First, am I alone in thinking this is a very cool clock?
And second, the heating repair guy is finally coming to my apartment tomorrow morning. I am very lucky that my boss is cool enough to let me go into work late so that I can be here to facilitate the heating of my home. It sounds very sad that, nearing the Ides of December, I am just now getting heat. Between this and the post about my plumbing, it must sound like I live in a dive in the ghetto. I don't. But it's true that I have no heat in my apartment, except for some space heaters in my bedroom and bathroom. So Edison and I have to bundle and cuddle in the living room to avoid freezing in the evenings, and that has gone on long enough. So here's hoping it won't go on much longer.
No, I'm not one of those "Draft Gore" people who wants to see Al Gore run for president in 2008. I don't intend this post to try to sway any of you on green issues or issues of politics - even though I do think it shows that Gore isn't the stiff, pompous, self-important person that a lot of people make him out to be. I just think this is hard-core funny and want you all to see it. I would love to embed it in my blog, but I can't find a code to do so because of Universal copyright issues. It's on Huffington Post now, but go quick because who knows how long it will last.
I'm back. Saturday night, I dragged my tired self across the threshold of my front door and collapsed, finally home from a week of Greenbuild madness - fantastic, exhausting, chaotic madness. I was ready for the weekend - it would be a weekend of couch-sitting, TV-watching, Internet-playing, and most of all, sleeping.
But it wasn't. The chaos of Chicago gave way to the frustrations of everyday life. And I'm pleased to say I took them as they came, rolled with the punches, and have earned the right to post this somewhat whiny post.
It's really just two things that made the weekend mildly stressful, but they sucked. The first was that my cell phone - my relatively new, fun, trendy, expensive Chocolate from Verizon - broke. Last April was the first time in my life that I had allowed myself to splurge a little on a phone and venture beyond the cheapest one I could find. And the screen went out not seven months later. So I trekked into the cold dark Saturday night into downtown Washington, which is surprisingly dead on a weekend night. (Downtown is the area around the Capitol, the K Street lobbyist offices, etc. etc. - the surrounding neighborhoods are where all the weekend action is.) I got to Verizon just before it closed and plunked down $150 for a new phone - the cheapest I could get, since I was not eligible for the two-year contract renewal phone discount. Ugh.
Then today, a problem that I had noticed festering for a while but had not done anything about came to a head. For about two weeks, whenever I would shower, I would notice a little water pooled up around the base of the toilet. At first I thought that I was just not closing my shower curtain enough and water was splashing out, but soon it became clear there was a little leakage in the plumbing. But by then it was time to go to Chicago, so I figured I'd deal with it when I got back. In the meantime, the problem got a lot worse. When I flushed the toilet, water would bubble up from the bathtub drain, and when I tried to plunge that water back down, it would dribble out from the base of the toilet. I called a plumber, and by the time he came, it was pretty gross. He pulled my toilet up and cleaned out the pipes with a 100-foot snaking machine, which was pretty awesome to see.
Turns out, the blockage was coming from a wad of those disposable wet wipe things. The plumber told me that even though they say they are disposable, you are best not to flush them. I have used those things in the past, but not since I moved here, so I know they must have come from the neighbors upstairs. A little consolation knowing that I wasn't the culprit. But let me offer you the wisdom of experience: If you've never had your neighbors' poop floating in your bathtub, consider yourself lucky.
Greenbuild is our annual conference where our members, the media, people in the building and design industry, government officials, and pretty much anyone else converges on a different city (this year, Chicago) to learn about the latest and greatest in the green building industry. This year, we are expecting more than 20,000 people.
My duties will include staffing the press room, helping the crew filming Discovery Channel's Eco-Town reality show find interviews and stuff, and blogging. That's right, I am one of two people who will be blogging about the happenings at Greenbuild on our Greenbuild365 site. The blog is here. (Don't laugh at the picture.) My focus is on residential- and consumer-related stuff, so, you know, enjoy that. :)
And I'm sure there will be lots of other stuff for me to blog about here when I get back Friday. Wish me luck!
A long-lost friend from St. George tells me I look like this guy. And I think I kind of agree.
Did you ever notice how, when people tell you you look like someone, you always think you're supposed to say, "Nuh-uh, no I don't." Why is that? It's not like it's necessarily a compliment, but people always respond like it is, and like they're obliged to humbly disagree.
So that's why, even though it inexplicably feels strange, I am going to agree that this guy, whoever he is (and his blog actually seems kind of funny, and now has a tentative spot in my blogs bookmarks), does look a little like me. What do you think? Comments, please!
The pace at this new job is very different from the pace I'm used to in the newspaper biz. Well, not so much the pace - it's all pretty fast-paced - but the pace of the results. As a reporter, I could write one or two, and sometimes three or four or even five, stories in a day and see them in the paper the next day, a quick, clear, concrete manifestation of the earlier day's work.
