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Racism on the Metro

DC Blogger brownpau sent me this flyer today, which was placed on every one of the seats of a Red Line train in Union Station the other day, preaching all manner of anti-immigrant hate. What’s weirdest? The group that’s passing them out traces back to a group in Wisconsin, linked to Stormfront and some other NeoHitlerian Cultists.

Hey Crazy Cultists, if you don’t like it here, I highly encourage you to leave. DC is only going to be more diverse, not less, and if that makes you uncomfortable, then, well, you have two choices: Adapt or Depart.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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How Do You Know You’re in Suburbia?

When the sign for the Metro station points down some random two-lane road, you can’t even see the station from the main road, and there isn’t a sidewalk along either road.

Thankfully there is a crosswalk and cars actually stop for pedestrians as they cross the road. At first, I was hesitant to trust Maryland drivers, but then it became clear.

Another way to tell you are in the suburbs is that cars will actually stop for you as you cross the street to the West Hyattsville Metro station.

In DC, I think drivers would speed up, going for double points if you bounce off their hood.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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Virginia to Actually Ticket, Fine Toll Dodgers

Apparently, no one’s been watching the toll-breakers on the Dulles Toll Road. The clanging bells, the lights, they’re just for show. At least, until the first of the year… Virginia is finally installing cameras to watch the toll plazas along the Dulles Toll Road in order to fine those who don’t pay up the $0.50 or $0.75.

Now, while Virginia drivers appear to be more honest than most (only 1.7% of the tolls aren’t properly paid), can I just ask a quick question? How is it that there have been a ton of red-light cameras in the area, supposedly for safety, but never on the Toll Road, where it costs the State money? Isn’t this backward, or something?

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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DC is the 27th Best Place for Women in 2007

Thanks to Victoria E’s post on San Francisco Metroblogging, I now know Self Magazine’s Best Place For Women 2006

And where might DC rank on their revered list?

Population: 5,276,900
Ranking: 27 out of 100

+ Below-average rates of depression
+ Among the top five areas for rates of women getting Pap smears
+ Among the top five scores for dental health

- Among the 10 highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases
- Longer-than-average commute of 72 minutes a day
- Among the 10 highest rates of asthma on list

At 5 million and long commuting, they’re including the suburbs, which is a wonderful counter balance to the STD rate numbers. But I’m still disappointed that we’re 27th.

I’d tell you who was ahead of us, but the web database only goes by places, not ranking. Bummer. I wonder where is the “best” according to Self?

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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Enough with the Christmas Music Already!

Has anyone noticed that WASH-FM 97.1 seems to be playing only Christmas music? Good gracious – it’s like indoctrination. I don’t know what they usually play but I hope my wife isn’t upset when she discovers that I changed that radio setting to some all-Spanish station so at least we can have some musical variety.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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Washington, DC’s 4th Gift to the World – Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms Okay, okay, we admit it. It’s time to come clean.

Here in DC, we’re terrible re-gifters. Here we are, claiming the cherry blossom trees along the tidal basin as our gift to the world, when the first 3000 trees were in fact a gift to the city from the mayor of Tokyo, Yukio Ozaki in 1912 as a way to build friendship between Japan and the United States. Ozaki was a liberal who opposed the rising tide of Japanese militarism, and would be imprisoned during both world wars for his anti-war activities.

In 1965, twenty years after the end of WWII, Japan gave another 3800 trees to the US. In 1981, we gave cuttings back to Japan to replace trees which had been destroyed in a flood.

While the grove along the Tidal Basin is certainly the most famous, and the water and the monuments certainly add to the overall effect of viewing the blossoms, you have plenty of other options if crowds aren’t your thing. Yoshino cherry trees have been planted in smaller groves all over the area- they’re easy to spot because they bloom before almost anything else does. My personal favorite spot for hanami, or blossom viewing, is actually under the tree on the hillside across the street from our house. A blanket, a bottle of wine, and a picnic lunch make sakura season complete.

So, maybe this re-gifting thing isn’t so bad?

