Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement

7/30/09

Report: The Great Facebook Coffee Experiment 1

For 1.5 hours, we had a Coffee Summit. No press was there to take pictures and ask who drank red or blue coffee, and who drank the Nescafe. At 9:00 pm, the doors closed, and some of us continued the discussion.

I have no amazing pronouncements about all of this. It wasn't that structured to provide 'data' as one might expect in a true experiment.
  1. Dave (pictured in red), a guy I ran with in the 1980s on a track club. Saw him last 25 years ago. He went from a GED to PhD (and two MAs) since then.
  2. Kati, Hungarian woman (know through my wife).
  3. Craig, Kati's husband. I see Kati/Craig semi-frequently. Craig owns a Chicago-area retail and residential painting business.
  4. John, my college roommate. Saw him last two-three years ago.
  5. Dan, John's friend whose postings I have watched recently. Met for first time tonight.
  6. Frank, an artist I know from related art circles. I see him every few months.
  7. My wife
  8. Myself
  9. Stacy, who I know from church, stopped by briefly to say hello.
  10. Phil, who I knew in grad school, had car trouble, and came by at the end. He might have just been nearby serendipitously, or intentionally stopped by. Saw him last four years ago. maybe more, maybe less. Not sure.
10 in all. 2.77% of 325 of my Facebook friends (9/325). Some discrepancy exists between various parts of my account suggest I have as many as 395 friends.

Tough night, especially as many of my church going ones have Bible studies and things, plus, parents have family activities. One person who planned to be there had a death in the family, another person was sick, and many friends live too far.

I had a thing or two planned (minor ice breaker/introduction questions), but dropped even my small agenda noticing the group was small, requiring no ice breakers. Conversation was fun and friendly, spanning art, baseball, soccer, hiking, language acquisition, stand-up comedy (Dave has played many of the Chicago clubs).

It was fun. I went there vaguely nervous, not knowing who would be there. Because I invited everyone, this included some people who might find themselves very different from each other. That might have been a story I might not want to tell.

A few people left with e-mail addresses, glad to connect again later. Met as strangers, left as friends.

It was a good number. At some point, it would be big enough to cause real organization. I was armed only with a Sharpie and name tags, plus a few conversational tools. I never used any of that.

If it hit 25 or more, then I go from participant to host, at which point I will have wished I had a plan B for location.

Small group theory suggests groups are from 3-21, but at 7, they start breaking into subgroups. That happened some, but this group had different overlaps, making integration continual.

I am curious how other invitation methods impact how seriously it would be taken. In this case, I basically only used the Facebook event invitation tool, then promoted it through my status updates, with a final e-mail this afternoon. What if I e-mailed or called the most likely attendees, like those who live close enough? What difference would Saturday make? Morning, noon, night?

Narcissism?
Someone suggested this was narcissistic, and that I should not do it. Whether it was narcissistic or not, I have no idea. I saw it as no different, ultimately, as inviting friends to my home, or a couple guys from Boston to have a beer. Only, my home is too small, and, to those I have not met in person before, that could be intimidating. A cafe seemed the easiest, most welcoming thing, and I knew the place and the owner.

As experiments go, I learned some things about social networking. This was by no means a serious experiment with a hypothesis and scientific method, but it had purpose and goals. I'll try it again in six months or whenever, on a weekend, with much more advance notice.

7/29/09

Fresh, Invigorating Musical Poetry Invokes Neruda, Donne, Kerouac: Raven Songs 101 review

Raven Songs 101
Fresh, Invigorating Musical Poetry Invokes Neruda, Donne, Kerouac

Somewhere between songs and spoken word lands the Kevin Max/Adrian Belew project "Raven Songs 101". I struggled in considering how to describe this, since it hits several categories musically, stylistically and lyrically. Somehow, it ties together.

Gutsy, and not perfect, it goes to places avoiding genres, and shows that experimentation in music is a long way from dead. Not every allusion or symbol is clear, but there is a visceral challenge developed here worthy of exploration.

There is no point comparing this to dc Talk's work, as it is similar only in that Max brings the same genuine pursuit of God and art. Otherwise, there are only glimpses of hip-hop and pop rock. It does not contradict dc Talk's core message, but puts an entirely different voice and angle to it.

