Thursday, July 9, 2009

Targeted

Do you know what this is?



It's a screenshot from this Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Web site (it's blocked most of the time, so the link may not work) in Iran. It's a collection of photos taken from the news and elsewhere of protests in the streets of Iran, and its asking Iranians who know any of the protesters to identify them.

Something about that is just absolutely terrifying to me. I've seen the video of Neda dying in the street, pictures of bloody protesters, the sounds of protesters shouting "Allahu Akbar!" from the rooftops, and it's all pretty powerful and moving. But the concept of a government using the Web as a tool to call on citizens to denounce their friends and neighbors – guilty of standing up for their belief in fairness and democracy – gives me this weird, chilled feeling. Imagine you're a student in Tehran and you read about this site and you nervously click on it... and you see your face and realize that the thugs who "police" the streets are looking for you specifically, and anyone you ever knew could potentially turn you in and give those thugs your name and address... Ugh. It just creeps me out.

Also, if you haven't seen this, please check out the best reporting on Iran so far. Unfortunately, the mainstream media haven't done this story and it had to come from "fake" news, but it gives the best picture yet of who the Iranian people really are and should go a long way to killing the stereotypes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Real classy

I recorded this last night while watching news coverage of our deadly Metro accident here in D.C.



As if you needed one more reason not to listen to that ridiculous show. (If, on the other hand, you like your "irreverent" radio shows to have a brain, might I suggest Radio From Hell? Available on the radio, streaming live online, or via free iTunes podcast!)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hobnobbing here amongst the elite

Just a quick update to let you all know that I'm surrounded by celebrities and/or pseudo-celebrities. First, a few images from last week, when I was walking my dog and about a block away from my house I stumbled into Paul Rudd. He was apparently in town with Owen Wilson, filming at my favorite pre-kickball watering hole, Adams Mill:






And then this, from the world of reality TV. The house where the cast of MTV's The Real World: D.C. is 0.6 miles from my house, as seen in this screen shot of Google Maps' suggested walking route from my house to the Real World house:



Please understand that I have no intention of walking to the Real World: D.C. house, and I haven't watched a season (or even an episode) of that show since the days of Julie, Melissa and Danny in New Orleans. But it's still a little intriguing to think I will live that close to a Real World house.

Now, check out these images I grabbed from the Google Maps Street View of the Real World house. Do you think the MTV people noticed the homeless man sleeping on the stoop? Do you think he'll still be able to catch a nap there when the show is being filmed inside? Ah, the "real world" indeed:


Friday, June 5, 2009

Civic Part Deux(ty)

First of all, an apology for my previous post about jury duty. I may or may not have been extra-effusive because I had just recently indulged in a little post-kickball celebrating. This is not to say that I retract anything I said. I meant it all - I probably just wouldn't normally have been so geeky about it. Or, as Brian pointed out in the comments, I. Am. A. Nerd.

That notwithstanding, my jury service is over and I feel as honored as ever to have been part of the justice system. We found the guy not guilty on all counts, in a relatively quick 45-minute-or-so deliberating session that went surprisingly smoothly and was perhaps the most interesting part of the trial.

One comment I made in that previous post was that "I know I will make the right decision," and that caught some of you off guard. Let me clarify: I didn't say, "I know I will make the true and accurate decision." I said the right decision. By this, I meant that I trusted myself to follow my conscience and make the decision that seemed the most right. This confidence isn't from cockiness or delusions of Solomonic wisdom. It's because, as messy and complicated as questions of guilt and crime and bad human behavior are, and as complex as legal theory and legalese can be, the fundamental structure of the law as a whole is so simple. The bottom line is that every law is made up of a series of elements, basically "yes or no" questions, and each element is very specifically and meticulously defined. For juries, the law doesn't ask us to sit and ponder all the big-picture questions. It just says to go through each of those elements, one by one, and ask yourself, "Did the government prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that this thing happened?"

And we decided that, in this case, the prosecutor did not prove that. Which is pretty remarkable because the defense attorney didn't do a particularly stellar job defending his client.

