CULEBRA ISLAND, Puerto Rico — Much like we enjoyed Tahitian beer in Tahiti, we have found it very relaxing to enjoy a nice cold Medalla beer while sitting by the water. In 95-degree heat, though, one has to drink pretty rapidly to avoid winding up with warm beer.
May 31, 2007
May 30, 2007
While it can be frustrating as a consumer to show up at a closed store that is supposed to be open, at least the "Island Woman" is upfront about her haphazard hours. We saw her this evening at a bar but elected not to ask her when she might deign to open her stand. We're dying to buy something from her, not that we know what she sells.
May 29, 2007
May 28, 2007
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Rather than sign the back of his credit card, Josh R. writes: "Check my ID." I suppose that's a good security measure in case his card is ever stolen, but cashiers rarely ever notice. Or if they notice, they rarely ever ask to see his ID.
Today, the security folks at Dulles Airport noticed that Marnie's ID expired last week. That observation impressed me, since I figured the only things agents look at, if they look at anything, is the picture and to see if the name on the ID matches the name on the ticket.1 That's nice security and all. But ultimately, they still let her proceed to our gate. So... what's the point of an ID?
Four hours later, after landing here in Puerto Rico, a security agent did not permit us to leave the baggage claim area until she verified that the bags were indeed our own by matching the baggage claim tickets. This has never happened to us.
1Marnie was once addressed as "Mrs. Miles," by a security agent who read the wrong part of her ticket and assumed her name was Dividend Miles. This was, by the way, after Sept. 11, 2001.
May 27, 2007
GERMANTOWN, Md. — Aside from watching Joe play, my two highlights from the 2007 Adidas Potomac Memorial Tournament were:
- Watching a one-legged coach occasionally pull himself out of his wheelchair and stand on his other leg to berate his team or the referee;
- Watching No. 5 on FC United of Massachusetts1 do somersault throw-ins.
May 26, 2007
May 25, 2007
Marnie & I spent my lunch break yesterday looking at Robert Creamer's nature photographs at the Museum of Natural History. We learned how to suspend dry flowers over a flatbed scanner and set them on fire while hitting the "scan" button on the machine.1
After work, we went to the Kennedy Center to see "Jenůfa," a three-act performance by the Washington National Opera. We had a great time. Still, I couldn't help but notice that it was quite a bit longer than "Gianni Schicchi," the one-act Giacomo Puccini opera we saw last fall.
Come to think of it, I also enjoyed the one-act "Pagliacci" performance we saw a couple years ago."2 From now on, I'm a one-act kind of guy.
1The exhibit is really just a big infomercial for Epson 1000XL scanners. They're only $5,000 and can take care of documenting all your flower-burning needs.
2Catherine, one of my daily readers, took Marnie & me to see the Sarasota Opera perform "Pagliacci." Thank you to Catherine for helping me learn to enjoy one-act operas.
May 24, 2007
Last year, I told you about Jason's unsuccessful quest to find the World's Longest Sofa. Now Amy & Jeff have also returned from Italy without finding it.
Is it all some sort of elaborate hoax? Actually, it turns out that there is indeed a sofa, but it has moved around a bit. The red leather couch, made by Italy-based Industrie Natuzzi, consists of 50 cow hides and measures a total of 250 square meters. The company has put it on display at several places, including Milan, Bologna and Florence.
May 23, 2007
Marnie & I walked over to 8th Street the other day to take a look at the Color Field Remix, a street-painting project in recognition of the city's role in the Color Field visual art movement. It's pretty cool, although some of the paint seems to be wearing away already.
Meanwhile, the folks at Gallery Place Living posted a bird's-eye view of the street.
May 22, 2007
Everyone knows it is hard to find a taxi on rainy evenings.
The increased demand on rainy evenings is all the explanation we need for this phenomenon.
Actually, it may also be a matter of decreased supply.
This Washington Post article says that brisk business means cabbies meet their "mental income targets" for the day earlier, allowing them to go home and leave fewer taxis on the street.
May 21, 2007
About 20,000 gastroenterology professionals, including Dr. R., have converged on my neighborhood for Digestive Disease Week.
Conference-goers are easily identifiable by their bright purple backpacks, which are probably filled with cool drug pens. These GI folks may know a lot about unclogging digestive tracts, but they sure are clogging up all the crosswalks.1
They must be enjoying their time in D.C., since they've agreed to come back in 2015, 2019 and 2023.
