Thursday, April 19, 2007

Divine Intervention?

Today I had a 12:15 lunch appointment in Dupont.

I left late, but found no traffic.
My navigation system is broken, but I didn't make any driving errors.
I arrived 15 minutes EARLY.
And found an open meter DIRECTLY in front of the restaurant.
This never happens.

It was only an hour meter -- but guess what -- it already had "15" minutes paid for. Which was the exact amount of time early I was -- so I could just hang out in my car until the meeting, and then put in another hour.

Everything just fell into place. It shouldn't have. But it did.

It's times like these when I wonder whether the recently departed are trying to pull some strings for me, make things here just a bit easier. Perhaps they don't have the power to make major changes down here, but making sure traffic is light? Finding me a spot in front of the restaurant with a few minutes already on the meter?

That's probably "Level 1" angel stuff right there. :-)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Horror that is the DC Public Library, Georgetown Branch

Yesterday, because of a downed tree on Reservoir Road, I was forced to take a different route than normal to get to Wisconsin Ave. This proved fortuitous, as I saw a lovely building on a hill at the corner of R and Wisconsin. The sign outside said, "DC Public Library -- Georgetown Branch," and the building looked regal and expensive. Whenever I move into a new neighborhood, I like to scope out the closest public library, and if it is pleasant, I like to spend a lot of time there. I was looking forward to checking this out. (Ha! Catch the pun? Checking out! the library! Because -- you know -- you check out books at a -- oh, forget it.)

Today I had my chance to check it out. Oh, the horror. How can I explain... okay, remember back when you were in college, how pretty and impressive those frat houses on fraternity row were? With their red bricks and columns and fancy lettering on the front? But then when you got inside, it wasn't AT ALL what you thought it would be, with old, ratty furniture, and the whole place was run down and had a musty smell to it? Because, you know, frat boys don't care about making things look nice; they just want to party and throw up.

(Please direct all hate mail to:

Anyway, that's just what this library was like (minus the partying). As soon as I walked in, my reaction was, "You've got to be kidding me." What promised from the outside to be fancy and modern and clean turned out to be old, run down and dirty. There are three largish rooms, literally four or five seats in each room for people to read or study at, and the entire place had a musty stench that made my eyes water and my nose run. The one bathroom in the building is an exact replica of those disgusting bathrooms in a frat house -- paint chipping, cobwebs everywhere, very dirty, and, of course, THE SMELL.

Unfortunately, I had put an hour and forty minutes worth of change in the parking meter, and I was planning on working on my paper. So I couldn't just leave. I walked back and forth between the three rooms looking for a suitable chair. The first room had three chairs at three tables, all of which were taken. The middle room had a row of 8 old terminals, but no place to sit and spread out. The third room had an empty chair, so I decided on that, and when I sat down it creaked so loud that it became apparent this chair was NOT meant to exist in a library. (Shhhhh!) After I finally sat still enough to silence the chair, and opened up my computer and spread out my papers, I realized that there was NO electrical outlet in sight.

Sighing, I stood back up (CREEEEEEAAAAK!!!!!) and walked into the first room, which by now had some empty seats. I sat down again, unpacked all my stuff, and went to plug my computer into the outlet -- which, it turns out, is so old that it only takes a two-pronged plug. I got back up and sat at the table in the middle of the room, but first ensuring that it had a three-pronged outlet in the floor next to it. I unpacked my computer, etc, and plugged into the outlet. The charging light did not go on. I looked around in dismay, looked back at the outlet, and looked back at the light, which was still not on. A woman at the next table over said, "That outlet doesn't work." Now you tell me.

So I moved to her table, which had an extra seat and an extra outlet, which mercifully worked! But by this time, I had been in the musty library for so long that my sniffles were becoming unbearable. I stood up and walked to the librarian's desk.

"Excuse me," I said quietly, "do you have any Kleenex?"
"What??" she said.
I spoke louder. "Kleenex!"
She took a cursory glance at her desk, looked up at me and blinked. "No... sorry..."
"Um, anywhere?"
She blinked twice. "Sorry..."
My nose was rebelling against the mustiness. "Well, what do you suggest?" I asked.
She blinked three times. "Sorry..."

A fitting end to my pathetic experience. Perhaps I'm spoiled, used to the brand new library constructed just a few years ago in my hometown, complete with three stories, a cafe, a hundred computers two hundred and fifty computers, and plentiful seating, all for the value-conscious price of only $38 million.

I tried to spend some time at the Georgetown Branch of the DC Public Library, but the poor lighting and musty smell gave me a headache and made it exceedingly difficult for me to concentrate. And so, thus ends the Great Library Experiment of 2007. One thing is for sure: I will NOT be returning. (Get it? Returning? The library! Because -- you know -- after you "check out" the books, you "return" them at the -- oh, forget it.)

Monday, April 9, 2007

Genesis 1:3

Genesis 1:3, originally uploaded by CaseWriter21.

Who says I need an alarm clock? I wake up when God shines his spotlight at me.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Tales from the District

I'm back in DC! I've been here for over a week now, settling in to my new place near Georgetown, meeting with temp agencies, setting up informational interviews, singing with Choral Arts, and just generally enjoying the delight that is this City. I have some stories and observations for you, my 3 loyal readers.