Turns out, we were all hung up on the same point, the same question, the same hole in the prosecutor's case. Basically, the case was about a guy who was pulled over for excessive tint in his windows but was found, upon search, to have a gun in his trunk. I am legally allowed to talk about the case now, but for the privacy of the defendant and my fellow jurors, I don't really feel comfortable broadcasting the details via my blog. Let me just say this: We just weren't convinced.

Am I certain that this guy is innocent? No. But we didn't find him innocent. We just found him not guilty - that is, not proven to have been guilty. We simply didn't receive the proof, and that's the burden of the prosecutor. Simple as that.

I think the prosecutor was surprised. It could have been the poor performance of the defense attorney or the fact that, on its surface, this kind of looked like a fairly straight-forward case. After the verdict, the prosecutor approached me as the jury foreman (oh yeah - I was elected foreman :)) and asked me if I could tell him what it was we were unsure about, as a learning experience.

And I think that's what this whole experience was for all of us jurors: a learning experience.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Oh ya know, just grazing

Walking home from jury duty today, this is what I passed by in my neighborhood. Like, literally – in my neighborhood! As usual, my real camera was out of batteries, and these cell phone pictures are really pathetic. I must have been about 10 yards away from them!


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Civic Duty

Have you seen "Flightplan"? It's a mediocre 2005 movie starring Jodie Foster. I saw previews for it back when it was new. I never really wanted to see it. I knew what it was &ndash I knew it was chock full of action and suspense as Jodie desperately tried to find her missing daughter on a trans-Atlantic flight. Surely she's onboard somewhere. We saw her there. But is Jodie's character crazy? What's happening? I could have written this script. All I wanted to know was how it was going to end. The whole point of this movie is, of course, how do they resolve it? Is the little girl, or is not the little girl, really missing on that plane somewhere?

I never really wanted to see this movie. I never thought I would. Not worth renting, certainly not worth seeing in the theater. But I kinda wanted to know what happened to that little girl.

So there I was, early this afternoon, sitting in the Juror Lounge at the Moultrie Courthouse in Washington, D.C. I was summonsed for jury duty. I arrived at 8, and by 12:30, there had been three jury panels called and I was not on any of them. Lunch was promised at 1. I was struggling with a faulty wireless network, trying to get some work done during the brief intervals of Internet connectivity I could grab. And "Flightplan" was showing on the TVs throughout the room.

Fast-forward to 12:55. I'm starving. It's almost lunch. I've finished the last piece of the membership newsletter and I'm just about to get the wireless to work so that I can e-mail it to some awaiting coworkers so it can be sent out. And "Flightplan" is just about to resolve itself.

And they call a new jury panel. And they call my number.

So I missed the end of "Flightplan" and still have no idea what actually happened. And I was late for lunch, and the members had to wait a few hours for their newsletter.

But – I finally was called to sit on a jury panel. I've loved the idea of jury service since I covered the courts for the Deseret News and fell in love with our judicial system. I finally get to see what happens behind the scenes.

It was a long day. Lots of sitting and waiting and 15-minute breaks and then sitting and waiting some more.

At the end of the day, I made the cut. I was one of the final 14 people still sitting in the juror box after all the attorneys, the defendant and the judge had had their say. I am a juror for a criminal case. It may sound strange, but this is a dream come true.

I am in love with our American system of justice. I know that a lot of people bemoan their mandatory summons for jury service. I got the hunch that most of the other people who were called to jury duty today were annoyed by the meticulous, detailed, step-by-step intricacies of today. Waiting for their number to be called. Waiting for the judge to repeat the exact language of the juror qualification questions for a third time. Waiting for the precise procedure to play out.

I know that most people think legalities are trifling and excessive. I am really in love with it. Its exactness. The way it carefully and cautiously ensures a level playing field for defendant and accuser. Of all of America's ingenious systems, our judicial system is the most genius and the most amazing.

