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Date:2009-05-24 23:04
Mood: chipper

Lately, Coriander and I have been thinking about retro-futuristic design. I guess it's because we're putting up curtain rods and supports made of copper pipe and fittings (yes, we made them ourselves -- we now know the difference between a "street" elbow and a regular elbow). The aesthetic was this sort of Fritz Lang "Metropolis" kind of theme: in this modern world, we have these pipes coming out of the wall, so we decided to hang multi-colored curtains on them.

It has created a leitmotif. Last night, for instance, we were having martinis out of glasses that I bought for Coriander for Christmas. They look like this:

Coriander said, "In 1934, everyone in 2009 drinks martinis from these."

I want more.

As much as I like modern design, as in, mid-century modern, I'd like to avoid the stuff-your-grandmother-had-in-formica syndrome that goes along with it. I want examples of design from the past, very clearly retro, that are images of "design of the future". (Nothing earlier than the 19-teens, however. We're not steampunk-y.) Have a favorite example? I'd love a link or a picture. We're collecting -- surely you know something. Care to help us out?

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Date:2009-03-23 09:37
Subject:vignettes, a bit too long to tweet
Mood: anxious

I learned that the academic economics community is divided into the "fresh water" and "salt water" factions - apparently this supplants the split between the Keynesians and the liberal classical economics types. I don't know anything beyond that.


I love skyscrapers -- they're my favorite type of building. DC is a city that has height restrictions (which means that it has a little skyscraper halo, for those unfamiliar). There are no skyscrapers in DC, which I've discovered I'm okay with. 1 - It's brighter and sunnier. 2 - One can't really see why they're so pretty from street level, so their niftiness can get lost in the day-to-day. Still, the view of a city full of skyscrapers from the 30th floor of my hotel room is delightful to enjoy every once in a while.


Guy Forsyth laments that the loss of the world of his youth where the world seemed "infinite and accessible all at the same time." But that's what I think the world is like every day. For instance, this weekend, I was in Philadelphia. Of course it never occurred to me to desire a cheesesteak, but then I realized it seemed odd *not* to. Standing at Independence Hall, I pulled out my phone, googled "vegetarian Philadelphia cheesesteak" and found several options within walking distance. I even found reviews. As we sat down with some of the most health-free fakey meat product (we eschewed the totally vegan option, however), Coriander said "surely we live in an amazing world". Surely we do.


My friends K & S sent us home with the most delicious homemade limoncello ever. Oh, the zest. Oh, the oily finish. Until we put it in the freezer. It turned to slush. I don't think I'll tell them that part.


We're a nation descended from the cultural traditions of people who believed in predestination. They also believed that the happiness of the saints in heaven is perfected by the view of the suffering in hell, so they can know *just* how good their fate is. It's a wonder that (a) we're as balanced as we are with respect to religion, not that we are so awkward. (b)It's a wonder that the American myth is that anyone can become anything.


My attachment to Coriander may border on the crazy. I am going out of town at the end of the week, which means that I won't see him until Sunday night late. Since he's always gone Monday afternoon through Thursday afternoon, I'm feeling a little cheated, and worse, sad in a way that's really disproportional and probably a tad unhealthy.


We humans have it all over bowerbirds.


I thought about the Jonathan Edwards thing because of facebook. I had this unconscious disappointment that people that were awful in high school didn't somehow live a sad, unfulfilling life. When I was conscious of that disappointment (how is it possible that she is exceedingly happy when she wasn't that good of a person), I was immediately ashamed. This is somewhat indefensible, but I think I can't call myself happy unless I genuinely wish everyone else should be this happy. It's not happiness in relation, but just happiness for its own sake.


Coriander: My Chinese dollar-store flipflops are starting to wear through.
Slushypipp: Mm.

Coriander: You don't seem disappointed.
Slushypipp: Well, if you want me to express disingenuous sympathy... :)


Apparently, in order to build geothermal energy plants in Iceland, one has to go through a rigorous certification process (which can take up to six months) to insure that there are no elves being disturbed by the construction. There are people for whom this is a career. I want to be an elf-inspector in Iceland.


