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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Obligatory hurricane post

Irene brought about 24 hours of bad weather, but nothing earth-shaking (unlike earlier in the week). I ventured out to a fundraiser in Kalorama last evening by bus, and it wasn't so bad. (It would have been much less pleasant without NexTime helping me arrive at the stop at the same time as the bus.) Later in the evening I was at a get-together a few blocks from home; they had both the front and back doors open, since both were covered by porches, and the wind sent the humid air whipping through the house. The short walk home felt a bit adventurous, but my umbrella didn't even turn inside-out. Skies cleared out at midday today, and it's now a very lovely evening.

My parents were more directly in the path of the storm in Connecticut, but this afternoon Dad assured me that "no trees fell on the house." They are without power, though. We were without it for about three days after Bob in 1991; hopefully it won't be quite that long this time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Obligatory earthquake post

I was down in southern Maryland today for a meeting. My ride back had another meeting after lunch, so I set myself up on the patio of a nearby Starbucks for a few hours. After I'd been there for a while, it suddenly seemed there was something wrong with my chair. A glance down revealed no issues with the chair's soundness. "Oh, I think I'm having some sort of episode," I thought, as the wobbly sensation grew stronger. I looked around to see who might be able to assist if I were to pass out, but saw the two women nearby were also looking around with agitated expressions on their faces. Then I noticed the plate glass windows wobbling, and confirmed this sensation was not just me. The shaking stopped about two seconds after my brain concluded, "Earthquake, holy cow!"

Until I got more info, I was a bit worried that it might have been a much stronger quake elsewhere. But once I found out that it wasn't too big a deal overall, I realized that I had sort of liked it. Mostly out of novelty, I think, but I also appreciated that, like a major snowstorm, it injected itself (annoyingly, but mostly benignly) simultaneously into our daily routines, momentarily making everyone think about the same thing. (I talked about it for a few minutes with the other people on the patio, and we exchanged information as we were able to coax it out of our cellphones.) However, talking to my coworkers after getting back to DC, I gather that they were not amused. The shaking was scarier and more obvious inside a large building, and when in downtown DC, the list in your head of potential explanations for sudden shaking does not start with "something's wrong with my chair." On the upside, the quake was a very insistent reminder to be prepared for a real-deal disaster, major quake or otherwise.

In any case, I got home and could only spot three things out of place: teacups came unstacked, an insulated mug tipped over, and my coriander fell onto the stove from a ledge on the counter. Not exactly total devastation.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

"No more smiles"

This is a pretty amazing reminder of the speed of change in the Arab world in the last year.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How cleaver!

From the spellcheck-can't-help-you-here department:

Sure, you can get a cleaver for about $3. And it could reduce facial wrinkles. But it would also reduce your face.

As seen on the Washington Post website. Which, ironically enough, is also the place where I read last month about how the scam (you knew there was a scam) behind these ads works. Sort of pathetic that they're still running them.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Searchers

I was looking at the blog's web stats for the past year, which include search terms that have landed people here.

The most common was my name. And in line with my goal of being a doughnut expert, "best doughnuts in NYC," "doughnut quest," "best donuts in NYC," and a number of other doughnut-related queries also appeared high on the list.

Digging a bit further down, other people arrived at my blog looking for things that I was not as well-positioned to help them with:
  • what is that smell mic cable
  • how do you tell people you've already sent invitations to, that it was going to be a potluck
  • ironing sneakers
  • nude photos vacation croatia
  • chicken gizzards in dc area
  • sample letter-complaint letter-food lying on the floor in offices

I'm especially fond of that last one. I really hate how there's food lying on the floor in our offices. Do you think someone else has already written a letter about this that I can copy? Otherwise, I don't think I'll be able to properly convey the particulars of this situation.

Monday, August 15, 2011

All the wrong exports

The consistently excellent Planet Money reports on how North Korea raises cash for itself. A good read overall (illegal drug smuggling!), but I found this particular aside interesting:

And North Korea has one more legal export: monuments. It turns out that giant, ugly statues are one of the few exports of North Korea.

There's a whole division of the North Korean government that specializes in building those statues for dictators around the world, according to Curtis Melvin, an econ grad student who runs the blog North Korea Economy Watch.

"You can go as far back as the 1970s to find monuments the North Koreans have built in Africa and that's sort of continued to this day," he says.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bike tires

After having trouble with flats, I first put a pair of Specialized Armadillo kevlar-lined tires on my bike in December 2008. They worked well -- I only got one flat while they were on my bike -- but after about 18 months, they started getting bald patches where the tread separated from the kevlar lining.

I got another pair of Armadillos in May 2010, and I've only had one flat since then. But earlier this week I heard a thwap-thwap-thwap on my ride home. Turned out the tread had started peel off:

And that's after only about 15 months this time. While I would estimate that I put on about 3,000 to 4,000 miles per year, that still seems like an unacceptably short life for a bike tire. So I've replaced my rear tire with a 700x32 Michelin City. I'll let you know how it works out.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Songs of the Moment (An Occasional Feature)

> Joanna Newsom - Cosmia
> Pearl Jam - In My Tree
> Radiohead - Backdrifts (Honeymoon Is Over)
> Soul Coughing - Houston
> My Bloody Valentine - Slow
> Crooked Fingers - Give and Be Taken
> Bright Eyes - Old Soul Song (For the New World Order)

Sunday, August 07, 2011


I went to New York to visit Alex and Alissa once more before they move to Chicago at the end of the month. It was quite nice, as usual.

Getting drinks at sunset on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is highly recommended on evenings when the weather is nice -- a very dramatic place to watch the sunset.

As always, I went to Doughnut Plant (coconut cream and blueberry cake). But one food highlight that I ought to mention is the Mile End Delicatessen, a tiny place in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn where we went for dinner. It was hands-down the best pastrami sandwich I've ever had, and is in the running for best sandwich of the year.

I put a few photos up on Flickr.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Perspective Project

Here's the video that Brad, Jess, Saskia, and I made for the DCLL Sound Scene:

The Perspective Project from Brad Horn on Vimeo.

Thanks very much to, among others, Rock Creek Rowing for letting my groggy self hang around their practice with AV equipment.

(Looks much better in the larger version.)