Tuesday, August 4, 2009

When Suburbs Move Downtown

Columbia Heights is where I like to call home. It's active and bright, close to downtown, metro-accessible, and relatively still affordable (which is saying something in the world of DC rental property). Apparently these features are not enough, though. The Post decided that the new Target has inherently changed the face of the neighborhood, The Target of Their Ambivalence.

While the article is interesting in its play on the local kitch, it addresses only one crowd. Columbia Heights is historically a community of strong diversity. Monica Hesse only writes to the young (white) singles in the neighborhood, clearly missing the strongly rooted black resident and immigrant families that give the area its life. On any given summer afternoon walking down the street, young kids are running past playing with friends, hip teenagers stand outside the 7-Eleven socializing, and older folks sit on their stoops watching the world go by. The mix of these ages and experiences interacting with one another on the street represents the quintessential city life. Target has not changed that.

Sure, the apartments and condos are getting a face lift, increasing rents. There are lots of young, upwardly mobile college kids now moving in too. But the families and long-term inhabitants are still around. The group houses are springing up more frequently where subdivided rentals used to sit. So maybe Target has changed the neighborhood, but less among the group house types who could have done the same shopping by jumping on the metro and heading 4 stops down to the Bed, Bath, and Beyond in Gallery Place. The real change has not been among the young singles, but for the families who've been here all along.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I'm trying very hard not to un-friend someone on Facebook. I know this person casually and of course he requested that we be Facebook friends. Sure, fine. Only he posts the most infuriating information. It's ignorant and illogical and I'm fed up with it.

Only, it's sort of my source of what stupid people out there really think. Because there's no way you'd get to these conclusions using any kind of logic or reason. It's pure sophistry.
This unnamed person posted a link to an article: Obama Extols Koran.

I saw this and his comments and just couldn't even make coherent thoughts this morning I was so outraged. Not necessarily at the article, because I just don't expect much from "Christian" news. (Quotes denoting self-identification when they hardly represent any of Jesus's teachings.)

No, what really drives me up the wall is how people really believe this shit. As if praising a religion other than one's own is somehow heresy. Moreover, the implication that our president doing such things is somehow un-American, when in fact it represents probably one of the most American ideals of inclusion. Pure bigotry.

What also burns me is how this is so tightly related to some notion that America is a "Christian" nation. If you wanted to argue that America is a nation founded on representing Christian ideals, then I would agree. But the Founders were very clear about providing a country where individuals were protected by the freedom of religion-- ANY religion.

If you know your basic 3rd grade American history, you would understand that the Puritans (Christians) were escaping Catholic and Anglican (yup, both Christian) abuse. The Holy Inquisition wasn't so far in the past that people weren't still scared of its reach. And if you think that Christians don't war with each other or create internal religious blood baths, I have only one word for you: Ireland.

I am proud to live in America, where I may freely practice whatever religion I chose. Perhaps that is Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, or snake-handling Pentecostalism. Whether my choice be Christianity or Atheism, no government or sovereign authority may impinge my rights. I heartily support a president who upholds these values domestically and around the world.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Trouble with Torture

As we approach Memorial Day this month, I started reflecting on the irony of our current security debate. The fact that we are even discussing torture as a possible means of information-gathering is appalling. People (Congress, military officials, and media) are getting into the nitty-gritty of whether waterboarding is actually torture, and even if it is that maybe it's ok when it's justified as a means to an end.

Are you kidding me?

We may think of ourselves as "civilized" or an "advanced society," but this conversation has all of the trappings of tribal war-lord tactics and can not be justified--no way, not ever. We hashed through all of this in the first two world wars and thus borne the Geneva Conventions. Because all agreed that torture was a bad thing for everyone involved. So have we really slunk so far in the last 60 years that we have to readdress this basic premise?

I realize that the last 8 years have followed the progressive path to fascism, but it's time for a turn-around. If you wanted a playbook of how to become a fascist dictator in a democratic society, George Bush sure stole from Mussolini and Hitler. What's worse is that now that he's out of office, we are still discussing this policy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Getting All Worked Up

Sometimes it's nice and relaxing reading the paper in the morning, and other times Dana Milbank likes to write about issues that just get me all riled up. Rush Limbaugh is inherently one of these issues. There used to be a joke about "think of a man, then take away logic and reason" and that would be Rush. What really gets me is not his crazy antics, but his scary followers. Most all of them live in my hometown. Trust me, they are very, very scary.

The irony of reading this article today was how much it contrasts so starkly with a conversation I had last weekend. A friend of mine's little sister just graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and we were all out celebrating. Not that celebrating would ever bring up these kinds of conversations, but something reminiscent about college and philosophy had us discussing Plato's The Republic. My friend was arguing how much fun it is to relive the conversation with his Libertarian friends. So you believe in NO government, "oh really?" It was such a delightful tête-à-tête that it made me go dig up my copy of The Republic.

It might be because I'm going to visit my hometown in a few weeks or just realizing how much I enjoy being in a city with complex, cognizant human beings. It might also be because my book club is discussing American Wife this weekend and I'm just highly attuned to the nuanced hypocracies that exist in our world. For whatever reason, I just couldn't let it go.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Finally Done

My crazy month is finally over. It was fun and a little exhausting. But it sure was pretty.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Love Will Guide Us

If you cannot
sing like angels,
if you cannot
speak before thousands,
you can give from
deep within you
You can change the world
with your love.

Love will guide us
Peace has tried us
Hope inside us
will lead the way.
On the road from
greed to giving
love will guide us
through the hard night.

Thank you Rob Hardies for a much needed reminder of love not fear in a time of uncertainty. There is a man outside the metro that I see every day who will receive my $5 grocery store gift card. I hope that it will help him this week. And what is another $5 on my weekly shopping trips? Where it's a bag of chips or block of fancy cheese for me, it could be a day's only meal for someone else.

While I'm hesitant to give cash to people asking for help, the grocery store cards can be a good aid. It's not the best solution, but in times like these, we cannot wait for the best. I'm reminded not to refuse from doing the something that I can do.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I need a metal spork

Or maybe even a set of four. After all, who doesn't want to eat off a spork once in a while.

I was making ramen last night and was just entirely indecisive about whether to use a fork or spoon. A fork grabs the noodles, but misses the warm, filling broth, while a spoon gets the broth, but all the noodles fall off. Which is when I uttered my desire for fine spork-ware. I've yet to find it through Oneida or any other flatware retailer, but I think I've stumbled on to something brilliant. Imagine just one utensil at the table for that home, quick meal. Little clean up and all scrumptiousness. I also think it would work particularly well for mac-n-cheese.

So what led up to this late-night ramen meal was my first USDA grad school class of the semester: Microeconomics. It's such a wonderful thing to actually experience intellectual stimulation in a day. I was a little worried about how I'd last through a 3 hour class on Monday evening. Surprisingly, I found myself so much more awake and engaged for that three hours than most of my previous 8/9 hour day. It's a wonder what interest and engagement can do for my energy and stamina.

What's even more exciting is my professor. He's got this wizened, older gentleman feel about him and he talks in a very deliberate, slow cadence. It's great for taking notes, but it also gives this air about him that he's in no hurry and you can take a little time to understand what he's saying. Sometimes it's funny, others take a second to go through some disagreements and apply his reasoning to them. The one thing I've always been frustrated about in economics is how you tend to learn in this bubble of theory. The assumption that people are rational and will do what's in their best interest (buy at a lower cost) just doesn't play out in the real world. The fact that he not only addressed this, but made a joke of "no, no one has ever seen two gas stations across the street from each other with different gas prices," just made my heart warm. I really have no problem learning the theory and bubble rationality of economics, but sincerely admire the admittance that it's just not the case in the real world.

I raise my spork to learning in a bubble.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Proud Ticketholder

I got tickets to one of the Obama Inaugural Balls!! Can I just say how ecstatic I am. I hope I get to go to the DC Neighborhood Ball-- so excited that it's being included. The tickets are available through the Presidential Inauguration Committee for a donation. Because I only made the minimum, I get placed in a ball based on my zip code. Well, that's fine with me. Maybe I'll even meet some neighbors.

I'm so excited I can hardly contain it. Now I have to go pick out which of my 18 gowns (no joke) I'll wear!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

If you want to get technical,

VODKA is practically a health drink if you just call it potato juice. . .
which it really is, anyway.

~New Year's card from my mom

Monday, January 5, 2009


There are lots of stories about how Obamas have moved into the Hay-Adams hotel so their kids could start school at the beginning of the winter term. What remains an understated point of fact is that they were rejected from staying in the Blair House, the traditional residence of president-elects before the inauguration. They will finally be let in on January 15, only 5 days before they will be moving in to the white house.

What astounds me is the blatant display of Bush hubris. He's already been deemed one of the worst US presidents of American history. But just to rub it in a bit more, the rudeness displayed in refusing a man to take up residence for the sake of his children astounds me. And this from a "good ol' values" man just proves how disconnected he is from true Southern hospitality.

So now that the elections are over and it seems Bush will "retire" on a few boards of directors, the true New Englander returns. I wonder if the accent will disappear as well.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


I'm not normally one to make new year's resolutions. I'm very bad about keeping them. I therefore have a hard time coming up with a good resolution until around March or April and usually don't commit to it then because I've missed so much of the year already.

I've been toying around with a few things in my head lately. Of course the usualy food and fitness goals are there, but I've been bad about fully committing myself to either. But today I had a good focus on putting myself in the attitude for new year's resolutions.

I've already committed myself to slowing down and taking things easy, not let stress overwhelm me and not agreeing to do everything I'm asked and then regretting it later. I am doing pretty well on that front, picking and choosing how I want to spend my time and NOT scheduling something every night of the week and weekend.

So I picked my new year's resolution to go in line with that. I want to start journaling. Not an every day journal of daily activities, but a more occassional, personal, and emotional journal of my internal struggles and concerns. Blogging is a great way to vent on issues or share exciting ideas, but not really how I want to open myself up. I sometimes think of great things I'd love to blog, but don't really want to divulge that much or don't think anyone else would really care to read it. However, none of these things are great worries for me with a journal. Then I can take a look at what I've written over time and review how far I've come in the year, what I need to work on, or just let go.

So at last, I have a comitted, attainable new year's resolution! Now I'm looking forward to many other great things in 2009.