Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ward Level Politics

Fifth and O has a little something on ANC candidates running in 2C. Daddy5-O asks, and I'm slightly wondering too, um where in the Ward is Kevin Chapple? Cause even though Mr. Thorpe, the current ANC for 2C02, is known for his inflammatory words, it seems it is going to take more than a lovely website to defeat Thorpe. The problem seems to be is Mr. Chapple is an unknown. Of his events, I don't see a meet and greet. However, digging deeper going to the "forums" he intends to attend the Sept 11 ECCA meeting at 7pm held at the 3rd St Baptist Church on 5th & Q Streets.
I got a question in the comments about some of the Ward 5 people running. As I understand it there are like a dozen people running. Checking the poster's link it goes to the Moore's, which includesMs. Miriam Moore an Independent running for Ward 5. I'm trying to remember if she showed up to a BACA meeting, maybe, got to check with Jim. As the TC is on the tail end of Ward 5, we could easily get forgotten, so anyone not showing up at a BACA meeting running for Ward 5 is on my unhappy list. Thomas, Wilds and Zapata are on my happy list only because they have shown up for little things over here on the NW side, giving me hope that if one of them gets elected they won't forget us like Orange did.
Don't ask me who I am going to vote for. I am a registered Independent, so my options, in a city where 1 out of 10 isn't a Democrat, are limited.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Kids in the hood

Sunday's article in the Post about kids allowed to roam the neighborhood was a pleasant read. Got me thinking about my own childhood and the kids around here. Kids, as in elementary and maybe middle school kids. Not the surly teenagers who roam the city.
For the record I don't think these days are more dangerous for kids than when I was growing up. Stranger danger is no more a threat now than it was before. However, I notice there are a lack of PSAs about not talking to strangers (there 's also a lack of PSAs about littering, bring those back!). Yeah, there are more people with cell phones driving, but there are fewer drunk drivers. That whole "designated driver" thing was new and shiny when I was a teen. People still can't drive, sober or cell phoneless, but I digress.
As the summer winds down there are kids out on the sidewalk playing and making a racket. Age ranges from 2 or 3 to teenage-ish (can't tell). The young ones are simply tagging along with the older kids, who more than likely were told to "watch your brother/sister". B. and I had a discussion about that. Being forced to bring your annoying sibling with you everywhere builds character, and keeps you out of trouble because they are such tattle tales. B. thinks it's too much responsibility to place on a child. Anyway the little ones mimic the older ones who keep their games and activities on the sidewalk. Sometimes they filter out into the street when engaging with teenagers, the characters from the corner or the grown men willing to throw around a football.
I'm semi-aware of their approved range. I know some kids are allowed over to Dunbar for the pool, or are limited to the quickie mart and no further. Some other kids have to ask permission to play on the other side of the street. Depends on the parent, the conditions, and the kid.

Update: Comments have been closed. Please direct local political comments to their appropriate posts.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Why can't DC make it easier?

I'll admit that I am not always checking all the links on the side bar on a regular basis, but recently I took a look at Live Baltimore and I must say Charm City has it's arms wide open. Baltimore wants you to buy and if you can't buy it wants you to rent. It makes an argument that it is a good choice for DC refugees by looking at house prices and the MARC commute. Some parts of the website are weak, like the rentals, and it makes a stronger push for home ownership. It is very informative, with the maps and the neighborhood info and history, and incentive programs (with info about qualifying). There is this curious program attached called the City Living Ambassadors, a volunteer program where people from the communities prospective buyers or renters are interested in Baltimore. A quick look at their volunteer board seems that duties include manning tables at fairs, maintaining the website, and prepping mailers. It seems someone is not afraid of volunteers and a thousand flowers blooming.
And what do we have? There was City Living, DC Style, which is dead and gone. Guess there was no need to promote the city. Instead of the open arms of Charm City, seekers will get the DC once-over look, just before the city turns to find someone more important or more interesting to talk to. Washington.Org is more for tourists and the DC.Gov site, well not so good if you need hand holding or explanations, as it may just dump you into onto an agency's site and really, let the disappointment start early. No where in there did I see a chance for volunteering Washingtonians to promote the city or a neighborhood.
A fantasy Live Washington! or a City Living DC Style, brought back to life would be something that has an easy format. It would tell shiny young interns how to find a group house (and what to expect for the interviews) and suggest what to do after making photocopies all day. It would help the family from Madison, WI relocate and what neighborhoods have yards and their various school options (public, charter, & private). It would help families moving up from Section 8 to homeownership find the few "affordable" set asides that the new condo have. It would have comprehensive maps for crime, schools, places of worship (and their websites), full grocery stores (and their websites), dog parks, etc. Maybe throw in a resident's short essay of what they like about their neighborhood. There would be neighborhood descriptions with a little history, housing styles, major roads, Metro options, and points of interest (if any). The information is out there and an enterprising person might piece it together from DC.Gov, a few non-profits, and other sources. But why can't it be easier?

