Wednesday, May 31, 2006

An endorsement

Getting a cab in my hood is difficult. Several companies have p*ssed me off by not coming for the fare, or just refusing outright. After struggling to find a good cab service for eckington, I have finally found one. DC Express Cab Association (202) 484-8516. They arrived a scant 10 minutes after I called at 130 am. I was very impresed.

Summer Joy in an End Unit Rowhouse

I had heard the warnings from neighbors; "these houses are like ovens. they arent insulated well, and the sun beats on them all day, making it hot as hell." I listened, but didn't really believe that it would be that bad, this early.

After a fairly sleepless night on Monday with only a ceiling fan to circulate the warm air, I was determined to ensure the next night would be better. Arriving home after softball, and post victory beer drinking, I walked into the sauna that is my house. At 1030 pm, the temperature in the house was a balmy 88 degrees. Not exactly prime sleeping weather.

I trodded down to the basement to pull out the a/c units that were tucked away under the stairwell. These were a conveyed "gift" from the previous owners. Both were installed in a matter of minutes, the only damage, 3 small cuts on my right hand. No idea how that happened. The units looked as though they were manufactured in 1982. They didn't seem to have much effect on the convection oven conditions in my bedroom, and undoubtedly have quadrupled my electric bill. But they will have to do until I either win the lotto, or find a sugar mamma to pay for central air......

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Really bad guy guilty

You may have seen this on the "major outlets" but thought it interesting to post here. Sniper guilty.

Will there be a tug of war between MD-VA and DC for who gets to punish him first?

Memorial Day Shorts

-It was a wonderful holiday weekend. Weather was nice and sunny, and the DC summer has finally arrived. The warm weather will force me into installing window units, or trying to scrape up the cash for central (unlikely). In the meantime, my little end unit is a red brick oven, baking throughout the day. Even the ceiling fans couldnt provided the cooling power necessary for a good nights sleep.

-I took advantage of the Ft. Totten Dump this weekend. All in all a good experience. I was waved right in to dump my misc. house/construction waste, and didnt have to get weighed. It was easy and fast. Not a bad setup really, although if there is a lineup, i am sure it is a pain.

-Had a BBQ on sunday. it was very succesful, first one of the year, and of the new house. All went well. We even entertained the neighborhood kids for a while with "games" of wiffleball.

With the good however comes the bad.

-According to a poster on the Eckington Listserv, there was a shooting on Sat night/early Sun am on Lincoln and R St NE.

" I think there were five shots, in rapid succession. it sounded like they were fired from a fairly stationary position, somewhere near the liquor store entrance. this would've been probably between 1:30 and 2:00. Immediately after the shots, a boxy white SUV, eastbound on R St., turned left onto Lincoln Road and sped away to the north.

a little while after that a fire truck with the siren going came up Lincoln Rd and stopped near the shelter/rec center. [what may have been] a couple of unmarked police cars trailing the fire truck (from two different directions) paused near the intersection briefly. The cops taped off the section of R St between NCap and Lincoln.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Ouch! and other related stories.

Please read this story on a local thug being shot in a drive-by shooting last night inShaw. That has got to hurt.

More from the crime blotter: On Tuesday (May 23rd) at around 7:00 pm, a man was assaulted at the corner of North Capitol and Rhode Island after getting off the bus. . The two thugs that attacked him didn't even ask for money or anything. They swung a stick and threw a bottle his head. After a short time, they took off running.

Keep your heads up, and your eyes open.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Back to bad news

Just saw this courtesy of stop blog and roll.

A ride on the metro

I have to confess that for the last 9 months of my seven years in DC, I have become a driver. My workplace has plenty of parking, and it only takes about 15 minutes to get there. Today, the car went into the shop, and the metro once again became my reliable friend. A couple of thoughts occurred to me;

The new metro lady voice bothers me. It seems curt, and un friendly. Maybe the nice but stern school teacher voice from the past became soothing and almost welcoming each morning. You knew that even though she was saying "Please stay clear of the doors", underneath the warning was a little bit of love. You also knew that if you didnt move, she might rap your knuckles with a ruler. (i wonder if they could bring her back to encourage tourons to stand to the right.....)