1Clogged crosswalks were responsible for turning my nine-minute commute into an 11-minute commute this morning. The horror!
For the first time this season, Marnie & I saw the Nats win. The Orioles were leading 3-2 with two outs in the 8th inning when Nook Logan hit a bases-loaded single into right field to give the Nats the lead. It was an exciting moment, reminiscent of the team's first season in D.C.
May 19, 2007
May 18, 2007
Marnie is the class speaker this afternoon at the pinning ceremony for the second-degree Georgetown Nursing School graduates. Yesterday, she had to run her speech by the faculty, who forced her to take out what I thought was the best line.
Had this happened to me,1 I would have lost my cool the way comedian Orny Adams did when the Letterman show forced him to change his joke about lupus into one about psoriasis.2
Marnie took the news well, and I can't wait to see her give the speech today. Plus, she promises me that the pinning ceremony is not some sort of sorority ritual that obligates her to take a frat boy to a formal dance. Evidently it is a traditional ceremony in which new nurses are formally welcomed into the profession.
1I gave the address at my high school graduation and managed to avoid being censored by any Jesuit authorities, although it helped that I did not attend a Jesuit school.
2For what it's worth, Marnie was not planning to discuss either of those two conditions.
May 17, 2007
In a show I saw last week at the National Air & Space Museum's planetarium, narrator Robert Redford said quite matter-of-factly that a giant meteor struck the earth 65 million years ago, killing off the dinosaurs.
Now, I'm familiar with the Chicxulub Crater at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula — I've even been there myself.1
But I thought it was a theory that the impact from this bolide collision triggered a mass extinction on Earth. I didn't realize there is a consensus on this.
Textbooks in my day said, "No one knows for sure why the dinosaurs died off."
Evidently they now know. Or is it just Robert Redford?
1A few years ago, Marnie & I spent a couple days in Mérida, the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán and the approximate epicenter of the Chicxulub Crater. Would I have done anything differently on the trip if I had known for certain that we were standing at ground zero of dinosaur extinction? Meh, probably not.
May 16, 2007
Evidently, the latest marketing trend is to flood bloggers with free video iPods and travel junkets in the hopes of winning flattering blog posts.
Attention TV & movie studios: I await your move.
May 15, 2007
This week, I learned the story of Busch Beer.
In 1953, St. Louis Cardinals owner Fred Saigh was convicted of tax evasion and was forced to sell the team. It appeared likely the Cardinals would move to Dallas under new ownership until Anheuser-Busch Co. stepped in to buy the team and keep it in St. Louis.
Beer magnate August Busch took over as team president. His first move was to try renaming the ballpark Budweiser Stadium. Major League Baseball forbade the naming of a ballpark named after beer and told Busch to pick a different name.1
So he named the stadium after himself: Busch Stadium.
His next act of business was to create a beer called Busch Beer, which hit the market the following year.
1Uh, clearly the league has changed its policy here. Go Brewers! The next homestand at Miller Park starts Friday.
May 14, 2007
Upon arriving at Sibley Hospital the other day to visit SFR, I noticed that the facility has a Breast Center.
While I paused to consider the possible jokes, Jason beat me to the punch, asking: "Isn't that called the areola?"
May 13, 2007
Well, let's get the ball rolling for Sara Flynn Rovner.
Welcome to the world, SRF. You're now findable on Google Blog Search.
Click here for more shots of the new Rovner.
Speaking Friday at the Wisconsin Republican Party convention, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback (R) told the crowd that American needed to address a "pro-family agenda" before it could focus on other issues.
According to the Associated Press, Brownback equated a "pro-family agenda" with a football team's offensive line, calling Peyton Manning the greatest quarterback in NFL history and saying he couldn't complete passes without a good offensive line.
The Wisconsin crowd booed the assertion that Manning is better than Brett Favre. Brownback recovered by calling 1960s-era Packers QB Bart Starr the greatest of all time. More boos.
"Let's take Favre then," Brownback said. "The Packers are great. I'm sorry. How many passes does he complete without a line?"
"All of them!" more than one person yelled from the back.
"I'm not sure how I recover from this," Brownback said. "My point is we've got to rebuild the family. I'll get off this."
