It's a birthday/Xmas miracle

It was a high-degree of difficulty, but after a tough 2.5-month search I managed to land a job in another city. A company with a branch in Seattle extended me an offer Monday night. And that means...


[If I had a picture of me doing that "west coast" finger-sign thingy, I would have put it here. You'll just have to visualize it.]

I can't believe I finally, really did it. I've been wearing my lucky two-logo-changes-ago Seattle SuperSonics jacket to celebrate. (As if on cue, they beat the Wizards right after I got the job offer.)

Now, there are a couple things you should know. First of all, they want me to work here for a few weeks before I move, so you're not completely rid of me yet. However, I'm likely to be super-busy, with work, moving chores, and also teaching myself the dope programming skillz my new job requires. So you won't hear too much from me, but I'll try to check in periodically.

Second of all... I'm sorry. I apologize. To everyone. I started blogging here in March 2003, right after the U.S. invaded Iraq, as a way to get out my frustrations. I figured it would just be me venting into empty cyberspace, but it wound up catching on, and eventually I became quasi-famous-for-D.C. (which, in the real world, thankfully translates to "not famous"). There are obviously a lot of people who live in the Washington area who really like it, and some of them even liked the blog despite that, but others were really pissed off, and that's perfectly understandishable. I basically sat at my computer and criticized, without really offering any solutions to the problems I had (in fact, that was the mission statement from post #1), and that's not an especially fair thing to do. Partially, I did it because I didn't feel like there was any way I could fix the problems I have seen, and I still don't. But I also was so focused on getting out that I didn't bother spending time on solutions.

If you're a like-minded individual, and you're in D.C. or thereabouts, and you don't like what you see... don't stop observing and criticizing where needed, but try to be more active than I was in changing things. We have a lot of smart and thoughtful people who live here, but I think that too often they let their ideas and their individuality get subsumed by the great gray mass that is Washington. One of the city's biggest problem is inertia; it's difficult, but we need more people be willing to speak up and rock the boat a little, rather than settling for the status quo.

(And don't expect me to start a "Why I Hate Seattle," because they've got that covered. The number one complaint appears to be traffic; after living here, that just sounds completely adorable.)

Today, in the spirit of Xmas, and at the request of a good lawyer friend whose club name is "Staci", I'm going to tell you about the things I will actually... really... well, maybe a little... miss about D.C., and thereabouts. The things I even.. dare I say... love about D.C. In the traditional James F/Nick Hornby-standard Top 5 List format.

5) George Washington basketball. A lot of my good memories are sports memories, which isn't unusual for me. I thought about putting baseball here, and all the fun times I had watching the Nats: the home opener, the time the game ended because the grounds crew couldn't pull the tarp out during a rain delay, the upper-deck bomb Barry Bonds hit in September. But who knows if the Nationals will even stick around? They probably will, but it's up in the air right now.

GW provided the absolute best sports memories, and also the best atmosphere for watching a game. It just feels like college basketball should. Unlike Maryland and Georgetown, who play in huge arenas, GW plays in a smallish, 4000-person on-campus gym. You're pretty much right on top of the action, no matter where you sit. The band is loud, the students are loud, and you even sometimes have GW alum Red Auerbach on hand as a spectator. How does it get more basketbally than that? Even better: the team is good, and better than those other local schools with the huge arenas, but it's still pretty easy to get tickets.

And luckily, the students didn't mind the slightly older fan sitting in their section, thanks to guest passes. This really paid off last December, when I was sitting in the student section wearing a goofy three-corner colonial hat (I like novelty headgear) at the MCI Center's BB&T Classic. I was selected to shoot some baskets for free plane tickets, and I did it, in front of 15,000 fans. I used the tickets for my San Francisco vacation last May. That's definitely going to be my best D.C. memory.

So, even though I did my graduate work at Georgia Tech, when Tech was playing GW in the tournament last year, I found myself rooting for GW. It's been fun watching them mature into a great team, and they've given me some great basketball memories.

4) I rediscovered my love for writing while living here. I loved working on the newspaper in college, and I did some freelance sports writing after that, but I just didn't wind up going into writing for a living. And I don't think I realized how much I missed it until I started blogging.