When I used to sit in courtrooms as a newspaper reporter, I usually had an opinion. I tried to remain as unbiased as I could for the sake of fair reporting. But I knew the cases' backstory. I heard the lawyers' chat in the hallway. I knew what the judge and the attorneys were talking about in the courtroom when the jurors were safely tucked away. I was impossibly biased, and I usually had a hoped-for outcome. I always wanted to be a juror, to see what that blank-slate feeling was like, to see if I could actually enter a trial completely free of preconception or bias. And here I am, about to be one-fourteenth of a panel deciding what will hereafter be considered the settled truth about what did and didn't happen in a specific case. And I can honestly say I have no idea what the outcome will be. I know nothing about the facts of the case, nor of the accusations or allegations. I don't know the defendant. I don't know the backstory.

I know I will make the right decision.

I know American justice is the final word in justice. I love this system – and now I'm part of it!

Friday, May 8, 2009

My Top 25

So I normally don't do anything when someone tags me with something in their blog - I kind of hate coming up with "25 weird facts about me" etc. etc. But it's been so long since I've posted anything, and this one is kind of fun and easy (and interesting for me, even though it probably won't be for anyone else), so I'm going to go ahead and do it - and I'll tag anyone else who reads this and wants to be tagged.

MY TOP 25 MOST-LISTENED-TO SONGS, ACCORDING TO MY iPOD PLAYLIST:
  1. "Apocalypse Please," Muse
  2. "I Was Young When I Left Home," Antony with Bryce Dessner
  3. "Thoughts of a Dying Atheist," Muse
  4. "Time is Running Out," Muse
  5. "Sing for Absolution," Muse
  6. "Hysteria," Muse
  7. "Butterflies and Hurricanes," Muse
  8. "Choose Me For Champion," Rasputina
  9. "You and Moon," Adem
  10. "Falling Away With You," Muse
  11. "1816, the Year Without a Summer," Rasputina
  12. "A Retinue of Moons/The Infidel is Me," Rasputina
  13. "Blackout," Muse
  14. "Launch Yourself," Adem
  15. "These Lights are Meaningful," Adem
  16. "Sleepless," The Decemberists
  17. "Cage in a Cave," Rasputina
  18. "The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid," The Decemberists
  19. "Stockholm Syndrome," Muse
  20. "Incident in a Medical Clinic," Rasputina
  21. "The Giant of Illinois," Andrew Bird
  22. "Train Song," Feist and Ben Gibbard
  23. "Knotty Pine," Dirty Projectors and David Byrne
  24. "Annan Water," The Decemberists
  25. "You Are the Blood," Sufjan Stevens
Kinda surprised myself there a little with a few of those... OK, your turn.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dishsaster

When I started this blog a year and a half ago, the idea was that it would primarily be for, you know, keeping people up to date on the exciting happenings of life in D.C. And life remains exciting, if a little too busy for me to regularly update you all on the exciting stuff. Sadly, there is one kind of excitement that I regularly find time to blog about.

Domestic problems.

You know, like exorbitant electric bills, mold, dysfunctional heaters, and leaky walls and ceilings.

That last one — the leaky walls and ceilings — isn't just a post from the past. It's tonight's post, too.

This evening, on my way home from work, I got a call from one of the guys who lives upstairs. He told me that one of the girls who lives up there had been washing dishes earlier this afternoon and wandered off somewhere else in the house to do ... something. Something that made her forget she was doing dishes. Forget she had water running in the sink. Forget that water running in a full sink has to go somewhere, and usually goes downward, to the floor.

So one of her roommates gets home and steps onto a very wet kitchen floor. He suggests I check my walls and ceilings for leaks when I get home. I do so. I find some. I'm wet-housed. Again.

I'm at the point where I think not in terms of "oh my gosh I have water leaking through my ceilings and walls!" and instead think in terms of "hmmm how bad is this round of wall and ceiling leakage as compared with other rounds?" And this time — not so bad. I was able to find three points of leakage: the ceiling right in front of my bedroom door, the point where two pieces of drywall meet on a wall in my bedroom, and through the vent fan in my bathroom. The floors are a little wet but not swamped. Just a little localized splashage. A bucket catches the drippings in my bedroom, and a few rags sop up the wetness on the bathroom tiles. Within an hour, the regular dripping has stopped and there's just the remaining wet spots on the drywall.

