• 6:05 - 6:30 Bike to Prince George's Plaza
  • 6:33 - 7:30 Metro to Dunn Loring via L'Enfant Plaza
  • 7:45 - 8:00 Shuttle to site

I wasted ten minutes wrestling with the bike rack. It seems like each day the prongs fit differently through the bike.

Rhode Island Panda


  • 6:12 - 6:14 Walk to Bus Stop
  • 6:33 - 7:00 Bus 83 to Rhode Island Avenue station
  • 7:11 - 7:41 Metro to Medical Center station
  • 7:41 - 7:50 Walk to site
Good timing, Metro. Raise your fares, then have all your trains break down. I faced Red Line delays coming and going today. At Rhode Island, we stood on the platform and stared at the train sitting just off the platform. It finally pushed itself to the platform, discharged a bunch of passengers and then went out of service. In the evening, a train broke down somewhere around Dupont Circle. Maybe Metro could take some of that $5.8 million surplus and use it to fix stuff instead of giving it to useless governments...just an opinion. I mean, aren't these the governments that Metro complains never give Metro enough money?

I had some bad timing of my own. I walked to the intersection of my street and Rhode Island, only to watch mournfully as two Metro busses (or is it "buses"?) drove by. And so I had a 15 minute wait.

On the way home, after taking a snapshot of the "artistic" Panda at Rhode Island, I took a "Limited-Stop" bus 83. Apparently, that means we're supposed to stop in front of the Isle of Patmos Baptist Church to tell a woman and her kids that we don't stop in DC. I'm sure she appreciated the thought.

Posted by Hello

Link: A View From the Bridge

Free Cable!

A Blog Report

Watch as brave sailors try to free a cable from the ocean floor. Laugh at dancing birds, cower as the boat is attacked by storms.

If he keeps up the pace and the pictures, I think I'll keep watching A View From The Bridge.

By Jiminy, It's Cricket Cola

I Know You Didn't Ask

A Convenience Store Report

The convenience store in Building 31 has diet Cricket Cola. The convenience store in Building 31 is better than the convenience store in Building 45 for other reasons, too.

On Saturday, I drank the last diet Cricket that New Deal had. On Sunday, College Perk didn't have any left, either. It's not easy supporting an addiction to green tea cola.

Planes, Trains and, um, Bikes


  • 6:22 - 6:40 Pilot bicycle to Prince George's Plaza
  • 6:42 - 7:25 Ride Metro to Medical Center (via Gallery Place-Chinatown)
  • 7:25 - 7:32 Walk to work
Shaved off ten minutes simply by being at PGP at the right time and by walking a little faster from the Metro to work.

For comparison, according to MapQuest, the distance I would travel in a car is 14.1 miles. So, I'm averaging 12 miles an hour. I might be able to match that rate on the bike, but I don't think I can get the bike distance down to 14.1 miles. We're not allowed on the Beltway, you see. And, of course, there's no shower on-site.

Speaking of walking, we took a nice walk yesterday along the Northeast Branch Trail up to Lake Artemesia. At the lake, you can see Metro trains gliding by, and along the trail you can watch small airplanes take off. The trail winds not twenty feet from the end of the runway at College Park Airport. It's a great place to plane spot.

We've noticed that a couple of lakes in our area no longer rent canoes/paddleboats. I wonder why?

Oh, and Lake Artemesia is pretty, but these pictures make it look gorgeous.

Cat's Eye (Margaret Atwood)

I was busily scratching away at a story about my imaginary Great Uncle Leadbelly and my efforts to cheer him up -- he was quite depressed at the news of Michael Dirda's Retirement -- when I realized that the thing was much too long for a blog entry. Sure, it was probably the funniest thing I'd ever written, equal parts Wodehouse, Trillin, and Job, but my heart wasn't in it.

The retirement of Michael Dirda was depressing me, too. His essays gave me courage at those points in my life when I needed to be reminded that a love of books was no bad thing. It is not so strange to have such a strong attachment to paper, glue and string.

So, I put down my pen and went outside for a walk around the back yard, hoping to clear my head. We'll be leaving this yard behind us soon, and a final relaxing lap around the grounds might just freshen me up. Unfortunately, my trip around the yard was interrupted when I discovered Jimmy and Pam behind the shed.

You might remember Timmy. I have the devil of a time remembering his name, but it doesn't really bother me too much, because I know he isn't real. Pam is about the same age as Jerry; they run around in the same circles, though often in different directions. It seems like her favorite neighborhood pastime is to draw complicated chalk mazes on our street.

They looked up at me guiltily. They were obviously up to no good. Darn it all, now I'd have to act like an adult. If only I could figure out what that means. Do you know what was in Tommy's grubby little hands?

That's right: scissors.

"Uh, Mr. --", Jeremy started.

"Don't you Mister me, young man," I said. This was how my mom talked, so I figured it's what you say in this sort of situation. "Pammy's mother is gonna freak."

OK, so Mom never talked like that, but I have my own ways of doing things, too.

"Mom won't be back for a week," Paula said calmly. Her mother traveled on business quite often. "She won't remember how long my hair is. After the China trips, she barely remembers my name."

"Of course she remembers your name, Portia," I said soothingly.

"Penny and I aren't doing anything wrong," Joey said.

"Of course not," I said. "That's why you're hiding behind the shed."

"OK." Jeffrey took a big breath. "All we're doin' is cutting Penny's hair."

"Why, in the name of all that is holy and just," (I think it's best to show restraint in these kinds of situations), "do you want to cut her hair?"

"He read a book," Peony said.

"A book?" I should have known.

"Yes," Jack said. "It's called Cat's Eye, by Margaret Atwood."

"I see," I said, either to indicate that I didn't or to buy some time; it wasn't immediately apparent which.

"Penny's going into seventh grade next year, and Ms. Atwood says that teenage girls are pretty evil. So, we're cutting Jenny's hair so she can pretend she's a boy," he said in a rush. He picked up the book. This meant he was going to read to me. My eye began to twitch. "The girls do all kinds of horrible things to each other:

I worry about what I've said today, the expression on my face, how I walk, what I wear, because all of these things need improvement. I am not like other girls. Cordelia tells me so, but she will help me. Grace and Carol will help me too. It will take hard work and a long time.

"They pretend to be your friends," Peyton spoke up. "And they play with your mind until you break like an egg dropped from the top of the Washington Monument." The girl must have been reading some heavy detective novels or something.

"Oh, I'm sure you're strong enough to --" I started.

"She's not afraid of being hurt by the girls," Johnny said with obvious exasperation.

"I'm worried that I'll become one of them," Paula said, "like a teeny-bopper Patty Hearst."

"How do you know who --"

"Listen," Jesse started reading again:

On some days Cordelia decides that it's Carol's turn to be improved. I am invited to join Grace and Cordelia as they walk ahead on the way home from school, with Carol trailing behind, and to think of things Carol has done wrong. "Carol is a smarty-pants," Cordelia says. At these times I don't pity Carol. She deserves what's happening to her, because of all the times she's done the same thing to me. I rejoice that it's her turn instead of mine.

"You see?"

I wasn't sure that I did, but it was obvious that some adult decisions were needed.

"I am going to talk with my wife," I said. "Maybe it's best if you're not here when I come back." I left them and went into the house.

"Everything OK?" the Brunette asked.

"Yes," I said. I hesitated near one of our bookshelves. "Do you think it's possible to care about books too much?"

Bike & Ride


  • 6:30 - 6:45 Bike to Prince George's Plaza
  • 6:55 - 7:40 Metro to Medical Center
  • 7:40 - 7:50 Walk
This customer is 20 minutes closer, but an hour and twenty is a lot considering we're in the same state and all. The Green Line was more crowded than I expected, but there was room to sit. There were dire warnings of a 20 minute delay on the Red Line, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary to me.

Well, the Red Line driver was a little odd. We pulled up to Dupont Circle , where he gave this speech: "Dupont Circle. Doors opening right side. If you have to be at work at 7:30, you have ten minutes. You have time for a coffee but not the sugar or tea." He tried another joke about animals leaving the train near the zoo, but he was otherwise quiet.

Bike and Metro Time


Metro Train at PGP I like the PGP station because the bike racks are covered (by the parking garage). Now that they're putting a garage in at the College Park station, perhaps they'll cover the bikes there, too.

The total travel time doesn't include the few minutes it took me to get the bike out of the shed and re-inflate the tires. This is my first day at this form of commuting since April, so both the bike and I are a little out of shape. Today, I took the option of transfer from Green directly to Orange at L'Enfant. The other possibility is two transfers: Green-Red at Ft Totten and Red-Orange at Metro Center. I'll try to mix it up to compare times.