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Friday, August 25, 2006

NYT says 9:30 is in a dicey neighborhood

According to the Times "This [9:30 Club] is an out-of-the-way music club in a dicey neighborhood." The New Yawkers are afraid.


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Slow down

I'm going to say that the gentrification has slowed down, along with the housing market. There will still be the gentrification, but maybe we've hit that part where we are like neighborhoods that have been gentrifying for 20 or more years, such as Adams Morgan, and the ever expanding borders of Capitol Hill. A few posts back I noted that gentrification in Shaw has it's roots somewhere back in the 80s. The western part of Shaw, the U Street and Logan Circle bits are gentrified. Not all the construction is completed, but now I can't see what major thing can come in to dramatically change the current character of the neighborhood. Well a parking garage maybe.
On this end of Shaw we are hoping the retail will catch up.
As far as dislocation goes, seniors have figured out the old folks tax rate, and landlords who haven't gone market rate already probably won't anytime soon.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

It's a Buyer's Market

In today's Post, Signs of a Buyer's Market. Maybe if the prices calm down some of my university employed (is it me or do the institutions of higher learning 'round here pay peanuts?) friends can maybe buy a small condo.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The only one gentrifying the hood

Got this one from Jimbo... "Sometimes I Feel Like I'm The Only One Trying To Gentrify This Neighborhood"

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When talking to some professionals about what I want to do with the house a couple of them have mentioned resale stuff. For some odd reason this is one of those little things that nearly set me off. I can't explain it but the mention of resale touches a nerve. Calmly, I say that I intend to stay in this house until offered a dream job (I like my current job and employer) or marriage.
Since I intend to stay in the house for a number of years I don't want to invest in something for somebody else. When I was posting on the Washington Post Real Estate discussion board I would write that I didn't see the logic of doing something for the sake of resale if the people intended to stay longer than 5 years. Mainly because whatever you put in will be 5 years older when you sell. Will granite counter tops be the hot thing 5 years from now? Maybe. Remember Corian? I have Corian, but I only picked it because it is more forgiving with dishes than stone. Maybe future owners may want zinc, concrete, recycled glass, I don't know, and I don't care.
I live in this house with the idea that once I get rid of the crack head features, it will be the best reflection of Me that I can afford. Resale is the furthest thing from my mind. I figure whoever comes after me will move in and tear down or paint over whatever they don't like. What I do for the house will be for me. The color and type of floors, the texture of the ceiling, the light fixtures, the tile in the bathroom, layout of the kitchen, all for me. Me. Me. Me.
What I am trying to do for future residents is strengthen the bones of the structure. There are cracks in the wall. Need to get a professional's opinion of exactly why and what I need to do to remedy them. I would like to be able to sell something that may have 100 or more years in it to go.

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HOA gone crazy vs Guys on the corner

No not a mash-up. Just a discussion happening elsewhere.
Frightening tales from condo owners and people in HOAs run badly, make me feel so much better about my fee-simple in the hood. I'm not talking nastygrams about grass 1/4 of an inch too high, I'm talking poor maintenance, low levels of corruption and skyrocketing dues.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

What's up with Kelsey Gardens?

Noticed plywood over several units. What's up with that?
My un-educated gut guess is that the owners are trying to sell it and so aren't filling the units up with new tenants. Of course, there could have been a fire. I don't know.
So anybody know what's going on?

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There is an annoying point in dieting when after you've made incredible progress there is a long period of nothing. No matter what you do, nada. However, you need to keep doing what you are doing so you could possibly progress and not go back. That's how I'm feeling about the corner.
This week I've seen the cops, lights flashing, stopped at the corner. And it has been quieter on the corner than it has been in years past. But I will see the guys hanging out on the corner on occasion. They are not gone. I don't always expect them to be there, but I'm not surprised if I do see them. I would like to be surprised, but it seems we're not getting past not surprised.
I am thankful for the progress we've made in my little section of the neighborhood. I hope that all of the TC can improve in ways that make it a safer and nicer place.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Bent leg guy

I noticed him first at the corner of Adelphi Road and East-West Hwy in Hyattsville. He's Latino with his right leg bending back when normally it should go forward. I felt badly for him. Then a few weeks ago I saw him up on Georgia Ave somewhere in that mass called Silver Spring, with his cup out taking charity. Just yesterday I saw him again, on Connecticut Ave by Farragut North with a orange juice box shaking it at passersby. For a guy with a screwed up leg he does get around.

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Space for living

When I go to IKEA I'm spending more time looking at the little showrooms and paying attention to the square footage. I'm not exactly complaining (complaining is in the ear if the listener) but my place is small and it is not going to get bigger anytime soon. Within the limited space I need to fit in 'stuff' for living and not feel cramped. IKEA is space sensitive and I look to this store to show me how to maximize my space.
So I am happy to see there is like an IKEA show, on TV, Canadian TV, but TV none the less, with a website. Space for Living appears to be in its second season, not sure, but I've already got some ideas. Sadly, they don't give square footage.
Credit to IKEA Hacker

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Central location and (rising) gas prices

I saw this article from a local neighborhood list serv about how gas prices could be the end of the suburban migration pattern. I'm not sure it's going to happen that fast, but I think it'll certainly be something on people's mind when shopping for places to live.

This probably really isn't news to anyone who decided to live in Shaw. In fact, it was a big part of the reason I personally chose the 'hood so if I thought of it-- well, everyone else probably did too. But the article is a good read arguing for better urban land use.

Three cheers for central location and public transportation.

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Security Camera & Library

This was longer but the computer did a bad, bad thing and deleted... well I won't get into it.
Fifth and O reports the camera has landed and it needs lights.
Also the District section of the Post has something on the "Free Our Library" thing.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Thorpe Challenger

Got an email that nearly went into the trash because A)- it went to the address and B)-it was just a website. No explaination or anything. A Mr. Kevin Chapple is running for the ANC 2C02 seat that is currently being held by the colorful Leroy Thorpe.
I must say. Mr. Chapple has a very nice looking website. I don't know if he has the 25 signatures needed to run and challenge Thorpe but if I were in 2C02, I'd sign it. It would make for an interesting election at the very least.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

August Garden Report

I can't let the tomatoes get too red on the vine or the birds will start pecking at them.
The squirrels, I have decided, are stealing my and my neighbor's tomatoes because their old food source is gone. There was a huge mulberry tree in the alley, but the people who owned it chopped it down. It was a big producer, and now it is gone and the squirrels need to eat. I have let fruit get ripe on the cherry tomato vine in hopes that the rodents go for the smaller tomatoes and leave the big ones alone.
It has been a rough year for the tomatoes.
The chard is fine. Growing, looking good, tasting good.
The beans are ok too. Unfortunately, I haven't been much in the mood for beans.
The impatiens that I grew from seed are exploding. They are taken over the hanging basket that holds a dying pansy.
The squash is a loss. I am losing them to squash borers, again. I don't think I will grew them again.
Although it is hot, there is a salad that is still working for me after all the others have bolted and are inedible, arugula. A handful of arugula, chopped up, throw in some tuna and avocado with a lime garlic dressing, good stuff. When it cools down again, I may use some left over seed to grow more salad.
The edible lawn is so-so. The Greek oregano spreads out nicely and suffered mowing well. I can't say the same for some thymes. The tarragon did not like foot traffic and died. The mint, the weed that it is, is of course flourishing and wandering into parts it should not. The mini-mint expands but then dies back on its own, so I am not too concern with it getting out of control.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

The Watha T Daniels Library

Library Protest Banner
Originally uploaded by In Shaw.
This weekend I noticed someone put up the banner (poorly shown in this picture) reading "Free Our Library". Which must be a protest about the fence, which essentially closes the unoffical homeless summer camp that had been on the library premises. It cannot be a statement about the library itself as it has been closed for so long I don't remember when it did close.
Also it is not really a library anymore. It is a 'library' building, but without a librarian with an ALA approved MLS, it is just a badly run bookstore with no coffee. It does us no good to free the building if it isn't going to be a functional library. That's what the community needs is a functional library. Good lord only knows when that will be.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Crawl space

Well now I have seen my crawlspace between the roof and the ceiling. Not the whole thing, just a hole placed in my ceiling with me looking up at the underside of the roof. I have been informed about what the contractors saw.
The crawlspace is just big enough for an overweight raccoon to hold a dance party, which Ricky the Raccoon has done. But for regular sized contractors it is not enough space to crawl in, making me question if "crawlspace" is the right word. I suspected as much since seeing the exposed ceiling in another house further along the row.
The contractor told me that there is no rot. Yay! However, previous renovators have been screwing around up there and not all the little beams go all the way. And some beams are split, but that's no problem because that can be fixed.
Next. Make holes in wall. Hunt down structural engineer.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Pick me! Pick me! I want one!

