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.

Friday, May 23, 2008


I use Google Reader a lot. I scan the NY Times and the Washington Post sites each morning, but mostly I subscribe to various RSS feeds, then filter them for what interests me. For a while, Reader has allowed you to email items of interest. Recently, the added the Share feature, which allows other RSS subscribers to sign up for items you flag. Now, they've added a feature where you can add notes to the items you share. My shared items are up on the right, or you can go here and see items I share plus any notes. I haven't made any good notations yet - not much value added. But I think it is extremely slick, and a great way to archive news, posts, and articles.

Monday, May 19, 2008


There unusual pleasures and annoyances today on the bike trail to Mount Vernon.

Usually, the MVT is one of the best afternoon rides - once you get past Belle Haven, it isn't crowded at all, there are nice views of the river, and plenty of shade if the sun is strong. And that was the case today, but there were additional factors. On the plus side, I scored one of my favorite biking achievements twice. I love passing riders on nicer bikes, who are all kitted out in expensive lycra, clipped in to their pedals and the very picture of the cycling geek. I wear old sneakers, a BMX helmet, and use straps instead of clips. Blowing past them gives me a great deal of pleasure that hints of schadenfreude. "Oh, you paid thousands of dollars for your carbon frame and are pounding energy goo? ON YOUR LEFT." It doesn't happen a lot, so twice in one day is a treat. Maybe not the best thing to take pleasure in, but there it is.

It was also an exceptionally nice day for a ride, no humidity and great temperatures. However, there were an unusually high number of folks out there who could not follow the rules of the trail, or even common decency. All too often, the cyclists who commit these acts are those same well-outfitted riders I enjoy passing. 1) YOU MUST GIVE A WARNING WHEN YOU PASS. It is not optional, it is the law. If you are riding too hard to give a verbal warning, you are riding too fast. Want to go faster? Get on the road, the limit on the trail is 15 MPH anyway. The MVT, especially, is too thin and too twisty to allow much margin for error when passing. Give me a heads up. 2) STAY TO THE RIGHT - also a trail rule. Just because you bought a yellow jersey at REI doesn't mean you are Lance Armstrong. Someone out here is going to be faster than you, and hogging the trail isn't going to change that. Don't be a dick. 3) If you are just out to enjoy a nice ride, don't ride side-by-side. Maybe other people don't want to get stuck behind you - be considerate of the fact that other people are using the trail in other ways. We can all enjoy it if we just show a little courtesy. 4) NEVER EVER STOP ON THE TRAIL. If you stop, get off the pavement. I do not want to run you over - but I will if you are just sitting there as I come downhill around the corner. There were people on the trail doing all of these things today, and it gets me worked up. These are not pet peeves - I really don't want to be in any more bike wrecks - they suck. The Park Service posts these rules up and down the trail so we don't have to go through the bruises, road rashes, and bent forks.

For all that, it was an outstanding ride. It looks like rain and riding the trainer for the next couple of days, so I'm glad I got a good one in.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Check Below For Damage

Ahh, April showers. Unlike most folks and many dogs, I like storms. I enjoy the sound of the rain, and I still count the time between the lightning and the thunder to find the distance to the strike. It is a relief when the storms come, because the humidity breaks and the temperature drops. Sleep even comes easier.

However, the heavy rain here in DC recently has been problematic. Like all storms, it means no bike rides. But I have the fluid trainer in the basement, so that is easily remedied. However, there is trouble downstairs. It is an old house, and that means leaks.

It goes beyond dampness. And they are no mere puddles. Large bodies of standing water. It isn't flooded, by a long shot - there are plenty of dry areas, and nothing gets too deep. But it's more than a mere mopping can take care of. I haven't had much luck getting it into the drains I can find, either. So I'm looking for any clever ideas on how to dewater the lower decks.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


I went to the Curious Grape wine shop last night with Jane & Ian, Sarah & Paul, Zina and one of her friends. The owner was doing a mini-symposium, free lessons on some of the basics of wine. I'm still not much of a wine drinker, but it was interesting. Never hurts to learn. And they did food pairings with the wine to bring out flavors. Most were cheeses, but there was one particularly notable food pairing: Mo's Bacon Bar. It's a pretty decent chocolate bar, with bits of applewood-smoked bacon inside. Not for everyone, and I certainly wouldn't want to eat a whole bar of it by itself. But it is at least as good as chocolate-coated pretzels and potato chips.

Afterwards, we went next door to Ping for chinese. I wasn't especially hungry, so I just got a small plate of pork-filled steamed buns. I often order these at chinese restaurants, always hoping that they will be like the dim sum that was next door to Ryan & Bethany in Boston. That place had the best cream buns... Not the case this time. They were different, but still quite good. The pork wasn't sealed up inside, rather the steamed bun was wrapped around it so it was like a chinese mini-taco. With a slice of cucumber inside - surprisingly tasty.

The televisions over the bar were showing the Nationals and Orioles games, so I got a little distracted. And then I may have geeked out all over the group by getting into sabremetrics and explaining the quick-and-dirty formula for Expected Runs. I may have also ranted about the moral degeneracy of interleague games. I sometimes forget that maybe not everyone shares my particularly geeky interest in the game.