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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Small Worlds, Part V

In a continuing series, I post about weird social coincidences.

I went to a Nationals game with folks from work this evening. A few rows in front of me, I saw this woman who looked really familiar. Then I realized why: She lived in my apartment building in Minneapolis, and we did some volunteering together. A couple innings later I went down to talk and confirmed it was her. Turns out she's interning this summer. Again, it's not really that huge a coincidence, since the volunteering we did was policy-related. But still...

Also at the ballgame: One of those big video screens that rotates ads throughout the game had the following text for a Lexus ad: "The one a year sales event is no now." Huh? Oh yes, "The once-a-year sales event is on now." I guess spell-check didn't catch that one, did it dude? And it really should be hyphenated...

Monday, July 28, 2008


The heirloom tomato varieties in the garden are now coming ripe. I've picked a few Old German, and some Cherokee Purple are almost ready.

As you can see in the tomato on the left, I've had some problems with splitting (some split so much they rot as they ripen), which the heirloom varieties are more susceptible to, but can apparently be made worse by uneven watering or temperature. However, I ate that ugly one last evening in a pita with hummus and bell pepper, and boy was it good. The flavor was much more intensely tomato-y than store-bought or my own Better Boy tomatoes, and sweeter, too. One other striking difference is that instead of spilling that jelly-like stuff with the seeds in it when you cut them open, the Old German tomatoes are mostly flesh, with only small liquid-y seed pockets. So when you slice it, you basically get slabs of tomato instead of that familiar lattice. The only problem with tomatoes this tasty is that it's sure to make it kind of depressing when I later have to resort to one of those bright red tomato objects in the grocery store.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Peachy Cream

Yesterday morning I went to the small Mount Pleasant Farmer's Market, which is only a few blocks away. (The Dupont market is on Sundays, and has anything you would ever want to buy at a farmer's market, but it is a mob scene from opening until closing...it made me realize how much l like a little personal space while shopping. It's hard to appreciate the slow food movement in a fast-moving crowd that does not have time for you to ponder whether you want a quart of apricots or plums.)

The folks from Reid's Orchard are the biggest draw there. (Click through that link to see why I'm looking forward to apple season.) Yesterday, I found that they were being somewhat devilish, however...their peaches were priced at $5 for a quarter peck, $10 for a half peck, and $15 for a full peck. So you doubled your peaches every time you spent another $5. This lured me to spend $10 on a half peck, which is a lot of peaches (23, to be precise). Ripe peaches typically need to be eaten within about four days, so I need to eat about 5.75 peaches per day. I think I am up to this challenge. Yesterday should be pro-rated because I procured the peaches around 11 am, yet I managed to eat 5. So far today, I've eaten three, one of which ended up like this:

That picture is a nice bookend to my similar photo commemorating the end of last year's peach season.

Friday, July 25, 2008

DC police side with the cars

This may not have gotten any play outside DC, but conservative columnist Robert Novak hit a pedestrian Wednesday in downtown DC. He continued driving for a block before an angry cyclist blocked his way. The police showed up and gave Novak a $50 citation. As I've seen a few people comment, this is less than most DC parking tickets.

The story is worse with a few more details. The man, who is homeless, was in a crosswalk and crossing with the light. Novak made a right turn on red, and says he wasn't aware that he hit the man. The cyclist, David Bono, who happens to be a partner at a law firm, said he does not find that plausible because the man was splayed on the windshield of the Corvette, and he feels that Novak was trying to flee. More witnesses have come forward to back up Bono's account.

One, I bet the police approached this differently because it was a homeless man who was hit. Two, this is indicative of a car-centric point of view on the part of police, who tend to assume that pedestrians or bicyclists must have been the ones doing something wrong when there's an accident. Novak hit and injured a pedestrian who had the right of way, and Novak may have been trying to flee. He received a $50 citation and was sent on his way. Does that sound right?

