Monday, September 07, 2009

Sayonara Silver Spring

Well folks, I'm closing up shop here. I'm moving away to Japan for a year. No, not to teach; done that already. This go-around I'll be learning the language full time.

I'll miss the District, with its wobbly Metro system, its bike-car tension, and its 99% population of DC-haters. I never hated DC, though I never loved it as a place to live.

I'll miss Silver Spring, too. I don't know how you can hate Silver Spring, although many turn their noses up at it. It's got tons of downtown stuff to do, great bus & Metro access, the AFI, the Quarry House, the Piratz Bar... about the only thing it's missing is a good sushi restaurant. But it's not yuppie-central, either. 10 years ago you would have smelled urine on the sidewalks. Do the Springhaters want to get back to that? Silver Spring still has a lot of community, life, and spirit; sorry if you have to walk up & down Georgia a bit to find it.

I'll miss this blog, too. After I got hit by a car and got laid up for a while, my friends all said, "Why aren't you blogging?" Well, what was I going to blog about? How the pillows aren't propping my leg up properly that day? (I'm walking now, but I'm far from all better.) I enjoyed writing here and on my coblogger's blog Hatandcoat, but it's time to shutter this one up for a while. I'll be back in a year or so, so until then...

...follow my new blog!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

I just saw Hedwig and the Angry Inch, performed live at the Warehouse on 7th Street NW. It's only showing for a couple more nights, so see it while you can.

I'm not going to write a review of it; that's someone else's job tonight. In general, though, it was a lot better than I had thought it was going to be. I knew nothing of the story, I only knew that some people compared it to Rocky Horror. What an inapt comparison. Might as well say anything with gender issues, glam sensibilities, and rocking songs is like Rocky Horror.

The beauty of the show is in the breakdown. Hedwig floundering and at a loss. That's when real feeling comes out.

Anyway, I'm off to study how bodies break down polysaccharides.

(Oh, and did you know I'm going to Japan?)

Friday, May 29, 2009

As Long As We're Being Honest...

As Long As We're Being Honest...
My coblogger has erupted back onto the blogging scene, pulling me out of nonblogging slumber, with an insightful examination of drivers' annoyance toward bikers.

Good. Because I'll tell you, when I'm on my bike, following the laws on the road, I hope I annoy as many drivers as possible.

Part of it is retaliation. When a convertible speeds dangerously close past me, just to stop at the red light, I truly hope the sight of me slowly biking my way past him to the light gets his blood pressure skyrocketing. When a bus driver plays leapfrog with me, swerving around on my left just to stop short in front of me at a stop, I hope she gets angry with me when I get in front of her in the middle of the right lane (as I have the right to do if necessary to my safety).

(I don't go out of my way to be a d**k to drivers. I don't want them to get so mad as to try and kill me. Just following the laws is enough to peeve them, but I do try and get out of the way of madmen.)

Part of it is awareness. If drivers are annoyed at me on my bike now, there's the chance that they'll be more aware of bikers in the future. They might not like it, but too bad. As Hatandcoat pointed out, the law says we share the road. And if that means that cars have to go 15 mph in a 35 mph zone, good. I'm glad to slow the a-holes down.

Drivers' first reaction to me might be annoyance across the board, but, even though I relish their annoyance, I hope my sensible biking scores some points for me and fellow bikers. I'm with drivers on the scofflaw-biker disdain. When a biker zips past me through a red light, I think, "What are you doing?" I hope that drivers see me on the road, get annoyed, but then realize that I'm just trying to follow the rules.

Also, Hatandcoat, you really shouldn't be driving in the city. Don't you know DC is driver-unfriendly? Of course, I'm not opposed to you driving when you're taking me home at midnight in a torrential downpour. But when it doesn't benefit ME, please refrain from getting behind the wheel. Your blood pressure will thank me.

There's, like, no shame in the occasional repost?

I know Aak will at least appreciate the shirt in this clip (note, Mos Def hosts the show, hahaha...

Gf sent me this clip because I love the scene in Family Guy so much (I couldn't find the embed code):

Thursday, May 28, 2009


I have a confession to make, though it will make an enemy of my co-blogger: I hate sharing the road with bikers.

I see why I must share the road with them. I see that it is the law. I agree with it. I plan on buying a bike and making it my transportation. I'm on board in principle.

But say I'm traveling uphill behind a biker on a narrow road:

1) Oh my GOD, I don't have the patience for it. Every human alive hates being stuck behind old people - probably other old people too. Same deal here, though I know people who will tell me in this situation that I need to learn patience and respect. Whatever, my blood pressure sky rockets when I have to go 15 mph in a 35 zone, and that's not going to change.

2) I feel like I'm on the brink of vehicular manslaughter if I turn 1 degree to the side. I want this man in his spandex beside me to live a full, long life, but if I hit a pothole then nick his back tire it's over. The situation puts me on edge and I find myself getting mad at the biker. I talk myself down but I can't help it. When I do finally pass him I gun the engine because I don't know how much time I'll have.

Then, when I'm at the light and I see a him creeping up in my rear view mirror, the whole time I'm thinking "go, go, go!!! Don't let him catch up!" Then if there's a little bit of stop and go for a while, then it's: "he's in my blind spot, oh wait, no he isn't - oh wait, he - oh, he's next to me, oh, blind spot...DAMN BIKERS!!!"

I'm sorry, Aak, if this post offends you. But, hey, if you can't speak from your heart in your own blog where can you? ;)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We're Going Streaking!

I was walking to the Rosslyn Metro station the other day. It was raining. I was on the phone, so my vision was pointed slightly downward (it prob. would've been anyway), and I didn't see the woman fall on the ground in front of me. I almost tripped over her at the corner of Wilson and Lynn.

"Are you okay? Would you like some help?" I said.

"NO!" She snapped.

Then the same response to the nearby building security guard and I thought, ok maybe she's embarrassed or self reliant. I leave her alone and go to cross Wilson.

I look back about halfway and look that she has started crossing Lynn and fell again about halfway through. She looked frustrated and upset, and I figured maybe it had to do with her ankle length dress tripping her. She got up, walked to the curb, dropped her umbrella and started taking off her shirt.

She struggled with it for second, got it off, then undid her bra. Then the skirt. Then the underwear. She left her stuff all in a pile and started across the street waving angrily. When she got to the island in the middle of Wilson she grabbed a low hanging tree branch and threw the flowers.

I would say that over 100 people saw her do all this because when she disappeared around the corner from my view, she ran toward the metro stop.

Weird experience.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Crazy Idea?

A Crazy Idea?
Riding this morning, I remembered that recently DC was soliciting suggestions as to what to do with their stimulus money. (I can't find the link right now, and I''m not sure they're still taking.) Of course I wrote in saying we should have more bike lanes and expanded mass transit. Now I'm thinking that the two could be even more related than anybody's tried to make them.

Why not build an elevated bike trail on top of the above-ground Metro lines?

I'm mainly thinking of the Red Line from Silver Spring to Union Station here. It's a section of town that is far from the Crescent Trail and that could use some more healthy people going through it. Yes, there are a few bike lanes woven through the grid around there, but bike lanes are unsafe compared to dedicated bike trails, even elevated ones.

Here's how it works, how it would be safe, and how it makes money: make the bike trail above the Red Line only accessible at Metro stations. Charge a high one-time fee for each bike that people want to use on it (and this will tie into DC's push for bicycle registration) OR supply rental bikes at major hubs. Also charge a flat $0.50 fee every time a cyclist enters the Red Trail. This charge would necessitate having a Smartrip that was also registered.

The charges should not ever be increased, because there'd be very little cost to maintain what will essentially be a cover for the train. The excessive registration would be to help Metro get over the fact that people could theoretically stay on the Red Trail all day, with access to the rail possible (though unlikely, due to the elevation and the side-railing that Metro would put up).

I understand it might be difficult to construct, and I would never want Metro to go through with it if it would shut down the Red Line to do it. But how cool would a Red Trail be?

(I don't know about the name, though. Sounds a little... Cold-War-ish?)

On the Trails: Custis, Crescent, Georgetown Branch

On the Trails
Today I woke up in Falls Church. Don't ask me how I got there (although under duress I might let slip it had something to do with Go).

I decided to bike back to Silver Spring, so I went the most even-sloped way I know: Custis Trail to Capital Crescent Trail to Georgetown Branch Trail. I predicted it would take me over two hours, but it actually took just under 2.

It's really just so nice to take trails the whole way. No traffic. No death hills. Green and blooming stuff around you.

Actually, there was a fair amount of bike traffic on the Custis and the Crescent. None on the Georgetown Branch. Why is that? Is it because it's unpaved and people don't want to get their road bikes all bent? Maybe.

On my ride I noticed that the torn-up part of the Crescent had been fixed. You know, the part on the hill, just south of the park where you cross into Montgomery County? The one that had a gravel side-path for three years or so while we waited for somebody to finish it? Well, it took over three years, but it's done. Now that's efficiency.

I enjoyed my ride so much, I had a crazy idea...

Sakana: A Good Alternative to Sushi Taro?

Sakana: A Good Alternative to Sushi Taro?
Since Sushi Taro did not open in time for my birthday, we went instead to Sakana.

Sakana is best with the Japanese food other than sushi, but their sushi is still decent.

Their appetizers are what really get me. I like the spinach dish at any time of year, but I like their tofu dish in the summer. I've also had their nabeyaki udon (noodles in a clear broth with seafood etc) and it's really nice on cold days.

Today we had sushi, and it seemed better than normal today. The spicy tuna was better than usual. The yellowtail with scallions roll was subpar somehow, like there wasn't enough fish or flavor, or both. The green caterpillar roll was overpriced for what you got; a $10.95 roll is supposed to be a huge maki, but instead they just loaded a regular-sized roll with too much avocado. The unagi was great, though, and the nigiri tuna and salmon were good for the price.

I really like Sakana's take on tempura sushi: rectangular-pressed blocks with crunch on top and in the middle. We had both the veggie tempura roll and the sakana sushi tempura roll (which I think was shrimp). Really good texture, no oiliness, and just enough shrimp to the rice to make it feel worth it.

It's too bad about Sakana's service. Although today there was a dude with a teapot and water pitcher going around, on other days (when it's just the middle-aged woman) our drinks haven't usually stayed full. Also, better order everything you want right away. It'll take a while for your (sushi) order to come, but once it does, the waitstaff doesn't look out for a second round of orders.

So, while Sushi Taro's rebuilding, I suggest Sakana for a cheapish alternative where you can also partake in other Japanese items. This is only if you're committed to dining in Dupont Circle, though; there are better places, but they're more expensive.

(By all means, don't go to Uni for sushi! It's just down the road on P Street, but it's terrible!)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sushi Taro Updates Website, Prolongs Sushi-Shaped Hole in My Life

Sushi Taro Updates Website, Prolongs Sushi-Shaped Hole in My Life
For those not in the know, Sushi Taro (17th & P NW, above the CVS) was the best place to get sushi in DC. While other places might have had more expensive, exotic fish, and still others had a more sophisticated, bistoesque feel, Sushi Taro had the best fish for the price. Even forgetting about price, the sushi and sashimi there really was fantastic.

Sushi Taro closed for renovation around New Year's. Their website was wiped away to simply say "Sushi Taro restaurant is closed for a complete renovation until early March, 2009. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by this."