Since I am completely overwhelmed at work, I really shouldn't have spent the time putting this together. But my anxiety about work (which I do love; I just wish it were slightly more manageable) is causing me to feel a bit manic lately. In fact, I was a little nervous because I had a couple bouts of just finding myself starting to talk and not really intending to, or not *about* anything. There was something weird and automatic about it. It was not figurative: I literally had nothing to say and was just making noise. I asked Coriander about this, worrying that it seemed a little schizophrenic, and he has a neuroscience and neuropsychology background. He informed me that it's perfectly normal. We're humans and very good at having control of keeping the parts of our brains communicating with each other. Every once in a while, when part of one's brain gets particularly distracted, another part will go a little on autopilot until everything's back. The truth is, I'm very easily distracted. Still, I've been suddenly babbling out of nowhere a bit more than I think is common, so I figure that if I purge my brain of all the stuff that's rattling around keeping me distracted, I might stop occasionally starting sentences that I didn't mean and have no intention of finishing.

EDIT: There goes my career escape from politics. Apparently, the Vanity Fair article that my friend was citing for me might have been under fact-checked, despite it being written by a prominent financial writer. From the New York magazine:

8. The nation has to deal with “elves — in whom some large number of Icelanders, steeped long and thoroughly in their rich folkloric culture, sincerely believe.” Alcoa, an aluminum-smelting multinational with operations outside of Reykjavík, had to “defer to a government expert to scour the enclosed plant site and certify that no elves were on or under it.”

Right. I’ve heard the elf thing mentioned in tired travel articles (normally wedged between paragraphs on the beauty of waterfalls and tips for eating ram testicles), but I personally know no one on this island who believes in elves. Not one. As for Alcoa, their rep believes Lewis is likely referring to a law regarding environmental-impact assessments. The assessment includes an archaeological survey to ensure no important artifacts or ruins are destroyed, and the site’s history is also surveyed to see if it was ever named in any Icelandic folklore. And yes, some of that folklore involves elves. But if you’re going to introduce the notion that some kind of Ministry of Elf Inspection exists within the ranks of the Icelandic government, you might as well also note that we take the Hogwart’s Express to the office every day."

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Date:2009-02-16 15:10
Subject:cutting boards and attaching boards to boards
Mood: accomplished

The construction elements of the Slushypipp-Coriander library are officially completed. My thumb is only slightly purple.

What have I learned from this experience?

1. Wood is not cut to spec. 1" x 4"s, for instance, are 3/4" x 3 3/4".

2. Wood is petulant. It requires tough love in the "spare the rod..." tradition.

3. Measure eight times, cut once, and then scratch your head and say, "huh???".

4. Sometimes a hammer is just as good as a saw or a sander at making something fit.

5. It really *does* work if you move the wood, not the saw.

6. I'm never ever moving.

EDIT: I also learned something else. Lots of people go real estate hunting, looking for a rowhouse or an old Victorian "with character" with the dream that, with time, money, and love, they can restore this treasure and Cinderella it up into their ideal domestic environment. If ever I thought I might want to do this, I now know that it's not my fate or calling.

I have an extremely generic apartment. Painstakingly transforming it into the Slushypipp/Coriander dreamhouse is difficult, tedious, and expensive. I can only imagine how much more difficult if the structure itself had an opinion on the matter. I think I am perfectly happy wrestling with a generic apartment and making it very clearly mine, rather than take an apartment that is very clearly someone else's, or has become so old that it is really just its own, and negotiating our mutual domestic needs.

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Date:2009-02-11 16:19
Mood: whee!

Who knew it would be a good idea to get married?

Married people, you don't get to answer.

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Date:2009-02-11 09:33
Subject:Love is boring
Mood: content

In 2007 I somehow apparently missed that both the New York Public Library and the Guardian newspaper declared that Wuthering Heights is the greatest love story ever penned. I am not sure how the New York Public Library decided on this list, but on the other side of the Atlantic, the question was put to a vote.

Wuthering Heights. Can this be right? The English-speaking world regards a story of multi-generational abusiveness, jealousy, brutality, pettiness, revenge, and madness as the greatest tale of love?

Did they poll teenagers? Opera librettists?