I was poking around the BikeWashington Google group this evening and saw that Mr. Bono is not only a member of the Washington Area Bicyclists' Association (as am I), but he is a candidate for the board. He himself posted to say the following:
I was not deserving of the honor, but got an award from WABA at tonight's members meeting related to the incident. The inscription was so precious that it demands to be quoted: "Awarded to David Bono who, potentially sacrificing life and limb, risked chasing down a driver who had struck a pedestrian. By placing his bike and body in front of the vehicle, he allowed DC police to show up and give the driver a slap on the wrist."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Curved produce

I got a message on my Flickr account from NowPublic.com asking for permission to use my carrot photo. The site is an OhMyNews-type crowd-sourced news aggregator, and I've gotten emails from them before. But I'm a little confused:
Just to let you know, NowPublic is running a news story on a
majority of EU members voting against the ban on curved
produce and your photo(s) would be an excellent addition to
a photo gallery we are compiling for the article.

An EU ban on curved vegetables? This seems unlikely. But what is more plausible that could have been mistyped as "curved"? Some Googling and checking of their site does not yield any answers...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cookie Monster vs. Martha Stewart

Quick, think of two things that go together. What, you didn't say Martha Stewart and Cookie Monster? (From his Wikipedia entry: "He is best known for his voracious appetite and his famous eating phrases.")

Yet, for some reason (because Martha Stewart has a sense of humor?), Cookie Monster was a guest on Martha Stewart Living. This video is long by YouTube standards, but I think it's pretty hilarious. I'm not sure regular Martha Stewart viewers appreciated the loud, furry intrusion into their calming vibe, however.

After the commercial break, Martha has tied up Cookie Monster to restrain him after he realized they were making cookies:

MARTHA: Oh, you're choking yourself, Cookie!

COOKIE MONSTER: Me no care. Me no feel pain. Cookies like novocain.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Never bring a knife to a glass shard fight

I was listening to C-SPAN Radio last night, and Prime Minister's Questions were on. I think this might be my favo(u)rite thing on C-SPAN, with the lively questioning and plenty of cheering and jeering by the MPs. I think we would do well to adopt a similar tradition, and I see in that Wikipedia entry that John McCain has in fact pledged to initiate it if elected.

But anyway, the reason I mention this is the striking contrast that could be heard in the debate on violence and weapons in Britain compared to America. The U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned [pdf] our ban on handguns here in DC because it was found to violate the Constitution. In Britain, where there is almost no pro-gun lobby, there is a near-total ban on handguns across the entire country. From Prime Minister's Questions, I gather that there is currently an uproar about an increase in knife crime. Which led to this question from a Conservative MP:
The current focus on knife crime makes it easy to forget that there are more than 5,000 violent assaults each year involving the use of broken glass. One positive step would be to support the campaign led by my constituent Marjorie Golding, and encourage late-night clubs and bars to replace glass with polycarbonates. Will the Prime Minister be decisive, show some leadership and support the campaign, or does he need more time to ponder?

We decide that cities can't ban handguns within their jurisdictions, the British move down the list of potential menaces to broken glass. Yeah, I would say we're not on the same page with this issue.

(As a side note, the website for Parliamentary affairs is awesome. Check out those cross-links between statements in the record to video clips, and links to information on the MP's voting record, including their expenses! And you can sign up to get email alerts when they speak! For the U.S., I refer you to the home page for the Congressional Record. AAAAAAHHHHHH!)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bike Camping

Nils organized a one-night bike camping trip this weekend -- up the C&O Canal past Great Falls on Saturday, back on Sunday. One of Nils' coworkers and a friend of hers came along. I'd never been bike camping before, so it was nice to get a chance. I have ambitions to bike the canal up to Cumberland or even follow the linked rail trail to Pittsburg, so this is good practice.

The one-way mileage was a bit more than 20 miles, which is pretty low-key as far as bike trips go. I carried my small tent, sleeping bag and other gear on my bike fairly easily. Though we did cheat a bit and bike into Potomac, MD last night to buy additional food at the grocery store.

One thing about the canal towpath is that your stuff can get a kinda dusty after a while:

Good trip...a couple more pics at Flickr.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tomatoes and squash

The garden's first tomatoes and squash:

I checked on this squash a few days before picking it, and it was definitely still adolescent. Then, the next time I looked, it was enormous! I'm going bike camping tomorrow up the C&O Canal with Nils and a couple other folks, and bringing the squash along to put in foil packet dinners.

Meanwhile, here are the infant carrots that I pulled while trying to make room for their siblings:

Friday, July 18, 2008

All Things Me

There are a couple things that are funny about this ad I saw on my blog.

One, the amusing spectacle of Yahoo claiming to have all things Teague-themed. I guess there could be some from its use as a family or city name...