Early March, I thought? Perfect! My birthday is in late March. We might be able to restart the tradition my friends and I had of going to Sushi Taro for birthday lunches.

Sadly, Sushi Taro changed the word "early" to "late" on their website, dashing my hopes and dreams.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Chariots For Hire, kstreet lounge, and Manny & Olga's

Last night I went to a birthday party for two of my friends. It wasn't really my scene, but it was great hanging out with good people.

We started out on a party bus, courtesy of Chariots For Hire. (Please note, H&C, that Chariots For Hire capitalizes the "F" in its own business name.)

It wasn't quite what I had pictured. I had pictured a double-decker bus with an open top, a staircase, and a fully-stocked bar. Yes, what I had pictured was probably impossible. This is what we got:

Except instead of cheesy Chariots of Fire music, we listened to a mix ranging on the scale from M.I.A. to Hanson, but staying mostly on the M.I.A. side, thankfully. The TV screens played Fast Times at Ridgemont High for the first two hours and Wanted for the second. A couple of times the laser hit me in the eye.

The bus was basically a city bus with comfy benches. The 35-person limit is a real limit; we had 34 and were cramped.

As I looked around at my friends drinking, I thought, why a bus? We were cramped, we were jostled, it was difficult to get drinks if you weren't sitting up front, the music was a little loud, and we weren't even going anywhere far away. But the discomfort and the cheesiness were all part of the fun. Besides, being driven while drunk to the Lincoln Memorial at night was something that was pretty special.

Our first stop, before the Memorial, was kstreet lounge (Note, H&C, that they don't use capital letters in their name, and they don't put a space after the "k".)

I'd never been, so I was interested in what it was like. Because of some special through the bus, we didn't have to wait very long to get in.

Inside, it's about what you'd expect for a clubby kind of place. Loud music, bad remixes (the Losing My Religion cover remix was particularly terrible), and lots of people on a Saturday night. And a lot of ladies.

From 10 to 12 on alternating Saturdays (?), ladies drink free. Seriously, there were a lot of drunk women up in that joint. I wasn't really looking for anyone, just standing in one place talking to the group I was with, and I had two encounters. The first one splashed her drink on my arm. She was very sorry, and talked with me for a bit, but she was the sluttiest-dressed girl within visual range, so I was kinda uninterested.

The second girl reached out and grabbed my arm for support while she put on her shoes, then pulled me into a little bit of dancing with her. She asked "Are you single" as the first thing she said to me. I replied I was. It turns out we have a mutual acquaintence, so I might be seeing more of her... actually, probably not; too busy studying.

kstreet lounge was pretty boring for me after a while. I don't like shouting to talk, so I was disinclined to talk, which is pretty much the only thing I do at bars. We got back on the bus and went to the Lincoln Memorial.

Ever tried to get a bunch of drunk people together for a group photo? Kinda hard to do.

At the end of the night, I was screwed by daylight savings time. I had thought that Metro would be running when I got off the bus at 2:00 am. Except there was no 2:00 am. My cell phone totally skipped that hour, stranding me in DC.

So I went back to one of my friend's houses and ordered some Manny & Olga's cheesesteak. I must say, I love that everything in Adams Morgan stays open until ridiculous hours. Especially Manny & Olga's. Their cheesesteak is the worst-for-you-slash-best cheap cheesesteak in town. Added benefit: they stay open until FIVE A.M.! Slight disadvantage: they're very unreliable, time-wise and order-wise. But hey, that's okay.

I woke up the next morning and found that someone had drunk my left contact (which I'd left in a plastic cup in the bathroom). I went home with one seeing eye and didn't eat until 3pm today.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


I saw Coraline in 3-D Thursday night at the Gallery Place theater.

(Side review: Before the show, I had Thai Chili's stir-fried duck with bamboo shoots--quite tasty, but not as spicy as described. My compatriot had some sort of noodle-in-yellow-curry dish that tasted a bit like curry laksa, but not as good as the curry laksa at my favorite asian restaurant in DC, Malaysian Kopitiam.)

I read the book by Neil Gaiman. It's a children's book, yes, but there's always been an element of children's fantasy in Gaiman's work, so tthat was fine. I remember liking it but being far from loving it. Call me too growed-up.

I was excited to see Coraline the movie, because it looked creepy and creative. Plus I wanted to check out the 3-D stuff.

First, I wasn't prepared to pay $12.00 for the 3-D effect (and that's with my student discount). You don't even get to keep the glasses for the extra three bucks; you're encouraged to recycle them after the show.

Then the ads. I really detest the fact that they were pimping 12-year-old media so hard. After showing a bunch of ads for a boy-band-ish new movie, a kid's reality show, and Conan O'Brien (was that for the parents or the kids?), they recapped all the ads they'd just showed us.

Then the previews for other movies in 3-D. The Tim Burton one, called "9," looks boring and not really 3-D-ish. I can't remember the second one. But the third was kind of exciting and kind of "huh? A CG remake of an anime?" It was a teaser for Astro Boy.

And finally, the movie itself. Coraline's very pretty in parts, and creepy and disturbing in some ways, but... not creepy and disturbing enough.

Gaiman's story is creepy itself. A girl finds out that she has an Other Mother, who wants her to come live with her in her wonderful world. All she has to do... is give up her eyes and sew buttons into her sockets instead. Lotsa creepiness in that.

The movie was... It was too pretty to be creepy. It was too perfectly executed to inspire nightmares. Thanks to advances in technology, the stop-motion technique is really just a put-on; there's no need for jerkiness in the figures. Everything moved smoothly. Too smoothly.

You've heard of the Uncanny Valley, right? There's this place in the continuum from C3P0 to Commander Data where we get the shivers. Or at least we Americans do; the Japanese, on the other hand...