The runner-up on Guardian’s list is Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which strikes me as a story of two likable but imperfect people who both mature in ways that make them worthy of their mutual affection. But I’m going to utter a heresy here: once I remember Mr. Darcy in the days before it is impossible to think of him without thinking of the brooding Colin Firth, I consider him perhaps improved and moral, but not precisely loveable. I had always preferred Mr. Bingley.

Shakespeare shows up on both lists with Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet. How the latter has become the paradigmatic love story has always eluded me: their childish passion is much less interesting to me than the political statement about tribalism. The former is a pleasant, endearing tale where love is granted by fairies. It’s not that this doesn’t work as a love story, it’s simply that it’s not about falling in love, per se. Of course, love at first sight isn’t about falling in love either.

The truth is, real love and mutual felicity makes for a dull story. The fairytale ends with "... and they lived happily ever after," it does not start there. Conflict makes for a good story, but does not generally cultivate domestic bliss. My own love story is remarkable in its unremarkableness: I think the last time Coriander had anything resembling a heated discussion, let alone a fight, was last year. And while the field of our philosophical, aesthetic, and moral agreement is vast, we still fill hours and hours of conversation daily.

Fulfilling, but not very interesting. And I tend to elide our more dramatic, conflicted past. I don’t know what kind of narrative that is, but it’s certainly not a love story.

What characteristics, do you think, make a story about genuine, satisfying love with a likewise interesting plot?

I think stories of unrequited or perhaps “misaligned” love elicit the most empathy, humanity, and understanding. Some examples: Katherine Heiny, Fiction, “How to Give the Wrong Impression,” The New Yorker, September 21, 1992, p. 35. Gwen (in the 2nd person voice) and Boris, graduate students, are roommates, but Gwen consciously engages in a fantasy and lets people infer that they are romantically involved. Or perhaps the love that Clarissa Vaughn shows for her depressed, world-weary, terminally-ill friend Richard in Michael Cunningham’s The Hours.

But mutual love? It’s a difficult feat to portray both protagonists as loveable, and, furthermore, discovering that the interlocutor is also loveable. Is it acceptable for a protagonist to be blind to the possibility because of a distracting affection for another person, or perhaps a conflicting and noble priority such as duty? What love story would you most like to have experienced?

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Date:2009-01-16 11:34
Subject:National Day of Service - if you're going to be in DC
Mood: pleased

On Monday, January 19th, as a part of President-elect Obama’s National Day of Service, please join the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, District of Columbia Government, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Standard Solar and Wal-Mart Inc. to Repower a Community. This service event will elevate the importance of building a clean energy economy to create good jobs and helping consumers reduce their energy bills with efficient products. Volunteers will be installing a solar panel on the roof of Sousa Middle School and distributing energy efficient kits to residents surrounding the school. We have 850 energy efficiency kits to assemble and distribute so we are looking for 150 volunteers!

What: Repower a Community: National Day of Service Event

Volunteers will assemble and distribute 850 energy efficiency kits (CFL bulbs, efficient shower heads, weatherization packs, etc).

Volunteers from IBEW Local 26 will install solar panels on the roof of Sousa Middle School. Dress for the weather!

Where: Sousa Middle School
3630 Ely Pl. SE, Washington, DC

The school is about a mile from the Benning Road Metro Stop (Blue Line). We recommend that volunteers carpool to the event or arrange a pick-up at the Benning Road stop.

When: 11:00 am. Monday, January 19
The event will end at 2 pm

To sign up for the event, please e-mail Carrie Maas (carrie_maas@lcv.org) or sign-up at http://www.pic2009.org/page/event/detail/4v8ry

For more information, contact Maggie Bruns at (217) 649-1215

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Date:2009-01-15 18:35
Subject:the scary part ... the exciting part

Coriander was driving back from Lexington today (three and a half hours away). He saw the first big emergency sign 146 miles outside of Washington: expect major delays 1/20/09.

Later he passed an SUV with mud splattered up to the windows, with "Rednecks Obama-bound!" scrawled in shaving cream on the back window.

