Monday, April 28, 2008

george will watch: #39

and so another in the continuing saga of george will's one-word sentence of choice here:

An issue committee is defined as one that opposes or supports "a ballot issue or ballot question." Well.

still waiting for a personal response from mr. baseball. haven't heard anything yet. oh (well).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

hey, government works!

ok, i know, i should have warned you to sit down before reading this. i don't want to be responsible for anyone having a heart attack or fainting spell because of reading this! but, listen to this wonderful story of dealing with an agency of the government of the district of columbia...

on june 17th, 2007, the registration on my car was set to expire. sometime well in advance of that date, the dmv sent me a notice warning me of that fact, and let me know that i could renew my registration either online or though standard post. well, being the luddite i am, i chose to renew through the mail. the registration notice told me to allow 15 days for processing of this feature. i sent the renewal form and payment in with plenty of time to spare, yet i didn't receive my new registration card and sticker when june 17th rolled around. "curious," i thought, and gave less thought than perhaps necessary to this conundrum. more than a week went by, and still no information about my registration from the dmv. i even called to make sure they received the paperwork, and i was given an affirmative, and that "the sticker is in the mail."

on the day of june 28th, i got home and checked the mail. an envelope from the district government! my registration had arrived! i turned and walked down the block to where i had left my car, and what did i see but a little pink slip of paper tucked under the passenger-side windshield wiper. the citation was for "failing to display a current registration sticker," which was impossible to do up until the day the dc dmv finally bequeathed that gift upon me.

let's just say i was a little angry.

i penned a letter to the dmv's adjudication service, insisting that, since i had sent in my renewal form on time, the fault lay with the district for not getting my renewal sticker to me on time. i was sure i had a slam-dunk case, can't lose proof that i didn't deserve the $100 ticket for not having a current registration displayed. i sat back and waited for the summary judgment in my favor.

if i had remained seated, i wouldn't have left my chair for over 9 months.

i checked back on the dmv's website a few times in the ensuing months, looking to see if a record check would let me know that i had sucessfully appealed the citation. there was nothing to indicate a ruling one way or another. after probably 3 months, i quit looking. i guess i figured that, if there was going to be further movement on this, i would find out about it some other way.

two weeks ago, the unexpected happened.

a letter from the dmv arrived in my mailbox. it was a "hearing record" from the dmv! the case has been settled. now at least i would know if i really had to fork over $100 to the city to end my delinquency, or if i was clean as a newly fallen snow in the eyes of the bureaucracy. the anticipation was killing me as i worked the envelope open.

inside, hearing examiner m. harris informed me of the news of the day. ticket dismissed! i was a free man, with no outstanding obligations to the government of the district of colombia, and specifically to it's department of motor vehicles. finally, the weight had been lifted off my chest. i had proof that the system works, and that, if pursued, justice is out there.

two days ago, i received a renewal notice from the department of motor vehicles...

h street alley tour

today i went on the H Street NE Alley Tour, which was put together and led by richard layman and sponsored by cultural tourism dc. it was quite informative, and i just had a damn good time getting to see what some of the alley houses were like on the inside (as well as hearing richard tell us what the city isn't doing to make itself world-class. someday, someday...) i only wish i could have gone on more of the tours the last two days.

flickr photos here (and yes, i'm not an accomplished photographer).

artomatic is coming swampoodle! :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

UPDATE: t street, you're getting speed humps (i think)

on my way to trinity to check out the mcmillan site meeting tonight, i noticed stripes spray-painted across the unit block of t street in 3 places (near the ends and the middle of the block). the odd thing is that they weren't perpendicular to the curb, but at a slight angle (check out the second picture below to get the best feel for this).

either way, it looks like the racetrack that is the unit block of t street northwest is finally going to get something to slow those cars down.


like 'tp' said in the comments, they did put the speed humps in yesterday. of course, the city didn't take the time to move the cars out of the way (or even warn people not to park there for the day), so they half-assed it and didn't run these speed-control devices all the way to the gutter. if there are no cars parked to one side, get ready to watch cars swerve around to avoid the speed hump. good job, ddot.

bloomingdale, you're getting a wal-mart

if you weren't at the big mcmillan development meeting tonight, you missed out on the big news. councilman thomas is in arkansas for a meeting because he's working with wal-mart to open their first store in the district at the corner of michigan and north capitol.

ok, now that you're ready to fire off angry letters to me, the councilman, and everyone else....JUST KIDDING!