When I went to see Coraline, I wanted to take a stroll in the Uncanny Valley. I wanted to see twitchiness, almost-humanness, oddness. I'm not a horror kind of guy, but I do like creepy. Coraline the 3-D movie isn't creepy. It's cute. And cute is kind of nice but also kind of boring.

The deuce of it is, there's almost no point in watching Coraline at home without 3-D glasses. The effects are dazzling, when they're used well. I would've been upset had I not seen it in 3-D. I might've walked out, were it not for that cool feature.

Oh, there was a good part in the story. It had to do with dogs.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Right On, Ride-On

I have to salute the Ride-On bus drivers who drive south on Colesville Road.

In downtown Silver Spring, I have to cross Colesville at a certain point on my commute. I could go out of my way to go to a light to cross, but that adds 5-7 minutes no matter what. And there's no reason I should have to go to a light. (Except sanity?)

In the morning, I can usually get straight across. For some reason, there is a lull every few minutes in the AM. But between 3:00 and 8:00 PM, it's quite scary. Them northward-living folks wants to get themselves home a-sap. Southbound lanes aren't great, either. I normally have to make a right, get into the leftmost lane, and make a left the next block over.

(Yep, plenty of brakes screech behind me, and I've gotten the horn a couple of times, but ehh, I'm over it.)

I've noticed, though, that, when no one else is coming except the Ride-On bus, the bus will stop for me to make my left turn. There's no reason for it to do this except to help me out. this has happened THREE times.

Thanks, Ride-On drivers, for not giving in to the usual bus-bike mutual-hatred. If I could ever figure out your circuits, I'd ride on you with pleasure.

Sligo Creek Trail Condition: Gaseous

A woman walked towards me on the trail. As I got closer, she said "There's gas leaking up ahead."

I had no response to that except, "What?"

"There's a gas leak," she said. "Maybe you should be careful."

I slowed down, took that in, and said, "Okay."

Now behind me, the woman said "I don't know who to call..."

That's the trouble with the Sligo Creek Trail, isn't it? You just don't know who to call about such things.

The gas leak was at the playground before Riggs Road, where I'd been buffetted by the wind before. Natural gas, coming from what looked like a hole in the ground covered with two sheets of plywood.

Butt Dialing

Last night I saw this commercial and it totally touches on something that I hate:

I pocket dial people all the frickin' time. It's beyond me why some a-hole thought it was a good idea to put an easy to depress audio mode button on the side of my phone then program my audio mode so that it will start choosing people from my phone list whose names spoken aloud apparently sound like the rustling of cloth. Such names include my friend's ex girlfriend. Not awkward at all. I totally forgot that I programmed her name because we were all meeting for a movie once or something.

Hmm, maybe they make the free phones that I get with my subscriptions annoying like that on purpose. Eventually I'll get sick of it and buy an expensive ass blackberry or something, right?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thai Tanic Has a Good Location

I really want to like Thai Tanic. It's in such a good location. It's central to a lot of good places. And the food is pretty good. It's just... not that awesome.

Tonight, I ordered from the House Special section: the Thai Tanic Star. It was minced chicken, shrimp, some sort of fishpaste fried cakes, peppers and broccoli. It had three stars next to it, meaning on the mild, hot, and fire scale, it would be fire.

The Thai Tanic Star was very tasty, but it was not spicy at all. I was very disappointed. I had wanted to burn my tastebuds off. I figured that the waitress had looked at me and thought, "White guy can't handle it."

I had some of my date's pad thai, and I admit it was the tastiest pad thai I've had in at least two years. Then again, I like spicy food, so I almost never eat pad thai when at a thai restaurant. But Thai Tanic's pad thai was sweet but not too sweet, peanutty but not too peanutty, and with the mung bean sprouts on the side it felt very light.

Another plus for Thai Tanic is the size of the soda glasses. You'll pretty much get a gallon of coke all to yourself.

But, after we paid the check, the waitresss kept hovering. We were still letting our food settle (we both had eaten too much), and so we were settling into talking. Then the hostess came over and said, "Can I clear table?"

We looked at each other, then back to the hostess, who said, "Sorry, there's so many people, waiting..." blah blah blah she kicked us out. Sure, it's Saturday, and sure, there was a line, but, really? Really? You're going to kick out customers who just finished? We hadn't even been sitting long after paying the bill; tops, 6 minutes.

Thai Tanic... I'll probably be back, since the food's decent and the locale is great, but man, don't kick me out again.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sligo Creek Trail Condition: Ill-Mannered Winds

This morning, I chose to believe my weather reports rather than my own senses.

Weather reports: "It's not raining outside."
Senses: "It looks wet. It feels wet. And a bunch of concentrated wetnesses are landing on your body."
Brain: "It's just moisture in the air."
Reality: "It's raining."

I am against biking in the rain or even wet conditions. March last year I fell, scratched half my face, and concussed myself due to wet cement. So it was out of character for me to continue biking, once reality had shouted in my ears that it was indeed raining.

Still, I've learned other things from my fall than just to avoid the rain. I've learned not to go too fast down steep hills. And I've learned to stay on the street, not the sidewalk (you'd think the sidewalk would be safer, but you'd be wrong; not enough traction and too much chance of skidding after hitting a deep crack). I got to UMD without incident.

On the way back, I skirted the horse manure that was still there and weaved around the larger glass shards. When I got to an open area of the trail (before Riggs), I was pretty much immobilized by the wind. It was crazy. I was panting just to go a few feet.

Once I passed Riggs Road, the wind wasn't much of an issue. Pedestrians and other bikes were.

I think I'm going to change up my passing etiquette. I'm a shouter. Instead of ringing my bell, I prefer to raise my voice and say "Passing on the left!" For some reason, I think it's nicer to say something rather than make a loud metal PING and expect someone to get out of the way.