The new bells are worse than the new voice. The friendly ding dong, was a nice prelude to your day, and an inviting tone to the billions of tourons in the city.

The Washington Post Express is by far the most disposable item ever. Never before has there been a larger creation of garbage ever. (except cigarette butts)

Under no circumstances is it acceptable to pass gas on a metro train (or bus), especially at 8am....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Things that are fun...

This blog is often focused on bad news and things that are challenging. I just wanted to take a moment to say how much i love that we have an ice cream truck in our neighborhood. No matter how much older i get, hearing that sound just makes me feel happy. I have spoken with the Ice Cream Lady too, and she is wonderful! Remember to save enough change for a drumstick, pushup, fudgicle or a chocolate eclair!

Schools, Population and the Mayoral Race

The Post ran an article this morning on the importance of education, and how candidates are reacting to those needs. There is an absolute education crisis in DC. There are crumbling, unsafe schools that cannot woo great teachers. There isnt enough money spent on the schools to ensure children have an environment, and proper building and curriculum to succeed. Schools are being closed around town due to drops in population. What is one of the reasons for drops in population despite the efforts of Mayor Williams? Schools. The schools are terrible. And even though there has been a resurgence of shops, arts, restaurants all over the city, there is an overwhelming sentiment; I cant raise kids here. DC will never be able to bring back 100,000 people until this issue is solved. In fact, we are losing people to the burbs.

The article points out these stark performance measures:

Average test scores are lower than in every other district participating in a federal assessment of urban schools. Last month, the U.S. Department of Education labeled the D.C. system a "high risk" recipient of federal grants, calling its fiscal management, in effect, the worst in the country. With enrollment dropping, officials last week announced plans to close six underused schools. Program cuts mean art, music and Spanish are unavailable in some schools. At others, parent groups pay for libraries, nurses and teachers' aides.

There are bright spots. Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in Tenleytown and Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Columbia Heights consistently rank in the top 1 percent of public high schools in the country and among the top 30 schools in the Washington region. But the overall picture is grim: Nearly half -- 44 percent -- of District residents don't have a high school diploma.

I sincerely hope that Cropp, Fenty, Johns, et al have a plan.......

Taking out the trash (both kinds)

Last night i was surprised to see another beacon of light coming from the unit block of Todd Pl. This corner of Lincoln and Todd has been a hotspot for a while. Many people loiter, and appear to be selling drugs adjacent to the Lincoln Market. While shining lights isnt a long term solution, having a police presence there is a step in the right direction.

As for the other trash, apparently by moving the pick-up day to Weds, they are faster. I didnt put the supercan out last night, and was too late this morning even after rushing downstairs at 7am. Now I know.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What the H*LL

One member of the Eckington Listserv brought our attention to the following: DOH will be moving additional drug addicts to 1300 First St NE . Is Ward 5 really the dumping ground for these kinds of projects?

How will the area be able to be revitalized, and become a "main street", when we are creating Low-income housing, homeless shelters, Addiction Prevention and Recovery Centers instead of community resources, businesses, restaurants, repairing schools and improving the safety and security of our streets?

Where's the Beef?

In the DC North Magazine, Elizabeth McGowan gives an update on the race for City Council Seat in Ward 5

There are over 12 people who are running for the seat now held by Vincent Orange. As mentioned in the article, many of those will drop out, as voter recognition in one precinct will not carry over into a Ward victory. Funding and good organization will be necessary to make a race out of this thing. "boot leather" and pounding the street won't be enough.

The most interesting part of the article to me was Mr. Wilds statement of "Wilds visibly jolted his counterparts at the April 24 forum when he told the audience: “I look at the stage and say, ‘Where’s the beef?’ Where have they been for the last eight, 10, 12 years?”

