Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Everyone just gather at the intersection of Wisconsin and M. That's right. One night in a long while and it seems that there is something big going on. Something that I am missing out on. There was a constant flow of people coming across the bridge, and an occasional hoot and holler. Now what is rare is the sight of students younger than college age; high school and middle school. Now I know that such types mingle in Georgetown, based on anecdoptal evidence from schoolmates, but I hardly cross paths with them. I was at the library at 6pm. I was quite surprised at the large gathering of studious students. But while I engrossed myself in work, they dissappeared. Keep stdying hard, said the last person to leave. I looked around. No, I was the last person left in the library at 7:45pm.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Reconstructing the Scene

A person was hit by a bus on Riggs Road near North Capitol Street. The person must have not made it or been hurt real bad because the ambulance was there and gone in 5 minutes. At nearby Ft. Totten Transit Center, gap buses were placed in service to alleviate major delays in the area.

Another account:

Multiple cars involved with multiple serious injuries at Riggs Road and North Capitol Street. Big Mess.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Numbers that don't add up

Teachers +
Administrative staff (1:1 ratio in DCPS)+
Cost of maintenance, supplies, etc=
big cost of education

a number like, $10,000 per head

$19538 in somewhere like Arlington, VA
this is a suburban district, so maybe in a big city the number goes over the magical $20K?
It sure does: $24,600 for DC.

So where does all this $$$ come from?

Tax revenue, etc.

But hardly anyone pays that much in taxes. Much less the $50,000 to cover your 2 1/2 children.

But most counties aren't actively courting singles or better yet, retirees to boost their coffers.

State spending? Fed Spending? It's confusing to me.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bethlehem Steel

Extravagance in the little steel city of Bethlehem.
If you go there today, down by the river there are these industrial-age buildings, long, next to the railroad tracks, and a tallish greasy rusting tower. Believe it or not this complex ran until 2003. In the meanwhile, a nearby auxillary building was converted to condos in 1998; the smoke from the aged plant still fouled the air of Lehigh Univ., breeding ground of executives.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Silly Ways That People Get Government Money

So...who's a first time homebuyer in your household?
Your 4-year old?
Some people say it's cheating the system
but there's no minimum age for owning property in America
of course it turns out the parents are pocketing the cash
by they were the ones that paid for the house.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Presidential Thrill Ride

Joe Biden was known for parusing mass transit even though Union Station is only 3 blocks from the internal Capitol subway. His comment about avoiding crowds during flu season(which was taken to include mass transit) was just a fluke. Several first ladies have taken to Washington's Metro Subway, including Mrs. Carter and Mrs. Reagan. But for cited security reasons the president has never ridden the Metro.
Mr. Obmama, a quick-risen Washington Star, has been known for frequenting fine dining establishments. While in the Grand Hyatt, whose basement connects to the subway, Obama took a stroll with a few secret service agents and a pair of binoculars. Obama cited interest in joyriding a train, so arrangements were made to empty the first car of an apporaching train. This task was accomplished by Subway staff and Service Agents. A couple and their three children from Iowa were the last passengers in the front car. Not knowing Washington custom of biting fish smaller than you, told an Agent that they wasnted to see the President. These days, it's a rare occurence. The family was frisked and were informed to stay on board. To their great suprise, a contented Obama walked into the secured train car. Obama seemed to enjoy every bitof the ride to the NY ave fedcenter station, where he was escorted to a limo. "You see, we were almost afraid that he was going to want to drive the train" said a subway staff member. "In chicago, we all would ride the 'el'>', quipped Obama.

In reality, Obama is not publicly known to have ridden metro subway as president.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Irish Triplet of Games

St. Andrew's. THe Red Lion in the center of the field. The experiment, "let's take out a good portion of the 'good' players and let's see what happens". Result: Tied in the time (half of the game) without these players, down 0-4 with. Oh, and a churchmate of mine was the top scorer for their team. Some good water cooler talk.
There were injuries too, "ouch".

Field School. In the valley under the mansion on a drizzly, cold day, 12 degrees over freezing point. Up one at the half. Up two in the last two minutes. They score a last minute goal. The clock stops. The ref gives an extra 30 seconds. They score. A dissappointing tie made worse by how happy they were for tieing. "What in (heck) happened?"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Iron and Asphalt

The death knell of the streetcar sounded loudly after World War Two. What was the fifth largest industry, a mostly private-sector affair, was greatly reduced in less than 20 years. Luckily for DC, the man in charge of obliverating the streetcar system merely enclosed the tracks under asphalt, a fact that did not become apparent until Metro construction in the 1970's. Maybe the death knell is...streetscaping. DC's notoreiously bad streets are often languished for repairs. But on 11th street, a blessing may not have been all that good. Beside the heap of dirt laid mangled rail-like strips of metal, torn from the ground. That was it.
For a fact, the 47-year neglected track may not have been perfect, but some towns have found that the buried tracks sufficed for restored service.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Italian American Hertiage Day?

Here is a politically incorrect view of the 'discovery' of America. Of course, it ignores the role of the Vikings and the fact that there were already people living here, as well as the crimes against humanity that happened afterward.

In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

Columbus wanted to find a new way to India

People thought he was a fool; he would surely fall off the edge of the map!

Back then, people thought the world was a rectangle, like you see on a map.

Columbus was Italian, but he got some money from the Spanish queen. Spain was the richest country at the time.

He built three boats: The Nina, a small boat, the Pinta, the boat in the middle, and the Santa Maria, a big boat

Columbus set out with much fanfare.

But he got into a storm, and lost two boats.

The seamen were tired. They were hungry. Some were sick. They wondered wheh or if they would ever get to India.

But one day, they saw land.

Columbus found America, but he did not know that yet.

After a while, Columbus realized the people who greeted him on the shore were not from India.

However, the name for the people he found stuck around.

Columbus traded European goods for some of what the Indians had

Columbus went back to Spain very happy with his discovery.

Even 500 years later we remember what Columbus did. Many laces in America are named after him, such as
Columbus, Ohio
Columbia, South Carolina
Columbia, Maryland
The District of Columbia, where the Capitol and White House are located.

We even have a holiday named after him.

On Columbus Day, we celebrate his discovery, and honor the role of Italian Americans in our country.

(For better or worse, elementary schools are teaching kids a more balanced view of Christopher Columbus in the New World.)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

0-6 for Homecoming

A three-item agenda
Violin Lesson, 10am, moved up 1/2 hour
Soccer Game, arrive 11:30am
Dale Music, buy spare string and piano accompaniment. Visit Bonanza if open.

Since it was 8am Saturday morning, I asked for the key. It was simple work, a bit congested in Bethesda, but mostly just crusing at 40mph. Mommy was saying at one point, "speed up with all the other cars"."Look, I'm going over the limit. Now if one of the police pulls me over and writes a ticket and DC DMV finds out (by point assessment or a dedicated civil servant) then I'll have to wait another 6 months" (I can get a provisional license with a clean record in one month). "Well why would they target you?" "b/c this is an out of state car" "that's ridiculous" "No, OK then go ahead and drive with your full licence" But if the drivers behind me didn't appreciate my fear of law, they could admire my quick response to a light changed to green. A first time for a U-turn, and a perfect 90 degree pull-in at the Maxim Oriental Grocery for a quick stop.

There are two certainties about the soccer team:
1) Someone from the chang family will score in the last five minutes of a half
2) There is no thing as a game with two losing halves.

