Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Oh DC, only you would put a 7-ll in some sort of brick row house. Cheap plastic siding in a strip small just isn't good enough for you. One question: where will the 14 year olds loiter if not in the alley behind you next to the dumpster while they drink slurpees and eat peanut butter cups?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Turn That Off.

We were walking by the White House today when I noticed one of the Secret Service agents in tactical gear holding a very strange looking weapon. I stood against the fence next to two 11 year old boys also staring at the gun. I wondered out loud what the gun was and one of the boys said, "It's a P90." I looked at him doubtfully and turned away. Why would an overweight child know what this gun was.

Ignoring the kid I shouted over to the Secret Service agent and ask what kind of weapon he was carrying. "It's a P90." Oh, I said. Is it folded up? "Nope, it's ready to go right now," he replied in a manner that was not meant to be menacing, but coming from a man wearing full combat gear and holding a loaded weapon, nonetheless was.

The kid looked over at me with a 'told-you-so' smile on his face. How did you know what that was, I asked.

"From videogames." Oh, how very reassuring.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

more Priorities.

Sitting in the entrance of the not-so-Safeway during a heavy downpour, a young guy wearing plastic bags over his feet:

"You damn right I'm wearing bags on my shoes. These things got new suede on them. They cost me $200!"

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Getting Help.

My car's battery died today. I was at a gas station and the engine wouldn't turnover. After getting a jump from the attendant the car died again about two blocks away. We called AAA and they dispatched a very helpful guy who was able to install a new battery and then we were on our way.

All in all, a rather boring story. But I did very much like this part; the emergency repair guy's truck had his company slogan painted on the back. It said, "We meet by accident."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

By the Bag.

After our hike last weekend we went to a pick-your-own peaches orchard. The trees were loaded and we were there in the midday sun, so the aroma of fresh peaches was wafting through the air. The three of us each had a bag and went to work picking and eating. By the time we had all filled our bags I had also eaten five peaches and was feeling a bit ill.

We took our overflowing bags down to the main house to pay, and only then did we realize that we were each holding a 12 pound bag. That means we were bringing home over 35 pounds of peaches.

The past week has been nothing but peach pie, peach scones, peach jam and a large helping of peaches on cereal in the morning and ice cream at night.

Now don't get me wrong, this is a great problem. It's such a good problem that we went blackberry picking this weekend.

Friday, August 14, 2009

So Close.

We went on a very nice hike last weekend about an hour outside of DC and stopped for a while to swim in some river pools. Next to the pools we stumbled upon a group of butterflies who were so focused on whatever they were doing that they had no problem with me taking a few very close-up pictures. I'm clearly still really enjoying the digital-macro function on the camera.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Being a firefighter is probably about as cool as it sounds (how many jobs get to have the word fighter in them? Maybe three?), but it occurs to me that it has to be someone's job at the fire station to fold up all of the hoses after a fire.

Do firefighters have interns or does this job just fall to Doug, the new guy? You know, you're back at the station after putting out some fire and you're eating ribs and high fiving each other, talking about how awesome it was to put out that fire; and there's Doug over in the corner, quietly folding the hoses back onto the truck. He's doing a good job at it, really checking to make sure the creases are even, but you can tell he'd rather be hanging out with the rest of the crew.

I know it needs to be done and Doug's gotta pay his dues, but it would nice if you could include him in your parties every now and then.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I'm not really sure that learning how to talk about pork products in Arabic is the best use of my time.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Arabic is a very nice language based on a three letter root word system. Many words can be traced back to a three letter root. Often, but not always, the words based on this root are related or have a similar meaning. The most common example is the root KiTeB which is the basis for words like book, library, to speak and office.

Today we were talking about the root GhRF. (The Gh sound is sort of swallowed when pronounced.) Anyway, this is the root from which one could derive the words West, western, sunset, to set, to disappear and Morocco (it's the westernmost Arab country).

But it can also carry the meaning of disappearing into a foreign culture. It would be used to describe someone who went away to live in another country and when they came back you couldn't recognize them.

I've seen it happen a couple of times already.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I'm sorry, do I live in Washington DC or one of the hundreds of rapidly urbanizing cities across China? Cause, I can't always tell just by looking.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Traffic slowed to a crawl on the 14th street bridge while a bald eagle looped lazy circles overhead. The Washington monument poked above the horizon in the near distance.

After a time, we inched forward and I could see the disruption in traffic. Two police cars had pulled into the left lane; one officer stood about idly while the other handcuffed a young black man up against a Nissan 300z. We all merged from our lane into the next, some staring at the scene like a car wreck, others looking straight ahead as if it didn't exist at all.

The flow of traffic opened back up and the afternoon commute carried on.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tangential Haberdashery.

What can you do about parents? It doesn't matter if they live on the other side of the city or the country or the world, they're going to do ridiculous things. I happen to live far away from my folks, so it's hard for me to stop them from doing things like crafting a bizarre voodoo shrine to professional bicycling.

Now don't get me wrong, I happen to really like the Tour de France. When I was young I went through a stage that lasted several years where I would wear European style bicycle caps with the brim flipped up. I wore them everywhere. I have distinct memories of being harassed by larger children at the YMCA summer camp because of my flipped brim hat. Looking back, I totally understand. What 12 year old could the resist the urge to the knock a stupid looking hat off a smaller kid's head? But I think I got off topic here.

The point is, we're talking about educated professionals here. Two people who lead normal lives have built a sacred place of worship in their living room dedicated to a bicycle race held on the other side of the world. What can you do?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

It was Inevtiable.

Fine, it's happened and I accept it so let's just move on and not spend too much time dwelling on the fact that I've finally become one of those people that publishes photos of their cat on their blog.

Make all the fun you want, the real point is that I was having fun playing with the digital macro setting on my new camera. Subject matter aside, the detail that the Canon Digital Elph gets is pretty impressive.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


A few months ago I was reading something from a music critic who said that "hip hop has entered its baroque period." I thought that sounded clever, but I wasn't exactly sure that T-Pain singing like a robot qualified as a baroque movement.

But then today on the drive home I heard Kanye West rhyme g-string with Riesling. How many top 40 listeners can identify what a Riesling is, and more importantly does this mean that I should now invest heavily in wineries that bottle Riesling?