I know very little about Mr. Wilds, or about the rest of the field at this point, other than Mr. Thomas. But it seems interesting to me that there arent more qualified, higher visibility names in this smattering of contestants*. This election isnt for an ANC seat, but for a Ward, with a population of over 75,000 people.

Will those that are young and determined, be able to battle with the battle tested and name recognizable? Do the "old guys" still have the drive to make things happen in this blossoming section of the city, or will they rest on their laurels once in office (like the current seatholder)?

*This post is not directed at any one candidate, non-partisan, and certainly uneducated. Hope that I can learn about the candidates along the way.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Representation v. Taxation

A congressional committee overwhelmingly approved a bill yesterday that would grant the District a permanent, full voting member of the House of Representatives and add another legislator from Utah. Link

The article goes on to say that getting voting rights in the District is unlikely. As I mentioned in another article, perhaps we are going about this the wrong way....

Should the District of Columbia be taxed?


-One of my great neighbors is moving to MD. She will truly be missed. Best of luck J!

-I am renting out the spare bedroom of my house as of yesterday. A tenant arrived last evening, and seems to be a very nice guy.

-Crumbling wall. The brick and concrete wall surrounding the Methodist Church on Lincoln is crubling. There is red tape all around the sidewalk. This job will be a pricey one.

-According to the MDP-5 listserv; (On Saturday) there was some rapid gunfire going off near Bates and Truxton Circle. We received information that the shots were coming from the Third District. We have no reports of injuries or property damage in the Fifth District. Then at the end of the shift a person was found in the Unit block of T Street N.E. They were dead from a gunshot wound. Right now we have no leads in the case.

-There seems to be a bit of a stir about Richard Layman of Rebuilding Space in Urban Place fame having a walk through of the FL market yesterday. One poster on the Eckington list questioned his motivation for this walkthrough. I have sent Richard an email, asking for a response. My initial impression is that the market has a ton of potential, and there is ad hoc changes being made (such as tearing down US Beef overnight), without looking at the way the area could be developed intelligently.

-Also from the listserv, guard your trashcans! Local landscapers and odd job mavens may be stealing super cans from alleys. Also ensure that they dispose of your yard and house waste properly.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Tour of Florida Wholesale Market

On Saturday, May 20, Richard Layman and Elise Bernard will be conducting two tours of the Florida Market area because:

(1) it's cool;
(2) there are proposals to tear it all down (and one building came down in the last few weeks);(3) there are proposals to revitalize the market based on its character as a food-based wholesale and retail distribution center (in the Office of Planning's Cluster 23 Area Plan);
(4) the market area will be torn down because the land is worth a lot more money now, given the proximity of the subway station ("exchange value of place").

Without the addition of people power to the equation, the market will cease to exist.We will do this tour for the first time on Sat. May 20th. (Sorry for the late notice.)Our idea is that we can repeat these tours in June and July, and maybe even in August depending on demand. This is sort of a test, to see how long it takes, judge interest, and not be overburdened.We are breaking this up into two tours, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.l)

10 am - 12 noon: meet at the north exit (Florida Avenue side) of the New York Avenue Metro Station (red line)walk to the market area starting with Young's Deli for breakfastthen visit:Obengs (African foods)Wangs (vegetables)US Beef (meat and other)Kangs (comparable to a supermarket)Eastern Supply (paper goods)figure this tour wraps up around noon.2) The afternoon tour starts at 12:15, also at the north exist (Florida Avenue) of the New York Avenue Metro Station. The afternoon tour is likely longer than the morning tour.Best Equipment (400 block of Morse)meat place next to BestHalal (5th Street) (Middle eastern foods)Mexican Fruit (5th Street)DC Farmers MarketFlea MarketLitteri's Italian Deli (end) -- can get sandwiches, San Pellegrino Limonata, Manhattan Express Espresso Soda, etc. to eat

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Yard Sale

Hope to see you all at the Crispus Attucks Park Yard sale tomorrow Saturday, May 20th 8:00 am to 2:00 pm in

1st & U Streets, NW

I will be there in the morning looking for accoutrements to my thinly furnished house. Hopefully there will be a bed frame and other small items.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Third Street NE

This weekend I walked home from Home Depot. It was actually not a bad walk, and was a great way to get a different perspective of the hood. Much better than whizzing by in a car. A poster on one of the Listservs had asked about the route and how safe it was. So, I paid attention to potential risks. The underpass of the metrorail isnt nearly as bad as I thought it would be. there was minimal garbage, no homeless people (it was sunday afternoon), no condoms, no smell of urine. This underpass is much better than the one near the NY ave metro.

I had seen the basketball court on the roof of the community center next to the Auto Zone, but never knew that they had many other things, including a bowling alley. That is actually very cool.

There was a buzz of activity at the church across the street. Lots of people wearing their Sunday best, celebrating mothers day.

Back when I was looking for a house, there was a property on 4th and W st that I was interested in. It was a beautiful house that had been completely redone. I was concerned with the surroundings, in particular the apt building on RI and 4th. The building appears to be shuttered, and has No Trespassing signs on the front door. If only I had of known that then!

As I walked down third street, I was dismayed at the tremendous amount of trash strewn along the sidewalk and street. There was little to no concern by the residents of the building on the west side of the street to keep things nice. There was also a shrine to someone near a tree halfway down the block. there were several dozen bottles of brandy, grey goose and champagne adorning a sign. I wonder how long that has been there. How long will it continue to be there?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Changing Attitudes

After making several discoveries over the last couple weeks, I am indeed going to have to start being much more vigulent about taking care of things. Since moving in the following have gone missing from my house:


Granted, I have no one to blame but myself. Leaving these items out invited theft. I just wish that these garden items could be safe in my backyard. I wish that the hood was safe enough that this wouldnt be an issue. Most of all, I hope that the thief will use these items to put food on thier family's table.

I also was discouraged to find a condom wrapper in the stairs leading to my basement. This was a whole new wake up call. I have seen them on the burm next to the sidewalk. That doesnt thrill me, but I can deal with that. Having someone on my property "transacting", is nearly nauseating.

The point is, steps need to be taken by me to limit the possibilities of theft and prostitution. I am buying locks, leaving the back light on, and working to secure my stairs. If it werent for people like me, (not securing my stuff) there would be no thievery in the world.

I guess it is a good thing for this awakening. I have always felt that man is good by nature, but is corrupted by society. Society's negative influence on otherwise virtuous men centers, in Rousseau's philosophy, on its instinctive human desire for self preservation, combined with the human power of reason.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Big 'O'

Tonight there will be the first COVE meeting at McKinley High School for Eckingtonians (and other hoods) to meet our mayoral candidates. Tonight is the first in the series, which will feature our current councilman Vincent Orange.

I know very little about the man, but from his biography he seems very well educated and moderately accomplished. My field is internationally focused, and his participation in delegations is interesting (although very little is accomplished on delegations).

His current commitees include public works, operations and redistricting. All of which could use some significant work. That being said other mayoral candidates have had issues surrounding their management of committees and services within the district (Fenty).

Vinny seems to be a little short on solutions, and long on publicity stunts like pumping gas, offering amendments on minority ownership of the Nationals and other issues that are not absolutely critical to the success or improvement to the District of Columbia.

I think it was InShaw that said there seems to be a lot of Vinny signs on lampposts and very few in peoples yards.

That being said, i am going to try and attend the COVE meeting tonight to get a better idea of the man that is running for mayor. Hope to report back tomorrow.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Update on Shame on Me Post

As some of you remember I had an issue with a neighbor recently . I wrote a letter asking for repayment of the fraudulently taken money, and expressed dissapointment in them or someone that they know, stealing money from me. I requested that they pay me back as of May 1.

I never got the money back, and doubt that I will. All in all, i am going to take it as a loss, a learned lesson that is difficult to swallow. No matter how heart-breaking a story, i cant be the nice guy that I know that I am. My efforts will be toward other community resources that can help people in need.