The Post announced where some of the crime prevention cameras are going. One at the 400 block of O Street, is close to the borders of the TC, but not in it. Come on, we want one. Just one. Okay, maybe two.
Reading DCist it seems Georgetown wants a camera too. Not to be disrespectful, but call back when you have an open air drug market and street hos.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bars and neighborhoods

A friend of mine sent me a link regarding a report about violence and alcohol outlets. In some places, like wealthy neighborhoods, a lot of bars are not a problem. But in unstable poorer neighborhoods, a lot of bars are a problem.
Speaking of, Jim Berry, our fearless leader, said something along the lines that actual bodies challenging liquor licenses need to appear at the ABC hearings. Jim is welcomed to comment on this to clarify (or send a short 5-10 sentence email).

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Renovation 2007: No solar panels either

I have researched and thought about the whole solar panel thing and my roof is so small and does not have a full days' sun that the amount of power I would produce would be minimal. Part of me is thinking I could produce more power with a bike generator. Now if I were in Florida, I might be able to do something, but no. I have a small rowhouse, in the middle of a long row, in Washington, DC, with little roof space.
I would probably do more by cutting down on my energy use than trying to up my energy production. It reminds me of personal finance advice where it doesn't matter if your income doubles if your spending outpaces it. Same goes a bit for energy use. The goal will be to reduce my energy consumption. Maybe I'll look into small solar things. I don't want to be a pioneer in this arena. It would be nice to talk to someone with the same square footage and with similar conditions, who has lived with the solar (panels/ water heater) for a while.
Last weekend I had a quick chat with someone from an eco design firm and it was mentioned that more can be done with just replacing energy inefficient things in the house. The example given was a homeowner wanted new insulation which would save something like (I forgot the exact number given) 10-30%, yet just replacing the old furnace would save 60%.
I'll keep y'all informed about any energy efficient/ eco-friendly stuff I find.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

This shouldn't be, not in America

Update: Meeting notes are at the super secret site. Yes the password is confusing (reminder: "this meeting never happened"). Regulars know what it is. Email me in the next few days ('cause next week I'll just ignore you) if you don't.

I may or may not go into more detail when/if I do the abrv. BACA meeting minutes, but something came up. Several weeks ago, probably over a month ago, a resident was attacked and robbed by someone on a bike, possibly a young AfAm male with dreadlocks, sending the resident to hospital. The resident victim is an immigrant with limited English skills. The police failed to take care of this matter. It took the efforts of his American neighbors to try to find some justice. The matter should have been taken care of by the MPD's specialized units for particular immigrant/ ethnic groups. American neighbors had to cut through the inertia of the police just to find a little help.
Whatever your problems with immigration, legal or otherwise, this is wrong. There is no open season on ESL immigrants and there never should be.
Actually, the crimes by young men on bikes needs to stop. Immigrants haven't been the only victims, people have been attacked and harassed up in the Eckington areas as well. The criminals perpetrating these crimes have no excuse, and those who make excuses for them are just as bad.

Comments: The webmistress will delete what she decides is wrong and not to her liking regardless if you ID yourself or not.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Squares 519 & 520

Originally uploaded by In Shaw.
More from the 1870ish to 1880ish DC tax assessment maps. These I believe are on microfilm at the MLK library's Washingtonia Div.
Note the large plots. In 1880 square 519 was home to a florist's greenhouse. Remember this was the edge of town.

