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.