Monday, June 30, 2008


I stopped by the not-so-Safeway on the way home from work. There were four police cruisers with their lights flashing. There were also two of those white unmarked police cars with lights in the windshield that were flashing as well. Two police officers were putting cuffs on a young woman next to the shopping cart return area. She didn't seemed fazed by the ordeal.
I walked past the scene and stepped inside. Safeway has two private security guards on duty at all times. One in a car that makes slow loops around the parking lot and one stationed inside by the front door. I asked the guard what was going on outside. She shrugged at me, "I don't know. I stay in here where there's air-conditioning."

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Way.

On the main road just past the Dollar-UP Store is a dirt road that heads back into the mountains. About a quarter of a mile down the road you’ll pass several houses. The very last house has two of the meanest dogs on the island. Not only that, they’re sneaky too. They like to hide under the broken down minivan on the side of the road next to the house. Be sure to fill your pockets with good throwing rocks and carry a stick. Last time I was there I hit one of the dogs with a rock, but that only seemed to make him madder. Only after the owner came out and kicked the dog in the throat did it stop snarling at me.
Once you pass the bad dogs, you’ll cross a small concrete bridge and the road will start to climb gently back towards the mountains. Keep going. Soon you’ll see small banana farms and orange trees along the side. The road gets a bit overgrown in places but you’ll be able to see where you’re going.
Another quarter of a mile or so and the road comes to an end in a small clearing. This is where it gets fun. On the left hand side you’ll see a small trail that heads down a steep muddy hill. The mud is soft, so try not to get your sandals stuck. It’s not uncommon to find yourself suddenly calf deep in dark red mud. Good luck trying to get your cheap plastic sandal out of there once it’s in.
Fortunately the trail twists through the mud and thick jungle for only about 50 yards. First you’ll hear and then see the river. It’s a pretty good place to rest for a moment and wash the mud off your legs.
Here’s where the trail ends, but it’s not the end of the walk. Step into the river and start heading up stream. Even after a pretty heavy rain, the water won’t be much deeper than mid-waist in most parts. Just hold your bag over your head while you wade though the deeper parts.
Follow the steam upriver for about 20 minutes. In a few spots it will pool up and be deep enough to swim in. There’s a section where a pool forms along a steep rock wall. The thick Tarzan vines that hang down from the wall into the water can hold your weight and are fun to swing around on for a bit.
A little bit further up stream and the jungle will suddenly open up. The canopy will still keep you in the shade, but now it will be 200 feet overhead. The river will split here. If you follow the spur to the right, about 100 yards further you’ll find a small waterfall with a pool you can splash around in.
To the left of the other spur the jungle rises pretty steeply for about 20 feet. If you scramble up the slope you’ll find what’s left of an old settlement. In at least six different places you’ll be able to find the stone foundations for local houses.
But don’t tell anyone I told you about it. The anthropologists haven’t found this spot yet. Let’s let them be surprised when someone finally bothers to show them where it is.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hitting the Books.

Samer wrote the words BAD and FATHER on the white board in huge block letters. He was trying to explain the different pronunciation of the 'AH' sound in my language class.
Naturally, I spent the rest of the three hour class distractedly worried about Samer's relationship with his father and how it was unconsciously manifesting itself in his teaching.
I've been away from structured learning for a little bit too long.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Living the Dream.

My cousin was explaining to me the intricacies of running a commercial cleaning business in New York City, "What kind of people work as janitors? I know who my employees are, I have no pretenses. A few of my guys work hard and give me no trouble, but the rest are nothing but a headache. On any given night one out of four simply doesn't show up. Every other month I have to deal with the police because something disappears from a job site.
And when it comes time to hand out paychecks, you should hear the complaints. It's not my fault taxes get taken out! $10 an hour isn't really $10 an hour after taxes; I know this but what am I suppose to do?"

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Overheard at the barbershop:

"You see, kids these days just don't have any morals. And it's all because of Madison Avenue. These kids are a bunch of jelly-backs, they don't even know how to take care of themselves anymore."

"Hilary can't be vice-president because she's a woman and she talks too much. If my wife heard me say that she'd kill me, but it's true."

"My brother was in jail and he said that you're only gay if you like it."

"I went to South Carolina; it was like being in a different country. Did you know you can get a loan from the bank to buy a mule? Why would anyone want to buy a mule and can you believe you'd have to make monthly mule payments back to the bank?"

"You just don't swear in front of women. You just don't. You remember when that old man was in here and he was swearing up a storm in front of that lady. I don't care if he's 80 years old, he knows better than to talk like that in front of a woman. I asked him to leave and then made sure to apologize for him after he was gone."

Sunday, June 8, 2008


It's ungodly hot this weekend and the air-conditioner in my car is broken, so when Lydia and I drove past this oddity on the way back from mailing a tv at the post office in Adams Morgan (kind of a long story) I was half convinced it was a mirage. Why would there be 25 acres of undeveloped grassland with castle turrets in the middle of a high density neighborhood north of town?
It turns out McMillam Resevoir is the site of the former water filtration plant for the entire district. Built in 1905 and decommissioned in 1986, the prime real estate sits atop a vast network of catacombs that the Potomac River used to flow through. They can't develop the site because the arches that hold up the ground can't support the weight of new construction. That, plus the area was designated a historic site a few years back. So for now, things will stay the way they are.
The district grows on me as time goes by.


Ever wonder what happens to old railroad ties? They get put on a semi that rides on top of the rails. At some point along the way they get dumped by the side of the track in a bad part of town that no one will really care about.

A triangle and a grid of squares intersected by a few straight lines. Having fun playing with the color contrast button.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


I've been back living in the states for about 7 months now, but every now and then the grocery store still completely confounds me. Today I was thrown off by the insane selection in the yogurt aisle.

Stoneyfield Farm Organic Yo Baby Yogurt - Yogurt specially designed for babies. What makes it special for babies? I'm not kidding, the side of the container says that it is made "with real milk which helps babies to develop." Is there some sort of milk-free yogurt that I'm not familiar with? Is this really what it takes to sell yogurt these days?

Yoplait Gogurt Fizzix, Fizzy Lowfat Yogurt Snack - It's yogurt that fizzes? Is that like putting pop-rocks in your yogurt? Oh wait, I get it. It's like Physics but spelled by morons. Why is that supposed to make me want to eat yogurt?

Dannon Animals Smoothie Hannah Montana Rock Out with Miley! - So much about that sentence confuses me. Is this what it feels like to be old?

Cartoon Network Special Edition Scooby Doo Rogurt - I'm not really even sure how to wrap my mind around why anyone would want to eat a lactose based food associated with a cartoon dog from the seventies.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Just another hot summer night.

Part 1
Skye and Lydia and I were taking the green train down to the waterfront to get drinks at a place that we would later find out was overrun with Georgetown assholes in pink pants, but that's a different story. The whole ride down I watched three young kids playing dice. On the train. Could they not wait until they got to their destination to start up the craps game? Maybe they were already there.

Part 2
DCPD reported 8 different homicides over the weekend including one young person shot to death at Union Station. The cause? A dispute over a dice game.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


On the Metro I watched a man remove his pants only to find that he was wearing another pair of pants underneath. I wasn't sure whether I was supposed to feel relief or disappointment.


(jĕn'trə-fĭ-kā'shən) noun

The restoration and upgrading of deteriorated urban property by middle-class or affluent people, often resulting in displacement of lower-income people.

The Atlas District.

Solid waste disposal factories look suspiciously like modern art museums.

Solider Movements? As in, more solid movements? Like The Robot?

Ooh, they're gonna have fireworks! And skeleton horseback riding?