Saturday, August 30, 2008

On Dogs and Whispering

My Scrabble-date with an OkCupid* girl was called off on account of a summer cold, so the only girls I'm hanging out with today are the ones I'm dogsitting.  I won't go into detail about them, except to say that they're sweet and cute and I love them.  One is a people-dog, very interested in humans, and the other is a dog-dog, preferring the canine kind to the point of being terrified of people.  She's accepted me as pack leader, so we're good.  

Due to these wonderful lady dogs, I have been more successful in dating.  Not only do they give me something to talk about in random emails to potential dates, they have also gotten me a number.  

I was on one of our evening walks in Capitol Hill when we ran into a blonde with her little chihuahua mix.  The dogs became friends, and so we walked to the park together.  When I had to leave (my girls were feeling anxious for home), the blonde said "See you again," and I said "Yeah."  The next evening, I waited until about the same time I'd seen the blonde walking her dogs, and sure enough, we met up.  But on the walk to the park, I realized I had neglected to bring paper and pen, or even my cellphone.  As I was leaving, I said, "See you tomorrow maybe?  Around 7?"  She said "Yeah, probably."  So the next day we met up (right at 7) and walked the dogs together again.  Again, my girls were not feeling very social, so I left kind of early, but I got the blonde's number before I left.  That was Friday.  

Friday night, I got sucked into watching Cesar Millan the Dog Whisperer's show.  (See picture above.)  Even though he says the same kind of things to almost everybody (be relaxed, be assertive, be the pack leader), it's good TV.  I really liked watching the moments when the owners realize they are the problem, not their dogs.  

As a child, my parents thought I was going to grow up to be a vet.  They always said that I had a good connection with animals.  This may be true, but I'm not as familiar with them as Mr. Millan.  I often have a tough time figuring out who exactly is lead dog.  And I often don't know what an aggressive dog is feeling, or why it's feeling that way.  Millan's ability to do so is pretty impressive.  

I took a break from dogs for a few years, but I started to get back into them when a couple of friends of mine were intensely focused on training their dog.  I learned about dominance, about ignoring when behavior is bad, and about good ways to reward good behavior.  Then my father got a puppy, and I had one to practice on!  I read up on the things to do, and I pretty much raised that little mini-schnauzer like my own.  I apparently paid too much attention to him, though.  He became codependent and would cry whenever left alone in his crate.  When left alone out of his crate, he ate a rare book, many pillows, a remote control...  Additionally, he didn't interact very well with my stepmother's dogs (wild things that were never trained at all).  My dad eventually had to give him away, which was really sad.  

I'd like to be a dog trainer in Japan, simply because Japanese families have the worst relationships with their dogs I've ever seen.  They barely train the dogs.  They keep them outside on a chain in a fenced-in area all day and night.  The feeling is that "Dogs are wild animals, not humans, and so it's better to leave them be."  This is better, in theory, than treating dogs as human beings, but the implementation is awful.  Unfortunately, there's no market for a dog trainer over there.  Nobody knows that they could have dogs be so much better and happier just by accepting them into their family's "pack" and giving them a bit more attention and purpose.  

Over here, it's time to let the dogs out.  They're downstairs, hovering around the door.  Who leads whom?   Hmmm...

*A free site where I've had 300% more success than at Match**.  
**My colleague informs me that this figure is not clear.  I still think there's some underlying logic to it, but, for his sake, I will do real math:  I've emailed 18 girls on, and they've either not emailed me back or it's gone nowhere.  On OkCupid, I've emailed 9 people and 3 of them are getting somewhere.  So it's surely safe and accurate to say that I've had a 33.3% rate of success on OkCupid, which is more than I've had at  

Friday, August 29, 2008

I had a good title for this post but I forgot it.

Some time ago I picked a book up called The Memory Book by Harry Lorayne. I have no idea if it's revolutionary or regurgitated stuff from previous memory experts but I'm a big fan.

At first I challenged people around me to give me a list of random items that I would memorize quickly and have it last. It was a new toy. Now I can actually see how such tricks can help in a practical situation. I took a job waiting tables to pay the rent while going back to school. I had to memorize the items on the menu and the ingredients and drinks and everything quickly. These techniques worked like a charm. They take a little bit of effort initially to get the memorization down, but once you're in the habit it's well worth it. I don't have an especially good natural memory, so I needed something like this.