The whole situation is sad, and I wish that things were different. But that is life.

Police Floodlights

Last night on the corner of Lincoln Rd and R St, the MPD placed a police van and a bank of floodlights shining up Lincoln Rd. This is generally supposed to bring light to dark streets and discourge crime and drug dealing.

I approve of any efforts by MPD to reduce crime in our area. The shootings on Lincoln and Todd last week, and the violence on 1st St NW this week have got to stop.

I was struck though that the lights were put on that corner. I would think that they would have been more effective adjacent to the community center, closer to Seaton, and Todd Sts.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Police Action-response to WashCityPaper Article

The article certainly points out the shortcomings of the 311 system, and the deluge of requests that are phoned in. I think that we all understand that in nearly every situation, the resources allocated to an issue are rarely enough for 100% attention. We know that there arent enough cops, or operators or caseworkers to handle every call the way that we think it should be handled.

It would be great if the cops would show up within 10 mins after you report your car stolen, or when shots are fired or when a hooker and john get done doing the nasty in the alley. Sometimes our expectations are set a little high.

We have seen several notations on this listserv of the good work that the MPD has done in responding to individual 911 calls in Bloomindale, Eckington and Eastern Shaw. The response to the recent spate of violence on Lincoln Rd, Todd Place and even recently on First St NW has been very good. That being said, prevention of these incidents are key, rather than waiting to cart off 3 wounded men in an ambulance.

All that being said, there needs to be a couple of things done to improve how policing and communications systems like 311-911 interact to reduce crime.

1. 311 and 911 operators need to have an updated Standard Operating Proceedure to triage and prioritize calls. I would assume that this is the case with 911, but perhaps a similar hierarchy could be created for 311. For instance: event in progress, event passed, theft, info only, cat stuck in tree etc.

2. Once these calls are triaged, there still needs to be follow-up by someone. In the IT world it is called a ticketing system. After each request has been taken, it is issued a 'ticket', after resolution, it is closed out. I would recommend that these cases be handled by a specific group or unit, rather than taking invaluable beat cops away from fighting crime, projecting a presence, and working on their community policing.

3. Metrics. The city has crime statistics for each MPD Ward, and PSA. Crime rate per 1000 or similar metric will give you those neighborhoods with the most need of resources. Additionally there are designated hotspots that are already supposed to be getting additional resources. If there are additional resources given to hotspots and the highest crime rate areas metrics can also be used to see if they are effective. Number of arrests and a reduction of crime incidents per month can be utilized to give an effectiveness rating for the cops.

Monday, May 01, 2006


What a beautiful weekend. I spent a majority of the weekend working on my house, but did manage to get out a bit to enjoy the beautiful weather.

-There was a small block party "health fair" in bloomingdale on Saturday. There were a few tables set up, basketball hoop and a few people hanging out. It didnt seem too busy when i was at Window around 1 pm. I had my first sandwich from windows. It wasnt bad, but not spectacular either. it is good to know that there is a good place to get some necessities nearby.

-My yard is a disaster. The grass seed planted a few weeks ago has come up sparsely. It looks like it will have to look poor for a while, as i dont have the money for sod, and it is too late to plant more seed.

-New neighbor has moved in down the street, lots of new blood coming in.

-Odd Jobs. Mari had mentioned hiring kids to do work around the house, watering, picking up trash etc. What is the going rate? For instance, if i ask the neighbor boy 'C' to pick up trash around the house, that will take 5-10 minutes how much should i pay? 2-3$? I mean, if the day laborers at home depot make around 15-20$ per hour for skilled labor, then 2-3 would be right, no?

-The triangle park just south of the flea market on N.Cap and Lincoln has seen the evolution from tulips to Allium giganteum, which are very cool flowers. See photo above.

-Help requested from readers. do you know where i could find parts for an old glider patio couch? I also need ideas on where to find cheap replacement cushions.