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.


Kenny Chesney’s Big Revival Tour Delivers Beachy Vibes to DC

Last night, my sister and I saw Kenny Chesney, Jake Owen, and Chase Rice perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD. This was a tour stop to support Kenny Chesney’s latest album, “The Big Revival.”

Merriweather is constantly ranked a top concert venue. Did it meet our expectations? You betcha!

We arrived at Merriweather close to the end of Chase Rice’s set, courtesy of DC traffic, so we didn’t hear him perform anything except for “Ride” and “Cruise” as we were walking up to the venue. Rice’s music is interesting to say the least. It certainly fits the “bro-country” mold; hits like “Ready Set Roll” and “Ride” are evidence of that . That’s not to say he isn’t a talented or good musician. He wrote Florida-Georgia Line’s hit single “Cruise” and has several great songs on his debut album “Ignite the Night.” (My personal favorites are “Carolina Can” and “Mmm Girl.”) We were obviously more impressed with Jake Owen and Kenny Chesney.

Florida-grown Jake Owen was next. He recently said he’s ditching “fantasy” songs in response to criticism about him incorporating “bro-country” platitudes into his music. His music certainly has a beachy vibe, which we absolutely appreciate as Southern California natives. Owen performed a host of singles, ranging from “Days of Gold” to “Barefoot Blue Jean Night.” He also performed his new single-“Real Life”-live for the first time, so that was quite exciting. It’s quite catchy. (Apparently, it was inspired by some Sugar Ray songs? Very cool.) Watch the lyric video below:

Below are some pictures I took of Jake Owen. (Swoon!)



When Kenny Chesney took the stage,  you could feel the excitement build. That man knows how to entertain! (He’s quite the dancer, too.) Kenny Chesney seems like a chill guy–someone you’d want to go fishing with. His music universally appeals to people, regardless of age. His songs speak to the heart. Even better: he sounds authentic during live performances! He started off with “Reality” and also sang “Wild Child,” “Big Star,” “Til It’s Gone,” “American Kids,” “No Shoes No Shirt No Problem,” among other famous hits. Below are some shots I took of Mr. Chesney:




Hands down, this concert was fantastic. You couldn’t ask for a more perfect Mid-Atlantic summer night either! Apart from the swaths of half-naked teenagers (especially some questionably dressed girls) and some drunkenness, this country concert experience is one I will forever cherish. Glad to see Kenny Chesney is still cranking out good music!

Concert-going season is just getting started! What’s up next in the DMV? Stay tuned…

People of America: Giving a Human Face to Conservative Values


On Monday, my sister Anna Maria and I unveiled a new project over social media called People of America.

What is People of America, you ask? It’s modeled after Humans of New York in terms of storytelling, but a project boasting a conservative grassroots bent powered by social media. Here’s more on our new project:

People of America seeks to spread conservative ideas through storytelling. Through the power of photos, stories, and social media, we hope to give a human face to conservative principles. This project aims to give people a voice who are ignored by the media, Congress, and the political establishment.

Our side fails to personalize conservatism. It’s almost embarrassing to point out how terrible the elites in party politics avoid this.  People view our side as uncreative, boring, rigid, and uninspiring–sentiments which do nothing for our cause. Why not give a human face to our values? It’s long overdue.

Have you overcome adversity created by big government policies? Have you defied the status quo without government assistant? Are you currently battling bureaucrats or statists? Have a story to share? Let us tell your story!

If you wish to get involved, find People of America on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Hope you join us at People of America!

Success: Billy Currington Pulls Out of Anti-Gun Event!

In wake of backlash for participating in an event that condones gun control, country singer Billy Currington announced late this evening he’s backing out of the July 17th concert called “A Concert For Sandy Hook Promise.”

Here’s a full statement on his personal Facebook page:

I’ve never been one to take on controversial issues – I’m a singer. I do feel strongly about honoring and supporting the Sandy Hook community and will be making a donation to a local organization. I appreciate people’s freedom and passion for whatever cause they want to support, however, I am choosing to step aside from this fundraiser and will focus instead on the rest of the tour dates as I look forward to being on the road with Tim and Chase and having a blast with all of the fans.

On Tuesday it was revealed country singers Tim McGraw, Billy Currington, and Chase Bryant would headline an event in conjunction with Sandy Hook Promise, an anti-gun group that has sought to disarm legal gun owners and push universal background checks.

