Friday, March 31, 2006

I wish my office was as funny as The Office

Short and sweet tonight. The Office on NBC is by far the most consistently funny show on TV. It blows away Family Guy and Arrested Development, which is saying something. I urge people to watch (selfishly) so that I may enjoy many more episodes of it and it doesn't get cancelled by the suits. That is all.

P.S. I am feeling lazy tonight, hence the short posting. I definitely slept through my alarms and showed up to work at 1 PM today. I recommend no one take Unisom when they can't sleep and it's 2 AM in the morning.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Metro = Better than the Bus @ Always

I keep reading opposition to the Metro extension to Dulles suggesting that we create a dependable bus line to test interest before the system pours money into a rail system. This is crazy. I really believe that people that would never ride a bus would take the train. It's a completely different experience. And I ride both for my commute. And the suggestion that we just have more buses is absurd. Isn't the point of the train to have a mode of transportation that won't be slowed by traffic, in addition to taking cars off the roads to clear up congestion? How is having a "dependable bus system" going to improve anything? The bus is still going to be taking those congested roads into DC. Oh wait, it could take carpool lanes... Anyone that's seen I-66 in the morning in the so-called car pool section inside the Beltway sees that the traffic really isn't moving too well. And these complaints seem to ignore the fact that building the Metro is like printing money for the land owners, developers and later on the businesses that move in near the stations. Last I checked, putting a new bus stop in somewhere hasn't really spurred new development and improvements. And the fact that the train may not be able to go underground through Tysons Corner? Tysons Corner already looks like ass, its not like this will drastically ruin pristine views. Unless you'll miss the attractive views of the 1980's era Pizza Hut across the street. Yes it will cost a lot, but I have to believe that the increased tax revenue from the new development and increased property values will help to alleviate that. And raise the toll road price. That should push more people to ride the train in to the city, instead of clogging up 66 at the Toll Road/I-66 merge. I guess I'll never understand the hatred that Metro seems to cause for people.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Border Crossing Brouhaha

Beware: POLITICAL DISCUSSION AHEAD! I usually try to avoid discussing politics, but immigration always gets me going.

As I've stated before on this blog, the two worst hours of my work day are between noon and 2 PM when Bill O'Reilly comes on WJFK. I had completely not been following this whole immigration debate in the Senate until I heard O'Reilly rambling about it today for an hour. Using his typical fear tactics, he starts talking about how any American could be living next door to a (gasp!) house FULL of illegal immigrants. If I'm not mistaken, he described this house as containing over 10 illegals, and they "defecate in the yard." Seriously, that is a direct quote. Illegal immigration used to be the hot button topic I cared about the most. Coming from California, I witnessed hundreds of Latino junior high students marching the streets over Prop 187 that would have denied them schooling and medical care, and I was 100% behind this idea. After all why should they deserve services if they don't pay taxes (keeping in mind I was in my early teens). Now the whole topic seems to have come to a head. The hardline Republicans are pushing to make it a felony to be an illegal immigrant and to increase the punishment for hiring illegals.

I'm all for sealing up the borders and keeping more illegal immigrants out. I'm all for promoting the legal process for immigration. But I'm also a realist. What are you going to do with the 10 million or so illegals that are already here? According to O'Reilly, we can just bus them out of here and they won't try to come back illegally once we have our inpenetrable, energy force field, surface-to-surface missile equipped, automated gun tower wall built. He says they'll mess up somehow along the way, and then can be immediately deported. I guess we can start arranging the 500,000 or so buses to go pick them all up and take them on a pleasure ride back down to Mexico and El Salvador. I can't stress enough how retarded I think Bill O'Reilly is on this. I mean, his plan would only cripple the US agricultural economy, the food service industry, manufacturing, meat processing, and about 100 more crucial industries. But that's OK, we have a 4% unemployment rate. That's like a few million willing workers that would be glad to head out to the strawberry fields and pick fruit for a few dollars a day.

I also see that the compromise permanent residency program forces them to learn English. Which I think realistically is a good idea, except the country hasn't really ever made English the official language so I'm not sure why we can force them to learn a non-official tongue. I really think this is part of a lot bigger plan. Bill O'Reilly commented on this today as well, saying that Americans don't realize that our culture will look very differently in 20 or 30 years. Its a last ditch effort to Americanize the barbarian hordes. I think people are starting to see the writing on the wall that is country could be joining the Hispanic world before long. Just look at the statistics for Hispanics as a percentage of the population. It's coming, and those figures don't include the ones illegally here. Add those in, and you've got a pretty big and powerful voting base. And I'm not sure how I feel about that. I like the culture as it is. But Pandora's Box has already been opened. They are already here, and they already are key to the economic machine.

