Archive for April, 2009

Not Easy Being Green: Air

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props to Jonathan Hoff on flickr

The thing about air, you see, is that there is a lot of it.  And it’s free — there’s no “DC Department of Air” that delivers clean, tested stuff to your door.  Then again, a lot of things (that we don’t pay for) affect our air quality.  In the city, it’s mostly heavy and off-road vehicles — trucks, buses, earthmovers — and that coal-burning power plant on Capitol Hill.  But regular cars and light trucks, heating, ventilatilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, manufacturing, and even human and animal digestion — all affect the air we breathe, as well as do sun, wind, and heat.  Air is both chaotic and complex, two things that make a system very difficult to model using our limited tools of mathematics and computer science. 

The upshot is that we don’t understand it very well.  We mostly know there is a problem with the air and that the changing composition means the air is overall a titch warmer than it used to be.  And we mostly agree that this is a result of people using the air.  And we mostly think this warming trend is Not Good.  What nobody knows very well is what to do about it. 

In a situation like this, looking at history is always interesting to me; I like the example of the government’s well-meant efforts to make cars more efficient by regulating the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE).  Instead of resulting in more small cars on the road, the car industry figured out how to sell us trucks (ie, SUVs) that weren’t covered by the rule.  These larger vehicles will finally be regulated in 2011, more than 35 years after the law was enacted.  This is a great example of unintended consequences and the need to reckon with clever capitalists.  Well-meaning people regulated lead of out gasoline back then, too.  Lead is pretty awful stuff when it ends up in drinking water and the easiest way to keep kids safe is not to use it at all.  But recent speculation points to lower lead levels as a precursor to global warming (thanks to @2020science for the links!). 

Unfortunately, eliminating lead also means none of those kids can use their XBOX 360s, but those consequences, they just keep coming.  And now we mean well when we talk about limiting carbon emissions.  I fear the unintended consequences.  Who knows, we could be stuck with a lot of boring sunsets…

Not easy being green: Water

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Blue Plains water treatment facility at twilight.

Wednesday April 22 is Earth Day, so let’s talk green this week.   Today’s topic:  Water

Those of us blessed with municipal water systems have been somewhat insulated from the massive water issues that many predict will dominate the next century.   Most people still believe that clean water is cheap and reliable — that water will come down from the sky, be filtered through the ground and return as it always has to provide fresh water to my kitchen sink.

But that’s less and less true.  As population and industry have grown, water moves through the system differently and “fresh water” is less fresh.  In our overbuilt environment, the water we pull out of the Potomac doesn’t flow back as it used to.  Treatment plants adds all sorts of things to the water to minimize health risks, but also to minimize risks to infrastructure (ie, lead leaching or other pipe corrosion).  And treatment doesn’t take out all sorts of other things, like anti-cholesterol or birth control drugs. And don’t even get me started on the vulnerabilities of aging SCADA systems.

The real point is that moving water around, even when it’s clean, costs energy.  Our water treatment and distribution systems are aging and not adequately funded as populations have grown; and many small municipalities have privatized their water systems, meaning that people are going to start paying the real cost of water, both here in the city and in the extended suburbs.  And we use a LOT of water.

Awareness is growing, but it will be a few years before we really start seeing the impact.  In the meantime, there are lots of ways to use less water.

Still to come: Earth, Air, and Fire.

Eating on The Metro: Why I’m For It

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Whoops!

As we leave another tourist-filled, sports heavy weekend behind us here in the District I’d like to share a few thoughts I have about eating on the metro.  Throngs of people packed into tiny spaces, tourists collecting at the bottom of escalators and failing to understand that the train extends all the way along the platform-you may think that, as fed up as I already sound about PT in DC, that I’d be calling for you all to not bring your snack on the train.

On the contrary-I’m all for it.  Full disclosure here- what follows is an updated post from my personal blog that posted just about a year ago (before my Metblog rebirth).  Still, it was time to update and reintroduce the topic to a much wider audience (that’d be you). 

