Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

Last November, a friend and I started writing a blog about life in Washington, D.C.

It’s called Parklife DC. (Site: www.parklifedc.com or Twitter: @ParkLifeDC)

The goal is to report on and review what’s happening in DC. From concerts, to restaurants, to events, to fun activities, to sports and anything in between.

The name Parklife comes from the Blur song of the same name, and refers to how DC is dotted with green parks and neighborhoods with ‘park’ in the name. Neighborhoods like Woodley Park, Cleveland Park, LeDroit Park and Glover Park, to name a few.

It should be an interesting endeavor, and not nearly as random as this blog, which I will continue to post to (sorry, you’re not getting rid of me!).

Here is a sampling of posts I’ve written:

Music Park: The Concert for Valor takes over the National Mall — 11/11/14

 

Food Park: Copycat Co. Enters the H Street Fray

 

Submitted For Your Approval: Little Free Libraries in DC

 

 

‘All the people
so many people
they all go hand in hand
hand in hand through their parklife’ – Blur

This is DC
This is DC

New Capitol Hill Restaurants in 2014

Skip the family time and read this post instead. Sorry, I meant vice versa.

Just do both.

One of my ongoing goals is to ingest food stuffs at all eateries on Capitol Hill. It’s a big area. Check out the map here: Capitol Hill and Surrounding Areas.

That doesn’t faze me. But since there is always new places opening, it’s a never ending quest. I can die trying.

I went to 15 restaurants that opened in 2014. I didn’t make it to all the new openings. Most notable one I missed: Rose’s Luxury.

Here is a completely pointless and randomized bracket to declare the winner of the new restaurants I visited.

bracket

Bracket 1

Driftwood Kitchen vs. Impala Cantina y Taqueria – Do have the Brussel sprouts at Driftwood, but I’m more about the tacos. Advances: Impala

Ocopa Peruvian Restaurant vs. Bye. Advances: Ocopa

Driftwood vs. Ocopa – Ocopa’s ceviche is fabulous. No comparison.

Advances to the Final Four: Ocopa

Bracket 2

DC Harvest vs. Shake Shack (Union Station) – I like the idea of Shake Shack when it’s hard to get and I can only go occasionally. Opening one in Union Station ruins that. Advances: DC Harvest

The Spot Deli vs. Bullfrog Bagels – The tacos at The Spot Deli were fine, the space is not. Advances: Bullfrog

DC Harvest vs. Bullfrog – The Rueben bagel is quite nice, but DC Harvest’s food is nicer. One is more of an upscale restaurant, the other is a breakfast/lunch counter. Both are worthy.

Advances to the Final Four: DC Harvest  

Bracket 3

Sona Creamery & Wine Bar vs. Pizza Parts & Service – Not sure why they closed Taylor Charles Steak & Ice, depriving us of Philly cheesesteaks, in favor of another pizza joint on H St. Also, the pizza is nothing special. Advances: Sona

Copycat Co. vs. Micho’s Lebanese Grill – This is a tough one in the first round. That’s what happens when you create a randomized bracket. I’ll visit both again. The dumplings at Copycat are good. But Micho’s gets the edge. Advances: Micho’s

Sona vs. Micho’s – Micho’s has become a standard lunch spot for people at my office. It’s really good, cheap and very close. I go here more than any other place on this list. Having said that, the scones at Sona are amazing. And the owners are from Washington state.

Advances to the Final Four: Sona

Bracket 4

ShopHouse (Union Station) vs. Barrel – Seems like ShopHouses are opening everywhere. Okay. Pass. Advances: Barrel

Medium Rare vs. Po Boy Jim – Medium Rare does one thing and does it well. Steak frites. But the shrimp po boys at Po Boy Jim are not to be missed. Advances: Po Boy Jim

Barrel vs. Po Boy Jim – All the po boys I’ve had at Po Boy Jim deserve your attention and the upstairs space is decent (don’t sit downstairs), but I can’t choose it over the sleek new bar serving ‘brown water’ aka bourbon. And I don’t even drink bourbon.

Advances to the Final Four: Barrel

Semi-final 1

Ocopa vs. DC Harvest – DC Harvest’s S’mores Pot du Crème and friendly bartender are ultimately thwarted by Ocopa’s straight amazing Peruvian food. All of it. In my mouth. Now.

Advances to the Finals: Ocopa

Semi-final 2

Sona vs. Barrel – Sona is a good place for brunch. And someday I’ll try the wine and cheese. But I’m giving Barrel the nod here, because Penn Ave. SE will do well to keep adding good bars. The burger is tasty and the rest of the menu looks intriguing.

Advances to the Finals: Barrel

Finals

Ocopa vs. Barrel – Peruvian food. That is all.

Winner: Ocopa

Peruvian food wins
Peruvian food wins

Eat and Be Merry

Happy Christmas! My second to last random goal of 2014 was to visit a plethora of new restaurants in D.C.

November/December Goal: Eat at 10 new (to me) restaurants in Washington, D.C.

How did I do?

Result: 15 restaurants. Success!

(Pause here while I run my victory lap)

–huff huff —

Okay, I’m back.

I’m too good at this self-refereed random goals game…undefeated so far this year. Witness. Maybe I cheat?

Food Highlights

DC Harvest’s S’mores Pot du Creme. Damn!

DCity Smokehouse’s The Brisket Champ. Oy!

Sona Creamy & Wine Bar’s scones. Gimme!

Yoon Ha’s Kitchen and Deli’s bibimbap. Boom!

Food Lowlights

Not a fan of ShopHouse’s peanut sauce. (It’s like a Chipotle or Roti for Asian cuisine)

Bolt Burger is nothing special.

Here’s a handy list, restaurantwise, to put on your refrigerator.

Print This!
Print This!

Dessert porn…

S'mores Pot du Creme at DC Harvest
S’mores Pot du Creme at DC Harvest
Scones at Sona Creamery & Wine Bar
Scones at Sona Creamery & Wine Bar

The Brewery Hike Extravaganza, and Other Middling Yarns

Back in the day, August 30th to be precise, I set about to undertake a fantastical journey through the streets of Washington, DC.

The goal was to hike to six of the seven breweries in DC. Note: An eighth brewery has opened since.

Not only to hike to them, but to enjoy all the splendor of their beer coffers.

See this Tolkienesque, but not random, journey mapped in all its glory.

Map

 

If everything went according to plan, the hike would cover 11 miles and include an undisclosed amount of liquid gold.

Suffice it to say, it did not go according to plan. We skipped the final destination, Bluejacket, and the 4-1/2 miles it would require to hike there, in favor of being extremely drunk.

We went to five of the six breweries, and hiked 6-1/2 miles in total. We also stopped at the newly opened Chuck Brown Memorial Park.

High five! Success. The original plan was merely aspirational.

The journey started with lunch at Right Proper Brewing Company and ended at the beer garden of Bardo.

Burp.