I promise that I didn't think that many people were going to read my stuff. I never had that much confidence in my writing, but having complete editorial freedom to write about any crazy thing I wanted wound up being more fun than I expected. Plus, I got a lot of great e-mail support letters. I didn't reply to all of them, but I did read them all, and they helped keep my confidence up and kept me writing.

I'm working on an article right now; in the end, I don't know if anyone will publish it, but all the support I've gotten gave me the confidence to get started and at least give it a shot. You never know... it could be the beginning of a great writing career for me. Who says nothing good comes out of hate?

(BTW, I owe a lot to the writing style of Seanbaby. If you liked my writing, you'll probably like his even better.)

3) My bike trail. Out the back of my apartment complex to the Custis trail; down the hill to Giant Statue of Teddy Roosevelt Island; follow the river, across from the monuments; around the airport to Four Mile Run trail; on the street briefly, for a tough uphill climb to the I-395 pedestrian ramp (I had a good Rocky moment the first time I made it up without stopping); through Shirlington; up the W&OD Trail, back to the Custis Trail. Seventeen miles, and I got my time down to 1:10 at one point. It was also where I did my best thinking.

2) My friends. They had to put up with all my complaining and general crankiness. It's always hard to move on and leave your friends behind, but I hope they'll keep in touch.

1) E Street Cinema. Sorry, friends, I'm not cheesy enough to put you at #1. E Street theater is definitely the best thing that happened to Washington while I was here. I'm a huge film buff, and one of my favorite big-city-dwelling activities has always been being able to see independent movies that aren't available in smaller cities.

But I found Washington to be sorely lacking in this regard, at first. We had some theaters that would show unusual things, but they simply weren't good places for watching movies. Visions near Dupont Circle was the worst offender; they would show some interesting things, but the screens were tiny and the theaters were narrow, making it like watching a movie being projected at the end of a long hallway. The sound was terrible, and sometimes obscured by construction outside. They had food, but it was bad. Often, they would show things on DVD, and there would inevitably be some disc skipping.

And then... E Street opened. And It Was Good. This wasn't some crappy theater with a tiny screen that just happened to show indie films; this was an underground movie palace. Literally underground, because there was not a whole lot of room for new construction where they put it, so they went subterranean. This creates some quirky Tetris-like theater configurations... but it gives the place personality, like Fenway Park. The screens are big, the sound is good, and they show some great films... more than once I wished Twinkie the Kid might sneak out of the White House and sidle down to E Street for some life lessons.

Plus, the neighborhood has picked up... all of a sudden Chinatown has become a hot spot. Granted, it's a little too corporate, but still, it's hard to think of any better place to do dinner and a movie.

So there you go. Now if you'll excuse me, it's been a long, hard slog finding a job, and I have some lazing around and football watching to do. Have a good Xmas, and remember to be good to each other.

(Jesus might be watching.)


Recurring theme #125A

It's as true today as it was when I moved here:

Police and federal authorities continued to investigate yesterday the explosion early Saturday of a sport-utility vehicle near the D.C. jail, which badly injured a corrections officer.


Witnesses said [the officer] staggered around the flaming vehicle for a brief time until a family in the Southeast Washington neighborhood took her in and tried to comfort her until paramedics arrived. The family said that paramedics did not arrive for more than 35 minutes, despite several calls to dispatchers, and that an additional 20 minutes passed before an ambulance arrived to take the woman to a hospital.
It's an important lesson to remember. While visiting or living in The District, starring Craig T. Nelson, do not get yourself into some kind of life-threatening situation where you need some kind of namby-pamby "emergency" civil services. Because YOU WILL DIE. In fact, if you're really unlucky, there will be enough time for you to die several times over.

When paramedics arrived, said Carolyn Barnes, Catrice and Crystal's mother, "they took stuff out like they were tired. We told them the lady was badly burned. They still were moving slow."

This is just amazing, and amazingly repetitive. The paramedics are called to treat a badly burned patient, and they can't even be bothered to move with more urgency than the average Restaurant Week waiter.

I know I've probably all-caps-yelled this before a few times, but... WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS PLACE? Surely no other city in the country can match this level of apathy. How many millions of times does this have to happen before it gets fixed?