Listeners expecting Jack Kerouac will find something akin in the midst of something being extraordinarily different. The music written not just played behind the piece, but as an integral part. With Kerouac, jazz provided texture and tone. With Max/Belew, it is essentially unified with the lyrics. Unlike a song, the lyrics are not sung so much as they are presented as a variety of instruments.

The poetry is a cross between free verse modernism and Pablo Neruda, with a strong current of metaphysical poet John Donne in its realist-sensual-faith driven descriptions.

Like Kerouac, Max finds internal vowel rhymes, and with those, a natural cadence, as in the eponymously named cut: "I was spurned and churned, nocturnal immersions in the baptism of your love."

Spoken word poetry is often associated today with memoirists like Maya Angelou, but those listeners will be disappointed. Max's poetry deals heavily with self introspectively, as in the pulse-beat metronymic, rhythmic 'Raising Cain':

I seize the light and draw it down,
and I cover it up with a blanket of foam
I break the bond that held us.
I curse the ground and live in caves.
I speak to the dead in the silence of shame.
I break the back that made us.
I drive the nails and draw the sword.
I do this even though I know the word.

This is a confession of brokenness and willingness, as opposed to a declaration of defiance or victory.

The music itself reminds me of the Art of Noise, Bjork, and even some industrial techno and punk. Some club beats, ambient guitar, Africanesque-jazz drums line the songs in a moody, yet understated expression.

Vocal layers add to the intrigue, as does some interesting mixing of stereo (especially in 'River'). Culturally and artistically relevant, Max shows a broad knowledge of the world outside of Nashville. Max does not deny he is part of the greater musical world, referring diversely to Frank Sinatra, Gene Simmons, Elvis, Nina Simone, the Sex Pistols and others in the hypnotic 'Black Leather and a Microphone.'

In the song titled 'Untitled', Max turns on the effects and his voice comes out like a Doctor Who Dalek. It is reminiscent of the Rolling Stones 'Sympathy for the Devil,' with lines like, "I saw the Gestapo alive with desire," and "I saw old Judas hung from the gallows." Unfortunately, in the distortion, it hard to catch the full meaning of the piece. A lyric sheet would be a great tool, but, in downloading an mp3 instead of buying a CD with liner notes loses that.

'And You Tremble At His Feet' has a 1960s coffeehouse coolness to it, but with more depth and sophistication.

In the fog horn imbued 'One', he addresses cynicism as we see the frail humanity declaring Christ. "What you felt was a pinch of realism in a world of cheapened orthodox," seems to call upon on the sensibility of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He wants real faith which does not succumb to the lure of Man, but the grace of God.

"It's not the singer. It's the song... There is one valid opinion among the screeching, seething leeches," implies that beyond all the marketing, church camps, falsity found in Christianity, there is still one truth, and one true voice. The truth is still the truth.

'Whalers Tails' is the most standard reading. Unfortunately, it is the least interesting and most cliché. The first two stanzas come across weakly as he sounds like he is reading a poem, rather than performing it. Moody Blues fans might find themselves remembering the mod-psychedelic poem 'Late Lament' spoken at the end of 'Nights in White Satin'. Max redeems 'Untitled' at the end, "I lay in bones in bunched up pieces, and I see the heavens in choked-up freedom."

Expect this to grow on you.

* Time The Fever To A Boil (4:04)
* Untitled (2:26)
* Raising Cain (3:37)
* And You Tremble At His Feet (1:18)
* River (5:07)
* Swing (1:59)
* When The Dawn Comes (1:13)
* Black Leather And A Microphone (3:25)
* One (2:34)
* Raven Song 101 (1:45)
* Whalers Tails (1:58)

I fully recommend "Raven Songs 101" by Kevin Max and Adrian Belew.

Anthony Trendl
http://anthonytrendl.com/

7/28/09

The Cool and the Cucumber: Farmers Markets as Function and Form

Ever go to farmer's markets? We do. A necessity to get certain vegetables. Not being a great vegetable eater, I had never really gone before, but certain cherries, peppers that make Hungarian food what it is require the occasional visit. I learned it is cool to go.

In Hungary, farmers sell their stuff in large markets. And people buy in there. More than fruits and vegetables too. Meat. Bread. It is more a general market than the French Market I see in our town.
Here, a French Market takes over a parking lot most Saturday mornings in Spring and Summer. Real farmers sell there, as do a few boutique stores from the area. But it is cool to be there, to be seen there. 'Cool' is not part of my lifestyle lingua franca, so I am smiling at it all.
Pictured here are cherries picked in Michigan a few weeks ago. We needed them, they were cheap, so we did. These are tart cherries, similar to the Balaton cherries found in Hungary (and Michigan, but not in season). Cool? You betcha. Functional? Completely.