 

Lunch at Right Proper
Lunch at Right Proper
Follow the beer soaked road...
Follow the beer soaked road…

2014-08-30-13.49a

Street people
Street people
Don't touch my ball
Don’t touch my ball
Do it well, or don't do it at all. - Chuck Brown
Do it well, or don’t do it at all. – Chuck Brown
Beats by Drunks
Beats by Drunks

2014-08-30-15.03a

Get some
Get some
Living the dream
Living the dream

2014-08-30-16.30a

Atlas tasting room
Atlas tasting room
In the zone
In the zone
Bardo
Bardo
This is you after the hangover
This is you after the hangover

 

 

 

10 for November/December: New Restaurants in D.C.

To end the year, my random goal is to scope out a cornucopia of new restaurants that have thrown open their doors to D.C. eaters.

I also have a never-ending goal to visit all the fooderies on Capitol Hill. With fresh ones always popping, I’m behind. Even more are slated to tempt the D.C. denizens in the next month or so.

The restaurant doesn’t have to be new new, it only has to be somewhere I haven’t eaten at yet. New to me, see?

November/December Goal: Eat at 10 new (to me) restaurants in Washington, D.C.

 

Tasty!

tasty

___________________________________________________________

Now let’s look at how I fared for my September/October goal…

September/October Goal: Watch, play in or attend enough sporting events and run enough miles so they total 75

Final stats:

  • Running = 56.11 miles
  • Sporting Events = 19

Total: 75.11

Result: Success!

I don’t want to say this was easy, running never is for me, but I had a chance to shatter this goal. But.

My back went out mid-October, so it kept me from running the last three weeks. It also prevented me from playing a few more flag football games and volleyball matches.

I didn’t attend as many watch parties as I had hoped, for various reasons including vacation.

Oh well. I did it!

Here’s the list of sporting events:

  1. Flag football games played = 1
  2. Volleyball matches played = 8
  3. Ran the Army 10-miler
  4. University of Washington Football Watch Parties attended = 3 (at Lou’s City Bar)
  5. Seattle Seahawks Watch Parties attended = 2 (at Acre 121)
  6. Seattle Mariners road games attended (in Houston) = 2
  7. Texas Rangers games attended (in Arlington) = 1
  8. Monday Night Football games attended: Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Football Club = 1

 

No peace for the wicked

'Nuff said.
‘Nuff said.

Coffee First

2014-06-13-16a

 

poem

 

My goal in June and July was to check out some new coffee shops in whatever part of the world I happened to be in at the time. I did that. Congratulations to me.

June/July Goal: Visit 14 new (to me) coffee shops

Final stats: 14

Result: Triumph!

What can I say about it?

  1. I sipped coffee in five different states and the non-state of Washington, D.C.
  2. 50% of the new coffee shops were in D.C.
  3. While drinking an iced mocha, I ate one Puyallup Fair scone (not sold at the Fair mind you) for the first time in 10 years (or since moving to D.C.). I regret not eating all of them.
  4. La Colombe was the best place. Tucked away in an alley, with the side that opens to the outside.
  5. 29% were Starbucks! Take that!
  6. 14% were in airports.
  7. 93% involved me drinking an iced mocha. I regret it wasn’t 100%.

 

The full list of coffee shops visited:

  1. Kafe Bohem (Florida Ave NW, Washington, D.C.)
  2. Starbucks (Pentagon Centre, VA)
  3. Chesepeake Bay Roasting Company (BWI Airport, MD)
  4. Caribou Coffee (Minneapolis Airport, MN)
  5. Central Perk and Deli (Puyallup, WA)
  6. The Coffeehouse Stage (Firefly Music Festival, DE)
  7. Starbucks (H St NW, Washington, D.C.)
  8. La Colombe (NW, Washington, D.C.)
  9. Starbucks (Alexandria, VA)
  10. Killer E.S.B. (Alexandria, VA)
  11. The Wydown (14th St NE, Washington, D.C.)
  12. Filter Coffeehouse (Dupont NW, Washington, D.C.)
  13. Lot 38 Espresso Bar (Navy Yard SE, Washington, D.C.)
  14. Starbucks (Navy Yard SE, Washington, D.C.)

coffeestats

scone

 

 

peace!

Back To My Roots

If the ‘writing’ and posting to this blog does indeed have roots, I am not aware of them. Random doesn’t happen with forethought.

I can say, roots be damned, that I do, as the mood allows, like to string a few words together. Some call it writing. That’s a classification more sophisticated than what happens here. I prefer to call it cuneiform or scrawling.

Travel is a topic as good as any to scrawl about.

As a strange habit, I shoot poorly composed photos of paths leading off into the distance. It is either inspirational or tedious. You can find a sampling of this nonsense on The World page.

I posted a few new ones to the page and included them below.

Fort Santiago, Manila, Philippines
Fort Santiago, Manila, Philippines
Harvard University, Boston
Harvard University, Boston
Capitol Crescent Trail, Maryland
Capitol Crescent Trail, Maryland
Mt. St. Helens, Washington
Mt. St. Helens, Washington
Billy Goat Trail, Maryland
Billy Goat Trail, Maryland
Harper's Ferry and Shenandoah River, West Virginia
Harper’s Ferry and Shenandoah River, West Virginia
Freedom Plaza, Washington, D.C.
Freedom Plaza, Washington, D.C.
Tidal Basin, Washington, D.C.
Tidal Basin, Washington, D.C.
Upper Dark Hollow Trail, Virginia
Upper Dark Hollow Trail, Virginia
Tourist Information Center, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tourist Information Center, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Quad biking, Kenya
Quad biking, Kenya

 

Get back to your roots.

Five Random Photos Shared in March ’14

Today we explore the general worthiness of the iPhone 4 camera.

Conundrum of the day: If the iPhone didn’t exist, would any of these photos exist?

Conversely, if a bear sh$ts in the woods next to a falling tree and no one is there with an iPhone, does it make a sound?

Ponder.

And witness.

This is Washington, D.C. Don't enjoy it.
This is Washington, D.C. Don’t enjoy it.

 

This is also Washington, D.C. Stop being jealous.
This is also Washington, D.C. Stop being jealous.

 

The Irish are coming. The Irish are coming! Happy St. Patrick's Day.
The Irish are coming. The Irish are coming! Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

 

Victory! Beer!
Victory! Beer!
Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.
Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.

 

Peace out.

Five Random Photos Shared in January ’14

Start your day off with a slew of randomness.

...this exists. Literally the most awesome packaging ever conceived.
…this exists. Literally the most awesome packaging ever conceived.
All the way to Portland, OR to find Daddy's Chocolate Milk. Don't touch!
All the way to Portland, OR to find Daddy’s Chocolate Milk. Don’t touch!
(In) Edible delights from the gas station Hot Case.
(In) Edible delights from the gas station Hot Case.
Oh boy, US government  cheese straight from the teat, all for me!
Oh boy, US government cheese straight from the teat, all for me!
The Polar Vortex Strikes Again
The Polar Vortex Strikes Again

 

Bonus! Because I can.

Just the way I like to start the day!
Just the way I like to start the day!

Contemporary Excursions to Defy a Shutdown

My random goal in October was to explore Washington, D.C. How did I do? You decide.