But today, nobody knew how to walk on the trail. Everybody was walking on the left side. I ended up sounding like an idiot:

"PASSING ON THE LEF... or right?"

With the third person (an old woman with a dog), I just said "PASSING." That made me sound less an idiot and more a prick.

Even some bikers were getting in on the left-side-craziness. A man with a baby in an attached seat on the bike was biking between his two pre-teen and teenaged sons. They were on the left. Also, they acted confused when I said something to pass them. The father apologized to me as I passed him; I said "that's okay."

Really, it was okay. I don't really get mad at these things. I just wonder if it's best just to use the bell instead of my vocal cords.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Snuggie Hate

In solidarity with my long-reclusive coblogger, I post this video.

Do Not Buy A Snuggie

For my girlfriend's birthday I bought her a Snuggie. Now that she has it, it's a great, comfy, wonderful thing to have. But I should have ordered a similar product like the slanket or just hand made something or just had her put her bathrobe on backward like Jay Leno apparently jokes.

The website was straighforward and easy to use - a little too easy. I put in my order, chose the burgundy color, entered my credit card # and my phone number, then proceeded to the check out. The next page it took me to was deliberately unclear as to what it was telling me. It seemed to me that it was an order confirmation page and on the bottom of the page was a gigantic light blue button that said "yes" and a much smaller light gray "no" button. I clicked yes and in doing so was duped into buying a second order! Immediately it took me to the same page to try to get more out of me. I caught on after being duped once, then after clicking no it took me to another page that tried to sell another product. Then another and another.

The order was buy one get one free so now I have FOUR of those things!!!

Of course, their customer service line did not pick up, claiming "heavy call volume due to the holiday season," (At the end of January!?), and my emails to them were sent back.

But perhaps the most annoying thing was that they seem to have sold my phone number to some annoying people. For the weeks following my order there was some phone number that called me literally 3x/day minimum. I picked up the phone maybe twice and nobody answered. I googled the number and found message boards of people who regret buying snuggies who had the same problem. Apparently people call from that number and offer gift cards from Wal-Mart or other rewards that are somehow scams. I blocked that number and just two days ago some salesman called me from a new number offering me some exciting awards that I'm eligible for. Ugh. Now I might have to change my number or keep blocking new ones.

Do not buy a snuggie.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sligo Creek Trail Condition: Crappy

Anyone else annoyed by the big piles of horse manure on the Northwest Branch trail around University Blvd? Anyone? Anyone?

(Oh, darn. I quoted Ben Stein. I promised myself I wouldn't do that any more after seeing Expelled.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Finding a Replacement

Roommate is moving out, so I am in the process of picking a new one. After interview I think 9 people I have 6 that I could very easily see myself living with. I leave the experience with 1) a very positive view of the people living in the DC area, and 2) genuinely sad that I have to say no to a bunch of them.

The experience for me has been decidedly better than Aak's was. I don't have a list of moronic things people have told me. We just chatted about hobbies, interests, backgrounds, etc. I did have some people write me Aak's list item #5 "I'll absolutely pay on time," and they got the cold shoulder. Now comes the part where whoever I choose turns out to have unpleasant habits like peeing in the potted plants.

I want to do a stint now as a hiring manager somewhere because I liked interviewing people so much.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Weird Day.

Some college girls were standing in front of the library, holding big signs saying "FREE HUGS." They were shouting "free hugs!" as well. I stopped a distance off to see how much business they got. I didn't see anyone taking them up on their offer. Neither did I.

I noticed today that the pedestrians on the Sligo Creek Trail don't really follow the rules. They'll walk on the left side, stand three abreast, etc. Much different from the Georgetown Branch Trail walkers--they know their place (on the right).

Saw a BUMP traffic sign graffitoed with "da rump" below it.

At the bank, the teller told me to "enjoy my valentine." I said, "thanks?"

Time to catch up on some sleep, I say.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sligo Creek Trail Condition: Woodwinds

I really should invest in a phone with a good camera. You'll just have to take my word for it that there was a lot of debris on the trail today due to the high winds. Mostly wood, with a splash of glass every few feet on the Northwest Branch part.

It was so windy, I felt it would be dangerous to ride on the roads for long. I was being veered to and fro everywhere when the winds really got up to speed.

I don't ride in the rain, and now I don't ride when it's windy. I feel like a weather wuss.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sligo Creek Trail Condition: Crowded, with a Side of Chicken

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There were a lot of people out on the trail today. More than when it was this temperature in the autumn. Perhaps it's the rarity of 70-degree weather in February, or perhaps people were just itching to get outside after winter's seclusion.

I played Chicken with a car today. On the bike trail. (UPDATE: See the above google-rific thingy to know approx. where this was.)

What was it doing on the bike trail, you ask? Being stupid.

I refused to be intimidated (stupidly). I stayed on the bike trail, forcing it to drive onto the grass. Chalk up one for bikers everywhere.

(Look, I'm all for sharing the road, when it comes to roads. But sharing a bike trail with cars? Never.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Really Honking Nice Outside

I've been biking a lot more, recently, due to the great weather. I've lost a lot of muscle, letting the bike collect dust. I'm frequently panting where I shouldn't be, like in a museum or a church confessional.

Sorry, that was my brain slipping through my fingers. I've been studying a lot, too, tenderizing my gray matter into mush.

Yesterday, I rode home via the roads and not the trail, since it was darkening when I left. I had no problems until I got to the intersection of Metzerott and New Hampshire.

I got into the right lane, though I was taking a left, since both lanes were left-turn lanes. I was panting, to be sure, coming up that last hill on Metzerott, but I made time to look behind me at the car that was acting a little impatient behind me. I wanted to see if it was turning right, so I could give it room to do so, but they didn't have their signal on. I got to the top of the hill, finally, and stood in the middle of it.