It involves visualization techniques. If you have a list of items to memorize you picture something ridiculous about it, then it somehow interacts in a ridiculous way with the next item on the list, then the next and so on. The key word there is ridiculous. Otherwise the items won't stay in your head. For instance, here are some sandwiches on our menu: Portobello mushroom sandwich, Turkey Burger, Mushroom Swiss Burger, HickoryBurger. I picture the portobello lying on the floor like a carpet, then a turkey walking over it toward a large mushroom which it starts pecking at. The mushroom has the swiss flag on it, and a piece of hickory wood sticking out the top. A hick picks up the wood, kind of like cletus the slack-jawed yokel, and then more items and more. Once I have the sequence of things down I then have to drill it a couple times, go away, and come back later and drill it again. If there's a fuzzy image at one step, I need to change it a little to make it more clear. It's a very creative process. Once I have the sequence in my head, I can fill it in with details. Like, the turkey patty is ground with carrots and celery and onions, so I picture my turkey with a large serving bowl strapped to its back with those items sticking out.

I'm amazed at how quickly I memorized everything, kept it straight in my head, and how well it stuck. It was way, way more effective and fun than any rote memorization I've ever done. The fun part is what makes me want keep doing it which is most important. There are other techniques for numbers and formulas which I plan to use for my forthcoming math studies. I'm pretty psyched that I learned about this stuff.

Now, if I can only find a way to cure absent-mindedness.


I am on And that, dear Reader, is why there have been fewer updates in the blog arenas.

I find that I am exercising the same muscles emailing random pretty girls that I use when blogging. This is because some profiles leave you with so little to work with, you have to be creative. Or at least that's the approach I've taken. Here are some examples of first emails I've sent:

Title: What is the what
I haven't read it; I just like the title. I haven't even read Eggers's Heartbreaking Work yet, but I plan to.

I've also never been to Paris, but I would love to, someday. Hopefully when the dollar is stronger, or when flying isn't so much of a hassle (here's hoping). Would you say that San Francisco is the Paris of the West Coast? I imagine some similarities.

Have you been to Great Falls yet?

Take care,
(real name)
Result: Nothing.

Title: Hi
Oh fellow photographer, where's your favorite place around here to take pictures?

(I don't have a favorite place, myself. Not around DC, at least. I loved taking pictures in Alaska.)

Another question: you list chocolate and cheese as two of your favorite things. If you had to give up one for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

I hope this beautiful weekend is treating you well.
Result: Nothing

Title: Hi
Love the red jacket in your profile picture. Where'd you get it?
Result: Nothing

Title: Dropping the Gauntlet (Hatandcoat helped on this one)
So, you like clever chefs, huh? I met Mr. Brown once. He licked my friend's salt container and sensed she'd made pork chops the night before. Weird guy.

Outdoors are good. I bike every day. I have biked to Baltimore. I'm probably better than you at biking. Do you want to race?

I'm a terrible swimmer, though. Our battleground shall be above sea level. How many triathlons have you done?

My last name is Slovak, too. Hope we're not related.

Result: No direct response, but she changed her profile to say "I train 20 hours per week, so I'm probably faster than you. I hope you're comfortable with that ;)".

Title: I'm Gumby, Dammit (Hatandcoat also contributed here)
I'm guessing you liked A Clockwork Orange for all of the linguistic touches Burgess put in. His mixture of English and Russian was endemic of the times, and shows a dichotomy between the upper classes and the lower, downtrodden souls who resort to ultra-violence as their only means of escape. Thrilling work.

I'll be here all night.

Seriously, though, I am very interested in your work with the ESL program. I taught English in Japan for a year, and I would love to start up again around here. Do you use English in the classroom or do you only use English? I can't speak Spanish, but I've always wanted to learn.

Awesome Wayne's World costumes! Any plans yet for a Halloween outfit? I'm thinking of dressing up as the yip-yip alien from Sesame Street. You know: "Yep-yep-yep-yep-BRRRRING! BRRRRING!"
Result: Nothing

Title: I Am a Balance Beam
Oh wait, balance beams don't actually have balance themselves... I mean I am a spinning gyroscope. I am all about balance.

My favorite sushi joint is Sushi Taro. Not because it has the best sushi. It's better than most places, but I don't know if it's the best. I like it because Japanese people won't go anywhere else. Most of the Japanese lawyers I know will only go there for business lunches or when their families come over. I get such a kick out of seeing them in the restaurant with their family or business partners; they all really enjoy it. They love the place. That's what makes it special, for me. You go in there and you feel like the restaurant is loved.