October Goal: Visit 12 new places in Washington, D.C.

Total: 20 new places

Result: Success! (Actually, I decide)

Analysis: The government shutdown between October 1-16 made this quest a tad difficult at first, but I still invaded most of the places I had on my ‘to go’ list. They ranged from music venues to restaurants to libraries to breweries and more. Let’s dig deep.

Music venues (3)

  • The Hamilton Live – A friend’s band was one of the openers. A nice space to enjoy a show.
  • Kennedy Center Millennium Stage – Every evening at 6pm they do a free performance. Now I’ve finally been to one.
  • Lincoln Theatre – Recently re-opened, I went to see Neko Case on Halloween night. She dressed up as a pirate or something like it.

Restaurants/bars (8)

  • Ninella – A fine, cozy Italian restaurant in the heart of eastern Capital Hill (next to Lincoln Park).
  • Crios Modern Mexican – They offered a special event dedicated to pumpkin beers. Obviously, I went.
  • Mari Vanna – This Russian restaurant looks like your grandmother’s living room, with doilies, bric-a-brac, curtains and chandeliers (of bottles). Have the pumpkin soup. Invite your grandmother.
  • Black Whiskey – A bar on 14th St NW with a monthly 80’s dance party. The Angel will treat you right!
  • Red Rocks Neopolitan Bistro – Now the largest restaurant in the Atlas District (H St NE), overtaking the Biergarten Haus, this has a nice set-up and a roof deck with a bar. The pizza was decent, but I’m more enamored with the place. They have 1/2 price pizza on Tuesdays…could be convinced to go…
  • Mama Chuy DC – Damn good tacos! Damn good. Get the carnitas tacos. Trust me.
  • Neopol Savory Smokery (at Union Market) – Smoked Salmon BLT. Yes and thank you!
  • &pizza (on U St NW) – The second location of this excellent pizza place (the first one is on H St NE) that they make and bake right in front of you.

Food trucks (3)

  • DC Quesadilla and Wraps – No surprises, I had a quesadilla. Not bad.
  • El Fuego – Peruvian food done right. Must go back.
  • Chitti Chitti Grill – Bang. Bang. Tacos and subs.

Breweries/Beerfests (3)

  • Atlas Works Brewery – The 4th and newest production brewery to open in D.C. (after DC Brau, 3 Stars and Chocolate City). They still only have a small number of beers (three when I went, but they’ve since added a fourth), but they have a solid tasting room set-up and I like the art they’ve designed, especially the scorpion logo for their NSFW (Double Black IPA).
  • Bluejacket Brewery – After much anticipation and hype, this well-appointed new brewery and restaurant (called the The Arsenal) \opened near the Nationals Park. I went the second night. 25 beers on draft (that they make on-site or collaborate to make)! It’s a worthy entry to the D.C. beer scene.
  • Snalleygaster Beerfest 2013 (at Union Market parking lot) – A beastly beer jamboree, you pay for entry, a mug and 25 beer/food tickets. Once you ran out of tickets, you better have been prepared to buy more because 200 different beers don’t drink themselves! The main drawback was no all you can drink for a set price…full beers and tasters ranged from $3-$9 each, so it got expensive quick! Seriously, what else are you going to spend your money on?

Other (3)

  • Library of Congress Reading Room – This was #1 on my list when I thought of this random goal. The shut down almost thwarted me, but I prevailed and snuck in to ‘do research’. You actually have to acquire a Library of Congress – Reader ID to enter. And then meander through a maze of hallways and elevators just to find the ‘researcher’ entrance.
  • Folgers Shakespeare Library – Learn about Shakespeare. Did. Watch a play. Didn’t.
  • Banneker Tennis Courts – The lights went out before I could mount my comeback! I ended up losing an unfinished match, 6-4, 4-6, 3-5. And I was leading 40-15 in the game.

Baltimore and Billy Goat Bonus!

These don’t count, because they are not in D.C., but they were still new places for me in October.

  • Heavy Seas Alehouse (Baltimore, MD) – Beer in Baltimore. Okay!
  • The Sound Garden (Baltimore, MD) – Baltimore’s best music store!
  • Billy Goat Trail (Great Falls, MD) – A fine place to hike and get a view of nature on a crisp Autumn day. Check out some photos.
I say now, damn good tacos at Mama Chuy!
I say now, damn good tacos at Mama Chuy!
Library of Congress Reading Room - No photos allowed
Library of Congress Reading Room – No photos allowed
Snalleygaster beer to mouth delivery mechanism
Snalleygaster beer to mouth delivery mechanism
I'm official
I’m official
That's DC
That’s DC

Stay open!

12 for October: New Places in D.C.

My random goal for October is to get out and about in the city of Washington, D.C.

To do something new.

After 9-1/2 years wandering about D.C., I’ve seen a fair amount. Yet there are a few places I haven’t made it to.

Let’s try to rectify that.

October Goal: Visit 12 new places in Washington, D.C.

I won’t list my ideas, because some are not open at the moment due to the Federal Government shutdown. I may have to find a few alternatives. Get out of my way, Republicans!

Be it a new restaurant, a museum, a park, a music venue or whatever, let’s go find it.

Capitol Building

Many the Miles

In July and August both my random goals were about clocking miles and keeping the blood pumping. Since this is an exhaustively fact-based blog, I crunched a bevy of numbers and dug deep for timely, hard-hitting analysis. That is a fact.

Let’s roll up our sleeves and shoot our veins with sweet, sweet PEDs.

_____________________________________________________________________________

August Goal: Run 21 miles AND play 3 tennis matches.

  • Running = 10.2 miles
  • Tennis matches = 4

Result: Fail

Analysis: I just couldn’t get off my tuckus enough times to run 21 miles (who comes up with these numbers anyway?). I don’t run more then 2-3 miles at a time, so I have to find more times to run. I did find time to play some tennis. I went 1-3 in the four matches, including a tense, down to the wire loss, 7-6 (7-5), 0-6, 6-7 (7-9). No. I. Didn’t.

_____________________________________________________________________________

July Goal: Run, hike or bike 190 total miles.

Max for any category was 43% of total (81.7 miles).

  • Running = 26.6 miles
  • Hiking = 81.7 miles (.36 extra)
  • Biking = 81.7 miles (2.3 extra)

Total: 190 miles (plus 2.66 extra)

Result: Success

Analysis: Boom! I did it. It really sucked! Peace!

Yeah, this was really hard because I traveled to Washington State for the last seven days. I managed to get a good hike in at Mt. St. Helen’s (8 miles) and did some runs the last few days, including a last-minute (like 10pm on July 31st) 2.5 mile run to pull it off. I could have quit or stopped or said fuggedaboutit. Trust me, I really wanted to. I don’t win anything. I don’t make any money on this. But it’s forever immortalized on this insipid blog, so I went the extra mile to get those many miles. Now you know.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Year-to-date monthly goals success/failure rate: 4-2

See all random goals

Many the Miles

‘There’s too many things that I haven’t done yet
Too many sunsets
I haven’t seen
You can’t waste the day wishing it’d slow down
You would’ve thought by now
I’d have learned something’Many the Miles by Sara Bareilles

Down the Rabbit Hole

Washington, D.C. is infinite possibilities. There is always more. There is always something to be discovered. Or tasted. Or seen. Or experienced.