I check with the people upstairs. They've let the landlord know, but the good news is that one of the guys who lives up there is a contractor, and he's already doing a bunch of work elsewhere in the house (probably for a rent discount or something). So he's going to replace the damaged piece of my ceiling and wall and take care of it all tomorrow. Not too bad.

But seriously. Who has a dish-washing emergency?!

Apparently...

...I'm not the only one.

Also, sorry you've waited so long for a blog post, and this is all you get. It's been busy, and I've been brain-drained.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Power crazy

This blog post was inspired by a Facebook status. More accurately, it was inspired by Shannon's comment on my Facebook status, in which she asked me to "please blog about this. Now." So when you find it boring, you know who to blame.

So it turns out that the price of energy is rising. You may be surprised to learn this, but apparently there's some sort of problem - you might even call it a crisis - regarding our various sources of fuel for things like, oh, vehicle operation and power generation. Now, I've heard that those prices have been going down lately, but I don't drive a car anymore and I certainly haven't seen such a reduction in my power bill.

In fact, my power bill has reached levels of absurdity. Levels of absolutely ridiculous, ludicrous, infuriating absurdity. I just processed a payment of $268.19 for one month's use of electricity. For a shorter-than-usual 28-day month. While wearing a blanket over my shoulders like a shawl so I can tolerate my 59-degree apartment. Which is my regular evening outfit as of late. So I don't run my inefficient heater any more than I have to. Because I like to save energy. I really, really believe in using as little energy as I can. And it's only partially so I can avoid spending $268.19 on electricity.

Over the summer, my electricity bill was lower than this. $25.89 in July. $26.59 in May. $38.80 in September. When it jumped to $185.02 in December, I was a little shocked, so I called Pepco, our local power utility, to express my concern. The poor guy had apparently heard similar calls from more than just me that day, as he immediately launched into his lecture on how power rates go up in the winter, and how when you start running your heater you're using more power than you typically do, and how these two facts together compound to create unusually high bills. I understood - after all, my bills last winter were pretty high, too. Of course, last winter my heater turned out to be broken, so I was running it hour after hour, hoping to get a little warmth, unsuccessfully - and this winter I have been running it only when absolutely necessary. But still, a hike in winter power bills is necessary, as demand surges and a supply-and-demand economy will react predictably. And besides, I thought - this year my heater has been fixed and is more efficient. And this year I have replaced all my bulbs with CFLs. Etc. etc. (More on my efficiency efforts will follow.) So, I figured, my bills will certainly go up in the winter, but they should still be lower than last winter.

Let's compare:

January 2008: $79.41
January 2009: $202.21

February 2008: $137.59
February 2009: $268.19

March 2008: $161.77
March 2009: I don't want to know

Just for the record, the following are efficiency upgrades I have made to my apartment since last winter, upgrades that I would think would result in lower, not higher, energy bills:

  • I have replaced all my apartment's light bulbs with CFL bulbs. The exception is the bulbs in my living room, which are on dimmer switches and can't be replaced by the standard CFLs. I never use my living room lights (relying instead on a 7-watt CFL lamp.)
  • I got my landlord to replace my wall-mounted, electric-run heater with one that actually works, so when I do run it, I only have to run it for a few minutes to get my immediate vicinity to a level of relative comfort. The rest of the apartment remains cold, but I've grown accustomed to wearing a shoulder blanket grandma-style.
  • I unplug all my "secret energy vampires." Those are the things in your house that drain energy even when they are not turned on. They include everything with a remote control, which is never turned off but is only in standby mode (TV, DVD player, Wii, etc.) It also includes rechargers, so I only have my computer plugged in when it absolutely needs a recharge - same with my phone.
  • I have been out of town more this winter than I was last winter, and when I go out of town, I now unplug EVERYTHING, including my microwave, my alarm clock, etc. I even unplugged my DVR for the entire 11 days I was home for Christmas because none of my shows were new during that time.
  • I often pull clothes from the washer and let them air dry for a while before putting them into the dryer, to minimize the amount of time I need to run the dryer.
  • I turned a couple of old pants legs into draft snakes. Draft snakes are basically long tubes of cloth filled with beans (I used kidneys) that you lay along the foot of doors to reduce draft. They work really well. My apartment is ridiculously drafty, especially at the front door. When I stand near it, I can feel cold air blowing in. With the draft snakes in place, I don't feel that draft. My door is so drafty, I have actually had to use one draft snake on the floor and one perched precariously vertically along the side of the door. It helps keep the apartment warm longer after I turn the heater off. Photo:



I have my concerns, my paranoid theories that something wrong is afoot that I won't be able to solve. My biggest worry is that some portion of the electric outlets for the apartment upstairs (home to six or seven energy-unconscious roommates) are being billed to my apartment. I've raised that concern with Pepco and with my landlord before, but I don't think there's any way that's going to be explored. I also wondered if the electricity meter out front was messed up, but I have learned to watch it in operation and it seems to be running at a rate that is proportionate to how many electrically powered things I have running inside. It also runs much more slowly than the meter for the upstairs apartment. So I think the bottom line is that I have an inefficient apartment - a dryer that takes longer than necessary to dry clothes, an old fridge that wastes electricity, a drafty apartment and a joke of a heater - and Pepco knows they can get away with charging ridiculous rates in the winter. When, oh when, will spring be here?!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Is this real life?

So this is apparently the viral Internet video of the moment, and everyone seems to find it cute and hilarious. I feel like I'm one of the few people who finds it unbelievably disturbing and upsetting. I guess maybe it has its moments of cuteness, like when David discovers his fingers. But when he lifts himself out of his car seat and screams, when he asks, "Is this going to be forever?" and when he asks, "Why is this happening to me?", I think it's horrible. I feel like I should warn you not to watch it unless you're ready to be haunted by it for a long time, but like I said, everyone else seems to think it's just funny. I, on the other hand, think the same dad whose poor parenting led to this kid's need of oral stitches in the first place is securing his place in hell by YouTubing his kid's frightening drug trip. Every time I watch it, I feel like I am watching documented child abuse, and it has given me a few nightmares. I'm not kidding. You've been warned.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I follow the rules

I have a reputation among my friends at work for being a stickler for the rules. One even used a label maker to affix the phrase "I FOLLOW THE RULES" to my work laptop last year. When my coworkers want to cross the street against a "Don't walk" sign, I hold back. When we were at Greenbuild last year, and they wanted to skip an all-staff meeting so we could make some progress on our demands in the press room, I got nervous. And when I sold my car this summer, they all thought it was hilariously unnecessary when I went out of my way to use my lunch break to walk to the DMV and return my license plates. "I still have my license plates from a car I sold three years ago," they said. "The DMV doesn't actually expect you to return your plates, even if it says so on their Web site," they said. But I did it anyway. And I kept the receipt.

And then, on Thursday, I got a letter in the mail. From the DMV. It was a NOTICE OF UNSATISFIED PARKING TICKETS. It accused me of failing to pay a parking ticket I received on Dec. 14 for parking in an alley at 13th and S streets. The ticket was attributed to a car with plates reading CX1904 - my old plates - but the car was a Chevrolet. It seems that either the parking enforcement officer incorrectly transcribed the plate number, or someone new has been assigned my plates but the DMV records have not been updated, or someone is using fraudulent plates with my old plates' number. So I called the DMV, and I was instructed to write a letter and send it to their office, along with a copy of the notice and my receipt for turning in my plates.

A receipt which I have.

A receipt which none of my coworkers would have had, given the same situation.

I follow the rules.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This just happened



I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
Then.

Besides,
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed —

I, too, am America.