I took some deep breaths and was jolted by two honks behind me. I whipped around; still no signal. I yelled, "Where's your right-turn signal?!" and moved over to the left. I couldn't see the girl's face as she turned right, but I yelled anyway "How else would I know?!"

After she made her turn, I settled down, breathing more slowly. I thought, wait, was -I- the a%hole here?

In Japan, drivers typically don't honk unless it's to say thank you or sorry. Part of the culture, I guess. Here, honking is usually aggressive, with some friendly/playful honking thrown in on rare occasions.

But it was pretty reasonable for the girl to honk at me. I was stopped, so it wouldn't be dangerous to startle me. She had to get my attention, as she hadn't thought to put her signal on. She might have just been trying to ask me to move, sorta politely. Her two honks weren't playful, like "meep-meep," but they weren't insistent, like "URRR URRRRRR."

Don't you think we should have two tones of honks? One for friendly, I'm-sorry-could-you-move kinds of honks, and another for HEY!YOU!GETOFFAMYCLOUD! kindsa honks. I'd suggest it to the car industry, but I think they might have other things on their minds right now...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sligo Creek Trail Condition: Clear & Awkward

The trail from Silver Spring to UMD is mostly clear, except for countable-on-two-hands patches of ice.

I biked home at dusk. It was getting dark as I turned off the main trail and onto an uphill exit ramp. The ramp is more like a narrow strip, not enough asphalt to accommodate two people at the same time. I saw up ahead a woman walking down towards the trail and me. I didn't ring my bell or anything, just figured she saw me and my bright-ass headlight. I slowly pedaled up the strip and she didn't seem to be deviating her course. I was just starting to wonder if she expected me to ride off of the strip when she looked up and yelled "Oh!!!" about two feet in front of me.

I said awkwardly "I thought you must've seen me..."

She said, "Hhhhno, I... was in another world." She waved her hand over her eyes.

"I really thought you must've seen me," I said, not reducing the awkwardness.

She just stood there. Then she got over to the side and waited for me to pass her. I slowly did so.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Tricky Weather

I hate this weather. Not because it's cold, and not because it's snowing. I like both those things. I hate this weather because it's not snowing enough!

All this week, I've woken up, looked outside, checked the radar, looked on WaPo for the CapitalWeather Gang's take, and decided that the risk of snow/rain was too great to go biking. Then it turns out to be perfect weather for biking all day.

It especially sucks since I'd resolved to bike as much as possible, and now caution about wet/icy roads prevents me from taking advantage of good days to bike.

Arrgh. I may just ride tomorrow, despite the weather warnings. It's been too long.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

100 Post Mark

Happy Setsubun, everybody!

Setsubun is a sort of Japanese new year tradition in which they drive out demons from their houses by throwing soybeans around, in order to invite good luck in for the coming seasons. I'm glad it worked out that my 100th post fell on this kind of day. Here's hoping Districted has a good year! 鬼は外! 福は内!

Blogging has been an interesting experiment, this time around. I've tried to keep pretense minimized and Japanese references relegated to my So Ka So Ka blog. I'm glad Hatandcoat egged me on to become a blogger with him.

My most popular posts this past year have mostly been due to DCBlogsNoted's linkage, for which I am most grateful, or due to my friends checking out pictures of pumpkins or reading about my near-death experience. Here's the best of Districted, as selected by pageviews.

55 Reasons Why I Love the DC Area - by far the most-viewed post. By FAR. It also generated the most comments. Sorry, Hatandcoat, but people love lists. Like Arnold would say, "give the people lists!"

Percieved Impoliteness - first one picked up by DCBlogsNoted. I'm still not sure who was in the wrong in that situation.

Sweetness on the Metro: Gimmie Hug Edition - a girl wants a hug.

Election Day Deals - I like to attract thrifty readers.

Double-Blog Crisis: Pumpkin Edition - pumpkin carving pics!

My First Near-VH Experience - Scary.

The Ugliest Side of America - Political.

He Used To Be a Caveman. But Now He's a Lawyer. - A Hatandcoat post!

That's enough of looking backward. What's coming this year? Well, as I've said somewhere already, I want to emphasize the cheap stuff in the DC/Silver Spring/Arlington areas. Free stuff, too. I also will talk about biking; sorry, can't help it. I'll also try and incorporate my photography more into the blog, without getting all photobloggy.

Here's to a good year! Out with the demons! In with the luck!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

I Shouldn't Have Been Staring

I was biking on Metzerott, heading away from UMD. It was Friday afternoon. I was in black bike tights, an orange bike jacket, a white helmet, and cheap sunglasses. I was stopped at the intersection of Metzerott and Adelphi. Right here, to be exact:

I was stopped at the red light, standing over my bike's frame. I could see that the crosstraffic was getting a yellow light, so I half-sat and got ready to go.

From the right, a guy on a bike zipped across all of the lanes without looking. He pedaled fast--the wheels looked small. He was black, he had a red knit cap on, and he was talking to himself. He didn't bother going over to the right side. He headed without hesitation into shoulder of the lane of oncoming traffic. Like this:

I watched him do this with a look of absolute perplexity on my face. He was talking rather loudly, which was another reason why I was looking at him. As he came closer, I heard what he was saying.

"F*** you, n*****."

When he passed me, I saw him looking at me as he said it again: "F*** you, n*****." Behind me, I heard him saying other things, but I got on my bike and began to cross. I left him to deal with the shoulder ice and the oncoming traffic alone.

55 Reasons I Love the DC Area

(Tagged by Jen.)

1. Friends and family are nearby, so I can get my gaming on, go out to a play, or catch up over good food almost any time I want.