It wasn't a great day for Brownback. Then again, saying Bart Starr is better than Brett Favre follows his thinking that there is no such thing as evolution.
May 12, 2007
The Newseum opens in October at its new downtown location.
But unlike its Rosslyn days, when it was free, admission will be $17.91.1 Shows at the Newseum's "4-D" theater will cost an additional $5.2
To sum up:
My favorite museum, which was basically brand new,3 shut down for five years. For no good reason. And not only will it stop being free, it will reopen as the most expensive museum in the city.
1This is in recognition of the year the 1st Amendment was ratified.
2Perhaps the year 2291 is when the 1st Amendment will be repealed.
3It opened in 1997 and closed in 2002.
Remember when I told you not to worry about A.V. Ristorante Italiano closing down to make way for luxury condos?
Well, now it is time to worry.
The Washington Post reports that it could close by the end of July.
Thank you to Marnie for alerting me to the situation.
May 11, 2007
ROTORUA, New Zealand — While on our way out of Rotorua, Marnie & I attended a sheep show at the Agrodome. Just outside the Agrodome grounds is one of the country's many zorbing parks. We didn't know it at the time, but zorbing started in Rotorua. And we drove right by the park where the sport was created.
Going zorbing means strapping yourself in a clear plastic bubble and getting pushed down a hill. For more money, they'll partially fill your bubble with water.
This trip was a year ago, of course. But the Google Sightseeing blog posted a picture yesterday of the very zorbing park that we drove by. And it links to this picture, which shows the activity up close — something we didn't get to see.
"When a flight attendant showed him a violation card and asked that he return to his seat, Holazo grew agitated and lunged at the attendant."
There was an out-of-control passenger harassing other people.
The flight attendant showed him a violation card.
And that didn't stop the violence? I'm shocked.
May 10, 2007
I grew up rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers. I adorned my bedroom wall with a life-sized B.J. Surhoff poster, and I listened to every game I could on the radio, even when I was away at summer camp.1
For the first time in recent memory, the Brewers are good. Very good. In fact, the team's 24-10 record is the best in Major League Baseball.
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Greg Couch wrote today that "The Brewers' front office is hoping for the team's first SI cover in 20 years."2
Upon reading that line, I immediately remembered the 1987 Sports Illustrated cover and the subheadline that read, "Rob Deer Of The Amazing Milwaukee Brewers." The issue is dated two weeks after the Juan Nieves no-hitter, which I've already rambled about.
1As anyone who has heard me complain about announcers knows, I've spent my whole life trying to find another announcing team I like as much as Bob Uecker & Pat Hughes.
2Evidently, the Brewers don't believe in the Sports Illustrated cover jinx.
Last year, I learned that Condoleeza Rice was once engaged to Denver Broncos wide receiver Rick Upchurch.
I don't keep up with Rice's love life, but I did notice that she brought a date to the state dinner held this past weekend at the White House for Queen Elizabeth II.
Her date was Gene Washington, who played wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions.
Evidently she likes wide receivers. No "tight end" jokes in the comment area, please.
May 09, 2007
Let's say I'm in bed falling asleep, while Marnie is a couple rooms away at the computer studying for her final exams.1
In my state of slumber, I hear the sneeze. It's going to take a lot of effort for me to say "bless you" loud enough for her to hear me.
Is it enough that I bless her silently to myself?
Using a word-for-word plagiarism detection system (similar to the one Marnie had to use), the newspaper concluded that 32 percent of D.C.'s school plan came from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg plan. "It's quite unethical," some guy says in the article.
Wait, why is it unethical? I don't understand this scandal. Do our nation's 13,000 school districts need to have 13,000 different school plans?
If Charlotte's plan sucks, then fine. But if it is a good system, why should Charlotte be the only one that gets to use it?
1I didn't vote for Mayor Fenty, or Mayor BlackBerry as his critics have dubbed him, but I think he's done a pretty good job so far.
May 08, 2007
SJB was an extra on the "How I Met Your Mother" episode that aired last night on CBS.
She wasn't sure if her scene ended up on the cutting room floor,1 but indeed she could be seen quite clearly in the background of the wedding scene! Marnie & I paused the scene on the TV to admire SJB and bask in the glow of our six-degrees-of-separation.
SJB, it turns out, is pals with the show's creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays, as well as some other important show contributors. And it turns out that I met Carter a few years ago.2 There is reportedly a picture of SJB's friends that features both of us.
