Support Small Business Today and Every Day

Today is Small Business Saturday. Are you going to be a patron of a small business? Well, you should be!

Small Business Saturday was launched five years ago by American Express to refocus people’s attention to local small businesses. Its purpose is to provide a contrast to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. (It’s also observed the Saturday after Thanksgiving.) Instead of shopping at big retailers, the movement encourages Americans to be patrons of their local small business.

Here’s more about the movement from American Express:

Why should you support small business today and every day?

Small business fuels American prosperity.

On that token, I want to wish everyone a Happy ‪#‎SmallBusinessSaturday‬! One business I’m especially keen on supporting is Baltic Construction, which is my dad’s 20+ year construction business. If you live in the DC metro area, need home repairs/new construction, and want to support true craftsmanship, consider my dad! Check out his work here.

Are you going to be supporting your local small business today? Let me know in the comments section!

Check Out My Cameo in Maddie & Tae’s Lyric Video for “Shut Up And Fish”

shut up and fish

While listening to some country music on YouTube today, I decided to listen to Maddie & Tae’s new single “Shut Up And Fish” to see if I’d see my photo submission was included in their lyric video. Low and behold, I did! (From the 00:42 to the 00:44 mark, my picture can be seen.) I’m so honored to have a picture of me with my snook catch included. Thanks, girls!

Check out Maddie & Tae’s  single “Shut Up And Fish” below. Good tune!

P.S. The girls tweeted back at me! Very cool.

New Counter Cultured Article: Carrie Underwood Can Inspire Us to Tell Stories

Up at Counter Cultured today, I have a blog post about Carrie Underwood’s new album “Storyteller” being an inspiration for effective political storytelling in conservative politics. Check out an excerpt below:

Female country music singer Carrie Underwood has a new album out called Storyteller.  Not surprisingly, her first single “Smoke Break” off the new album is climbing the charts.

When discussing the inspiration behind Storyteller with iHeart Radio, Underwood said the following: “There’s not one specific story that goes through the album, it’s just, there are very character-based story songs, that are personal. They are my stories that I’m telling.”

Underwood, 32, said her new album boasts a “fresh twang.” She added, “There’s a lot of country, traditional, staple instruments, and obviously storytelling is something country music has always done really well. I feel like we occupy those elements, but it’s very cool and very now and very fresh.”

Country music is all about storytelling, and Carrie Underwood certainly channels this element in her latest album. If storytelling has made country music so successful, why can’t we replicate this effect in conservative politics? If our side starts relying on compelling storytelling, especially visual storytelling, we can effectively disseminate our message to wider audiences without diluting our message.

Continue reading at Counter Cultured.

Zac Brown Band’s DC Concert Rocked Our Socks Off

Last Friday, my sister Anna Maria and I attended the Zac Brown Band concert at Nationals Park. This was the Washington, D.C., stop on their JEKYLL + HYDE Tour.

Since my first exposure to country music several years ago, ZBB has grown into one of my favorite bands. They remain authentically country, and their lead singer can masterfully belt out tunes.

Below is a picture of us enjoying the concert:


ZBB was preceded by The Avett Brothers, which was their opening act. Admittedly, I’ve never heard of them but figured their music aligned well with ZBB’s. (Indeed, they were pretty good!)

I particularly love ZBB’s music for combining country with tropical flair. They incorporate classic country elements, but spice it up with unique things like a fiddle and gospel choir.

ZBB opened up with their new leading single, “Homegrown.” It was followed with “Loving You Easy,” their rendition of “The Devil Goes Down to Georgia,” “Dress Blues,” “Castaway,” “Let It Be,” “Colder Weather,” “Sweet Annie,” “Keep Me in Mind,” “Jump Right In,” and other well-known tunes off their new album and older albums. Everyone around us was dancing in their seats, singing along, and having a good time. How could you not enjoy Zac Brown Band? It was a rousing good time!

One of the touching moments from the concert was during the performance of their new song “Dress Blues.” They brought out several servicemen, who then marched on stage. The crowd then burst out with “USA!” chants and resounding claps. Patriotism was alive and well at Nats Park. It was a touching moment for those of us living in the belly of the beast best known as Washington, D.C.