Today, almost exactly a month after my first day at work, I got my first concrete sense of accomplishment: We launched Build Green Schools, the first of two Web sites I will oversee and the first of five new Web sites we plan to launch in the next month. The concept is simple: It's a Web site that gives everyday people - students, teachers, parents, school administrators, elected officials, and all sorts of regular citizens - the information and tools to advocate in their own communities for green schools. (Green schools, by the way, are schools built with a focus on clean indoor air, safe building materials, lots of natural daylight and fresh air, low energy and water use, conservation and recycling of building materials, etc. etc. It's about healthy students and teachers and a place that's very conducive to learning as much as it is about protecting the environment.) My role in the site was pulling all the content together, writing a lot of it and editing what was written by people in our LEED for Schools program. I put it all up on the site, dealt with sorting out links and images and things like that, gathering all the news coverage of green schools, and just sort of overseeing the whole process. From now on, my role will be maintaining it - any changes or updates or other work on the site will go through me. Up next, I have less than one week to do the same thing with a site oriented to homeowners, renters, homebuyers, etc., teaching them to make their own homes healthier and greener. I'm sure you'll hear more about that when we launch next week.
As part of the site, we wanted a social networking component so the grassroots advocates who visit the site will have someone where to interact with each other, asking questions, making suggestions, sharing experiences, hashing out ideas and otherwise working together on advocating for green schools. I put that site together here on MySpace: This is the MySpace profile, and this is the MySpace discussion group. Feel free to visit both and join and participate if you're interested!
Early last week, I found myself with some birthday money and a woot deal too good to refuse. My very own robot! Clean your floor - no you required. That's right. I got a Roomba:
Call it laziness. I guess it kind of is. I just HATE vacuuming. And, more importantly, I LOVE the idea of having this geeky little smart gadget. It zips around the room, plotting its most efficient path. And it just cleans its little heart out all the while.
Look out, Roomba! A big pile of dirt:
(Please note: My floor isn't really that dirty. I put that dirt there just to test the Roomba out.)
Roomba senses when it crosses an especially dirty area and it spins and spins over that area to give it extra cleaning. You can set up little artificial walls using infrared, confining the cleaning to one area. And when it's all done, it goes back home:
And, perhaps most shocking of all, even Edison kind of likes Roomba:
I just had a fantastic weekend in Richmond, Va., with Aunt Terri and cousins Hank, Matt and Chris. I love being close enough to zip down and hang out (though, between the traffic and the dog vomit, it wasn't so much a "zip") and this weekend was so much fun!
But as is usually the case for me, I kept forgetting to use my camera - except on Hank. I wonder what percentage of the videos I have taken on my camera involve children. I'm guessing at least 75%. Anyway. These videos all come after the pinnacle of each situation's cuteness, but this is Hank, so you know they're cute anyway!
First, this one, in which we learn that Hank knows what he likes - and he LOVES "Baby Love."
And he also knows what he doesn't like.
And finally, I think this kid's got a future in the car wash business.
There was a good guess or two in response to my last post, but you were all wrong (except Leah, who knew what they were because she had read about them before).
They're ProtoBlocs, and they exist for no other reason than to let people know they need to leave you alone without actually having to say "leave me alone." If the green triangle is on top, it's means people are welcome to come to your cubicle and talk to you. If the yellow ball is, it means, "I'm kind of busy, but if you really need something, come on over." And if only the red square is there, it means, "I'm way too busy to talk to you."
I'm not sure anyone really observes them, but I think it's such a funny concept that I just had to share.
Welcome to my fun contest. You don't win a prize if you win, but, um, you win the right to say that you won my contest, and that's pretty exciting.
This photo is of an object that sits atop the filing cabinet in my cubicle at work. Do you know what it is? Do you have a guess? If so, leave your guess on my comments.
This is a pointless little post. I just like this thing and wanted to share it with all of you.
The triangle, circle and square are all separate items. They are squishy like foam or Nerf. And they serve a specific purpose. Everyone at my office has them. The U.S. Green Building Council supplied us all with them.
So what are they? Show me your smarts! Make a guess! Good luck to you all - I hope you win!
It was bound to happen. Working at this job, it was only a matter of time before little bits of green wisdom started popping up in this blog. Don't worry. It's not going to be a lot of enviropreaching. Just interesting little nuggets I pick up in my daily duties.
For example, today's topic: toilets. I want to introduce you, if you have not yet been so lucky as to be introduced yet, to the Sloan water-free urinal. Are you wincing? Does the idea of a urinal without the cleansing benefits of water make you nervous? I understand. But it's awesome. Here's how it works.
Gravity and the toilet's slick design cause the pee to run down directly to the drain. There is a liquid that seals the holes along the drain, a liquid that is less dense than pee, so the pee sinks below it and the liquid seals it off, trapping the smells and everything else associated with No. 1. It suddenly makes flushing seem like such a waste! Hehe, waste. Anyway, it brings a whole new meaning to "if it's yellow, let it mellow."