2. Walk down any street in downtown DC and you have a good chance of hearing a language other than English.

3. Ethiopian food. Doro wat, tibs, and all the veggie dishes.

4. Bike trails, when they're maintained. The Capital Crescent used to be my daily commute, and now Sligo Creek is.

5. A decently-sized Japanese community with whom I can converse.

6. Japanese grocery stores (especially Hinata, the cheapest and the best! Address: 4947 Saint Elmo Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814)

7. The 24-hour Tastee Diner in Silver Spring (with free wireless access). It's so run-down, but it reminds me of late nights in the Towson Diner back in the day.

8. The AFI and the Landmark theaters.

9. The Metro, despite its failings; it's why I moved to this place.

10. Malaysian Kopitiam: best cheap Asian food in the city. Everything I've gotten there has been good. And they even have a picture menu!

11. The Folger Theatre. I've been twice (thanks to Missy) and been swept away.

12. The small venues that attract big or up-and-coming names. If you get there early enough, you can see every bead of sweat on their faces.

13. The Kennedy Center and their free stuff.

14. The Sakura Matsuri and the cherry blossoms.

15. The atmosphere here when Obama was elected and when he was inaugurated.

16. The pirate bar, mainly for the company. Be careful with the grog. But then again, everyone needs a grog story.

17. Scrabble nights, as organized by Audrey. (Speaking of which, everyone should invite Audrey to join Facebook. Trust me, it'll be funny.)

18. Sushi Taro. Unfortunately, the restaurant that has the best sushi at the best price is undergoing renovations until March. What's good: pretty much all the sushi. They have the spicy-mayo variety of spicy tuna/salmon, which is excellent. And it's a real Japanese atmosphere. Very highly recommended.

19. Riding my bike in Dupont Circle. I love going between the cars that are pretty much parked in the circle. It was always the highlight of my commute.

20. Julia's Empanadas. This is street food at its best: warm, savory stuff packed into a pastry shell, for only $3.50. I would usually get one near quitting time, so I would be tided over until dinner. I think they're healthy, too.

21. The 14th Street bike lane. It's large enough to protect you from traffic, and the slopes aren't too steep. It gets me pretty much from my home in Silver Spring to Columbia Heights or U Street as quickly as possible.

22. Cakelove cakes at birthday parties.

23. Eastern Market.

24. Kam Sam, the Chinese grocery store that I frequently frequent. It's out in Rockville, but to me it's worth the Zipcar rental.

25. The Freer & Sackler Galleries Asian art stuff, including the concerts, performances, movies, and talks.

26. Hearing "The Kojo Nnaaaammdi Show." Not really the show itself, just hearing the title as pronounced by Kojo.

27. The occasional jumbo slice.

28. The weather. Really. The weather's quite moderate, though mostly always wet. This fall, there was awesome biking weather for a month. A month!

29. Finding bizarre monuments.

30. Restaurant Week.

31. Five Guys. (Hey, it started here... right?)

32. Late night Manny & Olga's cheesesteak subs.

33. Fruitpicking in Virginia and Maryland is only a drive away.

34. Ginko trees. I know, they stink, but the Ginko nuts are delicious when roasted.

35. Tempo Books in Tenlytown. They have (perhaps literally) tons of language learning books: ESL, Spanish, Japanese, most languages.

34. Biking along M Street in Georgetown during rush hour (see 19).

35. Brunch: an important, weekend-only, meal in DC.

36. Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. I only took classes there for a brief time, but it's a good community.

37. Busboys and Poets. Best name ever.

38. Teaism.

39. Domku. Such a weird little island, I can't help but love it. Eastern European eats, but unique.

40. Suits and sneakers on the Metro.

41. The Craigslist community: there's always something for free up for grabs. And I found my roommates through it and I'm quite happy about that.

42. The dim sum near my place at Oriental East. Not that it's the awesomest, just that it's good and close.

43. Naan & Beyond's naan sandwiches.

44. Biking through Rock Creek Park in the spring and summer (on the road, when it's closed to cars).

45. The plethora of bike shops, for when I break down from all the above biking.

46. Video Americain in Takoma Park. It was there that I rented Tampopo, the best movie ever about ramen. So funny.

47. The Quarry House, especially on Half Price Burger Night (Mondays), and especially when the tatertots are nice and soft.

48. Union Station. It was the first place in DC I remember coming to, when I was visiting some Georgetown students back in the day. I like the shape, the columns, and even the crappy food court down in the underbelly.

49. Politics & Prose, though I don't go to the author talks nearly enough.

50. Being slowly introduced to Salvadoran food, such as pupusas.

51. Embassy open houses.

52. The Greek festival at Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

53. Zipcars, although I wish one was just five minutes closer to my place.

54. The Chipotle at M & 19th, Mai Thai on 19th, and Penang on 19th--for good lunches with good company.

55. I like that DC is not in love with itself (like New York is). I don't like it when people hate on DC, but I much prefer anti-sentiment to effusive praise. DC might be where powerful people are, but no DCites have chips on their shoulders about living here. I like that, I do.

(crossposted on Facebook)

Sligo Creek Trail Impassable between UMD and Silver Spring

Thursday was a nice, sunny day, and kind of warm. It was perfect for biking. I decided to check out the bike trail along Sligo Creek (plus the Northwest Branch) to see if it had been salted, plowed, or anything.

The answer: parts of it.

The Northwest Branch is fine. There are a few bits of solid ice, but those you can go around. Once you cross the creek and get on the Sligo Creek Trail part, things get bad. I fell once, on a patch of black ice. I was going so slowly, though, that nothing was broken.

I checked it out earlier today (Saturday) and the trail was still covered with ice and showed no signs of even starting to melt.