So what kind of camera are you rocking in that picture? Mine's a Nikon D300. I'm hoping to upgrade to a D700 as soon as I get some more photo gigs. D3's still out of my reach, though.
Result: Nothing.

Title: Monkeys
I wish I had a monkey picture. Why do all my friends have pictures of themselves with monkeys? Really. All my friends have shots of themselves cradling a chimp or bathing in a hot spring with Macaques or walking into the sunset holding a hairy hand. I'm jealous. How did you get your monkey pic?

I match you in all ways except the "cares about his job" part. I hate my current job, so I'm switching to part-time while I study to get into a career that I'm passionate (but not obsessed) about. So, if that's cool with you, drop me a line, eh?

Result: Nothing

So yeah. Pretty lame so far. I'll try to get wackier in my emails as my paid-for time goes by. Look forward to THOSE, dear Reader.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Engagement Arrangement

I'm so excited!

No, I'm not engaged.  But my friend Ephraim* is.  After forging his own set of rings out of molten gold (Aak: "So I guess you get a discount, for having to do all the work."  Ephraim:  "You'd think that, but you'd be wrong."), he finally proposed to his longtime ladyfriend.  They're getting married next year on the West Coast.  

I offered to do their engagement photos.  For free.  It's going to be awesome.**  I have no idea how I'm going to do it, but it'll be awesome.  

Except for the free part.  It's okay this once.  I like doing things for friends, so I try to give them some gratis photo shoots once in a while.  Also, I need to embiggen my portfolio.  I plan on asking a few friends to pose for practice head shots soon.  

Before I made him this offer for free engagement photos, Ephraim offered to fly me to the West Coast if I would then photograph his wedding.  Nope.  Already did that for someone else, but never again.  Weddings are a huge amount of labor for my kind.  And although I desire portfolio-stuffing material, the thought of that much work for no pay makes me queasy.  

I need some lights, light stands, umbrellas, and a D700... just kidding.  I'll hold off on buying the new multi-thousand-dollar camera.  For now.  

*"Ephraim" is not his real name.  I just wish I knew an Ephraim.
**"Ephraim" still has to clear it with the lady, but really, how can she say no?  Free photos!  Who could say no to that?  

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Good People of Metro

The good people of Metro are not jerks. They are not trying to be difficult with you. They are the best at what they do.

If it seems like none of the good people of Metro have the ability to reason or think beyond what they have been told, so much the better. For, if one of the good people of Metro started using his or her brain, then some Metro riders would be treated differently than others. That is not allowed. All must be treated with the same distance, monotone voice, and clear-cut rules.

For example: if you want to ride the Metro with a bike, you must not use the escalator. You must use the elevator. The rules are clearly stated. There is no third option. You must follow the rules.

There are some who might say that there are such things as "stairs." This is impossible. Stairs are not referred to in the rules. There are only "escalators" and "elevators."

Thus, if you attempt to carry your bicycle up a set of stairs (solid, stone, stationary stairs), one of the good people of Metro will automate herself over to you and announce the rules to you, like so:

"You cannot take your bicycle on the escalator."

There is no point in saying "But these are stairs," for the good woman of Metro will say:

"You cannot take your bicycle on the escalator. The elevators must be used at all times. You must use the elevator. You did not know. You need a pamphlet."

There is no point in saying "But stairs aren't the same as escalators," for she will say only:

"The elevators must be used. You did not know. The elevators must be used."

Thank you, good woman of Metro, for levelly dealing with all riders with the same dispassion, the same ruthless appeal to the rules, the same attention to the same language in every Metro station. Thank you, good people of Metro, for the purest form of public service: rendering every interaction lifeless, unimaginative, and most importantly, the same for everyone. All Hail the Good People of Metro!

Friday, August 22, 2008

The $5.06 Burrito

I go to Baja Fresh a few times a month. It's just across the street from the office. The Burrito Ultimo, while no Chipotle, is still a pretty good burrito. It's pretty cheap, but I've got a way to make it $2.00 cheaper every time.

The receipts. Almost every receipt has a website on it where you can rate Baja Fresh's service and get $2.00 off your next purchase. I fill out the survey, say I "May or May Not" recommend Baja Fresh to a friend, and I get a code to write on my receipt. I buy another burrito for $5.06 and get another receipt with the same deal on it.

