Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Not easy being green: Water


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



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!


On space and anarchy

orphans1We attended a screening of the new documentary Orphans of Apollo at George Washington University on Friday evening, and have been mulling ever since. On the surface, this is a documentary that tells the ill-fated story of a millionaire’s attempt to lease the Mir space station back in 2000. A bit deeper, it’s a thought-provoking look at why commercial access to space remains speculative fiction.

The tagline is “Join this band of rebels out to change the course of history in space, as they board a private Gulf Stream jet, fly to Russia and negotiate one of the most remarkable business deals of the final frontier.” The story is told in interviews with the participants, mixed with some great footage of this bunch of starry-eyed kids who grew up watching the Apollo landings and reading Heinlein. When they teamed up with MBAs intent on leveraging post-Soviet technology, they sidestepped decades of global politics. Watching it play out was fascinating (even if you’re not a closet space geek).

The underlying message, however, still makes me squirm. Our government dangles space as the future, promising scientific discovery, technological innovation, and life on the final frontier. But as one of the participants observes, “the government views anything you send into space as a weapon”. And of course, that’s true, but it’s also politics-as-usual and therefore complicated. Control of space for communications, global positioning, as well as more traditional weapons is a huge priority for our government, and the Outer Space Treaty is ticklish at best.

Me, I’d love to see Dancing with the Stars in microgravity. But I’m settling for great documentary films like this.

Read the blog, order the DVD, or post comments at

Is There No Such Thing As Recession Romance?

"Love or Money" courtesy of Flickr user aymanshamma

"Love or Money" courtesy of Flickr user aymanshamma

I guess I’m lucky I’ve always been a poor bastard.

A quick post over at What’s Up Arlington, brought my attention to the front page story in this past Wednesday’s Washington Post. The headline read, “Market for Romance Goes From Bullish to Sheepish Are Guys With Less to Spend Less of a Catch?” After reading the piece I was angry. I had to read it again to see what was it that spurred the unusual reaction I get from reading The Post. The article caught enough attention for posts on cheap dating over at The Going Out Gurus and The Washingtonian.

It wasn’t the early comment from Neil Walsh who said, “”I was so used to using my financial situation to leverage my dating.” It figures that rich boys really don’t know how to romance a girl past buying her $15 martinis.

I think it was the story of Niko Papademetriou, who now has to take the Chinatown bus every weekend to see his girlfriend in NYC. He used to take flights every weekend, “…there is a lot of fear on [Niko’s girlfriend’s] part, knowing that my industry and the one that we had kind of mentally projected ourselves and our way of life on could be over, or at least on pause for a while.”

I think what I’m feeling is the lack of sympathy for the LTR. As an average joe in DC, I know plenty of friends that take the Chinatown bus. I never knew anyone that could afford to take weekly flights to NYC to see a girl.

And it’s not just the guys that are feeling it- their trophy wives are too. My friend Wendi sent me a New York Times article about a support group called Dating A Banker Anonymous. While it must be hard for women to see their men distraught over the economy, I have to laugh at anyone who has to complain that the economy has forced them to give up caviar and champagne.

The big point I want to make is that romance and love should be about a person, not the glitz and glamour. Sure a man should be confident and money and status helps with that- but a real man doesn’t need any of that to pull it off. Also marriages and relationships are going to be tested, sometimes by forces beyond our control. To me it’s those moments that tests the mettle of the true relationship.

Am I crazy or isn’t love more than money?

Time, space, and urbanity

There has been a fair bit of press this week discussing a report from the Urban Land Institute called Beltway Burden: The Combined Cost of Housing and Transportation in the Greater Washington, DC Metropolitan Area.  This is an interesting and well-researched look at balancing our cost of living and quality of life.  As you might guess, if you have a long commute, you pay less for housing and more for transportation.  If you have a short commute, it’s the other way around.

Any analysis like this, however, is all about where you “draw the box” and this report leaves a lot of things out of the equation.  Yes, it costs substantially more on average in both dollars and pollution to live in Loudoun County than the District, but these are substantially different lifestyles.  I was disappointed that the many things that are traded off in the housing decision are mentioned only anecdotally. So many factors are impossible to quantify– the health benefits of walking more and driving less, the everyday delights of cultural diversity, or the proximity of friends and family. It would be great to have a tool that could put a value on things like convenience to amenities, square footage, social life, schools, green space, beauty, noise, and many other parts of the work/life balance, and could help us understand all factors in order to find a better societal and personal balance. 

The authors seem to believe that people buy houses on price alone, and if only they would count the time, cost, and hassle of commuting, they would buy a house closer to the city center.  As we all know, it’s not that simple.  While it is true that traffic is bad across the metropolitan area (and it’s only going to get worse), middle class folks who want a big house and a suburban lifestyle and are going to put up with it.   The ULI thankfully stops short of telling people they shouldn’t want whatever American dream that’s in their heads. 

To the good, the ULI very sensibly recommends improving mass transit, building affordable in-fill housing, and increasing telecommuting.  It’s my opinion, though, that these stop well short of addressing the issues.  They don’t mention the need for better soundproofing technologies for dense housing, for public parking throughout the city, for innovative designs in small houses, for better designs in shared green space, and a hundred other things that could tip the balance for a lot of people. 

I choose to live in the densest neighborhood in DC for a lot of reasons; energy efficiency is only one of them.  And I’m always curious why people choose to live where they do– I’d love to hear your reasons for choosing your home, your neighborhood, and your city.

Don’t Drive Drunk

Don’t drink and drive also please wear your seat belt.

December is the most dangerous month when most of people get killed or life time injured by accidents.
I do not care where ever you go, when ever you go, we all know time location and our work all is important but think.
Is your life is not important ???
Your children are also important…
When you are at the driving seat, you are responsible of all people who are sitting with you, so tell them WEAR YOUR SEAT BELT OR GET OFF FROM THE CAR !!!!
Must View:
If I can wear it than why cant you ?
Seat Belt Picture by WK

Seat Belt Picture by WK

Lose Child in the car, this could be her last trip, she was making face when I took her picture, so cute to lose…

Lose Child - Picture by WK

Lose Child - Picture by WK

Can you feal the pain ?
Injured in Car Accident - Picture from Flickr

Injured in Car Accident - Picture from Flickr

Drive Slow in Winter.
Picture from Flickr

Picture from Flickr

This could be your future house for the life time, so the choise is yours, do you want to wear the seatbelt and drive safe or this bed is waiting for you.

Picture from Flickr

Picture from Flickr

Will Obama Make a Peace from Washington for ME&SWA ?



Will he ever be able to create a peace zone ?

Martin Luther King,Jr.

“One of the most persistent ambiguities that we face is that everybody talks about peace as a goal. However, it does not take sharpest-eyed sophistication to discern that while everbody talks about peace, peace has become practically nobodys’ business among the power-wielders. Many men cry Peace! Peace! but they refuse to do the things that make for peace.”
Martin Luther King,Jr.

John F. Kennedy
“Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind…War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.” — John F. Kennedy

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