(I looked for a Sligo Creek Trail committee to report this to, but I could only find these Creekheads: I don't think they'd much care what a biker had to say.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Outside my window are evergreens. During the day it was nerve-settling to look outside and see the branches hanging low with perfectly-soft white snow.

School closed early, so I was supposed to get homework done. Didn't happen. I'm freaking out about how little kanji I know compared to my classmates.

Good thing I had the snow outside to calm me down.

*Title stolen off a friend's Gchat status.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Overheard on Inauguration

Scary Evangelist: Just going to church is not enough. Just being a good person is not enough. You must accept that you are a sinner, you are dirty, you are a sinner in the eyes of Our Lord...

some distance away:
Middle-Aged Woman 1: Should I flash my tits at him?
Middle-Aged Woman 2: He'd probably like that. I bet he's got a big ol' box of porn at home.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Baltimore to Washington DC: The Cheapest Carless Transit

Baltimore light rail goes to BWI, and from BWI you can get a bus to the Metro. I always knew this, but I never tried it until today.

Light rail ticket: $1.60.
B30 Bus from BWI to Greenbelt Metro Station: $3.00 with Smartrip ($3.10 cash).

One-way cost: $4.60 + Metro ride.
Time you should allocate: at least 3 hours.

Obviously, this is not the most efficient way to get from Baltimore to DC. The most efficient way is by car, which takes a little over an hour. The next most efficient way is to get someone to give you a ride to Penn Station and then take the MARC ($7-14) or an Amtrak train ($27 or $87) to Union Station. But it is the cheapest* way to go without a car, as far as I know.

Anecdotal portion:
Today, I got on the light rail at the Timonium stop, which is the 2nd-northernmost stop on the line. I got the 10:29, which was the one that went all the way to BWI. (Important: LOOK to see the final destination on the front car. Not all trains terminate at BWI.)

I arrived at BWI at 11:48, just missing the 11:40 B30 bus. (At BWI, the B30 picks up both at the BWI Business District light rail stop and at the terminal. In winter, I recommend taking the light rail all the way to the terminal, so you can warm up inside.) The B30 stop was just around the corner from where I got off the light rail.

The B30 picked me up at 12:10. I got to Greenbelt by 12:36. I was on a Green Line train by 12:37, although it waited five minutes before leaving. I was in my home in Silver Spring by 1:20.

I was lucky; the total trip could have been much longer if the B30 had been late or if the light rail had had more single-tracking. But I had no agenda for today, so it worked for me.

Things you'll need:
Light rail schedule.
B30 bus schedule. (PDF)
Patience/a book/music.

*You may notice that Districted will become a "cheap blog" in the coming months. Sorry?

1/17/09 5:28 - edited, with thanks to the Abbot.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Charge: Positive

I'm much better than I was during the Holistidays, but I still have a cough. +

I was up late reading Memoirs of a Geisha. I know, you probably thought I had read it long ago. I guess I was waiting for the hype to die down. It's not the greatest book ever written, but it's good. And it's good to be reading a book for fun again. +

I woke up early to do my linguistics homework, then I biked & Metroed to UMD. I saw my Asian History TA from last semester at the library. I asked if his family had made it through the red tape and finally arrived in the US; he said they had. +

I rocked the first midterm. +

Biking home, I was yelled at on the very stretch of road where I'd had my near-VH. I was in the left lane, preparing for a left turn, and an Asian guy yelled something about "...the RIGHT!" -

But I responded a lot better than before. I said "I'M TURNING LEFT." +

But then I added, "FUCK YOU." -

At home, while getting ready to go out again, I listened to twelve minutes of the scientifically-most-annoying song ever. -

The Red Line was shut down; apparently there was a crack between Dupont and Woodley. --

I went to the station attendants and asked for a refund, since the train hadn't moved in 15 minutes and I was going to switch to a bus. The younger attendant started saying "We can't do that; you'll have to call." I said, "Why can't you? I've been sitting there for 15 minutes." The older attendant then said, "We'll let you out without swiping your card, just tell the next station manager what happened." +

(Walking to the bus, I pondered why you can't just get a refund instantly. Can't smartrip cards be "smart" enough to know when you exit from the same place you entered? Peeves me off.) -

I quickly caught the S4 bus. +

My cell phone was dying, and I needed to stay in touch with my friend, who was supposed to give me shirts. -

I tricked my phone into believing it had more of a charge, and found out that my friend was locked in traffic. I got off the bus at L and started walking towards him. But L Street was blocked completely by cop cars and a long stretch of police tape. I called my friend back and told him he was not going to get through. While he was on the phone, I went up to three firemen, one of whom said I couldn't even walk through on the sidewalk. I asked him what was the matter. Eventually another one said, "A package." -

I walked to my friend, who was stuck in his car. I got my shirts and I talked to him and his wife as they inched along L. ++++

Then I went to Thai Kingdom, where I was scheduled to meet up with four other Japanese speakers for some speaking practice. I was early. I didn't hear from anyone until 50 minutes later. -

Finally, one member showed up: my ex-girlfriend. But the funny thing is, just then a horde of Japanese people came in, maybe 30 or so, but they were in a different party. They sat just far enough away that I couldn't eavesdrop on them. (no charge, just funny)

The spicy eggplant with fried tofu is really good at Thai Kingdom. +

I got a lot of Japanese practice, more than I'd been getting for the past two weeks. And the interaction with my ex went smoothly. +

After dinner, I was able to talk my way into getting back onto the Metro without getting charged. +

Got home, found my roommate and her boyfriend watching The Notebook. My roommie was saying something about the artwork on the wall: "There are three red circles, no, there are four red circles." I said, "But there are five lights." She said, "What?" Her boyfriend said, "No, there are FOUR LIGHTS!" We derailed the romantic vibe with a lot of Star Trek talk. +

Blogging on Districted for the first time since feeling better: +

Overall charge +5