Below is a copy of the email I sent to the Mayor's Conservation Corps. You may have seen their flyers - they put them up on railings and doorknobs on our street today.
While I applaud the mayor and the DDOE for their efforts towards conservation and a more sustainable city, littering our streets with paper advertisements hardly seems like the way to start. I live on the 1400 block of Harvard St NW, and I just picked up two of your flyers off the sidewalk during a three block walk.
Perhaps your first project could be to collect and recycle all of the trash you left on our streets.
If you have suggestions for projects or questions about the program, they'd like you to email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-535-2325.
And, before I could even finish this post, I received a reply from DDOE.
Good evening. Thanks for your note.
Thank you for bringing this to my attention. We will make certain the responsible youth go back to that area tomorrow and clean-up door hangers from the street. My apologies for the inconvenience.
Should the problem not be resolved or if you have any questions, please contact me at [Phone number removed]. Thank you.
Program Director, Mayor’s Conservation Corps
DC Department of the Environment
Who says city bureaucracy doesn't work? My faith in government temporarily restored, I urge everyone to think about projects that could help the city. You can look at the Green DC Agenda website for more information.
I don't think I know anyone who was on one of the DC Metro trains that crashed today - certainly the wife and kid and I were nowhere near it, and I've already spoken to the two people I know who might have been near that station.
I hope your family and friends are all okay, too.
You've probably seen the fancy new buses the city is using for some of the cooler routes - the new S9 express bus on 16th Street, for example. I was all excited to ride one. They look fancy and clean and new and quiet.
I got my chance today. The regular S2 was a new bus this morning, so I gleefully hopped on.
Wow, do the new buses suck. Not only is it clear that the person who designed the bus has never ridden a bus before, but I'm pretty sure they actually defy various laws of physics. I don't think these buses are very different in length, width, or height from the older buses, but they've somehow managed to drastically reduce the amount of usable space. Both styles of bus are basically rectangular prisms - volume equals length times width times height. So if the length, width, and height are approximately the same, the volume is approximately the same.
I'm not sure where the volume went on the new buses. Perhaps they've somehow raised it up - there seems to be enough head room for an entire basketball team, but they better be built like Kevin Garnett, not Lebron.
And don't get me started on the painted yellow floor by the back door. It actually tells you not to stand on it. Are they insane? I mean, sure, it would be nice if no one stood there - most bus crowding problems are due to inconsiderate and clueless people who stand by the door and block everyone else from moving to the back of the bus.
But who is going to obey the painted floor? The bus driver will yell at you if you leave that much space open during crowded commuting time. The other people on the bus will yell at you because they're packed in like sardines while you leave that space open. You do have to leave some space, though, because the idiotic back doors open in.
I'm going to go email WMATA right now and complain. I suggest you do the same.
They decided to change some parking rules in (near?) London. To do this, they paint double lines on the street right next to the curb. This is in stark contrast to the ridiculous signs they put up here in DC, or sometimes the total lack of markings, requiring you to just know that you can't park within five feet of an alley.
So this woman's car was parked legally before the unpublicized change to the rules. After the change, she would be illegal. So what did they do? They lifted her car off the ground, painted the lines, and put the car back down. Parking enforcement then came by and towed her for parking illegally. The article linked above has an awesome picture.
She eventually got her MP involved and was refunded the 2400 pound fine (I think the exchange rate is better now than it was last time I was over there, but that's still nearly $4000).
By the way, Express, feel free to quote me again, but try to get it right this time.
Originally uploaded by thetejon
Up until this afternoon, it could have been argued that I lived in a dentist's office. The front yard, such as it is, was clearly designed by someone who didn't want to offend anyone.
Unfortunately for him, I was offended. What are those grass-bush-things? They're ugly. Especially after they got a little brown over the winter, and then they started growing again this spring. They looked terrible.
I've been saying I wanted to replace them with something else pretty much since we moved in over two years ago. Today, I put my sweat where my mouth is. The wife, the kid, and I went to Garden District and got plants and mulch and a little spade. They were quite helpful there.
Originally uploaded by thetejon
We picked out a rose bush, some blue flowers, another bush that should flower late in the summer, and some marigolds. I don't remember all the details, but I know I had a marigold garden when I was about four years old. I'm sure I did most of the upkeep work.
In my opinion, clearly unbiased, it looks amazing. We'll have to wait and see if anyone else in the building acknowledges my genius. One already told me it looked good, but he ran into me while I was cleaning up, so he pretty much had to say nice things. It remains to be seen if anyone else will do it unprompted.
Luckily for me, a much improved garden is its own reward.
The wife and kid and I went to D'Vines yesterday to get beer for the Celtics game (Probably should have gotten more considering the end result). Out in front of the Columbia Heights Metro were beggars from Greenpeace! While avoiding eye contact as much as possible, the wife and I were secretly thrilled that these organized panhandlers had branched out from the fancy spots like the P St Whole Foods to come to our neighborhood.
Of course, now I'd like them to go away. I don't like being accosted for my wallet every time I go near DCUSA.
Have you ever been driving down 17th Street NW, getting ready to turn right on E to head out to Virginia, when some guy in an ill-fitting suit talking on his cell phone jogs across the street against the light? Have you ever given him a look and thrown up your hands in frustration? Has he ever had the audacity to flip you off in return? This didn't happen to me this afternoon just after five, in case you're wondering.
I pride myself on paying attention to pedestrians and right-of-way. I know, what do I want, a cookie? But really, many, many people in this city, especially Maryland drivers (You know who you are) pretend that pedestrians don't exist, and crosswalks are merely warnings before stop signs or red lights to run.
So when I'm treated like this by pedestrians who think they are much, much more important than they really are, it bothers me. When you have the right of way, I'll gladly wait. But when I have the right of way, I expect you to be on the sidewalk where you belong.
Internet forums are often wonderful. They can take a group of people who are spread across the globe, joined only by a common interest, and bring them together to talk and make friends.
Or they can be terrible. You can have something like the Columbia Heights Community Forum, which takes people with common interests who are already co-located in one DC neighborhood, and drives them apart.
At least someone notices my struggles with the forum. It's really an unbelievable amount of hate and rage and incoherent ranting. Some go around pushing buttons, and others simply wait to have their buttons pushed so they can scream about it. It's really too bad that something that could be a positive force in the community is actually driving people apart.
Although, like a train wreck, I just can't look away. I can't even stop posting there.
"Even when there were shootings on my block last year, I wasn't this disappointed in my city," he wrote in one protest email. "D.C. effectively stole my automobile."
After the city gave him a "courtesy tow" to an illegal parking spot, lost his ticket contestation documents, and booted and towed his car, he actually got them to return the car to a spot near his house. Then he had them do it again, because the first time they brought him the wrong car. I talk a lot about my small victories over DC parking enforcement, but this puts me to shame.
I had lunch with his wife on Friday - she works with my wife, and a group was going out to watch some basketball, so I joined them. Had I known her husband was a giant among those of us who joust at the windmills of parking enforcement, I would have bought her a beer.
For whatever reason, it's never easy to find this information, so maybe I got lucky. I have no idea if this link will work beyond today, but the Washington DC DPW says street cleaning will resume on March 23, 2009. So get ready to start moving your car once a week again.