      — Langston Hughes

Monday, January 19, 2009

Inauguration weekend

Well, as you might imagine, it's been a pretty exciting weekend here in D.C. The estimates ranged from 1 million to 5 million, but there is no question that we have a lot of visitors in town. I've been trying to think of ways I could capture what it's like to have the entire city taken over by the inauguration, but it's tough if you're not here. I've taken some pictures, below, which will give you a glimpse, but the energy and excitement is really missing from them.

But first I have to opine a little - of course. Like I said, the energy around this inauguration is huge, and no question there are some very Obama-specific reasons for that: He's a historic president-elect, he's a man whose supporters really love him, and there's a lot of really big issues hanging over our country right now. But being here, surrounded by it, I've been thinking a lot about what is really so amazing and inspiring about inaugurations in general, and even if it's not on the top of the minds of everyone who's here to celebrate the inauguration, I think it's something that means a lot to all Americans, even if they're not totally conscious of it. It's this concept of the "peaceful transfer of power," and it really is pretty miraculous - more so when you realize that it's come to seem so mundane and taken for granted.

Try to think about it, to grasp how amazing it is that the most powerful position in the world is being willingly handed over tomorrow from one man to another - two men who agree on very few things regarding the specifics of how to run this country. Emphasis on willingly, on the fact that this is a peaceful transfer of power. We've had more than 200 years of this kind of transfer of power happening, so we really don't think a lot about it happening any other way. But it's so unusual historically, and even across much of the world today it's a luxury not every country enjoys.

We don't have to have wars or coups to get new leadership in our country. We don't have to wait for a dictator to die. We just vote, and everyone respects the outcome.

One of the history lessons I remember most profoundly from when I was in middle school was the first time I learned about the election of 1800. I remember my teacher talking about it as a "bloodless revolution," about what a test it was for the young country. When the Electoral College chose Thomas Jefferson as the country's third president, it was a historic first: the first time the presidency moved from one political party (the Federalists) to another (the Democratic-Republicans). The way that transfer of power played out would make or break whether American democracy actually worked. Would the Federalists peacefully get up and leave power, would they let a man they openly despised just walk right in and take charge, to lead the country in a different direction, just because voters declared it so? And when they did, it was remarkable because it was a testament to the power of a country founded on a fundamental, overarching principle, the principle of democracy, which was so important to those early American leaders that its ideals overrode their strong opposition to Democratic-Republicanism and their own egos, their own thirst for power.

I remember initially being sort of boggled by this concept. Was there really a time in America when there were question marks over whether an outgoing president would leave peacefully or would call out the National Guard to protect the White House, with violence if necessary, from the incoming would-be president? When you think about it, it's one of the most revolutionary things about America, and the fact that it happens so much more frequently in countries around the world today shows how influential and amazing it was.

When you think of it in terms of this current transfer of power, it's really astounding. After two years of Obama running largely against Bush's record, and of President Bush running on behalf of McCain so vehemently against Obama - as soon as the election was held, all that turned around and these two men worked together with such dedication to ensuring that the presidential power is handed over smoothly and peacefully. Many pundits see Obama's election as an enormous rejection of President Bush's eight years in office by the American people, and how does Bush react to that rejection? By doing anything he can to help Obama be successful from Day 1. It's the power of recognizing that in the gray area between all of our different opinions lie the truly workable solutions that will make the country better, and that we only get to those gray areas by working with the people we disagree with most.

Everyone is excited about this historic moment for different reasons. We are about to have a black president. We are about to have a president who sees our two wars, our economy, our foreign policy, our environment and our place in the world so dramatically differently from the way the previous president sees these things. We're about to have a president who, love him or hate him, is a stirring speaker and a really nice guy. But the underlying thing that everyone is aware of is this idea that things are about to change. And the reason that that fact of change has drawn so many people to D.C. to celebrate their country and ignore the bitter cold is this: the amazing ability of our country to change course when the majority thinks a course-change is necessary, and for all Americans - regardless of where people sit on the ideological spectrum - to accept that change because it's the way the vote went, and for it all to happen in a spirit of mutual celebration. I think this is why my Republican friends at work are as excited for this inauguration as my Democratic friends are: Here, in the city where we live, something miraculous, something we all take for granted, is going to happen again, for the 44th time, and we're all in it together.