This has been going on for a year. One time, just once, I got a free drink instead. don't know how they're staying in business.

Oh wait. Laziness. They're counting on everybody being too lazy to read their receipts. Must be working.

A friend of mine has been doing the same thing. The cashiers were on to him, because he was practically coming in every day. They refused to give him the receipt once. Little did they know, he had another back in the office. They gave up afer he stopped going there every day.

Enjoy your burritos! (It works on tacos and the rest of the menu, too.)


After a previous post, I got to thinking about lists. I was thinking about what subject matters of expertise could conceivably get me excited. Like, if I were to meet such an expert, would I feel compelled to pick his/her brain? I don't really want to delve into such a list here because I have NO idea how to be comprehensive about it, but I will start a list of movies that are on my list of all-time favorites. Not comprehensive, but what the hell. Some of them have passed the test of rewatchability, some are childhood faves, and some just are simply awesome. It's in no order, except the first one.

The Shawshank Redemption (#1)
Batman - 1989
Batman Begins
Groundhog Day
Karate Kid
Karate Kid II
Swiss Family Robinson
Boyz in the Hood
City Slickers
Fight Club (though I think I've killed it by now)
The Parent Trap (What can I say? I have an older sister who I followed unquestioningly when I was 6.)
Forrest Gump
The Godfather (though also killed)
Saving Private Ryan
1st half of Full Metal Jacket
We Were Soldiers (Note: I like war movies)

And now I'm stretching to think of more. I'm going to think of others probably 5 minutes after I post this, but this is all I have right now. There are some others that I really love but feel like someone else's thing for some reason, like The Princess Bride, Heat, Big Fish, and so many more. Braveheart and Ronin straddle that line, but Braveheart has to be the most rewatchable movie in history and Ronin has such an awesome feel.

I like the idea of collecting such a list over time, be it movies, music, hobbies, or whatever.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Getting Eight Times As Worked Up

Regarding Hatandcoat's nit-pick, is there any evidence to say that Slate didn't mean 9 times as much air when they said "eight times more air"? I'm not saying Slate's so great that they couldn't mess it up, but maybe they said what they meant. Cut Slate some slack, dog. Why you got to be so "ignorant"? (That'll get Hatandcoat going.)

Anyway, I settled down after lunch about the whole revolving door thing. And then I came across two things that have been bothering me for a while. And they need to stop.

1. Strike-out text. Example:
Few people in DC seem to understand this kind of outlook on life, which may be why I have no friends so many people seem so skittish and scared to say anything that doesn't align with whatever politically correct group of douches they've pigeon-holed themselves into. (The Anti DC)
Ah. You almost typed something embarrassing and self-deprecating but perhaps true, but then you thought better of it and crossed it out. Yet I can still see what you meant or were going to say. Ah. That is funny. Except I've seen it done too many times. I no longer find it cute.

2. "I just threw up a little in my mouth."

I did a quote search for that exact phrase in Google. There were 25,200 results.

People. Stop saying this. It was old when my girlfriend-at-the-time started saying it about everything that was just a little nauseating. That was 2003. FIVE YEARS AGO it was old.

There seems to be confusion over when this quote started being repeated by everyone. Some think it came from the movie Dodgeball, but I find it hard to believe that that movie originated anything. Besides, it came out in 2004, and I had broken up with the throw-up-girl by then.


It seems an odd thing to get worked up over, but if it does save a significant amount of energy then maybe you should spread awareness. I for one knew nothing.

There's a common linguistic foible in that article that I hear ALL THE TIME. Here's the sentence:

"According to their calculations, the swinging door allowed as much as eight times more air to pass through the building than the revolving door."

Eight times more means nine times as much.

It's a good bet, I gather from common usage, they really mean that if the revolving door allows one unit of air, then the swinging door allowed as many as eight, which could be said as 8x as much or 7x more. Using the word "more" in the phrase here means that they're referring to the difference between the two amounts in question, not a multiple of the lower one.

To belabor the point: If I have one apple and you give me another one, I have one more but two times as many. If I have one apple and you give me seven I then have eight total, which is seven more, but eight times as many as I originally had.

I hear this everywhere: "4 times more powerful than the leading brand," "get 10 times more results," etc. It irritates me to no end.

God knows how much stuff I say or write irritates other people.