What did Taleswapper forget today?

  • Helmet mirror I didn't realize how much I've come to depend on that thing. It really helps for the left turns across Route 1 and East-West Highway. It has to be somewhere in the shed, surely.
  • Bandana
  • Thumbdrive I need to weld this to my forehead or something.
Pretty picture from RailPictures.Net.

If My Head Wasn't Attached

If you're playing along at home -- you know, that fun new game show called "What did Taleswapper Forget Today?" -- Monday's answer is:

Thumb Drive


Interesting Map

Fun with Maps

Second in a Series

US County Drink Names

What do you call that sugary fizzy beverage in an aluminum can? Most often, I'll just say "drink," but I'll say both "soda" and "Coke." I'd like to think I use "soda" more than "Coke." I guess that says a lot about my regional background, eh?

When I use the term "Coke," I don't always distinguish between Coca-Cola and Pepsi products, but I won't call Sprite or 7-Up "Coke."

Shrinking this picture sure does hide the text. Shades of red represent counties that tend to use the term "Coke"; shades of blue represent counties that tend to use the term "Pop"; shades of yellow/brown represent counties that tend to use the term "Soda."

This map is interactive at The Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy.

More Apostrophe

First Apostrophic Church?

A Grammar Report

I understand there is a risk that I might seem to be obsessed with apostrophes when I point you to this amusing cartoon.

Posted via email...

Worry Worry Worry

Woke up this morning with the realization that we have plonked down an offer on a house, but we did not even bother to try the taps to make sure the water runs. What if the shower head is too low? This place was built in 1937; people were shorter then. I hate it when the shower head is too low.

Then, we heard today that the house appraised for three thousand dollars less than our offer. That difference is hardly anything, but the seller agreed to lower his price, so we get a discount!

That cheered me up a bit, but now I'm thinking: what's wrong with the house that the seller is willing to take a three-grand hit for it?

I think I might just generate one of those ulcer things.

Say It Ain't So, Jim

In February, Disney actually bought The Muppets. In the past, Disney merely had distribution rights; now, the evil empire owns my favorite characters.

I think I'm going to cry...

Posted via email...

I Left My Heart in San Francisco...

If it's not there, I don't know where I put it

On Monday, I accidentally abandoned my laptop's power cord at our headquarters.

Yesterday, I forgot my Metro SmarTrip card. Again!

Today, I left my mobile phone at home.

Tomorrow, I will leave my left foot under the bed.

Friday, my right elbow will have fallen behind the refrigerator again.

But I will never forget my head; I heeded my mother's words, so the old melon is firmly attached with stainless steel rods.

Are You Ready?

Bloomsday is almost upon us. Do you know where your lemon soap is? Posted by email...

All Cooped Up

We stopped by the Greenbelt Homes, Inc., offices on Saturday to go through our mandatory orientation meeting. GHI operates as a cooperative, so we are not really going to own a home. Instead, we're buying a share in a corporation and one of the benefits is the right to occupy the particular house we're purchasing.

We are free to mess with it, as long as we don't damage the structure or annoy the neighbors.

The presentation was not terribly interesting. The presentation used "it's" when it should have used "its". We learned that FDR himself placed the first fish into Greenbelt Lake in 1936. We already knew that there are only seven lenders who will provide mortgages for this arrangement, mostly because there is a required agreement that if we stop paying our co-op fee, the lender will pay it. Also, if we default on our loan, the lender has to tell the co-op management team.

We're definitely looking forward to once again living in a place where we can walk to the grocery store and cinema. Other than that, it'll be some time before we really understand what we're in for with this co-op thing. (I forgot to ask whether it was more appropriate to write co-op or coop. Coop just looks weird.)

The lender doesn't seem bothered by our inability to produce W-2s (we didn't have any W-2s because we lived and worked in Scotland for the last two years), so our next big hurdle is the application interview. Anyone who wants to live in this part of Greenbelt must be approved by the board. Yikes.

Posted by email...

Flat-Out Crazy

When I got to my destination Friday night, I noticed that the rear driver-side tire was flat. As it is an unappealable law that it must rain whenever I get a flat tire, Friday gave us quite the deluge. I decided to change to the doughnut on Saturday morning.