With that in mind, I often walk or bike around different areas of the city. To explore. To find those little known places.

The city is 61.4 square miles (of land…plenty of water activities too), so if you’re always seeking something new, you’re golden.

I found myself hiking west on P St NW from Dupont Circle and after crossing the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway overpass, I spied a lonely trail disappearing into the woods. The path could only drop precipitously once you entered the dark line of trees.

Should I divert and go down the rabbit hole? Yes.

What can we find in this city…

Path1

2013-07-05-15.53a

2013-07-05-16.00a

2013-07-07-16.18a

2013-07-07-15.57a

2013-07-05-18.08.36a

2013-07-07-16.14a

2013-07-07-16.16a

2013-07-07-15.57aa

2013-07-02-20.39a

190 for July: Miles

It’s that time again. Time to start sweating and surviving heat strokes in the D.C. humidity.

Since my last two random monthly goals were about eating food, I should get back into an exercise routine this month.

July Goal: Run, hike or bike 190 total miles.

Last time I did a goal like this (July, 2012), I ended up doing well over half of the miles while biking (63% of the total), so I’m instituting a condition this month.

No single activity can exceed 43% of the total. Maximum biking is: 81.70 miles.

That’s also why I’m doing less total than last year – it’s harder to get in running and hiking miles as they take more time.

Sweat it out!

190

Keep On Keeping On (Foodtruck Style)

‘Continue to give, continue to live, for what you know is right.’ – Curtis Mayfield

Ever since my original post about food trucks in March (Keep on Food Truckin’), I’ve kept the lunch torch burning roughly once a week at these ever-moving food slingers. I circle these wagons at the Massachusetts Ave and North Capitol St watering hole, near Union Station.

I also descended upon the monthly Truckaroo fest in July (at the Fairgrounds near Nationals Park) and Trucko de Mayo (in the RFK Stadium parking lot) where the options were boundless.

I’ve now been to over 40 food trucks in DC. Since there are probably still over 100 in existence, I’m a long way from tasting all of them. There are plenty of good ones. See the list below. Those in blue are the ones I recommend most. As such, many of the others are still recommended.

Also have a peek at some fresh food truck porn.

Tapas Truck
Surfside – Fish Tacos
Floridano
Mass and North Capitol
DC Crepes
Basil Thyme – Lasagne

Amorini Panini
Tops American – Sausage with Bacon
Tops American – Italian Sausage

Cajunator – Po’ boy
Fried Shrimp Tapas
Fire & Rice – Bibimbap
Lobster Roll
Red Hook Lobster Pound DC
Chupacabra – Tacos
What the Pho? – Banh mi sandwich
Tropic Taste
Afghan Meals
Sate Indonesian
Mayur Kabab House
Best Mexican Burritos and Tortas – Tacos

  1. DC Crepes
  2. Pepe Food Truck (José Andrés) – More expensive than it needs to be but so good.
  3. Cajunators
  4. Surfside – Fish tacos! All day!
  5. Big Cheese
  6. The Orange Cow – Cookies and Cream ice cream…
  7. Sol Mexican Grill
  8. Mojo Truck
  9. Cirque Cuisine
  10. Tapas Truck – Tasty small bites. Try them all, but especially the fried shrimp and the corn fritters.
  11. Ball or Nothing – I would like to try this one again. The meatball sandwich had sprouts (?)…and by the time I got around to eating it, was cold.
  12. Mayur Kabab House
  13. Something Stuffed
  14. Fire & Rice – The tasty Korean bibimbap went down great with a fried egg on top.
  15. El Foridano
  16. Tropic Taste
  17. PORC (Purveyors of Rolling Cuisine) – The BBQ Pork sandwich was good.
  18. Red Hook Lobster Pound DC – Okay, I had this. The Lobster Roll was fine, but I’m just not a lobster guy. Especially at the low, low price of $15.
  19. Carmen’s Italian Ice
  20. Sate Indonesian FoodGreat chicken cubes on a stick and corn fritters.
  21. What the Pho? – The name says it all.
  22. Best Mexican Burritos & Tortas – I kind of agree with their assessment.
  23. Korengy – Good Korean food.
  24. Amorini Panini Truck
  25. Fresh Afghan Meals
  26. Yellow Vender
  27. Tops American Food Company – Amazing hot dogs. Italian sausage. Yes. Sausage with bacon and red peppers. Yes. Good. Yes.
  28. Chick-fil-A Food Truck – It’s Chick-fil-A!!! In DC!

Eat it!

Sandy, You’re a Fine Girl…

...what a good wife you would be.' - from Brandy by Looking Glass

With Hurricane Sandy’s wrath only hours or minutes away from my doorstep, I thought, ‘Hmmm, what’s missing from all the frantic tweets, Facebook rants, blog posts, news updates, farewell texts and all else?’ If you’re thinking like I’m thinking, ‘my voice’ is the correct answer.

I still have power and WiFi, so I shan’t stay silent. I will sit on this couch, with a wiener dog trying to wiggle into a position where I’m constantly petting him, and blog out some observations.

No promises. No guarantees. Just words.

We had Hurricane Irene come calling last year in August. But she underwhelmed in her D.C. date and could barely muster a decent goodnight kiss.

Then we had Mr. Derecho Storm gut punch D.C. this past June for looking at his mesoscale convective system the wrong way. It did not end well for the trees, the power, the cars or anyone really. We are still smarting.

These both being preceded by two hefty snowstorms dubbed ‘Snowpocalypse’ and ‘Snowrmageddon’ in back-to-back winters. The city went into hibernation for days.

If Hurricane Sandy is anything like Mr. Derecho, we are in big trouble. If it’s anything like Irene, we are overreacting just a tad. I suspect it will be somewhere in between.

Provided I survive and the power doesn’t go out permanently, I’m sure I can regale those of you that don’t live in the area with tales of remarkable survival. If you’re here and live through it, I’m sure Facebook will be all a twitter with your cleverly insightful status remarks.

Now is the driving rain before the storm. The wind is picking up. The wiener dog is more insistent. It is here that I must leave you.

Stay alive.

Storm Aftermath

Washington, D.C. got some amazing heat throughout the day on June 29th (over 100 degrees Farenheit) and just when you thought you could settle down for the night…BAM right in the kisser.

A storm punched DC in the gut, then went for an uppercut to the chin.

Reports say that the wind gusted up to 75 mph in some places. I don’t know what speed wind is required to lift a city-issued trash bin off the ground and hurdle it 20 feet away, but that’s what I saw outside my window.

Let’s peek at some of the damage. This sure beats last year’s rather tame Hurricane Irene.