Just Do That For Me

I don't actually look down on car drivers. I think that driving in the city is bad for me, the environment, and everybody, but I understand that some people have got to do what they have got to do. Not everybody lives 8-9 miles from work. Not everybody can deal with biking on the roads with homicidal maniacs. Not everybody can shower when they get to where they're going. Okay. I hope that all of those things change, but for now, ehhh. Just don't park in my bike lane and we'll be fine.

But is it wrong to get all fired up about the fact that NO ONE in this ENTIRE LAW FIRM uses the revolving doors?
  • Does it save energy? Yes.
  • Does it cost anything to do? No.
  • Is it hard? No.
  • Can you go through them with your bags and a lunch in your hand? Yes.
  • Can obese people fit? Pretty sure. I'll ask the two big guys in the computer room if they can squeeze in. If they can, anybody can.
  • Is there a sign on regular doors that asks you to use the revolving doors? Yes, at eye-level.
  • Is there a sign just inside the all-glass doors that says the same thing? Yes, behind every door.
  • Are revolving doors more fun than regular doors? Yes, they're like a merry-go-round.
  • Is there any good reason not to use the revolving doors? No.
And yet, nobody f#cking does it. It makes me angry and disappointed. Much angrier and much more disappointed than anything else. It's sad and pathetic. If you can't just push the revolving doors instead of swinging open a heavy, energy-inefficient door, you're just sad and pathetic and you make me angry and disappointed. And vitriolic. And thinking malevolent thoughts about what to put behind the doors to make you people understand. I'm thinking a spring-loaded garbage bin that throws the cafeteria waste onto you when you swing that door open. Garbage in, garbage out.

Really, just use the g-dd-mned revolving doors already, you wastes of air.

New Jeans

I'm stopped at a red light on my bike somewhere on Georgia Avenue. Three people start walking in the crosswalk in front of me. Two girls and a guy. One of the girls is in all black, from her shades down to her plastic ankle-cast. She says to the guy, "Are those new jeans? They look GOOD."

The guy says, "Yeah," and mutters something else as they walk away. At the same time, I think to myself, "I need new jeans!" and I check out what the guy is wearing. Dark blue, boot-cut, with a understated acid wash. I think, "Not bad."

The girl in the black cast sees me looking and smirks. On the other side of the road, now, I see her lean in close to the other two. Then the guy whips his head around and looks at me. I shake my head, as if to say, "Look, I just need new jeans, okay?"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bring It.

I actually think the he-doesn't-drink-objection is totally pointless. If I were current events/politics guy I'd weigh in on guns or hard core drugs or international diplomacy without any personal experience. I do know, however, that you were making a joke. Hahaha.

Go ahead, Aak. Raise my consciousness. I dare you. You're like the sun shining on the forest floor and I'm a fern extending slowly in its bloom. If it works it's only temporary, mind you, because taller trees put out their leaves and steal your overwhelming brightness from me.

I foresee this becoming an e-mail bickering for the masses to read.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


No, no no. The proper response to "Bibliography" is this:

"Why the hell did Aak write this? HE DOESN'T DRINK."

And I don't think of myself as Mr. News. I'm not "tops" on politics and current events. I'm simply aware of the world in which I live, and I do have opinions on that world. Like Hatandcoat, I don't hold any romantic notions of people who really research their elected officials, but, on the other hand, I get pretty disappointed in people who don't know anything about their country and don't care. I'm not saying Mr. Hatandcoat is one of these people. With me as a friend he's forced to be at least aware. Even if it annoys him. Too bad for you, Hatandcoat. Too bad.

Perhaps the next punishment for Hatandcoat not writing will be a "stream" of political blogging by yours truly. Please keep up with me, Hatandcoat, or risk becoming AWARE.

What, Me Worry?

Whatever. All I can respond with is attitude, not well formed opinion. I can say that if the drinking age is changed, 18 year olds would probably drink like they do now.

I have never had well formed opinions about social issues. I don't know if it's a lack of maturity or if it's just simply a lack of whatever it takes to care about them. I do think maturity plays a part. I still don't really think of myself as an adult on some levels. How many adults would blog about urine? I just have general attitude that whatever sort of "problems" exist is anybody's guess as to how to fix them. People can spout about them all they want, and I'm not a good spouter, so it's not my arena.