Tags: Metblogs7Gifts 7Gifts Metroblogging7Gifts

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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Widen Your Point of View

I know, I know. It’s entirely possible that I spoke too soon about the best shot of the Air Force Memorial. I take it all back and throw this out instead: There is no best shot. I will say this however, a memorial of this size really lends itself to a wide angle lens or even a fisheye lens such as j6 photo has used here. His Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 lens was perfect for the job here, not only because it captures the entire memorial but also lends to the swooping spires and exaggerates their lines. I could do without the bent human in the foreground, but sometimes you’re just not patient enough for people to clear out of your viewfinder (or sometimes people rudely step into it). Santa, if you’re listening, I’ll take a new Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens. Oh wait. I guess I’m Santa seeing as how I buy my own Christmas presents.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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Arlington Residents: Don’t park on the leaves!

The Arlington Co. web site reminds us not to park on the leaves that line many of the streets. The site also refers to a Post article from last December about a fellow who parked in a pile of leaves and lost his car to flames just minutes later. I’ve seen this happen elsewhere as well. It’s not pretty to see a burning car with the owner running around screaming, unable to do anything as firefighters douse the heap of junk.

It’s been quite a number of years since I was behind the counter of a car parts store, but as I recall, your catalytic converter can reach temperatures up to 1000 degrees. Why, that’s even hotter than two rats in a wool sock. The converter is essentially a chemical reaction box that restricts the flow of exhaust gasses, causing major heat build-up and thus danger when parked in leaves, which apparently ignite at around 400 degrees.

I am pretty certain that other areas outside Arlington can benefit from this warning as well, but since it was on the Arlington web site I wasn’t sure…

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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A Soldier’s Last Stand

Solemn they stand in the grass, cold, white orderly. Tombstones at the Soldiers Home National Cemetery.

Would you know anyone there – the graveyard, I mean? I run by it often, yet I never see a living soul among the souls passed.

I have a friend who wants to be buried there, he wants to preserve green space as much as fall in line with his Army.

Me, I try to run by, run fast, and not think too much about that coming day.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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a canadian tips about a dc pizza place from a new york site

A friend from my other blogging life, the Recruiting Animal, passes along this tip for DC pizza-lovers.

Well, if you ever find yourself down this way, I strongly suggest you come to my neighborhood of Mount Pleasant and check out Radius Pizza. While I would not call it 100 percent New York-style pizza, it is awesome and has been rated the best pizza in D.C. by a congresswoman from Manhattan, albeit the Upper East Side. ;-)

In my opinion, Radius is the best pizza that Washington, D.C., has to offer.

Radius may be old news to some of y’all, but I know there are people reading this who have never been there, so check it out. Slice also sends a shout-out to 2Amys, a personal favorite of mine.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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Washington, DC’s 5th Gift to the World-Music (Duke Ellington)

My portion of this 5th Gift to the World is a tribute to the coolest musical Washingtonian ever – Edward Kennedy Ellington, the Duke.

Many people may associate Duke Ellington with New York (thanks in part to the classic “Take the ‘A’ Train”) but his roots were firmly planted in DC, and especially in the U Street neighborhood where he grew up and had his musical start, from his birth here in 1899 to his departure for Harlem in 1923. PBS did a brilliant documentary on “Duke Ellington’s Washington” a while back, and its website also gives an overview of Black Broadway and Shaw. The Howard Theater, the Whitelaw Hotel, True Reformers’ Hall, all are landmarks still visible today that featured prominently in his life. DC’s great Ellington School for the Arts bears his name and the spirit of his legacy proudly, and we now even have a jazz festival in his honor.

Thanks to my jazz-loving father, I was exposed to Ellington’s music as a small child (though as Duke once said naughtily, “By and large, jazz has always been like the kind of a man you wouldn’t want your daughter to associate with.”). I find his brilliance undimmed – jazz with the backbone of classical training, complexity of rhythm, and essence of cool unmatched. I especially love his piano improvisations, but I really can’t pick any favorites. I just know that when I walk down U Street and look up at the mural bearing his image, I think of him decked out in that seriously spiffy tuxedo, smiling at the audience, and saying farewell with, “we love you, madly.” Genius.