I noticed that the jack had this notice: "Follow the Jacking Instructions." I thought this might be a great replacement for RTFM. After listening to the report on cursing on NPR's This American Life, maybe I have Bono on the brain, but I was thinking that this could be a good pattern replacement like "shoot" and "fudge."

"Follow the jacking instructions, dude."

Bono, I thought to myself, could have said, "Jacking brilliant!" Then, the FCC wouldn't get its knickers in a twist.

Other great uses:

  • Jacking Great!
  • Jack you, Loser!
  • She jacked with my head, man
  • Jack off and --

Wait a minute. This isn't going to work, after all, is it?

Anyway, the tire's fixed now. Posted by email...

Oh, Give Me a Home

A Housing Report

Speaking of Greenbelt, the Brunette and I were delighted to find that our offer on a home in the Greenbelt Housing Co-op was accepted last night. For the next couple of months, this blog, which was devoted to the inanities of living in the DC area, will be devoted to the inanities of living and moving in the DC area.

Aren't you excited?

Pay the Piper

On Friday, I had a short day, in and out of the office by noon. But I notice from this sign that in the future, two things will change about that quick trip.

The first is that it will be more expensive. I thought that moving to the SmarTrip smart cards for parking was going to save Metro money, because they won't have to pay attendants. But you can see they've taken advantage of this change to expand the hours during which parking costs money. On Friday, I didn't have to pay parking at all, because I left before two. From the end of the month, even quick trips are going to cost a lot more.

Now, I'm a big fan of SmarTrip. I don't know if I'd describe them as genius (after all, I hate it when companies do this mangled spelling thing), but they are a little bit quicker than the tickets. More important, my company gives me an allowance, and they can charge up my card right from the office.

But on this particular Friday, I arrived at the Greenbelt station and realized that I had left my card in Odenton. Since the cards cannot be purchased at the station, if this happens next month, I'll have the choice of driving back to Odenton or driving to work. Either way, I won't be able to use the public transit system. If I forget my card right now, it just means I have to buy a paper ticket for the ride and have cash for the parking.

Why can't they use the paper tickets to pay parking, too? Then, even casual users of the Metro could park in the lots and buy their parking inside the station (just like at many major airports).

Posted by Hello


A Wedding Report

"An outdoor wedding on the first Saturday in June?" we said, our chins resting upon the ground.

"Can they be serious?" we wondered.

"Don't they know we'll be eaten alive by mosquitoes?" we asked in fear.

"And isn't this the horrible year of the cicada?" we buzzed.

"They're out of their minds if they think we'll be comfortable in formal attire on a hot, muggy Maryland afternoon in June!" we bellowed for all to hear. "We'll drown in the sweat."

In the event, we froze our little tootsies off.

The rain kept the temperatures down, allowed for a raging fire, and scared away all the potential bugs. Except for a little bungling about the symbolism of the rings, I doubt my service damaged their future at all.

Run, Run Like the Wind

A News Report

Getting killed for offering a girl a drink is horrific. I alternate between depression, anger, and total helplessness when I think about this case. And then on top of this disgusting act, we have the lawyer, who suggests that his client just pretend it didn't happen.
Jones said he opposed his client's surrender. He said he told McClain that authorities "did not have his name, did not have an arrest warrant. I said 'If you turn yourself in, they will know your name . . . And there's a real possibility you will be in jail till your trial date.'"
Dang, "a real possibility you will be in jail!" What kind of advice is that? Although he claims it wasn't murder, the lawyer admits his client had a role in the incident. Does the Bar Association really think this is ethical behavior? Posted by email...

Fun with Maps

First in a Series

From the vaults of the Ig Nobel Prize. ...Posted by email

A Little Worrisome

A Drug Tale

I bopped down to the CVS at lunch and purchased a box of needles. So far, so good. No need for a prescription, you know, but I did have to sign a needle tracking report.

Anyway, the interesting thing about this particular box is: it must have originally been intended for someone else, because there is a label attached. It's one of those labels pharmacies attach to drugs.

So, now I know that this Joseph guy, who lives in Falls Church (I have the exact address) is probably a diabetic. I also know who his doctor is.

He ordered these on 23 April. I guess he took too long.

Do you think he wanted me to know all that? ...Posted by email