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Date:2009-01-13 13:34
Subject:Inauguration: 1 week
Mood: exiterrified

I couldn't decide if I should have used this user-pic or the one labeled "frazzled", because I couldn't decide if I'm really excited or really terrified.

Some things that happened:

Coriander and I are hosting a small cocktail party at 4:30 on Sunday. We ordered invitations for this at the beginning of December. Three days after Christmas, PIC (Presidential Inaugural Committee) decided to host a 90-minute welcome concert at the Lincoln Memorial starting at 2pm on Sunday. Yesterday, the line-up for the concert was announced. Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, U2, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Renee Fleming, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, Heather Headley, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, John Mellencamp, Usher, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, will.i.am and Stevie Wonder. Needless to say, our target of 20 guests has now been reduced to 10-15. Hell, *I* want to go. (I may go for an hour and then rush home.) If everyone had properly replied, I would e-mail everyone and change the time to 5pm.

I bought a dress. I put it off and put it off until I was feeling particularly girly, but the moment never came. The truth is, the excitement is mixed with dread, so I couldn't fully enjoy the gown-buying process. In fact, I went to the boutique downstairs from work during my lunch hour and bought the first gown that I tried on. Still, I have to say that I did have a minor jumping-up-and-down moment when my ball tickets arrived via courier to the office this morning. It was quickly squelched when I remembered that, oh yeah, the balls aren't fun and transportation is going to be brutal.

Transportation will be brutal. The metro will be packed. I purchased metro cards in advance for my guests, and I live on a "less crowded" metro line (Metro officials predict that the Orange Line and the Red Line will be the worst), but I've been on the metro when it's completely packed with lines coming out of the rabbit holes, and it's not something I'm looking forward to. Of course, it really beats driving and the associated gridlock.

The weather: could be better and certainly could be worse. The predicted high temperature has dropped from 38 to 36, and the predicted low has dropped from 30 to 28. Fortunately, I purchased a box full of hand/body warmers and a box full of toe warmers. I think I'll give them away as party favors at the cocktail.

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Date:2008-12-23 11:26
Subject:travel style
Mood: lazy

Last weekend, two of my friends from philosophy chat said that they weren't quite sure what they were going to do in Mumbai. Now, since they're returning from Mumbai on January 16, I said, with fantastic incredulity, "You're going to India next month and you don't have an itinerary???", to which J responded (not perfectly calmly), "No, we're going to India next week and we don't have an itinerary."

I couldn't even fit the sentence into my head.

I am Itinerary Girl. Coriander occasionally observes that I've done so much research on a place before we get there, that I give directions and summaries like I've been there before. When the 10-day forecast is available on weather.com, I dutifully copy it onto my Outlook calendar, then use it to make final preparations/changes. (If I had planned museum trips on Monday and a hike on Tuesday, for instance, but it's going to be beautiful Monday and rain on Tuesday, I change the days' plans.) I plan out my clothing ahead of time based on weather and days' activities. I take clothing to the dry cleaner's so it will be back the day before, and make a packing list so I don't forget anything.

I have learned this all from my father, who also masterfully packs items into a suitcase, so that when he unpacks, it looks like some clown or magic demonstration. Next thing you know, he'll be pulling out the compact car that he brought along so that he wouldn't have to rent one. This means that when I travel with my parents, I get the plans several days in advance and can pack accordingly.

Tomorrow I leave for Jackson, then New York. Since the itinerary is beyond my control and has not been shared with me yet, I am looking at this calendar, empty except for the weather, and whimpering. I don't know how to pack. I'm hyperventilating.

UPDATE: There will be horseback riding, bird watching, church (maybe I'll catch a cold), family dinners (a bad one), and ... Coriander's parents are at a loss. They are well aware of the paucity of attractions, and have brainstormed "grabbling". This activity involves hunting catfish by hand. Coriander suggests I might want a cute, algae-eating housepet.

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Date:2008-12-15 13:35
Subject:I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus ...
Mood: chipper

My local Whole Foods has a sprig of mistletoe above the entrance to the produce section. While I generally like my fellow organic yuppies, I think that's entirely too much affection to be having for a stranger in a grocery store. Good thing Coriander and I almost always go grocery shopping together!