I just hope that Bill O'Reilly's drivel is not taken seriously by most of his listeners (I understand that there will always be a bunch of retards in the Southern states that take his words as gospel), and I hope that his opinions aren't the prevailing opinion of the U.S. At the least, for the economic sake of my home state of California (although this subject really affects heavily like 20 U.S. states). And I didn't even get into the widespread unrest that would be caused by completely alienating about 20% of the U.S. population. Just look at the protests today for a preview. Hopefully tomorrow I can avoid politics (which I seriously always try to avoid, especially since I moved here) and get back to good places to go that serve Natural Light on tap.

* As a disclaimer, I am not a Democrat. I voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I also voted for Pat Buchanan two elections ago. Last election I did not vote for Kerry (I also did not vote for Bush). I really think these are just realistic observations about to handle this whole situation.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Masonitis

I have to say I am excited about George Mason basketball. I did not attend George Mason, but it's hard to not get caught up in the hoopla. After seeing a local sports bar overrun with Mason fans, I can't help but wonder if all of these alums even attended a game while they went to school, but still, it's the DC areas 4th or 5th most popular college team in the FINAL FOUR. I used to live in Fairfax, and while I was out there, I attended a few GMU games just because it was local and cheap. It was exciting, but seemed similar to my high school games due to the lackluster attendance. Seeing as how my credit card billing address is still in Fairfax, VA I guess I could claim George Mason as my own. But that would be lame. So I'll just go along with the other 8 million DC area fans that have jumped on the Patriots bandwagon, but I'll freely admit that I am a bandwagon jumper. On a side note, I've faithfully read Jim Larranaga's column in the DC Examiner every week. It's great that there are still coaches that are in touch with their fans and their team, and it has been great following the team through his column and I look forward to his season wrap-up at the end of the tournament. I remember reading his column right before their Bracket Busters game against Wichita State, and thought that that game was going to be like their championship game. I guess I was a little off, although I did pick them to win their 1st round game in my bracket. Not seen for quite a while around here since Maryland won the title. And god knows none of my Southern Californian teams will be in this position for quite a while (fUCLA is NOT one of my teams). So I'll enjoy it, and I'll be pulling for them against Florida.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Real Life Is Depressing

During my time in Costa Rica, I discovered that there were way more Americans that just pulled up the stakes and moved down to tropical paradise. Like 50,000 of them living in Costa Rica. It got me thinking, could I pull this off? God knows working in a Federal office isn't really doing it for me. Hearing one more Federal Acquisition Regulations reference, seeing one more signature block, staring at my cubicle wall for one more minute, and I'm liable to go crazy. I noticed that after about the 2nd day, I started trying to brainstorm great new business ideas. For example, after seeing huge, huge plantations of African oil palm trees, I thought that I could just take a freighter down there, fill up the entire deck with palm trees, bring them up to Southern California, and sell them to housing construction companies to stick in someone's front yard so that they can feel tropical. The Woman let me know that a.) These palms might not even grow in California, b.) It would cost a fortune to transport it from the dock to the building site, c.) It might not even be legal to import thousands of live trees. She really crushed my dream. And this was only the first of about 10 big ideas. All equally as bad. But, I'm definitely keeping the idea of going after a simpler, happier life somewhere in the tropics. Someday. Or until I forget about this in a week or so.

Some other thoughts...

1. I get back to the States, catch up on my sports news, and see that there was a flurry of free agent signings in the NFL. Seriously, where are the Redskins getting this cap space to give the biggest contract in NFL history for a safety?! Or to sign the top wide receiver free agent?! What happened to them having to cut all their veterans and playing 20 rookies or whatever the doomsday pundits were saying? Seriously these signings makes me sad as I love nothing more than to see the Redskins fans squirm in misery at their team's perpetual underachieving. Thats what happens when you go to school for 4 years with fervent Redskins fans when you're a fan of a West Coast, Southern Californian team.

2. After having some quality time with my iPod on vacation, I'm now hooked on two songs by Morningwood, which I guess is some rock band from New York with a girl lead singer. Try downloading Nth Degree which is so poppy and bubble gum, but so catchy. Then download Jetsetter which is just awesome.

3. I am not sad that I missed Shamrock Fest. I went last year and couldn't deal with the fact that I had to buy a ticket, and then pay twice the going rate for beer once inside, all for the pleasure of hearing some B-list cover bands and some unsigned (for good reason) local bands. Give me a gorgeous, unpopulated beach with great surf in Central America over navigating huge throngs of wasted frat dudes pounding incredibly overpriced beers in Ballston (ugh) trying to give out Mardi Gras shamrock beads to drunk 20 something girls desperately hoping to see a glimpse of nip anytime.

