Archive for the ‘Science & Technology’ Category

Cafe Scientifique

cafe scientifiqueDo you ever wonder what scientists do when they’re not doing…. science?  Cafe Scientifique is “a place where, for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology.”  The concept started in the UK and now they are springing up all over, bringing folks from all walks of life together to debate and discuss what’s new.  Science-types and English majors are both welcome.

We have two cafes in our transit-shed, lucky us.  One in Annapolis, where Cy Jones from the World Resources Institute is going to discuss water trading tomorrow, September 30.  Like carbon trading, only wetter.  Another in Arlington on October 7, where Dr. Don Wilson from the Smithsonian Institution going to talk about Bats: Myth and Reality.  It’s at the Front Page, in Ballston.  If you’ve ever thought about putting up a bat house, this is your chance to ask all those questions. 

Could be a nice addition to the ‘hood.  If the neighbors aren’t too freaked out, that is.

Smithsonian on Flickr

Smithsonian Birthday on the Mall 1996 The Smithsonian has joined The Commons on Flickr, which started as a pilot between the Library of Congress and Flickr to increase access to publicly-held photo collections and allow the public to contribute knowledge and information (such as tags) to those collections.

The Smithsonian’s photostream contains some fantastic gems, including portraits of scientists, cyanotypes cataloging the Smithsonian’s other collections, and cool photos from past Folklife festivals.

Go look, add some tags, but be careful- much like the LOC collections, you can find yourself losing hours poking around at this stuff.

Make:DC, Gathering of Area Geeks

If you walked by Greater Goods, the all things eco-friendly store on U Street, tonight and glanced in the window you may have wondered what all those nerdy looking guys and girls were doing with soldering irons huddled around several large tables. They were doing what any self-respecting geek in DC could be doing on a Thursday night: attending one of Make:DC‘s first organizational meetings and putting together a tiny circuit board useful for controlling motors like those found in robots.

Make:DC is a new group organized by local mechanical engineer Adam Koeppel as an offshoot of the popular MAKE Magazine. According to the website, the group aims to “inspire and organize the Washington, DC community of makers for greater collaboration and learning.” From tonight’s meeting, it seems they’re well on their way.

I went into the meeting not having used a soldering iron since shop class in middle school, and through some expert assistance and liberal borrowing of tools, I was able to build one of the $20 DC Motor Driver Board designed by one of the group members. (If you’re not sure what a DC Motor Driver Board is, fear not, I wasn’t entirely sure either. But in future meetings, we’ll be using them to control motors, build small robots, and do other neat things with them.) If you’d like to find out more, visit the group’s website at The next meeting is June 19, and other activities are advertised on the website.

Tonight on Jonny’s Par-Tay


Unlike what mom said about no internet until 30 minutes after you eat, foodies and techies do mix. See tonight’s episode of Jonny’s Partay and chat with some socially minded foodie techie folks. Dig the description by DC’s very own favorite man about town Jonny Goldstein:

We are pleased to host Sean Shadmand and Isaac Mosquera, the founders of on Jonny’s Par-tay on May 28, 2008. Also on the show Andrew “Batterista” Wright, who will challenge us to pick the best butter out of a dairy-licious selection. is a cooking oriented social network with over 500,000 registered users. Jonny has tried recipes off the site and loved the results. We’ll talk with Sean and Isaac about how they got the idea for Family Oven, and how it is working as a business.

We are also going to have a special bonus feature with Andrew “Batterista” Wright, who besides being a tech entrepreneur, is obsessed with butter. We’ll do a Jonny’s Par-tay Batterista Butter Blind Benchmark.

What: Jonny’s Par-tay, the interactive online TV talk show, with guests Sean Shadmand, Isaac Mosquera, Andrew Wright, and host Jonny Goldstein, with a little Scott Stead magic poured on top.
When: May 28, 9-10PM Eastern
Interactivity: As always, you are invited to text chat us live. It’s a Par-tay!

Remember – wherever Jonny is, it’s always a par-tay.

Just in Time for Evening Commute…

…a suspicious package has been found at the White House, but no further details are available at this time. Thanks very much to a new Twitter-based News Service for breaking the news, and suggesting that you might not want to drive down 14th or 15th tonight near the White House if you can avoid it.

Chances are it’s some laundry, or maybe Cindy Sheehan’s latest missive, and totally unrelated to reality, but it is going to screw up your drive home. Metro, trust me.

Update: The package, as we suspected, is totally safe. It still fucked up rush hour though.

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.

We’ve All Got Something to Say

Photo courtesy of mj*laflaca

So you just finished reading the latest Grisham thriller, or stayed up all night because you couldn’t put down Amy Tan’s newest, and now you’re just itching to tell everyone about how awesome it was. Or what a terrible read it was, so don’t even bother. What options do you have?

Well, a lot, actually. You can find a forum or review site pretty much all over the web these days….except at the library.

Those days are over, at least in Alexandria.

The Alexandria Library now offers patrons and residents a chance to put down their own reviews and thoughts on nearly all of the library’s holdings, which includes books, movies, music, and other material found on the online catalog. The Library has included this functionality as another resource for people to get recommendations and reviews from other patrons on materials to check out.

“Our Library now has a truly interactive mechanism, completely integrated into our catalog,” said Rose Dawson, Director of Libraries. “We know that our patrons are already used to such interaction on many commercial Web sites, but our Library affords its patrons the ability to reserve materials online—and to get those materials at no charge.”

Accessing the catalog is easy. Go to the website and click on “Library Catalog” and start browsing. When you find something you’d like to offer a review on, just type it in. Keep in mind that you’ll need to register to the website in order to do so.

The interactivity of the online catalog is just one more step in building the community, and one that is appreciated from its patrons.

I love libraries, courtesy of mj*laflaca

A Look at the New Capitol Visitors Center

Picture 3.png DC Metrocentric has an awesome preview of the new Capitol Visitors Center that’s been under construction on the East side of the Capitol since time immemorial. I love the glass ceiling that gives way to the Capitol Rotunda. You can also read more about the new facility via the Architect of the Capitol’s Weekly Construction Summaries. This week, they’re working on “millwork, wall stone, floor stone, grout lines, painted surfaces, ceiling panels, plaster work, doors, and other finish materials.”

Market Season Upon Us

When you’re out walking to lunch today, in the glorious spring sunshine, take a moment to think about what you’re having. Is it trucked in by Sysco after being canned somewhere in the midwest? Or is it hauled in from area farms?

I’ve fallen in love with the area farmers markets, which are about to start their season again. The Post sent over a very neat Google Maps Mashup with a bunch of local farmers markets. Be sure to play with the days of the week on the map, as that made me miss my two favorite farmers markets initially.

If you’re interested in Farm Shares, please check out the VABF’s listing of CSA farms in the northern virginia area, most of whom will have dropoff points in the District. It’s not too late!

Strawberries — Originally uploaded by tbridge

Don’t Fall for that Speed Trap

Picture 1.png I got a speeding ticket in February in Arlington. It sucked, but I was definitely going what he said I was going, but there’s no way that George Mason near Columbia Pike is a 30mph zone. 4 lanes, divided, it’s just not meant for that speed. But anyhow, I got caught in a speed trap. DC’s full of speed traps, some of them electronic-and-camera, some of them flesh-blood-and-lidar.

Good thing that Trapster’s here to show us where they are. You can add traps, look for traps, even have traps sent to your cellphone via Text Message. Bad. Ass.

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