Glad Mr. Currington has pulled out. He has great music and clearly knows his base–gun-toting, freedom-loving people! Hope Chase Bryant heeds the same. However, don’t count on Tim McGraw to do so. He’s an avowed Democrat who has given this group a ringing endorsement:

“Out of this tragedy a group was formed that made a promise to honor the lives lost and turn it into a moment of transformation,” McGraw in a statement. “Sandy Hook Promise teaches that we can do something to protect our children from gun violence. I want to be a part of that promise – as a father and as a friend.”

Instead of promoting questionable groups that solely exist to disarm people, support credible groups that actually promote safety. One group everyone should support is Project ChildSafe:

Project ChildSafe is also a program committed to promoting firearms safety among all firearms owners through the distribution of safety education messages and free firearm Safety Kits. The kits include a cable-style gun-locking device and a brochure (also available in Spanish) that discusses safe handling and storage to help deter access by unauthorized individuals, including at-risk persons.

Project ChildSafe is a real solution to making our communities safer. Through vital partnerships with law enforcement, elected officials, community leaders, state agencies, businesses, the firearms industry and other stakeholders, Project ChildSafe has distributed more than 36 million firearms safety kits to gun owners in all 50 states and five U.S. territories, and has helped raise awareness about the safe and responsible ownership of firearms and the importance of securely storing firearms to reduce access by unauthorized individuals.

Sounds good, don’t it? Enjoy Mr. Currington’s latest single “Don’t It” in honor of him coming to his senses.

New Counter Cultured Article: Go See ‘The Longest Ride’

I wrote a new article at Counter Cultured yesterday. Below is an excerpt:

Last Friday, several friends and I went to our local movie theater to watch the latest Nicholas Sparks book-to-film adaptation The Longest Ride. Despite Sparks’ recent shortcomings – he and his wife of 25 years recently announced their divorce – he is a masterful storyteller. The Longest Ride stars Scott Eastwood (son of Clint Eastwood), Britt Robertson, Alan Alda, Oona Chaplin (granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin), Jack Huston (grandson of John Huston), and other talented actors.

Eastwood plays Luke Collins, a stubborn bull-rider who falls in love with Sophia Danko (Britt Roberson), a child of Polish immigrants who studies at Wake Forest University. Sophia is hesitant to go out with Luke since she’ll be leaving for New York City to pursue an internship at a well-known art gallery. After initial hesitation, she goes out with Luke. They go on a remarkable first date and hit it off despite coming from different worlds. While driving Sophia home, they stumble upon a burning car that has trapped Ira Levinson (Alan Alda). Luke rescues Ira from the burning car, and Sophia grabs his box of love letters he wrote to his wife. Sophia stays with Ira and slowly develops a bond with him. Ira’s story of complicated love soon intertwines with her’s and Luke’s.

Continue reading at Counter Cultured.

Angling Right: Getting Jiggy With Lures

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These past two weekends, my father and I had the chance to go out to some local fishing holes here in Northern Virginia. While we weren’t fruitful in our catches – bites were minimal, temperatures were chilly, and wind conditions were less than satisfactory- we were able to test out some lures.

Now that I’ve been actively fishing for half my life – I turned 24 a few weeks ago – I have learned how to modify my technique and adapt in order to become more adept at angling.

What is a lure? It’s artificial bait and comes in the form of poppers, spinners, jigs, blades, plugs and spoons. (Learn more about freshwater and saltwater lures here.)

Normally, my fishing rod is retrofitted with a weight and live bait (preferably night crawler worms in freshwater or shrimp/squid for saltwater) but I haven’t really used lures before. To most people, lures are used for added effect and to entice game fish such as the elusive largemouth bass. Using lures is a matter of preference, but can go a long way in maximizing one’s reach and catch rate. Here’s more about the use of lures from Learning How to Fish:

When building a tackle selection one must consider the species of fish you’re targeting along with the season you’re fishing in. Expert fishermen understand seasonal locations of fish and the proper presentation, meaning the choice of lure and how to retrieve it. This builds confidence knowing how to fish the proper lure at the proper depth to maximize your catch rate, and catching fish is the quickest way to gain confidence.

I plan to incorporate lures into my fishing repertoire to improve my chances of catching larger fish. As weather conditions begin to warm up, look out for some fishing posts from yours truly!

Have you used lures? What types of lures do you recommend? Let me know below!