Plugged Back In To Matrix

Never have I so jonesed for a smart phone as I did for my refurbished iPhone 5s after the Blackberry died. Accordingly, my phone was the only one of the four that were mailed to us that couldn’t be left at the doorstep by the mail carrier, and I forgot to take the pick-up slip to work with me the following day, and then I forgot to take the SIM card with me back to the office so I could activate the new phone after my lunch-time sprint to the post office, and then I forgot to bring a paperclip or something similar with me so that I could open the SIM slot and put in the card while I was waiting to pick up TeenBot from his job, and then the lead from the pencil I used to open the slot broke in the phone when I was trying to get the card back out so I could write down its number (the phone refusing to serve up this info until I could offer it wi-fi or a cellular connection to the world). I was in such bad shape that my 16 year-old rightly chastised me for being overly dependent on my smart phone. Happily, I found a paper clip in my car while waiting for my dinner partner to meet me at the Red Lobster last night, and thus I was reconnected to the zeitgeist.

(I trust it will not violate the Hatch Act if I say that I got all weepy listening to the coverage of Hillary Clinton being nominated by the Democratic Party. I genuinely believe I would have felt the same had she been a Republican. I guess it’s like my reaction to reading about women being admitted to combat roles in the military – it just touched a raw spot and made me sob out of nowhere. It feels good to see those doors opening after a lifetime of knowing they were closed.)

Tomorrow I’ll be going to an open house for would-be election officers. The city of Alexandria is offering us “patriotic refreshments.” I assume they don’t mean corn whisky or hard cider, but I’ll go anyway.


Today in Alexandria

Today in Alexandria I volunteered with a Presidential campaign phone bank. I was stunned by the power of autodial technology and also by the number of people who (a) did not want to say which candidate they supported or (b) were watching football. I begin to suspect I really am out of touch with the political pulse of the nation. I may need to call in Muppet Labs to study the matter in greater depth.

Today in Alexandria my next-door neighbors are having a party. About once every two or three months the music from next door cranks until the wee hours and we hear sounds of dancing. I am starting to think the music may be live and that maybe our neighbors are hosting house concerts.

This evening (also in Alexandria) Mouse and TeenBot parked in the basement with me while Dino Spouse napped on the living room couch to the sweet sounds of “Snapped” after watching “Unfriended” on demand.

I don’t watch the candidate debates for either party because I dislike listening to staged arguments. If I can’t have some Lincoln-Douglas action or “Hamilton”-style rap battles, I want none of it. So I was going to work on writing an essay and/or a call to arms for a new federalist papers project, but I watched the premiere of “Mercy Street” instead. Now I have resorted to blogging about my day and listening to the neighbors’ musical stylings. I believe this is a sign from Providence that I should do the damn dishes instead. So is the fact that Mouse just edited this post.


A Tree Grows In Alexandria

Last week we went to South Carolina for Podrostok‘s graduation from Army Basic Training. While we were away, Red Brick Town reported the appalling news that someone had chopped down the West End’s signature evergreen tree.

It was growing out of a WALL in traffic! People decorated it! It was awesome! (Photo poached from Red Brick Town.)

By the time we got back and saw Mouse in the Frances C. Hammond Middle School production of “A Christmas Carol” December 3-4, someone had posted a sign reading “NOT COOL, BRO” where the proud tree once grew. Soon a shrine grew around the poster. In response to public outcry over the city’s decision to chop down and remove the tree, the city government and the owner of the nearby Landmark Mall planted a new tree across the street. The city issued a Dr. Seuss-inspired statement on its Facebook page. The new tree is already being decorated. I’m still mourning the old tree, though I do appreciate the references to “Who-fficials” and “Who-reaucrats” in the city’s statement.

Polarize Vortex

It’s cold and that means I will never, ever get to work on time again. I appreciate the desire of the Alexandria City Public Schools to safeguard my kids and their teachers and all, but I’m not sure that pre-emptive surrender to the elements with a third day of two-hour delayed start is necessary. I guess we’ll find out whether they were right tomorrow. That reminds me to open up the kitchen hot water tap a smidge before I go to bed so that my dishwasher and washing machine don’t refuse to operate in the morning.

I value my right to snark as much as the next Francophile, really I do, and I don’t condone terrorists killing French satirists one bit. But I’m bent out of shape that I have heard so little about the attempted bombing of the NAACP office in Denver. In additon to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, things that were important than a likely domestic terror incident on WTOP tonight included the polar vortex and, I don’t remember, some beauty tips or something. I’m not saying it had to lead the news, but some coverage would have been in order.

On a completely different set of notes, it appears that the cat has once again peed on an upholstered chair in my living room. DAMN IT, KITTY. There’s no tell-tale liquid spots, just that awful smell stuck in my nose. Aaaand for some reason Northern Virginia Community College’s extended payment plan accepts every credit card except Visa. What the hey, NoVA? I’m signing up for Biology 101 so I can see if my dreams of becoming a doctor or physician’s assistant in retirement match up with my actual academic skill set. It has been 24 years or so since I last took a college science class or, come to think of it, any college type class at all.

Of No Particular Interest

  • The plus of living in a 1940’s townhouse is the way the windows are placed to create good cross-ventilation.
  • The minus of same is that, with the windows open, our neighborhood gets a lot noisier. Between the little kids outside yelping and the neighbor lady having a high-volume phone conversation in some other tongue, Mouse is having trouble concentrating on her studies. (This may also have something to do with the fact that she stayed up almost all night last night while “sleeping” over with a friend.)
  • Mouse frets a lot when she hasn’t had enough sleep.
  • Another minus of 1940’s construction is that our kitchen and bathroom venting is almost entirely passive. There’s a sort of exhaust fan on the oven, but there’s no fan in the bathroom. This means that my living room now reeks of burnt cooking oil, and the bathroom paint is peeling.
  • I forgot the correct temperature for the cooking oil until I was halfway through making a batch of syrniki.
  • When Mouse is fretful she wants a lot of reassurance about her homework.
  • We’re supposed to go to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria today and get a new cat.

Alexandria Stuff

The new Global Food on North Beauregard Street (where the Giant was) is – so far – clean and packed with an impressive international array of produce, spices, beauty and health products, and snacks. Big Russian Soul shout-out for the outstanding selection of Euro-food and Middle Eastern options in addition to the usual mix of Asian and Hispanic goodies. It’s good to have a local alternative to Russian Gourmet for some of the basics.

Some jackass stole my daughter’s bike on Saturday. She was playing with a friend near Holmes Run Stream and had left her bike up closer to the playground. Remarkably, the police came to our house to take a report within 30 minutes of me calling to report the theft, and they actually recovered the bike within three hours. It was pretty impressive. Is this typical for Alexandria City Police? Gosh, I hope so. The bike needed some minor repairs, but it was back in working order by evening. We bought her a bike lock.

It’s lovely that swimming pool season is here, but the only outdoor city pool within walking distance of my home is the one at Ewald Park. It doesn’t look like that pool has been open since 2010 or so. Harrumph. Good thing my kids all still have friends who live in apartment complexes with pools or belong to private pools.