Below are some pictures from the concert:


IMG_6529  IMG_6557

Unlike other concerts I’ve been to, this one was different in that the leading act – ZBB, in this case – performed for a good chunk of time. (Their show lasted roughly 2 and a half hours.) It goes to show that they appreciate their fans and love bringing happiness through music. Gotta give props to them for that!

Check out their music, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter!


New Counter Cultured Video: Millennials Supporting Gun Rights

Today at Counter Cultured, we released our new video project entitled, “Millennials Defend The Second Amendment.”

17 participants from all walks of life participated in our video. Counter Cultured seeks to give conservative/libertarian Millennials a greater voice. Our commentary seeks to make conservatism spicy without diluting the message. Check out the video below:

Make sure you LIKE Counter Cultured on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Update I:  Our video has been profiled by Bearing Arms and The Dana Show.

Update II: Video is profiled up at TheBlaze.

Say ‘Neyt’ to Networking and ‘Yes’ to Connecting


“Eventually everything connects – people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se.” – Charles Eames

When I moved to the Washington, D.C., area nearly three years ago, I underestimated how ubiquitous networking was here. This Town is notorious for encouraging meet-ups and subsequent interactions–both good and bad . From its countless Happy Hours to its various political functions, it takes the cake for networking. (D.C. should change its motto from “Justice for All” to “Network or Die!”) If this sounds scary, fear not–anyone can network. However, cultivating great connections or interpersonal relationships with others is what will set you apart in a place as swampy as Washington, D.C.

Are you meeting the right people to have as friends, colleagues, and possible romantic interests? Or are you surrounding yourself with people who are Debbie Downers, negative influences, or opportunists? If you fall into the latter camp, perhaps it’s wise to reevaluate who you associate with.

Like many other transplants, I was initially nervous about the prospect of making quality friends and forming good connections here in the nation’s capital. It’s natural to feel that way after you relocate here or learn about a city’s (i.e. Washington, D.C.) somewhat negative reputation. Admittedly, I wasn’t worried about meeting people; I was worried about meeting the wrong people. Thankfully, with maturity and good judgment, I didn’t succumb to  serial networking with poor returns. (If I can do it, so can you!)

I’m currently reading Kimberly Guilfoyle’s new book Making The Case: How to Be Your Own Best Advocate  and it illuminates this very concept about prioritizing connections over networking.  Ms. Guilfoyle writes:

“…Don’t make everything about yourself. This is especially true as you try to build your sphere of influence. For instance, it is way more effective to really connect with others than to just network…Now whenever I meet someone of interest I save his information too. I don’t do this for career purposes only. I find that there are also personal advantages to meeting and staying in touch with a wide variety of people,” (98).

How many of you out there feel like your interpersonal relationships could fare better? Everyone longs for a solid network of  friends and business associates–even substantive romantic relationships. With this predilection towards instant gratification today in all facets of life–instant success, instant love, instant praise, etc.–we lose sight of important things like prioritizing interpersonal connections.

A February 2013 Boston Globe article sheds more light on instant gratification:

The demand for instant results is seeping into every corner of our lives, and not just virtually. Retailers are jumping into same-day delivery services. Smartphone apps eliminate the wait for a cab, a date, or a table at a hot restaurant. Movies and TV shows begin streaming in seconds. But experts caution that instant gratification comes at a price: It’s making us less patient.

As quick instances of networking becomes increasingly mundane, why not aspire to make deep connections with others? Here are several ways to achieve that:

1) Seek out people with common interests

When forging fulfilling relationships, seek out people who share common interests with you. Whether it’s shared political beliefs, similar hobbies, or common background(s), seek out those who you can relate with the most. For example, I gravitate towards people who are also politically conservative, love the outdoors, value hard work, exude intellect, love traveling, enjoy cooking/baking, and are freedom-minded. A lot of times there’s huge overlap. Occasionally someone who isn’t all that politically similar will come into the mix–there are few exceptions!–so don’t rule out those with slight differences. Additionally, seek out connections who will balance you out. Make sure your connections know when to relax and to refrain from politics when necessary. Seek out well-rounded people!

2) Add, don’t subtract, people from your group

One problem I notice here in D.C. is how people gravitate to cliques. (I suspect the same applies to most large cities.) If you’re not “cool” or  have that “it” factor, you’re instantly shunned. (I thought cliques were a thing of the past, say, high school? Apparently I was wrong.) When in doubt, create your own group of friends. For instance, I love bringing different groups of friends together. I sense everyone will get along, share a laugh, and enjoy new company. (Yay good discernment and intuition!) Don’t shy away from adding more people to your ranks. You never know who’ll enter your circle of friends!

3) Connect with people who elevate you, not those who bring you down

Nothing is worse than surrounding yourself with unpleasant people who’ll bring you down. (We’ve all encountered these kinds of people.)  If someone constantly criticizes you, demeans you, or belittles you, drop them. Constructive criticism is healthy; constant berating is not. Rest assured,  friends and loved ones will look out for your best interests. Seek out those who’ll be a positive influence on you!

I hope this post will inspire you to make the most out of connecting with people.

Were my musings too much? Was I on point about forging connections? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

#WearingOrange Campaign Pushes Same Old Gun Control Narrative


Countless celebrities, politicians,  and other public figures have tweeted pictures with the hashtag #WearingOrange to draw attention to National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Sounds like a noble cause, right? I don’t personally know anyone who’s for senseless violence–do you?  What could possibly be wrong with this occasion? Plenty of things.

Why be skeptical? It’s an effort headed up by Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, the parent organization of Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Both of these groups are also notorious for their anti-gun, pro-disarmament positions. They exploit tragedies and profit from fearmongering.  Several people have tweeted me saying this is a nonpartisan, moderate campaign. The list of featured sponsors suggests otherwise:

  • Amnesty International
  • Brady Campaign
  • The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus
  • Center for American Progress
  • Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
  • Media Matters for America
  • National Action Network
  • Unite Blue

The anti-gun crowd has continuously framed the debate suggesting the presence of more guns will lead to more violence. (False!) Newsflash: guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Why can’t criminals be held responsible for their wrongdoing? Why do those of us who safely operate firearms and actually preach real gun safety have to be scapegoated? Legal gun owners are responsible, mature, and highly trained. Actor Vince Vaughn summed this up well in a recent GQ interview:

“I support people having a gun in public full stop, not just in your home. We don’t have the right to bear arms because of burglars; we have the right to bear arms to resist the supreme power of a corrupt and abusive government. It’s not about duck hunting; it’s about the ability of the individual. It’s the same reason we have freedom of speech. It’s well known that the greatest defence against an intruder is the sound of a gun hammer being pulled back. All these gun shootings that have gone down in America since 1950, only one or maybe two have happened in non-gun-free zones. Take mass shootings. They’ve only happened in places that don’t allow guns. These people are sick in the head and are going to kill innocent people. They are looking to slaughter defenceless human beings. They do not want confrontation. In all of our schools it is illegal to have guns on campus, so again and again these guys go and shoot up these f***ing schools because they know there are no guns there. They are monsters killing six-year-olds.”

I tweeted some thoughts about the campaign:

How come Everytown and its surrogates won’t combat violence that emanates from gun-free zones? Why do they continue to demand our government to enact more gun control policies when checks are already in place? Thankfully, they are on the losing side of history. Pew published the following findings back in April:

For most of the 1990s and the subsequent decade, a substantial majority of Americans believed it was more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun owners’ rights. But in December 2014, the balance of opinion flipped: For the first time, more Americans say that protecting gun rights is more important than controlling gun ownership, 52% to 46%.

I’ve written about Everytown’s misinformation campaign on several occasions, including their most recent campaign to paint college females as victims. They still need to be exposed for the frauds they are.

If you want to support true gun safety efforts, I encourage you to support National Shooting Sports Foundation and their Project ChildSafe campaign.

Molon Labe.