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Date:2008-12-12 14:55
Subject:facebook ads

Friends of mine consistently complain about the diet ads they receive on their facebook page. I have not been receiving those ads, but I did get this one today:

Designing Pharma Labs?
Containment solutions for OELII to IV Nanoparticles & potent powder we contain to 0.1[mu]/m^3.

Wonder how many click-thrus that gets?

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Date:2008-12-12 13:37
Subject:Boughs of folly

Coriander and I brought in our Christmas tree last night. During the year, Theodore, the dwarf balsam fir we purchased last year to be our forever-tree suns himself on the balcony. In December, however, we bring him indoors, throw a bunch of lights and ornaments on him, and pile our gifts around the base. He's a small tree, of course, because the size of pot needed for a larger tree would overwhelm the balcony and even, to some degree, the living room.

By the time we had purchased Theodore last year, we were a bit at our wits' ends. We knew little about fir trees and were, more than anything, worried about getting a tree that would want to be replanted in the ground after the season. Since we don't own any ground, that wouldn't do. Our original thought was topiary, which is extremely locally popular. Outside many of the 18th and 19th century rowhouses in Old Town, denizens are very traditional in their decorations. Themes of fruit and doves dot their porches, while white fairy lights twinkle in their well-manicured topiary.

Of course, the residents of Old Town operate on a far different budget, and we discovered even a very small topiary, which would never double as a Christmas tree, would cost over $100. Trained trees, it seems, can set one back over $1000. We were pretty glum.

So we resigned ourselves to buying a tree from Lowes. The tag indicated that it would never exceed seven feet, and grew only a couple of inches a year in ideal conditions. I assume that siting in a pot on a balcony that gets limited sun are not "ideal conditions". We spent about $50, brought him home and decorated. The next day, at a small nursery closer to home, we saw a far superior tree, discounted half-off from $40, and were disappointed that we had not waited.

It's true: I'm not in love with Theodore. He is a bit lopsided. He grows tufts of a beautiful lime-green color magnificently, then other branches brown inexplicably. He has some bald spots. Charlie Brown did not select him, but if he could have adopted two trees, Theodore would have probably been his second choice.

Still, Coriander and I have a Christmas tree from year to year. We don't chop one down, and we did not sink to synthetic. And it's small enough that it can hold all our ornaments: the light-bulb snowmen and the egg-carton bells that we made last year, the ornaments that were tied to last year's Christmas gifts or cross-stitched by Coriander's grandmother, and the one we've decided to pick up every Christmas, in the time-honored tradition. And it takes about five minutes to set him up and decorate him.

I think that bringing Theodore in from outside forced the feeling of permanence and security to settle in last night. Since restlessness and wanderlust are the objects of a Slushypipp's heart and character, this feeling was not entirely good. It was also a feeling clearly radiating off of Coriander, and for him it was a clear and obvious good. Since I am so very happy, that new-crush sort of happy that seems to have lasted years and years, what's wrong with permenance?

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Date:2008-12-11 12:11
Subject:Sold out parties I can't afford anyway

For the inauguration the Creative Coalition rented out the Harman Center for the Arts - the place we go to for our Shakespeare tickets. The lowest cost ticket price: $10,000. Amazingly, this is a sold-out party.

And Sting is headlining it. Le sigh.

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Date:2008-09-24 11:33
Subject:low-grade politics

No one on the internet has used the phrase "I have a crush on Nate Silver". Pity. I'm personally currently running regressions in order to determine then likelihood of my relationship with Coriander ending in the next few months; then, in the scenarios where that happens, I'm running a secondary regression to determine the chances that I end up in a geeky politics-and-baseball relationship with Nate Silver. Turns out, there's no difference between that model and the one where I end up in a geeky politics-and-baseball relationship with George Will. Ew.

Okay, I haven't done any of this. Frankly, my computer has more important data crunching to do. And, so no one misinterprets this, I think Coriander is the bees knees and the cats pajamas and he's pretty gosh-darn fond of me. This just happens to be the time of year when I get the occasional political crush. This one is not on George Will. But the truth is, I want to write George Will fan mail. As my thoughtful conservative father is becoming more misanthropic, and therefore less thoughtful (as in, more passionate, emotional, and reactive)and more conservative, I'm finding myself turning to George Will's columns increasingly as a surrogate.

