All posts by Bob Brink

Farewell (For Now)

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This is our 400th and final post on 7 West. Since Kris and I started blogging here in July of 2006, two technologically challenged AARPsters have learned a lot about how to express ourselves through the marvelous series of tubes they call The Internets. For their technical advice and patience we are deeply indebted to Young’uns Kenton Ngo, Ben Tribbett, and especially Aging Wunderkind Waldo Jaquith.

And, as our readership grew over the years from the high single digits to the low double digits, you’ve learned a bit about us: our common roots in the upper Midwest; our eclectic interests that run the gamut from sentence diagramming to invasive plant species; our eagerness to spread the word when Virginia Republicans were recognized by the national media; and, above all, the affection we feel for the General Assembly and (almost) all its members.

So, what’s next? Well, I’m reconfiguring my campaign website into a year-round constituent information vehicle, and I’m planning to incorporate a blog into the design. And, after Kris returns from her Julie Andrews in Peru gig, I have no doubt she’ll get back into the game as well.

So the two of us have had a blast, and we hope you’ve enjoyed the journey as well. What a long, strange trip it’s been!


I guess this is what they mean by “bittersweet.” Writing my Very Last Post for 7 West evokes both sad and happy feelings.

There are only three ways to leave the General Assembly, and two of them are gawdawful. But the third—a voluntary retirement—turns out to be fraught with emotion as well.

I worked hard—very hard—every day for the last ten years. It’s sad to have that come to a close. I’ll miss the work. I’ll miss the friendships. I’ll miss being in a room full of people who collapse with laughter when someone says, “Ayes and nays.” (You really have to be there.)

But it’s not all sadness that I’m feeling. Having a great new job helps. A lot. (You can check us out at

Having time to travel also is a big bonus. When the General Assembly convenes, I will be in the Sacred Valley of Peru on my way to Machu Picchu. It’s something I have wanted to do since I read about it in Mrs. Distad’s sixth grade Spanish class.

And I rather suspect that there’s more of all of this in my future. A new blog may be on the near horizon. More public service? We’ll see. More travel? Well, there’s this trip to the Holy Land that sounds intriguing.

Meanwhile, my beloved Heels are in what we can optimistically only call a “rebuilding phase.” Bob McDonnell is in the Governor’s Mansion, and I wish him well because Virginia needs him to be successful.

And me? I’m not going anywhere (well, except Peru and Bolivia and a few other as-yet-undetermined destinations.) I’ll still talk with Bob and Mark and Toddy and Scott all the time. I’ll still sound off on issues that matter to me.

Thanks for all of it—I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.


Busted: Or, Helping Fill the Commonwealth’s Revenue Gap, One Ticket at a Time.

In Richmond this morning, I read a newspaper article about “Operation Air, Land, and Speed,” a State Police speeding enforcement effort targeting I-95 and I-81. Read, but didn’t absorb. Five minutes onto I-95 northbound, I got a ticket. 72 in a 55. My first since September 1969, when Richard Nixon was president and man had just landed on the moon.

Why am I sharing this? As a cautionary note, but also to get ahead of the story by putting my transgression on the public record before the Washington Post’s intrepid police reporter got wind of it.

News That Bites


So you’ve read Kris’ announcement that she’s hanging up her spurs at the end of this session. Sure — it may be the right decision for her. But — in the spirit of the Toby Keith song that we proclaimed as the Politicians’ National Anthem — what about me? She’s leaving me high and dry.

Issue 1: The George W. Bush Memorial Nickname Project. There are 45 members of the House Democratic Caucus. We’d started coming up with nicknames for them, but had only gotten around to three that are suitable for printing in a family blog: Princess Margaret, Prince Albert, and Dear Leader. What about the rest of them — not to mention the new crop of a dozen or so that we’ll be electing in November?

Issue 2: Eating Up the Miles. We have this agreement: every time one of us is on our way to or from Richmond on I-95, the other one will fill the boredom of the drive with telephone conversation — gossip, political plotting, kvetching, whatever is at hand. We measure the gift in distance rather than time: “Okay, I’m good for 25 or 30 mile markers, but then I have to get to work.” Sounds trivial, but it kept us in business: the tedium of I-95 Hell was enough to send at least one predecessor into retirement.

Issue 3: The Blog. Seriously: Can you imagine a blog titled “3-1/2 West”? This whole New Media thing doesn’t come naturally to folks in our age bracket — when you think about it, we’re not a lot younger than Ted Stevens. We’ve worked long and hard to build our readership into the high single digits, and I’m not certain I’ll be able to find another co-conspirator who gives lectures on “What I Learned About Blogging From Britney Spears.”

The author of the Great American Novel claimed, “There are no second acts in American lives.” I have a feeling Kris will prove him wrong.