(A: Fourteen million.)

And I think we all know where the blame lies: squarely on the shoulders of Craig T. Nelson.

Damn you, Craig T. Nelson.

This one's for you, Twinkie the Kid

[Bush] also repeated his warnings against a rapid withdrawal from Iraq, saying "to retreat before victory would be an act of recklessness and dishonor -- and I will not allow it."
We lost already, Mr. President.

Yeah. I hate to be the one to break this to you. But we lost. We lost the minute we invaded and took over a country that did not pose a threat to us. We lost when we started holding "enemy combatants" indefinitely without a trial. We lost when we secretly tortured people and tried to pass it off as justifiable. We lost when we allowed the government to limit our rights through the Patriot Act. We lost when the FBI encouraged spying on peace protestors and the NSA tapped our phones without oversight.

WE FUCKING LOST. We let a terrorist attack completely compromise the freedoms we keep crowing about defending. That's not what a strong country does; and Mr. Bush, you are not a strong leader. You are weak and a coward. Nothing you can say will convince me that any result following the unnecessary loss of 32,000+ lives is a victory. We lost.

I believe one of my detractors once openly wondered whether I got mad every time I saw one of the big monuments on the Mall. I don't, but I do get sad when I see them, because I think about how little it took for us to abandon our ideals. For the time being, they're a thing of the past.

OK! Is that defeatist enough for you? Sorry, but I'm especially pissed off tonight. Can't sleep after all the crap that's gone down this weekend. I still can't believe the NSA story; I could have gone to work for those people. That would have been a fun ethical pill to swallow.

I guess while I'm awake, I should also tell this other fun story that I never got around to posting. This is a good one that's been kicking around in the brain late at night and needs to be exorcised, bloggy-style. It happened at work, about a month before I got laid off. A co-worker came in and started talking about events of the day, which is always fun. And this was the day after hundreds of Muslims were crushed to death on a bridge in Baghdad, after rumors of an imminent suicide bomber attack spread through the crowd. Basically just a horrible tragedy, and very sad.

Said co-worker's editorial comment on the story:

"Stupid Muslims."

That was it. "Stupid Muslims." Yes, how stupid of them. For getting crushed to death in a panic.

Those fools.

What I should have done was angrily yelled at him to get out of my office, and I actually had half a mind to do that, but I didn't want to get in trouble, so I tried to ignore him instead. Which is no fun at all. Ugh... and, of course, this guy, who I'm not going to name, David Guill, is a devout Christian; because, if Jesus stood for anything, it was reveling in the senseless deaths of others.

Of course, that guy still has a job, and I really really don't. It looks I'm going to need a birthday/Christmas miracle to land a job out of town. (And that's still possible. I'm talking to you, place I follow-up interviewed at last Wednesday. You were supposed to call me last week. Please call me Monday. Get me the crap out of here.)

Four shopping days until utter humiliation. One shopping day until I get turned into Soylent Green.


Countdown to embarrassment: 7 days

I'm not going to say why, but... let's just say I have to think the Bloggers Alliance is going to frown on this.

Meanwhile, countdown to my Logan's Run-style execution, because I'm turning 30: 4 days.

Countdown to job offer: who knows. Hopefully <1 day.


Stupid wintry mix

I was supposed to have an interview today, but the wintry mix postponed it to next week. I really, really want an offer from this company... it would get me out of Washington. And into the other Washington. State, that is.

Just in time, because I have got to get out of my apartment. This is the fifth... ugh. I can't believe it. The fifth consecutive winter in that damn apartment. The problem is lack of heat; the landlord controls the gas. There is no thermostat in the apartment. So, of course, he keeps it set to "not so much heat." And, he's raising the rent (granted, for the first time since 2002). And, we have ants now.


Oh, and here's some more good news: I'm turning 30 soon. My understanding is you're not allowed to blog after turning 30? I think that's how it works. Or, at least, you're not allowed to actually think I'm cool or something. I need to ask the bloggers union about that.

Some moving companies are coming next week to give me an estimate; I'm really hoping for an offer from this company I'm talking to, because I just don't know if I can, in good conscience, spend thousands of dollars to move across the country without having a job lined up first. If things fall through, you may be stuck with me a while longer. And I may be stuck with the ants, crappily ever after.