• I was the target of a con-artist the other day. Well, I'd say "artist" is too generous; let's call him a con-finger-painter. I went to the Cherry Blossom Festival with Sweetie (before the cherry blossoms froze -- pictures here), and all was generally pleasant until a large goateed man in a "wife-beater," his arms covered knuckle to shoulder in tattoos, approached us. He was holding a cheap disposable camera. He pointed to my camera -- a digital SLR that set me back quite a pretty penny -- and said, "I'll trade you." What? "You take my picture with mine, and I'll take your picture with yours." Now, I like to think that I am somewhat street-savvy, but frankly this guy would be lucky to trick a mentally disabled 10-year-old. I told him No Thanks but I'd take his picture. He protested and got a bit pushy. "Come on man," he said, "you two should get a picture with each other." "We've got lots of those," I said. "Come on, let me just take a picture of you guys." This man REALLY wanted to get his hands on my camera. "No," I said. "I'll take your picture though," I said, trying to remain friendly. I grabbed his disposable camera --


No, I actually just snapped his picture, and then I quickly grabbed Sweetie and got the hell out of there. I kept my eye on him, though, and sure enough, about a minute later I saw him trying the same ruse on another fellow with expensive gear. Would anyone really fall for that? And does the man honestly think he'll just be able to run away with a big camera and no one would stop him or call out for the police?

• I was dreaming that I was in a musical, and I had been performing in it for a couple weeks, and now, finally, my friends and family were coming to the show. It was the opening scene, and we were all singing a big musical number, and I was putting together a bird cage on stage, and all was going swimmingly. Then, right in the middle of a big crescendo -- MY ALARM CLOCK RANG! And i I realized, in my dream, what had happened: that this was indeed a dream, and nothing more. And I remember the disappointment I felt in my dream that I wouldn't get to continue the musical, and my disappointment at the knowledge I now possessed that the dream would soon irretrievably fade away. I was also annoyed that I was being awakened by the Beep instead of the Radio; I could have sworn I had set the clock to waken me with music! Then, within a few seconds, the stage, the audience, the music faded to oblivion, and I was laying in my bed, listening to the new music of the day: "Beep! Beep! Beep!"

• I am really torn on Bluetooth headsets. They are so much more convenient than wired headsets, but they don't sound as clear. I'm left to choose between sounding clear to people on the other end but being TANGLED by wires, or sounding *okay* but being able to walk around totally free and clear. Tough choice. Of course, I could always just hold the handset up to my ear, but what's the point of living in an era of modern conveniences if I don't use them? I wrote a review of my Plantronics 510 on -- check it out, and when Amazon asks if this review was helpful to you, click Yes! :-)

• The day after the Great Cherry Blossom Con of 2007, I had yet another run-in with a less than savory individual. I was driving down Reservoir Road when the guy in the next car knocked on his window to get my attention. "Hey, I can fix that for you," said the Arab man. "Much cheaper than a body shop. Why don't you pull over and I can give you my business card and an estimate?" Now, as noted above, my street savviness is through the roof, but I had a feeling that this guy wasn't about to mug and/or rape and/or murder me. I had some time to kill, and was interested in getting my broken front bumper fixed, so I pulled into a nice little subdivision. He pulled up behind me.

"This is my day off, and I can fix this for you really cheap," he said.
"Well, how much?" I said.
He walked around the car and estimated he could fix my front bumper for $600, and sand and re-paint the scratches on my left front panel for $100. A pretty good deal, considering it would likely cost a couple thousand were the auto mechanic to do it.
"Let me think about it," I said. "Why don't you give me your card and I'll let you know."
He started to get evasive, and my Savvy Meter went off the charts. "The thing is," he said, without even checking his pocket, "I'm out of business cards."
"Okay..." I responded. "Well, why don't you give me your phone number."
He recited a number, but then got pushy. "The thing is, today's my day off, and I really need the money. I can do it right now."
"I don't have cash right now," I said firmly.
"That's okay, man, look at you, you obviously got money. I can take a check."
"Listen, I'm not going to do it today. I've got appointments. But I'll call you and let you know. What's your name?"
He paused, for just a millisecond too long. "Alex Johnson," he said. I had never before met any Arabs named Alex Johnson. He was almost certainly lying. "The thing is, man, I'm on my way to the hospital right now," he continued. "My wife and I are having a baby today! A son."
"Oh really."
"Yeah," he said, smiling.
"What's his name?" I said, looking for details.
He smiled wider. "Danny Blue." (Beautiful Arabic name, isn't it?) "And I really need the money, because I want to go get my son some clothes, you know, help him start out right."
"I see." I was positive he had chosen the stereotypically Irish sounding name "Danny Blue" because I have red hair and, as far as he knew, could very well be Irish. Tryin' to play on me sympathies, now, are ya? "If you really need the money," I continued, "you can do it later and still get the money. When's your next day off?"
"I'm free every day!"
"Every day? Where do you work?"
"I'm on my own. I'm an independent contractor."
Uh huh. First it was his day off and he wanted to give me a business card. Now every day is his day off and he doesn't have any business cards. I was more direct now. "I'll call you. I have to go."
I got back in my car and took off. I sure hope Danny Blue doesn't turn out like Alex Johnson.

Addendum: Speaking of cons, I can't stand it when I call a gym to ask what their prices are, and they refuse to tell me over the phone. "Why don't you just come on down! Are you in the area? You can come on down and we can go over all the prices with you! We've got a lot of specials. Just come try us out!" Of course, if they get me down there, the chances that I'll sign up increase exponentially. (Well, the chances don't increase for ME, because I am aware of their schemes. But the average unwashed stands no chance.) Anyway, I was planning on stopping by anyway to try out their one week free trial, but the membership director's evasiveness on the telephone left a bad taste in my mouth. Anyone had any experience with the Washington Sports Clubs?