8.25.2003

Oh well

I heard that Good Charlotte, a pop-punk band from Annapolis, was added to the NFL Kickoff concert thingy. Wait, I'd better give the official title... "NFL Kickoff Live 2003 presented by Pepsi Vanilla." Gah.

Now I kind of wish I could go, just to see hear them sing this line from their song "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous"...

And did you know if you were caught and you were smokin' crack
McDonalds wouldn't even wanna take you back
You could always just run for mayor of D.C.
That'll probably get a cheer on the Mall.

No New Senators

This is a funny Slate column about why it would be awful to put a new baseball team in Washington.

The endless flocks of lightweight Beltway harpies that would descend on the team—"Hey, Bob, let's go down in the stands and talk to George Stephanopoulos"—in short order would render that team the most insufferable sports experience not involving George Will. Except that it likely would involve George Will.

INS1PID: Personalized Virginia license plates I have hated (part 8 in a series)

MADE MAN
DEEEP
CANN DEE
UNDRTKR
WHEELS

8.22.2003

Don't go there

The Mixing Bowl, this weekend, that is. It will not be pretty, again.

Dept. of Media: Heads in the Sand

Great column about how the Washington newspapers (and others) have attempted to justify being lied to by Bush in the case for invading Iraq.

Bonus points to the author, Erik Wemple, for describing the Times' position as "the Moonies' ivory tower." Brilliant.

8.21.2003

Ramsey Declares 'Crime Emergency' in D.C.

CRIME EMERGENCY!

The proper response to a crime emergency, of course, is to run around frantically while flailing your arms about, yelling: "CRIIIIIIME EMERGENCYYYYY!"

Seriously, crime emergency? I mean, it's bad like always, right? Declaring an emergency now seems a little random. (Of course, it seems emergency-worthy all the time to me.)

Living Costs More With Increased County Fees

We're learning that when you slash federal taxes and spending, states and counties are forced to raise their taxes to pay for those services themselves or go bankrupt. But instead of calling them taxes, they're called "fees." Thus, the ridiculously high cost of living in Montgomery County has gotten even more ridiculous.

How To Hate the Redskins in Three Ways

Three observations from last weekend's Redskins preseason game, in order of ascending hatred.

3) Worst color scheme for a stadium ever. [Product-placed shipping company] Field's ugliness seriously now eclipses the Houston's Astrodome's red-red/orange-orange seats (you know, the colors everyone in the '70s thought would be the "COLORS OF THE FUTURE!").

The team had the same set-up in 2001. The stadium was originally "Jack Kent Cooke Stadium" after the team's old owner, but when the aforementioned [product-placed shipping company] took over the naming rights, they apparently decided that the top ring of the stadium needed to be colored similarly to the company's logo. Which gives us a band of purple, orange and green colored fences at the top of the stadium, like this:



It goes spectacularly badly with the inside of the stadium, where seats are colored... burgundy and gold.



Yecch. This picture doesn't even do it justice. I can't explain in words how awful these colors look together.

2) You can't bring backpacks into the stadium, thanks to a policy instituted after 9/11.

I'm getting a little tired of being treated like a potential terrorist everywhere I go. I realize that our area is often a target for terrorism of various kinds, and that there's occasionally fan-related violence in the stands but that's why you search backpacks before letting them in. When I go to a game, all told I'm generally away from home for seven hours. I want to take reading material, my radio, and sunscreen, and it's a pain in the ass having to fit all that crap into my shorts pockets.

Can we please get over 9/11 already and start living our fucking lives normally, like we used to? Yeah, we're at risk of being the victims of terrorism. We always have been. I'm willing to accept that if I can get on with my life, and not have to make do without a backpack for the whole day. Let's pull up our socks and get back to normal.

This country has the self-image of perservering through tough times and standing up to attacks, but now we're just acting like a bunch of chickens. Or is that just in Washington? I was just at Wrigley Field a month ago, where they had no problem letting me bring a backpack inside; I don't see why [product-placed shipping company] Field or [product-placed telecommunications company guilty of fraudulent accounting practices] Center should be any different.

You also can't bring umbrellas into the game. Ostensibly, that's probably so everyone has a clear view of the game. But the couple behind me at the stadium was convinced it was because of terrorism. "Oh sure, you could hide something up in there [in the folded umbrella]," the husband said.

What the fuck?! Did the Penguin escape from Arkham Asylum again? Are we really still so skittish that we're concerned the umbrellas people carry might be deadly weapons? If so, we're all a bunch of fucking cowards.

1) The ushers at the game are like unto the Gestapo.

Now, I understand that they have a job to do. Keeping order at a football game among rowdy and drunk fans is not easy. But this is a preseason game. It doesn't count in the standings, the starters only play for half the game, and the ticket holders tend to either stay home or leave during the third quarter. Plenty of seats open up closer to the field in the second half, and it's a perfect opportunity for us poor upper-deck denizens to move down and watch the scrubs play from a closer vantage point.

And yet, the ushers forbid it. I had to do quite a lot of sneaking around at halftime in order to find an aisle that happened to be unguarded by these fucking bastards. Once I did, I sat in the back of the lower corner section of the stadium, alternately watching the game and reading a magazine.

When I finally got up to go with a minute left in the game, I witnessed an usher preventing a kid from entering the section. Understand that there were maybe 5,000 people left in a stadium that seats 80,000. This kid wasn't going to be taking anyone's seat, and he probably just wanted to get a glimpse of the field close up. But no, Mr. Ticket Gestapo wouldn't let him.

Now, being the nice guy that I am, I directed this kid towards the unguarded section. But why must this usher be so vigilant in his duties at the end of a meaningless exhibition matchup?

Oh right, because the Redskins are evil, Dan Snyder is Satan, Washington is a joyless metropolis, etc.

8.20.2003

The Jen Waters Fan Club: now in session

The accounts of this meeting of the Jen Waters Fan Club may not be disseminated without the expressed written consent of Jen Waters, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and Jesus.