Tags: Metblogs7Gifts 7Gifts Metroblogging7Gifts

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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An inconvenient print layout

Boing Boing has linked a post talking about an article by Laurie David about a recent rejection by the NTSA of 50,000 free copies of the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” for schools. Both the Boing Boing and the Conscious Earth postings are up-front about the fact that the author is a producer of the movie, though Conscious Earth does somewhat misleadingly say The news was buried deep in the Washington Post website and reported by Laurie David.

Misleading because in fact it’s not news, at least not in the sense that it was reported by a journalist in a researched article. The problem is, you wouldn’t necessarily know that if you follow the link as it was provided by the Conscious Earth posting. The extent of the clue to where that article appeared is one line: “Sunday, November 26, 2006; B01″ If you happen to know that section B is the Opinion pages on a Sunday, vs the rest of the week when it’s the Metro pages. The page in normal context is marginally better, but still not great: in a font smaller than the column text itself you can see the “breadcrumb” that indicates this is under Opinion: washingtonpost.com > Opinions > Outlook

Compare that to the New York Times print view of an op-ed by a contributing writer (annoying registration or BugMeNot.com required) which clearly states “Op-ed” at the top. Their standard view also has another up on the Post: since they’re not forcing the reader to click a second time to get the second half of the article there’s no possibility someone will read to the bottom of the page and still not see the paragraph indicating the author’s identity. Since WaPo wants you to click again (for more advertising pageviews) you might give up halfway and not see the author’s affiliations that reveal his or her allegiances.

For the record, I don’t think Conscious Earth is being deliberate in this – the fault here is very clearly with WaPo, who hasn’t put enough effort into differentiating their online articles. I’m sympathetic to the challenge, but this is one they need to rise to toot-sweet. Having partisan articles – no matter how much I might be inclined to agree with the conclusions therein – that look just like reportage is something that diminishes their credibility.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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Washington, DC’s 6th Gift to the World-Ben’s Chili Bowl

In the spirit of all the holiday gift giving that will be taking place over the next couple of months, all the Metroblogging cities are giving 7 gifts to the world throughout the week of Nov, 26th through Dec, 2nd. This is Washington, DC’s 6th Gift to the World – Ben’s Chili Bowl.

Open through both the 1968 riots and the Green Line expansion through U Street, Ben’s anchored the U Street neighbourhood and is favorite of both daytime construction workers and night-time bar crawlers.

But that’s not why it’s a gift to the world. Ben’s Chili Bowl gave us two amazing gifts. First Bill Cosby took his wife-to-be on dates at Ben’s and without her support, how else could we remember a dentist visit with humor or have amazingly positive black role models on TV?

Next we got half-smokes. Before you get into the whole “what’s a half-smoke?” debate, as they are neither half of anything or smoked, just savory the memory of your first one. Mine was late, way too late, with work looming in the morning. I needed food, I needed sobriety, I needed the bright lights and limitless grease of a Ben’s half-smoke chili dog.

And we all need the calming influence, good food, and great friends found at Ben’s Chili Bowl. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m hungry and Ben’s is short bus ride away.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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myLHBS: Keeping NoVA Safe for Homebrewing

After posting my original frustrated missive about how there did not seem to be any homebrew shops in the area (see Is the DC Area Anti-Home Brew?), I got lots of suggestions on where to go. One store appeared to be only a few miles from my home. How could I have missed it, I wondered.

myLHBS is tucked away in the offices of a language school in the building next to Sears on Route 7, at the intersection with Patrick Henry Drive. When I entered the building I quickly found Languages Incorporated on the directory and went to their office, past the doctors and dentists and icky medical specimen containers. Those things always freak me out a little.

