Sunday, August 31, 2008


According to Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty on Meet the Press this morning, Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin thinks that the theory of intelligent design carries the same weight as the theory of evolution and that schools should teach both theories side-by-side. If schools were required to include the theory of intelligent design as part of their curriculum, does this mean that churches would be required to teach the theory of evolution as well? What are the chances of that happening?

For the record, Pawlenty says that he too feels that the theory of intelligent design (to which he ascribes) carries the same weight as the theory of evolution, but that it's a local decision regarding whether schools should teach both.

Down with the pundits, up with the locals

I used to be fascinated by politics. I used to have things to say about running mates and speeches and taking sides on issues. Politics used to be interesting. Now, the national races are all a show and the local races don't get much air or print time. There's nothing I could say that hasn't already been said to death. The pundits killed my will to pontificate. Nothing is a mystery in national politics anymore. New goal: learn more about the local politics, which is where public service matters most. That will take some digging. As a newspaper with national prominence, the Washington Post features mostly national and world news on its main web page. But the shadow senate race is interesting, and I just got my brochure on the local primaries happening September 9th, so there's much to learn. So the Local button on the WaPo website will be getting more of a workout, and there are surely plenty of locally focused websites out there, catching the news the mainstream media miss. In a town where people mostly pay attention to only the Capitol Hill gang, where DC residents pay taxes but have no real national representation (even our license plates proclaim that conundrum), local politics couldn't be more important. The pundits have yet to beat that dead horse.

Here's what I have learned so far: in local races, some younger people, inspired mostly by the Obama campaign, have started to run for seats in the D.C. Democratic State Committee. But they're being hampered by old school pols who don't want to let new faces in. They complain that the newcomers don't even know which ward represents them (oops, I don't know that either...). After that story was published, D.C. Democratic Party spokesperson David Meadows responded with this letter to the editor. It will be interesting to follow this story and other local races, both Democrats and Republicans. U.S. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton appears occasionally on the Colbert Report, and she's pushing hard for D.C. voting rights, but the D.C. Democratic party's push on the national party platform is at odds with the D.C. Green party's push for statehood. So that will be an interesting fight as well. Stay tuned for more.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Because you can

Think about a time when you were really sick. Not just the sniffles, but a time when you just didn't think you could get out of bed. Now imagine having to get in your car or on the bus or train and go somewhere, feeling so sick. Cancer patients often feel like that, and they often have to drive or take public transportation to the doctor for chemotherapy. How much does that suck?

If you have a car or access to a car (zip cars, perhaps?), volunteer your time and drive a cancer patient to his or her doctor's appointment. There are lots of other ways to help. Learn about how to volunteer to help cancer patients here . Someday you or someone you know may have cancer, and you'd want a kind stranger to be there for you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Insect Appreciation Day

One of the fun little discoveries of our new apartment was that ants paraded across the hardwood floor in the living room, carrying stray pieces of cat litter and depositing them under the rug. Not sure from where the ants were coming into the building, but they seemed to find the corner of the window to be an adequate escape route. We didn't use bug spray on the ants, choosing instead to be more vigilant about cleaning up the cat litter or smooshing them with our fingers.

I noticed lately that the ants were mostly gone. I also realized that small, nearly invisible spider webs started to collect in the corner of the window and in the bathroom door jamb. Inside the webs are piles of balled-up ant carcasses. A little gross, but also pretty cool to know that the daddy long-legs chilling in the corner is taking care of business. It's always been my policy to not kill spiders unless they're giant and hairy and about to climb on my head (which, thankfully, has yet to happen), but now I'm even more appreciative of these eight-legged predators. Which just goes to show you that letting nature do its thing is far better than creating an artificially sterile home.

Oh yeah, note to self: don't look up info about spiders before going to bed, especially if the web site has photos. Yeesh.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Random thoughts about city living

Seven years ago, the last time I lived in DC, I bought a book of bike ride routes in and around the DC area. I tried a few of them out at the time, which made for some excellent sight-seeing, and better yet, a free workout. Last Sunday, I took my bike out to Occoquan, Virginia, to try out another ride. This attempt was not such a success. They should really mention when the first three miles are intensely uphill, and when the route goes along a windy country road. I gave up after a few miles, rode along the river in the regional park, then came back and walked around Historic Occoquan. Regardless, it filled my need to get out of the city and have a small adventure. Next time, I will drive the bike route before riding it, just to be sure.

I was in an icky mood coming home from the gym last night, til I stepped off the bus and heard a random blues band playing in the park for National Night Out. Lots of people came out to enjoy the muggy evening, kids drew on the sidewalk with chalk and blew bubbles, couples danced, people talked and hung out until late. Even the cops were having a good time. Lots of different kinds of people, all enjoying the same neighborhood perks. That's why I love the city.

Marx Cafe puts nutmeg in their smooth, creamy hummus. It changed my life. Seriously. Apparently someone who works at the Marx Cafe is petitioning to run as a Libertarian for the shadow senate seat for DC. His platform includes actually going onto the floor of the senate, which apparently the shadow senators cannot do because they're not actually recognized by the U.S. Senate. If elected, he will also hug the President of the United States. I find it wholly ironic that he is both a Marx Cafe employee (Marx being the symbol of Communism - the cafe's full name includes the words "revolutionary cuisine") and a Libertarian, which is maybe rather opposite to Communism, but hey, whatever. I support anyone who wants to run for public office. Plus I really love it that he would hug the President.