Ah, what exciting Washington-area lifestyle topic are we writing about this time? Perhaps Jem... ahem, typo... perhaps Jen will branch out from her usual topics of A) the natural sciences and B) home improvement for the super-rich.

Nope, it's category B again. Heh. JEN IS EXCITEMENT!

Gardening with water can bring an added element to an outdoor setting. From birdbaths and small fountains to waterfalls, ponds and streams, water can give extra sparkle to any yard. It also helps create a peaceful atmosphere.
Wow, I am sold! ("Can give extra sparkle to any yard?" Jesus Christ on crutches, is this a newspaper or a flyer from Lowe's Home Improvement?)

Installing the Sisolaks' 10-foot-by-4-foot kidney-shaped pond came about as part of a larger home renovation, says Kevin Winkler, an architect with Wentworth Levine Architect Builder in Silver Spring.

The firm redesigned the kitchen and family room in the house and added a wood deck in the back yard. After those projects were completed, the Sisolaks decided they wanted to change the landscape of the back yard, creating a more desirable view from the family room.
All right, sounds absolutely bitchin'! JEN IS ADVENTURE!

Now all I need is a yard. And first I'm going to need a house. And before that I'm going to need about a $20,000 raise for a down payment. But hey, at least I can live vicariously through the extreme excitement of other people renovating their homes!

To create the pond, workers dug the shape and put sand in its base. Then a rubber liner was installed to keep the water from seeping into the soil. After that, flagstone was placed on the edges of the pond to match the walkway.
OK, I just have to ask: who reads this bullshit? Are there really people out there who are subscribing to the Times, waiting on the edge of their seats every week for the latest Jen-authored piece on how to landscape your walkway? Are people that fucking boring?

"I just sit there and look at it," Mrs. Sisolak says. "I can do that for at least a half-hour. It's real easy."
That answers that question, I guess. Hey, here's an idea, Jen, for your next lifestyle article: maybe next time find some people to interview who leave the house occasionally and actually do interesting things with their lives besides spending tens of thousands of dollars on home improvement. Just a thought.

Ouch

Last night, while working a scrimmage under the hot sun in Vienna, my legs were introduced to the wonders of hundreds of biting flies. Making my previous analogy about tsetse flies seem even more relevant.

8.18.2003

INS1PID: Personalized Virginia license plates I have hated (part 7 in a series)

GEDDY UP
BE CR8TV
W8N4GDO (English teacher?)
SRNDIPT
SYNRJY

8.14.2003

Shootings in D.C. last night



These are apparently unrelated, random incidents, not related to gang violence. The two guys on Kenilworth Ave. (D) were shot in their car from an overpass. The eight people wounded in (C) were all just standing in front a nightclub when they got gunned down.

Number of people wounded or killed just last night in just the District proper: 14.

Number of people killed or wounded by the Beltway snipers over a three-week period last year: 14.

But will last night's violence make the national news? Doubt it.

Dolphins bottle up our fascination

Me: That headline makes no sense at all. Dolphins can't hold bottles, and fascination can't be bottled up because it's just an abstract concept.
Jen: ...

Remember Jen Waters? She was that kid who had a report due on space. I mean, report due on dolphins. Fortunately, the Washington Times was nice enough to print it.

Although more evaluations need to be completed before a broad spectrum of conclusions can be drawn from the studies, scientists have been able to make some preliminary conjectures.

For instance, it seems the amount of pollutants in male bodies increases with age as they continue to eat contaminated food, while females eliminate pollutants through their milk, which is passed to offspring. The specific pollutants carried by the animals are identified through testing portions of blubber.
Me: You get a B+.
Jen: Why not an A?
Me: Too long. You found so much great information you put it all in. Overkill.
Jen: Hm.

Mall Bash Will Begin NFL Season

This sounded like a great idea when I first heard it. The Redskins open the NFL season with a special Thursday night game; like last year in Times Square, the league planned a big public concert, this time on the Mall.

Sadly, the concert will feature:



Yeah. Aerosmith, Britney Spears, and Mary J. Blige. Big 0-for-3 there. I think I'll just go to the game.

(Heh... I may never find a trashier picture than Britney Spears in that Redskins dress-thingy. That's like an unprecedented synergy of white-trashiness. Gotta save that one.)

Oh, plus the Metro's not going to be fun to ride that night. Add the concert crowd of 75,000-300,000 on the Mall to the normal Thursday evening rush hour crowd and train-riding football fans... ick. Do not use Smithsonian station that night. It might be just a wee bit cramped.

Tom Knott column on "city living, dc style!!"

"Mr. Williams is in the beginning stages of what promises to be an arduous undertaking, if not a hard sell, in a region that has seen people fleeing the city since the 1950s."

Public service announcement

Do not, repeat, do not drive anywhere near the Mixing Bowl this weekend (a.k.a. the I-95 & I-495 interchange in Springfield, Virginia). Just trust me. It's not going to be pretty.

"There is the potential for a world class gridlock," said Lon Anderson, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic motor club. "If you are contemplating being in that area, don't do it."

Thursday, bloody Thursday

"One person was killed and 13 were wounded in five separate shootings in the District last night and early today, police said."

My anecdote for the day

So this guy I work with who sometimes hangs out in my office really, really loves puns. Way too much.

I happen to hate puns. Puns are the lowest form of humor, I say. This guy disagrees; says that they're actually the highest form of humor, and that mockery and making fun of people is the lowest form.

Obviously, I disagree. What a stupid fucking half-wit.

Fortunately, my brother taught me the best way to deal with puns: always treat them completely literally. This defuses the pun, and, most importantly, makes other people feel the discomfort that they have foisted upon you.

Examples from today:

[My office mate pulls out a Mag Lite flashlight to work on his computer]

Punster: Gee, good thing that's not a Mag "Heavy."
Me: What are you talking about? It's called a Mag Lite. As in flashlight. You've got the meanings of the words confused.
Punster: ...

[Later, talking about software cycles]
Punster: There's only one person who's not several cycles behind.
Me [anticipating pun]: Who's that?
Punster: Lance Armstrong.
Me: What? That makes no sense. Lance Armstrong is a cyclist; he rides a bicycle for a living. We're talking about a different type of cycle entirely. You've got the meanings of the words confused.
Punster: ...

