I Rode Uber For the First Time Today and Loved It

uber logo

I’m going to come out and say it: Uber is awesome.

Don’t know about Uber? Here’s more information about the ride-sharing service:

Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers. From our founding in 2009 to our launches in over 200 cities today, Uber’s rapidly expanding global presence continues to bring people and their cities closer.

I finally used the service for the first time today here in Boston (where I’m currently on a business trip). In true conservative fashion, I take time to adapt to certain things. (Sorry, not sorry!) Back home in the D.C. metro area, I drive my car everywhere so I don’t see the need to use a taxi apart from traveling. (However, I plan to use it again for an upcoming family vacation in December!)

For those of you who know me, I’m an unabashed supporter of free markets and start-ups. Companies like Uber and Lyft pique my interest, so I’ll happily support them if they give consumers greater choice, employ standards, break monopolies created by unions, and offer a great service. (They should reconsider hiring former Obamanite David Plouffe. Not exactly a free market guy.) Though I fully support such enterprises as the aforementioned private ride-sharing services, I hadn’t used them until today. Better late than never, right?!

How do I rate my first Uber ride? 10 out of 10. Overall, riding an UberX is quite a pleasant experience. Regular taxis are too cramped, unpolished, or dirty. Their rates are expensive and their drivers are generally irritable. By contrast, Uber drivers are friendly, punctual, and professional. Uber cars are clean and presentable. Best of all? The iPhone app allows one to pay beforehand by making it easier to process a transaction and not deal with unnecessary fiddling of receipts. (Thanks to a $20 off coupon for first-time use, my ride was free.) I doubt after today I’ll ride in a regular taxi again.

Free enterprise is the most liberating and uplifting economic system ever devised. (Suck it, collectivists and Bolsheviks.)

Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are reviled by anti-choicers, particularly unions and those who despise ingenuity. In June of this year, the Department of Motor Vehicles in my adopted state Virginia issued a cease and desist letter to Uber warning them to stop operating in the Commonwealth. Uber didn’t cower to Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Richmond and remained vigilant. After many people expressed their discontent with this move, McAwful, Attorney General Mark Herring (another leftist ideologue), and others in Richmond thankfully backed off.

No government regulation or bureaucrat can kill the American entrepreneurial spirit–no matter how relentless they are in stifling consumer choice and freedom.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Uber! Long live private ride-sharing services.

 

RTD Column: DC Area Residents Should Applaud Ruling Overturning Handgun Ban

An article of mine appeared in Richmond Times-Dispatch yesterday. Below is an excerpt:

 

The “murder capital of the U.S.” may not be for much longer.

 

On July 26, a federal judge overturned a ban on carrying concealed handguns in the nation’s capital. Judge Frederick Scullin of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York issued the decision in Palmer v. D.C. that read, “the Court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional.”

Two days after the ban was overturned, the same judge issued a 90-day stay on Palmer v. D.C. This gives authorities 90 days — until Oct. 22 — to rewrite the law to accommodate concealed carry or appeal the decision. It allows the city council time to clarify statutes as a result of the decision and set permit-issuing protocols for law-abiding citizens. Despite reluctance to embrace the ruling, local politicians expect the city’s strict gun laws to be eased.

Although some aspects of the ban would remain in effect — including the city’s 10-round magazine limit and ban on so-called “assault weapons” — D.C. area residents should applaud this landmark decision, despite the 90-day stay, in favor of Second Amendment rights.

 

Continue reading at Richmond-Times Dispatch.

Update: Mentioned in a Virginia Shooting Sports Association blog post.

Look Out for My Debut in Richmond-Times Dispatch on August 10th

Credit: Facebook

Hi everyone!

In case you missed my announcement last week, I’ll be published in Richmond-Times Dispatch for the first time this Sunday, August 10th, 2014. RTD is the second-highest circulated state publication in Virginia right after the The Virginian-Pilot. (Interestingly enough, the editorial board has a conservative-libertarian bent.) I couldn’t be more thrilled for the opportunity to have an article published in this outlet!

My article will be featured in the “Editorial, Commentary & Letters” page. It will focus on guns–specifically the recent Palmer v. DC ruling overturning the handgun ban in the nation’s capital.  I’ll post the link here on my blog when it’s published. (I hope to regularly submit content to RTD!)

You can find my articles at Counter Cultured, Townhall.com, and here on my personal blog.

Thanks for reading!

-Gabriella

Virginia Wine, Oh-So Fine

“…wine [is] a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”
Benjamin Franklin, The Posthumous and Other Writings of Benjamin Franklin … Volume 1 of 2

When I’m not immersed in politics, I enjoy what my adopted home state has to offer.

Apart from being a gateway to Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia has a lot of great places to visit and things to do. (Yes, there’s a world beyond the concrete jungle.) That’s why I decided to venture out to Wine Country this past weekend.

One of the Commonwealth’s best hidden secrets is Wine Country. (Disclaimer: I’m not a wine expert; I’m just a connoisseur. All subsequent thoughts are purely subjective.) This was my third time visiting vineyards in Virginia. Since moving to Virginia in June 2012, I’ve been to Rappahannock Cellars near Front Royal (May 2013), Doukenie Winery, and Hillsborough Vineyards (August 2013). All these vineyards were unique and had individual appeal. I wouldn’t recommend going to Front Royal to sample wine–I found Rappahannock’s wine tasting option to be pricey and its premises to be too small. (Good wine, but certainly not worth the drive or price.) The other locations, both based in Purcellville, were reasonable and had better amenities for guests.

This past weekend, I visited Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg, Virginia–an hour drive from Alexandria and Arlington. Middleburg and the surrounding areas comprise Virginia Wine Country. (I hear that Charlottesville is also a great spot. I hope to sample wine there in the future!)

For $10, you get to sample about 10-11 varieties of red and white wine. (One wine–called Schitz and Giggels–is chuckle-worthy.) Also, this winery popularized the Norton grape:

Of particular interest to Chrysalis Vineyards is the native American grape, Norton (sometimes also known as Cynthiana). Recognized among North American varieties for its unique ability to produce premium quality red wines, the Norton was internationally recognized in the 1800′s as the source of distinctively robust reds with overtones of berry and pitted fruits. Today the Norton is enjoying a resurgence of popularity, and a key element of the Chrysalis Vineyards program is to restore this grape to its position of eminence among fine wines. Presently we have the largest planting of Norton in the world.

Overall, I was impressed with this vineyard and its amenities (which included picnic areas and corn hole.)  Below are pictures:

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Complimentary wine glass you keep after wine tasting

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Grapes!

You might be thinking, “Virginia has wine?” Growing up in California, I was in disbelief to hear that Virginia had good wine. However, this August 2013 article in Forbes put things into perspective and made a convincing case in dubbing Virginia the “East Coast Napa Valley”:

Over the past 30 years winemakers have steadily notched improvements. Virginia currently ranks fifth in the number of wineries in the nation and is also the nation’s fifth largest wine grape producer. As of 2012, the Virginia wine industry employs more than 4,700 individuals and contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy annually. More importantly, Virginia wines are surprising critics, winning awards and fans across the globe. World-renowned U.K. based wine critic Steven Spurrier characterized Virginia as a “national contender, producing wines of bright fresh character that call for a second glass.” In blind tastings the wines consistently beat out candidates from other parts of the globe (read about the Breakfast of Champions tasting here). Virginia has momentum, but concerns over grape supply, distribution and growth demands will keep things interesting. Yet, it’s a safe bet that the combination of strategic vision from the Cases and local winemaking zeal will keep the energy headed in the right direction—straight for the tipping point.

If you ever make it out to Virginia and want something fun to do, I recommend checking out the wine scene in Northern Virginia.

Check out Virginia is for Lovers and VirginiaWine.org to learn more about the Commonwealth’s wine selection!

Angling Right: Fishing in Occoquan Reservoir

My dad and I ventured to Occoquan Reservoir for the first time yesterday morning.

Below is a picture I captured at Lake Ridge Marina prior to fishing.

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Occoquan Reservoir is a 2,100-acre body of water that forms at the border of Fairfax County and Prince William County. It’s about a 25 minute drive from D.C. without traffic. This place is known for largemouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, crappie, northern pike, bluegill, and perch. Moreover, it’s been dubbed one of the best places to go bass fishing in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Here’s another shot of the mighty Occoquan.

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Compared to other fishing spots I’ve been to, Occoquan was more picturesque and tranquil. There were plenty of opportunities to see and hear wildlife. Blue herons (pictured below) are quite common at Occoquan Reservoir.

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My dad and I fished for about four hours. In the process, we caught nine crappie/bluegill fish collectively. (Pictured below.) Although we didn’t catch any largemouth bass and lamented over a lost catfish, we weren’t disappointed with Occoquan Reservoir. In fact, I enjoyed the frequency of bites my rod had. It’s a good indication that this place is replete with fish. (Arriving early morning is recommended for catching big game fish.)

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Before you decide to go fishing at Occoquan Reservoir, note several things:

1) Always have your Virginia Freshwater Fishing license on you. Yesterday, the local Virginia Department Game and Inland Fisheries warden made his rounds at Occoquan Reservoir to ensure all anglers were licensed. They will check up on you. Don’t forget to have it with you!

