31 July 2008

It's the meat, stupid?

This press release from the PCRM details the demonstration by doctors in which they used over 1000 tomatoes to spell out "It's The Meat, Stupid!" to draw attention to the meat industry's role in spreading the salmonella outbreak. It hasn't broken mainstream media, however... they're still on the pepper lead. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a handy little breakdown of where the salmonella Saintpaul infections have been identified, including 31 people in Virginia, 38 in Maryland, and one in DC.

30 July 2008


Location (and those associated features, like climate) is not nearly as important to one's happiness in a place as the sense of community fostered there. The need for community is so strong, yet living in an area relatively isolated such as the suburbs can cause people to turn to material wealth, mistaking that for happiness. When am I happy? When I'm not feeling like an outsider... I can be a wanderer without feeling lost.

I seek out places where people say hi.
I should say something here about local businesses, but mostly I give them my support because I like familiar faces that have some history in the area.

24 July 2008

Ooh! The Loftstel!

I'm intrigued by this house called the Loftstel that I sort of stumbled upon online. It's a communal living idea that has materialized in DC - right over in the Petworth neighborhood - as well as a couple other cities, including NYC where it began. It's a big group house that serves as a hostel for people who intend on longer stays, while job- or house-searching for example, and are looking for a more social temporary living situation. Seems really conducive to meeting a bunch of cool folks when you're new to an area! There are student discounts on the rate, but it's still a bit pricey for one bed in Petworth. The one in Philly is 400$/month for students; here, it's more than double that.
Now I really want to see the Loftstel in Petworth. Curiosity compels me. I bet it's fun! I don't even know much about that area... I've been to Domku, but that was way back when (okay, a year ago).

22 July 2008

Passing thoughts aboard a bus.

So I'm here, I'm there, I'm collecting stories along the way - those that'll make it into permanence through words. Give everywhere a chance. Love the feeling of being in motion.

16 July 2008

A Murky story?

Within the past couple of days, there has been a lot of talk over Jeff Simmermon's blog post about the denial of his iced-espresso request at Murky Coffee in Arlington, and the subsequent response from Murky.
Apparently coffee shops don't like to serve espresso with ice, because patrons tend to order these with the intention of filling the rest of the cup with the free milk and creamer available, creating a cheap "ghetto latte." Customer saves some cash through this loophole, but store loses a bit of profit on the drink and has to refill the pitchers of milk/creamer more often. Murky Coffee has an expressed policy against doing so, and the owner states that it somehow destroys the taste when espresso is added directly to ice.
At the reinforcement of this policy and the refusal to serve Simmermon his drink in the way he wished to have it, he posted a response on his blog that starts off stating, "The only way I'm ever coming back to Murky Coffee in Arlington is if I'm carrying matches and a can of kerosene." But honestly, does that justify telling someone on the store website, "If you ever show your face at my shop, I'll punch you in your dick"? Bad attitudes all around, but it's hard to deny that Murky knows their coffee.

15 July 2008

Aging and sitting around.

The NYT reports today that children are exercising less as they age. The drop is from an average of 3 hours a day exercising to around half an hour a day, in the period from age 9 to 15. I certainly found that I spent much less time outdoors once I discovered the joys of the Internet...

But on the other end of the spectrum, you'll want to reverse this and exercise more to possibly slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. It's no secret that our physical condition affects our mental state.
Okay, that's all to see here for today - get movin'!

14 July 2008

All I want to do in the summer...

Beat the heat. Whew, anyone who has spent their summers in DC knows why most people opt to leave the city at the first opportunity (and every long weekend). The humidity plus the heat combine to form a formidable force. Ha.
All I want to do is go swimming, drink iced tea.

Some outside reading on water: the environmental impact of bottled water. Better: filter your water and bottle it yourself in reusable bottles.

12 July 2008

Beijing Olympic Preparation

Amongst the many actions Beijing is taking to prepare for the Olympics is the removal of dog meat from restaurant menus. Yeah, because eating dog meat is so much different than eating, say, cow or pig meat.
I'm also interested in seeing how effective the car ban during the Olympics will be in bringing down pollution levels. The Beijing government has posted a notice stating that beginning July 20th (and lasting for two months), cars with odd- or even-numbered plates will not be allowed on the roads on alternate days.
Haile Gebrselassie, an Ethiopian distance runner with asthma, has already announced he will not be traveling to Beijing for this year's Games. Other athletes have plans to fly in solely for their competition because they do not want to submit their bodies to the poor air quality any more than is necessary, rather than staying for the duration of the Olympics. I really don't blame them. When I visited Beijing this past winter, nothing was more clear than how unprepared they are to host this year's Olympic Games. The city always looked like it was under a dense layer of fog (really smoke - it was depressing), and breathing was difficult even for day-to-day activities. That level of air pollution isn't something you can solve in a few months.

10 July 2008

"...going vegan takes serious bloody willpower."

A bit of light reading for you this morning:
Restaurant critic Jay Rayner goes vegan for a week.

It's entertaining, but not to be taken too seriously (militant vegans, he may piss you off). Rayner writes very humorously and provides good perspective on what a vegan diet appears like to those out of the loop, including the frustration of hidden animal ingredients and the difficulties encountered when dining out.