And in other green toilet news, I need to share my new understanding of the low-flow toilet. They are more common than the water-free urinal - not to mention usable by both genders - so I'm guessing more of you have had run-ins with them. And I say run-ins because I think you might hate them. I hated them. I wanted to like them - they use less water! - but it seemed like one flush was never enough. But every time I had to resort to a second flush, I hung my head in shame. It seemed to defeat the whole purpose of the low-flow toilet. By flushing twice, am I using more water than I would have by flushing a traditional toilet once?
The answer is no. In fact, these toilets are actually called "dual-flush" toilets. The point is that they use half as much water as a standard toilet. So if you just use it for, you know, liquid relief, one flush is enough. (I guess it's the closest thing the ladies' room will get to a no-flush urinal.) And other, more involved bathroom habits, when mild in intensity, can usually be washed away by one flush. But if you have to two-flush it, go ahead! That's what it's designed for!
OK. Maybe, maybe not. But it's possible. I was walking home from work and the vice president's motorcade went zipping by. It's the second time since I moved here that I've been a stone's throw from the vice president's motorcade. (Not that I would have thrown a stone - no need to call the Secret Service!) Apparently, he lives on Connecticut Avenue, which runs near my house and right alongside the building where I work.
Every afternoon, his motorcade goes down Connecticut. One day, my first week here, I was at lunch and was about to cross Connecticut when flashing lights and siren stopped me from doing so. But it wasn't the police - it was the motorcade. Then again, today, as I walked up 18th, there it was again. (There must have been something on Connecticut to necessitate a detour.)
The vice president. Right there. In a car, in the middle of broad daylight, just as if he wasn't the vice president. Oh, except for the whole motorcade thing.
It's something hard to explain, the thought that, as I looked up at that tinted glass, the vice president of the United States could have been looking back at me from the other side. (Not that he'd notice me. He never notices me anymore.)
Here I am, blogging from Washington, D.C. You all knew it would happen, eventually, but so soon? Haha, OK, I kid. I honestly didn't intend for it to take this long. But long story short, Comcast, notwithstanding its suck, still has a monopoly in D.C., so after weeks of thinking myself the savvy shopper, seeking out alternatives, I finally gave in and ordered up some Comcast. And now, for $113 a month, I have already resumed my favorite habit: trying to blog/e-mail/what-have-you while watching DVR'd Daily Shows and Colberts, rewinding three or four times every five minutes when I realize that my Internet activity has distracted me from the show and I have no idea what Jon or Stephen is talking about.
Yup. That long run-on sentence says it all: I'm back, and wordsmeathier than ever.
Ever since that early morning 20 days ago when I hopped in my car and embarked on hurtling myself into a whole new existence, I have on many, many an occasion thought of things I wanted to blog about when I finally returned to MySpace. Now I have way, way too much to address, and probably never will address all of it. I will do what I can when I get a chance, but tonight, it's already 11:15 p.m., and I need to keep it quick. So this post will have but two purposes.
First, I am pleased to announce the creation of my new Blogspot: All Up Inside This Beltway. The title is really just a ridiculous attempt to play off my new location - "Inside the Beltway," as the politicos call it - while doing my best whitey-talking-street impression. It is a cleverness that fell flat on its face, and yet I'm sticking with it. Deal. All you really need to remember (and you don't even need to remember this if you play your bookmarks right) is the URL. This is another example of clunky silliness: MrSmeathGoesToWashington.blogspot.com. The caps, of course, are not necessary, but it looks less lame that way.
But never fear, MySpace subscribers. You don't have to venture over to Blogspot if you don't want to. For the most part, these blogs will be cross-posts of each other. The idea was that I have a bunch of MySpace friends who subscribe to my blog here, and it's easiest for them to continue to read when their MySpace alerts them of my new posts. But I have other people in my life who are not on MySpace, so they don't get any Dougy goodness. (That, by the way, is a lot like doughy goodness.) I guess there may be a time or two when the two blogs don't match up completely. I do expect my Blogspot and MySpace audiences (my, my, aren't we pretentious: "audiences?") to be slightly different in scope. So there may be posts that show up on one site but not the other. That probably won't happen often.
OK. Point No. 2 of this post: to get y'all some my-new-life pictures. Quick, quick rundown: I live in Adams Morgan, one of Washington's coolest neighborhoods, if I do say so myself. Give it a Google if you want to learn more. I live in the basement of an old Victorian rowhouse. But it's not nearly as dismal as you might think. Here are the pictures. The only ones I took myself are the ones of the interior of my apartment. And I didn't intentionally put Edison in so many of them; he is apparently ready for his closeup.
When you walk in the door:
And then you turn around:
Then you walk into the living room:
Then on to the kitchen:
And the bathroom:
And, finally, the bedroom:
Let's go outside! My house:
Other homes in my neighborhood:
Around the corner, the shops, restaurants and bars on 18th Street:
Here's the party they threw to welcome me to the neighborhood. OK, it may have been a coincidence, but it seems like a pretty profound coincidence that Adams Morgan Day just happened to be the first full day I lived here:
And, finally, here is Dupont Circle, the traffic circle that serves as the centerpiece of the neighborhood (by the same name) where my office is located: