NN09 – Last one, I promise – plus football injury :-(

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I shall wrap up by saying – thanks for the great party Markos! The Dkos group hosted a fabulous party in a freakin’ church! Seriously, a church was converted to a bar and it was pretty awesome.  A live band, some damn funny entertainment and FREE DRINKS for 2 whole hours! Suh weet! I danced myself silly.

As much as I enjoyed the politics oriented panels and speeches, the highlight of any NN (formerly YK) event is the people. It’s a gathering with some oh my most favorite people who I’ve only met within the last 5 years, but who I am just dying to see by the time the next even rolls around. So this last post is dedicated to photos of them:

John (Stormy)

John (Stormy)

Vicki

Vicki

Kelly and Mike

Kelly and Mike

Markos & Elisa dancing Sat night

Markos & Elisa dancing Sat night

Me with The Boys  and ??? at PNC Park

Me with The Boys and ??? at PNC Park

Me with Sam Seder

Me with Sam Seder

OK, so Sam isn’t one of my Dear Friends 🙂 But, I post him in here since he is responsible for me being there. It was while listening to his radio show on Air American in 2004 that I heard him interview Markos and refer to DailyKos. So I checked it out. And the last two years he’s been at the event and I’ve thanked him both times. And this time I got a picture – weee!

John (Stormy), Linda, Vicki & Bill

John (Stormy), Linda, Vicki & Bill

Mike, Kelly, Michael & Sardonyx (don't know his real name!)

Mike, Kelly, Michael & Sardonyx (don't know his real name!)

Those last two were from our last meal together at the airport on Sunday. We all had flights within about 1.5 hrs of each other so we stayed together until the end. Oh it was hard to say goodbye! Especially since you just never know if everyone will be there again the next year.  (which will be in Vegas in July making it much easier for me personally, but creates challenges for others than may not be able to be overcome).

And if you read this far….here’s the update on Gimpy-knee – he felt a pop and lost support in his left knee at the end of practice on Tuesday as he planted his leg to push off. No hit. Just a push off. Tried walking it off with no success so he sat out the rest of practice and we started icing and elevating at home. No swelling. Initial exams on the field seemed to indicate no ligament damage. Still, he was not much better Wednesday so I made an appt today for the doctor to see him. Today it did seem better after another day of staying off it and icing, however, far from 100%. Doctor concurred that it is a sprain and just needs rest. He recommended a soft knee brace and some motrin. His coach also advised alternating heat and ice while he elevates. So that’s where it stands. He’s ‘day to day’. Probably will walk through practice tomorrow (always a low impact day anyway) and since the first game is at 4pm on Sat, he will have almost another two full days of treatment before then. I’m hopeful especially since he said the knee brace made it feel measurably better. This poor team! Already decimated with injuries taking them down to a way too uncomfortably low number.

Knee brace

Gimpy Knee and his Magic Knee Brace

NN09 Day 3, Sat Aug 15, Part 1

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First thing in the morning as always – shake off that veil of weary, find food and settle in for a morning conversation between Baratunde Thurston and President Obama’s Senior Adviser – Valerie Jarret:

iPhone as of Aug17.09 017

Just as with Howard Dean the morning before, they took questions via Twitter and also via the audience’s written questions on note cards. My takeaway from the session? The country is in way better hands with a President with THIS Special Adviser than we were with the last one (Karl *gack* Rove…sorry…reference to him always makes me gag). Sharp on her feet and a very worthy representative for the White House to send. However, now a week later I have to admit that I don’t remember a lot of what was said! Mostly because she wisely did not make news. Also because she spoke with us *before* Obama and some others started to walk away from a firm support of a Public Option in health care reform which is a HUGE issue with Progressives. She dodged a bullet with her timing for sure!

I moved on from there to a panel on Citizen Funded elections which have been successfully implemented at a few local levels. One of my favorite speakers from NN08 was on the panel – Professor Lawrence Lessig. His organization is called Change Congress and he is really trying to get the special interest money out of the election process. Realistically I see this as an uphill battle, but as a practical matter it is certainly (IMHO) the right way to go and he has some vocal and wealthy supporters from both sides of the aisle in his movement.

Then on to lunch with included a conversation on the Economy which included Gov Corzine from New Jersey, BUT, I was finally sitting with two of my buddies who I had yet to talk to and well, we talked! So I truly have no idea what was said in the panel (oops!).