The reason it all came back to me now is the picture above-taken during the cherry blossom weekend rush.  Some kid spilled his smoothie (which he wasn’t drinking) over the rug.  People had to step around it.  So why am I okay with it?  Well-read on!

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Redskins: "The Cooley Zone." Seriously. Don’t Giggle.

Chris Cooley continues to try and out-“WTF!??!” every other sports personality in Washington D.C.  No simple task when your competition includes Agent Zero and Clinton “Southeast Jerome” Portis among others.  His latest effort is a shining example of a great step forward with the release of his new reality (nice of him to visit) show “The Cooley Zone.” 

Yep.  He’s named it “The Cooley Zone” which I’m sure beat out “The Chris Cooley Project”, “Chris Cooley: Uncensored”, “Cooley-Time” and “Meet the Cooleys” as titles for what proves to be the new best DC based reality Internet show ever. 

And Patrick was looking forward to the Blonde Mafia thing!  This here will be the gold!  Doubt me?   Fast Forward to the 45 second mark and listen to Chris (I think) explain why he thinks he’s so popular:

“I think sometimes its cuz I’m the only white dude that touches the football and that’s what you’re given to look up to, so…It’s this face.” 

Wow.  Now if that sort of vain and otherwise uncomfortable statement doesn’t make you cringe with “oooh that guy is full of himself” keep watching.  The bling shots of cars, the house (casually mentioning the square footage) or showing off the “man room” full of pictures of his wife should convince you that he is a providing and devoted husband.  Or that he needs to keep reminding Tanner every time he comes over the house just who is the better brother. 

The crowning moment for me, however, is right at the beginning of the clip.  Watch it again, or flip over to “Kissing Suzy Kolber” for a second-they got a freeze frame of the not so innocuous picture above the mantle piece.  What is that you ask?  Yup, Chris “I feel like I’m a normal, completely average dude” (2:40) Cooley and his wife have an artistic-style picture of them having sex (or faking sex-whatever).  

Right there.  Just hanging there in the living room-like all us regular dudes do.  In fact, I can’t wait to get married and have my parents over.  Just to show them.  And Grandma.  They’ve been worried saying “you’re 31, when are you going to get married, have sex, take a picture and put it over the fireplace?”  Thankfully, I have Chris Cooley to show me the way.

I’m sure Dallas, Philly and  New York will pay particular attention to the 3:46 mark-as now they know to focus on the left knee next time he’s playing-or just leave a hose running on the ground for a few days creating a waterhole to tackle him.  “F##k you, waterhole” indeed!

Enjoy The Present, Enjoy Your Life

0411091849aEven though I’m a somewhat proud Vietnamese American, I don’t often enjoy the cuisine that can be easily found down the road from my house in Seven Corners. I usually don’t frequent the area unless I am picking up food for my family back in Massachusetts or I’ve been dragged there by family hoping I will find good Vietnamese food and maybe a good Vietnamese woman.

This past weekend was one of those times, my family was in town and we all went out to Present down Rt. 50 past Seven Corners to have dinner.

Located outside the Little Saigon cluster of stores, supermarkets, and restaurants; the relatively young restaurant was decorated with new woodwork and a waterfall/fountain deal that quickly set the mood. We were welcomed by the manager and a hostess dressed up in a traditional Ao Dai. My aunt was surprised that the place wasn’t as full as she expected, she mentioned images of lines out the door on a Saturday evening. Her assumptions were validated as crowds grew only minutes after we sat down.

A look at the menu was very entertaining. The menu has a wide assortment of traditional Vietnamese fare, each with it’s own creative name. Titles such as, “Resting Steer on Haystack”, “Wandering Cow”, and “Hard-Working Piglet”, are more poetic than descriptive.

As I enjoyed my Wandering Cow and the Shiz My Family Says, I noticed that the clientele was more diverse from the Asian community that restaurants like these usually cater to. To me that’s a good sign that word is spreading around about the place. The food was good and rivals other established places like Miss Saigon in Georgetown.