I often get annoyed when I come across people who get passionate while explaining their opinion on a particular topic. Aak is a good example of it. He'll explain something to me that has pissed him off, and I'll say "good point. How about Chipotle tonight?" If he persists, he'll try to lay out the basics for me, like "do you care that you have a government who spies on you," like that would stir me and cause a click somewhere in my brain. Perhaps I'm still in a holdover of some hard to shake teenage apathy. Here's how I know that that's a distinct possibility: I'm always reminded of a part in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I don't know if I remember the intention of what I'm thinking of correctly, but he talks about how there's no point in getting pissed at the people governing you because they could simply be replaced by a whole other set of people governing you who'll be equally clueless about your real needs. Getting interested in such issues may be incompatible with peace of mind.

I also don't hold any romantic notions of people who are really up on their current events. Like, if I know someone who's just tops on literature, or computers, or sports, or what have you, those are all areas that I don't know very much about, but can really look up to people who do for some reason. Current events and/or politics aren't the same way for me.

I'm using a public computer and am about to be timed out. Goodnight.


So apparently my co-blogger doesn't like to touch politics, not even with a plastic bag. Fair enough. But are all current events and hot topics anathema? Try this one, H&C.

All over the Internet, the story's going round that a lot of colleges are requesting that the drinking age be lowered to 18. Even my school-to-be, UMD of College Park, is getting in on this action. Here's an excerpt from the Baltimore Sun:
"Kids are going to drink whether it's legal or illegal," said Johns Hopkins President William R. Brody, who supports lowering the drinking age to 18. "We'd at least be able to have a more open dialogue with students about drinking as opposed to this sham where people don't want to talk about it because it's a violation of the law."
I think this is a great point. If drinking has to be hidden, there's bound to be people who can endanger themselves just trying to keep it hidden.

The article goes on to interview students. This is where things get weird.
Several students interviewed yesterday at Johns Hopkins said lowering the drinking age could reduce binge drinking. "I think alcohol is seen, a lot of times, as a forbidden thing, and people want it," said Jamie Hittman, 20, a junior from Columbia. "It's almost like contraband. Once you get it, you have to drink all of it."

Katie Buckheit, 19 and also a junior, said if people were exposed to drinking at a younger age, they would be more mature about it. "Maybe I'm being idealistic, but in Europe you can drink once you can see the bar," she said. "I think we should maybe take a lesson from what other countries are doing."
Okay, Baltimore Sun, check your sources. Mr. Hittman sounds like he is full of BS. Come on. "It's, it's like forbidden fruit, man. We wouldn't drink so much if it was, like, legal. So, when can we change the law? 'Cause my birthday's in April next year, so before then would be good."

And Ms. Buckheit, not everything is better in Europe. Check your sources. What kind of lessons are you looking to take from EU countries? How to be the heaviest consumer of alcohol in the world? I did a search for alcoholism in Europe and got so depressed I had to go down to the pub.

I guess at this point assuming that college students are going to wait to start drinking until they are 21 is about as naive as thinking that abstinence education will keep teens from having sex. I think it's a good thing that these college presidents are starting this conversation. Good luck to them! MADD has already ordered the hits. 100+ colleges will soon be looking for new presidents, preferably dry as dust.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Districted: def. 6e: to be obsessed with the proper names of locations within & around the District of Columbia

Apparently there are a ton of Salvadorians living in DC. Apparently most Mexican places are run by people from El Salvador. And apparently there are a lot of Salvadorians living, eating, and working in the "Chirilagua" neighborhood of Alexandria.

Some might call this location "Little El Salvador." But can we please, please call it "El Salvadorado?"

Aw, Crap

I guess it's inevitable in a blog called Districted. Politics. I haven't read the post yet but I know it's there, like a pile of your dog's poop that you've gone to pick up with your plastic bag then realize - after it's too late - that there's a hole in the bag.

Districted: def. 3a: forced to be political at inopportune times

A family member sent me this excerpt today, when I was at work:
During the primaries Obama often spoke about the inequities in the tax system, with wealthy individuals not paying their fair share. He is willing to double the capital gains tax rate just “for purposes of fairness.” President Bush’s tax reforms are a particularly favorite whipping boy for Obama.

Yet, one is hard-pressed to see the wealthy not paying their share of taxes or Bush’s reforms increasing inequality. In 2006, the top 50 percent of taxpayers made seven times the income of the bottom 50 percent, but they paid 32.4 times as much in taxes. Does anyone really believe that those in the top 50 percent got even seven times the benefits from government that those in the bottom 50 percent received?