4. Not sure if I'm sad about missing these blogger get togethers. They sound cool in the wrap ups I've read, but then I see how contentious the blogaxy got the past couple days and I'm not sure if I want to take it to that level. I guess I'll play it by ear when the next one comes around. I'm usually not one to pass up the opportunity to pound brewdogs in good company.

Ugh Vacation Over, Back to Fighting Terror and Such Tomorrow

After touching down at Dulles at about 11 PM, I am back in the US. I am also exhausted. I sat down, opened up my Bloglines, and found that I have 250 some odd postings to catch up on. I started but don't have the energy to finish them up since I have work bright and early in the morning. More on Costa Rica tomorrow... I can safely say now that I wish I was in Costa Rica still though. Also, when I left, it was on the cusp of being 70 plus degrees here. When I come back, it is snowing. I must have the worst luck in the world.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Hot, Hot, Hot - Reporting Live From Costa Rica

Dateline Golfito, Costa Rica: I think Buster Poindexter put it best when he sang in his classic 80´s tune, Hot, Hot, Hot (as sang by Sebastian the Crab as well). It is real hot down here and the humidity is oppressing. Needless to say, I am sweating quite a bit. I don´t have long on the Internet here, but I have several quick observations.

1. I think that Latin America gets a bad reputation for being so poor and full of shanty towns because of one simple fact (besides the fact that they ARE a lot poorer than Americans). The use of corrugated steel for their roofs. Ever picture you see of a slummy barrio in any Latin country, they show these homes with rusty corrugated steel roofs that really make the buildings look bad. And this material isn´t just used on cheap housing, it´s found on the wealthier housing as well. How about a little terra cotta tile? It would make a world of difference, and judging from the flooring, it is found in abundance here. Get me on the line with the folks in charge of Image Management for these countries.

2. Americans are such retards when they head off to other countries. Especially those within the ages of 18 and 25 (which I of course am a part of, but would like to exclude myself from in these criticisms). They show up, expect everyone to speak English, and don´t even bother to exchange their dollars for the local currency. That may work when you´re in the capital and its full of Burger Kings and KFC´s, but not when you´re at the very southern end of the country, almost into Panama. I´m pretty sure the bartenders and shopkeepers take advantage of this and just quote prices that are double what they usually charge, but about a dollar less than they´d pay in the States. That way the sophomore in high school on spring break is paying two bucks for a beer that I paid the equivalent of 80 cents for in Costa Rican money. I guess both parties are happy, but whatever.

3. Walking through the supermarkets, I noticed that they don´t use jars here for sauces and such. Instead they use a glorified Capri Sun pouch that has a nozzle on it. This just seems like good sense to me, and its something I´d love to see migrate over to the states. Just think, they are resealable, they take up less space, less space in the garbage can, I just don´t see a negative to it. I wish I could post pictures, but alas, I am using an "archaic" 35mm camera (as opposed to a snazzy digital camera).

I believe I´ll be unable to check Internet for the next few days, but you can expect a new posting featuring cutting edge reporting soon enough.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Metro DC Sewer Takes A Junket

Always vowing to spare no expense in our hard hitting reporting about the metro DC area, The Virginian is hereby taking a short junket to Costa Rica (the "rich coast" for those with full-on gringosity) to deliver cutting edge news and comments for the DC Sewer's loyal readers. With things slowing down around the DC area until spring starts bringing people outdoors a bit more, the cherry blossoms start blossoming, and the Nats embark on an undoubtedly horrendous season, it was time to go find the stories instead of waiting for them. Hence, the trip to Central America. As some critical thinking readers may realize, these stories would have absolutely nothing to do with the metro DC area. What is the point?! Why aren't you discussing terribly lame topics like plummeting property values or awful Arlington dive bars?! You'll live without them for a couple weeks. Plus I wanted to go on vacation. Besides, with on the scene reporting from such metropolises as Playa Zancudo and Golfito, the Sewer hopes to bring you a little taste of paradise (I realize DC Bachelor reported from Venezuela a couple months ago already, but what can you do). I figure sometimes its good to bring people a new perspective. It gets tiring being stuck in the daily grind of DC life, hearing about the latest Bush related stupidity, the partisan bickering, the speed cameras, attacks on blogs, I could go on with more reasons for quite a while.