Owner Derek Terrell greeted me and had the few things I was looking for and much more. For being in the back of someone else’s office, myLHBS sure does have quite a selection of inventory packed into a relatively small room. What’s more is that it doesn’t appear cluttered at all. He may not have twenty of anything but he has anything you might want or need, including some nice items on sale.

This is more than beer making supplies. The store also has a good selection of wine kits, honey to make mead and even a hard cider kit. In my day we made hard cider in a glass jug with bread yeast and an improvised prophylactic-based air lock. I am sure it was much cruder than the kit at the store and I might just go back and get that kit to try it out.

More than a simple store clerk, Derek is a seasoned brewer and has run a shop like this before. He knows the equipment and processes and can make expert suggestions without sounding highfaluting.

myLHBS certainly has my business for the future. Any home brewers in the area should definitely go check this place out.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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Thanksgiving End

Ah, the end of Thanksgiving weekend. The frigid cold is gone, the windows open to a spring-like breeze. Slowly, cars are returning to our block as neighbors drive back from grandma’s house in the ‘burbs or airport hell. We’re relaxing in front of football, slurping down Thanksgiving Soup Surprise (this year’s version: turkey and curry vegetables – just the thing for holiday hangovers). Soon we’ll drive my brother to the airport, the last of the guests to be on their way home.

The past few days went by in a whirl, as we hosted relatives and friends in an attempt to start a new tradition – namely, that DC is “home” and once in a while, family should come to us instead. It worked so well that I may become quite spoiled and never travel on the holidays again. Right, that has a high likelihood of happening! Oh well.

A few outsider observations about our fair city were made that I thought I’d share. One was that the female population appears more petite than other states. Is this true? I’m not sure, but the minute the comment was made, I saw a dozen petite girls meandering through the always entertaining Cue Bar and thought, “hmm… there might be something to this theory.”

Another was that hanging at Stetson’s was far more fun than at Bar Pilar, an opinion I completely share after standing for two seconds in Pilar’s crowded sauna of a hallway. Not only that, the nearby Saint-Ex continued its demise in my mind by having an actual velvet rope situation outside – it better have been for a private party, because I can’t imagine a place that started out wanting to be a cool neighborhood bar warranting that kind of attitude. Anyway, Stetson’s lived up to its undying rep as casual unpretentious sanctuary, where we lounged with friends, nursed by Mother Beer, patting our turkey bellies with glee.

Ah yes, Happy Thanksgiving DC! Now, back to work… sigh.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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This is as calm as today will ever be

If you were up at 4am for your early flight today, as I was…. sucks to be us, huh? On the other hand, the quality of light at dawn rivals anything you can pull off in Photoshop. Anyway, so far being one of the 2.3-2.4M expected travelers in the skies hasn’t been too bad, but then again I got to the security lines when the Dunkin Donuts guy wasn’t even mumbling to himself yet. Security lines here in Charlotte might be worse but I, happily, did not have to find out for myself – I knew better than to stray out of the Moisture-free side of the TSA checkpoints during my layovers, no matter how painfully long.

If my darling girlfriend will suffer through my snooping with only a mild eye-roll, I’ll pop up to the departures level when I get to Dulles and see how painful it looks.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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Cue the Chemical Brothers

I’ve been wanting to write about this photo for a long time now but have always stopped short and wrote about something else. I think this is partly because I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I like it so much, but it’s probably because the shot tells a story and sets a mood like a good photo should. It makes me want to be there in the sea of red people, and I love how the girl is the only one looking at the camera. Great mood, great atmosphere, great capture of the moment. Well done drade.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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The Maryland Rip Off

Today I ran out to the West Hyattsville Metro stop to burn off a little Thanksgiving Turkey and in search of a drink I found Maryland News Stand.

The name is all wrong as there was not much news for sale. A better name would be Maryland Liquor and Lottery.

That is until I bought my drink and dropped my change into the ‘give a penny – take a penny’ plate next to the register.

When the slovenly cashier put the 12 pennies in the register as I left, I thought of a new name: Maryland Rip Off.

The penny plate is for those like I who dislike change or need a cent or two, not a bonus to the store after every sale.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs