Archive for October, 2010

Capital Bikeshare

I am in love with Capital Bikeshare and I want to shout it from the mountain tops!  The bikeshare system, called CaBi (still not sure how that is pronounced…Bee or Bye?) is an update of DC’s previous attempt at bikeshare called SmartBike DC (of which I was not a member).  It was the first of its kind in the US, and modeled after Paris’s Velib and Montreal’s Bixi.  Other bikesharing systems have since popped up in the US including Minneapolis’ Nice Ride and the oh-so-cleverly named Denver Bike Sharing.

The premise is much like ZipCar if you are familiar with that.  Basically, throughout the city 1,100 bright red bikes sit on the sidewalks just begging to be used.  You can buy a daily, monthly or yearly pass (which I have), insert the fob or code and borrow a bike.  Take it wherever you like.  The first 30 minutes are free and really, any where you want to go will take less than 30 minutes, and you have the option to put the bike up and get another bike halfway through your trip if you need to.  When you are done, find the nearest station and secure the bike and you are on your way.

I like this system for so many reasons.

1. Transportation Options.  Yes, I have my own bike and commute with it most days.  But some mornings I have meetings that are metro accessible but not really bike accessible, so I’ll end up at work without a bike.  Easy.  I’ll just take one from the rack out the back door of the office.  I can get most of the way home and have a .40 mile walk which is nothing to complain about.  The bikes are perfect for short trips around my neighborhood, too, because to get around my areas of play requires Metrorail transfers and general out-of-the-wayness…this is so much faster.  And fun!!

Sometimes I meet up with friends and it just isn’t easy to say, bar hop, while moving my bike around the city.  Or if I know a cab ride is needed at some point in the evening.  Kind of like that obnoxious commercial, you “set it and forget it”.  You know sometimes when you park your car it is always in the back of your head where you’ve parked it?  Well, that never happens with CaBi.  You can fill your head with other stuff.

Mostly well covered by CaBi

2. User Stats!!  I love the user stats that I’ve found on the internet.  You know I’m addicted to my own blog stats, but this is just as bad, mixing my professional love of transportation and logistics and efficiency.  Exactly the reason I got into planning and especially parking.  I love this Bike-o-Meter that compares real time bike sharing system usage throughout the world.  Some mornings right after I wake up, I roll over in bed, grab the phone and look at the usage maps because I want to capture the pre-commute patterns.  I’m such a dork.

3. Mobile device apps.  To really be able to use CaBi in an efficient way, you need to be able to see the real time stats of each station.  I use SpotCycle (free app), which seems to be the favorite, though there are others.  Why is this almost necessary?  Using my phone I know where there are available bikes and available spots at that exact moment.  During the infancy of the system, some racks are 100% full or 100% empty while they work out the kinks.  Usually there is another station not far away, but if I did not know ahead of time that would be extremely frustrating to show up needing a bike and there wasn’t one.  Some days throughout the day I just check in with the app map even though I have no intention of riding at that moment…I just like to see what the travel trends are.  Yes, I’m clearly in the right profession.

4. The bikes.  The entire user interface is pretty easy to use.  Slip the fob in, it gives you a green light, you take the bike (sometimes I have trouble pulling it out, but I get it eventually).  So easy they should be worried that the monkeys at the National Zoo might take them for a spin because there is a station so close.  But the bikes are pretty easy to use, too.  All bikes have lights, a bell and a basket area to hold stuff.  They come with front and back lights that just light up when it is needed.  Magic! It is also DC law to have a bell, and I think that’s one of my favorite parts!  Seriously, these are fab.  They only have three gears, and I’ve never used two of them since I mostly stay in the flat areas.  And they are heavy and sturdy and some men have told me that the seats sit funny on their man-parts, but of course I do not have that problem.

There are already 3,000 users and climbing each day.  I follow Greater, Greater Washington for my news and updates about the success of the system and attempts to get them on the National Mall and other National Park Service land (apparently a lot harder than you would think).  Now that the Union Station CaBi stations are installed, Corey has been preaching the good word, so I’ve been getting news from him, too.   At two parties this weekend I could hear him across the room proselytizing and trying to convince people to sign up.  And if you live in the DC area and are not signed up, what are you waiting for?  The $50 per year deal ends in a few days, so hurry it up!  And if you are just visiting, think about getting a day pass and seeing the city on a bike.

 

Riding a CaBi bike in front of the White House

Riding a CaBi bike in front of the White House

One question…I found this station (below) in the secure area of the White House, yet they are not available for public use and are not shown on my app.  And the station map clearly says “White House” so they are not being stored for later.  What is this about?  I think it’s cool that enough folks working at the White House would require a station of their own and I’m all about awareness for such a great system on a Federal level, but really, what gives?

White House CaBi restricted station

White House CaBi restricted station

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Bathroom Evolution

Now that the bathroom is totally done, and I mean totally done for now, I would like to share some photos.  This puppy has come a loooong way.  When I bought the house, the floor joists under the toilet were so rotted out that the toilet was sinking.  I was scared to use it!  I had a contractor replace the joists and put in a new subfloor, which I then tiled.  I was quite proud of myself if you recall.

Here is what it looked like when I walked through for the second time ever, before I was under contract.

Then the subfloor was put in and the baseboards removed…

Then the tiling….

Then we moved in and enjoyed it for awhile.  This is what that looked like, thanks to the little cabinet that Emily D loaned us…

It held lots of junk.