2) Rent a boat. It’s worth the $39.

3) Note limits on fish you can catch and keep.

Largemouth Bass

The daily bag limit for bass is five per day. There is no minimum size limit.

Bluegill

Bluegill (bream) and other sunfish may be harvested without size restriction. Anglers are limited to 50 per day in aggregate (combined).

Crappie

Black and white crappie may be harvested without size restriction from Occoquan. The daily limit is 25 per day in aggregate.

Catfish (Channel and Flathead)

There is no minimum size limit for catfish, but anglers are limited to 20 fish per day of each species.

Northern Pike

The minimum size limit for northern pike in Occoquan Reservoir is 20 inches and anglers are limited to 2 fish per day.

4) Don’t bring alcohol on your boat. (It’s a no-no.)  Instead, have water and light snacks.

 

I foresee myself coming here again in the future. Fellow Virginia residents should make the trip to Occoquan Reservoir if they are looking for good fishing, opportunities to kayak/paddleboard, and nature.  Undoubtedly, this is a great escape from the concrete jungle.

I’ll be taking a brief hiatus from fishing for a few weeks, so expect my next “Angling Right” post in early or mid-August.  Happy fishing!

Angling Right: Fishing in the Potomac River

 

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Yesterday morning, I ventured out to a new fishing spot on the Potomac River. I typically fish at Burke Lake Park in Fairfax Station, Virginia, which is replete with catfish, bass, and crappie. Burke Lake is a great fishing spot, but my dad and I have wanted to explore new places to test out different bodies of water. So we decided to try Little Hunting Creek in Fort Hunt, VA–which is very close to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. (Both of these spots are in Fairfax County, VA.)

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Little Hunting Creek can be found near Riverside Park at the mouth of the Potomac River. It’s known as a great spot to catch largemouth bass, perch, and catfish.  The Potomac River usually gets a bad rap as dirty, polluted, and icky. Although not forbidden to catch fish, most fishermen aren’t encouraged to catch and keep their fish. (Use discernment when fishing in the Potomac. Avoid areas near the Capitol.) The area where Little Hunting Creek flows into the Potomac is generally safe, so there’s no need to panic.

Below is our final catch: one decent-sized catfish, some crappie, and some small bass/perch.

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Best conditions to fish: I recommend going early in the morning between 7:00am-9:30am. The fish were actively biting when the river was overflowing. (Courtesy of a full moon the night before.)

What to bring: I suggest packing water, light food (jerky), chairs (depends on the surface you’re fishing from), and of course, a tackle box.

Recommended equipment: Essentials I recommend using are a rod (Shakespeare), hooks, weights (lightweight, not too heavy), bait (smaller night-crawlers), a net, and a bucket.

Appropriate attire: I recommend wearing pants (preferably jeans), t-shirts, hat, sunglasses, boots or sneakers. (Avoid nice clothes!)

If you’re fishing here in Virginia, remember to have a fishing license on you. Permit rates are quite reasonable (i.e. $23/year for freshwater fishing), so it’s a great investment valid a calendar year from the purchase date. Always have a fishing license on you. Reminder: it’s imperative to follow the laws and practice conservation while fishing. As fishermen, we must do our part to protect and preserve the places we fish. (Thankfully, we don’t rely on the government to conserve our surroundings!)

Next week, I’ll post about an upcoming fishing excursion in Prince William County.

Stay tuned!

 

 

Sic Semper Tyrannis: Photo Voter I.D. Goes Into Effect Here in Virginia

Today, a photo voter I.D. law went into effect here in Virginia. (More information on the new law from the VA Department of Elections can be found here.)

Here’s a summation of the new provision from WDBJ2:

The new ID will be available in July for voters who do not have other acceptable forms of identification.

Other acceptable forms of photo ID include a Virginia driver’s license, a U.S. passport or any other photo ID issued by the United States, Virginia or one of its political subdivisions, a student ID issued by any institute of higher learning in Virginia or any employee identification card.

The new IDs will be for voter identification only and cannot be used for anything else.

Poll taxes are unconstitutional, so states with voter ID laws have to provide photo identification to voters for free.

Under the new law, documents that do not contain a photograph of the voter are no longer acceptable forms of identification when a person is voting in person.

The new law allows voters without photo ID to cast a provisional ballot but they must present identification to their local electoral board within four days following the election for their vote to be counted.

This is a good step in the right direction for our state. Protecting the integrity of voters is crucial to vibrant and transparent elections. If you need an I.D. to board a plane, purchase alcohol, purchase firearms, check into hotels, set up bank accounts, et al., you shouldn’t be bothered with presenting an identification card at the polls.

Sic semper tyrannis!