I shant miss it

I may have found a way out. I don't want to pop the champagne yet, as I still have a follow-up interview to get through. I'm in a little bit of a holding pattern, but it's looking pretty good.

Meanwhile! A lot of stuff probably has been going on that I just haven't been paying attention to. It's definitely easier to live in this city when:

a. You don't have to commute anywhere.
2. You've stopped caring about anything going on around you.

And both of those apply to me right now. I've largely tuned out the world these last two months, and I've basically been super-busy looking for work and doing various other chores/hobbies/fun things.

But there were two deliciously stupid things I turned up yesterday that I had to blog aboot. Abooooooot.

a. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I have higher standards for civic employees than I should. Maybe my expectation that people who work for a city should take some measure of civic pride in their work is misguided.

Suspect in D.C. Nightclub Shootings Freed by Mistake.

Maybe it's wrong of me to expect the employees at D.C. City Jail take their job marginally more seriously than the lunchtime line-order cook at Five Guys in Georgetown. (Who is also, by the way, very lax on the job. You're on notice, line-order cook. Stop flirting with the ladies and gimme my fucking burger.)

Have you no sense of decency, D.C. jail system? At long last? OK, well, your sense of comic timing is spot on, at least:

According to the Corrections Department, Harris appeared in D.C. Superior Court on the shooting charge Nov. 21 and was returned to the jail with a document authorizing his release.

After Harris's release, corrections officials received documents ordering that he be held without bond, the Corrections Department statement said.
BOI-OI-OING! It's the wackiest jail in the city! They let the guy go. This could be the makings of the shortest season of Prison Break ever. You don't even need the tattoos and the corrosive liquid in the toothpaste tube and the tape recorder; all you need is a piece of paper saying "Let me go!" and they will.

But the hilarity DOESN'T STOP THERE. After they let him go accidentally, the jail didn't notify the cops FOR A WEEK.


This isn't even up to the level of "Bump-bump-ba-nah, wahhhhhhh." This is way worse. So of course, with a WEEK'S HEAD START, the suspect got away, and is probably lounging around somewhere in Jamaica or thereaboots.

So that's the city in a nutshell. Scary: Some dude wounds four people in a shooting, and gets inadvertantly set free. And... nobody cares. The people whose job it is to keep him locked up... just DON'T CARE. Even after they fuck up, they don't care.

Scarier: They've fucked up this badly before, or worse, and still nobody cares. This didn't even get much play in the Post... it ran on B4.

(Updated since I started writing this last night... the guy did not flee to Jamaica like he should have, but instead fled to... Southeast D.C. And was bagged by some U.S. Marshals. The escape is being blamed on "staff negligence.")

2. There's a new bowling alley in Chinatown. Normally I'd be all about this; I sort of like some of the new developments in Chinatown, and it's nice to finally have a neighborhood where there are a lot of people hanging around on a random Tuesday at 10 p.m., and you can get there easily from just about anywhere via Metro. The movie theater's nice; Matchbox is a good new restaurant. Bowling should be another plus. I like Strike Bethesda, and I'd go there more often if it were easier to get to. This looked like a good chance to add to the Chinatown atmosphere.

Oh, but for the D.C. twist, vich ve hate: the dress code.


Why is there a dress code?

Why is there a dress code... at a bowling alley? IT'S BOWLING. Bowling should not have a dress code. Bowling should be conducive to scuzziness, if desired.

Of course, the DCist readers have it figured out: the dress code excludes black people. Or, at least, black people who actually dress like black people. It reads:

Dress Code
NO Sweats or Athletic Wear
NO Skull Caps of any kind
NO Excessively Baggy Clothing
NO Torn or Soiled Clothing
NO Clothing with Offensive Writing
NO Shirtless Vests or Jackets
NO Sleveless Shirts for men
NO Exposed Intimate Apparel
NO Sports Jerseys
NO Baggy White T-Shirts
NO Excessively Long Sweaters or Jackets
NO Excessively Long Shirts or T's
NO Chains
It would have been so much easier to just go with