Archive for the ‘Potpourri’ Category

A Different Kind of Urban Blight


A maple tree in our neighborhood has been marked with the orange dot of death by UFA, and even has the “don’t park within 150 feet” sign posted on it.  Looking at the foliage (or lack of it), it’s clear there’s blight at work, but it’s still sad to see what was once a beautiful street tree turned into mulch.

Several other maples on the block are showing similar signs.  Sadness.

Wednesday’s child

After work yesterday, I was walking from the bus stop to the Swanky Safeway (I love you, Circulator) and spotted this lonely skeleton:

What once was useful, has been discarded

What once was useful, has been discarded

It’s not exactly providing the trash bin with shelter from the elements.  Why not fold it up before trashing it?   What color was the umbrella, before it lost its skin?  Did it have fun polkadots?  Was it the usual DC Black?  Did it bear the logo of one of this town’s myriad law firms?

Frank Warren: The Man With All The Secrets (Part 1)

With the FBI, NSA, CIA, and all the other acronyms it goes without saying that Washington DC is home to a lot of secrets.

But the secrets I’m about to tell you about are much more interesting than those you’d find at the place above.

They are the secrets held by you and; I, the secrets held by the person checking out your groceries, your neighbor, the waitress at Applebee’s. I’m talking about the secrets of the everyday person.

Frank Warren doesn’t know all of them, but he does get an awful lot of them. (more…)

Rose time

It’s the time of roses. Washington is ablaze right now with these lovely roses in bright pinks and reds. They seem to flourish without any work at all–the bushes in my neighbor’s tiny yard are overwhelmed with blossoms, and I can’t imagine the residents put any work into those plants. What’s best is that these aren’t the big, pretentious roses you see at the flower shops; instead, they’re like wild roses–flatter, humbler, and, in my opinion, lovelier.

Riddles encountered on today’s travels around town

The view from the window at Windows Cafe

–How did Ledroit Park (or Bloomingdale, as some seem to call it) wind up developing? It’s compressed into a small area around 4th and T NW and is very isolated from other developments around town; I rode through there on my bike and thought I was in California for a second–and then whoosh, it was gone.

–What’s up with Ethiopian cafe owners? Seems like all the newish cafes in town are owned by Ethiopians: Cafe Sureia in Brookland, Windows Cafe on 1st and Rhode Island NW, Azi’s on 9th NW, Sidamo Coffee and Tea on H St NE, and I think I saw a new cafe on Georgia around Irving. Oh, and Columbia Heights Coffee was bought by an Ethiopian couple about a year ago. Not complaining, that’s for sure–just curious and impressed.

–What’s going on at the corner of V and 14th street, catty corner from Busboys and Poets? There’s often a big crowd there–mostly black folks, but not the glamorous hipster crowd that hangs out at B&P. I’ve seen that crowd many times but there’s no sign indicating anything interesting there.

–Does Metro have express trains now? And if so, why does the red line express skip the Bethesda station, of all places?

–Why do train operators tell passengers, while the train’s in motion, how many cars the train has (as in, “This is an 8 car train”), when it’s illegal to move between trains?

–Is owning a home really so much better than renting, when you add everything up? If the only affordable houses are so far off in the suburbs that riding metro–post-fare hike–costs up to $10/day, and driving and parking cost double that and climbing, can you really argue it’s so worth it?

Cyber Seder with Carl and Elise

How is this night different from all other nights? For one thing, it’s the wrong darned night. Don’t let that stop you from attending the third annual Cyber Seder at This is the third year we have done a live cybercast of our Passover Seder. Unfortunately, we were out of town the first two nights of this important holiday, but we feel that it is important enough to continue the tradition that we are doing it on the third night to play catch-up.

Not sure what Passover or a Seder is? Read all about it here and then come join us. As long as we are here, your wanderings have not taken you too far from home, or at least a virtual representation of it. The broadcast will start at 6:30 and the actual Seder will commence at 7 p.m.

myLHBS Newsletter – Triple Threat, and Just in Time!