[Punster leaves office in frazzled, confused state... mission accomplished.]

8.13.2003

News Roundup Jubilee Celebration Party Fun Time

Springfield Couple Accused Of Abusing Girl, 12. Subhead: "Videos of Sex Acts Were Sold, Police Say." Virginia is for lovers... of 12-year-old girls! (That last part is always cut off by the tourism board.)

Gang Histories Rife With Death, Despair. A good column about rising gang violence.

Not to be outdone, the Times also "keeps it real" by writing about all the different exciting varieties of wallpaper you can buy for your house. Perhaps it's Jen Waters under a pen name? It's definitely her encyclopedic M.O., plus it includes a free plug for a Southwest wallpaper store.

Wallpaper isn't just paper anymore. Even the term "wall covering" hardly suffices to describe the range of offerings available to brighten walls.
No, it suffices.

8.12.2003

D.C. hazardous-materials team fails test

"The majority of the D.C. Fire and EMS Department's hazardous-materials team failed an exam testing their competency in responding to emergencies, including chemical or biological attacks, city officials said yesterday."

More Doors Closing On Working Poor

Pick this up, Google: "Do Not Move To Washington, D.C." You can't afford it.

In this region, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment stands at $999. Housing advocates say thousands of service workers make less than half the salary needed to afford that.
Affordable housing here is constantly being replaced by high-priced luxury apartments and condominiums. This will make Pat Buchanan happy, at least until there's nobody left to serve him coffee at Starbucks.

Audit Excoriates United Way Leadership

If only I could find a way to steal money from my company... then maybe I could make a decent living in Washington. That's apparently what everybody else does.

In one example from 1991, Suer claimed $543 in expenses for a United Way conference in Tampa on the weekend the Super Bowl was taking place there. Auditors concluded there was no United Way conference there at the time.
Brilliant.

We're all professionals here

The Redskins responded to getting shut out the other night by... fighting with each other in training camp.

Also, Maryland cheated when one if its coaches gave money to a prospect.

You can't play with my toys!!!

Brickfest was held this past weekend at the George Mason Arlington campus. It sounds like fun, since it involves Legos. However, it's specifically for (and this is the website's terminology) "AFOL's," or "Adult Fans of LEGO".

Kids, who are probably the most likely group to enjoy looking at massive LEGO structures, are discouraged from attending.

And registration is $50.

Is there anything we can't suck the fun out of?

Subscribers aren't the only ones dropping "AOL"

Here's a funny summary of media coverage concerning AOL trying to get itself dropped from the "AOL Time Warner" name. The writer of the piece had the same reaction to the news that I did yesterday: "Huh?" It's AOL that's been dragging down the media conglomerate's name with its poor performance and accounting scandals.

Don't forget to check out the internal memo featuring AOL's spin on the subject... that it's an attempt for AOL to get back its "online identity."

The thing that makes me happiest amid all the coverage is this graphic from the Post:



BWAH HA HA! Oh man, I have to see that again...



BWAAAAAAAH HA HA HA!

8.11.2003

AOL Time Warner?

We already had Worldcom change its name to MCI to avoid negative connotations. And now...

The management at America Online has asked AOL Time Warner Chairman Richard Parsons to drop the AOL from the company's name, saying the identification of AOL Time Warner's corporate problems with the service are also tarnishing the unit's brand name, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Wait, wait... so AOL thinks that its brand is being tarnished by Time Warner? And not the other way around (i.e. that the AOL dinosaur is dragging down the corporate behemoth)? Whatev.

Meanwhile, AOL 9.0 is out, I guess! Hooray! Because we all needed more junk mail CD-ROMs to throw away/make into drink coasters!

Aha, but this one has marvelous new features, like:

Mail in AOL 9 still evaporates out of your inbox after a week, but you now get 20 megabytes of online mail storage per screen name, accessible from any copy of AOL 9. The update also adds a "Manage Mail" view that clearly presents your online and offline mail folders.

It doesn't, unfortunately, help you organize the messages you'll start to accumulate: You can't sort mail saved on AOL into different folders, nor can you filter incoming e-mail by its sender.
OK... why hasn't AOL caught up with Netscape from five years ago?

You can dress up your IM personality with a "SuperBuddy," a giggle-worthy icon that reacts to your chatter -- type "lol" (short for "laughing out loud"), and your SuperBuddy chuckles; "cool" causes it to put on sunglasses, and "XOXO" makes this little avatar smooch the screen.
Wow, what a major fucking enhancement that is. Those are some funky fresh ideas coming out of Dulles.

Most useful of all is AOL 9's free voice chat, which allows you to have a real, two-way conversation, just like on the phone, between any two microphone-equipped PCs running AOL 9, anywhere in the world.
Once again... this is the hot new technology of five years ago. That everyone has since realized doesn't work and stopped using.

In the D.C. area, AOL's only high-speed offering is a $54-a-month, Verizon-run digital-subscriber-line service. The same basic connection, but with MSN software, is available directly from Verizon for $35 a month.
Ridiculous. People, stop giving your money to AOL. You can get the real Internet via DSL connection for cheaper. The Verizon straight-up DSL is good stuff, and they lowered the price recently. Please do that instead. Do The Right Thing, as Spike TV would say.

Brief hatred

D.C. is razing old housing projects to make way for new neighborhoods, I suppose as part of the famous "city living, dc style!" campaign.

" 'No one should think that they can't afford to live in the District,' said Eric Price, deputy mayor for planning and economic development." Yeah, fuck you too, pal.

Do I get to live next door to one of those new Latino street gangs I've been hearing so much about? Hooray, even more violence than before! They could be flying under the cops' radar after a computer crash wiped out 200 cases from their database. Always make backups, people.

Oh, and apparently, you haven't lived here if you haven't gone to the American Horticultural Society's farm in Alexandria, or to this replica of a whiskey still in rural Marlyand. By that reasoning, I haven't lived here, and never will.

Who's dumber: Spurrier, or me for buying the tickets?

