Thursday, December 25, 2008

JingEling V

Go to the JingEling blog or Ryan's Youtube channel for this year's JingEling videos and outtakes.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Thou shalt take this day and keep it funky

I am getting some mileage out of my tuxedo this month.  First the Coast Guard Ball, and on Saturday the company holiday party.  It is pretty good, as such things go - big hotel ballroom, decent dinner, open bar, ok band, door prizes and such.

But it's the company that makes it or breaks it, and I was particularly lucky in that regard.  And by company, I don't mean my employer; it's the friends who are able to attend and enjoy themselves too.  This year I was able to spend the party with Z & her date, Tracy and some of her friends who I was meeting for the first time, and Jane & Ian.  Jane actually works for one of our sometimes-competitors.  But at the last moment a scheduling SNAFU called away Sarah & Paul.  They were generous enough to give their tickets to Jane.  While their absence was lamented, having Jane & Ian there was a pleasure.

I forgot to take any pictures, and for better or worse there were no particularly memorable moments - just a nice relaxed evening, good conversation, dinner, drinks and dancing.  Not a bad way to wrap up before heading home for the holidays.

Limp and Lifeless

Steph was in town briefly this past week, for some meetings.  We were able to catch up one night, go out for drinks and dinner at Poblano.  It was perfectly lovely, and in the course of the evening I realized I could easily pick her up after he final interview the next day and give her a ride to BWI.

So Friday afternoon, she calls from Tenleytown in DC and says she is ready to go.  I have no trouble at all getting over there, and the pickup goes smoothly.  We drive north, headed for the Beltway.  I knew the Beltway would not be easy at that point, but there's no better way to get from Tenleytown to BWI that I know of.  Google Maps agrees.

Everything is going fine, until we head up the ramp onto I-495.  Then things start happening.  The CHECK GEARBOX and CHECK ENGINE lights come on.  The engine suddenly races, but the transmission stays in first.  Then the car begins to shake and shimmy - it seems like it is trying to shift, but can't.  Seeing as there were not other warnings, so indication of sudden mechanical failure, I'm suspicious.  I think it is some sort of problem with the computer.  And what fixes a computer?  Reboot.

I pull into the breakdown lane and shut the car down.  I wait a few moments, and restart.  No warning lights.  Shifts into first, and then 2nd as I pull back into traffic.  Problem solved, I am brilliant.  For about 20 seconds.  The entire scenario repeats itself.  And again, when I stop and restart a second time.

Now my mind is racing - how do I get Steph to the airport on time?  This is where fortune handed me a mixed bag.  The exit we come to next, where I pull off to get towed is at Silver Spring.  For those not familiar with DC, Silver Spring is one of our edge cities, basically an extra downtown out on the Beltway.  It has a Metro and commuter train station - Steph can get on the train to the BWI station and still make her flight.  However, it is also a busy, built-up area.  Not a lot of good places to pull over and wait for a tow.  Not know what was wrong, I was concerned that driving much farther was going to damage the car - the tachometer was flirting with redline most of the time at this point.

So I pull over as best I can - basically in a bus stop, as luck would have it.  NO PARKING, NO STANDING, NO STOPPING signs abound.  I quickly say goodbye to Steph as she hauls her baggage to the nearby station.  I manage to shoo away the parking enforcement office who appears within seconds of stopping.  And I call AAA to get towed.  As I wait, I reflect on the fact that only worse time and place for a breakdown would be in the middle of nowhere while racing to get someone to the hospital.

The tow was a challenge.  Towing from Silver Spring to Alexandria in rush hour is no mean feat.  But we got to a shop near my house eventually.  The next day they called with their diagnosis.  Apparently my battery dead dead dead.  This was surprising, because I had seen no low voltage or other electrical warnings.  It was bad enough that they could not restart the car, and the battery would not recharge in the slightest.  But apparently the car's computer sensed it early.  And when it did, it implemented a safety feature I was not aware of: Limp Home Mode.  Essentially stay in first, implement a throttle lock, and start shutting down peripheral systems.  It cannot be overridden unless you fix the problem and clear the computer memory.

While I'm glad the car is not "really" broken, it is somehow unsatisfying.  After creating so much trouble, and inconveniencing my friend to such a degree, I want a better reason than "the battery was messed up."  I wouldn't mind any of this, if it had only happened some other time, when I wasn't in the middle of doing something important.  At least it got fixed, and fairly cheaply at that.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Haze Gray

USS Freedom
The first Littoral Combat Ship, the USS Freedom, has been making port calls as she transits from her construction yard in Wisconsin to Norfolk, where she will be doing testing for a few months.  Jane's firm was the lead naval architect for this class, and Jane did quite a lot of work on the design.  Time was set aside during the port call in Annapolis for employees and their guests, and Jane was kind enough to offer me a chance to take a tour.

It is an interesting ship.  Actually, the things I find most interesting about her, the propulsion system, was not on the tour.  But she has enormous gas turbines, along with diesels, all geared into waterjets.  Our guide, one of the lieutenants, quoted a speed of 47 knots.  That's amazing for a ship this size - really any size combatant.  And I'm not aware of any US Navy ships anywhere near this size with waterjet propulsors.

We may not have seen the engine room, but we did see the multi-mission reconfigurable or "recon" spaces.  This is where special modules, basically shipping containers filled with special combat systems, will be loaded so they can quickly equip the vessel to perform different missions.  It is weird to see such large, empty spaces on a combatant ship.  And the spaces have very large hatches, to move the equipment in and out quickly.  The recon spaces have 4 huge hatches - one in the stern, one in the side, one up to the hangar, and one up to the flight deck.  And the three spaces are connected by two more huge watertight hatches between them.  I've never seen so many openings, in such large spaces, on a fighting vessel.

Their were plenty of other whiz-bang details: the bridge is normally manned by 2 or 3 people (vice the 8 you might normally see on a Navy ship), the crew is only 75 people (for a 377 foot ship), she made a turn at 46 knots without spilling the coffee someone set on deck, and so on.  There are still some questions about this ship, how to use it and how effective it will be, but it is very impressive.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Formalities

Last year Sarah & Paul went to the Washington Coast Guard Ball and spoke at length about how much they enjoyed themselves.  This year, Paul's brother Phillip who is an officer at headquarters was generous enough to offer me tickets to join their group at the Ball.

And the legwork didn't end there.  Phillip's wife, also Sarah (AKA "Sarah the Great"), tendered the invitation while giving me the number of their son's first grade teacher, and encouraging me to bring her as a date.  And what better first date could there be than a formal military ball, black tie and all?

I don't want to give the wrong impression, though.  It was a great deal of fun, and I enjoyed myself from start to finish.  Pretty good meal, excellent company, and even a few enjoyable speeches and toasts.  My friend Abby gave the official toast to the US Army, which was kind of neat.

Also, as my time in the service recedes further and further into the past, it gets harder to keep up any sense of connection to the Coast Guard.  Going to the Ball, especially with someone who wasn't a Coastie and needed a guide of sorts, was a nice way to feel like it was still something I am a part of (a very small part).  I may not have been the best representative, but we spent the evening with particularly excellent current and former Coasties like Abby, Phillip, and Sarah.

A good evening, and it's nice to pull out my tux every now and again.  Though I should probably work on my knots more - I spent about 20 minutes trying to get my bowtie right, without success.  I'll have to practice more before the company holiday party in a few weeks.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksbegiving

Thanksgiving 2008
I just got back from an week's vacation in the Bay area for Thanksgiving.  I visited Meg & Rich in Silicon Valley, and Steph & Aaron in San Francisco.  But over the week I ranged far and wide, from Monterey to Napa.  In seven days I:
  • Had excellent Mexican in Mountain View
  • Toured through the Napa Valley and had a very fun tasting at Sequoia Grove.
  • Drove to Monterey to visit Meg's future home, the Hopkins Marine Station and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, both of which were amazing.  This includes her future colleagues in that grad program, who were a very sharp group.  I was especially impressed by the details of the experiments they were working on - biomechanics, mostly.
  • Had North Beach Pizza with Steph & Aaron and Meg & Rich.
  • Hiked up over Russian Hill to go out for a very fun italian meal.
  • Played through Gears of War 2 with Aaron.  Nerds!
  • Helped (a little) with making a huge and amazing Thanksgiving Feast.  The real credit goes to Steph:
    • Brined Turkey
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Garlic Mashed Potatoes
    • Rutabaga
    • Italian sausage and sourdough stuffing
    • Bacon, roast chestnut, and cornbread stuffing
    • Homemade gravy
    • Homemade cranberry sauce
    • Rolls
    • Blue cheese & walnut spread
    • Pumpkin Pie
    • Chocolate Pecan Pie
    • All Paired with fantastic wine
  • Went for a appetite-building walk along the waterfront to Fort Mason to see a nifty instrument that uses the flexing of the Golden Gate Bridge to estimate the temperature.  Solid science, engineering geekery - pretty perfect for me.
  • Tried to visit the new California Academy of Science, but went to check out the Presidio after seeing the hours-long line to get in to the museum.  Next time...
  • Ate a ridiculous amount of leftovers

Not so much a real post as an after-action report, but it was such a great week, and packed to bursting with excellent times.  I recommend any and all of it for anyone who finds themselves in the Bay area.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Good Decisions

Sailing

Made some of my better decisions the last few days.  On Friday I was at the office a little later than I would have liked (not to the good decision yet).  But it was a gorgeous day - partly sunny, in the 70s.  Bike weather.  With the cooling temperatures, earlier sunsets, and intermittent rain, I hadn't been out on the road in a while.

Coming home, I weighed the pleasure of a ride against the chance of getting caught out past sunset, which I really don't like on the unlit trails I would be on.  If I had waited 20 minutes, it would have been the wrong choice.  But I quickly changed and rolled out.

It was a great ride - warm, little breeze, and no crowds.  Well, there were some leaf-peepers that made some parts of the trail perilous.  But away from them, it was lovely.  I rode out to Hain's Point, and East Potomac park looks fantastic, with the trees all turning.

Coming back up to the Mall was even better, as the failing light gave all the marble monuments a warm pink hue.  Just a great ride, and I'm really glad I went.  And on Sunday, I went sailing with Sarah & Paul, and decided to take my camera phone on the boat, which I usually avoid.  I'm usually the type that would lose it overboard, get it crushed down below, or something similarly stupid.  But I was able to get some nice pictures of Sarah & Paul & Louie which I liked.  And then we chose to come in before it got too cloudy and cold: another good decision.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sea Dog

It was another beautiful day on Saturday, and Paul & Sarah were nice enough to invite me to go sailing on their O'Day out of Annapolis again.  It was not blowing quite as hard as the last few times, but with less traffic and very light seas it was very comfortable and relaxed sailing.

Conditions were so good, we were able to concentrate on experimenting a little bit.  The first test was unintentional.  Sarah was on the tiller, and was sharp enough to notice that the depth sounder had suddenly started reading below 4 feet.  The O'Day draws about 2.8.  So she called for an immediate tack and we all performed pretty flawlessly.  Everybody did exactly what they needed to do without being told - even Louie (pictured above).

Later, as we were headed back towards shore, we tried going wing-and-wing.  It was a little challenging, since the whisker pole wasn't set up.  I tried holding the sail out away from the boat by hand, but it was surprisingly tiring.  I had to hang out off the stays, and with the following seas keeping my position with all the rolling was more work than I would have guessed.  And we didn't seem to get much speed out of it.  But that's why you experiment, I guess.

There was some traffic shenanigans on the way back due to some construction, but the sailing was worth it.  Though I've got to stop looking at the boat from a racing point of view: "You know, with a spinnaker we could really surf downwind back towards the creek..."  Boat noun: a hole in the water you throw money into.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Old Bay

The past two weekends I've been out to Annapolis to help Sarah & Paul with their boat.  Last weekend was mostly about boat work - cleaning, re-rigging a few things, trying to fix a leak in the gas tank for the outboard.  That day had two particular highlights.

First, we had to install a wind indicator at the top of the mast.  This meant someone had to go up the mast.  I volunteered - I've always enjoyed work aloft.  So up I went, and prepared to get to work.  First, we decided to test the mast head lights, to make sure they were in good working order.

This is where the story takes an interesting turn.  With two naval architects, and two experienced sailors onboard, you'd think someone would have remembered this important fact about working aloft on small boats: it radically shifts you center of gravity.  Enough so that, say, having a person my size at the top of the mast almost eliminates the righting moment when the boat heels.  So when the crew shifted down below to reach the light switches, the boat heeled over.  A lot.  To the point were I looked straight down and saw the pier - the far side of the pier.  But the she stopped - once I knew that was as far as she'd go, I knew I could just ride out the  rest. It was actually pretty fun.  And I did eventually get that windex in place.  It was a hell of  ride.

The day was not through with us.  Sarah & Paul had brought their dog, Louie.  And later Louie decided he wanted to get off the boat onto the pier.  Trouble was, he didn't quite make it.  Into the Chesapeake he went, and we had to haul him out by the handle installed on the back of his lifejacket.  He was drenched, but he helped by shaking most of the water off onto us.  Good dog!

This weekend the boat was all dialed in, so we were able to get out quickly and sail south of the Bay Bridge.  It was a perfect day for sailing - good steady breeze, sunny and warm but not hot.  Just ideal.  Louie acquitted himself well on the boat, and all four of us did quite well pulling off some very nice tacks - more challenging that it sounds since there are three adults and a dog in a fairly small cockpit.

Out on the water we were surrounded by every possible type of boat and ship.  I saw a cargo barge, a pilot schooner, a topsail schooner, a Farr 40, a Nonsuch, a few very nice Catalinas, an Arleigh Burke class destroyer, and an MSC containership.  Between the sights, the company, and the excellent sailing, it was just about a perfect Sunday.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's Time for the Boat Show

The Annapolis Boat Show is this weekend, and I was able to go with friends.  The show is enormous - every size sailboat from small dinghies to large schooners.  Plus tents and booths for all the nautical gear any sailor could wish for.  I didn't see all of it, by a long shot.  But I got a good look at some nice racing dinghies from Laser, some cruiser from Catalina, even the schooner Virginia, the state's official Tall Ship.

As is so often the case in big events like the boat show, there was absolutely nowhere to sit down and take a break.  I'm sore from being on my feet all day.  So today will be given over to aggressive relaxation.

Before the rest, though, there was the hockey game.  Some of my friends had tickets they were unable to use, and were generous enough to offer them to me.  They were up high in the corner, giving a pretty good view of all of the ice.  And it was a good game - the Caps trailed through midway through the second period, and took the lead late in the third.  There was some sloppy play early; it's only the first home game, so that wasn't too surprising.  That also meant we got to see them hoist the Southeast Conference pennant they won last season.

All of this made for a very long, fun day, but an exhausting one.  I'm already looking forward to  a few naps and going back to bed.  So  lazy...

Monday, October 06, 2008

Gordie Howe Hat Trick

A friend offered me a ticket to the Capitals pre-season game against the Flyers on Friday night.  It was pretty great - we were 9 rows behind the penalty boxes, as close as I've ever been to the ice at a pro game.  The Caps had a good game, winning 5-1.  We debated whether Ovechkin qualified for a Gordie Howe hat trick: he had a goal and an assist, and got sent to the box for fighting.  Problem was, it wasn't the gloves-off kind of fight that leaves no room for doubt - more of a scuffle.  And besides, it was preseason, so does it really count?

For a follow-up, on Saturday I biked over to the Shirlington Oktoberfest after checking out Art on the Avenue.  It was pretty fun, once I managed to meet up with friends and stow my bike at their house.  Great weather for biking, and the perfect way to avoid the headaches of parking.  It was an absolutely enormous crowd, which usually makes me kind of squirrelly.  But it was very relaxing, just hung out and tasted a few beers.  Afterwards, watched the first half of the Alabama game at the apartment before riding home.  And then watched baseball until bed.  Pretty good day, I'd say.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Disappointment

Today was fairly unpleasant.  I didn't have much to do at work, and when I'm unapplied on the job I get bored quickly.  This was punctuated by a few waves of bad news.  One revelation was that the company has eliminated any discretionary travel for the rest of the calendar year, so I will not be going to the MAST conference in Cadiz in November.  I still hope to get my paper published, but unless I pay for it myself (and burn up 4 vacation days to do it), I won't be going to present.  This is a great disappointment, but maybe that just means my sense of entitlement is a little overdeveloped.

That wasn't all, and at the end of the day I felt exhausted.  And at the end of bad days I'm always left thinking what I could have done to avoid it all.  If I had just been smarter, made better choices, things could have turned out different.  And on bad days it can seem like all of your days are bad.

For all that, the day had its moments.  I had a nice lunch out with my friends, which is always a welcome change of pace.  I had a nice ride on the trainer at home, and there is all kinds of postseason baseball, and Pushing Daisies is even back on tv.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Luxuriate

Through some very good luck on my part, I got invited to share tickets to the Nationals game on Tuesday night.  Why lucky?  The tickets were bought at a charity auction, and were actually private suite seats.  Granted, it was the smallest type of box at National's Park, a Jefferson suite .  But it was pretty posh.



I didn't think to bring my camera, so these are only camera-phone snapshots.  But we were close to the field, we had our own little kitchenette, bathroom, etc.  I can understand some people getting used to it.

It was a lot of fun, especially since it was a pretty good game (Dingers!) and I got to meet a lot of my friend's friends.  Great weather for a late-season game, too.  Last but not least, I was told the tickets for the box were donated by probably my favorite player on the Washington team, Dmitri "The Meat Hook" Young.

While it was a great night, I don't see myself ever being a luxury-box kind of fan.  The box was one level directly below the seat I had the game on Sunday.  My ticket on Sunday was $18.  That gets you a few minutes in a suite, I think.

I guess luxury boxes are for a fundamentally different kind of fan.  I know many people go to the park, and it is a more social experience - lots of interaction with the people you are sitting with - they are party suites, so it's more like a party that happens to take place with a view of baseball.  I am less likely to do that at a game.  I'll talk about sabermetrics, or background on players and teams, but my mind doesn't wander far from the action on the field.  Perhaps I'm not as engaging as company at a game, but if you want to know how to calculate Expected Runs in your head, sit next to me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Baseball & Bicycles

The Washington Nationals have a free bicycle valet at their home stadium, and I finally got around to trying it out at their last home day game.  And I have to say, it is a fantastic setup.  I didn't have to wait in line to drop off my bike, or to pick it up at the end of the game.  I had to wait to cross Capital Street South when I was leaving, but other than that it was very quick and easy.  And by riding the 14 miles, I made up for at least some of the beer and half-smoke all-the-way I had.

The gorgeous weather only made it better.  It was a great day for a ride, partly sunny in the 70s with light breezes.  Also ideal conditions for sitting in the upper deck and watching a ballgame, I think.

The game itself was pretty good; Cha Seung Baek made a great start for the Padres, shutting down the Nationals for most of the game.  Washington was not so fortunate, giving up runs right in the first inning and trailing all the way to the end.  They did get some offense - a homerun from star 3B Ryan Zimmerman was the  highlight - but it wasn't enough.  San Diego piled on in the late innings, ending with a score of 6-2 Padres.

It was an excellent afternoon, and I am sure I will use the bike valet again.  It's easy, fun to ride to the ballpark, and worth mentioning again that it is free.  Great for day games, and it might even be useful for earlier-starting night games in the middle of summer, when the light lasts longer.  If you are in DC,  give it a try.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Cricketeer

I hate crickets. Ever since they started getting into my first apartment here in DC, chirping away while I'm trying to get some sleep. One of them got in the door, inside the hollow metal front door, and it was like an amplifier, chirping in surround sound THX.

So, this evening after watching some tv, I headed downstairs and heard one. In the house. And when they hear you coming, they go silent. Oh, they stay silent until you spend hours tracking them, waiting for another of their damn chirps so you can triangulate. So clever, hiding in the smallest places, moving just when you think you know where they are. And even when you find them, so quick, flying and jumping.

But I've dealt with them before. I dealt with the ones in the basement (left out deep pans of water - they go in, can't get out. Can't chirp in the water, you bastards), I dealt with the one in the door (at about 3 AM), and I dealt with one tonight. There was some collateral damage, as seen in the photo, but the job got done.

As a soothing contrast, I found a nice shot from Two Lights park in Portland that I took the other weekend. It was a gorgeous day, perfect for being by the ocean.

Landscaping

When I got home on Monday, I was surprised to find a team of landscapers working on my yard.  The property management does this from time to time, usually without any advance notice.  It's nice, for the most part - they trim back the hedges, clear up the fences, etc.  However, they never deal with the real problem of the yard, which is the crabgrass-infested lawn.  Also, without fail they seem to arrive each year just as the honeysuckle blooms, and proceed to absolutely destroy it.

Inspired by their example, I finished the job after dinner by mowing the lawn.  It got a little long, since I was out of town last weekend.  And thick, since like I said it is mostly crabgrass.  It think I should plow it all under and restart with something more manageable.  Lichen, maybe.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Still More Babytime

A staggering number of pictures of Labor Day in Portland.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

BABYTIME

Over Labor Day Weekend I went to Portland to see my nephew, Isaiah, for the first time.

Pictures

More Pictures

Some of the pictures are from other peoples' visits - everyone is eager to be in The Presence.  I was lucky enough to be there at the same time Karen was visiting.  She is Isaiah's godmother, and clearly adores him.  It was nice to see her and catch up; she's on a few different rescue squads now, takes classes on how to use the  jaws of life (including how to avoid being shocked while chopping up a hybrid), and has driven the fire truck in Bristol.  She continues to be awesome.

He does seem like a pretty good kid, for a first try.  He didn't cry much when I was around, and slept regularly for long stretches.  I couldn't help but imagine that he would easily upset and waking up at random times.  But he's great, and according to Nana Cheryl is the cutest baby ever.

The visit was more than just attending on the new Eling.  I went for a nice bike ride with Dad, around the Back Cove, through the Old Port, and over to Ryan and Bethany's... to see the baby.  And do yard work to help them out.

One night we went to a Portland Sea Dogs game, the Red Sox' AA affiliate.  Good game, though it got to be a bit of a blowout.  We had seats behind home plate, right in front of the press box.  Many nearby foul balls, until later in the game, when one came right at me.  I'm still kicking myself - I did not have a glove, and tried to barehand it.  Got a piece of it, but I wasn't quick enough to clap down both hands and hold on.

We also took an outstanding cruise on Casco Bay.  Rather than a tour for vacationers, we just rode the evening ferry that goes from the Old Port to Great Diamond, Long, Great Chebeague, and Cliff Islands.  Looking at the crowd, especially on the way out, it was more like riding a bus.  People coming home from work, bringing groceries packed up by the supermarket in banana boxes.  While the islands are mostly filled with summer homes, many people live there year-round.  So it gave the boat a much different feel than what I expected, but it was a blast.  The Bay is beautiful, and the islands are dotted with amazing homes.  Great Diamond even has an elegant restaurant at the stony cove where the ferry docks.  Lots to see, and it is always a great pleasure to me to get out on the water.  The campers on Little Chebeague even set off fireworks as we went by.

It was a fantastic visit, very restful and reinvigorating.  Mom took a few thousand more photos, I think, which hopefully will be up soon.  Then you can enjoy Babytime preserved for the ages.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Busted

They saw me rolling; they hatin'. Patrolling, they caught me ridin' dirty.

The weather was great this morning, so I got up early (for a Saturday) and rode the Mount Vernon Trail. It was a great ride - nice weather, and a fantastic way to start my day. I did have to stay on my toes coming back, because there were a number of larger packs of runners on the trail. I guess the Potomac Runners have a regular training run on the MVT on Saturday mornings. They were the best kind of runners, from a cyclist's perspective - pretty quick, stayed to the right of the trail, formed small easy-to-pass packs, and paid attention to bike ahead and behind.

The good mood was partially spoilt when I got a little careless. The MVT runs on the streets through Old Town. One section runs right along the waterfront, along the old Torpedo Factory. There are T-intersections, where the trail runs on the crossing leg of the T. Despite the stop sign, I rolled through one of these a little too quickly since no traffic can cross my path without hopping the curb; and of course I got pulled over by the APD. I got lot of looks from pedestrians, standing there while the officer ran my license. I should have told them I was speeding.

In the end, I got a warning, which I had coming. It is a good reminder not to get complacent when I leave the trails and get on the streets.

Really, it didn't do much to ruin my mood - I still had a great ride, and stopped at the Del Ray Farmer's Market for peaches. The yellow peaches are so juicy I have to eat them over the sink; worth the mess, they are delicious. And all of this is on top of going to the Nationals game last night with Sarah & Paul, Phillip, Matthew, and Sarah's dad. Neither team is having a very strong season, but they were pretty evenly matched, with the Rockies just edging out the Nationals. There were homeruns, quick double plays, critical errors, even the rare passed ball on a third strike - and the batter safely made it to first. I've never actually seen that happen live in a major league game. And since it was National Guard Night, I got a slick t-shirt. It was an excellent night, I'm glad I got invited along.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Isaiah Michael

This morning at 0019 little brother and his wife had a baby boy.  Everyone is doing great - healthy baby, relatively easy delivery, everything as you would wish.  Mom took many photos, and is convinced young Isaiah will have red hair.

I'm very excited and proud of Ryan and Bethany.  I'm so happy for them, and the family they've started.  Now I'm going to start buying loud toys and fireworks.  I will be Cool Uncle Dan.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sleighride

Another beautiful day today - uncharacteristically mild for August in DC.  I thought about kncocking off for the afternoon anyway - I had a headache brewing all day.  And the Reds traded my favorite player, Adam Dunn, to the Diamondbacks for, as Chris put it, "a bag of beans, and they aren't even magic beans."
But days like this are all too rare, so I rode to over to Hains Point in DC.  I'm glad I did, too - it was fantastic.  I usually don't stop during my rides, but today I did.  I took a long break near where the old Awakening sculpture used to be.  And I just relaxed in the shade and the breeze, watching the boats on the river and the planes at National.
The wind was very strong out of the North, and the route to Hains Point from my house essentially goes North, short run East, South, North, short run West, South.  So each of the legs heading North was a bit laborious.  The first leg South is sheltered by the larger buildings of the district near the Washington Channel.
The last leg South, though, is along Potomac, with nothing to the north but the river until Georgetown.  Watching the river, I could help but remember downwind runs in my offshore racing days - we called it a sleighride.  You just catch the wind and let the boat ride it down.  Once I turned off the 14th Street bridge, it felt like I could coast all the way home.  Very fast, and lots of fun.  Too bad I didn't go home earlier; I might have considered taking Betty out onto the river for some sailing.  Maybe next time.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

War Machine

Lots of coverage in the papers about the nasty little war in the Caucasus. It sounds like Russia is absolutely steamrolling Georgia. Reports have them conducting bombing and heavy armor operations in South Ossetia and landing troops at ports in Abkhazia. It's actually a pretty good demonstration of the first part of what was known in the U.S. as the Powell Doctrine: if you're going to fight, go in fast and with overwhelming force.

This region has been officially "troubled" for some time now - Chechnya is right around the corner, after all. And it has been slowly heating up for months - there was this fascinating footage from about 6 months ago of a Russian jet shooting down a Georgian UAV:


I'm pretty ignorant of the details of the situation - Georgia was trying to put down separatist rebels, Russia came in as a peacekeeper, now it looks like Russia may try to annex both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. I was wondering what the appeal was for these regions - they're only about 50 miles square each. Then I took at at this map they had up at the Information Dissemination blog. Notice the many, many oil and gas symbols south of the mountains. Mostly in Azerbaijan. But the pipeline that carries that crude out to the West is the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, running right through Georgia. This is an awful little war, and I don't see it ending well.

NBM

Building Museum 8-9-08

There's been an exhibit at the National Building Museum for the past few months that I've been meaning to see: Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future.  I finally went yesterday, ready to take a number of pictures - Chris has said he is a fan of Saarinen's work, and urged me to go to see this.

Unfortunately, photography was not allowed.  I did take some pictures of the NBM, which is one of my favorite buildings in DC.  It was originally built as the Pension Office after the Civil War, so the stairs have long, easy grades for injured veterans.  The atrium is pretty amazing - they use if for kids paper airplane contests.

The Saarinen exhibit was extremely interesting.  They had a number of detail design drawings for some of his buildings, like the Yale Whale, Gateway Arch, and TWA Terminal.  Saarinen was also did a lot of furniture design, and they had examples of some of his more successful works.  Too bad they were displays, and you couldn't sit in them; the Womb Chair looked very comfortable.  I was intrigued by the "criticism" leveled at Saarinen by his contemporaries, that he "invented a new style for each project."  I think that is an obvious virtue - not letting any kind of dogma or standard practice inform a design, but creating the right solution for the problem.  If that's the way Saarinen worked, then I'm a fan of Saarinen.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

At Speed





Some fantastic footage of the new LCS out on speed trials with a bone in her teeth. This is exciting for a number of reasons. First, it is the Navy's first new surface combatant class in almost 17 years, since Arleigh Burke was commissioned. More importantly, Jane is up in Wisconsin playing a big part in the sea trials, and she did some important design work on the project. It is a great achievement for her, and I could not be more pleased.

Since our company is working on the competing design for LCS 2 Independence, I'm looking forward to when she gets in the water sometime in the next year. She will be a much more futuristic looking boat, if nothing else:

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Reds at Nationals

CIN @ WAS 8-1-08
With the current unbalanced schedule in place, most teams only play other teams in the league outside their own division about 6 times a year.  One series at home, one away.  So I get three chances each season to catch the Reds when they visit Washington to play the Nationals.

I enjoy games the most when I can see them with someone.  Since most of my friends aren't as big baseball fans as I am, and none are Reds fans, I can introduce them to the game and the team.  I do love to talk about both.  So invitations were made, and Sarah & Paul were able to join me Friday night.

Homer Bailey started for Cincinnati. The former phenom, this past-tense prospect, did not have a good night.  He lasted two innings, giving up five runs.  Rather than attempt to build suspense, I'll tell you now, that was all the offense Washington needed.  There were some good plays on both sides, including a diving catch by Jay Bruce in right.  Bruce added to his excellent night with a solo home run, which proved to be half of the runs the Reds would get all night.

Even with my Reds having a tough time of it, I love seeing games live, so it was a great time for me.  In fact, the most disappointing thing was not the outcome, but our neighbors.  We sat in the upper deck, and after a few innings some folks showed up to fill the row behind us.  They were Reds fans, I'm ashamed to say.  I suspect they had "pre-gamed" some, as they were already quite loud and obnoxious.  Despite children sitting nearby, they cursed quite a bit.  They sloshed a bit of beer on us.  And, possibly most annoying to me, they were ignorant about the game.  They would yell out how so-and-so couldn't hit, and how another player was a great fielder.  They were almost uniformly wrong.  Baseball is a subtle, elegant game, but they had no appreciation for it.  I don't understand how you can be a baseball fan, and not be interested how baseball actually works.  Adam Dunn may "only" hit homeruns (not entirely true), but he also walks.  A lot.  So he forces in a lot of runs, and puts himself on base so others can bat him in a lot.  He is immensely valuable.  Austin Kearns is a decent player, but is not nearly as valuable as Dunn because he is often injured and has never shown the same degree of power.  But they had to share their contrary opinion with the whole section.  These are just two examples of their errors.

We ended up moving to some empty seats in the ninth to get away from them.  I think I actually prefer it when the crowd is less in to a game - I can concentrate on what is happening and enjoy the details of defensive positioning, pitch selection, and the running game.

I've complained a lot, but truly the annoyances were a drop in the bucket compared to watching my team play with my friends.  It was a lot of fun, and even if this is the last time the Reds are in town this year, I look forward to catching some more games before the season is out.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bike Shop +

A friend sent me this article about a bike maintenance vending machine.  Actually, it's more than that; it's a supply depot, information center, training facility, and community message board all in one.  I think it's a great idea, and would love to see more like it outside the bike shops in my area.  I don't think they would work anywhere - I think they would work best in tandem with a shop, like the the free air offered at many shops already.  More pictures and information from Trek here.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Getting the Runaround

Aaron passed through DC again this weekend for work, and was able to come and visit.  We made our usual visits to Poblano and the Dairy Godmother.  Flavor of the Day: S'mores.  One of my favorites, so the timing could not have been better.

Before he had to go on Sunday, we thought we might go see a movie.  There were movies he had seen that I wanted to, and we're trying to get tickets to the Imax showings of The Dark Knight in a few weeks when he is in town again.  So we ended up getting tickets for the new X-Files movie.  If only it were so simple.

We were early, so we just kind of camped out and waited.  Eventually, more people started showing up.  Aaron noticed that the scheduled start time had come and gone.  The audience started to grumble.  Soon, folks were leaving their seats to go out and complain.  Still, nothing happened.  Then, the pre-movie local ads and trivia cut out, and we were left sitting there, puzzled.

A low-level employee then came in and made an announcement.  After they had sold us our tickets, and sent us to this theater, they had switched the showing to another theater in the multiplex.  And it had started on time.  So we had missed a significant amount of the movie.  Complaints all around as we exchanged our tickets for the next showing.  We left the theater to run some minor errands before returning for the show.

We took our tickets and headed for the 3rd theater of the day.  However, the digital marquee at the door tells us that Mamma Mia!, the same show that took over the 1st theater, was playing here as well.  It seems the staff was not having their past day, logistically.  We ask any member of the staff we can find, mostly stereotypically surly teenagers.  They tell us to go upstairs to a fourth theater.

That theater is labeled as playing Mamma Mia!.  The groups of women headed inside humming "Fernando" was also a good clue.  We head to the service desk, and are told to return to the 3rd theater, though it is still listed as showing the ABBA musical.  At this point, the "answer" comes in the form of shrugs, "I dunno where it's playing" and a resigned handwave towards one theater or another.  We settle into our seats, and begin to observe our fellow audience members.  They do not look like stereotypical X-Files fans.  They do look like they know all the words to "Dancing Queen."  Someone was in for a disappointment.

Eventually, a very nice woman, a customer, comes in and asks if anyone is here to see Mamma Mia!, because she has spoken to the manager and that is being shown at a fifth theater.  About half of the audience gets up and leaves.  One woman laughs as she left, "I did think there were an awful lot of men here for Mamma Mia!"

The movie itself was all right.  Basically a decent episode of the old show stretched to feature length.  The story to get to the movie was probably more entertaining, though.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

America's Vacationland

This past weekend I took a quick trip north to Portland to visit my family. This was the last free weekend everyone had before the expected arrival of Ryan & Bethany's son, so we made plans to get together.

We didn't do much once we were all there, mind you. We are a pretty low maintenance clan when we get together. I helped Dad get parts for some home improvement projects at the hardware store. We had a few nice meals - Mom made pulled pork, Ryan made french toast with cinnamon swirl bread, etc. Mostly it was just spending time with each other, not doing anything in particular.

We did go out to Crescent Beach south of Portland and had an extremely filling barbecue. I was a little woozy after eating, since we had stayed up late the night before at Ryan & Bethany's playing their new Wii. But we had a nice walk along the beach, and it was a beautiful day. Any trip that includes time by or on the ocean is a good one for me.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Who Are the People In Your Neighborhood

So my friend Z is dog-sitting a few blocks away, and stopped by while walking said dog last night.  This thing is huge - a Great Pyrenees that has got to be nearly 200 pounds.  Very well behaved though.  In fact, despite her size I was able to finally get some use out of the fence enclosing my yard - we were able to just let her out there without any worries.  Apparently a very lazy dog.

I can't remember the last time any one of my friends lived close enough they could just drop in while walking the dog, going for groceries, etc.  It's kind of a neat.  I'd go over to where she is dog sitting and ask to borrow a cup of sugar, but she only uses sugar substitutes like Equal.  What's the point?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Celebrate Myself

It is almost time for me to stop feeling so full of myself for passing the PE. I've passed the word at work, and had a discussion regarding how a PE should be a Senior or Principal Engineer instead of an Associate. Purely hypothetical, of course. I just got my stamp and seal for marking any drawings that I review and find satisfactory. "Within 30 days of ... notification" I should get my official certificate, "suitable for framing." Steph & Aaron sent the awesome "cookie bouqet" pictured here. I was treated (very generously, I might add) to dinner by Paul & Sarah, and had a final "study session" at Poblano with Jane, Jackie, and Sarah, along with some other friends. Much more will seem like self-aggrandizement.

Actually, I'm embarassed to admit that while Steph & Aaron were considerate enough to get me the very delicious congratulations, I barely did anything for her latest big achievement. She was promoted, becoming a Lieutenant Commander. For my money, that is a much bigger deal than my certification. And that's just one example - if I paid more attention, I'm sure I would find that most of my friends and family are pulling off stuff like this all the time. So I learned something. Another step forward in the personal growth program.

Also, now that the decks are completely clear, as it were, I have no excuse not to work on my paper for the MAST Conference. I should probably be working on it now... I wonder what's on tv?

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Donkey

I just wanted to highlight a post over at Baseball Musings.  Even casual fans of baseball know David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez.  But it seems like a lot of people don't know Adam Dunn.  He often gets knocked as a guy who strikes out too much to be valuable.  Consider, however, that he is a Three True Outcomes kind of hitter.  He strikes out a lot, he walks a lot, and he hits a lot of homeruns.  He leads the league in walks right now, and only two people have hit more homeruns than him in the past 4 1/2 years, and one of them is an inner-circle first ballot hall of famer to-be.  He is an immensely valuable hitter, and he doesn't get nearly enough credit.  I hope the Reds give him a nice extension, I would like to see him continue playing in Cincinnati.

Cutter Tour

Baltimore June 2008
We found out recently through the SNAME email newsletter that the new National Security Cutter, USCGC Bertholf, would be visiting Baltimore this weekend and open for tours. Jane got the word out, and I joined her, Jen, and Zina to have a look. Jane and I got there before Jen and Zina, so we went for a walk around Fells Point. I had never been there before - it seems nice, but kind of geared towards tourists and nightlife (lots of bars). However, walking around was a good call, because we came across a green 1972 Buick Riviera, a "Boat-Tail." I've wanted this exact car since I was a teenager. I think it is absolutely beautiful. This one in particular even had a little Creature from the Black Lagoon hood ornament - very apropos, since this car is a beast. It probably drinks gas like it is water, and is thoroughly impractical in this day and age. But it is absolutely gorgeous. Jane was good enough to humor me as I gushed and took many photos. Once Zina and Jen arrived, we had a very nice tour. Obviously, we couldn't go everywhere we would have liked. The EM2 leading our tour asked the OOD if he could get us down into the engine room or even Main Control, but we were not allowed. A shame. But we did see the new 57mm gun, the bridge, the CO's cabin, the messdeck, and finished up with the stern-launched boats and the flight deck. The stern launch system still looks like it would be very tricky in a seaway, and I don't see how traversing the boats on a gantry crane can be safe if the cutter is rolling much. On the flight deck, they had parked on of the new re-engined and armed MH-65 helicopters. Apparently a bunch of the brass, including the Thadmiral and Secretary Chertoff were aboard the other day, so they were clearly bringing out all the new toys to show them off. But they were impressive - the armament on the helo even includes one of the big anti-material .50 caliber sniper rifles the Army uses from time to time. So it was a very successful trip up to the Charm City. On the way back Jane and I even stopped at the College Park Ikea, so I could get a more comfortable chair for guests in my tv room. As one of Ryan's friends once said after driving his tractor into an abandoned car (for a movie): "Not bad for a Sunday."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Victoire pour l'Ingénieur

The many nights of studying, working through practice exams and review problems, the study sessions on Saturday afternoons - they all paid off. While I have not received my official notification or certificate, I found this entry online at the Virginia Department of Occupational Regulation. Look it up if you need confirmation. I know I had to look 3 or 4 times, to be absolutely sure.

Maybe it isn't that big of a deal, but I am extremely pleased. Even more so knowing that Jane also passed. Maryland hasn't posted yet, but I am confident of a similar result for Jackie. And next year, Sarah will pass as well. Then it will be a trend, with us as the trendsetters. "Professional Engineering: All the Cool Kids Are Doing It!"

In truth, passing the test was not entirely my own doing. I owe a debt to Jane, Jackie, and Sarah, who all helped me to be more studious, and taught me many useful techniques to become a better engineer; to Tyson, who pushed me to get my ass in gear and take the test already (as well as providing one of my reference letters); and certainly to my folks, who whenever I bitched and moaned about all of the studying reminded me that it would all be worthwhile in the end.

Now I'm going to go order an official stamp and mark every piece of paper that I can. Grocery lists, playing cards, individual paper towels, the works.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I'll Cut You, Bitch

(With apologies for the coarse language, but without it the humor is lost)

I've had some trouble for some time now regarding the landscaping around my house. Overgrowth along the fenceline. Trees growing up against the house. Crabgrass. But over the past few weekends, I think I've turned the tide.

First, I cut the lawn as short as I could and sprayed the hell out of it with anti-crabgrass solution. Pretty easy, and pretty successful.

Second, I finally got some clippers and went to town with them and the weedwhacker along the fence. And after I had chopped up the superweeds that had sprung up, I emptied about half a bottle of weed-killer into what was left. I've got a pretty long fenceline for a plot this size, so maybe I should look into a "family size" bucket of weed spray. That has worked like gangbusters - no need to pull out the weedwhacker since.

Lastly, the trees. Specifically, the tree in the tight piece of yard between my house and the neighbors. It has grown up into the eaves of the roof, and over the roof, and up against the upstairs window. Squirrels us it to climb up into the window and nest beside the air conditioner. Vermin! I've been putting this off for too long.

Since I have no ladder, I climbed the tree and hauled a hand saw up on a bit of line. The principal offending branch was larger than I expected. Big enough I had to take breaks while sawing through it. But down it came. Some other smaller ones as well, that looked like in a breeze might brush against the roof and damage the shingles.

So I've got a lot of branch to deal with now. Alexandria won't haul away brush unless it is bound up in bales no more than 4 feet long, and weighing under 70 pounds. So, the picture above shows the product of my rather lengthy labors. Five bales, ready to go. Next time, I think I will just burn the tree down.

High Tea in Narnia

Have a cup of chamomile with Aslan! I had never seen this before. I laughed for about 5 minutes after I walked past it in the grocery store yesterday.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Things To Do

  • Get a copy of the new Firefox 3.0 browser. Even better than the previous edition. There is an especially nifty feature where you can tag your bookmarks as well as sorting them into folders, and they can have multiple tags. And you can find all the bookmarks that share a tag just by typing the tag into the address bar - pretty slick.
  • Go read katebeaton.com. It is hilarious - I especially like the one about Teddy Roosevelt, "Adventure Time." Teddy Roosevelt was awesome.
  • Find something pulpy for summer reading. I recommend skipping the latest bestsellers and sampling a the work of a classic author of thrillers, Eric Ambler. The Care of Time is one of my favorites, and I'm reading Journey Into Fear right now. I've heard The Coffin of Dimitrios is also extremely good.
  • If you are in the Baltimore/DC area and are interested in ships, consider heading up to the Charm City to tour the USCGC Bertholf, the first new major cutter in decades. She's scheduled to be open for tours the weekend of the 27th.
  • Find something decent to watch on tv now that Battlestar is off the air until sometime in 2009. At least the mid-season finale was awesome.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Prom Night

Sarah & Paul were kind enough to invite me along to "Prom Night" last night at the Army-Navy Club in DC. They are members, and from time to time they have put together excellent nights out for cocktails and dinner. Paul's brother Philip and his wife Sarah were there, along with their friends Matt & Gillian. It was an excellent group.

I had only been to the downstairs club before, so this was my first time in the main dining room. Jacket and tie required sort of situation, so the gentlemen were suitably attired, the ladies in very fashionable dresses, jewelry, and well-coiffed. This is where the "prom night" nickname comes from - I gather most of us do not dress up for dinner on many occasions nowadays.

