Monday, February 1, 2010

New Blog

Dear readers,
As my interests and activities continue to evolve, I hope you'll join me on my journey.  Literally!  I have a new adventure planned...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Clover in the City

Talk about a throwback: I was having lunch with a local Area Neighborhood Commissioner the other day and politely nodding at lots of the usual local politics.  "Mmm-hmm...Yeah, exactly..."  I care - I do - but I wasn't really feeling a call to action in any of these sentiments.  Then he dropped this on me, "...and he's looking to do something with 4-H."

Get.  Out.

The "he" is another neighbor, who's also the county extension officer for UDC and former 4-Her himself.  Yours truly?  A ten-year 4-H participant.  I instantly volunteered to start a club in the neighborhood.

And just like that, I found a new project to occupy the time left open by the end of my part-time job.  No more selling expensive clothes to urbanites.  Instead, I'm going to be teaching project and life skills to 9-12 year old city kids.  Or at least that's my good intention.

This project is just getting off the ground, but if you or anyone you know might be interested in working with kids in the Bloomingdale, DC, neighborhood, and you have particular skills or project areas that they (and you) would enjoy, let me know.

In the meantime, check out the new Beta version of (I think they still have a few kinks to work out) to learn more.  Hope to see you at a meeting soon!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

All Aboard!

Well there you have it: according to WMATA's website, "Metro General Manager John Catoe has decided to retire and leave the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority after three years as its top manager.  His last day will be Friday, April 2."  What took so long?

Granted, I wouldn't wish the managing of Metro on my worst enemy (okay, maybe the worst one, but still) - the system is antiquated, underfunded, and chronically denigrated by riders and non-riders alike.  Ask the latter group why they don't take public transportation and they'll list any of the above, plus myriad more reasons.

Not that Metro's doing much to combat all that negativity.  Type "Metro DC" into the Find People section of Twitter and this is your top hit: unsuckdcmetro.  Guess whose side they're on?  Let this sample Tweet answer that question for you: "Love the vagaries of WMATA. Reports of one car smelling like hash browns and catsup, another like cat food."  A judicious use of 140 characters, no?

Don't get me wrong; I'm grateful that Metro exists.  I don't have to own a car in a major metropolitan area due to the availability of a train and bus system that many much larger cities  larger would love to have.  The Indianapolis Metropolitan Area, for example, counts about 400,000 more residents than does the city of DC.

But since its opening in 1976 (that's opening day below...and those cars look suspiciously familiar), it's been one thing after another.  A 1986 editorial by Sam Smith in the Washington Post put it this way: "Metro has failed in its promises to Washington. It has been a financial flop, with construction costs nearly four times the original estimate; it has not met its ridership projections -- carrying tens of millions fewer passengers annually than expected at this point..."  And those were the reasonably nice sentiments.

So I'm setting out to get to the bottom of all this.  Why do we hate Metro?  Is there really no way for it to get better?  And how much worse could it be?

Before the end of 2010, I intend to visit every Metro Rail Station in the system and ride as many bus lines as I can possibly manage to hop on board.  I want to figure out what works and what doesn't by getting first-hand experience.  This adventure is un-scientific, but I think it might offer some illumination into this system that people love to hate.

More info coming soon!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Blogger, or Wordpress?

I went and changed up the settings again.  Just can't find a look that I like, I guess.  But what can I say?  I'm thinking of dumping Blogger altogether.  Using Wordpress for work is waaaaaay better.  But at least this way I can use my Google login.


Make it easy or make it over?  Can't decide just yet.  Either way, I've reserved - kinda has a nice ring to it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Keep Calm and Carry On

If you follow any kind of design or culture blog practically anywhere, you've probably come across the slogan above in the past few months.  Due to an intrepid entrepreneur, what was originally designed as a message from the British Government to citizens during World War II (although it was never publicly used much) is now plastered on everything from chocolate bars to tea towels.  Awesome!  Just what I want: a historically insignificant image printed on my sweets and sweats.  Pass.