Two, Yahoo is advertising on Google AdWords? Isn't that a market where they compete fiercely?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


When the first iPhone came out, I restrained myself by saying that I could let myself get one as soon as it 1) moved beyond the first-generation device, and 2) had GPS built-in. The iPhone 3G fulfills both conditions, but I was feeling a little bit of consumer guilt, as well as some nausea about the expensive service plans. And the battery life isn't that great.

However, my 3-year-old phone is increasingly cranky, and...I really want an iPhone. So today I went to the AT&T store a few blocks from my office (two stories, it's palatial...if you missed the logos, it could be confused for a high-end boutique of some sort). They're sold out, of course, but you can put down a deposit to have them let you know when they get one with your name on it.

REP: [giving me her card] I'll call you when it comes in. I promise I'll call you right away.

ME: Have lots of people been calling you to check up?

REP: Uh, yeah. Like, it's 7 AM and they just talked to me the night before -- "No, your phone has not come in yet."

ME: So you're saying they're anxious.

REP: You could say that.

I'm not obsessed, but it will be pretty sweet when I get it. And, by overhearing the person in front of me in line, I discovered that government employees get 15% off all service plans. I never, ever would have thought to ask about that -- score!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Songs of the Moment (An Occasional Feature)

> The Bad Plus - Anthem for the Earnest [YouTube]
> Silver Jews - Pet Politics
> Constantines - Nighttime/Anytime (It's Alright) [YouTube]
> Modest Mouse - Broke [YouTube]
> Liars - Tumbling Walls Buried Me in the Debris with ESG
> Ben Folds Five - Army [YouTube]
> Flaming Lips - Waitin' for a Superman [YouTube]

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ah, marketing

From an article in the LA Times on how car makers are having trouble selling SUVs amid the rise in fuel prices:

"Every carmaker is having the same conversation: 'How do we motivate people to buy in a climate when oil is $140 a barrel?' " said Rob Schwartz, executive creative director at TBWA/Chiat/Day, a Los Angeles ad agency.

To translate: "How can we help people make bad decisions that benefit us?"

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Housemate hunting

So, Zach has decided to move out (to a cheaper place) and we're looking for a housemate again. My Craigslist posting, carefully constructed to attract the right kind of person, is the primary means for this. It produced plenty of email traffic with folks asking if their cat can come with them, if they can interview from the foreign country they're currently working in, and sharing all of the typical biographical details. We had our open house tonight, and just like last summer, there were two guys who knew each other from meeting at other places they were looking at.

One prospective housemate remarked that it appears to be obligatory that any group house have at least one member who fights the good fight at a world-saving nonprofit of some sort...that would be Nils in our house. Among those who came to look, it was a very DC slice of occupations, including:

More people are coming on Saturday, they have to tell us by Saturday evening if they're interested, and we'll decide by Monday. Whew.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

July 4th weekend

It was a good long weekend. Today Zach, Emily, Lisa and I went hiking on the Veach Gap trail in George Washington National Forest, which is northwest of Shenandoah National Park. The day was overcast, but it didn't rain.

A view of the Susquehanna River from the overlook at the end of the hike:

Where there were also lots of wild blueberries to eat!

And we saw a bear! No picture of that, though.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Overheard in DC

Man in a suit, talking very animatedly in the crosswalk as I waited for a red light on my bike:
"...running [unintelligible] in the embassy. I told you, those Kurds are crazy! They'll sell us snake oil..."

I'm not totally sure I got that last phrase right, but "snake oil" was in there.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


In Venti Retreat, 600 Starbucks to Close, reads a headline in the Washington Post this evening. That an economic downturn would cause some to reconsider spending $4 on coffee is not a huge surprise, and fits nicely into the narrative that the media is looking for right now. I've always sort of resented Starbucks' creation of a self-important, yuppified language for small, medium and large. For me, it epitomizes their business strategy of packaging up your self-regard, stamping "validated" on it, and selling it back to you.

So the use of Starbucks lingo to describe their difficulties admittedly comes with a touch of schadenfreude. But things get a bit out of hand with a later sentence in that article, which I picture the reporter cackling maniacally while composing: "Throw in the cash-strapped consumer, stung by high gas prices and soaring food costs, and Starbucks has found itself with a venti frappuproblem." Indeed.