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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Say Cheese

A picture of family members taking pictures to go along with the one I posted after Thanksgiving.

(The kids were posing for a picture.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas...

...from this soldier ornament I made in Cub Scouts in 1987.

Judging by his facial expression, he may have taken a nasty bayonette hit moments before.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Containing myself

I went to nearby Taqueria D.F. last night to get a takeout burrito for dinner, and inadvertently caused a bit of a scene by bringing my own container from home. (They have tasty food, but normally use those nasty styrofoam containers that blow my carbon footprint way out of proportion.)

The woman who took my order gave me an amused but pleasant smile when I asked if she could put my order in the container. As I sat and waited, a gregarious pair of older guys in at the table in the corner who obviously just hang out there all the time chatted away in Spanish and talked in broken English to the couple Anglo regulars who came in. When the lady emerged with my sturdily-packaged burrito, one of the guys asked me (in a friendly way) if I use my own container in order to keep the food warm. Responding to his incomplete English in only somewhat more complete Spanish, I said "Estoy tratando conservar...uh...." [confused looks] "...el medio ambiente y todo."* Which was the perfect opportunity for the gregariousness to spring into action for a short impromptu speech about how everybody, including him, talks talks talks talks talks [with hands moving to illustrate flapping mouths] about the environment, but here I am doing something about it! Bringing my own container! At which point I think everyone in the place was looking at me...it wasn't really uncomfortable, but I wasn't really sure what to say (or how to say it), so I just smiled, thanked him and left. But I think I had better bring my own container again next time I go, or I'll get razzed...

*Roughly, "I'm trying to conserve...the environment and all that."

Sunday, December 16, 2007


After Andrew noted that Google Street View had added imagery for Minneapolis, I browsed some of the other cities they added. I ended up getting sucked into a couple hours of wandering Detroit, which appears to be astoundingly dead in many areas. Baltimore has many depressing areas with few residents and boarded up buildings, but it does not compare with Detroit.

There appear to be large sections of the city where there is only a smattering of occupied houses, with the rest either abandoned or demolished. For instance, plunk yourself down at the intersection of Kirby and Mitchell, just five blocks south of the Cadillac Assembly Plant. The impression you get is that you're in the countryside, but for some reason there's a grid of streets running through it. (According to the Detroit Wikipedia entry, the term "urban prairie" has been coined for the vegetation taking over vacant lots.) You can catch glimpses of the overgrown vestigial sidewalks and a fire hydrant, but aside from that it ain't too urban-looking. Wander around and you can see just how few houses there are, and how many of the ones that remain are abandoned. (Just like Google Maps, you can drag the image to look around, and here you can click in the arrows on the streets to move to a new position, or just drag the figure that notes your position on the map.)

Nearby, something that is pretty urban-looking is the totally decimated commercial area on Chene Street. If you head northwest from there on Chene, you can see that it's block after block of dead businesses and vacant lots.

I also wandered by Partee Catering, an even-more-ragtag-than-usual storefront church, and one very glum park.

Learned from Wikipedia entry: The city's motto (translated from the Latin) is "We Hope For Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes". (I wonder what it was before? In Baltimore, all those bus benches on dirty and desolate street corners proclaiming it "The Greatest City in America" seem a little sarcastic after a while, so count me a fan of Detroit acknowledging reality with its motto. Though "we hope for better things" strikes me as a bit passive.) Also, Detroit's population was 465,766 in 1910, and only 20 years later it was 1,568,662 amid the boom in the automobile industry -- dang. It peaked around 1.85 million, and is about 900,000 today.

Anyway, I really ought to get out of this internet rabbit hole and go to bed...

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I love this.

Admittedly, you may find it somewhat disturbing.

Turns out Liars are coming to DC in February -- I'd been wanting to see them for a while, so this is excellent news.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cruising Minneapolis

Andrew noticed that Minneapolis has just gotten Google Street View, and that the 35W bridge (and its construction port-o-potty) are alive and well in the images.

It also allows me to take nostalgic glances at my old apartment, grocery store, favorite pizzeria, favorite bakery/restaurant, light rail station, asian grocery, and beloved bike trail.

EDIT: You can also see the desk that David put out by the curb. Whoa.

Oil map

Andrew Sullivan doesn't credit anyone with this map he posts, so I'm not sure who made it. But it shows the nations of the world in proportion to the oil they have in the ground (with color coding for consumption).

[click for larger version]

In summary, we'll be in hock to the Saudis for a long, long time unless we get our act together.

Seek the Homogenized

From the new NY Times Magazine piece about Mike Huckabee*:

"Six weeks ago, I met Huckabee for lunch at an Olive Garden restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. (I had offered to take him anywhere he wanted and then vetoed his first choice, T.G.I. Friday’s.)"

I'm trying to stay away from politics on the blog, but this I can tell you: I do not want a president whose first choice of restaurant in all of New York is T.G.I. Friday's (and whose second choice is The Olive Garden).

*Interesting, if a little excessively mean at times.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Songs of the Moment (An Occasional Feature)

> Animal Collective - Banshee Beat
> The Smiths - Well I Wonder
> Radiohead - Videotape [mp3]
> Richard Thompson - Cooksferry Queen
> The Arcade Fire - Keep the Car Running [YouTube]
> Feist - Sea Lion Woman [YouTube]

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


The "Religious Views:" field on Facebook is a reliable source of amusement and quirks (if not so much of actual religious views -- 72% of my friends don't post anything).

A browse through the profiles of my friends (or is that Friends, or "friends"?) finds the following Religious Views represented:

I believe in the essential vowel nature of the letter Y.
Politically Progressive Militant Agnostic
Magical Realism
Christian - Lutheran
Gnostical Turpitude
self serving
Unitarian Universalist
Jewish - Naturalist
New York Yankees
I like communion wine and those wafer things.
I believe in the Almighty coffee bean.
Roman Catholic
Intractable conflict generator

Sunday, December 02, 2007


I was going to send this cell phone picture I took to the very amusing “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks, but I think the photo came out a little too blurry for that.

I took this at Quiznos (I know, I know, but it's right across the street and I was very hungry) -- perhaps they suspected the substance in the soup of being turkey. Plus, bonus misspelling of "chilli."

Browsing that blog, I point you to someone who is doubly confused about how to use quotation marks, as well as what is only secondarily a bad use of quotes, primarily just a pretty stupid church slogan. (Oh, hold on, I think this is probably my favorite.)

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Hey, I had this same idea!

The video trick, I mean. I think it looks especially cool at around -1:15 when Thom Yorke is weaving his head back and forth, because it looks like his head is waggling his body. An added bonus is that this is one of my favorite tracks from In Rainbows.