The original plan was that I would escape the bitter cold of Winter. This plan has panned out about as well as the Redskins salary cap planning did as you can see in the following:

Just as I'm flying out, the weather decides to get up to perfect temperatures and the winter starts to thaw out (as weak as the winter was...). Thanks a lot Mother Nature.

Stay tuned for some international coverage for the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Let's Deal With Real Problems... Starting With Victoria's Secret

How many times have I sat through some politician or political analyst talking about how we need to fix all these problems: things like the War on Terror, poverty, developing hydrogen cars, sending men to Mars, etc, etc, etc. Pretty much all things that are going to take about 20 years to actually do (or more), but sound big and important and ambitious for now. How about just once, we addres real problems that real people have to face on a day to day basis.

Let's start with a problem hobbling America's retail industry. This weekend, The Woman dragged me along to Tysons Corner to buy some last minute clothes for our vacation this week. I had two related incidents that just sucked for me. The first stop for her is Victoria's Secret. Now this stop in any couple's mall trip is one that can turn out two ways. The first is the good way, where the couple goes in, sees some sexy lingerie that will be fun for the couple later, and buys it, models it later, and a good time is had by all. The second, and far more common result, is the trip in looking for mundane things like sports bras, bras and panties out of the sale bin - pretty much nothing exciting. The second type of trip is particularly painful for the male once the female retreats to the dressing room. In Victoria's Secret, the dressing room lobby is well appointed with about two velvet chairs, nice wallpaper, pretty classy overall. There in lies the first dilemma: Do I sit in the Victoria Secret dressing room lobby, feeling like a big perv? Because really, there's not much else to do to pass the time other than looking at the people going in and out of the dressing room, and looking at the products they are carrying or the products that are hanging on the to-be-returned-to-the-shelves rack, all the while taking care not to stare at the inappropriately skimpy lingerie choices that the huskier lasses are taking in to try on. Or, do I stand right outside of the dressing room (keeping in mind that The Woman expects me to be right there when she exits the dressing room), where Victoria's Secret has decided to put their "playful" lingerie and look like a big perv examining these products (or again, looking at the women going in and out of the dressing room as well as noting their choice of lingerie, because really, there's not a lot else to do in this situation). This is all made worse by media stories like this. This happened again when she went into H&M to buy some black pants or something. Really?! We need to put the dressing room and the "waiting bench" right in the middle of the lingerie section?! So I sit on the bench which I assume is why it is placed there, and women are reaching for bras to my left, and holding them up to their chest to see how it would look. I turn and look, because again, what else am I supposed to look at when I'm really bored? She glares at me as if she thinks I'm going to jump her in the parking lot and pull a Kobe Bryant on her. How humiliating.

My main point? How about we make a smidgen of effort to make these dressing room situations comfortable for all sexes. Like maybe move the dressing room one section over from the bra section and stick it in activewear. Or maybe put some more benches down in Victoria's Secret and maybe put the normal clothing they sell around them. Maybe then I wouldn't hate going into Victoria's Secret as much on the couples shopping expeditions, and maybe then I wouldn't fight going in, and she would go more often, and in turn, probably buy more stuff from them. So yeah, thanks a lot Victoria's Secret and H&M for setting up your dressing rooms in the least optimal configuration possible for the requisite male accompanying significant other shopper. Thanks a lot. Jerks. So come on President Bush, let's put your big idea, probably never going to happen problems aside and deal with what we CAN fix now. How about some male-friendly dressing room legislation.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Don't Talk To Me While I'm Driving

So the Washington Post featured a story about the DC ban on talking on a cell phone while driving. Maryland and Virginia are clamping down on this too by making it illegal for the young tykes to talk on the phone while driving (16 and 17 year olds in MD, 18 and under in VA), which really is just a first step to banning it outright. The empirical evidence given in the article such as things like the quantity of tow truck responses to accidents and insurance claims show that this law has had no effect on safety. Yet the police have given thousands of tickets. I understand that this helps DC gain more revenue, just like their speed cameras, just like their red light cameras. But Virginia, what is your excuse? Or Maryland? It's just another reason to take hard earned dollars out of my wallet. Alternative taxation if you will. And now they're talking about bannind hands free devices too. So I guess that means cops will be able to pull me over on Connecticut Avenue if they see me giving myself a pep talk because, gasp, I could have been talking on a hands free phone. In a way, I feel like I should talk on the phone more when I'm in the District limits as a form of civil disobedience.