Tree on 6th Ave NE
Nice sign
Pennslyvania Ave SE
Stanton Park Tree #1
Stanton Park Tree #2

Tree #2

H St NE
7th St SE

Crunched on 7th St NE

25 For May: Firsts (In Hindsight)

Since I had a bit of travel in May, I thought that the best ‘random goal’ would be to do a bunch of ‘first’ time activities. New things, if you will. Plus I was already doing them anyway…

My random goal in May was to do 25 firsts. I did that and more. Let’s use some hindsight to reflect. Then, let’s poke a stick at some photos.

Results

First layover in three new airports: Zürich, Brussels and Bujumbra (Burundi).

First two on two basketball game in over 20 years. We lost…

First 4×4 (quad bike) excursion in Kenya.

First glass of Cognac (on the rocks) and cigar, together.

First up close and personal time with a praying mantis.

First meander through Espanola Way in South Beach, Miami.

First baseball game in Marlins Park in Miami.

First nosh at five untried food trucks.

First time my sister visited Washington, D.C.

First time attending the Trucko de Mayo at RFK Stadium (a 30+ food truck extravaganza!).

First detour through the George Mason Memorial.

First stagger through the Half Street Fairgrounds (outside Nationals Park).

First hit, first RBI and first run scored for my UW Alumni softball team.

First drive of a Car2go Smart car through D.C.

First undefeated season playing outdoor recreational volleyball. 7-0 in regular season matches (17-4 in games). Sadly we lost in the finals.

First unlocking of a city badge on Foursquare. The ‘La Ville-Lumiere (Paris)’ badge.

First ascent to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower via stairs. That’s only about 380 feet or 600 + stairs. And first time to the top.

First wander through the Musée du Louvre, Paris.

First boat cruise on the Seine River, Paris.

First Eurostar train trip from Paris to London. Hello Chunnel!

Marlins Park
Marlins Park
Praying Mantis
Praying Mantis
2nd Floor of the Eiffel Tower
2nd Floor of the Eiffel Tower
The Louvre
The Louvre
Paris Badge
Paris Badge
Car2go Smart Car
Car2go Smart Car
4x4 Quad Biking
4×4 Quad Biking

Reflections, and Other Reasons Mom Washed Out My Mouth With Soap

I’ve completed my first random monthly goal; to run, bike or hike 170 miles in March. Damn*, let’s reflect.

I managed to do a lot of miles in March. 195.85 to be precise. Success! I got sick towards the end, so I slowed down a bit and didn’t fracking* run as much.

The breakdown is:

  • Hiking = 64.5
  • Biking = 112
  • Running* = 19.35

As a bonus, I also did the following in March:

  • Dog walking (and poop* collecting) = 21 miles
  • Commuting to/from work = 13 miles (strolling)

What did I learn?

…that D.C. photographs well.

…that using the RunKeeper App is a good way to keep track of my activities. With few exceptions the GPS tracking worked well (once it had the gall to imply I was running a four-minute mile – WTF*? You on crack, RK?). Now I can look at all the stats (times, distances and routes) of my hikes, runs and bike rides for as long as I can handle it. Or until I lose my iPhone. 

…that my iPhone battery didn’t last long enough to track a 16-mile hike (I probably need to check on a portable battery option).

…that I vastly prefer most things to running. Notable exception: any type of body waxing for purposes of hair removal.

…that over the course of a month, I improved in running times.

…that jogging and hiking are good times to listen to new music.

…that 5.5 miles a day is not as easy as it seems, yet I only had three days where I did zero miles (mostly because I was sick).

…that cherry blossoms are pink and by the looks of all the driver’s faces, driving to see them is a bad idea.

…that sitting on your ass will only get you so far. And it’s not very fricking* far at all.

…that the National Mall is damn* beautiful at night. And during the day.

…that I may just keep tracking my miles in future months. And try to maintain the pace.

…that if you want to read about my April goal to give away $10 per day ($300 total) you should click here.

…that you can look at some photos below if you want.

Don't Just Sit There

 

Make Some Noise

 

A path not taken

 

May lead elsewhere

 

But you have to take one

 

No matter what it's made of

 

Or who is leading you

 

You will find something

 

Use what's around you
Go alone if necessary

 

But be explosive

 

Point to the destination

 

Keep it in context

 

And don't listen to naysayers

 

Be bold

 

And reach high

 

peace

* Author’s note: All actual swear words were edited out of this post. No one wants to get their mouth washed out with soap twice.

Keep On Food Truckin’

The DC food truck craze is still in full swing. Over the past year, the ranks of curb side purveyors slinging their delicious offerings has ballooned to well over 100. Last summer there was even a monthly festival called Truckaroo.

I’ve been sampling the different trucks that come to Mass Ave and North Capital (near Union Station) over the past few months. While I greedily eat these for lunch, I’ve managed to snap a few photos here and there. Let’s call it Food Truck Porn. Or not.

I’ve sampled from 17 different trucks so far (since Fall of 2011). Most have been quite good. See the list at the bottom.

Where's my food?
Where's my food?

Waiting

Mmmm...Carnivore BBQ
Mmmm...Carnivore BBQ
Sang on Wheels
Sang on Wheels

 

What are you looking at?

DC Empanadas
DC Empanadas
Beef Empanada
Beef Empanada
Bulgogi at AZNeats
Bulgogi at AZNeats
Chicken at Kabob Bites
Chicken at Kabob Bites

Tacos from Chupacabra Taqueria
Tacos from Chupacabra Taqueria
Lamb balls...
Lamb balls...
Hula Girl sandwich
Hula Girl sandwich
Tacos at TaKorean
Tacos at TaKorean
Empandas at Borinquen Lunch Box
Empandas at Borinquen Lunch Box

Stix Pak at Stix
Stix Pak at Stix
Stik Pak unpacked
Stik Pak unpacked
Tasty burger at Dorothy Moon's
Tasty burger at Dorothy Moon's

The ones I especially liked are in bold blue.

  1. Sang on Wheels
  2. Fojol Bros. of Benethiopia
  3. TaKorean
  4. Dorothy Moon’s Gourment Burgers
  5. DC Empanadas
  6. DC Slices
  7. Hula Girl
  8. Basil Thyme Truck
  9. Carnivore BBQ
  10. AZNeats
  11. Kimchi BBQ Taco Korean Grill
  12. Chupacabra Taqueria
  13. The Rolling Ficelle
  14. Kabob Bites
  15. Sauça Food Truck
  16. Stix
  17. Borinquen Lunch Box

The Washington Post also recently ran their own photo gallery on food trucks. I did not copy their idea…I just procrastinated…as usual.

Random iPod Playlist: Liberating Liberation

Friday nights at DC9 (9th St NW, just off of U St) is Liberation Dance Party. It’s full of alternative, electronic and Brit pop music. And they play the music videos on the big screen. Who does that?

This playlist (in no particular order) is dedicated to the best songs DJ’d over the years at LDP. Of course my memory is pretty bad, so I’m sure I overlooked a few good songs.

  1. ‘Great DJ’, The Ting Tings
  2. ‘No You Girls’, Franz Ferdinand
  3. ‘Ohh La La La’, Goldfrapp
  4. ‘A Cause Des Garçons’, Yelle
  5. ‘1901’, Phoenix
  6. ‘Shoot the Runner’, Kasabian
  7. ‘LDN’, Lily Allen
  8. ‘I’m Good, I’m Gone’, Lykke Li
  9. ‘Painted By Numbers’, The Sounds
  10. ‘Destroy Everything You Touch’, Ladytron
  11. ‘Rebellion (Lies)’, Arcade Fire
  12. ‘Starts With One’, Shiny Toy Guns
  13. ‘Somebody Told Me’, The Killers
  14. ‘Hearts on Fire’, Cut Copy
  15. ‘Every Day I Love You Less And Less’, Kaiser Chiefs
  16. ‘Electric Feel’, MGMT
  17. ‘Gone Daddy Gone’, Gnarls Barkley
  18. ‘Gimme Sympathy’, Metric
  19. ‘Little Secrets’, Passion Pit
  20. ‘Dominoes’, The Big Pink
  21. ‘Bulletproof’, La Roux
  22. ‘Giving Up the Gun’, Vampire Weekend
  23. ‘Heads Will Roll’, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  24. ‘Hello’, Martin Solveig & Dragonette
  25. ‘Sweet Disposition’, The Temper Trap
  26. ‘Under Cover of Darkness’, The Strokes
  27. ‘Walking On A Dream’, Empire of the Sun
  28. ‘Techno Fan’, The Wombats
  29. ‘My Body’, Young the Giant
  30. ‘Young Blood’, The Naked and Famous
  31. ‘Call Your Girlfriend’, Robyn
  32. ‘Pumped Up Kicks’, Foster the People
  33. ‘Easy’, Dragonette
  34. ‘Dog Days Are Over’, Florence & the Machine
  35. ‘Riot Rythmn’, Sleigh Bells

stay liberated

Capital Hill Restaurants 2011

2011 saw the opening of many new restaurants in the Capital Hill area. Ramen. Burgers. Shawarmas. Cajun. Pho. Pretentious drinks. And much more. Below I rank the new ones I visited throughout the year.

My continuing goal is to eat at all the restaurants on or near Capital Hill. I define this as anything south of H St NE, west of 15th NE/SE, north of I St SE, and east of 1st St NE/SE. This is a big area, and includes such destinations as Barracks Row (8th St SE between D and I Sts), Eastern Market (7th St SE between Pennsylvania Ave and Independence Ave), the Atlas District (H St NE between 9th and 15th Sts) and much more.

Check out the map here: Capital Hill and Surrounding Areas.

Obviously the task doesn’t get easier when new places keep opening left and right. 2012 is already shaping up to be a big year as well. On the horizon: Boundary Road, Sweet Charleston’s, Sol Mexican Grill and much, much more.

Location key: (H) = H St NE, (A) = The Atlas District, (B) = Barrack’s Row, (C) = Capital Hill other, (E) = Eastern Market, (U) = Union Station

19. Khan’s BBQ (H) – The food is fine as a Mongolian BBQ stir-fry, but I don’t like the set-up nor the atmosphere.

18. DC3 (B) – Now serving trendy hot dog concoctions. I probably wouldn’t order the same dog again and I wasn’t enamored with the other options.

17. Inspire Bar-B-Q (H) – Good pulled-pork BBQ and sides courtesy of Groupon. I think the space is too small, even for a walk-up counter, and the staff was friendly but apparently still learning what to do. Will try again.

16. Church & State (A) – I’m not a big fan of pretentious drinks (e.g. those that cost more than $12) and that is about all you can get here. If you want to take a date for a drink before having dinner in the Atlas District, this is your place. It is small and intimate.

15. Red Palace (A) – Combines the old Red & Black and Palace of Wonders into one venue with a decent size concert venue upstairs.

14. Pho Bar & Grille (A) – Really good dumplings and decent pho (based on my limited experience with pho), but they can’t figure out how to serve people. The first time I went, it must certainly rank as one of the most annoying ordering experiences ever.

13. Bojangles (U) – Good fried chicken!

12. Marvelous Pizza (H) – A new late night pizza joint on H St. You can also order egg rolls with your slice.

11. Shawafel (A) – Good shawarmas. Didn’t have the falafel.

10. Impala Tacos (A) – Tacos served in the winter at the Philadelphia Water Ice counter (since it’s closed for the season, why not serve tacos?). I hear they are developing a permanent place for this on H street.

9. Bullfeathers of Capital Hill (C) – This place completely remodeled and is nice space and good food.

8. Tru Orleans (H) –  A New Orleans themed restaurant. Have the catfish reuben and Hurricane slushies.

7. Smith Commons (A) – Three levels with couches and patios. A nice place for a drink upstairs. The one time I ate there, the fish and chips were not what you might expect but still not bad. 

6. Chipotle (U) – The old lunch stand-by. Meat and beans and cheese rolled up in a tortilla. When they have the A team serving, the line zips along.

5. Pound the Hill (E) – A new coffee shop near Eastern Market. They make their mochas with Nutella…mmmm.

4. The Big Board (H) – A small bar a mere two blocks from my house that serves good burgers (try the Chicago Fire) that tries to sell its beers by giving discounts (shown on The Board) to the most popular selling options. Not sure that the concept works yet and they need to get better beer.

3. Senart’s Oyster and Chop House (B) – Didn’t have the oysters. A nice looking building and interior. The menu was a bit pricey, but the Beer Battered Cod Sandwich was the right price.

2. The Queen Vic (A) – Styled as a British pub, it has good, traditional British fare (have the Sunday roast!) and is a fine place to watch a game with a pint of cider in hand.

1. Toki Underground (A) – Excellent ramen noodles and tasty dumplings in a small kitschy space filled with anime figurines and skateboards for footrests. It only seats 20 people at a time, so it seems to always be busy.

Bonus: Biergarten Haus Roof Deck (A) – Though Biergarten Haus is not new in 2011, expanding the capacity of the already largest restaurant in the area by 1/3, it makes for a formidable beer swilling and German food noshing destination.

2011: Can’t Get Anymore Blue

Welcome. Here, lovingly crafted for your enjoyment (or dismissal), I present my blue mood towards my favorite sports teams.

This also is a tell-tale sign that the end of 2011 is nigh, and I could be writing a bunch of end-of-year reviews. Or something. May be time for you to go on vacation. I am.

2011 was a blue year. Very blue indeed for Seattle sports. Blue is the prominent color of many Seattle sports teams, but that is not the blue I refer to. I mean blue as is melancholy. Blue as in sing the blues. Blue as in break out a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and curl up in front of reruns of Hill Street Blues. Get your shot glasses ready.

Seattle Mariners (ML B – baseball)

The Mariners are hard to root for. They can’t score runs. They trade all their good pitchers for hitters that never produce. They do nothing. It’s depressing. Ichiro’s numbers declined. King Felix didn’t match his Cy Young season of 2010. We traded away Doug Fister right when he was pitching well. You can’t finish much worse than 67-95. And no good prospects for next year.

Success Indicator: 2/10. Whiskey shots: 4

Seattle Seahawks (NFL – football)

After improbably winning their division last season (with a NFL history worst 7-9 record), and then miraculously beating the Saints in the playoffs (only to lose to the Bears), the Seahawks looked like they were back in the business of sucking for 2011. They started 2-6. They lost to Cleveland 6-3. Enough said. Yet, somehow they seem to have poured spinach on their Wheaties, because they are kicking butt, winning five of their last six games. At 7-7, they have a very small chance at the playoffs. But small is better than zero, so let’s see if they can pull off another miracle in their final two games.

Success Indicator: 6/10. Whiskey shots: 3 (5 if they don’t make they playoffs)

University of Washington Huskies (College football)

The Dawgs started strong at 5-1. Then they started playing good teams. And they got crushed three out of four games. Then they lost to Oregon St. (WTF?) and it looked like the wheels had fallen off. To just salvage the season, they had to whip the Cougars in the Apple Cup. They finished with a 7-5 record, good enough to get a bid to the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas against #15 ranked Baylor. Robert Griffin III, Baylor’s QB, won the Heisman Trophy, so it should add a bit of heightened excitement to the game on December 29. But they should have been better.

Success Indicator: 6/10. Whiskey shots: 6 (One for every loss, and two for losing to OSU)

Seattle Sounders FC (MLS – soccer)

The Sounders had their best season ever. That’s why it’s also the worst. Expectations were high. But not fulfilled. They finished 18-7-9 (63 points), 2nd best in the league. Yet they lost again in the first round of the playoffs. Three years in a row. Erg! There was a silver lining. They won the US Open Cup tournament for a 3rd straight time, tying a record for most consecutive times a team has done this and the first MLS team to do it. They also played extremely well in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions league tournament (24 of the top club teams in North America, Central America and Caribbean) and have a spot in the knock-out stage that starts next April.

Success Indicator: 7/10. Whiskey shots: 5 (would have been 6, but for the secondary tourneys)

 

Other teams I follow:

Washington Nationals (MLB – baseball)

The Nationals had the 2nd best season since they’ve moved to Washington, D.C. (80-81). I managed to attend 10 games (two doubleheaders) while eating lots of nachos and Shake Shack burgers. Teddy Roosevelt continued to lose in epic ways in the 4th inning President’s race.

Success Indicator: 7/10. Whiskey shots: 1 (for Teddy)

University of Washington Huskies (College basketball – men’s and women’s)

The men’s team was solid (24-11) and won the Pac-10 Tournament Championship for the 2nd straight year. They beat Georgia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament but then lost a close one to North Carolina.

The women’s team (11-17) continued to suck.

Success Indicator: 7/10

Chelsea Blues (English Premier League – soccer)

The 2010-2011 Chelsea team (71 points) was up and down all year. And finally they were too far behind Manchester United and finished in 2nd place 9 points clear of 1st.

Success Indicator: 7/10. Whiskey shots: 2 (for letting Man U win)

Seattle Storm (WNBA – women’s basketball)

Yep, they still play professional women’s basketball. Seattle finished 21-13 and got bounced from the playoffs in the first round. Blah.

Success Indicator: 6/10. Whiskey shots: 0 (no reason to waste any here)

Washington Capitals (NHL – hockey)

The Capitals continue to be an enigma. In 2010-2011 they were again the best team in the Eastern Conference (107 points). They beat the New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs, but lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning four games to zero. Another season wasted.

Success Indicator: 6/10. Whiskey shots: 4 (one for every loss to Tampa Bay)

DC United (MLS – soccer)

DC United played better this year, finishing 9-13-12 (39 points). But they failed to make the playoffs despite a weak Eastern Conference.

Success Indicator: 4/10. Whiskey shots: 0 (Can’t. Drink. Any. More.)

University of Washington Huskies (Capital Alumni Network – co-ed flag football)

Year two of DC Dawgs’ (UW Alumni) participation in flag football went better. We finished 4-6 (playoff seed #34 out of 58 total schools). Our division was stacked with a few of the best schools in the league so in a different division, we would have done even better. We played #31 Cornell in the playoffs, but lost a close game 20-12. They stopped us on the goal line at the end of the game. Also, we were shorthanded as many of our players were in NYC for a UW vs. Duke basketball game. There’s always next year…

Peace and may the sports be with you.

Universal Leaf Day

Given the preponderence of ‘days’ commemorating everything under the sun, I think we need more. Let’s not settle.

In this spirit, I proclaim today ‘Universal Leaf Day’! Let the parties start!

Since this is such a special day, let’s celebrate by looking at some leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Profound Observations, and Other Reasons to Get Out of Bed

After a spinning, dizzy time on this planet, I’ve made some profound observations with my keen and scientifically rigorous studies. I didn’t write anything down, so I’ve promptly forgotten everything.

In order to say anything useful here (as if), I had to invent a few observations. Just keep that between you and me. I don’t want my Junior Scientist of the Week Award (from 2nd Grade) revoked.

Let’s get to some hard-hitting and earth-shattering observations with a bit of analysis and evidence thrown in at random.

Observation #1: The proportion of women sporting sundresses in July is 1000% greater than in January. Also, so is my attention.

Observation #2: 70% of all people alone on the street stare at and text on their cell phones. The other 30%? Joggers listening to their iPods.

Observation #3: A wiener dog’s primary goal in life is to lick your face. The only difference between individual wieners is how aggressively they pursue this goal.

Observation #4: I have access to infinite information via countless modalities, yet I am dumber than I was 10 years ago. Evidence: I assume, because I can’t remember 10 years ago.

Observation #5: Our children, with their texting and tweeting, will give the keepers of dictionaries a heart attack. The English language will revert to the dark ages of spelling. Evidence: IMHO they r teribl spelrs n r PPL w/o a POV. RBTL. WTF. #typosforever.

Observation #6: Mother Nature was extremely peeved at the East Coast this summer. Evidence: Hurricane Irene, a 5.8 earthquake and multiple 100+ degree days.

Observation #7: Hurricane Irene was more bark than bite. More Charlie Sheen than warlock. More scorned first date than scorned wife. More chihuahua than wiener dog.

Observation #8: People overreact to the slightest things. Evidence: New York City closed down its metro service for the first time in history to avoid getting blown away and flooded by a hurricane. Analysis: Wusses.

Observation #9: Give me an umbrella and I’ll give you a milk carton with a ‘Missing Umbrella’ notice on the side.

Observation #10: If you pay someone a small kindness that goes wrong (like breaking their leg while saving their life), they will still have no problem suing you.

Observation #11: I prefer to talk to people after they’ve had their coffee.

Observation #12: If you typically wear full body paint to a sports game, you probably don’t care what people think of you. Or your father dropped you as a baby. During a game.

Observation #13: People that complain about the weather in the Pacific Northwest, didn’t grow up in the Pacific Northwest.