OK, sorry, but I guess if you're ever going to tolerate someone waxing patriotic, a historic inauguration is as good a time as any. Now, enjoy photos.

First, I've tried to gather just a small sampling of the inescapable omnipresent reminders everywhere you go in this city that it's inauguration weekend. On the sides of buses, in restaurant windows, everyone is using the inauguration to advertise. The first one is hard to read; it's a sign above Amsterdam Falafel, my favorite fast food in my neighborhood, that says, "Welcome to Washington, Barack and Michelle."


This one is in the window of the French restaurant Napolean at the end of my street. Not sure how I feel about the use of a power-hungry emperor's image in an Obama campaign poster, but c'est la vie, I guess:




On the National Mall Saturday night, on my way to a friend's house in Virginia, I passed MSNBC's makeshift studio, where they've been broadcasting live for the last few days, in front of the Capitol. They were broadcasting "Hardball with Chris Matthews" (which, coincidentally, I'm watching on TV as I write this). I stood around and watched for a while. Chris Matthews with one of his guests:


Chris inside the studio, and Chris on TV outside the studio:


Pat Buchanan, inside and on TV:


Next, the big-screen TVs all over the Mall so the huge crowds can watch everything going on. These photos were taken Saturday night, too, before the We Are One concert on Sunday, so I'm not sure what they are showing, but I see Pete Seeger... Maybe a warm-up or something?


Setup along the parade route, with the White House in the background:


And photos from the We Are One concert on the Mall Sunday (the one with Beyonce, Bono, Bruce Springsteen, Josh Groban, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Tom Hanks, Marisa Tomei.... you get it).




The security was, of course, EVERYWHERE...


...but it all went smoothly, and everyone was very cool and respectful of the security processes. And the security personnel were very accommodating to the crowds. These firefighters were letting people hand them their cameras, so they could get crowd shots for them from the top of their firetruck:


Happy Inauguration, everyone! Whether you voted for Obama or not, here's hoping we're all together in hoping for the best from this new administration!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Why I'm Tired

OK, so maybe posting this at 10 to 1 sort of casts doubt on my hypothesis, but as I am usually in bed well before midnight, I think this time-lapse video is a better illustration of what I think it is that causes me to wake up every morning feeling more tired than I was when I went to bed. Just substitute cat for dog:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Um. Zipcar.

So I know that after my long absence from blogging, a comeback post talking yet again about Zipcar is far from exciting. Sorry. My well has run a little dry lately, without much of a drive to blog. Christmas and New Year's were amazing - nearly two weeks home with the fam was just what the doctor ordered. Things in D.C. are swell, and we're all excited/nervous for the chaos that is certain to come with Inauguration Day. Edison is still, you know, Edison. Maybe one day I'll find something more to blog about. Oh, by the way - congratulations to Brian for becoming an official blogger for the Tyra Banks show! Seriously: PROUD FRIEND!!!

But the point of this post is simple: Zipcar really was the right choice for me, even more than I thought it would be. I just took a glance at my five months' worth of bills from Zipcar, since I started using the program in August, and I was pretty much floored. Check it out for yourself:
  • Aug. 9-Sept. 8: $178.34
  • Sept. 9-Oct. 8: $215.19
  • Oct. 9-Nov. 8: $39.05
  • Nov. 9-Dec. 8: $319.56
  • Dec. 9-Jan. 8: $158.91
  • Total: $911.05
Five months' worth of all the car usage I have needed, including preplanned trips and last-minute jaunts, for less than $1,000. Compare that to when I owned my own car. My monthly car payment was $411. Insurance was $144.71. Those two costs alone, over five months, would have totaled $2,778.55. I have saved $1,867.50, if you don't count gas (which I don't pay for with Zipcar), maintenance and upkeep, registration, parking permits, etc. etc. Add in gas alone and I'm sure I have saved well more than $2,000. That's a lot of money! Hooray for that!

That's all. Something more exciting coming soon. Well... coming eventually. If you're lucky. :)