Also, a photo website comparing what packaged foods actually look like, contrasted with how they appear on the box. Heh!

09 July 2008

Oh, to get around.

With gas prices as they are these days, people are discussing how to sell their SUVs - or alternatively, what to do with the SUVs they can't get rid of. The second link's just for fun, but gas prices are undeniably steep, and rising. The national average at the moment is $4.108/gallon, an all-time high. Who can afford to fill up anymore?

All the more reason to ride a bike if you can.
The SmartBike program in DC couldn't come at a better time. Yeah, I know, it's Clear Channel... but this leads to a veritable slew of improvements to cycling in the city. Hopefully it will speed up the addition of more bike lanes, and create greater visibility for those riding bikes, forcing drivers to keep an eye out for cyclists. When there are dedicated lanes for bikes to use, our actions while riding become more predictable, resulting in fewer collisions and better harmony between motorized commuters and pedal-powered ones. We're all trying to get to work!
And maybe, just maybe, fewer people will park in the bike lanes (ugh, frustration!).

From discussion with friends living in the city but taking public transport to work rather than their bike, I've found that it's often intimidating for them with all the accidents they'll read on the news. And yeah, it's impossible to be completely protected. Yesterday morning, Alice Swanson, a 22-year old cyclist, was struck and killed while riding to work near Dupont Circle. It's really tragic.

08 July 2008

Summer of caffeination

Here's a handy website that lists the caffeine content of drinks, including all of the popular sodas and energy drinks, as well as coffee and tea. The names of some of the drinks out there are pretty hilarious - take "Who's Your Daddy" or "Whoop Ass," for example. I've never even seen a lot of these on the shelves!

07 July 2008

Ack! My peppers!

So now the investigation into the salmonella outbreak in the U.S. uncovers that it might be linked with consumption of jalapeño peppers, or maybe cilantro or serrano. I eat so many jalapeños. Maybe it's time to cut back? But there was a huge tomato scare before it was jalapeños, and I still ate those happily. There's really no solid evidence pointing to any one type of produce just yet.

06 July 2008

Clarendon to Court House.

Spent a few hours exploring Arlington, Virginia with a friend today. It's a pretty neat area, with some quirky little establishments, gorgeous old houses full of character, and many miles of bike trails.

I'm gaining a true appreciation for the DC metropolitan area. It's easy to fall into routines when you're living someplace, to stop being observant of one's surroundings. It's similar to how people from an area never partake in the "touristy" activities, no matter how fun they might be, just because they suppose they'll always be there or that they never change. Showing a visitor around your hometown is another way to gain a new perspective.
I need to work on my DC knowledge database! And in that way, I'll have more to share with others on my travels. It's the question on their lips: "Where are you from?"

I've been hearing bits and pieces about a recent trend towards 'staycations,' which involve vacations spent at home or nearby. That's more an economic thing, I suppose - I admit I haven't read up on it - but there are valuable things to be learned from the place you've always been. Look into the history of your town, discover a new part of the woods...

04 July 2008

Quick link for reading, food-related.

Must run, but here's an interesting article I read from a previous issue of Time magazine on the geography of childhood obesity. From a few weeks ago because I don't subscribe, but I picked up an old issue to flip through at my parents' house today.

It's true that fatty foods, loaded with preservatives and highly processed, become the mealtime staples for poor communities. Take-out places are cheapcheap, and very prominent in low-income areas. Grocery stores may often be further away than your neighborhood fast-food joint. Obesity in the U.S. is a huuuge problem. Literally. And it's escalating. It isn't just an aesthetic thing because there are too many health complications to name.
Anyway, thought I'd share the link - and happy fireworks today!

02 July 2008

Tomorrow it begins!

One of my favorite events on television: the Fourth of July Twilight Zone marathon on the SciFi channel! AH! Okay, "one of my favorite events on television" is not an entirely accurate description because it is the only one I truly care about - besides, of course, the Twilight Zone marathon at New Year's. I eagerly await this time every year. Don't have cable in the house but I'll find a way to watch a few episodes at least.

Runs tomorrow morning through the end of July 4th. Quality programming on the SciFi channel.

Five Guys Columbia Heights!

Yow! The Five Guys at 1400 Irving St NW has finally opened, as of yesterday - or the day before. Somehow I missed it. Now, as soon as you step off the Columbia Heights Metro, you will be struck down immediately by the call of greasy American fare. Being veg, all I eat from Five Guys are the french fries, but oh man are they delish. And I'm always hearing great things about those burgers, so give it a shot if you've never been.
Then head over immediately to Sticky Fingers Bakery, only about two blocks away, for a cowvin cookie or some other vegan dessert to polish it all off. Mmm.

Also, an interesting post on the future of local retail in the age of DC's rapid gentrification.

01 July 2008

O Canada

Happy Canada Day!
And how's our fair neighbour doing these days? Let's say they need me as a resident, and that's that.

Our own national holiday arrives in a few days. Fireworks have been going off in our neighborhood for several nights already. One of my house mates informs me that a makeshift fireworks-dealing stand has popped up across the street. I usually look up when I hear the bursts, and my first reaction is always, "ack, more gunshots."