Observation #14: The default setting for many people these days is as a self-centered, lazy, unmotivated procrastinator. Evidence: No World Peace. People dying of hunger. Animal cruelty. US politicians saying nothing and doing less. Child trafficking. Pollution. Epic amounts of waste (trash and food). Yet we accept these things as normal. Analysis: Do something. Change your setting.

Observation #15: Observation #14 was a bit of a downer.

Observation #16: Puppies are cute. Evidence: Observe a puppy at play.

Observation #17: People that wake up by 5:00 am every morning are old, farmers or crazy. One can be all three.

Observation #18: Most corporate meetings are a colossal waste of time. Evidence: Dilbert.

Observation #19: You are smarter than you look. Evidence: I really hope this is true, because otherwise you need to start worrying.

Observation #20: I didn’t have anything good to blog about. Evidence: This post. Analysis: I’m self-centered, lazy and unmotivated to the point of procrastination.

Obseration #21: People that demand perfection, need to get out in the real world more often.  Evidence: That bumper sticker saying ‘Nobody’s Perfect’. Analysis: I left some tipos hear to realy miess with u perfecktionolists.

Observation #22: I’m directly responsible for wasting 2:20 minutes of your day. Evidence: You are reading this last observation (assuming you didn’t just skip to the end). Analysis: You won’t sue me, because you’re smart.

Assessing the Damage

While walking the wiener dog around the block after Hurricane Irene, you could instantly see the havoc shrewn about in the form of whole sticks and leaves. Even some weak branches fell victim.

So far estimates are between $7 and $13 billion of damage in the wake of the hurricane. Washington, D.C., consider ourselves lucky. Now get out the brooms.

20110828-030234.jpg

20110828-030330.jpg

20110828-030345.jpg

20110828-030358.jpg

20110828-030409.jpg

20110828-030416.jpg

20110828-030429.jpg

20110828-030440.jpg

And the Wiener Is…

The results are in for the Hill Rag’s 2011 Pet Photo Contest. The competition was fierce and all entrants fought tooth and nail (sometimes literally) to win the coveted chance to appear in full photo glory. After all the ballot boxes were stuffed and counted thrice, the bribes pocketed, the attack dogs chained, and the catnip had worn off, July’s Hill Rag proudly showcased the cream of the crop of dogs and cats of Capitol Hill.

Except the creme de la creme, Kuma the wiener dog, only won Honorable Mention in the Most Laid Back category. Clearly not enough bribes reached the right pockets or the attack dogs didn’t terrify the right people to vote the right way. Since he’s too laid back to care that much, all acts of vengeance to correct this slight are on hold until further notice.

An analysis of this year’s contest shows that there were three wiener dogs represented. Given the number of wiener dogs that live on the Hill, this remains a mysteriously underwhelming disappointment. I’ve noticed a healthy influx of new wiener dogs in just my neighborhood alone. (New: Beastie, Otto, Moochie, Dodger, Bo. Stalwharts: Kuma, Gage, Jasper, Mr. Big, Olive).

The goal for 2012 is a 100% wiener winner in all categories. Best Photo? Wiener. Top Dog? Wiener. Cutest? Wiener. Funniest? Wiener. Top Cat? Wiener.

See Kuma’s photo spread:

Most Laid Back Category: Honorable Mention

 

Cutest Category: Entrant

Woof.

Red Riding In Random Hoods

Red Riding

The Winter Weather Warrior Contest 2011 is history. Organized by the Capital Bikeshare program and goDCgo, it included over 900 contestants and around 250 diehards that had over 50 total rides in the Jan/Feb contest. By all accounts, I did quite well.

(For details on the contest, read this previous post: http://wp.me/pn1Jl-yi)

I finished in 9th place overall.

Even though I wanted to win in the beginning, I modified my goal to finish in the top 10. Success! For my efforts, I win two free months of Bikeshare membership.

Have a look at the final results page:

http://www.godcgo.com/winter-weather-warrior.aspx

The top two finishers did a jaw dropping final week of riding to epically overtake the dude that had led the whole way. The winner recorded 421 rides in the final 8 days of February (or 52 rides per day). His grand total was 1038 rides. The runner-up recorded 495 rides in the final 8 days (or 62 rides per day). His grand total was 972 rides. By comparison, I only recorded 300 rides for the entire two months of the contest! I honestly cannot understand how they did it (apparently they do have jobs and families…).

After spending two months on a task, you’d think that one might learn something. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t.

Winter warrioring exposed:

A new perspective of DC: I have driven a car over every pothole and construction zone in DC. I have walked all about DC. I have taken the metro to and fro. I have taken the bus, mostly fro. I have survived taxi rides. But the one mode of transportation that had failed to lure me, was a bicycle. Now I’ve done it all. (Sorry – Segways do not count.)

Access to everything on the Hill in half the time: As a Capitol Hill resident without a car, the best options for getting around are few. The metro is inconvenient for traveling within the NE and SE quadrants of the city. I don’t like crazy people well enough to ride the bus. So I walk everywhere. Now with the Bikeshare I can get anywhere I would normally walk to in half the time or less. Talk about good news for you! Now I have more time to write…or sleep.

Discovering new places in DC: When walking, the distance you can effectively travel in a reasonable amount of time is small. With a bike, you can range far and wide to those far flung places you never get to. Or would never risk walking to. I needed to partake in many rides, so why not go to new places? Why not discover more secrets of DC? Some notables:

  • Harris Teeter (on M St NE) – the brand new mega-grocery store is a mere 5 minutes by bike. Getting groceries has never been easier.
  • Tynan Coffee & Tea – a new coffeehouse to sip lattes at right next to Harris Teeter.
  • Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) – an 8-mile paved bike path that runs north along the metro train tracks starting at the New York Ave Metro stop NE. Who knew? Certainly not someone that usually walks south towards Eastern Market or Barracks Row.
  • Catholic University – I see the large cathedral dome far in the distance every day while walking on the Hill. Always wondered about it, but never had occasion to venture through the ‘sketchy’ neighborhoods to get there. With the confidence a bike gives you to outrun pursuers and hoodlums, I decided to risk riding through the random hoods for a visit.
  • The Yards Park – a new waterfront park that just opened late last year along the Anacostia River, not far from the Nationals Ballpark. It is quite nice actually. If DC’s Anacostia riverfront ever takes off, this is an excellent centerpiece.
  • Big Bear Cafe – heard about this coffee shop but was never willing to walk up to R St NW to check it out. Definitely would bike there. Crowded every time I went.
  • Random places – I pedaled furiously down countless streets and alleys in neighborhoods I’d never dreamed of. Did not get shot once.

Strategy is important: To compete in a contest of such magnitude you need a strategy. The first month, I simply rode whenever I could. No plan. I started looking at the riding patterns of those riders ahead of me and decided to defeat them. Starting in February, I decided that I would ride at least 4 times a day. With two weeks to go, I made it 5 times a day. And for the last week, I upped the ante to 6 times. This worked well because I was not a crazy person (e.g. doing 60 rides a day) and it tied in with normal errands and the seeking of lunch or dinner at neighborhood locales.

The moral of the story is: Winners ride bikes. They also walk.

Capital Bikeshare
Take a bike