From there I went to the panel on DOJ scandals which featured former Alabama Gov Don Seigleman who we at DailyKos grew quite attached to as we watched in horror at his arrest and subsequent jailing in a maximum security prison (even doing time in solitary) over a charge of appointing a donor to his campaign to a symbolic post. Umm…doesn’t that sound rather vaguely like something that EVERY Mayor/Gov/President does?? Anyway, no matter how you slice his case, it had politicization and Karl (gack) Rove’s fingerprints all over the case. The Free Don! campaign was huge on DK in 2007-08 and we were thrilled to have him with us in Austin for NN08 and we continue to watch his saga unfold. Now, of course, the tables are turned and while it has since been made QUITE evident that the entire DOJ was used for political gain under Bush, it remains quite a travesty that so many Bush appointees are still serving despite their obvious bias in their posts.

And before anyone starts to cry out “oh, that’s just a zany left wing loony conspiracy theory!” just remember how MANY of those supposedly zany accusations during the Bush years have ended up being TRUE. Shoot, another just was revealed this week when former Homeland Security head Tom Ridge confirmed that the threat level was raised just before the 2004 election for purely political reasons. Something Keith Olbermann alluded to at the time it happened and of course, he was vilified. Trust me – I *wish* the tin foilers on my side were wrong!! I really do! But damn, after so many cards fall, how can I not take some of what they suspect seriously? At least when it comes to the Bush admin and Rove (gack) and Cheney and Rumsfield, I don’t take ANY accusations against them lightly. Chances are, they did it.

So after that I was supposed to join the Packing of The Boxes with the Netroots For the Troops gang. An awesome tradition born last year where we pack and send care packages to our troops in combat. However, they were done when I got there! It was so well organized this year that their 2 hour window of packing was not needed – they were done in less than an hour. So I was just around to photograph the aftermath – sorry for the quite crappy photo, but the iPhone has no flash, however, you can get idea of the group effort and see the finished pallets of boxes:

The NNFT group with their finished product

The NNFT group with their finished product

Now comes a fun little bit 🙂 In the run up to NN09, funds needed to be raised in order to gather the supplies put into the boxes and of course for postage and packaging and customs forms. So the group you see up there took turns writing diaries to inspire folks to make donations. People would pledge based on the number of recommendations a diary would get or pledge a 1$ per comment (that got expensive let me tell you!), and then one fine day Bill got the brilliant idea to promise to dance if a certain amount was raised during one of his diaries. The promise was that he would dance on command anytime, anywhere during NN09 if he was asked. Well, some folks who had donated but couldn’t be at NN09 were clamoring for video of the dance. Hmmm…who just got the new iPhone with a video function?? So I waited for just the right moment – which I thought was right there in the middle of the exhibit hall with all of the NNFT crew around. So, I told Bill to dance:

Bill is such a good sport!

Meanwhile I just realized that this has gone too long already and I have more to post about the evening! I’ll pair that with the sad goodbyes of Sunday and some more pics of my dear dear friends.

NN09 Day Two (Part 2)

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This is going to be picture heavy. All I need to tell you is that the NN09 attendees had a wonderful opportunity to take over the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night. They set us  up to take swings in the batting cage and shag fly balls in the outfield and they fed us. I wandered over with Shermdog right as the gates opened and hung out with them and then just as we were heading out, The Boys walked in (they had been at another happy hour event) so I just stayed on and hung out with them. But hey – you guys know that sitting in a MLB ballpark is pretty much home for me anyway 🙂

So Doggie and I were two of the first ones in the batting cage and we were quite happy to hit the ball. Doggie hit the first pitch over the phantom third baseman’s head for a single. I was thrilled to hit 3 of 6 balls out of the machine – one of which went at least past the mound 🙂 Another one kinda dribbled out front and another was a foul backwards, but hey – I hit them! My hand had a glorious sting going on afterwards. It was quite a thrill. So here’s the photos from that non-political, sports nerd heaven night:

Waiting my turn while Doggie hits

Waiting my turn while Doggie hits

Such form!

Such form!

Oh yes, I might hit this one!

Oh yes, I might hit this one!

Two Sluggers!

Two Sluggers!

A little less goofy this time

A little less goofy this time

Shermdog

Shermdog

Hanging out in the stands with The Boys

Hanging out in the stands with The Boys

Michael was particularly thrilled to be in an MLB park.

Michael was particularly thrilled to be in an MLB park.

The Boys on the outfield grass.

The Boys on the outfield grass.

Looking back at the ballpark from the bridge. Great picture by Michael!

Looking back at the ballpark from the bridge. Great picture by Michael!

NN09 Day 2, Friday Aug 14 (Part 1)

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I realized after going through all my pictures that I was going to have to break this day up into two parts! I’ll push the total file up into Flickr, but even picking and choosing what to show in here was hard!

Day 2 started off with my only panel of the day – a morning town hall type event on health care with Howard Dean:

Gov Howard Dean

Gov Howard Dean

He picked up where President Clinton left off the night before by reminding us that elections don’t stop just because our candidates won – we have to keep communicating with the folks in DC on what it is we want them to do. Of course he addressed the near riots that had taken place in some town halls where debate was squashed as opponents simply shouted their rep’s down and largely shouted about utter lies being spread by the GOP opposition. And, of course, he was preaching to the choir 🙂 Still, it was great to hear some sane, fact based discussion on the health care reforms.

But – that was it of political substance for me. The Boys and I started a tradition in Chicago in ’07 of scooting out for some sightseeing and this was our day for it.  Thanks to some Guide to Pittsburgh diaries preceding the event, we knew we wanted to take what’s known as the P&LERR incline up for some city views. It was about an 8 block walk away from the hotel and across the Monongahela River. Gorgeous day, a little warm and humid of course, but not unbearably so at all. Here’s our desired destination, just to the right of the P&LERR building (more to come on that plain looking building)

P&LERR incline

P&LERR incline

Unfortunately I did not take any pics going up the incline. I was a tad nervous 🙂 These little railway/gondola type cars are actually part of the city’s transit system. A round trip ride was $2.50. A lady riding with us as we went up had been using it as part of her commute for ages. Cracked me up since it seemed like a total touristy thing, but is really quite functional! Anyhow, it was from up on the overlook at the top that I posted some earlier pics, but here’s a few more:

Michael pretending he's scared

Michael pretending he's scared

Ed, me, & Bill at the overlook

Ed, me, & Bill at the overlook

Cool building that looks like it belongs in a Batman movie

Cool building that looks like it belongs in a Batman movie

Zooming in with iPhone on the football stadium

Zooming in with iPhone on the football stadium

From the overlook we went back down to the Riverfront Park where there were lots of places to eat and hey, it was lunchtime! Now, here’s where I tell you to back and look up there at the brick building. Looks like an office building right? Well, it’s the original Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Rail Road station. Down there at the river’s edge was a rail road. Inside the bottom 3? 4? stories of the building was not offices, but a HUGE restaurant and saloon. I didn’t take pictures but here’s one I snagged from The Google:

Grand Concourse Restaurant

Grand Concourse Restaurant

Pretty awesome eh? Since we were seeking a quiet, air conditioned, slow paced lunch, this fit the bill nicely. And I must say they served some of THE BEST soups ever! We each ordered a different one – Black Bean, Lobster Bisque and both types of clam chowder and then shared.  MMMMMMM. I’d go back just for the soup!

Walking back I noticed this cool ooking building kind of sticking out like a sore thumb amongst the usual down town office buildings (like the Batman one):

19th century bank building

19th century bank building

Pittsburgh is an awesome city blending old and new. Very clean, walkable and easy to navigate. The rivers and bridges make it just beautiful. We were staying at The Westin which is across from the convention center and are LEEDS certified – meaning very very environmentally friendly. The hotel rooms had a key control for the lights and ventilation system so that rooms are not draining energy when no one is there.  As a tourist, it was a really fabulous location and I would go back again in a heartbeat. In fact, I might suggest it for the August moms one year!

Part 2 covering the evening at PNC park coming later.

NN09 Day 1, Thursday Aug 13

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Day 1 was a day of amazing panels. And also a sign that two things would hold true this year. 1) I would have even less sleep than in prior years (well, maybe not compared to Chicago, but..that was for different reasons!). and 2) that I would be a supreme fan girl and not be the least bit tongue tied or star struck upon encountering a celebrity.

Item 1 got off to a rolling start thanks to bad weather impacting my flights into Pittsburgh. I got to Chicago on time. My original flight from there to Pitt was supposed to get me in at Midnight and I figured in the room at 1am. Unfortunately my plane was coming from the side of the country that was beset by thunderstorms which had cancelled or delayed many flights that day. Consequently I didn’t get into my hotel room until 4am. After a quick 3.5 hour nap I tackled the day.

First I got to greet my lovely roommate:

Linda aka Virgomusic

Linda aka Virgomusic

We set out in search of breakfast – notice her Bruggers bag? Yep, that was our place for early morning nutrients 🙂 We were both heading to get our name tags and then in to the panel titled “From Prop 8 to Full Equality in all 50 states.” As we made our way around we started running in to more friends from prior events so many hugs and hellos were exchanged. The panel kicked things off in typically high quality fashion. The larger focus right now is on Maine with it’s own version of Prio 8 coming up in the fall (Prop 1 for them).  There was much analysis of the lessons learned from the debacle in CA and discussion of how best to get the human element stories across in Maine before the anti-equality crowd gets their money in there. And yeah, they are getting a lot of out of state money from the same groups that swarmed into CA. Anyhow, sufficiently energized I was thrilled to see my two best NN buds Bill and Michael (hereafter referred to as The Boys)in the back of the room so when that session was over there was much hugging and kissing and squeeling. With promises to meet back up for lunch I then moved on to what I termed the Ultimate Political Geek Fest panel – How to Get the Most out of Polling Data. I had to go though, because my first celeb “squee” of the day was on the panel – Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com

Nate Silver on Nerdfest Panel

Nate Silver on Nerdfest Panel

The information there just about filled my puny exisiting on only 3.5 hours of sleep brain and I needed a break. Thankfully it was lunch time so I made my way to the hotel lobby to meet up with The Boys. As I arrived I found two more dear friends Sherm & Doggie waiting there (Shermdog hereafter). As we gathered and greeted people, I noticed a very familiar face walking towards me. Not familiar as in one of my friends, but familiar as in, ‘hey I see this guy on twitter and on my TV a LOT!’ and I think that overall familiarity granted by Twitter made me just step right out and say “Hey, hi there Chris!” To one Christopher Hays of The Nation and frequent guest on MSNBC and panelist for the next one on my schedule after lunch. Bill perked up while Chris shook my hand and asked my name and was generally awesome so he introduced himself and shook Chris’ hand and then asked me to outline his hand in his annual autograph book so he could ‘save’ Chris’ DNA. Ok, so we do get quite a bit silly 😉 So we are all just buzzing away about Chris as we walk across the street to a restaurant and get ourselves settled in. I take a couple of bad photos with my phone (You’ll notice the day 1 photos from the iPhone are rather poor as I was still trying to figure the damn thing out and of course I had left the main camera in the room).

Doggie, Michael and Mik at lunch

Doggie, Michael and Mik at lunch

As I then settled in to take a photo of the two people sitting across from me, I noticed another media celeb sitting behind them, Ron Reagan. Son of President Ronald Reagan and current radio host for Air America. So I framed the shot to include him:

Ron (in background), Vicki & Bill

Ron (in background), Vicki & Bill

Notice that Ron has on a smashing orange lanyard too. Yep, he was doing his show on location Thursday and Friday. So Bill spent about 10 mins hemmning and hawing about going up to talk to Ron while Vicki and I threatened to go there on his behalf and then finally he got up the nerve to ask Ron for his autograph and he got it! Ron was as nice as could be and I know Vicki has a picture on her camera of Bill and Ron.  These kind of casual encounters went on all weekend. I have to tell you that I am mildly disappointed now that I am back home to NOT be running into celebs of one sort or another everywhere I go 😉

Anyhow, after lunch I went off to see the aforementioned Chris Hayes’ panel titled @FDR, is there a New Deal? Well, I tell you, if the first two panels were not intimidating in their vast levels of smart, then this one was the cherry on top. Here’s Chris:

Christopher Hayes

Christopher Hayes

He talks with his hands a lot 🙂 Each panelist had a prepared statement and his was an analogy of just how things in Washington work as far as getting money into the hands of the peopl who need it most. Generally the money has to travel over mountains and through valleys and tunnels and never actually ends up where it is needed. And of course everyone along the way skims off the top until there is often nothing left. He was telling this story to illustrate how difficult it is for Obama to push through many of the reforms he wants and how even if they are implemented, the huge challenge is in hitting your target. Anyhow, that’s the best I can do at summing it up some 5 days and lots of drinks and not a lot of sleep later 😉 I remember though that was really floored me was that during the question and answer session the people – just regular old DailyKos members like me – asked ridiculously in depth questions and THEN – the panelists would answer them off the top of their heads so easily! Chris’s vocabulary awed me. I swear the overall brain power in that room could have moved those mountains Chris was talking about!

My intention after that was to go to the Food panel chaired by my friend Jill who I’ve written about before but I was starting to fizzle out. So I went into the exhibit hall and found TheBoys and got my swag bag and a t-shirt or two and greeted more friends. Somehow we ended up gabbing in there for so long that we totally missed having dinner and barely had time to freshen up before the reception prior to the Bill Clinton keynote. While at the happy hour event which did at least have some light hors d’oeurves we spotted our earlier friends, Ron & Chris:

Ron Reagan interviews Chris Hayes on the radio

Ron Reagan interviews Chris Hayes on the radio

Then it was in to the main hall for the Big Event. The Big Dawg. Typically late as always 🙂 And also quite hoarse and tired at first. Found out later on that if you tracked back to his trip to North Korea the week before, he had only slept on airplanes or in hotels for two solid weeks. The day before he’d been in Puerto Rico and that same day he’d been in Chicago – all at speaking engagements or meetings for his foundation. Here’s my pathetic attempt at a picture:

President Bill Clinton

President Bill Clinton

Part way through his talk (no notes, no telepromter, just off the cuff), someone in the crowd stood up and hollered out a question about why he had signed Dont Ask Dont Tell – I don’t know exactly what was said, but I could discern the topic at any rate. Now, I am not a fan AT ALL of people doing this. It appalls me how folkd have been shouting down debate at the health care town halls – Bill even referred to those saying maybe the guy got lost on his way to one of those events 😉 As a friend later tweeted: “Heckling during a speech is like farting in an elevator on purpose” I totally agree. BUT. BUT. In this ONE instance it was aimed at a politican who knew exactly how to handle it. After that snarky remark about being in the wrong place, and as the crowd hollered at the heckler to sit down and be quiet and as security wound its way towards him, Bill told everyone to calm down, that he wanted to answer that charge. And let me tell you – he was not hoarse and tired any more. It was like someone breathed life into the man and he became what I had expected all along. Larger than life, animated, passionate and downright ANGRY. Oh, how he wagged his long fingers at that poor guy and let him know step by step what was happening around him in Washington when DADT was under consideration. How he was the ONLY one in the room who wanted to grant gays full rights to serve. He was the salmon swimming upstream back in the 90s. Anyhow, that little diversion got him rocking and rolling and the rest of his speech was pure Clinton – he dragged on longer than he was supposed to of course – and we were all quite happy. It was the perfect end to Day 1.

End it I did too. Others traipsed out to the subsequently delayed party at the Warhol museum but I was DONE. And I knew I had two more nights to survive so I thought I should pace myself. It turned out that TheBoys were in the room next to mine so Bill and I walked up together (Michael had drifted out during the speech and went to the Warhol event) running into more people we hadn’t seen yet on the way.

After what seemed like 3 days packed into one and at least 50 hugs, Linda and I went to sleep. Well, that is, after an hour of post-game analysis as is our habit ;-))

Tune in later for a very picture heavy Day 2 otherwise known as Sightseeing Day.

Post NN09 let down

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(NN09 = Netroots Nation 09)

Anyhoo – too tired to think or write coherently. Tried to post from the iphone but it must have been too picture heavy so it bombed. Here’s a couple from the main camera for now and I’ll post more later when I have slept more and been rid off this lingering airplane headache.

Heinz field (football)

Heinz field (football)

Piitsburgh skyline from overlook point

Pittsburgh skyline from overlook point

Bridges, bridges and more bridges.

Bridges, bridges and more bridges.

Sightseeing buds: Michael, Ed & Bill

Sightseeing buds: Michael, Ed & Bill