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My outing to Community Forklift

You are going to need a map, because despite being within the Beltway and a short distance from the DC border, this place is in the middle of no where. It is in an industrial district of Edmonston, MD. The chauffeur was kind enough to drive me as it has no sidewalks, it is not pedestrian or bike friendly. You come out here you're going to need a truck.
The reason why I wanted to come out to Community Forklift relates to my planned renovation. I wanted to see what some of my options were. The non-profit sells building materials that would otherwise wind up in a landfill. Builders, whomever, are encouraged to donate (tax write off!) excess. Community Forklift in turn sells it. It is sort of like a Goodwill for the Home Depot crowd.
There were some things outside of the building to take a look at, such as this big kitchen sink thing. There were a couple of them. There were some bathroom sinks that must have been taken out of a business as they still had signs on them saying that employees must wash their hands. I found the piles and piles of slate roofing tile fascinating.
Inside we found lumber, lumber everywhere. There were these big thick boards, beams I think they are. Modern beams, old school beams, beam-beams. Unfortunately, a fair number of them were short. Not as if they had no use. I was thinking one could make some neat simple rough furniture with these bits. Also in the "lumber" category was flooring. There was enough of the same type to cover a small room. In the flooring but not lumber realm were squares of vinyl and rolls of it too. Next to them were stone/porcelain tiles. Once again, small project stuff or you only need a few and it doesn't need to be exact.
I didn't see prices on everything. A few staff members we ran into apologized saying that they were still sort of new and haven't gotten around to pricing some items. I remember several of the tubs were priced with masking tape at $150 each. Don't remember the price of the kitchen sink, it might have been $150 too.
How does it compare to places like Brass Knob? Well it's got the old without the 'historic' ant-tiki vibe going for it. Like BK it has interior doors, at $15-$25, exterior doors, french doors, glass door knobs, and old style radiators and radiator covers. Unlike BK, it has old washers and dryers and dishwashers. Old, without the historically true antique prices. Don't get me wrong, I like Brass Knob and BK is in the TC.
There were a few odd ball things, one I really wanted, but my goal this year is to get rid of stuff. There was this army green stretcher/ cot for $15. It was so cool looking.
So would I recommend Community Forklift? Of course, I may go there if I can replace some of my current radiators with some shorter (there is a height problem in my house) ones AND if the ones at BK are too pricey. Maybe pick up some doors.

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

August 5th market take home

August 5th market take home
Originally uploaded by In Shaw.
All this $16. The most expensive thing were the cherries at $1.99 a pound. The Dupont Circle market tells me that cherries are out of season, so I was suprised to see these at Kangs and at the Mexican fruit stand. I wanted to get fish but this is the end of the week for the fish and it was on the smelly side. Maybe I should go down to the fish market, Not today, but some other time when I'm in the mood to cut and freeze.

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Friday, August 04, 2006

5 good things about small space living

1. Less area to cool and heat.
2. I barely keep the 1,000 or so square feet I do have clean. Imagine if I had more rooms to clean!
3. When I lose/ misplace stuff, there are only so many places it could be.
4. Forces me to be creative. Okay, maybe that isn't always a good thing.
5. Limits the amount of crap I can accumulate. Besides the floor, the garbage seems like a nice new home.

Anyone got anything they want to add? (please keep in line with the comment policy)

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Misc stuff along R St.

Anyone notice the poles going up by the Waltha Daniels Library? By the R St exit of the Shaw metro. I wonder what this means for the homeless summer camp over there. I'm going to take a wild guess that the property is going to be secured to start some construction project that will take several million tax dollars and a few years (maybe decades) to complete.
Also the building formerly known as Dave's Seafood on the corner of NJ & R is getting a lot of work done and the owner would like to lease it so it is either a coffee shop or a white table cloth eatery. If you know anyone wanting to open either, contact the owner.

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No Greenroof for you!

Can't say I didn't try. Knowing that it would be the most expensive part of my planned rehab, I wanted it anyway. But the headache of trying to find someone to do it and an email from someone else who also investigated the possibility, seem to point to one conclusion, no green roof for me.
My house is too old, too small, and too structurally screwed up. Yes, I did contact DC Greenworks. That's where the too old part comes in. My roof is not green roof ready and they had no guidance for me. I contacted another resident, Emily, and she was told by a green design company that for small flat roof homes a green roof wasn't worth it.
Well, that was depressing.
Anyone got any ideas? I guess I will investigate how to make the house more energy efficient with better windows and toilets and appliances. And maybe see if I can make 1/2 of the roof a rooftop garden.
Anyway back to the drawing board.
Update: Welcome Express Readers. Thanks Jimbo for the heads up. And no, I will not be having any prairie chickens on my roof.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

AV sold: The end of mediocre Italian food as we know it

Gallery Place and Mt. Vernon Square have reported it here, and here respectively. You have until 2007 before your NY Ave options are hanging with leathery men at the DC Eagle bar or getting trapped in Marrakesh for a couple of hours.

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