When Bush became president in 2001, the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid about 34 percent of all income taxes. By 2006, their share had risen to 40 percent. Meanwhile, the share of income taxes paid by the bottom 50 percent had declined from 4 to 3 percent.

I responded thus:
I don't follow the line of reasoning.

Is Fox News saying here that people who make 6 figures or more per year are in need of 32.4 times as much welfare, medicaid, federal assistance, and police protection?

It's kind of silly to think of taxes as services purchased. Taxes go towards government programs that most of us agree we need: defense, roads, education, citizen assistance, etc. Do you think that you pay taxes just for yourself? Do you think that you should? This seems to be what Fox is saying.

Taxes can be a way of enforcing philanthropy. Not ideal, but would you trust every billionaire to be as giving as Bill Gates?

Also, "seven times" sounds like a huge amount, but look at the link: the average rate of the highest percentile was 22%. 88% of 500,000 is still more than enough to live on as well as to continue to innovate in your business. I just don't see the big deal.
I honestly don't get it. That is, I understand why the article was written. Fox News thinks its job is to bash Obama. In case you didn't know, Obama's a Democrat, and Fox's viewers generally don't like Democrats, so Fox keeps ratings high as long as the bashing and nitpicking continues. I understand Fox News's rationale.

I don't get the tax thing, though. Maybe I'll feel differently after 20 years' worth of paychecks being 2/3 the size I expect. Or maybe if I were ultra-rich, I would understand why I would need all $500,000. I really don't know.

A friend of mine once said that his girlfriend didn't understand how people could be Republicans. He told her, "It's easy to understand when you realize that people can be selfish and greedy."

Oh, that's unfair! I love my family, and it's full of Republicans. They're not like that. I think that a lot of the Republican votership is full of people who care about their country, their family, their faith, their ideals, their individuality, and lastly their wallets. It's too bad the Republican party has hijacked these good people. Because I don't think a non-greedy, unselfish, genuine, moral, or accountable Republican politician exists.

And yeah, I do think Democratic politicians are generally better people. Because I think they actually give a damn about people below themselves.

Friday, August 15, 2008


I had to go to a happy hour at RFD (which stands for Regional Food & Drink, not "The Real F*cking Deal" as some would believe) in Chinatown on Wednesday. It was to prove to ourselves that we could all hang out without the St. Louis guy. Irrelevant details. What I really want to complain about is the dude who called me rude.

I was biking from my office to Chinatown, which takes maybe 7 minutes. I make my last turn and start looking for the place. I decide I had better code-switch to being a pedestrian.

(I sometimes imagine that I am a Transformer, during this process, who can transform from a vehicle to a pedestrian with that "Whirrt-whirrt-WHIRRT-whirrt-whirrt!" sound that all transformers must make. It's the boy in me who swore to his parents that he would never grow out of his Transformers phase.)

Still on my bike, up ahead of me is a red light. Maybe one car waiting for the light. I veer into the left lane, slow down, and stop my bike in the pedestrian crosswalk. As I dismount, I hear the 40-year-old guy who is crossing the street with his younger ladyfriend say to the woman "That was RUDE."

I turn back and say, "Excuse me? Are you talking about me?"

He says from behind his purchased-in-the-80s wraparound sunglasses, "Yes. You were rude, stopping right in front of us."

My mind reels. I was nowhere near the two, and, although I did stop in their path, they were so far away, and they were traveling at such snails' paces, they hadn't even needed to slow down. I give him a confused look and say "What are you talking about?"

Before I could continue this stupid argument, I see my friend on the corner and say "hey!" She says hi, how's it going. I say, "I was just told that I was RUDE." She asks why and I say I have no idea. The 40-year-old and his arm-candy go into a bar.

I guess some people hate bikes so much that they will go out of their way to make bikers feel like scum.

What's wrong with people? Was he in that much of a hurry to drown his sorrows that he thought I was holding him up by simply getting in front of him? Don't people realize bikes are the only way to fix the smog we have in cities, short of putting a lot more money into the Metro system? That we're the effing saints in this equation, and that car drivers should weep with guilt whenever they see us on the road instead of engorging with rage? Please, shower me with medals, not with jibes.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Lawn Workin' It

I mowed my lawn today.

Riveting news, I know. But I loved it.