While the restaurant’s website has more philosophy than information and the menu looks like prose, the one thing that is for real here is the cuisine. If I ever find myself in Seven Corners for dinner again I’ll be sure to recommend Present- because yesterday is already over.

Present
6678 Arlington Blvd
Falls Church, VA 22042
(703) 531-1881

Daily DC Item: Make Sure You File Your Taxes- Then Get Free Ice Cream!

421919_ratio3x4_width180I always try and get my taxes done before April, so I won’t be sweating Tax Day this year, however for those of you that are (and those that aren’t) should head on down to Maggie Moo’s for a free scoop of ice cream!

Thanks to my rad co-worker Clarence for leading me to the USA Today story that has a few other Tax Day offers like $10.40 entrees at McCormick & Schmick’s. Going Out Gurus also have the low-down on a few specials as well.

Click here to find your nearest Maggie Moo’s and click here to find your nearest McCormick & Schmick’s.

Sports: ‘ashington NationaLLLLLLLs

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A typo in the title?  Not a chance.

The NationaLLLLLLLs have yet to post a “W” for the year, and so I’ve taken the “W” right out of their name.  They have managed to post 7 “L”s this year, so I’ve granted them that.   Until they get a win they play for the city of  ‘ashington. 

The team that plays near the Navy Yard dropped it’s 7th straight of the season, it’s 11th in a row from last year, and it’s 16th of the 17 games.  This is how you can tell they are “bad.”

In case you are wondering the 1899 Cleveland Spiders lost 24 games in a row, and the 61′ Phillies lost 23 in a row-the longest in the post 1900 era.  The longest losing streak to start a season?  Our neighbors to the north the BLAH-timore Orioles lost 21 in a row in 1988

Yesterday’s game, while a lot of fun with the Metblogs crew, is probably a tell-tale sign of what to expect by the Nats this year.  Lots of offense, lots of errors.  This team can score-don’t kid yourself.  It’s going to be fun to watch if you dig the long ball, for sure.  If you’re a fan of tight play, stingy defense and good pitching-well it’s going to be a long summer for you. 

The Nots Nats are also in trouble looking at the upcoming schedule.  They don’t play a team out of the NL East until the last day of April!  After finishing here with the World Champion Phillies, they play Florida, Atlanta and the Phils again-with a series against the Mets mixed in.  So the teams that are already kicking our ass are going to line up to do it again all month long. 

It could be a record setting bad month, all things told.  Hang on to your Hats Nats fans-they might be the only “W”s you see at the park for a while….

Daily DC Item: Metblogs Meetup At Nats Opening Day

Yesterday the DC Metblogs crew was out in force to enjoy Opening Day at Nationals Park. The 0-6 Nats finally returned from their season starting road trip to face the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.

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The view walking down half street, I was excited to see so many people come out for the game! Frank and I joked earlier that we could of seen Marlins like numbers.

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I enjoyed seeing this wrapping since I could probably answer that it wasn’t Half Street. I’m really dissapointed that the area still isn’t developed into the bustling new neighborhood that we expected.

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I thought I’ve seen these new statues late last season but I still don’t know what to think about the weird artwork that now welcomes patrons into the park.

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Some of the improvements made to Nationals Park this year includes an expansion to the center field restaurant, definitely a plus for those looking to take a break from the game.

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The stadium was pretty packed however the team still has a problem with selling those behind the plate seats.

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Before the game there was a moment of silence before the game for Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas, who died in the broadcast booth hours before the game. That team actually considered cancelling the game but decided to go on with the show. Metblogs sends it’s thoughts and prayers to Kalas’ family.

Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

President Obama wasn’t around for the first pitch so Military representatives tossed the pitch instead.

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This is the view from the Suite I watched the game in- unfortunately DC Council members couldn’t enjoy the experience like I did.