Speaking of this, it reminds me of another traffic law crusade I was turned onto a couple years ago by listening to Adam Carolla. Left turn lights. Why do we have to stop at them if we're driving on empty streets at 3 AM trying to get home from wherever when there is very clearly no oncoming traffic?! If I can slow down, see clearly over all oncoming traffic lanes and no one is coming, I should just be able to go. There's really no point in me stopping and sitting there for the timed light to switch to a green arrow. I tried this crusade for about two months, no problem. I saved probably upwards of 7 to 8 minutes of my life by doing this, and I felt great. Then I got pulled over by Officer Friendly for this. I pleaded my case, said I was not a hazard to anyone, and that there was no good safety reason to be ticketing me. He ticketed me. After this incident, I stopped being civilly disobedient at left turn arrows (even though through my superior lawyerly skills I beat the ticket (See below)). So we'll see how long this cell phone civil disobedience goes...

* I showed up to court and the officer didn't. I beat John Law. Like a Drum. Like I said, superior lawyerly skills.

On an unrelated note, is anyone else hooked on Deal or No Deal, the hot new game show on NBC?!?! I can't get enough. I feel like the very first time I did a Sudoku puzzle and got hooked. This show is seriously Howie Mandel's best work since his masterful performance voicing Gizmo in both Gremlins AND Gremlins II (sadly snubbed for best actor for both of those films).

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Opinions Only Matter From ACTUAL DCites

I've heard the same arguments for the two years I've lived in Northern Virginia that people not from DC should not criticize anything about DC. After all, they live in disgusting Arlington or Alexandria, full of nothing but chain restaurants and big box stores. What could they possibly know about DC related politics and happenings? I've always found this to be (overall) the dumbest thing I've ever heard. This came to a head over at why.i.hate.dc when that author's comments on DCist were discounted because he lives a mile and a half over the Maryland border in Bethesda. I seem to remember the old why.i.hate.dc writer being constantly bashed for living a 3 minute drive away from the Memorial Bridge in Courthouse. I've even heard similar comments on this blog, specifically that I shouldn't have used a photo of a DC cop when describing a WMATA transit cop stationed at Pentagon City, located under .5 miles from the Potomac River.

I understand this argument when talking about things like schools. Schools pretty much only benefit the DC taxpayers, and I as a Virginia resident really couldn't care less that DC has awful hellholes for public schools. But as far as the stadium issue, I feel like this is a regional issue. Let's assume MLB had decided to put the stadium at Army-Navy and Fern St. in Pentagon City. I surely doubt that residents of DC would choose to refrain from commenting on issues related to that stadium's construction. Even though by their logic, only Virginians should be allowed to have an opinion on it.

And seriously, these people think that things change that drastically when you cross over the 14th Street Bridge into Virginia?! Arlington used to be part of DC after all, until the seceded back to Virginia. The same goes for Bethesda. It's not like the scenery changes that much between Tenleytown and Bethesda. If you want to bash Fairfax County (another former residence) for being nothing but endless chain stores, than fine. It's pretty close to the truth. But its absolutely retarded to group the exurban areas like Arlington with Chantilly. Please don't take this as me being a blinded to the sprawl, Northern Virginia loving, traffic sitting Arlingtonian. I despise it here. But I'm sane enough to tell that my life would not be dramatically different if I moved the 1 mile into the District (which is an option when my lease runs out). Enough with the self important DC residents pulling the holier than thou attitude about regional affairs.

Great American Novels

I've been swamped at work the past couple days, and pretty much until next week when I leave on vacation to paradise, so I don't have many clever and witty anecdotes to share. But I have been starting to read again, and have had my love for two authors' work rekindled. The first, I was reminded of, when I was woken up on Sunday morning at 7 AM to my inebriated roommate blasting American Psycho from the living room. This was a love or hate it movie. I convinced 15 dudes in college to drive 45 minutes to the closest movie theater to watch this movie. About half loved it, about half despised it. Seriously, how can you hate a book/movie that combines in-depth analysis of Huey Lewis and the News' Hip To Be Square with a brutal ax murder scene. For those that love it, Bret Easton Ellis' books blow the movie away (movies, if you include the lame Rules of Attraction film). I finally read Glamorama, which was great, meaning I've read the complete works of Ellis now. If you want dark satire, these books are for you.

I am also about to reread Wonder Boys, by Michael Chabon. This book just took me in when I first read it. I remember not wanting to read it due to it's hot pink cover, but my girlfriend at the time convinced. And I'm glad she did. It's a novel about a novel author, but for whatever reason, I felt like I could relate to some of the themes in this book. I'd also recommend The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay for some quirkiness, but with the holocaust as a backdrop theme.

Now, I'm by no means a book critic (as is painfully apparent), but I know what I like. And I like these authors' work. I'm about to load up on a few books to bring on my trip, so if anyone has some suggestions, let me know ASAP!