I just got the most recent newsletter (PDF) from Derek Terrell at myLHBS and was thrilled to see that this month’s recipe was a Belgian Triple. This is a type of beer I have had on rare occasions and always enjoyed. Now that I know a recipe, I can darken the doorway of my favorite homebrew shop again to get some ingredients.The newsletter came just in time. I am going to bottle my current brew tomorrow morning and will soon have empty equipment. This is another Derek Terrell recipe – a hefeweizen similar to Blue Moon, if I did it right. I wasn’t sure how much orange peel and coriander to add to the boil, so I added the minimum Derek suggested, since he had given me a range. I wanted to avoid an overpowering flavor but definitely wanted hints of these flaovrs. I can’t wait to try it tomorrow, fresh from the fermenter.Are you a homebrewer? What do you like to make? Interested in homebrewing? There’s no better way to get beer than from your own stovetop, so go see Derek to learn about it or send me an email and maybe you can come by next time I brew a batch. Beer and photography really do go together well!Here is this month’s recipe, from Derek’s newsletter:

Triple ThreatOne of the really nice things about Belgian ales is their simplicity and the degree to which they can be altered by even minor changes to basic recipes such as this one. Triple Threat is one I brew when I’m in the mood for something Belgian yet also can’t settle on exactly what I want to make. Choose Clear Candi syrup for a Strong Golden, or opt for Amber for something akin to Ommegang’s Rare Vos (and maybe even spice it lightly for a Grand Cru). Either of the Dark syrups will brew up a rich Strong Dark Ale. (more…)

The Subtext of Buttsex

One of our faithful readers wrote in to tell us about the Hasbro Scrabble Gram that ran in the Washington Post on January 25th, as described by On The Red Line. The letters, as written, were, “E U T T S X B”. Maybe it’s me, but I look at that and think of the Hershey Highway. And no, I don’t mean US Highway 422.

Don’t they have editors for this thing? Who suspects that somebody may have gotten fired over this? I checked on the Hasbro web site and didn’t see a mention of it, alhtough I did learn of the Chicken Limbo recall and other various nonsense about toys. Are you a puzzle person? Did you get the official right answer the first time?

The Morning News: Joe Gibbs, the Pope, and a petty county official

It’s a religiously fraught day in DC sports, with Coach Joe “Messiah” Gibbs resigning and the Pope planning a mass in the new Nationals Park. And what would a morning in the greater DC area be without a public official behaving poorly and construction on a major commuter route?

Gibbs Resigns From Redskins

Coach Joe Gibbs will announce his resignation this afternoon, according to the AP. He made a valiant effort, but some teams are beyond saving. I remember a coworker of mine being convinced that the Skins were going to win the Superbowl in Coach Gibbs’ first season back after years of abysmal performances. “Dude, his name is Joe, not Jesus.”

Pope Benedict to hold Mass at Nationals Park

Who knew Pope Benedict was a fan of the diamond? His Holiness will be saying Mass in center field on April 17th, his only public event when he visits Washington in the spring. Personally, I want to see if he can catch a pop-up fly.

Anne Arundel County Exec Rejects Children’s Artwork

County Executive John Leopold is reneging on a promise to display a mural created by a local artist and some schoolchildren because it’s “too busy to the eye.” I was not aware that we were engaging in artistic criticism of school art projects now… my mom always put my artwork up on the refrigerator, after all.

Lane Closures on 66

Expect to see delays during the late morning all week on I-66, as a couple of the westbound lanes will be closed to start drilling holes for a retailing wall near Exit 68.

Hungry for Music

When I was in elementary school, in third grade students were permitted to start taking instrumental music lessons through the school district. I remember attending a meeting about it with my parents, and being absolutely enthralled with the sounds coming out of the flute.

My parents managed to fit another monthly expense into what must have been a pretty tight budget and I was handed a shiny new Selmer Bundy student model flute, which I dutifully carried back and forth to school for the next 14 years. I took it to elementary school band practice (and to this day remember every piece we played that first year), marching band in eighth grade, orchestra practice and school musical rehearsals in high school, and even auditioned for my college orchestra. By this time, I had to confront the fact that I wasn’t very good at music, but by then I had found plenty of other ways to scratch the artistic itch, and laid my flute aside in favor of other pursuits.

But being unable to throw away or even sell something that had been such an important part of my artistic education, my flute has been sitting in my closet for years now. Then yesterday, I got an email about an organization called Hungry for Music. HFM accepts donations of used musical instruments to be distributed, both locally and internationally, to children who are motivated to study music but can’t afford an instrument.

It seems like every other person I meet used to play the clarinet, or used to play the trumpet, or used to play the guitar. Don’t let your instrument collect dust; donate it to Hungry for Music. They’re scheduling December instrument pickups now, and my old flute is on its way to teaching some other child about art, discipline, responsibility, and how great it feels when they’re applauding for you.

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