7/27/09

Worldview in Writing

Listening to a radio interview of Travis Thrasher, a horror writer who is a Christian: He says that our worldview comes through in our writing.

How about that?

I think this is perhaps more true for the non-professional writer. He does not have the advantage of editing out bias or frailties. There is an honesty, for better and for worse. From the heart to the paper.

What does this mean to me? I blog a lot. I write for a live apart from all of this. I have creative pieces I am trying to market. If I read through the totality of my writing, what is my worldview?

http://www.travisthrasher.com/

7/24/09

I Invited the World to Have Coffee

This week, I invited everyone, all 325 or so friends on my Facebook account to coffee. So far, 10 maybes, and one committed person. Two of those maybes are just being polite, as they live too far to come. Including me, then, 10 in all may be there. I think, at most, 25 people will be there once everyone reads their e-mail.

Novel idea? I am calling it a Facebook experiment. It is novel, I suppose, but only because of the way we are connecting. I think of it somewhat like a wedding in which there is a really big table, and although few have met, they are all connected by the person at another table. Only this is a coffee shop, and you won't find your drunk uncle singing Frank Sinatra tunes with a gin and tonic accent.

What if My Facebook Friends Got Together?
My friends are a diverse bunch. Off the top of my head, I know there are at least five countries represented, and locally, speakers of several languages. Some are rich, and others are poor.

A few are well-known to a degree (writers and authors, and one particularly famous singer -- you probably heard him on the radio with his old band). Others unknown to but a few. Some keep very tight circles, with just a friend or two, without much family. Runners from my youth and adulthood (no overlap). One runner even held a few world records for a long time.

At least one of my students from my professional tutoring days. Students from Wheaton Academy. Colleagues from a dozen gigs. Artists.

Their opinions on a life are wildly different. One has unbridled joy despite her simple lifestyle. Another has an equal amount of unbridled pessimism, living at at the same economic level. Politically, you name it. I have middle-of-the-roaders, rabid Obama fans, and rabid Palin fans. Some are conservative, others are liberal (politically and lifestyle). Their religions cannot be summed up either. With this many people, you can imagine: practicing and pretending, devoutly for, devoutly against. Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Mormon, agnostic, pagan, atheist. Some just don't care about any of this, and, for all, they might just be ambivalent, or, by default some version of disinterested agnostic.

Friendship in Era of (In)Tolerance
In an earlier post, I lamented how one person I know could not tolerate a friend's view that mixed marriages were wrong. So, I got to thinking. What about my friends? What are my own intolerances? Somehow, that point was lost in the reading by the person who inspired me to greater thought. Stirred up a hornet's nest and found that my tolerance of another's intolerance was intolerable, and, let's just say I won't be getting a Christmas card this year.

For some, intolerance is a disguise, an excuse to avoid intimacy. Scary stuff, that. Men are known for superficial friendships, talking baseball and politics, but never going deeper. Men aren't the only ones. We are afraid of relationships with people different than us -- just as much as we are afraid of relationships with people exactly like us. I am.

I have a good friend with whom I can argue, and know that we are still friends. He is much more conservative than I am, and will quickly point out how he sees this world. We both agree it is broken, but aren't in accord with the solution. I trust him as my friend, and with confidence know I can express my views. He will remain my friend before and after the conversation. He never makes it, nor takes it, personal. I consider it an honor to know him.

Why I Am Doing This
My general thesis is that my friends...

  1. Are interesting (and many are flat-out exciting).
  2. Miss the range of friends they had in high school.
  3. Miss the depth of friendship they had in college.
  4. Aren't as social as they would like to be.

I want to encourage people just by merely getting together. Some have said this world is less friendly, and I think this is true. I don't know why. I'm not a sociologist. I do see, at least in my little world, people hiding away. A few on my Facebook list have confided they are lonely, and play online games all day. Why not call someone and meet in person? I do that.

I am online more than many, and one of those online places over the years has been a forum for book reviewers for Amazon.com. I have met many here as they traveled through, and when a large group us rented a room in the famous Algonquin Hotel in New York City. I cannot begin to tell you the joy I felt meeting my friends in person. Our common interests were a glue that drew us together, even though our lives often couldn't be more different.

I believe we live isolated lives that do not need to be, slowly deteriorating our sense of what defines relationship.

Our lives become theories, not realities. Our reality is some postmodern thing. We blame society, or lifestyle, but some of my most isolated friends are not overworked. They are under-relational. It is a funny thing too, as I ask around. The answer to these kinds of concerns is, "We are insulated. We never go visit people," followed by the admittance that they themselves never take initiative.

One friend recently met a group of fellow online players. They met at a central location in St. Louis and had a fabulous time. This is what should happen.

When I taught in a jail in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I noticed a peculiar thing: Late at night, at, say, 2:00 am, we all see the same thing: A ceiling dim, fuzzy in the half light of night and the need to sleep. At 2:00 am, the worst of humankind, the most noble, the beautiful and the ugly all encounter themselves for what they are. Be it lonely, content, joyful or beleaguered all look deep inside.

At 2:00 am, all men are equal.

I am not immune to any of this. I have had a rough few months. There's no need to labor into a pity party because all is well, but, content or not, I have suffered a few bruises directly, or watching others deal with some hard things around me.

On the whole though, I am hopeful. I don't see this life as darkly as a few others I know. You know the sort. They can find an excuse to pinch themselves just so that anything good can be seen in a more cynical light.

Meanwhile, my world is tremendously diverse. I don't know how this happened, but I look back at the adventures in my life, and it is a series of intertwining colorful junctures into some exciting lives and stories. It still is. You wouldn't know this to see me, or to look at any single glimpse, but the rich cavalcade of it all amuses me, a guy living with his wife in a small suburban apartment. No kids. No dog. I want to share the mundane and the exciting.

What Will It Come To?
Will I be sitting alone, reading a book, watching the door, wishing someone, anyone would answer my invitation? Or will it be an amazing evening of connecting? Look back here next week for my update.

Have you ever met your online friends? How did it go?




7/23/09

Completely Kerouac: Searching for America: Review of On the Road by Jack Kerouac

On the Road

Few books are written fully in the writer's voice. Often, the story moves the voice this way or that, or a character demands a tone somewhat different than the real person writing. Not Jack Kerouac in "On the Road." I have heard enough clips and interviews that I can only hear Jack reading it. Not 'Kerouac'. Jack. The book, and the author through it, is that intimate. He is Sal Paradise.

Did everything happen as Sal tells it? Who can say? I doubt it, but Jack believed it could have happened, and for the sake of me believing the book, that's enough.

Like any road book, this is a collection of adventures. What distinguishes it is the period in which its written. It captures a slice of America and Americana unique in style to the late 1950s and early 1960s. A big revolution was coming, but no one saw it coming. Sal tells about the beginning, before it was the beginning.

The quest is bigger than any book can capture. It uses a lot of coming of age imagery, as well as pushing the limits of that age. The trip is east to west, symbolic of America's own quest toward a secularized Manifest Destiny.

The lore of the book, like how it was written in a furious rush, can be enough to be interested, but a few pages into it, you will discover this is much more than a curious novel written in an era to be forgotten in the next. This is a classic in the making.

To gain a taste of Jack Kerouac's poetry and cadence in his prose:
"So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, and all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear? The evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all the rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty."

I fully recommend "On the Road," by Jack Kerouac.

Anthony Trendl
http://anthonytrendl.com/

7/22/09

Phil Driscoll Plays Amazing Grace on Trumpet

A great video of trumpet player Phil Driscoll performing Amazing Grace.

Know Your Lizards, Turtles and Snakes: Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification (Golden Field Guide from St. Martin's Press) review

Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification (Golden Field Guide from St. Martin's Press)

"Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification" by Hobart Smith is what I have read for years. A lifelong novice, but curious follower of herpetology, I have used this field guide to identify geckos, skinks, snakes, turtles, terrapins, tortoises and more.

Although I live in the northern Midwest, we still have a few things crawling around. I first had a copy of a much earlier edition when I was a child. We lived on the then-edge of the suburbs, with woods and creeks close by, and this became a useful book, along with a guide for amphibians, spiders and butterflies.

Each animal is described by family, subfamily, species and subspecies, with color-coded maps telling the reader where it can be found. A brief overview of each family provides a few lifestyle facts. Color drawings for every species accompany the description, with details like "2 1/4 in. (58 mm) snout to vent" (Texas Banded Gecko).

