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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Golf Cart One

Seriously, guys?

I guess I've always had a somewhat antagonistic emotional response to the whole apparatus of golf, so while that joke might strike many as funny (or at least "cute"), the collision of the golf course flip-ness with the daunting problems they've got on their plates rubs me the wrong way.

Not like I should really hold it against them personally, because the sign was probably somebody else's idea. But I do notice that Bush has his best golf cart drivin' face on. And Brown has his best unruffled Brit face on.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Moving and Minnesota

Today was a long day, but my bulky items are now at the house in Columbia Heights that I'll be moving to in September.

At the Budget car rental office this morning, the guy who was setting me up with my van looked at my Minnesota* license and asked me how I was liking DC so far, and how I liked Minnesota, adding that he had heard it was nice, the people really friendly. He seemed possibly Somali, and there are a lot of Somali immigrants in Minneapolis, so I asked him if he knew anybody in Minnesota. Yes, he said, quite a few, uncles, cousins, etc. "And they all talk about it like it's just the greatest place." Which warmed my heart, I must say...score one for Minnesota (or immigrant optimism, or both).

*I actually tried to get a DC license this morning, but when I arrived at 8:30, 15 minutes after they opened, the line was out the door, around the side of the building, then around the next corner and down the back of the building. And that was just the wait to get through the security checkpoint (x-ray machine and everything), once you got inside you took a number. I am so dreading going back there to get a license, car inspection, and registration.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Eclectic Baltimore

This weekend is pretty much dedicated to moving the rest of my stuff from Baltimore (where my lease is ending) to either here in Bethesda or the place in Columbia Heights (where Madeleine is kind enough to let me park bulky items I can't store here). This will be a huge pain (rental van, etc), but is very boring for you to read about, I realize.

Anyway, again it makes me think about what I will miss from Baltimore. I think it's safe to say that paying less than $400 in rent is one thing. But more to the point, there is a genuineness to Baltimore that has been gentrified out of most of DC. And while DC has its own unique feel because of its status as the world's biggest company town, it's not quirky like Baltimore.

This sort of comes through in some pictures I just put up in my Baltimore album, taken on a long bike ride my last day in the city. This, for instance, strikes me as very Baltimore:

See how that person neatly pivoted an act of illegal dumping into a benevolent offering to fellow citizens? Genius. Not that I'm saying this sort of character is what B-more needs, but it is at least pretty amusing. (Taking this as inspiration, I no longer bring unpleasant doggie doo bags when I walk Hershey, just little signs mounted on toothpicks that say "Free Fertilizer.")

And then there's the Patterson Park Pagoda...

...and its view of downtown.

And not too far out of town, there are places like North Point State Park, the abandoned site of an early 20th century amusement park:

And you might ride down the jetty and get a fish hook in your tire 15 miles from home and need Kat to bail you out, but it's still pretty...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


This is Hershey, the dog who comes along with the house I'm sitting. (Or maybe the house comes along with her.)

She's very sweet, and as you can see, she's going a bit gray. But she still has some spunk:

Last night as I was about to go to bed, she was standing by the door to the patio, so I let her out. When she didn't come back in a few minutes, I went out to retrieve her. I found her in the dark, uncharacteristically standing in one spot on the yard. She acted oddly when I tried to bring her back in, skittering away. But a minute later she ran back in the open door. As I was heading upstairs to bed, I noticed that she was still acting strangely. I went over to her, and she avoided me again, but that's when I noticed that there was a mouse tail sticking out of one side of her mouth, and a mouse head sticking out the other side. Eeeew. I took her outside and tried to get her to drop it, but after a moment of that, she got the whole thing inside her mouth with a toss of her head, and then chewed, complete with crunching noises, and swallowed hard. Well, I guess that takes care of it...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bishop Allen

I met up with John, his fiance (!) Heather, and a couple friends of theirs last night to see Bishop Allen at the Black Cat. It was a great show -- their stuff is poppy and smart, and they're good show(wo)men, too. (You can check out a few mp3s at their site, if you like.)

What made it particularly interesting, though, was that Justin Rice, the lead singer, also played the lead part in Mutual Appreciation, one of my favorite movies of the past year. In that movie (an extremely indie movie, self-released), he plays a young musician, and performs some material from his fictional band. Meanwhile, I got into Bishop Allen after hearing Things Are What You Make of Them in Funny Ha Ha, another movie by the same director, Andrew Bujalski. Got that?

Anyway, it was similarly disorienting to see Rice up on stage being an indie rock musician -- one who bore some resemblance to his character in the movie, but definitely a different person. (You can see him in both personas by looking at the trailer for the film and at concert clips on YouTube.) It's quite odd to "know" someone first through one medium and then see them in another, especially when his character riffs off his actual life without actually playing himself.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

New Green Neighbor

Check it out, Erin has a new blog on the issues around crafting a greener society. (Though she has already figured out how to make a greener blog.)

Only two posts old, but good stuff already...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Squirrelly espoinage

"In recent weeks, intelligence operatives have arrested 14 squirrels within Iran's borders," state-sponsored news agency IRNA reported. "The squirrels were carrying spy gear of foreign agencies, and were stopped before they could act, thanks to the alertness of our intelligence services."

Unfortunately, Iran has noted that the Geneva Conventions guarantee no specific rights to squirrels. Godspeed, fluffy-tailed sentries of freedom, godspeed.

(Appears to be an actual news story, reported in a number of sources. Definitely excellent Photoshop fodder for the bored.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


While it is my policy to not blog about work, I will break that rule for a moment to say that I have begun my first week on the job. It's going well so far -- I like the project I've been assigned to, and the three other people on the team are going to be good to work with. It turns out one of them went to Carleton, actually; she graduated a couple years before I arrived on campus.

The "real job" thing is still weirding me out a bit -- even though I had a job that was full-time and very engaging before grad school, I am now embarking on what can reasonably be called a career, and that's an odd thing to realize.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Photos of my recent trip to Minnesota can now be seen on Flickr, if you like.

Back here in Bethesda, we had a small 4th of July BBQ yesterday, and it was good. Then we went to the Georgetown public policy building overlooking the Potomac to watch the fireworks (Adam's a student, so we could get in). Today I'd wanted to take a nice long bike ride to get myself oriented in Bethesda (and try out a bike route to work), but it keeps threatening to pour. Maybe tomorrow...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Settin' 'Em Straight

In an appropriately dorky activity for me in the week before I start my new job as a policy analyst, I got a letter (last one on page) published in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune. Andrew had noted that the Strib ran a story on Minnesota's traffic being among the worst in the nation on the same day as an article about how many people bike to work in the city. I wrote in making Andrew's point, as well as noting that the figures they used to proclaim MN's traffic "worst" were totally wacky. I was pleasantly surprised when a couple people emailed me to say it had run -- nice.

Descending further into dorkiness, I couldn't help focusing on their copyediting of my letter, which involved a few small changes. They broke off the first sentence of my final paragraph and made it a standalone paragraph, which I found annoying. But I see that they did let me get away with using the first person plural, which seems funny since my letter is marked as being from Baltimore, but is nice nonetheless.

Anyway, speaking of Baltimore, I'm now moved out and housesiting in Bethesda. It's going to be pretty great -- I took the Metro down to Dupont Circle this evening to meet Lauren, Adam and Sarah for drinks, and it's really nice to have real public transit at your disposal for stuff like that.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


From a reasonably interesting article in the NY Times Magazine on Wikipedia's growing role as a source for breaking news comes this statistic:

". . . [Wikipedia] now accounts for a staggering one out of every 200 page views on the entire Internet."

That really is quite amazing. It's already filling an important role in society, and I think it has tremendous potential (though the pitfalls are numerous and much-discussed). I haven't gone looking for it in any serious way, but I wonder if anyone is doing serious research on the way Wikipedia operates? There's so much data kept (histories of all edits, by user ID) that it has the potential to be a very rich subject for research on a variety of subjects, including the central question of whether an open system for aggregating humanity's knowledge is feasible.

(Okay, a quick search does turn up some stuff like this conflict resolution study and this symposium on researching wiki endeavors (Is it a problem that the syposium page is run as a wiki? Isn't that like the author of a study on pot smoking being high while he analyzes the results?*). But I have a feeling it's still an underexploited resource due to its novelty.)

*For the record, no, I do not actually think that is an analogous situation. But using a wiki to study wikis has got to induce some weird conceptual vertigo. And doesn't it sort of impugn the impartiality of the researchers?