That was my opinion, until...I got the latest CB2 catalog yesterday.  (Please don't ever let them open an actual store in DC - I'd want to live there!)  Casually flipping through I saw the usual mix of bright colors and plexiglass and then, well, dang it, I saw the most fabulous rug.  It's in orange, my signature decorating color, imprinted with an image in gray, my second favorite color.  And guess what it says?

You guessed correctly.  And now I really, really, really want this for my apartment.  But I shall resist, for my wallet will thank me later.  In the meantime, I guess I'll just keep calm and...well, you know the rest.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Twenty Ten: The Year of "No"

Wow!  Sounds like we're off to a really positive start for this new year, eh?  Actually, saying "no" is gonna make things a lot better than you might initially think.

Here's the deal.  Starting tomorrow, I will no longer have a part-time job (nothing negative, the boutique's just moving to the Meatpacking District) and there will have a lot more free time on my hands.  And when I get asked to do things I don't want to do (spend money on a not-so-great dinner, spend time with college friends I was never really that close to in the first place, read fiction), I'm going to nicely and politely - but firmly - say these two words: "No thanks."

You see, turning thirty and whatnot has made me realize the importance of being in control of my own time and activities.  I may not have a ton of money, a jet-setting lifestyle, or even a decent-sized apartment, but I do have the luxury of choosing what I want to do, when I want to do it.

Even better, I'm going to employ this spectacular new tactic at the office.  Now, certainly, when the bossman (or woman, but not in my case) asks me to do something that's already part of the ol' list o' tasks, then of course I'll do it.  But before I'm thrown into another wild and wacky, time-wasting project that a co-worker has dreamed up, I'm going to have to take a hard look at how it affects my job performance and the organization as a whole.  And in those cases - with my bosses' blessings - I'll say "No."

You see, I'm tired of spending my time doing a lot of things that are not in furtherance of the mission of the organization for which I work.  I need to feel that I'm contributing in a meaningful way just about all the dang time.  If I didn't, I'd go work at a for-profit business and just do...well, whatever it is people do at those places.  But times are tight and talent is plentiful, and if I don't strive to use all my resources in the best manner possible, then I'm being disingenuous to both myself and the people we serve.  And that's not cool.

You've been warned: get ready to hear the word "no" out of my mouth a lot more this year.  But, because I believe that this new exercise in self-monitoring will result in a more judicious use of my time, I plan on saying "yes" to a lot more things, too.  Yes to new ideas, yes to professional development, yes to spending time with great friends, and yes to working on building a better body and mind.

You see?  It's not all so negative now, is it?

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's Not Too Late... buy me a gift from my very special Conspicuous Consumption Christmas list!  No, really: New Year's gifts are perfectly acceptable.  I promise.

Unfortunately, over the break, my usual cat-sitter was unable to stop by by apartment, unbeknownst to me.  In a panic of my widdle kittehs, I rushed home, only to find both H & P well fed and watered.  But how did they do it?

I'll tell you how.  They opened the kitchen cabinets, removed their cat food container, tore the lid off, and ate straight out of the Tupperware.  Well, isn't that resourceful?

And very messy.  Which is why really, really, really, want a Kartell Componibili set for my place.  I could close the door on the kittehs and stash the cabinet somewhere out of the way.  And even if they did have to open it, they could just slide the door over, not tear one from its hinges.

I'll admit the silver is pretty sweet, and the red is ravishing, but I'd prefer one in black, both for simplicity and price sake.  They're not that expensive.  Relatively speaking, that is.  The three-door version comes in at $160 (free shipping!) and it goes down from there.

Designed by Anna Castelli Ferrieri in 1969, I think they have the perfect mid-century modern look.  And they're compact enough for small spaces.  And - I think - ABS molded plastic should prove a bit more of a deterrent for the kittehs.  Maybe.