A section at the end (20 pp) explains general reptile biology, distribution, scaling, and reproduction.

If the random snake slithers through your lawn, "Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification" is the book to help you sort out just what kind it is.

I fully recommend this book.

Anthony Trendl
http://anthonytrendl.com

7/21/09

What's Your Litmus Test for Friendship?

A good friend posed the hard issue: Could she be friends with a Christian who holds the belief that mixed-race marriages are wrong? She says no, and dumped that friendship on that basis alone.

Since something like 75% of America considers themselves Christians, that would make things challenging. If I went down my list of ideologies I thought were intolerable, I would be stuck lonely, wishing I could even avoid myself (with whom I disagree most often). If sinlessness is the arbiter, then I dare not pick my friends this way.

For me, I expect Christians to struggle with sin. We go into this whole thing pretty much in tune with the fact that we sin. We get it, Catholics, Protestant both get this. Naturally, people disagree with what counts as sin. Racism is a bad thing, there is no doubt, but it is just one on a long list of egregious grievances. Which sin is worse in the eyes of God?

Grading sins is easy. We like some more than others. Some are fashionably accepted as tolerable (or even nudge-nudge OK), while others are despicable unacceptable.

Pick your favorite? Drunkenness? Prostitution? Divorce? Stealing? Lying? Racism? Abortion? You get the idea. The list can go a long way before exhaustion.

Jesus Christ Himself famously loved the worst of sinners. He ate at their homes.

I considered my friends. I know many, many people who have strong views I consider contrary to God's plan. Some are Christians. Some are activists. All are sinners. Just like me.

Got a sin that you put higher in the hierarchy?

7/9/09

When It All Comes Down To It, Gimme Rock

I'm old rocker. No apologies. As I surf through my music tastes, I listen to a wide range of genres regularly. But I was born in 1966. I bought my first LP in 1976. (Wild Cherry, purchased at Dominick's). Favorites are found in all generations for me, but my default is blues-based rock.

I teethed on Led Zeppelin, the Doors, and the 1960s rock library. My dad listened to music from the generation before. During a high school job at a now-closed Palos Heights restaurant, I was introduced to Ricky Nelson, the Everly Brothers and Gene Vincent. I've learned a little about jazz, blues and classical, and can listen to banjo music all day. I dig it all.

When I think of today's music, I know it isn't all bad. Taking Back Sunday is listenable. But, when it all comes down to it:

  • Gimme Bowie (genuine poetic rock)
  • Gimme Dylan (he ticked off a lot of people when he converted)
  • Gimme Jimi (we need a whole lot more Jimi and a lot less Britney Spears)
  • Gimme Satchmo (passion blew a horn)
  • Gimme Frank (you need more?)
  • Gimme Keaggy (now, lemme tell you, that's a guitar)
  • Gimme Talbot (not rock at all, but I like it)
  • Gimme Norman (white soul)
  • Gimme Mahalia (if you don't know, find out)
  • Gimme Tharp (before there was Christian rock, there was Sister Rosetta Tharp)

Each link is a YouTube video. Click around and have fun. What's your music path?

7/7/09

Evening Writing

Late in the evening, I often begin my best writing. It is quiet, and my mind is at rest. There is a settling of all things.

No cars are coming by on Ramblewood Drive. COD students are not walking to school. The phone never rings. Birds aren't singing. Just quiet.

Nothing is in front of me, like an appointment or some errands needing taking care of. These things are silent too.

This is when my writing is often best. I can linger on a word, confident nothing will interrupt me.

Myself -- I am slightly tired, and so, internal distractions from my favorite thorn do not bother me either. It is when all is at respite, I hear the conversation of ideas. During the day, the conversation is still there, but is cluttered out by the maintenance of the day. This is as much a reprieve emotionally as it is a function of production.

If an idea comes about, I will cater its cause, and work until I can no longer shrug off sleep. Bad ideas will mix in with the good, but I can sort all of this out in the morning.

Nights are gentle. For Robert Frost, it intoned a sad, melancholic time.

Acquainted with the Night
by: Robert Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
O luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

From "New Hampshire", 1923
I remembering understanding this poem best when I was younger. There were days I would spend hours talking with a friend, then walking two miles back. It was a misty walk, with dew on the grass, cool, with an evening fog blowing in off the Cal-Sag Channel (Calumet-Saganashkee Channel for those who care.). It could have been creepy if a moor was involved, but for me, there was just a tincture of peace matched by an equal amount of sadness. Childhood ends, and I knew it would.