(yeah yeah, i'm mean, i know)

seriously though, the first of what will be a series of community meetings to determine what the nature of the development of the parcel between north capitol, michigan, 1st street NW, and channing street happened at trinity university tonight. turnout was impressive. i think i saw half of the anc commissioners from anc 5c. lots of neighborhood dignitaries were there, people you see at every civic meeting. in addition, there were a lot of just regular folk from bloomingdale and stronghold, there to learn about the possibility that their neighborhoods would be permanently changed by whatever might be coming their way.

i don't want to go to long here, and i'm sure scott roberts and others will have more to say tomorrow, but what it came down to was that most of the neighborhood wants to make sure that the development that's coming fits in with the neighborhood. it has to be of a scale that can be absorbed into the neighborhoods, and won't overwhelm the neighborhoods. most of the participants seemed to agree that we need a small grocer, family restaurants, amenities that would appeal to seniors, and some preservation of the filtration site. housing wasn't talked about as much as i would have expected, though i'm sure we'll hear more about that at the next meeting.

anyway, there is no website yet where we can see the powerpoint that was presented tonight, though one of the developer's employees there told me he would be in touch as soon as something is available. here are some photos i took, showing the maps that were set up around the room (click on the images to enlarge):

this first map just shows context, noting the neighborhoods and streets around the mcmillan site.

this map shows the 20 "cells", or underground caverns on the site. those in red are seriously degraded (will likely be demolished). the white ones are in good shape, and the yellow is somewhere in between. my guess will be that the group of 3 white cells at the center will end up being the ones preserved.

this map displays the context of the site. areas are colored yellow for residential, blue for insitutional (hospial and university), green for open space (cemetery, soldiers' home, reservoir), and red for commercial.

this map gives an even wider context, showing the relation of the site to downtown.

finally, this is what met each group of neighbors at our tables. after the initial presentation from the developers, we broke out into smaller groups at these tables to scribble on the map and talk about what we wanted to see done on the site. this is where my group (which included anc 5c08 commisioner marshall phillips, robert brannum, suzanne des marais, and i believe anc 5c05 commissioner aaron knights, as well as 6 or 7 other of us regular neighborhood folk) sat down to talk about what we'd like to see done with the site.

it was a long meeting, but good in that we got to hear a lot about the direction things will be going in. we had lots of free food (chicken fingers, quiche, hummus, artichoke dip, and some phyllo dough filled with artichoke)! it will be quite interesting to see how the developers respond when they come back with drawings at the next meeting.

and we end here with a couple more random shots of folks at the meeting:

Saturday, April 19, 2008

well, there goes the neighborhood

well, the post's neighborhood series found out about us. here's the article.

it's a shame that the whole article is about nothing but house prices, and doesn't mention the positive commercial changes that have happened lately. now, if we can just convince someone to put something worthwhile in the AMAZING storefront and (future) sidewalk café space there at 1st and seaton...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

threats to bikers

just felt this deserved a wider audience:

from the scott roberts' daily bloomingdalian (april 16th, 2008):

From a resident of R Street NW:

Riding my bike (the non-motorized variety) from my home in DC to my workplace in DC today, a woman in an SUV with Maryland tags pulled alongside me near Big Bear and screamed "You are not a motherf--king car! Get the F--- out of the street before I run you over!" Note that I was not blocking traffic. She threw a half-eaten cupcake (chocolate with pink frosting) at me and hit me in the chest before restating her threat to kill me and driving away.

I thought it might be a good idea if everyone knew the legal rights of bicyclists in the United States. Here is an excerpt of DC's regulations, which reflect regulations throughout the country: "Operators of bicycles have the same rights as operators of motor vehicles." If your readership could take this to heart, and perhaps spread the word to friends and relatives in Maryland and elsewhere, it would be appreciated.

The woman who threatened to kill me was correct; I am not a car. I'm a human, and I have a right to live and ride a bicycle in DC. On a related note; Oil prices crossed over $113 per barrel today; a new record.

Monday, April 14, 2008

cited in the post

my friend hilary pointed this one out to me today. the faster forward blog (which tracks "personal technology"), talked about the new neighborhood mapping on yahoo! maps, and referred to this here blog as the first to talk about it here in the hyper-neighborhood-centric dc blogosphere.

of course, rob, the writer at faster forward, called bloomingdale a northeast neighborhood at first, but he's corrected it, so he's off the hook. for now...

of course, he did mention this wikipedia map as a "more accurate" picture of the district's neighborhoods. more accurate than yahoo! maps, for certain, but still needs some work. for starters, crestwood has been replaced by colonial village, sursum corda could use a spellchack (of course, it'll be gone soon), and i have a sneaky suspicion that chevy chase shouldn't be that big...but i'll let someone else handle neighborhoods west of the park.

