Archive for September, 2007

Mens Room Reading at Work

Are you this lucky in your office building? Does your mens bathroom have reading material in the stalls?

I love this community operated perk at my new place of business. Daily newspapers to pass the time on the throne.

Today its the Express, but other days its the Times or the Journal. A great library in the bathroom that should make you jealous.

Questionable marketing?

I’ve caught a few episodes of the Showtime series Dexter and intend to catch up – not only is it set in my hometown of Miami, but its pretty entertaining as well. With season two kicking off this Sunday, Showtime is launching a big push to promote the show and are having in-place events at fourteen cities. The one for our fair city is being held at Union Station. Apparently they involve “Dexter’s red fountains.” I’m not sure what that means, but with a show that revolves around a serial killer odds seem slim it’s entirely wholesome and free of innuendo.

I’m not free to go over to witness the ‘festivities’ when they happen today sometime between 11 and 5p, but if one of you does and take some pictures then you can join the Flickr group that Showtime has set up and add your photos. They’ll be giving some things out, apparently including a DVD with the first episode. “The first one is always free” is a tactic I am sure I have heard of somewhere else…

I’m half tempted to think that a promotion for a show about a serial killer is inappropriate in a city that has at times competed strongly for murder capital of the nation, but I honestly can’t find it in myself to be bugged by it. Maybe it’s because I like the show, maybe it’s because I know the central character tries to harness his murderous impulses in a constructive way, maybe… I just can’t bring myself to care about fiction when there’s enough yuck promoted in reality.

If any of you see any of this, let us know what it was all about or if the giveaways were of any interest.

Moving is painful

My darling girlfriend and I are in the process of moving, one of life’s lesser joys. I’ve got a few stories to tell, though several of them are hers, since she’s shouldered the burden of dealing with most of the utility companies. I don’t really suggest changing jobs a few weeks before a major move but I have to say it’s a great trump card when trying to convince your partner to pick up some of your slack. “Gosh honey, could you do that? I just don’t feel like it’s a good message to send for me to be on the phone so much on my third day.” Grod love her, she’s good to me.

One of the first hurdles we jumped was a mover for her. Being a long-time bachelor myself I’ve got more computer toys, saws, and books than furniture. She, however, is bringing the majority of the heavy gear to the new place, so she was determined to hire someone. Whoo-boy! I knew a fellow who once quipped that “finding an unbiased drug study is even harder than finding a sober Kennedy,” but drug policy is a snap compared to determining is a mover is trustworthy and fairly priced.

We spoke to several, including ones suggested by fellow metblogs authors, but in the end went with someone used by one of her coworkers, Charles in Charge. Others seemed good, but the biggest deciding factor in the end was that CiC didn’t want to charge a minimum travel time. We felt that was kinda unreasonable from a mover whose office was one mile away to move objects between two houses that are… let’s see what Google says…. 1584 feet apart. So paying for two hours of travel stuck in our craw.

I’ll give you a review when it’s done. Here’s hoping.

Police Action in Petworth with Officer No-Photo

petworth police actionFor all the lead-foot morning commuters on New Hampshire Avenue NW, this is your final warning. The speed limit is 25 miles per hour, and no matter if you think that’s too slow or not, these two DC MPD will issue you a speeding ticket.

They were at Sherman Avenue this morning, promising also to be on New Hampshire above Grant Circle, and will be ready to ruin Speed Racer mornings all week long. The cops are more than happy to give speeding drivers a sloooow ticket writing experience, hefty fines, and points on a license.

I’m am happy for the police presence in Petworth, and I’m also happy they’re cracking down on the New Hampshire Avenue raceway, but I wasn’t happy with the response to photographing their speeding ticket sidewalk scene.

See the grinning on the officer in the florescent vest? The one on the right in the photo above? When I said I was going to photograph him pulling over a speeder, a celebration of good police work in my neighbourhood, he wasn’t happy any more. He said that the act of pulling a driver over was a “police action” and photography wasn’t allowed.

Whoa! Apparently Officer No-Photo didn’t know who he was talking to, and didn’t realize that photography in public, and especially photography of law enforcement officers in action, in public, is a well documented First Amendment right.

So while I love the police presence, and enjoy watching this police action every morning, Officer No-Photo needs to brush up on his 1st Amendment rights. Photography is free on our streets, nationwide.

If he’s there tomorrow, and I’m not in my own rush to work, I’ll stop and give him a photographer’s rights refresher.

Petworth Eyesore in the Washington Post

In another victory for citizen journalism (I hope), the constant coverage of the Petworth Eyesore by the Prince of Petworth and me may have finally paid off with a front page article in the Washington Post: New Rowhouse Rooflines Raising Eyebrows in D.C.

Paul Schwartzman took up the challenge of Petworth’s stunningly bad roofline additions, “pop-ups”, that are blighting the neighborhood with visual pollution with deft and due diligence, even getting the Pertwoth Eyesore owner to comment:

Anthony Cornish, the developer who is converting the single-family home to a condominium, said he used siding for the third floor because “brick is more expensive.”

