Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year Again

Gosh this year is almost over. Same with the decade, the one that has brought- lots of things good and bad. Here's to the next decade. The world will not end in 2012, so it's only good things ahead. Obama said it too. Geez, I didn't realize that the's already been president for almost a full year. Then there will be all those congressional, senatorial, and state elections for 2010.

What I did on Christmas

Christmas morning. The year had been heck for wallets, but our area survived the worst of the storm, and we had a respectful amount of consumerism under the tree hand beside the creche. I forgot that word that would have described the situation of the model railroad train. It was a fancy word. There was moderate traffic as we left south towards North Carolina. However, unlike most times of day and night, speeds were close to the speed limit. On the clock, we passed through the Richmond Viaduct 2 hours after crossing the Potomac. Then, we merged off from the venerated I-95 to the more southernly I-85, the direct route to Atlanta. Soon after the significant town of Petersburg, VA, the scenery was distinctly out-of-this-world; there were pines; big tall pines, and forests and fields. There was a drizzle; whether it was snowing in Washington or not I do not know. We pulled over at a ramp and the driver's seat was handed to me. I relied on the flow of traffic to judge an appropriate pace- the speed limit was an astonishing 70mph; the nervous point was when I found it necessary to pass. Not being faster or more aggressive than the other car, but all the places behind bridges and in the cut-thrus that troopers could hide behind. Based on how well an predictable and open the traffic was, I could predict the time of arrival in North Carolina to the minute. I felt like a pilot, free to move about. The rest stop in Virginia was barricaded as part of an effort by the State to be fiscally responsible. I remember how prodding the man behind the counter in Maryland was for me to sign the registry tis past June. I measured from the 21 miles marker; I estimated 19 minutes, or 12:20pm. I wondered what was waiting in Durham for lunch. BBQ? I watched as the numbers slipped down; we crossed the line at 12:21PM, and slowed up for the lower speed limit. At the rest stop, set up in a manner to emphasize hospitality, we picked up maps and a hotel guide. The actual visitor center was closed. There was no guest registry to sign in on. The rain poured harder now; I settled in the back seat with Roger Frock and his account of Federal Express.

Upon arriving in Durham, we found few choices; a Hispanic pub, or, as we drove further, a sandwich shop named International Delights. Indeed, there were what appeared to be international students working on laptops in their booths. The menu was Mediterranean; there was a sign regarding the lack of ketchup. An aberration! Now what was that word that I forgot this morning? I shared a gyro platter for two. Sage tea was presented; the only appropriate thing would be to have a little dessert to go with it: crispy honey rolls. That was delicious. The campuses of the colleges in the Triangle were deserted; we had only buildings and maps to comprehend these universities; Duke, UNC. I'd say more, but the soul of the campuses- were away. The college papers were paused at exams, the grass void of students. As we passed by the numerous research institutes as we headed to the Outer Banks, I quipped that this was a copy-off of Washington's Tech Corridors in Rockville,MD and Reston,VA. No, father replied, this was the original research center with the first internet connections to the government. Past Raleigh and the RDU airport, the environs became increasingly rural and swampy, an appropriate fade-out with the sunset and coming of dark. Dinner was had at a nondescript Chinese takeout place in a nondescript strip mall near a military base; indeed, there would be military bases in every town, or so it seems, from here to the ferry. Past the restaurant, the road was still a freeway; torrents of rain threatened a sudden stop to this day's travels. But we needed to be closer to the ferry. Eventually, past a closed exit, the rain slowed and tapered to a drizzle. It was miles untl we arrived at Morehead City, a mostly summertime place, but with multiple marine bases to bring life in the off season. We passed the nicer hotels and delved across the bridges: there was nothing open. We returned to the Holiday Inn Express, a reliable place that serves breakfast and gives free papers in the morning. I retired early, missing the fact that thre was a computer for free use in the lobby.

Morning comes with the ringing of the alarm clock. We must pack before breakfast to make the ferry. After a hearty breakfast, compliments of the hotel, I threw in a blog post and we left, ever eastward, to the ferry. The increasingly marshy environment was quite genial; there were Kangaroo fuel stops and Piggly Wiggly Groceries and Bojangles, which we don't have up north. There were small inns, fishers and oyster shuckers, and at the end of the road, a queue for the ferry.

This ferry, Cedar Island-Ocracoke,would take 2 hours and some chane, amking it my longest ferry ride. There was not much to do but everything to do: many vistas from the two decks, an enclosed space for private activities. Within a while the ferry from Swanquarter ran paralel for the final hour. Again, there was not much on the island this season save a lighthouse. Photo ops with the local cat and buying groceries from the she-she market were available, though. The next ferry was smaller, and the passenger area was no larger than an intimate dining room: we assembled the sandwiches, and ate them. The ride was compressed to 40 minutes: just enough time for a 'picnic' lunch and a walk around deck. The wind was blowing, and the hallowed beaches of the outer banks were for private enjoyment. Pea Island provided a vista for viewing pelicans and cranes. Evening bore down as we passed the Kitty Hawk site, and its adjacent town of Kill Devil Hills. With bitersweetness, we crossed the bridge back to mainland and drove into Virginia and Hampton Roads. We quickly settled for The Oceanfront Inn in Ocean City, having 'frequent visitor' enticements in the waiting. Dinner was spent in a mediocre sub shop, Zero's, that harked to the sub shop college experience that I don't think I'll have. I was tired, so much so that I fell asleep before the Jurassic Christmas drive-thru lights show on the boardwalk. Granted, the line to enter was long and the automotive pace slower than ideal.

Checkout time was 11am. A quick bike up and down the beach as well as a swim in the warm pool finished our stay. A small petit dejeuner from McD's in anticipation of a buffet lunch. Indeed, the buffet was unimpressive, so we drove off. We saw another buffet, Japanese. It was $12.95 a place, more than our average meal. We took the splurge, and I ate sushi and desserts to my content.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Dec 5-6
We started with a renouned international policy specialist, then moved to the piles of pizza and soda. After a quick half hour of socializing, it was time for some partisanship.Not before we were encouraged to shop at the bazaar. A moving bot that I saw earlier that day had not sold yet. I ran a functions test, and became surprised regarding why the $2 price tag didn't get it sold in 20 seconds. So I bought it. Unlike the university conferences, things were a bit more relaxed, or, slower-paced. Half an hour to the end of the session for the evening, there was no working paper submitted. It was my time to do something. Usually, I had been caught off guard by illicit pre-written papers from a school in Florida or New Jersey, but, I had nothing but my stack of research, on Austrailia, to work with regarding self-determination, or, what's a country. Ranbcor ran deep as Iran blamed the west for everything.

Saturday morning, we continued the same debate, and the comitttee was presented with a working paper from Iran. It was off the wall, and bigoted. My paper, cosigned by the necessary count of delegates plus two, was proposed, modified, and postponed on account of snow. Golly, this was the first time it snowed this early in the year. Soon, lunch break followed. Sadly, I had to part before the last session. I handed the paper to a co-sponsor- Sri Lanka (who added an Eastern perspective to the Resolution)and hoped for the best. TO date, no word on the sucess of the resolution.

Wait a second... sometimes you get really involved in model UN!

Monday, December 28, 2009

How much would you pay to read that other blog?

Business Week has posted a series of articles regarding charging for online content. A common method these days is to include subscriber-only sections. The idea is that the reader will get frustrated enough to want to buy a subscription. However, some companies (and individuals webbies, not me) want to charge per view, like, the way your cellphone texting bill works.

Market analysis shows that consumers would switch from their 'mainstream' media sources to smaller-cap, free sources like blogs. Hopefully, readers will be able to judge what is journalism and what is not. (April 1, Spoof, and AFD coders indicate unreliable sources).

Thank you readers, for your continued support of my endeavor! It's a reader base like you that makes ad-lib blogging all the worthwhile!

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Greetings from Morehead City, NC Holiday Inn Express whups gotta catch ferry.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Kaine on the 2016 Ballot?

Virginia is a presidency machine. As quoted by the state travel guide, "the Mother of Presidents". Eight of them, 4 of the first 5. Of course travel was very difficult in those early days, but still. As for Vice Presidents, politicians from the mid-Atlantic are popular. Obama, of Hawaii, Kansas(?), and Illinois vetted Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware. Gov. Tim Kaine, a top runner who would have been the politically cheesy pick (swing state). The usually Republican state must have been flattered. Ex-president Clinton wrote through a biographer that he thought that Sen Mikulski (MD) would have made a good pick. What about Mrs. Clinton? (It is supposed that Obama encountered a 'newscaster scenario' of the wisdom of including a white male as well as a minority character). Lots of words were spilled and rhetoric blown.