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

It wasn’t a great Opening Day for the Nats. Despite an early offensive showing, I was already yelling at Anderson Hernandez by the 2nd inning. The Nats lose to the Phillies in a game that wasn’t as close as the score would indicate.

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However the Metblogs crew enjoyed a drink in the Lincoln Suites and we had a fun time all around. Frank and I have access to season tickets so it will only be the first of many losses that we’ll be watching all summer long!

Puppy Watch: The World Can Now Breathe- The Obamas Have A New Puppy!

0412_obama_dog1This past weekend as I was walking around the Newsuem I came across an series of coin collecting tubes with a display on possible non-allergenic breeds that President Obama could choose to become the lucky new puppy for Malia and Sasha. Apparently the Museum of News was holding a public penny war to see who visitors wanted as first pet. Seeing how I had to pay $20 to get into the Newsuem I wasn’t about to give them more cash.

However after I got home I saw that I had to wonder about the Presidential Puppy no more. I first saw the Politico article that cited that the Washington Post was given the exclusive story in exchange for keeping quiet on another exclusive that was given to the New York Times- news that the White House was going to plant a vegetable garden.

Ok so let me get this straight, The White House had to keep the Washington Post away from that uber hot vegetable garden story that they already promised to The Times, so they give The Post the Puppy story… wow it’s like anything this administration touches is gold in a newsworthy sense. I wonder who will get the scoop on Obama’s choice of basketball when he has those weekend pick-up games.

The White House wanted to have a big debut on Tuesday but it looks like The Internet is at it again with their news leaks. A website sprouted up called First Dog Charlie and the site had leaked photos of the dog, complete with Hawaiian Lei. TMZ is already all over it calling the event Puppygate.

So here’s what you need to know, the Puppy is a Portuguese water dog named Bo. He was a gift from the family of Senator Ted Kennedy. The Obamas originally said they wanted to get a dog from a shelter but they will be instead making a donation to the D.C. Humane Society.

Welcome to DC Bo!

Nationals: No "Change-up We Can Believe In"-Obama Out!

Despite earlier evidence to the contrary, President Obama will not be throwing out the first pitch for the Nationals on Monday. 

*Commence Pouting*

You know-BLAH-timore got Joe Biden, the deal was we were supposed to get the Prez.

It’s a tradition that dates back to William Howard Taft in 1910, right here in Washington DC (At National Park).  Since then Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, FDR, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon all threw out at least one ball for the Washington Nationals/Senators. 

Ford, Reagan, Bush I and Bill Clinton all found somewhere to throw out the first ball while President when there wasn’t baseball in DC.

Bush II came out to both Nationals Parks to throw out the first pitch. 

And here we are-economically depressed, bad team and his new home town-and he’s not going to throw out the first pitch.  I get that, you know, he’s got more important things to do-so do I, if we really want to get down to it.  That said, it was a nice gesture that a lot of people were looking forward to seeing.  I’m going to call LAME on this one. 

I mean he made time for a Wizards game-A Wizards GameAnd that was only so he could root for the Bulls!  Alright-he’s a Bulls fan, sure-go for it.  Go see your team, you’re the Prez. 

You know I’m blowing off work on Monday to go to the game-why can’t he?  It’s like 3 hours-no big deal!  He can even bring his blackberry and stuff-they have Wi-fi at the field! 

Just, you know-stop by a bar on 8th Street SE for a beer, come on over to the game-I”ll get you a Sunset Wheat at the Red Porch-throw out a ball and you’re done!  You don’t even have to stay!  It’s 5 minutes down the road-especially with one of those motorcade deals we all know you’re going to get if you come!

Pretty much I’ll expect that when I leave the game on Sunday I’ll be greeted with the news that it was a very productive Monday for the President in which he either fixed health care or the economy as a whole. 

*End Pouting*

Hopefully we can get him to come out for one of the July 4th games against Atlanta, or a few weeks later when the Cubs show up (I know-he’s a White Sox fan). 

And seriously, Sr?  Consider yourself penciled in for Opening Day next year.

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