First I laughed when the Redskins lost their first preseason game to Carolina 20-0. Then I was sad, because like an idiot I bought tickets to watch this garbage all season.

It's a sickness, really. Or, I'm an idiot.

After all, the Redskins charge the highest average ticket price in the NFL; the $59 per seat per game I pay to sit in the upper deck of [product-placed shipping company] Field, at the 20-yard-line, about 3/4 of the way to the back, is ridiculously high And that's face value; if you want to attend a single game, you would probably wind up paying double that to a scalper and/or ticket broker.

And for what? My money indirectly goes to paying the salary of a complete and utter moron. I'm speaking of head "ball coach," Steve Spurrier.

That's right, I said it. Steve Spurrier, who was hired by Daniel Snyder at a salary of $5 million a year for his offensive genius, is in fact a fucking moron.

At his college job, the University of Florida, Steve could recruit some of the best high school players in the South to play for his team. Then he would run up the score against cupcakes like Wyoming and Middle Tennessee State, and run it up against the bad SEC teams as well. Then he would lose to a decent team at some point during the season, dashing hopes for a championship, but everyone was so happy about going 10-2 all the time that they didn't care much.

Spurrier's brand of football was easily recognizable: throw the ball all the time, because running doesn't let you run up the score fast enough. He often had faster receivers than the other team's defensive backs, which made this process successful much of the time. And beating bad teams 55-0 made him look like an offensive guru, and his quarterbacks look like Heisman Trophy shoe-ins.

Fast forward to 2002. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder extracts Spurrier from his job at Florida and installs him as head coach. Spurrier proceeds to hire a number of men who played for him at Florida, and professes to the media that, by gum, what worked at Florida would work in the NFL.

WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. The NFL is completely fucking different from what you saw at Florida, goober.

In the NFL, your team will never be 10 times better than your opponent, like it would sometimes be at Florida. The NFL has a structured team salary cap and league-wide revenue sharing, which means every team can afford the same number of quality players. It's rare for one team to be able to hang on to all the good players, which means every team is a lot closer in overall ability than in the NCAA.

This has two important ramifications on the way Spurrier does business. One: his receivers are longer necessarily faster than the opposing team's defensive backs. In fact, they almost never will be. Two: he can't afford to hire every single Florida alum he feels like, because many (all?) of them just don't have the talent it takes to compete in the NFL. I thought maybe he learned this lesson after cutting several Florida players he added, including Shane Matthews, Danny Wuerffel, Chris Doering, Reidel Anthony and Jacquez Green. But then he rehired Wuerffel again a couple weeks ago. Go figure.

The key to successful offense in the NFL is a strong running attack. This has to be your team's bread and butter if you want to win a Super Bowl. A talented offensive line that can open holes in the defense and push them around, coupled with a capable running back who can find the holes and rack up quick yardage. The defense will tire out having to chase the runner, which makes running the ball easier later in the game. You reduce the risk of turning the ball over and keep the clock running, boosting your time of possession, which is a Good Thing.

I know this; the fans know this; the experts know this. Everyone who has closely followed the NFL knows and accepts this to be true. So why doesn't Steve Spurrier know it? He had a great running back in Stephen Davis last year, and actually had a better record when he called more running plays than passing plays. But he still insists on sticking to a pass-heavy game, which led to the Redskins releasing Davis. Yeah, the same guy who ran up a ton of yards Saturday night against them, in a great I-told-you-so moment.

It seems like an intelligent man would have made a few adjustments upon moving up to the NFL, rather than just assuming that he could do everything the same. Spurrier seemingly doesn't want to accept the fact that his approach to coaching in the NFL has been all wrong.

God, I just want to take that little man's head and bash it into the ground repeatedly. RUN THE BALL, YOU LITTLE BITCH! I'm like Matthew Broderick yelling at the giant tic-tac-toe computer at the end of Wargames. LEARN, DAMMIT!!! LEARNNNNNNN!

8.08.2003

Hatred news roundup

Hatred news, literally, in the case of a National Fire Academy teacher who made class a bit more than uncomfortable for one of his black students, a D.C. fire captain.

I would really like to see how much the D.C. government loses every year just from people stealing and cheating it out of cash. In the case of a traffic violations clerk and her friend taking bribes to cancel tickets, it was $100,000 in June alone. The best part is when Mayor Tony said, "We have no room in this government for people who steal." Apparently, there's actually plenty of room. In fact, that seems to be the D.C. government's entire reason for existing.

Sadly, Kemp Mill Music is closing. I was an occasional customer of their Dupont Circle location, which had a pretty decent selection of cheap used CDs and electronic music. It's not that I don't like shopping at Tower or Amazon, but sometimes I want to throw my money at the non-giant-corporation outfit that's squeezed into a tiny retail space downtown. The people at Kemp Mill were generally knowledgeable and approachable; they usually posted some pretty solid staff recommendations. This was the kind of store that Washington was badly lacking and needed more of; now, it's gone.

The Times publishes an irresponsible editorial that basically blames the Clinton administration for 9-11. The worst part is this line: "The World Trade Center attacks of 1993, the bombing of our embassies in Africa, the attack on the USS Cole, the downing of TWA 800, the attack on Khobar Towers—all were treated as the disparate actions of deranged individuals..."

Yeah, that's great. Crackpot. At the bottom of the column:

Peter Huessy is president of GeoStrategic Analysis and Senior Defense Associate at the National Defense University Foundation. These views are his own.
Right, that usually goes without saying in an authored column on the op-ed page. The Times seems to be saying, "Wow, this guy is crazy even for us," by including this disclaimer.

8.06.2003

INS1PID: Personalized Virginia license plates I have hated (part 6 in a series)

GR8 2DRV
On a Mercedes: NU BENZ
CME4TAX
THY WBD (i.e. "Thy will be done")
AROUZED

8.05.2003

"Go to sleep bitch; die motherfucker die"

D.C. murder counter: up three since yesterday. I believe it's also up eight since Friday.

Never again

I don't want to relive my last experience flying out of BWI, but here's a story about the ridiculous wait times getting through security, which are as bad as they were just after 9/11 due to a TSA hiring freeze.

The best part about waiting in that long line that's moving slowly is when someone really clever starts mooing like a cow. That never gets old. It keeps getting funnier every fucking time I hear it.

Exploding Manhole!

No, it's not the name of the newest gay club in Washington. This is an actual exploding manhole. For about the 50th time.

Oh, Pierre L'Enfant, you crazy frog; why did you have to include exploding manholes in the design of D.C.? That was so not a good idea.

The newsprint version of Blipverts

Oh, what to do, what to do? The Post is losing circulation despite a growing Washington population, ostensibly because it can't capture that oh-so-elusive 18-to-34 demographic.

The solution? Create the retardedest tabloid possible and give it away free. It's all 20-to-60 word stories that are a day old anyway. I think publishing a daily tabloid in Washington is a good idea, if it would add competition and give people something easier to read on the Metro. But the Post must not think much of 18-to-34s if this is what they give us.

When you're a young newspaper reporter, you have to pay your dues by working in crappy little towns at crappy little papers for years before breaking into a big, respectable paper like the Post. As a result, the writers and editors at the Post are very old. They have little idea what young people would be interested in. Instead, we get treated to columns like Bob Levey's "The Funniest T-Shirts of 2003" (part two, no less):

"People Like You Are the Reason People Like Me Need Medication" -- Andrew Fuller.

"My Inner Child Is an Honor Roll Student" -- Debbie FitzSimonds of Shady Side.

"Fifty Is the Ultimate F-Word" -- Peter Tannenwald of Northwest Washington.

"Two Rights Do Not Make a Wrong. They Make an Airplane" -- an e-mailer who asks to remain anonymous.

"Protons Have Mass! And I Didn't Even Know They Were Catholic" -- Steve Duggan.
I don't know about you, but I'm absolutely busting a fucking nut over here.

So good luck, Post. You'll need it, seeing as how all your young readers are belong to me! Muuuuu-ha ha ha!

8.04.2003

You've got mail, BITCH!

Flat orbs of silver
Descend from the letterbox
Fill my house with crap

--Richard Peters

Funny anecdote in this column about CNN's softball victory over AOL.

As White House correspondent John King was rounding second base on the homer by CNN's Howie Lutt, King shouted, "You've got mail!" He denies adding a choice expletive, but the AOL shortstop took vigorous exception and cursed him out. Meanwhile, says King, AOL's center fielder bumped Lutt, leading to a bench-clearing melee in which another AOLian put his hand on King's chest.
Oh yeah, IT'S GO TIME! Kick their asses, CNN.

Meanwhile, Pud printed an internal memo from AOL detailing their new "totem process," a global ranking of employees. Eeeee-vil.

Them Duke boys better grow some wings... or start flapping

As if there wasn't enough danger living in D.C. I'm sure this retired resident didn't expect a car to come flying through a brick wall, into the living room of his second-floor apartment.

Still, this would seem to be a survivable accident. Unfortunately, since this guy lived in D.C., he had to count on D.C. public services, which reduces everyone's survivability considerably. Remember last week when USA Today ran that article on D.C. EMTs and firefighters, whose rivalry and bickering tend to be fatal for victims of cardiac arrest in the District? The article said that D.C. only manages to save the lives of about 4 percent of its cardiac arrest cases, while Seattle saves 45 percent.

We get to see that inaction in action here:

When firefighters arrived, they found Williams in cardiac arrest and performed CPR, said Alan Etter, a spokesman for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.

Neighbors complained that a D.C. ambulance took too long to respond. Etter said computer records showed that the ambulance was dispatched at 3:10 a.m. and arrived 21 minutes later -- far longer than the department's standard of 8 to 10 minutes. Etter said the department would investigate to make sure those times were accurate and, if so, determine what caused the delay.

Although firefighters arrived at the house within minutes and began performing CPR, the ambulance was needed to take Williams to a hospital, Etter said. Williams was later pronounced dead at Washington Hospital Center.
Good grief. Not to steal my brother's brilliant idea of drawing parallels between D.C. public services and bad 1980s screwball comedies, but were the Fat Boys driving the ambulance?

8.02.2003

Hating by proxy

I don't hate DC. Hey, why should I? I don't live there. But, since my DC-hating brother is on vacation, I'm filling in for him today, much like all those times when little Billy has to draw Family Circus. Ho ho, that Billy gets into some hijinx.

Right, as I was saying...if James was around, he'd sure hate the fact that three people were killed (and three injured!) in four separate shootings last night. Hmm, another triple murder day. And things seemed to be going so well.

Apparently most of this happened between 4:00 and 4:30 last night. Was it a highly-organized plan, meant to confuse the police and ensure escape? If so, I don't know why they bothered to do so much work...their chances are already pretty good. And as James would say, "Nothing is worth doing, if it requires any effort whatsoever."

I'll finish off by quoting the last sentence of the article, since I think it creates a very Police Academy VI image:

"Police gave chase, and when the officer climbed a high fence, the fleeing person knocked the officer off the fence by hitting him in the head."

8.01.2003

Metro opens doors... when they're working

Mala rants:

So the Metro fares were raised by $.10. They've also increased the hours of service and keep talking about expanding the routes.

Too bad they can't get what they've got to work properly. Twice this week I had 3 employees come in late because of issues on the orange line (passenger getting sick and then Metro telling everyone to deboard the train, creating a HUGE traffic backup). Who pays for that? My company does in lost wages.

And now let's get to the escalators. WHAT is up with that? Two of the Metro Center exits NEVER have down escalators. NEVER! Once in a blue moon they all work. Same with Dupont Circle and Woodley Park. There's always one that doesn't work.

I would prefer to pay $2 - a nice even number, not like this $1.20 BS - each way and have them invest in equipment that works.

I'm going to start a letter/email writing campaign to metro. I'm a tax paying citizen with no kids, no car - the least they can do is make sure my public transportation is working properly.

Sorry for the rant. It's enough to drive a person crazy!
There's no need to apologize to me, of all people, for ranting.

