her family — and to her mother — and I can only imagine how traumatic this is for her. But she will have those cherished memories.

Unfortunately I can’t find the obituary with specific information about contributions and funeral details. I know there is a group of ladies in government IT — they call themselves the Power Pearls — who are collecting contributions. I also heard from the Pearls that there is a ceremony on Friday at 11a (PT, I assume) at St. James Catholic Church in Solana Beach, CA, but I haven’t been able to confirm that further.

If you want to reach out to me — cdorobek at chrisdorobek.com and/or c/o Federal News Radio 1500 AM, 3400 Idaho Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20016 — and I will make sure cards and letters get to Murray. And I will post additional information as I get it.

Meanwhile, I know the government IT community sends their thoughts and prayers to Deirdre Murray and her siblings.

Godspeed Pat Knapp.

Written by cdorobek

July 28, 2009 at 1:00 PM

DorobekInsider weekend extra: Mintz: What I Did For My Summer Vacation

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Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Dan Mintz, the former Transportation Department CIO, now with CSC. He is on a family trip to see a solar eclipse — in China. He told me he will dend along a follow-up note on his return. This was written before he left earlier this week.

What I did for my summer vacation

By Dan Mintz

On Monday, July 13th at 8am, my wife Ellen and my two daughters, Miriam and Tamar, and I are getting on a plane at Dulles Airport. Approximately 18 hours later, we land in Shanghai, China at 1:55pm, July 14th.

The Mintz family in China

The Mintz family in China

Eight days later we hope to see the longest total solar eclipse in this century, slightly less than six minutes long at Wuhan, China. Regardless of the viewing conditions that morning, we will get an all too short glimpse of this still controversially emerging global super-power between July 14th and July 27th when we leave Beijing to return home.

How This Trip Came About – Turkey

The possibility of the trip to China actually began in late 2004, when I decided that it was important for me to see a total solar eclipse. It turned out that one was scheduled to occur in March, 2006 in Turkey, a country I had always been interested in because of the many cultures that had occupied that territory over time.

Searching around the Internet I came across a web site called Eclipse Chasers and was referred to someone who organized Eclipse tours, Rick Brown.

My wonderful wife, Ellen, was used to these kinds of random thoughts, and while Turkey was probably not on her top three list of countries to visit next, acquiesced to going.

We had a wonderful time in Turkey, saw many wonderful sites, and had a great time watching the eclipse in Side, Turkey, at a resort on the Mediterranean. We literally were able to see the shadow of the eclipse come at us from the water and cross over us as the eclipse became total.

For those who are interested in what it was like to be in Side, here is a summary from one of the participants

We made many new friends, a number of whom we have kept in active touch with and who have since visited our home. And, of course, we enjoy the Turkish rug we bought while there – is it possible to go to Turkey and not get a rug?

One final story from the Turkey visit is that before I left I had started serious conversations with the Bush Administration about joining the Department of Transportation as the Chief Information Officer. We had gotten to the point where the next step was to make an ‘almost’ final decision and then have that likely choice meet Secretary Mineta for a final sign-off.

When we arrived, tired and jet-lagged late afternoon, I confirmed that I had received no phone calls or emails. Assuming this likely meant that they were delayed in deciding or had decided to select someone else, I called the White House liason. Though it was very late in the day, she was still cheerful, I was to learn she always was, telling me she really looked forward to seeing me at 10am the next day for my meeting with Secretary Mineta.

The next morning I arrived at the Department, thankful that I had checked in but to be honest barely awake. Evidently I didn’t make a complete fool of myself because within a day after that final meeting I was offered the position and happily accepted leading to almost three greats years working with some of the finest people I have ever had the good fortune to meet.

How This Trip Came About – China

The first email from Rick Brown, the organizer of the Turkey eclipse trip, about joining him in 2009 in China came in September, 2006.

Though we really hadn’t planned to go on still another eclipse trip, both Ellen and I had talked about visiting China and once we found out both of our daughters would be interested in going, we let Rick know we were in.

The plan for the trip is pretty extensive. (Read the entire plan here.)

Our group this year is almost 50 percent bigger than last year — about 90 people. We will typically be going in three buses when on land.

We land in Shanghai, tour for a few days while getting used to the time change. Then fly inland to take a cruise down the Yangtze River. During the four days we are on the Yangtze we take a number of side excursions visiting the three gorges and other sights.

July 21st we fly back to Wuhan where we will watch the eclipse the next day. Up at 5am the current plan is to go to a local university to watch the eclipse.

For those who are interested, the University of North Dakota plans to do a web cast from our site. You can see that at  www.sems.und.edu.

And I am told we will have a New York Times reporter joining us in Wuhan.

After the eclipse we leave Wuhan that afternoon, flying to Xian to see the Terra Cotta soldiers and finally to Beijing.

Assuming we have no problems accessing flickr, we plan to upload pictures on Flickr from time to time. Find photos here: www.flickr.com/technogeezer.

As we finish packing for the trip and our older daughter comes back to DC from NYC, where she continues her efforts at perfecting her acting craft.

Our excitement only builds; from the opportunity to see China, to spend two weeks with our entire family, and naturally to see another eclipse, a very special experience.

Written by cdorobek

July 18, 2009 at 11:47 AM

Posted in Circuit, community