But, its Christmas eve, and 2010 and its wildness is still a week away. As local hero and national shame Spiro Agnew elocated, the media is the erudication of nattering nabobs of negativism- nice alliteration! No kickbacks til the 21st century, now.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Oh no not that no really no. This winter wonderland will fall victim to a wintry mix right on Christmas Eve, and then, rain. Yes, that ordinary stuff that we get every other season of the year. And then...if it doesn't freeze overnight- we gain nothing. No revenge on The Establishment, no nature conquering man. While the temperature has peaked over freezing, creating puddles, it has steadily frozen.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Betty Crocker, II

Part 1
The shopping mall has been blockaded by the snow. All of them, inaccessible. Except for DCUSA, but that's not like a real, real mall. I mean, it's STACKED! As for Pentagon City, all approaches from the north are cut off because both lines cross above ground sections, which were impassable by train. Bus service has been restored in places, but not to a mall it goes.White Flint, cut off too, Bethesda and the Mazza, isolated by the infrequent underground train service left in the storm's path. Tysons, Montgomery mall not on a metro line at all. As for driving, the car is a foot deep in snow and loses traction in 1 inch of slush. Thus, for us and millions of other Americans, we were kept away from the mall on the busiest shopping days of the year. I can just image years from now struggling retailers blaming the weather. (We did not buy the XC Volvo yet.)
Bright side: Strong day-after xmas sales (pls don't read as bargain hunting!) and a Roaring Christmas shopping season next year after 3 dismal years?

Part 2
It took twice as long as usual to get to church. Expecting absences, I signed the serving log. And indeed the Rector had a job for me. It was multiple jobs, usually served by a complement. At the Offertory, having never played this role before, I almost botched the most important part of the mass. The emcee (in this case, the person who tells people where what and when they need to do something) was absent and his/her role was played by the, uh, spotlight of the mass. The complementary acolyte arrived T -3 minutes, in wet sneakers. He too had to fill the roles of about 5. The congregation at this well-attended service sat in the small choirstalls, and most of those who arrived either lived in the neighborhood or were dedicated and able to take limited Metro from Bethesda or North Arlington. There was no formal fellowship,and I assumed that Sunday group was cancelled. The organist was present and serving as usual, although without the choir. Money from the offertory ostensibly was left under the chalice table during the final hymn.

Part 3
Although all precepts should have indicated normal Sunday subway service, this was not the case. When I heard that bus service was reinstated There were eager beavers wanting to get places. Mother rode the Red Bus Circulator to "Chinatown". She reports that it was loaded. I wondered if Ride-On was really still running. If so, a two-seat ride (Red line to RO 46) to White Flint or the Maxim Oriental Grocery in Rockville, MD, could have been adventurous possibilities. In lieu of that, we turned the kitchen into a bakery. For recreation, trips to nearby supermarkets. Oatmeal raisin cookies, white bread, walnut brownies, an adventure, came from the G.E. electric oven.

Part 4
I feel relieved of duty. A term that had fallen out of my vocabulary, "Free Reading", became an ever-present, ominous thought. What had been a waste of time last week became the best use of time today. For that matter, I could do anything I wanted. I had not felt this way before; during previous breaks, even on the first day, I let time loose. But I was booked and cooked. If there was not a big natural incident, right now I would have been a soloist at a concert in Rockville, MD. I would have, beforehand, explored the NCTM National Capitol Trolley Museum( on Bonifant Road. Yesterday, I would had a violin lesson. I still have the book of matches from church in my pocket. I hope they had enough for the day. WHAT I had thought throughout December was that my vacation starts on Monday. Like the delayed test, I was given a reprieve. Let's hope I make good use of tomorrow, and pray the Wall Street Hymn regarding access to the shopping malls:

Let the rivers run
Let all the dreamers
wake the nation
Come, the New Jerusalem

Silver Cities Rise
the morning lights
the streets that meet them
and sirens call them on
with a song...
(Carly Simon)

It's allegorical and metaphoric.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

NOAA's Arc

I knew it was supposed to come, either this winter season or the next. By the past predictaments, it was bound to happen. But in December for Christmas? Nor after exams? This predictament of a storm is unprecedented. Take, for example, the foretaste of a storm on Dec. 5. It was a Saturday. This time too, the storm blows an a Saturday. What a fine coincidence. Now with a snowy December, does this imply more big storms THis snow's a 7-year event. No future storm this season will match this one's greatness nor impact(wink).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

That Wasn't Falafel?

"You see, if we go to the nearest Waffle House now, we'll be back in time for class". "Where is the nearest one?" "I think that would be in Frederick (town in the mountains 40 miles from Washington)" (Group chuckle). "Yeah you get it". "I think there's something like that in Ballston (a transit-oriented development community 5 miles from Washington)" "That must be an IHOP" (More laughter).

Upon my quest for finding Waffle House jokes, I came across a legitimate (I think) company document. Waffle House Restaurants Now Accepting Credit Cards. What year? a 1986 doc that found its way to the internet? No, Feb 15, 2006.

“We wanted to make sure credit cards were here to stay before we started
accepting them,” said a VEEP.
Welcome to the future.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Half Day Wonders

Ah, it's exam time again. Yes, I go to a pre-Christmas exam holdout. The last day of the semester was uneventful, even stressful. It wasn't until 3:05pm that we realized what had happened- We were in exam mode.

It comes to a matter of Christmas parties or a merry Christmas.

The first two days are relatively school-like; 2 tests separated by an hour period, but after that, it becomes a one-test affair. Leave school at 10am, home by 11am to watch some daytime TV. Quite comical, since a lot of us on;y study for up to 5 hours on the night before an exam

Thursday, December 10, 2009

TRON, Road Test Version

In real life, things work perfectly so often that one doesn't know what to do when things don't go as expected. Simulators are meant to serve this purpose, when creating a real situation is out of the question. Of course, you can have a simulator that reflects the perfect world. THis is often used in the math and science worlds.

"You failed your drivers test!?"
"If you call it that"
"You know, I can't speak to you anymore"
"Well, you..."
"What did I say!?"
"start with a construction zone, and the
test inspector tells you you should have ignored..."
"You liar! There's no construction on the test course!"
"I took it in DC"
"City driving?"
"They would"

I was going somewhere new in Maryland recently, and passed by the Gaithersburg road test course. I suspected that it had to do something with bad drivers... I did hear though, that the test is routine, safe, quick and failproof. Maybe fail resistant. I even doubt that part of the test includes interaction with other bad drivers (that would look cool in a movie, when the staff coordinate over walkie-talkie to pesker the new driver) .

The grass is greener on the other side...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Who Me? Parks Department Chief?

The local papers have been running stories about the life and dirty laundry of potential heads of the Parks and Rec Department. I must say, my resume looks pretty good to take over the agency.

I get along with people (more so than a lot of city call centers)
I know the culture, the area, the people (I've lived in the area all my life; many positionseekers are from far, far away)
I have a lot of experience with the local government (22 weeks, or about 6 months of total experience)
I have a decent amount of experience in recreation
I'm most qualified on the ancillary part of the resume.
I'd have the potential for a long tenure (the pension plan would kick in at 46!)
I have a clean record regarding contracts and benefits and accountablility.
I'm a dreamer (Robert Moses, I'm taking your lead!)

(I'd be more specific if I knew that this was permissable by my DPR contract).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Name Switchers

Have you ever seen that show, Potomac 20854. Chances are, you have.

90210 is actually based in the Beverly Hills of the East, 10 miles northwest of Washington in Potomac, MD. The school is modeled off of Churchill High, a nationally top-raking public high school, and some references will be familiar to the Washingtonian.

When some movie website did a Brand Recognition survey of Potomac 20854, at least one person thought the show was about a vacuum cleaner. No, it's just the real-life 90210. Often, screenwriters (like myself) avoid using real palcenames for fear of legal retribution. So sending the title 2500 miles to the other side of America would help achieve this goal. Anyway, people recognize the Beverly Hill brand. You know, the one that's full of people with out-of-place mansions, luxury suv's and plenty of Botox to go around. I'm sure there are real people there like the ones in BH of the East.

The problem is that 20854 didn't seem to run smoothly off the tongue of the screenwriters. What about
20054 (two double-o fifty-four), the original zip code
DC 54 (In homage of the pre-zip system
River Road (in homage to the street that sees many luxury car accidents)

NCIS didn't come of as a runaway success, except in the DC area market, where the plot takes place.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cybershopping Monday

According to the "Complete Idiot's Guide to Start Your Own business" from 1998, we knew that e-commerce was on its way when we saw signs that

Santa is dot- comming to town.

The nice dot-com bubble from Web 1.0. Anyway, you can do your part to further the future!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Say it ain't so...

The editor of Greater Greater Washington pulled up a proposal for the future of the Washington Metro. The map came from the mid-'90's from a community politician. Most notably, "it envisioned a rich white person's subway", says the website's editor, noting the fact that the two new lines, the Beltway and a line from Annandale through the Northwest (and this politician's grounds) to Wheaton, which serves said demographic. Remember, these are demographics from 15 years ago.

This is in start contrast to the 'dreamer' maps of today, which focus on new lines to the 'underserved' esat side of town and mid-city. Of course, 15 years ago, a riot may have been around the corner...
Naturally, the 1968 riots caused many to flee the inner city, if not the city writ large. Development in the city, other than the construction of 'projects' for the displaced, was focused on downtown areas soon to be served by the multibillion dollar Metro. Most guys like Foulger and Pollin made their fortune in developing the northwestern suburbs, which yielded way to Washington's silicon valleys on the Dulles Corridor in Virginia and the I-270 Corridor in Maryland. Long story short, biotech and computer firms held more promise in the '80's and '90's than an arts district in a gritty neighborhood. If you build office space, will they move into the nieghborhood? No. 1992 riots. Put off hope of repopulating your inner city. And that was when this politician made the map.

Ranked by seriousness, it was only a practice activity for the consulting firm which probably drew it up pro bono.

The politician endorses big development projects but does not endorse the map.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Party Crashers, Washington Style

What a global warming's worth of hot air.

As a public house, the President, the cabinet, the secret service and the other elected officials have only so much control in restricting access. Unlike your private home, the White House is technically open to the public.

But there are a lot of bad people out there. Ever present was the barrel-rod fence on all four sides, which you aren't supposed to grab (the police tell kids that the fence is electric). There was always a security tent with magnetometers, and eventually Penn. Ave was closed to general auto traffic.

For the past few years, Congress has sided with Mr. Bush in limiting access by the public (something that seems to be constitutional). But back in the '90's, you didn't need to give a social security number for visiting, nor schedule well in advance. Indeed, there were free range tours.

Naturally, I was never on a guest list when I visited. Of course it's rude to crash a high-power party, but criminal investigations for harmless celebrities? Sounds like a show trial.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

ARRA Lives on

Here lies the site of the first project funded by the ARRA.
The ARRA funded 'shovel-ready' projects that individual
states could not afford.This project, developed in the midst
of the Great Recession of 2007-2010 by Senator then President
Barrack Obama, saved and created over 600,000 jobs and
led the nation to the future with things we thought we didn't need.

Sign posted on the 2034, 25th anniversary of the start of the project
on Interstate 70 Washington Spur at Antiteim Battlefield, known as
Eisenhower HIghway, National Pike, or Obamaway.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wrestling: Not That Boring

During my free period, I went out for some clean air and to complete a mission. Buy a Twix bar and deliver to wrestler before the match. I nervously used the price-check function and inserted quarters and dimes. $1.25. I pushed the code E-7 with the utmost care. Down came the bar. I put it in my backpack and the day went on.
Technically, we were let out 15 minutes early to do a pep rally for the talented wrestling team. In reality, I got there slightly late and the team did a little dance-around on the gym floor. In good time, it was over and we were free to go. Unusual for me, I lost track of the next 40 minutes and remembered playing in the orchestra as well as waiting in the wrestling antechamber.

I put the bar in a manila envelope, unsure of wrestling team policy. Some kids who shared the locker room with the wrestling team took a peek. I shared it with them. The lights, spare a dim flourescent, was off, and the wrestlers sat in a quiet circle. "I wonder if they're doing (bad things) in there". "Nah." Soon, though, a dozen of them came out in hardly anything at all. "The weigh-in". The team spent the day not eating, cutting their hair, shaving, losing water mass, however they could to cut their weight. Then I was approached. "Give it to me NOW I'm so hungry". Quick energy boost.

I made a phone call, fiddled a tune, and made it back in time to watch the show. THe reason I took the loss was that, er, expected to be paid back. So I fidgeted with the manilla envelope as our Panthers gravely bashed the Heights by wide margins.
[I was asked about the "yellow envelope". Nah, nothing official, really.]
Contrary to what I thought, the 2 minute matches were fast-paced. The two opposing wrestlers would jostle for a bit, then one would lunge for the other's legs, and then they were on the ground. Pretty soon one was on their front as the other tried to pin him on his back. Sometimes the tide would flip, and the aggressor was now the vulnerable. For a while the guy would struggle to keep one shoulder up off the mat, but eventually he was pushed down as the referee dashed from side to side for a better view. A slap on the mat and a whistle and a loud cheer. A pin. Point on the record now, and a safety pin on the Abbey Boy Wrestler's Varsity Jacket.

Tow sophomores of ours approached the scoring table, shook the coaches' hands and left. "A forfeit", I thought. I followed the two to the wrestling team room, where to my benefit there was no future master commander yelling orders at guests.
(I was summoned by BFF.
Well I summon you out.)
"So", I said shaking the manila envelope wide open, waiting for money to be poured in. "By Christmas", he said.
I sure liked the show. I thought that the promotion with the pep proved that wrestling is a cool spectator sport.

"Well", explained Little Brother, "our wrestlers sit at a dark table in the corner staring at each other and only eat, say, an egg for their meals. They're really strange". "You see, our wrestlers are the life of our party".

Monday, November 16, 2009

Retrojourney Through Books

Like any good home library, our home library collection encompasses past times. Take, for example, the zen in ________ books from the 1980's. Also from that time is the grand era of self help and dreams of money. Move to the early 1990's. What did that first family do to us? Gawking at the barcode scanner was the first step to make people reconsider their consumerist ways. After all, we didn't have to put on a show for the Soviets anymore. Maybe it was something else. Titles like "Living Cheap News" and "Tightwad Gazette" flourished with the tool called the computer. They, and others, were blatantly anti-consumerist. After all, do we really need to fill up our landfills with diapers? The fad didn't last long, and we got sick of cloth diapers and went out buying this new toy called the SUV, and subscirbed to this thing called the internet. Then there were the Dummies guide to living your e-life, and then, print media as we knew it vanished like the colony of Roanoke.

Well, luckily we forgot what sensibility was about.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Most rules suspended, except stop signs

In med school you learn about how the body works for the first year. Then you learn what goes wrong. The spedometer in the car went finkley recently and thus required a suitable rental vehicle to take a road test with. I seemed tro hacve solved the problem by ordering DMV service from an "AB Driving School", which operates in both DC and Maryland. Skip to this morning, I arrive at the RI Ave station, across the parking lot from the testing center, 7 minutes to 8. 8 as a rendevous time that would allow me to get acquainted with the vehicle for 15 minutes before the test. But they didn't show: a call found that they were utterly incompetent and nowhere near the DMV at 8:15. Cutting accross the parking lot, I found an ambulance and roadwork that blocked the exit. Upon further inspection coming around the other way, there was a federal case of roadwork. On top of this were a multitude of student driver cars with timid drivers proceeding at walking pace.

The DC road test is known to be infamously easy. I wondered what the route would be around the construction zone: maybe around the triangular parking lot. Donald the Road Test Inspector took a seat and asked to check Left flasher, right, then brake. Clumsily, I did right left brake. But that didn't really matter. He pulled the emergency brake, and then said to go: "I'll tell you where to go but not what to do, right out of the lot and left at the signal, and don't use your left foot otherwise I'll fail you". What? One foot driving? Never heard of that before. Tough love. Driving sort of like I was hopping on one leg, I causiously edge out of the parking spot next to a Dick's driving school car. At the junctio I come to a complete stop, just in case. A right turn out of the parking lot, a full stop before turning right on Brentwood. "Careful around the roadcrew", I muttered. Carfeful, too, to avoid being a lemmin going off the cliff, I avoid following a pickup that cut across what seemed to be the solid-line-marked median and I turned on the left flasher and he grabbed the wheel "Game over. Intervention", I thought. He pulled the wheel around the corner. I remember striking the brake with the left foot. He ordered for us to switch places. At this point and time, why bother putting the car in park? but I did an accidental or intentional notation error could happen. "You see, this is a living city. You can't live by the (driving) book. One day there's no construction, next day they're tearing up your street. (Yes, once I practiced parralel parkiong behind a steamroller.) You've got to prove to the city that you're in control. This ain't no countryside (there isn't much countryside in DC) the city is breathing. It changes. Now how wide is the lane?" "Usually 10 to 12 feet, the distance between the white lines or from the center of the roadway to the parked cars." "Nah. It's curb to curb. Now on a road like this (unmarked two-way with dual side parking), where would you drive? Sort of to the center right with enough space to let cars pass the other way and to make sure there aren't kids running from behind cars" "THe center. You see, You got to be the master of the road. You have to see ahead. Like back there, you should've seen that truck come from behind and make a turn (whups...missed that). Back at the circle you should've seen where you were going, that's why I told you a long time before where to go". He gave more spiel, and had some dialogue about driving in the moment. and he continued driving, smoothly and carefully around the block. Failure's route? We hit a cement truck. I mean, it blocked the street. You see that?, pointing to the faded double yellow that now went off the road, you wouldn't follow that, would you. The guy put down the new marking but didn't come around to taking off the old ones. It's a living city. Now, if the speed limit was 25 mph but everyone was going 35, how fast would you go? Um...I suppose I'd go with the flow of traffic. And at 45? Well...if I didn't avoid the road, then...I guess the same applies. And alone you'd go 25, right? Yes. He took his dented aluminum clipboard with him as he went to talk to my parental figures. "Yeah, we had a talk with the supervisor about the consturction zone, but it's a living city. He seems to be following the book, but some professional practice would help. And more about getting real life practicise. I asked about getting the score sheet. "We only give them to you when you pass. If something happened on the 3rd road test they'd want to look for a pattern". "Oh, and he wanted to know about the route and tips of the trade. If we gave that out, then we wouldn't know who could drive and who couldn't".

"He didn't mention the speedometer" Mommy said. "Well, he was baffled by the cement truck. But we didn't even get to paralel parking".
This inspirational coach story would have worked in a movie if it didn't involve a not-pass situation. Of course, situations might change. Lost paperwork, lack of completing the form, etc.

_______brentwood rd________



Friday, November 13, 2009


For American English speakers, that's fear of the number 13. And how appropriate is it that I have four friends with birthdays today.
I pointed out that a 13th floor doesn't diminish property values in pricey markets. Nor is the floor by pure essence of labeling and weaker than the 12th or 14th floors. There were also 13 people at the Last Supper.

There could be a scientific explanation to bad things happening on Fridays that fall on the 13th: There is nothing to fear than fear itself. That is, fear made you fail that quiz. Or just utter non-preparation. Or this- lighting bug repelant on fire to create a fireball for your Friday 13th ritual. Bad idea. The can could explode. Just an example. Make the day more unlucky. (Someone did post a live picture of the bonfire tonight).


Thursday, November 12, 2009

How much money shalt thou bring?

$2 for token participation in the Model UN fundraising event (hot drinks and donuts), of which I'll be going to school early to handle.

$5 for the tag day. I just learned that these were paired with dances to "make it more convenient" for stduents to wear their dancing attire to class- for a fee.

$5 for the RAVE. For some reason, student government does not approve of the student body's favorite DJ, DJZ ( Maybe Dionysis should get cracking to GPA (that's right, grade-point-average) reform instead of old spite. ($10 at the door)

Well, all that great stuff is still cheaper than a movie at so-called 'Chinatown'. It makes even more economical sense if you believe in the 'loot rail' theory.
(Crooks steal well-monied people's stuff and make a getaway on mass transit. This is based on the theory that crooks ain't got wheels. Evidence has shown that most crooks steal a car if they need one.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Show Must Go On!

It's a ritual that's been performed for millenia.

The mental condition that made you decide to hurt our life liberty and happiness does not let you off the hook

The state prosecuter was careful to dot I's and cross T's.

The governor (and the Supreme Court)respect the authority of the state court system.

Public consensus says...
We'd like to see you dead.

Oh, and there is a 100% chance that you're guily (not 99.99%)

You've gotten more attention than the average felon

And manage to cost more dead than to stay in prison for another 40 years.

While we no longer have public ceremonies, we make it up with media hype and the standard rituals:

Last Meal
Last Rites
Last Words
Last Breath
Last Heartbeat

Many states have outlawed formal, legal executions such as that which will be happening to our local sniper in a few minutes. Some more states have so throughly restricted it so that there's an insurmountable amount of red tape to hurdle, there's Texas Law. Or Virginia in this case.

The individual trials were spread among 3 governing bodies:
The trial happened in DC: We can't execute you.
The trial happened in Maryland: Now what if that aforementioned condition mitigated that thing you did? Did we catch you on tape? Is there DNA evidence? Now someone else could be framing you?...
So, the trial was focused in Virginia: It'd be an honor to continue this fine tradition.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Where have all the dollars gone?

Oh (boy), (Little Brother), I saw someone with an old $20 bill today. Not just the old black and white one, but the really old one. It made me really sad. [Oh, Atticus, did you do anything?] In fact I did. I asked the person to save it for me, and she gave it to me. [What?] Yes she did. I started to did through my wallet to scrupple enough change to make equal. I would have given that 1999 $5 bill away for it. She said "Don't worry about it. Keep your savings for college".

I have managed to collect every series bill in denomination of $1, $2, $5, $10, and even $50 from 1995. But why not $20? There's a reason: The two $50 bills were given as gifts for Little Brother and I for Christmas when Santa decided that I should start saving money. Those lower denominations were easy to pull from the wallet over the years, even the $10 on occasion. But as for the $20, there were emergency milk runs, "Hey, that's my Jackson", and other personal necessities that kept them from being saved. Well, I hope we saved this one from soon destruction by the Federal Bank.

There's a red seal $5 that's a family heirloom.
Disclaimer: The generous person who gave me the $20 was mommy.

The Vienna Quarterly Coin Show is going on tomorrow.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Spoof Alert

The Silver Spring/ Takoma Park MVA has started offering online road tests. The videogame format did not conform to state standards, said Ms. Fay Liu, who developed this new way of 'skipping the trip'. It's easy: all you do is have a friend film you while driving, and upload it to the website when you're done. The instruction sheet informs test-takers to announce what action they're making, so that the voice analysis system can grade the test. If you fail, you can make an online appeal to have the film reviewed by a make-work program participant.

Activists have applauded the move, saying that while banning new drivers altogether would be more effective in reducing global warming, the reduction of an oft-hated carbon-spewing trip is a step in the right direction. Why did Ms. Fay Liu come up with such a great idea. "Because I really don't like Ms. Bumper. I'd like to see her transferred to Gaithiersburg and deal with complaining customers there".

Ms. Fay Liu added that test-takers should eschew putting on makeup, excessive giggling, drinking from those big party cups, and excessive eyeballing of the camera. "Look, you just saved like 2 hours. You'll have time to do all that... at home". MVA officials have asked local videoediting shops to not edit the test films. "As for geeks who can do it by themselves, I mean, if they can fix a Mac, I'm pretty sure they'll be able to use a car", said Bubba "Babbling" Brook, a state legislator. "We might, though, consider putting a make-worker in each testing car to verify honesty. If they are incapable of knowing wrong from right, at least their extra weight will add another complication to the process of acquiring a motor vehicle operating licence".

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Carry Me Back

We don't pay enough attention to Virginia politics here, but since it's such an important day in Old Virginny, we had to cover this story.

Virginia and New Jersey hold their governal elections on off-year 1, that is, 1 year after presidentials. From surveys, it seems that the Republican candidates are going to win, altough liberal media sources are not willing to accept that.

So this is exactly how republicans win in red states: An unpopular democrat runs for reelection. He/she wins the party primary, hence the battle, but loses in the war*.

This is the case in New Jersy, but in Virginia, there are no second terms, so change of party in power is the way the cookie crumbles.

McDonough- hurt by ultra-conservative Master's thesis- Republican
Deeds- hurt by running smear campaign- Democrat

*I made a prediction a while back that this is what is going to happen in Maryland in 2010. Let's see what happens.

Monday, November 2, 2009

DST Horror

My cell phone was still an hour ahead at 8:26am. I fiddled with the buttions to no avail. But sometime during the day, it switched itself to the proper time. Now this extra hour we got yesterday was put to good use by wasted revellers, either still singing sin, drinking gin, or on the street, or in bed. But I was eager to get my math homework done. The day went on as normal. Sort of. An open house at school (the 50% of the student body who showed up still have yet to learn of their reward), an ensemble.

But with this new change in daylight savings time, there are a few problems (or as some say, concerns): Pitch black at 7am on Oct 31, the change time check battery mantra: is it anywhere near 6 months anymore? Loss of synchronocity with Arizona most of the year (they don't do DST).

And since I was up so many hours yesterday, I was real ready for bed at 10pm.

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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Hurrah for Youth Empowerment

Some oft quoted ideas

Allow everyone to register to vote at 16- current law in most stes allow you to register if you will be 18 by the next election. That may be as young as 16 or as old as 18. All 16 year olds are allowed to make political contribution (Hey kids, remember sending money to the Obama team? Maybe you were a Ron Paul fan or for Romney or maybe on the McCain Train)

Drinking age
If prohibition won't work then a country probably needs a drinking age
Let's make it 22. Your brain is more developed then than 21.
21 or military ID?
Let's let responsible college kids have a sip.
18 with completion of alcohol safety course (required for boating and driving in many states, why not have one for drinking responsibly), 17 with diploma (or otherwise proven responsible) to allow for younger freshmen. If they're going to do it anyway, why not make it legal

There are loopholes in many states, but to keep this site FAMILY friendly, they're not being listed here.

Smoking- consensus says: Just ban it.

PS If you're reading this post while driving or operating other large machinery WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING!

Monday, September 28, 2009

How to Slow Traffic

without speed bumps

Try putting in streetcar tracks. Georgetown has left about 8 blocks of streetcar track on two streets, unused since 1960, to do exactly that. And preserve history.

On the same note, the much, awaited delay of the opening of the new National Capitol Trolley Museum on October 18. Great- delay opening to conincide with the 40th anniversary of the museum's founding. But why is there a new museum? The streetcar was displaced again by the automobile. How ironic. The ICC Project (aka SR MD 200) is planned to plow right through the old museum site, as well as the 20-minute demo loop for riding the trolleys. But remember about all the modern social expenditures that are now attached to freeway building (I 110) ? The state was so obliged to do just that. What an ending.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Art of Eating Jello

After 3 months of helping people with their minor problems and issues over the summer, I found it quite different to encourage the irresponsible behavior that I had discouraged people from doing over the break. Spin around ten times and consume 2 cups of Jello. Yes, two cupfuls. In a competition relay race. Luckily for Main House, there were more than enough qualified people to do the deed. No, but in the vetting process for 4 contenders we had to determine the prowlness of each of us. So we determine the ability of the newest recruit, a foreign exchange student. "What's Jello?" "It's sweet and fruity." "Never ate it". "Well would you like to try Jello today". " Spin around and swallow? Nah". The creds of everyone else: A sucessful Jello run back in May. Closet gluts. I, a cream pie contest winner, was not as qualified as the other Mainers. For other houses, well, due to their lack in numbers and absentees and disdain for jello and gelatin, some members had to run twice, and, 4 cups of jello. I wanted to see that. Yes, I shouldn't want to, but it'd been something.

But it was intense. The spinning causes great disorientation, which really disorients the contestant. Thus, I was occupied reminding our fellows how to eat jello: head sightly back to supress gag reflex, not too far as to cause choking.

Yes, Main won the relay.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Time to spare

I will be getting home on a weekday before 5pm. What a novel concept. Since mid August, there has always been a soccer practice or game to conveniently occupy me. But now that I have this one day reprieve, what shall I do when I get home when banks are still open?

A freudian slip? Of course not. Find a roll of halves and a stack of $2 bills. That's my style. But why the reprieve? A victory on the field with four goals. Some thought the game was lost. The opponent was up 2-0. Then a comeback. 4-2, a sufficient pointage that we get to, well, not bring our cleats.

Well, happy house day, cactonians. May Main House conquer again. I mean, may the best team win.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


The stars must have been in alignment.
Or, maybe just day and night.

I suspected it first at 10am, when I was sorting through my "clientes", a latin word. Or, the people who owed me greenback. What I realized was that half of them weren't in class. So before I ruled on hookey, or write a thesis about the relationship between borrowing money from friends and sickness, I knew there was a wider trend. Sadly, I had to leave last period early for a soccer match. "Where's P.?", one asked. "Thought Alexandria was too far for a game." "Where's K.?" "Sick." Well, there goes some great players. Early in the game, our enduring goalie was injured in a successful attempt to apprehend a rougue ball heading for the rwrong net. Pretty bad, it seemed. Limped off the field with assistance, nurse on the go was radioed, ice bag given. Prognosis: A few days off.

A newbie goalie was put in. The alternative, K., as I said above, was sick. The fresh blood made 3 great saves. Final score 2-0 panther victory. A logjam over the 14 st bridge, home.

Happy equinox and a beginning of autumn.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

One Big Family

Is it really true that buildings do sometimes sell for $1? Yes. And do they have scary terminology attached as a condition of sale for the price of a candy bar? You betcha with liens and tax requirements, etc. This leads me to question the realisticness of the 'urban novel', The Young Landlords. Set in 1979 Harlem, these peskery 15-year-olds get served with a tenement building I haven't finished reading, and am far from it, but there are some disagreements brewing...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bankers Sequester High Value Items

Or, more accurately, tellers have a propensity for taking collector coins out of circulation. I went to Riggs Bank in Georgetown, the oldish landmark on M and Wisconsin, to to see if they had any of those large dollar coins, the ones made up to 1978 before the Carter Quarter (Susan B Anthony Dollar) was introduced. I was hoping to pick up a few Ikes, maybe even one of the big old silver ones that a silver certificate would get you. But, they didn't have any at hand. They didn't check the vault, but they were sure they didn't have any. Then the senior teller came and told me, "We don't get many of those anymore. When we do, we like to keep them for ourselves. Go to a dealer to get them." So that verifies one roll hunter's suspicion. Count me lucky that I was able to get a roll of silver from a bank that one time.

Solution: go find a bank with tellers who don't know a hoot about coins, or a bank that strictly forbids their staff from doing this practice.

Friday, September 18, 2009

To Make an Empire

Did you notice how half our class plans to run for school office in the Spring?, queries one affindat. No, like in the future, we're going to like run the world. I mean, half of us will run the world and the other half will take it over. Everyone's going to know about that group of kids from St. A's.

Picking from a potential pool of 150 is a lot different than luring from a pool of 20,000. I don't understand why we do it, but we play games with the premier DC public school. In the meanwhile, we lose 1:2, at best.They live in various environments, from the realm of lawyers and local politicians to the diversified masses, including art majors. Many come from joke-worthily homogenous society with dabblings in science. The tech corridors. STEM. Maybe I bring it up to the wrong people: Let's be the first denizens of Science City. "Shaddup". A truer friend brought the issue up: Audiences. Yes, these people who only think of rap and b-ball are the ones who aren't the future powerforce. But as for the deep-thinking investment club or the worldly Model UN, there might be my audience. Indeed, the way the investment club analyzed Ford (F) stock as a good investment, they have a bright future.

Whom do these leaders follow? Their older cousins? No- there's a STEM shortage, an Priveledged generation, sure. Rebellious, sure. Concerned about the environment and social welfare? As a card in the wallet (more than none, less than a whole life). Likely to end up working and partying as a Zappo clerical? Not the '90's man, or lady. In an attempt to mantain a lifestyle provided by our helicopter
Not the last generation. Those goths! I invision being their boss, really. Positivity is the road to success. Our parents? Our grandparents? Our emigrant great-grands? Family values pass on like dna. Generations. See that one of investment club speaks for his friends' and brothers' suburban class scism cause (for example, Montgomery Co. east of Creek vs West of Creek). Four points: he seems cool headed and not a populist. And, he's a stable conformer (not a big-government type). It's also egalitarian- raise our standards but don't paracite the already successful. He reads the Wall Street Journal and is economically 'realistic'.

Young people are what we need. Moldable. We need x more y-careerees. They're consumerist, and the glut on the way out will need houses. Oh, and all these houses (or most of these spare houses) are in suburbs. Granted, some of these exurban developments are helpless, but we can return the orginal meaning of the suburbs of the convenience of city living with the ease of country life (this was the 1920-1950 slogan). Thus, the quip by Harvard legacy and Bethesda (inner-burb) resident that the young people will move fvrom suburbs to city, according to my evidence, is incorrect. Maybe the first tax hike or bag fee will put them on the outbound train (You must believe that Big Government at all levels is harmful to our values!).

The demigods in the sky:
Technically, there is no reason why industrial execs can't live the high life. There is really no reason why manufactory has to be done in developing countries. These days, there is a bulge of ready-to-work workers in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania who have experience in the manufacturing and heavy indusries. Yes, college-spiff degrees lead to a flavorful landscape with a wide variety of careers from banking jobs to art jobs. But there isn't an overwhelming demand for art. Fortunately, as we reemploy former factory workers into modern plants, they will retire, and we'll need replacements. Pull them straight from the high school gown at 17 or 18 or 19 and make them 40-year company men or ladies. We'll save middle america and restore the way things used to be with stability and American Industrial might. The things that made the 20th century great. O little town of Bethlehem PA!

So, if you believe in what I said above, you seem to have a good shot at success

-Atticus Sawatzki, motivational coach.

To Make a Tag Day

It seemed like people were nowhere to be found. There was a fire drill, 8:35am. The results and observations will be reviewed by the School Safety Comittee. At least 70% of students came in 'Tag', and were levied $5 a head. No cut-arounds, though. All entrances were made into obstacle courses to help discern the people who think levy hooky is a fun game. All in all, well over $600 would have been collected, with a very good profit margin, that we as students should see in coming months. FYI, I don't do $5 tags. I point out that at $3, more people would be akin to paying, and that would result in more money? No, the market saturation is complete. Maximum revenue has been gained. Not to say I'm not charitable: I plan to make a contribution to the Model UN Fund, which I encourage all students who have a stake in the club, or in the free world for that matter, to do.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A More Intellectual Night Out

"Let's go to the JHU place at Sceince City and watch cells multiply, then, we can watch a techincal presentation on neurology as we eat 'dippin' dots'." That's the sceince cityt lifestyle. Just like Tyson's Corner is remaking itself from blacktop and office towers and a fantastic mall into a full-service city (that is not totally contained within the mall), Montgomery County, Md, just across the river, wants to turn a starship research cewnter, The Shady Grove Life Science Center (it already has a Metro station nearby!) into a 24-hour destination. Granted that it's already a 7am (some scientists like to start early) to 1am destination (some scientists try to get home for dinner). It'll cause a traffic jam! It'll be like Tyson's Corner! Then there is, "It will be a fabulous opportunity to show that Montgomery County is a first-rate center for research (it already is).", claims some.

On the plans is to include high-desity residences, an entertainment center, hotel, and research space, and so on.

Science has done so much for us and the world, prolong our lives, debunk prejudice, make the world a better place, and so on.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

American Jokes

I love America. I'm not laughing at it, but with it. These jokes sum up some stereotypes about Americans: Stuffed, gun-toting, cupiant, affluent, overlyprotective, and on...

"1. Only in America......can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.

3. Only in drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.

4. Only in people order double cheese burgers, large fries, and a diet coke.

5. Only in banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counters. "


How many American tourists does it take to change a light bulb?

Fifteen. Five to figure out how much the bulb costs in the local currency, four to comment on "how funny-looking" local lightbulbs are, three to hire a local person to change the bulb, two to take pictures, and one to buy postcards in case the pictures don't come out. (Ibid)

Why is an astronaut like an American footballer?
They both like to make safe touch-downs.

These four guys were walking down the street: a Saudi, a Russian, a North Korean, and a New Yorker.

A reporter comes running up and says, "Excuse me, what is your opinion about the meat shortage?"

The Russian says, "Excuse me, what's meat?"
The North Korean says, "Excuse me, what's an opinion?"
The Israeli, says, "Excuse me?? What's excuse me?"
The American says, "What's a shortage?"


Friday, September 11, 2009

Game in the mist

I pulled this school-spirit Haiku for the 9th grade Haiku competition. School spirit can't be turned down.

Big brown flying ball
gliding into the basket
Panther Victory

I pulled this silver bullet against one of those really deep-thinking writers: those 3 haiku he used were his gems: I only had 2 gems, so I fell out of the bracket that round. He likewise fell out in the next round, having run out of 17-syllable pearls.

After grabbing a short violin session (which, to an end did not make the conductor happy), Because of laws that restrict how many people a non-CDL driver can carry, some of us (including I) had to catch a ride over to WIS with drivers who had limited licenses that provided for one or two passengers- what a waste of space on the road and the environment. I was nervous as to whether I would field at all- a matter of center 'd' or center bench- a preposterous thought. You don't do that in some sports. Basketball maybe. But wait, I had to grab a red jersey from the athletic director. Well, I made it back in time. Edmund Burke, a 'small' radical, freethinking, call-your-teacher-by-first-name school, doesn't have its own field. While both Burke's and the Panther's uniforms were very similar, no one had problems identifying who was who. Judging a book by its covers in a way did work. Anyhow, an amazing shot that rattled the net. Panthers up 1. But don't forget- right after scoring is the most vulnerable time for the goalmaker. Change of possession, a high head, and a vengeful opponent can call for a quick turnaround. Goal two. With some certainty, one can say that the score will be 2-1 before 3-0. It happened. But it's good that they got to get the sensation of success. Three more shots, and the game was over.

Before 20 minutes, all players who came out to the game had rotated in. That includes me. Center midfield. Objective: Keep ball ahead of you. Pass if needed. Receive if called upon. Moved the ball forward a few times, received a leg to the ab, lost a pass once, a faulty pass directed to me that was easily taken by the opponent but swiftly recaptured. I don't know how long I was in the play for, but it felt short. I must have been in for at least 7 minutes though, I think. It must have also been a sort of important position, as some denied that I played there (yes, I replaced Peter). A goal wasn't made on us at that time. I did enough.

I was in for the penultimate rotation in the second half, right midfield. More success. The drizzle provided for chilly hands, but that was nothing like what winter brings. The position called for lots of running up and down the field, and some drive to change possession. If I had considered stopping for four seconds t take a breather, then I would have lost some of that momentous drive for the ball. It worked a few times, but I would also say the god of Astroturf sent a few stray balls my way, which, I made good use of. A hairy defensive moment, calling out suggestions as to handle the ball, "Kick it up (to the offensive line), do not cross center (so as to not risk a one-touch shot by the opponent)".

Final score, 5-1, Panther Victory.

A shake of hands with Burke's players, congratulating them for giving us an excellent game.

Well, they were never enemies, only opponents.

Monday, September 7, 2009


A relaxed environment that is welcoming to interaction. That's what a cubicle was designed to be. First marketed in the 1970's, the modular form of architecture made transformation of office spaces easy- no costly wall modifications, and allowed for better use of open plan spaces. Well, the concept of making a 'better' environment for employees dissipated as space managers sought to economize on space. 9x9 is a good size these days... And in the strip Dilbert, they are ridiculed and compared to prison cells, especially when combined with bright white overhead fluorescent lighting.
Then there is the counterrevolution. Open work space with no assigned workspaces. What a radical idea. Curvature!

How can we keep the conformist look but increase morale and further economize? IKEA furniture- a decent table can be obtained for $50, and a chair $10. But the chair is what counts. I have this nice $60 manager's chair. It's fluffy, it twirls and rolls. So let's add one of those. People who need privacy can hang hangings from the ceiling panels, if they still exist in the 'contemporary' workplace. That's about 15% the cost of a standard $2000 cubicle. Or some people are revolted by the sedentary lifestyle of deskwork. Let's take away the chair.
Or let people byof- bring your own furniture from home, as long as it fits in the 'virtual boundaries' of your workspace. A door? Maybe.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Where have I been? What have I been doing? This stretch from Sept. 1 may have been my longest unexcused hiatus of speech on this blog since July 2007. What have I been doing? School lots of it. Don't remind me of Wednesday- first full day of school. Start with the school day, add a soccer practice, a scrapped knee and a violin lesson across town and the initiation rite of homework from a lot of new teachers. Tuesday? I was in an aggressive homework mode. The English? Well, I had one night to make sure it was reader perfect. Good time investment, got a solid A on the stack of papers. And as I heard from a senior- annotations in the margins! (Your teacher) loves it!
So after a partly leisure day at the library, I'm being called back home. It was no rush. No clear objective. I took at least an hour cruising the web, scouring satellite photos to ID an abandoned railroad, wondered at the marvel of the forward-thinking (and now old-looking) Penna. Turnpike, read about the Nissan Pavilion and Kingman Island, spend an hour munching on a bagel and reading the college paper (Blue and Gray, to give a hint where I was), and blogging as I wait to catch a bus, and doing homework assignments.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Procrastination, Hiatus

I interrupt my regular post, "The costs of building a responsible freeway" to bring you an update on the swirling ideas in my head.

Taking the engineering design process which I so fervently learned in Penna. in July,
Let's take $100. What can we do with it to make it bigger?

Heat it up so the molecules expand- it's bigger, but the value does not increase
Give a loan- I'm always nervous when giving loans, whether $1 or $10.
Give a microloan- the young entrepreneurs I know are studious about timely payback- "Bis dat qui cito dat" (Latin for "Who gives back quickly gives twice")
Look online and start a home-brewed business with it- cut out the middleman/lady who receives the microloan

Ahh, I almost forgot about the nice 70 degree weather outside. First time since May I wore long sleeves.

Here's the scoop:

Well, last day of summer vacation

Friday, August 28, 2009

A feeling

I could go on about what happened yesterday involving a smartcard and a pink piece of paper but I will not, because I don't feel like thinking much today. 5 days away from the pool and I've lost sense of time, the days, the number of the day, and the sense of completion. However, today, I feel as if I did everything I needed to in order to be ready for class Tuesday, 8am. No, it's a welcoming mass, I think. I have not yet written my memoirs, neither on any fanciful tale, yet I feel as if I did something today.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I've been thinking: three days off and I haven't done much useful. I try to monitor my time, but it disappears. I don't want to blame soccer practice, which has me out at 4pm and in at 9:30pm.

I'm usually ready to go at 9:30am

Monday- achieved close to nothing. Ok, it's my first nothing day.

Tuesday- get saran wrap and aluminum foil. Chase a hothead three blocks to make him apologize to me for the inappropriate thing he said to me

Wednesday- go to Capitol Visitor Center, get school supplies. Waste time on internet.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Is it Real or Am I Dreaming?

There are those days where you feel out of your head. That's happened to me before- usually when very sick or dehydrated. You see in slow motion and it's an OBE experience. But does it happen at other times?

When I question: What is the meaning of parents, life dreams. When I question the fact of reality. When life is like a dream. I dream in sleep sometimes of hitting a jackpot find of great numismatic value. But it's never real. Until now.

I was at the bank, and the tellers and I were volleying about the government's postdated check. They claimed that I had to wait til tommorrow, but I argued that since they already held my checks for over a week, and they took them before, that they should take mine today. Must be a manager's peeve fad of the day, like making sure the patrons don't wear underwear under their swimwear, or something like that. So I remember the Dilbert comic about tellers encouraging customers to use the ATM, so I did. I was nervous about handing the check to a machine, but the ATM scanned the check and verified the amount. Since it was after 12noon, it'll be processed tomorrow- thus alleviating their complaints about a post dated check. So I can load my transit smart card, I withdraw a $20. I go to the post officelet that was across the hall and planned to break the $20. The clerk didn't like the thought, and another customer insisted that he pay for my 2 44 cent stamps and suggested I go to the teller. SO I take my 20, and since I'm sort of eccentric, asked for a roll of halves and two practical fives. It took them a while to procure the roll. It was a raggedy one that a customer must have brought in, so I went to count them. By George some were silver. The momentum carried my lazy legs 5 blocks. I take out a five to load my card on the bus. By double George one had a star (also a currency collector's delight, especially in higher denominations).

I got home, and found the whole roll was 40% silver halves. A better hit than anyone I've heard of on the Web. I wondered how this could be real.

Now I have no money to spend.

Thing is, I didn't want to go through the hassle of delivering the check safely again to the bank, which was 7 metro stops away from home.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Back to 1993

I was only half alive back then. No, I was born, but had no idea on affairs at that time. It seems like Mindy Cameron did something brilliant, Mumbai was Bombay, Beijing was still commonly Peking. AND there was this Great Healthcare Reform of 1993-4. It really sounds like the 2009 plan, except that the promoters were not among the most liberal people in politics (Remember, in the political circle, the extreme far left end of liberal merges with socialist, and Americans don't like that concept). Businesses wanted to hack off healthcare costs, hospitals wanted to shuck costs for treating poor, uninsured patients to the government. So Mrs. Clinton heads a task force to research the matter. But the big theme of the era was fiscal responsibility, and as now, people took the plan to be expen$ive and big-government oriented. Reaganism? Within 18 months, the idea was dead, and Mr. Clinton moved on to other things.

SO what would the Sans-Culottes say? From what I know, I suppose they'd approve responsible spending. But healthcare services back then were extremely limited and for the wealthy, and likely lethal. While the national leadership wasn't on fire for building palaces for themselves (in 1993 USA), the concept was (1793 France) that responsibility and liberty mattered. Big government bad.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Fashion Trend of the 2010's!

It's the fashion trend that's taking this decade by storm! In the age of the "new Normal", where practicality is in vogue and frivolous spending is out of style, scrubs, which used to be typically worn only by those in the medical community, have seen a rise in popularity. It is a local legend that residents of Bethesda started the trend, which then caught on in trendy Potomac. "You'd see people inside that fence (around the NIH) frolicking in the grass in scrubs of all different colors. They looked like Easter chickens. So free in movement, the local jogging club started wearing scrubs as jogging gear. Well, then our rich neighbors started doing the same. I mean, if a multimillionaire trial lawyer wears scrubs to the cocktail party, it must be the trend." It was not too long later that the posh stores of Chevy Chase, 2 miles south of the NIH, started selling these work clothes. Neimus Marco currently carries 3 lines of scrubs in the $200-500 range.

But they are not just toys of the rich and fabulous. They can be found at your local Buck Chuck starting at $10 a piece. The scientific community is weighing in on this latest trend. Says a psychoanalyst, also wearing a white scrub with jacket, "It makes one feel as if they are doing something for the community" But warns a podiatrist, also wearing a set of scrubs, "Wearing high heels and scrubs at the same time can lead to trips, falls, and broken toes".

Scrubs have been identified as some to be the agent of depersonalization. "If you've ever watched a scifi movie..." says a Trekkie. But the Committee on Un-American Affairs has assured Americans that there is no traces of communism have been found in this trend. "You get a choice of over 6 colors, and even get choices of different designs. Cartoon characters with bandages are a very popular design." The Plutotentron community has been reported to assign scrub colors to people based on caste. "That's a sad fact", said Mr. McCarthisipi, "but that's not my committee's problem".

Fashion analysts from the fashion Institute of Fashion say that the trend may have originated from the plethora of medical drama and reality shows of the past decade, including Scrubs, M.D., Gray's Anatomy, ER, House, M*A*S*H, and 20 years of school and I'm still not a real doctor yet.

Medical supply company FemoScrubTron says that some medical professionals are resorting to using togas in light of the shortage. "If you or a loved one has an extra pair of scrubs, please consider donating it to us. We'll give you a free catheter for it "

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Naming Your Post-Apocalyptic Supercompany

Take a fancy number prefix, such as Tera, and add to name referring to planets or space in general or some technical term. This could be Farad, an unit for the capacitor.

So, Terafarad Evil Company

Now you can take over the world and make everyone submissive to you. I don't know how the big companies take over the world, I haven't read '1984', but the means is up to you.

Or, I like this one... large number, Googleplex, generic techy sounding name, Tron

Well, there's already a Google that some say invades their privacy and is chewing up the internet as its own domain. So there you go.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

State Drinks

There's more political sponsorships and controversies than just state songs.

So here's a few good ones

20 states have their state drink as milk. Just wait for a lactose intolerant politician to have to be a poster child for the benefits of drinking milk. I suppose some of these states don't produce much milk.

2 states have alcoholic drinks: California Wine and Alabama Whiskey (although Alabama does say it's the state spirit)
What about the children?

There's Tomato, Cranberry, and Orange juices. The latter two may be obvious choices(Massachusetts and Florida)

One corporate sponsorship, Moxie Cola from Maine. Haen't heard of them? At least Georgia did not give 'Coca-Cola' a boost.

Kool Aid from Nebraska

and water from Indiana.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Little Maryland: Dreaded Math Word Problems

Sharing 3/4 of its border with Maryland, DC has a symbiotic relationship with that state. When an urbanist blogger/journalist complains that East of the River (pop. 150,000) is devoid of supermarkets, commenters ridicule him/her: There's at least two each of Food Lion and Giant within 3 blocks of the 'invisible' border. Then there's the tax game: Initiator: "Let's raise taxes. I'll look good when everyone validates me when they raise theirs" Follower: "Our tax rate is at par with this other state. Because of this there will be..." That's what DC is doing to combat revenue loss (and leak: A political game of follow the leader; increasing the sales tax from 5 and 3/4 of a penny to 6 pennies.

So Mary Lou buys a $.75 candy bar in a Maryland store. This is back in 1998, the tax rate is 5%. What did Mary really pay?

Take 10% (move the number to the right by 1 decimal place) and cut by two, add to final. If decimal, round up, that's the way they like it.


Mary Lou's sister, Mary La, buys the same candy bar at $1.09 in the same Maryland store. This is in 2008, tax rate is now 6%. What did Mary really pay?

Do as above, and throw on a 1% (move number to right twice)

5%= 11 cents
1%= 1 cent

12 cents + 1.09 = 1.21

Mary La's brother, Doc, figures it's better to buy his candy in DC, where the tax rate is 5.75%. He goes to Balducci's (to eliminate need to adjust for so-called 'poverty tax') and buys a $4.29 imported Belgian chocolate.

This is a toughy. Take 5%, 22 cents, add the 1%, split that by four and take three parts of it (.04/4= .01 -> .03) The total price is $4.54.

The tax rate goes up to 6%. Now what does he pay? $4.55, and less brainwork.

Virginia, Doc's cousin, buys a 'dixie stick' at the State Fair Shop. The tax rate is 4%, the candy is $.25

Take 1% and multiply by four
Or use 'old math' to get 1 cent as tax for a whopping total of $.26

Della, the other cousin, buys a hoity-toity designer chocolate box at Christiana Mall in Delaware, whose tax rate is 0%. The candy is $19.99. She give the clerk $20.00. How much does she owe the clerk?
In this case, the clerk owes Della a penny.

People from the slide-rule age say that keeping zeroes straight in their head is easier for them than calculator folk

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The time they sleep

Getting your sleep is important. But how do I get it?
If I go to bed like about now, yes, I'll get over 8 hours of sleep before getting up. That sure is plenty enough. But does the time really matter?
Can you break it up over the day?
I don't know; I've heard different things, and I'm not that good of a napper.
Except that time in March when I had a 24 hour flu and fell to sleep at 6 pm
Then there is the sleep cycle theory- 5 stages of sleep. When the alarm clock goes off and you're in stage 1, you're ready to go. 2,3, hard to get up, can't get back to sleep real quickly if you wanted too, though. Two extra minutes help. 4 or 5, you can slip back to sleep easy, but if you have to get up...
I'm thinking of getting that wrist thing. It senses movement and will wake you up a bit earlier if it's a good time.
But the older you get, the less stage 5 (REM dreaming) sleep you get. Less memorable dreams. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


A tisket a tasket
5 packs of filler paper in a basket
total cost
I don't care
It's really really fair

Say, 5 cents?

Makes me feel like I'm in the 18th century at staples.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pentagon Transit Center, 5:27pm

A sunset view of the Potomac
A guy blocking the path of a commuter bus in a vain attempt to gain admission, as in Tienanmen Square.
The neat lines of passengers on some routes, and the disorderly blobs of others.
The procession of buses of all different county flags and colors.

But, no unauthorized photography on Pentagon grounds, so words will do.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

New City

We may meet America's new 10th largest city. Larger than San Jose and smaller than Dallas, it's Fairfax City, just 10 miles from Washington, # 25 largest city. For starters, Fairfax County is an accumulated strip mall subdivision, with lots of sprawl and crawl that happens to have good schools and great other things. So it would also be America's richest (large) city. But why would they want to become what people think of a city. a "grimy place" Isn't the arts venue enough? It's about independence for spending. But sadly, it's not a one-step process. Counties in Virginia with lots of people can't just make a city. For some reason like fear of the reins.

There is a Fairfax City in existence already - the population of it, by incorporation of the rest of the county, will increase to over 1 million.

Downtown? Tyson's Corner Mall. Or for the upscale, the Galleria across the street.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Found In Change

A mercury head dime was found by a certain Mr. Ross a few years abck in the dusty field of lower central park. Blackened by years in the dirt the 1944 was still a surprise for us all.

An Indian Head Cent from 1899 was also found by a certain ntfletch's grandmother, as he relayed to me.

As I reloaded my Smartrip card with nickles and dimes, I checked the coin return and found a 1942 war nickle- a good amount of silver in it, characteristically dull gray.

PS- Mars Candy Company is giving away .25 million free candy bar coupons on Fridays starting at 9am (I guess to give the West Coasters a fair shot during daylight hours)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Seldom Flier

You know you haven't been on a plane in a while if...

You expected not to pay for your first two bags of luggage
You think the drinks and peanuts are free
You licked your chops in anticipation of the meal, also free
You call the flight attendant "stewardess"
You think the pilot's all jolly about his paycheck
You read the inflight magazine because there's no better entertainment
You thought smoking was allowed on board, and there was a lounge to do so in.
You call for a blanket and pillow, and expect to not shell out a Hamilton- or swipe your card
You deny that a plane can make it from DC to Alaska nonstop
You refuse to believe that transcontinental flights are $189 (plus taxes and fees)
and that transatlantic flights are the same price.
You thought you were still on the ground because the takeoff was so quiet.
You believe that the stewardesses are registered nurses
You think the average flier's outfit is scandalous

Like Daddy

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Whole 9 Yards

It's not wise to bet against a remarkable US recovery. If one had bought a handful of stocks in February, when the news was pelting feel-bad news at you, a half-of-average rate of return at this time would be a whopping 16%. I'm not here to talk about money, though.
These days, the news establishment runs those fell-good stories. Ain't it all bright and merry? Obamacare hits a snag. At least someone cares about running deficits.

Think Positive

Friday, July 24, 2009

Forecast 2010

DISCLAIMER: The atticussawatzki blog does not typically take sides on politics. This is not apathy:it's just an open forum for discussion.

Who's in and who's out

Conservatives gain seats in House and Senate. Many view one-part control of the three branches as a speeding train without brakes. Even with an economic recovery, people are spooked by the Summer of 2009- socialized medicine in the works? Obama is still likable.

Va. Gov. Tim Kaine gets a job in the White House.

Md. Gov. Martin O'Malley is voted out of office for all the things he did incorrectly (just things)- and was able to do a successful 2012 presidential bid is out of question.

DC Mayor (and maybe future governor) Adrian Fenty is reelected with plenty of room to spare- even though opponents try to start a rumor (it happens every cycle)

MoCo County exec Ike Leggett makes it; claims he helped county fight budget crisis and blames Mr. O'Malley for everything that he couldn't fix single-handedly. His new private office bathroom wasn't too politically scarring.

Rep. Norton (DC) gets more representation

George Bush enjoying himself in Texas.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Berkeley of the East

Takoma Park is split into three parts: Takoma (Park) DC; Takoma Park, MD in PG County; Takoma Park, MD in Montgomery County. But it's all the same : Berkley of the East.
It is, after all, a Nuclear Free Zone: it does not do business with companies pertaining to nuclear weapons, and will soon not do business with nuclear power (bye bye power company, enjoy your natural-wax candles at night). I'm waiting to see a wind turbine sprout up beside the Metro tracks. I guess they'll enjoy burning coal til bad things happen. But there are charming things, like, well, I haven't visited in a while. People accepting each other, some community spirit (the republic of Takoma Park)

Takoma Park, MD in PG County was merged into Montgomery County, thus giving access to the higher-ranking and notorious Monkey Blair. Further plans of merging Takoma Park, DC into MD are still under discussion...

(The title originally read Berkley)