I've had plenty of issues with Metro; my wife says it's bad luck, but I don't know. I haven't even told the story of my run-in with the station manager at Smithsonian station.

Well, let's tell it now. This was December 2001. The printer on one of the exit turnstiles wasn't working, so when I ran my card through it, it came out blank. I asked the manager what's the deal with that. He responded by running it through the turnstile again... which charged me an additional $1.10. This was a couple months after being ripped off by our movers to the tune of $1,750, so I really wasn't in the mood to get ripped off any more.

When I confronted him about it, he became angry that I was "disrespecting" him, and ran the card through his computer to demagnitize it, rendering it useless. There was $7.70 left on the card, which he informed me I could get back by going to Metro Center for a refund.

Not good times. Bad times.

Anyway, Metro's escalators and elevators are always broken because they refuse to hire outside contractors to do the work. Instead, Metro insists on training its own people to do maintenance. Predictably, these people are fiercely incompetent. Like Mala said, there's always at least one escaltor broken at every station, and I often see stories about people getting stuck in Metro elevators and having to call the fire department.

I don't know what you're supposed to do if you're in a wheelchair. Last year, there was a story about a handicapped guy going to a play via Metro. He called the elevator hotline ahead of time, which said the elevators at Metro Center were working. When he arrived there, they were predictably not working. This guy was livid that he was going to miss the show, and when he saw a Metro employee standing across the way on the opposite platform, he started cursing loudly at this person. Metro WROTE HIM A CITATION for the profanity.

That's more than bad luck. That's just bad. After it caused a public uproar, Metro dropped the citation.

Thanks to Mala also for this link, which highlights yet another Metro ordeal of Griswoldian proportions.

As for starting a letter-writing campaign... good luck. I'd obviously be pessimistic about getting results (heh, DC Metro Action I am not).

UPDATE: "Classic" why.i.hate.dc: my most recent bad experience with Metro. I'm sure there will be more.

Coincidentally...

Washington City Paper just ran a story about the Redskins trademark lawsuit. Witness the evil of Dan Snyder.

No-hassle stealing

We already know about the D.C. credit card scandal, in which untold amounts of city funds have been improperly spent by city employees with city credit cards. The D.C. Council made the obvious move of voting to suspend the program until the city provides information on the program and institutes some safeguards.

And then Mayor Tony, incredibly, vetoed it! Fortunately, the council had an emergency meeting just so they could unanimously override his ass.

The legislation stipulates that the program will be reinstated once the administration provides detailed information about how the cards have been used and what new safeguards will be implemented. But administration officials said that it is difficult to compile the information because bank records for the credit cards do not provide the detailed data that the council has requested.
Hey, fuckwads: it's called a credit card statement. It tells you where the money was charged and how much you spent. Not that hard.

Officials estimate that the program -- which issued 790 Visa cards that were used for about half the city's purchases -- saved the city $2 million last year.

Reviews of city records showed 1,200 incidents -- totaling $5.5 million -- in which employees evaded the $2,500 limit by making multiple charges at the same business on the same day. Furthermore, District agencies have been billed $170,722 in interest since January 2000 for failing to pay bills on time.
Ugh. The D.C. government is, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, ghetto rich. Oh, and what's this today in the paper? D.C. Schools Paid Vendor $240,000 Without Bidding, money that was charged on... school credit cards intended for incidental purchases.

Is there anyone in this city who's not on the take? Anyone? Hello?

7.31.2003

Hail, to the... the WHAT? I... I can't say that.

Ahhh, I'm feeling frisky tonight. July is finally coming to an end, after what seemed like an eternity. In my world, that means it's very nearly football season.

And so it came to pass that it was time to take on the ultimate of all why.i.hate.dc topics: the Washington Redskins.

Many of you may not care about football. You may not have the foggiest idea who Dan Snyder or Steve Spurrier are; more power to you (and honestly, you're probably better off that way).

I, however, love football. I love the excitement and strategy; I love how the battle for field position is something like a metaphor for war. Football is a big part of my life.

But even if you don't like football as much as I do, it's important to familiarize yourself with the Redskins. The reason is that this pro football franchise epitomizes practically everything that's wrong with Washington.

The Redskins are one of the few constants in Washington over the past 70 years. They are the only remaining local pro sports team that was playing here before the '60s; longtime residents might have fond memories of their parents or grandparents taking them to a game. The team is immensely popular among the locals to a ridiculous extreme; the season ticket waiting list is literally decades long. So it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that, over the years, Washington has impressed its own image onto the team, and that the team has become sort of a microcosm of the city.

I'm much too intimately familiar with the Redskins, and I have a number of Redskins topics I want to write about in the coming days as the season gears up. But first, let's start with the most obvious thing.

That name's gotta go.

This is the classic hall-of-fame debate in Washington: should the Redskins rename themselves? Is the team name too offensive to be acceptable, or is this a case of politically correct people being overly sensitive? Everybody's familiar with this one; I'm sure you've heard both sides of the argument a thousand times already.

"Change it! You wouldn't call a team the 'Kikes' or 'Slants!' (Also, apples are not like oranges!)"

"Don't change it! Don't pander to the liberal PC types! There's too much tradition behind the name! (Also, I'm a bigoted asshole!)"

Blah. I've heard both these arguments too many times to count. So here, tonight, on why.i.hate.dc, we will settle the matter once and for all.

Here are my thoughts on the subject:

THEY'RE CALLED THE REDSKINS.

...

Hmm? Oh, I'm sorry, let me refine my argument.

THEY'RE CALLED THE REDSKINS. I mean, come the fuck ON. That is JUST FUCKING RIDICULOUS.

It should be obvious why that's ridiculous. If it's not, really? Then go away. Hit the close button on your browser right now. There's simply no way, at all, ever, that you can use the term "redskins" without having it be derogatory.

Here's an example. Let's say your friend is a gambler and is trying to drag you up to Foxwoods. He says:

"Hey Carl! Let's go to that Indian casino!"

"All right," you might think, "time to get my blackjack on." Now what if he had said:

"Hey Carl! Let's go to that redskin casino!"

All of a sudden, you're looking at your friend in a different light. Now his question is tinged with racism; he doesn't really trust those redskins who run that casino up thar.

(Wow, I just realized that the one Google result for "redskin casino" turned up a piece of R-rated Star Trek fan fiction. Be scared; be very ascared.)

Anyway, my point is: of course the name should be fucking changed. It should have been changed 20 years ago. Why hasn't it?

Well, money, of course. There's a lot of merchandising and licensing money to be made off the "Redskins" name (although that could change if this judge Does the Right Thing). And if there's one thing that should be evident about Washington, it's that money always trumps the "right thing to do". Always always always. That should be Lesson #1 about living in Washington.

Use your city-issued credit card to buy video games? Check. Take the NRA's lobbying money and foist a gun legalization bill on D.C. without the city's consent? But of course. Use your power as the world's largest environmental nonprofit to give yourself a cheap home loan and drill on sensitive land? In a heartbeat.

Ethics are completely fucking dead in this town. There's millions to be made off the name "Redskins"; therefore, the name stays. Period, end of story, end of debate. Money trumps all. That's... the D.C. way. And I fucking hate it.

Now, having said all this in as profane a matter as possible, you may be asking the question: am I disappointed in myself as a human being that, for the second straight year, I have purchased Redskins season tickets?

Yes. Yes I am.

Reader mail

Ahhh. [Sips lemonade] This is the life.

[Seagulls fly by]

I don't even have to do anything, thanks to Ariana.

[Attendant spritzes James with Evian]

Check it.

I just wanted to take a minute to let you know that I think your weblog is great. I just discovered it the other day (at work...I have very little to do) and my jaw practically dropped since I didn't think anyone else felt the same way my boyfriend and I feel. We moved here almost a year ago from Pittsburgh as young college grads expecting to find it to be a hip, exciting, metropolitan atmosphere. Instead we have found DC to be prohibitively expensive and/or extremely impoverished - no middle ground. Therefore, our only option was to move into the suburbs (Alexandria, namely) where there is little or no excitement and it's still absurdly expensive. I work for the government, which doesn't exactly pay market rate and my boyfriend has still been unable to find squat, so he works temp jobs. DC really bites. I can say that with confidence too, since I was just visiting friends in NYC two weeks ago. Rent may be a bitch there but at least there is some kind of justification for it - and at least there is some sort of a struggling, young middle class (as opposed to the majority of young DC being populated by snotty rich college kids or ultra yuppies).

Anyway - keep up the great work. It makes me laugh and grit my teeth at the same time!

P.S. - here are a couple of my "favorite" VA plates:
1. NGGAPLZ
2. 2MANNISH
3. I GOT DIS
Amen sister girl.

You know, when I started this blog, I basically thought it would just be me bitching to myself in a public forum. And while I've had a couple people say "Hey, I like it here!... but yeah, you're still right", all the reactions I've gotten have been very positive; nobody's risen up to fiercely defend Washington as a good place to live.

Granted, they'd have to send me e-mail, which takes more work than posting a comment or something (and they'd have to figure out how to take the [at] and [dot] out of the link; that's to thwart the spambots). But still, I'm not sensing a whole lot of civic pride going on here, certainly among the blog-reading community.

Anyway, in the spirit of Ariana's e-mail, let's just put this out there right now so that it gets picked up by Google, and anyone thinking of moving here and searching around will hopefully see it:

DO NOT MOVE TO WASHINGTON, D.C. IT REALLY FUCKING BLOWS. MOVING TO WASHINGTON, D.C. IS A BAD IDEA AND SHOULD BE SHUNNED LIKE JENNIFER LOVE-HEWITT'S SINGING CAREER. THANK YOU.

7.30.2003

INS1PID: Personalized Virginia license plates I have hated (part 5 in a series)

It's back! I've got a slew of stupid personalized Virginia license plates backlogged in the old Palm Pilot that I need to flush out. Check out the first four parts here.

These will give you some idea of what it's like to live in Virginia among boring white suburbanites who think that puns are the absolute highest form of humor. They really need to start charging more for these things to discourage the stupider ones.

L8-4-TEA
SOIT GOS (Billy Joel sucks COCK)
SCR PLRS (this was on a SUV, big surprise)
10S NEE1 (yes, that's "tennis anyone"... kill me now)
And, finally on an Audi S4: MY S4

I'm a lyrical gangster; murder up

Murder counter yesterday: 145. Today: 148. But at least the D.C. detectives are finally getting some witnesses, to some truly gruesome murders:

Two officers on "redeployment" -- a program that temporarily takes officers off desk jobs or specialized duties and puts them on street patrols -- saw someone walk up behind a man on a bicycle and shoot him twice in the head, police said.

[...]

Charging documents say that Andre L. Whitney, 33, a maintenance man at the nearby Golden Rule apartment complex, asked Gregory Watkins, 45, to repay $20. When Watkins said he did not have the money, Whitney got a baseball bat and beat him, the documents say.

[...]

[Officers] found Hicks trying to stuff a large duffel bag under an SUV, charging documents said. In the bag was the body of Kimberly Edwards, 20, of the 2400 block of Elvans Road SE.
EWWWW!

You guys rock

The Arlington County board is standing firm on its refusal to consider baseball here. There was a protest rally in favor of baseball in Arlington last night, and I wish I could have been there:

Ballpark fans sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and "The Star-Spangled Banner" and unveiled a new mascot, which they dubbed the "NIMBY Chicken," a reference to the popular performer at baseball games and a dig at what they say is the not-in-my-backyard sentiment that they believe the county board gave in to with its stance.
OK, that is hilarious.

7.28.2003

Off-topic but funny

Bob Hope died today at age 100. This great website has a sound recording of the first time he died five years ago (mp3 format, 1.1 MB).

Pigsty: Be careful in D.C., part III

Chuck Ramsey fired two 911 call center employees whose negligence may have contributed to slow response time in a Dupont Circle fire last January that killed a man.

"I feel numb," Anderson said. "I guess I just never believed that they actually had the nerve to do this."
Yeah, losing your job for being indirectly responsible for a man's burning death is just not fair.