Having left from a violin lesson late in Gaithersburg, and waited a good 100 seconds at the stoplight on Muncaster Mill and Shady Grove road, I hoped that I would make it to Terra Cotta (Michigan Park) in half an hour, to get some pre game prep. Coming onto the 355/ Veirs Mill Road split, I decided to take the diagonal route, but, there was road work. Also, there was a broken bus. On closer inspection, there was a bus and a car and the car had some damage, blocking two lanes. Even past the debacle, there was traffic on the one open lane. Cancel the thought of getting to prep on time. It was already 11:40am. Re-enter 355 on Edmonston Lane, hit more shopping mall stoplights and slow moving traffic with drivers with slow response times. A yellow light. "No, not Randolph Road!" Mommy said; "Can't get a good stop (the pavement was wet) The brake is vibrating, maybe because of the way you were driving earlier." I then remembered, "Could've taken I-370 to 270 to the Beltway. But then I remembered, "I don't know how to get from the Beltway to school! Knowles Avenue. Garrett Park. A one-stoplight town with an attic-in-the-street sale today. "I always like this town when we come through. This is a nice suburb. 12:00pm. Maybe I could make it for the starting whistle. Beech drive. I saw 355 again. Please don't let me go the wrong way. No, those were the Gaithersburg bound lanes. I was reoriented. 90 degree turn away from Stoneybrook. Audubon Society. Stoplight at Jones Mill, a lineup at East West, a green light. Woodbine, Wyndale- I rember that. What the jalepeno, "turn here". Daniel rd. Yes, "turn here". Oregon Avenue, 12:30pm. The game started without me. Military Rd, Ft. Totten Metro.

I ran inside and pulled on my jersey. Teabag told me, "They're wearing white". I ran back inside, past the kids who were throwing snappers at people who past by, and put on my alban white #12 jersey as I walked nervously towards the field. Had mommy apologized on my behalf? Yes, I felt awkward. I walked behind the bench. "A., M., get K., T. Oh, Atticus, you're here." G. then walked off the field holding his nose. K, you're back on. "Atticus, get something--get" "gauze?" I used a lot of that over the summer. Nosebleeds, large scrapes, use that. I took four packs and some paper towels. The athletic director was attending the situation. "So it's hard to use too much of this gauze. Sterile 12 ply. It wasn't a serious injury, within 2 minutes the player was back in the game.
Atticus, get A. Yes, I made a run. Valiantly my comrade was breaking with the ball. "Cross, cross, I suggested. Um. Maybe he didn't want me to make his goal. End of the half. 0-0, tied.

The other subs were put in again during the next half. "We have subs now. Come out if you need a break", called the coach. I wondered,"would I get played again". There had to be consequences for tardiness and truancy (something that didn't quite meet my situation). No, I was put in for relief twice more.
"I've let down the team. I really did", I thought. They worked brilliantly in the first half, but then, something happened. Maybe the Maret Frogs let out their varsity players on us. One goal went in. A corner kick. Bad Luck. A second. A cross and shoot. Exactly what we did in practice. Two goals, twenty minutes to go. Let's carpe diem this game. A third. A fourth, a fifth, a sixth.

A Captain, coming off 2 minutes before the game was over, commented on the game; "(Darn) it", with an annoyed tone of voice.
In the 17 minutes I played (14 in the 2nd half), no goals were made. I finished the game and congratulated the other team.

Did our team burn out? Because of my absence in the first 20 minutes? The goalie is the microcosm of the team, coach said. First half, played strong. Second half, lost confidence (is that an euphemism for slacked off?). But we played hard, he continued, but they're not 6 points better than us. Let's get that back on Tuesday.
Doning your best is what counts, right? If it works. (Flashback, JDS last Wednesday)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

On a Low

Yde wrote a sports short in the Cactonian paper of note (The glossy paged Priory Press)of the JV soccer team: "JV Soccer opened their season on September 11th, with a 5-1 victory over Edmund Burke, but lost on the 16th to Wilson (Coach says we need a can-do spirit, but I must acknowledge that this is DC's most desirable public high school) 4-2 in the Abbey's home opener. The team is very confident about how far they can go. "We're gonna go all the way", said Captain K (Sophomore)."

I will not lie. There were many happy times that goals were made while joking about the last one. But at 3:00pm there was no indication of what was to come. Maybe in a lyrical sense there was. A windy day that chilled the fingers. Best memories from the Saint Thomas middle school team in frosty New York Novembers. In the shadow of the NRC and that new glass prism that's rising near White Flint, a game was played that, well, didn't show the best of the team's ability. They were allegedly a "second-rate team", but the record of us against them shows otherwise. First half, us up one, wind mildly in our favor, second half, tied after a glorious penalty goal kick worthy of replay, winds moderately out of favor. Heartbeats were modified in what seemed like very good luck, that balls kind of seemed to go over the goal. Final score 1-1. Not too terrible, solidifies us as better than the .500 that we came in with. When we congratulated the other team, it was perfect. There really was no loser. But we could have done better. A mildly injured player came off and said, "forget about it (winning by 3 to make up for the loss against WIS), we're playing (crud)".

If Captain K can speak for the team, I wonder whether the others had the same feeling that fateful day recently. Well, with some hard practice, anything is possible. Let's do better on Saturday.

There aren't ever retributions for giving glorious praise to the team. I'm not condemning anyone, it's just how it felt to tie.

Vague references were left to protect idetities but were sometimes used for artistic purposes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Media Circus

Sometimes, a character in a drama is killed off. So I wonder: Does the great drama of news production report death erroneously? How frequently, and why?

Someone was badly mangled in a crash involving a car stolen from the mayor. The victim is recovering in a local hospital.

Of course, as I witnessed occassionally outside of GWU hospital (the one where Capitol Hill goes), news reporters can be annoying. So someone from the hospital cites patient privacy, and upona a reaching barrage of microphones, mumbles.

And then, word gets out.
But it doesn't really matter, because the victim was just a pawn in the media circus.

A misled statement won't hurt anyone.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Why We Don't Have Skyscrapers

Since this piece of property is so close to a metro station, you can take this strip mall and turn it into a 20 floor tower. Want to stand out? OK, you can build up to 300 feet. The ultimate plan is to create a real city environment for a suburban county. Walkable, intriguing.

Why not taller? Inflating real estate prices= more lateral development= quicker means to a citylike environment.

Addendum: "We built this place up from scratch with the help of greedy developers". Well, there was a historic downtown Rockville, much like Leesburg, VA or Frederick, MD. It was torn down for the lovely brutalist towers, most notably 51 Monroe, as an early "Transit-oriented development" (It's connected by skywalk to Metro Rockville).

Friday, October 2, 2009

On the Great Falls, Part 2

The sophomore's rafting trip happened today. I went last year, but even without asking I knew what they did.

They got on the yellow school bus and watched as the neighborhood went by while I was counting significant figures in Chemistry.

I then had an ethics test. They were passing the houses of the robber barons on Georgetown Pike. During a math class of running full mind to understand synthetic division of polynominals, they pumped up rafts.

During the free period, they ate pitas and some had been convinced that this could be their last meal.

After putting "The things they carried" back in my bag for a while and pulling out "MacBeth" for English class, they lugged the rafts over their heads down the steep ravine to the water, and then were briefed on safety and designated captains on how to steer a ship

During second lunch period, munching on mystery meet, they learned to trust their classmates and build bonds as they navigateddown the river and treated each other with dignity, for rowers have to row in the same direction to go somewhere.

While translating in an embattled manner "Le Medecin Malgre Lui" for French Class, they fought currents and weighted lifejackets as they swam upstream, the best swimmers not doing a good job on distance.

While building chords in music theory, they broke bonds with the normal force of the earth as they all (or most of them) jumped off a cliff

While arguing that the war in Iraq was not one for oil, they slipped their wet outergarments into a plastic bag and put on polyester fleeces and polymer-lasced t-shirts and slippers and sped back to school

During orchestra, they pulled out mp3 players for the last part of the journey.

During the soccer game, they were there, and acknowledged, yeah, I'm tired.

Some things don't change year to year.