While it was a "dressy" night, it was not overly formal or stuffy. It was pretty fantastic- mostly because these are just fun people. In that setting, particularly Gillian and Philip's wife Sarah AKA "Sarah the Great." Gillian makes me think of Dorothy Parker, and Sarah is so completely without pretense you can't help but be charmed. She turned up the car radio when "The Humpty Dance" came on - that's my kind of people.

As for the club itself, I always get a kick out of it. Good food, and just a cool setting - lots of the historical arcana that I enjoy. The dining room was full of pleasant older couples - think grandparents - but they didn't seem to mind our... let's call it youthful vigor. So start to finish it was an outstanding evening.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Annual Customs and Yearly Traditions

Early June is when the strawberries ripen. For the past few years, I go up to Larriland Farm about an hour north of Alexandria to pick my own. I can usually get enough for about 4 batches of jam in one tray worth of picking. Once you add in the price of driving up there and back, it is probably more expensive than just buying jam at the store. But I find I enjoy the trip out of the city, and even the bustle and activity of making the jam.

Also, as I've mentioned in previous years, near the farm is a small village named Etchison that has a general store. The store sells outstanding pulled pork sandwiches. So I go, I pick, and I eat my sandwich, and it is a fine day.

I had planned to do all of this on Saturday. But there were some problems. My house - the yard, specifically - has been in a parlous state for a while. I had neglected it while Chris and Aaron visited successively over the past week and a half. So there were giant Cretaceous-looking weeds and plants growing along the fenceline, long grass: a general picture of decay and abandonment.

So Friday after work I got some supplies, including some sturdy shears, and set myself to work. Everything went very well until the very end. I went inside to fetch some durable trash bags to haul away the debris. They are under the sink. And as I stood it was like getting stabbed. I aggravated my back somehow. I think the common term would be I "threw my back out." Rest became the priority of the night. And all of the next day.

It felt good enough today to go up to the farm and get what I needed. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get my yearly sandwich - the Etchison Country Store is closed on Sundays. Fast food is a pale substitute. But I got my fruit, I made my jam, and my back is already feeling much better. I think a few days rest and all will be well. It is so damn hot right now, I don't especially mind laying low for a bit.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Big Time in the Jungle

On his way back from Grandma & Grandpa's 60th anniversary party, Chris was able to stop by this past weekend. He had spent some time in Columbus as well, watching minor league games and visiting his old friend Virgil. He got here late on Thursday, and I left him to his own devices on Friday.

Saturday, we had hoped to go out to Shenandoah and hike Old Rag, but the forecast said there could be strong thunderstorms because the atmosphere was "energetic." Instead, we went up to Rock Creek Park.

I've ridden through the park plenty of times, but never really stopped there. We hiked out from the Nature Center (which includes a planetarium!) and went to the ruins of a Civil War battery, Fort Drury. Not particularly impressive, just mounds of dirt really. But interesting for as a touchstone of local history.

We headed down into the park, and ended up going along the creek for some distance. Not rough hiking, by any means - easy grades, well maintained trails. Really quite nice. It was easy to forget we were essentially in the middle of the city - felt like a "real" forest. We even came upon a deer on the trail - clearly used to people, since it let us get within about 15 feet before shambling off. And while it was hot and humid, but proximity to the creek and the plentiful shade helped ease things a little.

Unfortunately, the free park map doesn't include a lot of detail on the trails, things like the badging used to mark the way. And the signage and badging was fairly poor. So we ended up doing a figure eight instead of a loop, since I took us left when we should have gone right. Still, it was a lucky mistake - the distance ended up being just about perfect, about four and half miles of easy trails. And that extra loop was very nice - it reminded me of some of the cross country trails we ran in high school.

The timing could not have been better - we got home, and just as we finished cleaning up, the sky opened up. The storms were brief but intense. I'm glad we weren't stuck out in anything like that out on the Blue Ridge.

After that, we had lunch, and went to see the new Indiana Jones movie at the Odeon Uptown, the big movie palace up by the zoo. Pretty fun movie, if you know what to expect (basically a 50s B-movie with modern effects and a huge budget). And the Uptown is just a fun place to see a movie - huge curved CinemaScope screen, real balcony, etc. They even show the awesome 70mm prints sometimes - better than HD.

And we ended up back in Del Ray, having dinner at the Afghan Restaurant and Strawberry Shortcake (with fresh Del Ray Farmer's Market berries) at the Dairy Godmother. So, pretty good visit.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Holiday Weekender

The holiday weekend kind of snuck up on me - I didn't think to make any special plans ahead of time. But despite being mostly improvised, it has been great so far. Both relaxing and fun. Yesterday, I slept in, and took an outstanding bike ride to Mount Vernon. Usually I do that ride at the end of the day. But yesterday I did it fresh and rested, so I was able to push a little harder. Made outstanding time, with only a few hiccups due to the increased traffic. And I only had especial trouble with 3 people!

(Don't walk out onto the trail without looking - it's like jumping into a busy street blindfolded. Don't take up the whole path with your friends, gabbing away so you don't hear someone try to warn you they are trying to pass. And give an audible signal when you pass. That is all.)

Today, I made my first trip to the new ballpark in DC. I bought the ticket on a whim Saturday night, and managed to get a good one. First row of the upper deck in left field. Great view. The only problem was it was not in shade until the 4th inning or so. Still, great seat for a decent price.

MIL @ WAS 5-25-08


I like the park quite a bit. It doesn't have the slightly gone-to-seed charm of RFK, but it was comfortable, didn't screw around with gimmicky junk, and there's excellent food (half smokes from Ben's Chili Bowl, for example). It has everything you could want from a modern park, I think. It only falls to the second tier because it lacks the history (Fenway, Wrigley) or perfect location (PNC, Pac Bell) of the very best ballparks.

I was a little disappointed in the local fans, though. Most seemed to show up around the 2nd inning, and lots of people were leaving after the stretch. The game was tied in the 7th and they were leaving. They missed a great finish. In the bottom of the ninth Dmitri "The Meathook" Young advanced Elijah Dukes to third on a pinch-hit single, who then scored on a wild pitch by Guillermo Mota, who took the loss. Not the most elegant of victories, but a win is a win.

THE MIND IS NOT A VESSEL TO BE FILLED BUT A FIRE TO BE KINDLED