In her defense, Ramsey has refused to release the report on the fire public, which apparently casts some doubt on whether this was really a laziness problem or more of an equipment/telephone problem instead. Still, she sounds more upset about losing her job than the death, which is about par for D.C.

Meanwhile, over 20 percent of D.C. current police trainees failed their final exam. (Should you a. shoot first, b. ask questions later, c. hang out all day at the 7-11, or d. all of the above?)

Meanwhile some more, the reward for coming forward in a D.C. homicide investigation increased from $10,000 to $25,000, which the city hopes will convince more people to come forward, thereby helping out the city's miserable 51 percent closure rate on murders.

[Former homicide department commander W. Louis] Hennessy said he applauded yesterday's announcement. "It shows that now the city is beginning to put some value on these lives that, for years and years, nobody cared about," he said.
Riiiight, I'm gonna disagree. X gets the square. Ding.

If money really is the limiting factor in convincing people to come forward to help solve a murder investigation, that's just sad. It's pretty clear that fear of retribution and lack of police protection is the reason detectives get no witnesses... I doubt the extra money will make much difference.

Fuck the beltway

This weekend I was away on one of my patented biweekly summer vacations designed to get me the hell out of Washington. And it was fun; I went to Colorado Springs, which is beautiful country. The incredibly scenic Red Rock Amphitheater was a great place for a rave... errrrr, electronic music festival. (The first person who asks me if Jack Diamond was there gets a glow stick in the eye.)

What are the chances we could get something like that at Wolf Trap? Negative eight percent, you say? Hmmm.

Anyway, the trip was fun, but it didn't start out that way, thanks to our old friend the Washington beltway. For those who are unfamiliar with the beltway, count your fucking blessings right now. Also known as I-495, the beltway is a three-to-five lane highway encircles the Washington area, and is often congested and under construction. You can plan on sitting still for a good long while if you find yourself on the beltway during rush hour.

However, since my flight was leaving from Baltimore-Washington International Airport at 3:50 p.m. Friday, I figured on more of a normal-condition mid-afternoon beltway: a few trouble spots here and there, and maybe even a half an hour of delay due to unforseen accidents or congestion. That's why I left my office near Tysons Corner, which is at about the 10-o'clock position on the highway, at 1:20 p.m. With no traffic, that would put me at the airport parking lot at about 2:20, a good 90 minutes before departure. Even if a half hour delay cropped up on the roads, I would have plenty of time to get a boarding pass and get through security.

Ahh, but there was a fatal flaw in my plan: the beltway was not moving. At all. An accident at about 12:30 has backed traffic up, and the average speed going around the northwest turn of the beltway was about 5 mph. I turned on the radio and learned that the congestion started at the Georgia Avenue exit, at the 12-o'clock position. I need to get to about the 1-o'clock position for the I-95 exit toward the airport, so I figured I'd stick with it and grind my way through the traffic.

Things started to look bad an hour later when I still hadn't reached Georgia Avenue. It had taken me one full hour to travel about 14 miles, which I hadn't counted on at 1:30 on a Friday. Then, mercifully, I passed Georgia Avenue, and the traffic cleared up... only to stop dead again one minute later.

By this point, I was panicking, and needed to bail out to have any chance of catching my flight. I did so at U.S. 29 north, which travels up into Marlyand, hoping to cut over soon to I-95 and gun it toward the airport. At one point, a van nearly changed lanes into me; I laid on the horn, which caused him to swerve back. I gunned it ahead, but had to stop at the next light with the van behind me. The kids in the van laid on their horn for a good 10 seconds, apparently in retaliation. Then, after I cursed them out in the mirror, one of them tried to throw a tennis ball at my car (?), but missed badly to the left (from 5 feet away). The sad thing was, I was so filled with road rage that I probably would have been willing to throw down with them right in the street and get my ass kicked.

When I finally got to the airport at 3:30, sweaty and stressed, I dumped the car in hourly parking and raced to the check-in... but they wouldn't give me a boarding pass because takeoff was less than 30 minutes away (even though I had no luggage to check). I had to pay a $100 fee to change to a later flight. After that, I was in no mood to, for example, spend an hour waiting to get through the security checkpoint for the C Terminal. At which only two out of four metal detectors were open. For 300 people to get through. With little to no air conditioning in a tiny, claustrophobic space. So that's of course what happened.

Anyway, I don't really want to relive being stuck in traffic any more. Suffice to say, I now hate every other person in Washington who owns a car. Sorry y'all. And I really, really hate the ones who were in front of me Friday, for costing me $100. I also hate the airlines for charging up to twice as much to fly out of the more-convenient Reagan National and Dulles airports as the far-away BWI, which is indicative of the "luxury box" mentality that comes with living in Washington. I make a normal salary, and I've been trying not to spend what is sometimes an extra $150-$200 per ticket to fly out of National or Dulles.

But if I want to avoid the fucking beltway and all the human traffic at BWI, I'll have to pony up. Right now I'd rather stick an ice pick through my groin than have to set foot in that steaming turd of an airport again. Fortunately my next two trips are out of National, which I like. (They actually put a Metro station at an airport! What a fucking novel idea!)

In the meantime I can work on my plans to atmoize the beltway, preferably via the use of heavy nuclear weapons.

Be careful in D.C., part II

I'm back. Thanks to my brother for this link. Happy birthday, yo.

The chance of surviving a dire medical emergency in the USA is a matter of geography. If you collapse from cardiac arrest in Seattle, a 911 call likely will bring instant advice and fast-moving firefighters and paramedics.
Collapse in Washington, D.C., and -- as one EMS official suggests -- someone better call a cab for you. Seattle saves 45% of saveable victims...Washington, D.C., has no idea how many [saveable victims] it saves. The city estimates it saves 4% of cardiac arrests, but inconsistent record-keeping makes it impossible for Washington to account accurately for its most saveable victims.
It goes on to say that rivalries and infighting between firefighters and paramedics in Washington cause increased delays, which obviously costs lives. Absolutely terrifying.