I think it's the nostalgia. I haven't mowed a lawn in, say, 10 years? Back when my parents lived upon a 3/4-of-an-acre hill. I hated doing mowing, just like I hated all yardwork and any other chore. I didn't understand why scientists hadn't developed a no-cut grass that only grows to a certain height. I also didn't understand why we had to keep it so short. My father liked the grass at no more than a buzz-cut. It was so lame, going up and down the hill, every week or so. It felt pointless.

But today felt kinda awesome. The sun was bright without humidity, there was a slight breeze, and I don't know why but it was a relief to do. I don't know how much lawn we have. I think maybe less than 3/4 of an acre, but not much less.

It's partly because I've been living in apartment after apartment for so long that I was lonely for a lawn without realizing it. Not that I use the lawn around my new group house that much. Today was the first time I had spent out in it for more than a minute. But having a lawn is great. You look outside and you see a wide expanse of green. I missed that.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

High(lander) Thinking

When I'm on my bike, when I'm feeling relatively far from an asphalt death, some strange thoughts come into my head.

Such as: Why was Highlander popular?

The first movie was bad. The main character could barely speak English. Sean Connery dies off too soon. The love story was cheezy. The bad guy looked kinda pathetic. There are lines like "love is for poets" and "it's a kind of magic."

Why did the franchise blow up like it did? A bunch of movies, each worse than the one before, and a meandering series with another highlander? I watched them, sure. But why?

My theory, conceived as I navigated 14th Street, is that the Highlander is what guys want to be. Good with a sword and immortal. We watched it as young teens and thought, hey, that guy's awesome. Sure, you could want to be James Bond, but there are no guarantees about surviving a shot to the chest. If you're an Immortal, the only thing that can get you is a chop to the neck. We think, hey, we can deal with that. Do we get to dally with lots of ladies and then fake our deaths if we get too attached? Can we have lots of different adventures, practically never-ending? Do we have some sweet catchphrase to say after every swordfight? Check, check, and check.

That kind of hero worship is what's lacking from the latest Batman movie. The Dark Knight is an amazing movie, but the Batman portrayed is not somebody we really wanna be. Sure, he's strong, but he can't fight like Blade. Sure, he's got pretty good tactics, but he's no Jason Bourne. The best things he's got were waiting for him at his company before he got there: the Batmobile, the bike, Lucius Fox. So I'm guessing that there are no kids out there who wish they were Batman. More likely, they're wishing they were the Joker. My proof: on opening night, Joker outfits outnumbered Batman outfits by 4 to 0.

That sucks. Christopher Nolan, please smarten up the Batman in the next movie. And maybe have him fight with swords. A lot.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Today we met the 10th and 11th candidates for the open room in our house. All of them Craigslist responders. (Is there any other way to find a roommate in DC?) We have two girls that we like enough to offer the room to, but... well... we kind of want another "Johnson" in the house.

The house was originally a glorified frathouse, a few years before I got here. Then a girl moved in and slowly transformed it into a nice, cozy, and clean home. Then there were a few more girls here and there, and the house had a good balance of the sexes. When I interviewed for my room, there were two guys and two girls.

But now both of the other guys are moving out (one because he's running for office in his home district, and the other because he's moving in with his long-term gf). And we've already filled one of the rooms with a female. Is it strange that I'm holding out for a good guy roommate? If I have the choice between a really promising girl and a mediocre/boring guy, I'd pick the girl. But if we found a pretty good guy that I didn't have any reservations about, then I'd pick him over a comparable girl.

The interview process has been kind of fun. It's entertaining to interview and meet new people. There's a kind of nervous energy that I like. With good people, I enjoy myself, and with weird or bad people, I get to dissect their personality afterwards and figure out exactly what I don't like about them.

Some people don't know how to respond to Craigslist ads or how to interview for them. Here's a list of things to avoid:

1. Responding to the same people when they repost their ad.
2. Responding twice and copying and pasting your other email.
3. Hiding your indictment in federal court for medical insurance fraud.
4. Merely writing "Can I see the room?" without some other personal info.
5. Writing "Paying bills on time will ABSOLUTELY not be a problem."
6. Telling the story where you almost committed incest.
7. Insisting on checking all of the cabinets for cleanliness levels.
8. Not asking questions about the interviewers and about the house.
9. Saying that you're tired of writing about yourself and instead sending a link to a website which has a little too much personal information, like your Ayn Rand fetish, and which only has pictures of you holding beers and hanging out with your drunk friends (on your "professional" website).
10. Insisting that you are NOT a womanizer, even though that's what all the ladies usually think.
11. Using the "bonernose" email account.