The property needed a wholesale alteration, he said, because he is constructing two duplexes and wants it to look like an apartment building.

As for aesthetics, Cornish said the building, when it is complete, will be far superior to the dilapidated, vacant property he bought last year for $425,000. “To each his own,” he said of those who object to such additions. “If they don’t like it, they should have gone and bought it themselves.”

If the neighbourhood knew he was going to deface our community with his “pop-up” which looks like its going to pop-off, I am sure we would have. For everyone who lives here says just this:

“It makes me so sick I want to scream,” said Avis Anderson, a neighborhood resident and a real estate broker

If you want to scream too, the Petworth Eyesore is at 4143 New Hampshire Avenue, at Upshur. Don’t worry, you will not miss it.

They Were Looking For An Echo

“We used to practice in the subways, in lobbies and in halls,
even in the doorway, singing doo-wops to the walls…”

— The Persuasions, “Looking for an Echo

I was running late, but I stopped anyway.

It’d taken longer to get the cats to the vet up in Seven Locks, then back home, and the speeding ticket I got didn’t help, either. I missed the train at Courthouse, so it was almost three by the time I got to Metro Center, and I rushed off the train, only to stop. To hell with the meeting.

Three older African-American gentlemen were singing doo-wop on the middle of the lower platform. I’d seen them before on the corner above the 13th & G exit at Metro Center, but this time they were inside the station. The way they’d positioned themselves, they were able to take advantage of Metro’s ridiculously awful acoustics, pushing their crystal clear motown sound into a small space right under the red line platform, a perfect theatrical space for their vocalizations.

There was an appreciative audience of about 20 on the platform, waiting for the orange line train back to Vienna, standing and nodding their heads. I crossed by the men, and on hearing their tight harmonies, I stopped, and I listened. I remembered the piece from the Washington Post about Joshua Bell and his violin, and I relished their voices, even though I was getting later by the second, it didn’t matter.

Thanks guys for reminding me why I love DC, again.

DC Webcam Time Lapse

One of my favorite public Washington webcams is the NPS DC Air Quality Webcam installed in the Netherlands Carillon, facing towards the National Mall. It’s on a 15 minute refresh schedule, which gives you ninety-six unique images for every 24 hour period, so I wrote up a little script to fetch the webcam image every fifteen minutes from Monday to Friday, then combined the fetched images at the end of the week to make this little time lapse:

Turned out okay, though the final FLV from Google Video took a fairly large bit rate hit — I didn’t have jaggies like that in the original MP4 export. I’m looking forward to do more time lapses as the seasons change; anyone have suggestions for other such DC webcams I can fetch image sequences from on an automated schedule?

DC’s Smallest Concert Venue


You know you’re somewhere between performing on the street with an open guitar case and signing a Quincy Jones recording deal when you’re playing at the miniature stage at the Potbelly Sandwich Works on Connecticut Avenue in Dupont Circle. Blink and you’ll miss it, the stage is so small, and if you’re over six feet tall you’ll have to crouch up there like an elderly woman with osteoporosis. Your music will be piped all throughout the restaurant, and if you’re lucky someone might actually look up towards the rafters and realize where the music is coming from. I have to say, it sure was nice listening to some acoustic Sade today while I ate my Italian on wheat.

Love It or Hate It, Say Goodbye

It was a sad day for me when the Washington Post reported that the AMC Loews Dupont 5 Theater would be closing its doors for good on January 13, 2008. You see that’s my neighborhood theater and it takes me less than 10 minutes to walk there, so despite the uncomfortable seats, small screening rooms, and unfriendly staff, I’m truly going to miss it.

The trend in theaters has been moving from smaller venues to giant megaplexes – places where big groups of noisy people can go and see the latest blockbuster movies and sit in luxurious stadium style seating. With the Dupont Theater leaving, the only other choice (that I know of) for seeing whacky foreign films will be at the E Street Cinema, which is a great theater but not the easiest to get to.

When I asked my friends if they’d heard about the theater closing their reaction was either, “What?! No way! That sucks and is so not fair,” to “Eh, who cares. That place was a dump.”

What’s your reaction?

Photo by cyaneyed

Columbia Heights Eviction Follow-up

DPW Eviction Clean-up

Remember last week’s shocking Columbia Heights Tenant Eviction?

No matter if you were shocked or not about people being evicted in Washington DC, (I wasn’t), I think we can all be shocked at the amount of possessions casually tossed on the sidewalk and into the street.

My photo doesn’t really do it justice, but Prince of Petworth has a photo that does.

And his readers report that DPW:

“sent 4 street sweepers, two dump trucks, a bull dozer, a dumpster loader and a crew of about 25. From 10 p.m. to 3:30 a.m., the city was cleaning up the street.”

They also say it was the home of a lady who passed away a few years ago and the grandson squatted in the house till it was taken from the family.

So sad.

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