1I know the "cutting room floor" is just an expression, but I've always felt that it is an tacit endorsement of littering. I mean, why can't producers and editors be considerate enough throw it in a trash can? "Meh, I don't like that scene. Leave it on the floor for Paco to pick up later!"
2"How I met dl004d" evidently didn't do well in focus groups.
Below, I rate the call letters of the District of Columbia's TV affiliates (on a scale of 10):
- 9.1 WDCW (CW) — It features the name of the city and network. Nice work.
- 8.7 WDCA (independent) — I'm a sucker for airport codes.
- 7.9 WUSA (CBS) — Jingoism is alive and well.
- 3.9 WRC (NBC) — The call letters suck, but the station has a rich history: The Kennedy-Nixon debate was televised from its news studio, and one of the station's recordings is the earliest color videotape in existence.
- 3.8 WTTG (Fox) — Repeating letters is nice. I guess.
- 3.2 WETA (PBS) — Estimated time of arrival? Meh.
- 2.6 WJLA (ABC) — Blech.
May 07, 2007
Below, I rate the call letters of Madison's TV affiliates (on a scale of 10):
- 10.0 WISC (CBS) — It spells something useful without having "discard" the first letter. Perfect.
- 8.9 WBUW (CW) — It references both the old WB network and the state's flagship university. I like it.
- 8.2 WMSN (NBC) — MSN is the city's airport code. Not bad.
- 6.8 WMTV (Fox) — Does it stand for "Madison TV"? Or just a nod to the music station? Meh.
- 4.5 WHA (PBS) — I awarded points for being the TV namesake of the oldest continually operating radio station in the country.
- 2.2 WKOW (ABC) — Is it trying to spell cow phonetically? Lame.
May 06, 2007
Perhaps Marnie's ability to spot pregnant actresses on TV, which I call pregdar, isn't as sharp as I thought.
She watched the last two episodes of Scrubs without sensing that Keri Russell (who plays Elliot's sorority sister Melody) is pregnant.
May 04, 2007
Last night, Republicans held their first debate of the White House 2008 race. Three of the 10 candidates1 said they do not believe in evolution. A fourth2 said he believes in evolution but that "the hand of God is there also."
On the subject of stem cells, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney touted the benefits of something called "altered nuclear transfer."
The way Romney described it, altered nuclear transfer it is a procedure that creates the functional equivalent of human stem cells.
I've never heard of such a thing. What is it?
1Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
2Arizona Sen. John McCain.
GRAZ, Austria — After stopping by Aiola Island, correspondent LAL visited the Graz Art Museum (called the Kunsthaus), pictured above. They appear to have some interesting modern art in Graz.
Gee, it sure would be nice if LAL had his own blog to tell us stories about this trip.
May 03, 2007
Marnie & I watched PTI tonight. At one point, the subject was the first-round NBA series involving Dallas vs. Golden State.
Marnie: Wait, Golden State? Who are they?
Me: What do you mean? They're a team.
Marnie: Why are they talking about a college team in the NBA playoffs?
GRAZ, Austria — After correspondent LAL's successful trip to China, I decided to send him to Europe for more dispatches. Today's picture is a view of an architectural park called Aiola Island, situated on the Mur River.
Meanwhile, Austrian lawmakers voted yesterday to lower the voting age to 16. I wonder what would happen if they did that in the United States. Would young people actually vote?
May 02, 2007
SHANGHAI, China — Stationed here for a few days to do medical consulting, correspondent LAL beamed over this image of what I assumed to be some sort of surgical consult taking place.
Later, LAL explained that the location is a kitchen, not a hospital room.
The chefs, you see, are working hard to put together some made-to-order dumplings.
MADISON, Wis. — Last year, I mentioned that Auckland, New Zealand, has a restaurant chain called Burger Wisconsin (see the end of this post). What I forgot to note about that trip, food-wise, was the sushi.
For one thing, it was dirt cheap even in Parnell, the charming shopping and gallery district where we were staying. But most notably, every menu we came across featured chicken sushi.
Chicken teriyaki rolls, etc.
I found the idea of "chicken sushi" to be strange.
But it seems to be catching on.
I noticed last week that it is now on the regular menu at FireFly, one of Madison's many FoodFight-owned restaurants.