From my friend's house, I would walk through the neighborhood, along Central Ave at Conkey Woods, then cut over at Bob's Citgo, and follow 127th to my street. As a runner, then, two miles was nothing if I ran, but I walked slowly then (before I learned the hurried, never talk to strangers commuter walk in Chicago).

In Bloomington, IL
Later, in college, I learned the art of porch reading. I found an old chair on the porch at the house at Linden and Poplar (a block from the Old Rt 66). I leaned back against a broken refrigerator under a dim light bright enough for a few hours of reading and to attract moths my landlord's kitten would seduce into lunch. I was a private tutor then, and this was how I kept up with my students' reading list. Linden was a mildly busy road then, leading north into Hudson, but quiet enough as I played Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby tapes as I flipped through hundreds of pages of "Treasure Island," "The Island of the Blue Dolphins," and other such junior high school classics.

A few years before, I lived across from Illinois Wesleyan University in the basement of a dilapidated house on Center Street, the northbound part of Rt. 51. The landlord lived an hour south in Springfield and so repairs rarely happened. A constant stench of humidity and mold would waft through if the windows would open for a breeze. This was before my first car, so to escape, I would wander south to downtown Bloomington, and the east on Washington. Bloomington carries the scent of corn and soy in July, and I'd end up in a park, or sitting on the stairs of the Old Courthouse watching policeman and late shifters go by. Sometimes, I would see an old friend and we'd sit together and talk about hopeful days ahead.

Now, in the evening, I am in these places whenever I like. I am anywhere the mood or poem suits. Imagination has been a friend to me all my life, and the quiet of the night helps get me wherever I need to be. Childhood has ended, but I walk Central Avenue or Rt. 51 any night I need.

These days, I can indulge. My situation provides the freedom to write late at night, so I will. The morning can tolerate me getting up late (8:00 am is late). My writing list is long, from poems and short stories to blogs to professional writing to book reviews. Even longer is the need to edit existing pieces into submittable form.

It is a good life.

7/6/09

Sarah Palin Fan

Am I a Sarah Palin fan? If you see my Facebook presence, you might think so. I am intrigued. I expect a few of my Palin-phobic friends to wince, but I trust that they are bright enough to know already what I'm saying below describes my perspective. Yet, I joined the Sarah Palin Facebook group.

Will I vote for her if she runs in 2012? I don't know. She hasn't announced this, hasn't even competed in the primaries as a presidential candidate, and I have no idea what the issues in 2012 will be. I won't likely vote in the primaries for her, that's for sure. I can't. I'm not a Republican and she is.

I know that unless Barack Obama becomes prolife and stops being the patsy for the Democratic Party (or is it that the Democratic Party has become his patsy?), I will not be voting for him in 2012.

So what will it be?

For now, Barack Obama is my president. I am an American, and he is the president of the United States of America. George W. Bush was the president of every American for the eight years prior (yes, even for those who claim otherwise, unless they were Canadian or Cuban or English or...).

I do admire certain aspects of Palin. She grinned through a lot of abuse thrown at her by city-folk who did not like her northwestern USA accent. She did not waver in her prolife stand even though a middle-of-the-road statement could have helped her in the McCain effort.

I also am impressed with her willingness to stand up for her faith. Even some Christians trashed her for this, including ones comfortable with Obama's ex-pastor supporting him. That took guts. Palin would quickly dismiss supporters to do what she believed is right.

Will she make a good president? That depends on the kind of president we need in 2012. I think Barack Obama might be a one-year president whose job is simply to get our economy on track. If he runs again, it would be difficult for her to win, presuming ObamaLove is still in heat. However, I can see him fighting for hard policies at the end of his first term that could lose him liberal supporters. He's started to buck some of the most antiwar supporters with his Afghanistan war strategy.

McCain, to me, was no maverick. He was bold, but still a party member when it was all over. She is frustrating both parties because she is thinking for herself. This amazes me, especially as she remains popular. While she may not ultimately have enough supporters to win the presidency (but there seems to be a slow tide increasing), she is showing herself to be a leader. Just by speaking about important issues, she may, like a third party candidate, force the front runners to change their stand.

Am I fan? Yep. Will I vote for her? Too early to call.