I'm not a George Will fan because he occasionally attacks his own party and is currently suggesting, in a very Aristotelian way, that John McCain is unfit for the presidency. (Although I admit that this doesn't hurt.) I recognize that the bulk of his criticism is directed at me and my kind. I'm a George Will fan because I wish that political discourse were about the topics that Will finds important. I'm a George Will fan because his prose is awe-inspiring, and it needs to be if he's going to make a truly well-argued point in the space of a few inches of newspaper column. Take for example, his recent criticism of John McCain:

"In any case, McCain's smear -- that Cox "betrayed the public's trust" -- is a harbinger of a McCain presidency. For McCain, politics is always operatic, pitting people who agree with him against those who are "corrupt" or "betray the public's trust," two categories that seem to be exhaustive -- there are no other people. McCain's Manichaean worldview drove him to his signature legislative achievement, the McCain-Feingold law's restrictions on campaigning."

If George Will were the face and voice of conservatism, we'd all have heated, intelligent debates over the size and role of government and then all go off to a Nats game.

And he's the only conservative commentator that sometimes makes me rethink the motivations for my positions.

Sometimes I think he's the loneliest man in DC. I wanted to buy him a beer after the Terri Schiavo case made its way to the floor of the US House ... he seemed to be the only consistent conservative who was still worried that an interventionist government was making decisions about a particular person's health and family.

Plus, I really want to ask him -- back in July of 2003, he said something I didn't understand: "A prescription drug entitlement is not inherently unconservative, unless the welfare state itself is -- and it isn't." I've asked several conservatives what the essence of conservatism is if it does not fundamentally and ideologically oppose the welfare state, and I've only gotten stammering. For the past five years, I wanted George Will, occasional political theory professor, to explain this to me.

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Date:2008-08-20 10:36
Subject:you know you're a political staffer when...
Mood: restless

You know you're a political staffer when ...

- that's the name of a facebook group that eleven of my friends belong to.

I haven't joined because I haven't made my polItical staffer-hood an essential part of my personality, and because I think that the initial list wasn't that unique. Some initial samples:

No one looks at you funny when you sleep at the office
You work insane hours for little money
You have gone 48 hours plus without sleep

And, frankly, a lot of people outside of politics have jobs that are time intensive and not particularly lucrative. I'd hardly conclude that this is just the domain of stafferdom.

But this is the internet, and people much more clever than the group founders have added much more entertaining entries. My personal favorites are (those which have been known to apply to me are in bold):Collapse )

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Date:2008-08-19 10:44
Subject:things I like about the dating scene in DC

Two things I like about the dating scene in DC, written by someone who has admittedly been out of it for so long, she might be poorly informed:

Men believe in looking nice. I love Austin, but when I lived there, I found the disparity between the efforts men and women went to in order to impress each other a bit appalling. While my female friends invested in boob jobs and botox, (conditions I previously believed happened to other people), it was rare to find a man who showered, let alone shaved. And while I might find the number of local man spas excessive, it's nice to know that men think it's just as important for them to dress well and maintain proper hygiene and hair care as it is for women. It's true that I make fun of our legislative affairs staff for being "lobbyists for the hair product industry", but it beats the alternative any day.

Smart is sexy. Your date can look perfect, but if s/he sounds doltish when talking to your friends and coworkers about policy, they'll pity you as much as if you had brought a sibling to the party. I have actually heard a man say of a woman who was interested in him, "she's cute but ..." with the dot-dot-dot implying that she's none-too-bright. This may be just a byproduct of Washington ambition (Why can't I have the absolutely perfect woman/man?), but it's awfully flattering when a man starts chatting you up on the metro about Borges when he sees that you're reading Pliny.

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Date:2008-08-15 10:10
Subject:It was like they read my mind...

The Washington Post started an article in their City Guide section with the following:

The personal radius. Home, work, supermarket and all crucial stops in between. It's trod so often you could navigate it with your eyes closed.

With estimated arrival times that fluctuate by the tenth of a second or the length of a motorcade.

With a running commentary on the duration of each stoplight, the depth of each pothole, the paint peeling beneath the eves of that blighted house on the corner. And would it kill them to break out the lawn mower? It's been weeks, for crying out loud!

Right, then. Perhaps it's time for a change of scenery.

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Date:2008-08-14 09:39
Subject:the metro

Many metro escalators squeal and groan arrhythmically as they carry passengers into or out of the subway rabbit holes.

Coriander thinks that they aspire to John Coltrain style jazz. This makes me strangely fond of the noisy escalators.

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Date:2008-08-13 16:06
Subject:please won't you be my neighbor?

As much as I wish I had a shorter commute, for various important reasons, it's highly unlikely that I'll ever move into the District. The trade offs are overall positive, I think, especially since it means that I get Congressional representation.

But if I had known the neighborhoods of Alexandria better when I moved into town, I'm quite sure that I would have liked to live in Del Ray. While the walk to the Braddock Road metro is only feasible from one extremity of the neighborhood, I think that Del Ray is the nicest place to live in the DC metro area, especially if you have doggies or kidlets.

It's small and walkable, with neighbors who are all mutually acquainted and active within and in building their community. This is often a code for racial/cultural homogeneity, but not in this little town. The low traffic streets have wide sidewalks, excellent bus service, bike lanes and even cute bike parking kiosks at every corner.

It maintains small-town charm: The school children gather at the custard store (The Dairy Godmother) after intramural events. The hardware store employees will talk your ear off explaining different kinds of grout. The cleaners will call you to let you know that your dry cleaning is ready.

There are opportunities to stroll around and greet your neighbors: there's a Saturday morning farmer's market. There's a doggy happy hour at one of the local restaurants. The galleries are open late on the first Thursday of each month for "Art on the Avenue." And admitting that there's a certain amount of political homogeneity, the local coffee shop (St. Elmo's) frequently hosts movie nights for discussion of various documentaries.

The shops and restaurants, are small, local, interesting, and numerous considering the town size. Of course there are the requisite antique shops and custom-build furniture stores, but there's also a cheesemonger (Cheesetique), a butcher shop (Let's Meat on the Avenue - not that I've ever been, but I'm charmed that there's actually a butcher), a gym, a yoga studio, a doggie boutique and doggie day care, a chocolatier (Artfully Chocolate), and a new, delicious restaurant with al fresco dining and wine flights opens almost weekly.

But all this small townness would be quaint-but-completely-unappealing-long-term if it weren't for the fact that there's a metro stop, and within a very easy 20 minutes you can be in downtown Washington at your office, or at the Smithsonian, or experiencing the fabulous variety of your greater metro area.

It would be equally unappealing if this were some tony neighborhood for the well-to-do families of the banking industry lobbyists or foreign diplomats, but Del Ray is just a nice neighborhood made up of nice people -- who admittedly have a love of yard signs.

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Date:2008-08-12 12:40
Subject:vignette #3: Those of you who know my mother will be unfazed
Mood: amused

I told my mother what kind of of birthday cake I wanted for my birthday. I told her that I wanted a white chocolate brie cheesecake with hazelnut praline and raspberry coulis.

So she's making it for me.

My mother lives in Arizona. I live in Virginia.

Natually, my mom is spending a considerable amount of effort acquiring the appropriate ingredients, shipping objects and Fed Ex-ing schedules.

First, she did not have a recipe for such an object, so she was going to attempt to invent one. Fortunately, I was able to find this: White Chocolate and Brie Cheesecake with Fleur de Sel and Hazelnut Brittle .

Of course, she hasn't tried the recipe herself, so I imagine that there will be several test runs, including a confirmed one where she'll serve it at a dinner party to make sure other people think it's perfect.

She has been acquiring appropriate shipping materials. She cannot bear the idea that the cake may crack at the top, so she'll be sending it in its springform pan. Of course she'll be sending it Fed Ex, with dry ice, using their latest possible ship time for their earliest possible delivery. She will be shipping the pieces (cake, brittle, coulis) for assembly, and will probably narrate (or perhaps send a video) to Coriander the exact assembly instructions.

My mom is crazy. In a good way.

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