UPDATE: shooting at north capitol and r

well, i don't have a lot to add, but i noticed the heavy traffic (and 80 buses) on first street, so i knew something was going down. we were walking up r street from first to north capitol when we saw the police tape. from what i overheard from a few conversations, there was a nice, brazen daylight shooting, but we didn't stop to get details.

i counted 17 markers on the ground, though. does that mean 17 shots, or just 17 pieces of evidence?

(there you go jimmy, does your profile look decent here?)

UPDATE: according to abc 7, a man inside the van was shot and killed. call 202-727-9099 or 1-888-919-CRIME if you have any leads, there is a $25,000 reward.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

new revenue stream for the city or an entrepreneur

so, i had this wild idea today. if the city is truly concerned that we could be heading for a money crunch, all they have to do is surround a location and swarm in on the lawbreakers within, charging them all with fines commensurate to their crime. it'll bring in a ton of money. what crime is this that i speak of?

that crime would be related to the inability to read these signs. i don't have a dog in this hunt (that pun's for you, alice), but cripes, you loganites don't really give a rat's ass about those signs in the circle, do you?

this is where i see a revenue stream for an entrepreneur. english teachers. obviously a bunch of yuppies with their puppies need lessons...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

yahoo now mapping neighborhoods

so check this out. yahoo maps has a new feature on the site. google maps has neighborhood labels on their city maps, but it looks like yahoo has decided to try to go them one better.

they're shading the neighborhoods in on their maps.

problem is, their choice of what makes a neighborhood and what doesn't leaves a heck of a lot to be desired. here are a couple of examples from the screen capture you can see to the right:

- lots of neighborhoods are missing. this map has no shaw, no eckington, no bloomingdale, no ledroit park.

- the neighborhoods they do label have grown to eat up a lot of these missing neighborhoods. edgewood has swallowed eckington, bloomingdale, stronghold, and truxton circle. off the map here, ivy city has swallowed trinidad, and you can see that logan circle has eaten up shaw. ledroit park is now part of "cardozo", which not a lot of people use for the u street area, but i think it's not a bad choice.

it's a good start, yahoo, but you need to refine this before it's really useful.

Monday, April 7, 2008

"puppetmaster, let your chairman call the question..."

it was a long day at work, and i needed something to give me a laugh. anc2c never fails to deliver. check out this video.

could thorpe have his hands further up the backs of the women on either side of him? whichever side you think is in the right in the stalemate that is this anc, it's damn obvious that chairman brooks doesn't know what she's doing.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

this week's bad map award

a new project is about to get underway where south dakota avenue and riggs road come together, just north of the fort totten metro station. uninspiringly, it's called fort totten square. it's a pretty flash-intensive website, so you have to do some clicking to get to this terrible map (click on "the area" at the top, then choose the middle square on the left to see it in context). here it is:

let me just point out some of the big issues here:

1) hey look! the red line ends at takoma and there are four stations just floating there in space north of there.

2) north capitol street apparently drifts off to the northwest and ends in a field somewhere near the old walter reed annex.

3) the green line is a MESS! the anacostia, congress heights, and southern avenue stations are WEST of the anacostia river, and the green line crosses the river at benning road.

4) all of the yellow line stations from the pentagon to eisenhower avenue are in the district. guess we've attacked nova and taken back the part of the district that was once ours... :)

5) all the other places where they just have major roads ending in the middle of nowhere is just bad cartography.

this map is a giant mess. here's a hint to the developers: hire a cartographer to make your map, not someone who just learned how to use flash and illustrator last week.

BIG TIME GEOGRAPHY NERDINESS: delaware avenue north of union station!

i was always under the impression that there was no delaware avenue north of union station. sure, before what's now the CSX tracks heading north out of union station towards silver spring were built, delaware avenue had existed in that right-of-way. but it's been gone for over 100 years, right?


then how do you explain these photos i took tuesday evening? is the city redesignating the road between L and M streets as delaware avenue?

(note: the upper picture had the brightness and contrast adjusted in photoshop. it was getting pretty dark when i took these pictures.)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

for the caffeine junkies...

here's pound coffee, on the 2nd street side of the ATF building. now, go get your get-up-and-go juice, you addicts!

mail for washington gateway?

i found these mailboxes on the edge of the property that's about to become the washington gateway development (and will be home to this summer's james bond film festival). the addresses on the boxes are for 100 florida ave NE and 101 new york ave NE. guess those are going to be the addresses for the new buildings there? they just kind of look funny right now with nothing but an empty field behind them.

marriott update

here are a couple pictures of the progress that's being made on the new marriott hotel next to the new york avenue metro station. the first one was taken from the south on the met branch trail. the second one was taken from the north side, across florida avenue. it's moving along pretty quickly!

artomatic 2008: cloud behind the silver lining?

now, i try not to be pessimistic about things, but i can't help seeing things from a glass half-empty point of view sometimes. it's been a point of pride and excitement around the neighborhood that artomatic is going to be coming to noma swampoodle next month. i'm all for it too. i'm a real DC partisan...better that it's going to be here than across the river in arlington, i say.

here's the problems though. there are two:

1) how much of an economic boost can it give to the neighborhood? not much, i say. given that there aren't a ton of restaurants for people to frequent before or after visiting the show, outside of pound coffee on 2nd street. unless you go to mcdonald's or wendy's, and i don't consider that edible.

2) the building it's located in, 1200 first street NE (pictured above and to the left). it's great that there's a TON of space for an arts show. a whole first class office building! wait a minute, you're saying class-A office space, not a warehouse? what's an entire class-A office building sitting vacant for?

that's my biggest question here. sure, we have the DOJ, ATF, and NPR moving into noma swampoodle, but they're all government agencies (or quasi-government, in the case of NPR). don't we need some more big private money to make the investment in the neighborhood for it to thrive? yeah, harris teeter is coming too, but this big-old office building has been done for a long time now (at least a year, i think) and no one has moved in. i would think that the owner of the building, at least, is concerned.

maybe i'm just blowing smoke here, but do you think we should see this office space filling up more quickly?

new electrical box flyers

yep, it's not the answer coalition putting up anti-war flyers, but it sure looks like their stuff (maybe there's just a deal on canary yellow at the print shop). i'm seeing these up on every electrical box between bloomingdale and downtown. some have already been torn half off. i say half off because the glue isn't going to let you tear the whole thing off. wheat paste or not, those suckers are there to stay short of some industrial intervention.

(and yeah, i know why they use yellow. i took classes on color theory in school.)

tree volcanoes

i took these pictures this afternoon on 1st street in front of mt. bethel baptist church. take a look at that first tree. was it just recently planted? it looks ready to fall over! but the big thing that caught my eye was the fact that all three of these trees have what they call "volcanoes" at casey trees. usually, they're mulch volcanoes, when an overzealous planter puts WAY too much mulch at the base of a newly planted tree, and they stack it up the tree's stem.

in this instance, it's not mulch, it's just soil. but, putting anything up the side of the tree like that will kill it. trees need to breathe at the point where the roots meet the trunk (i believe it's called the "root flange"). air transfer happens there, and if it's covered with dirt or mulch, that can't happen.

in addition, moisture can build up there and rot the trunk. that's a quick recipe for a dead tree.

did the city or the church plant these? i'd like to give advice, and would even help to replant, but i don't have a shovel, and i'm not about to disturb trees without getting permission first.

(postscript: i just noticed that i got that white panel truck in the second photo. i'll write a full post about it at a later date, but suffice it to say that there are people living in that truck. strikes me as a little odd.)

totally serious things happening on H street!

check these out:

meatpacking restaurant on H street
tommy wells' small bike plan
richard layman taking over the district at a time
every ethnic group in town made H street what it is today....just not your ethnic group

and the best by far:

girlfriend no longer has excuse to not visit H street boyfriend

the best part from this:

"I saw Napa used sun-drieds," said Ginny referring to the sun-dried tomatoes sprinkled liberally throughout NAPA's menu. "And that was the deal-sealer for me. No white woman with a college degree can pass them up. I am going to come over at 7 p.m. maybe 7:30 this Saturday. Tell him to make sure no black guys are hanging on the corner this time."

i hope i never need an ambulance

not because i think that the EMS or fire department folks don't do a terrific job getting to places that need help. they do. it's just that, it seems like every single day (especially the last two mornings on my way into work), i see ambulances and fire trucks stuck in traffic. do people in this town have some kind of gene that makes you freeze when you see an emergency vehicle coming? i see fire trucks roaring down rhode island avenue, and instead of getting out of the way, cars just sit there. instead of moving out of the way, cars might move up a foot and think they've done all that's necessary to let the fire truck get to the emergency up the road.

please, people, when you see a fire truck or ambulance coming up behind you, pull into a driveway, alley, or side street. yeah, it might mean you'll be a minute or two later to your destination. but better you than a house burning down or someone dying because they didn't get to the hospital soon enough!