So we took out the cabinet, put it in the hallway and started to build.  Before making the plans, I started with picking out the door.  It took me 2.5 hours at Community Forklift.  That is the greatest place ever.  My measuring tape and I fondled every shutter, door and window that looked like reasonable candidates for this space.

I was so thrilled when I found this door.  It looked classic and old and special…

I brought it home.  Then Rob told me it came from Ikea and the little European hinges confirmed it.  Deflated because I thought I found something special.  Fine then…I’ll make it special!  The plans and building continued and I bought all the plywood my little Honda could hold.

And it started with this box.  I thought I was so brilliant for coming up with the scale and toilet paper holder, measured so perfectly.  Roy helped with the math to get six shelves, two of each for three different sizes, perfect for a roommate situation.  The math was not the fun part, which is why I called in a Ph.D. scientist.

And the building and playing with tools continued…this is why you do not play with a circular saw inside your house.

Apparently I got really busy or bored taking photos because I do not have any after the priming, caulking (with a silicone caulk, which by the way, means waterproof AND paint proof.  Oh, well!) or painting.  The carpenter finished off the baseboards because they needed a professional’s touch, but I puttied, sanded and painted those (on Saturday morning a few hours before the housewarming party).  He also hung the door because I was afraid to drop it.  I put a translucent “frosted” type glass thing on it to match the window…which really means to mask our personal stuff.

The project took me about ten weeks of non-dedicated work and about $135 of materials.  That’s kind of expensive, but for 10 weekends of entertainment, that’s not so much.  A bargain at $13.50 per weekend!  And that is the finished product….!  I also put in a new sink, new faucet, new mirror, new toilet paper holder (expensive buggers!) and a new lighting fixture (hung twice), and now it’s excellent.  Mom made that awesome linen curtain while she was here for Labor Day.  You can’t see it, but the built-in goes all the way to the ceiling and there is a linen curtain hiding a storage area, too.  If I were better prepared, I would have a photo of that right now but I don’t.  Maybe I will add that when I get it.

I have one or two more decorative things I want to do in this space, but for now it is livable and cozy and fabulous.

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So Much!

I’ve started three different posts that I have yet to finish so it feels like I have been writing here more than I have.  So sorry, folks.  For the last three weekends and weeks I’ve been busy preparing for the housewarming party and getting the house settled, and it finally is!  Every box is unpacked and the major projects are finished.  The housewarming was a great success and my house feels very warm thanks to all my friends, old and new, who came to celebrate.  Thanks to everyone who helped, especially Aunt Bonnie on Saturday morning, and thanks to everyone who came out and made it such a fun evening.  Once I finish getting it cleaned up I’ll take a few photos and share.

In the meantime, there are several things I wanted to tell you about that are happening…

  • Tonight, our dear friend Laura from Subsidized Corn will be on Jeopardy.  You should check it out and root for her!
  • Friday night is one of WIT’s biggest shows of the year to celebrate the rally on Saturday.  If you are in town, you should come!  Both the 8:00 and the 10:00 shows look so awesome that I can’t decide which one to go to.  It will be in Rosslyn at a 220 seat theater (Artisphere), and totally worth the trip across the river.
  • Saturday is the rally in which I will be marching to restore sanity, not to keep fear alive.  This event is going to be big and awesome and I’m not prepared in the least.  Costumes and witty signs are encouraged, but as of now, I have none. Suggestions appreciated.
  • Costume house parties on Friday and Saturday night, which should be a blast.  I have a fabulous 1970s vintage dress that I will pair with an afro and just be not-me for a weekend.
  • Sunday morning is the Marine Corps Marathon in which I’m going to volunteer with PUSH America.  Basically, I’ll be in a tent welcoming the runners as they finish.  Pretty easy, and the more the merrier so if you are interested, let me know and you can join!

I think that is all that is going on right now.  Whew!  Good thing my room is clean and organized so I can spend my time doing these fun activities rather than unpacking my boxes like I’ve done for the last few weekends!  I have never in my entire life been so organized!  It feels wonderful.  I even have an art center to do some art.  With a schedule like this, though, when can I find time to do art?!?

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Garden Tour

Sunday, despite all the things on my house to-do list, I took a little field trip to see the White House Gardens.  The garden, or grounds really, is only open twice per year.  It was a perfect little field trip on a gorgeous Sunday morning.

Highlights of the tour included the famous vegetable garden, swing set, rose garden and putting green.  My favorite part of all was the White House Bee Box.  Pretty cool.  The swing set made it really feel like two little girls lived there…you could almost imagine them running out the back door to the swing set with their friends after school. And judging by the photos they had on display, it seems that Hillary did a lot of ceremonial planting.  Who knew?

It was nice to see what was behind the gates that sit in the middle of my favorite city.  Plus, it is always a good feeling to actually take advantage of some of the tourism items that we have to offer instead of waiting for out-of-town visitors to show around.  Thanks to Whitney for hooking Corey up with the tickets.  The Gang was all there and that includes Corey, Corby, Jason and Andrew, for those of you unfamiliar with this bunch.  I’m not in The Gang, nor do I want to be in The Gang because wanting to be in The Gang is Whit’s role.   After the tour, Corey and I took our CaBi (another post about Capital Bikeshare is forthcoming) to Taylor Street for lunch then walked home.  It was a lovely morning.

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He Said, She Said of Online Dating. Part I: The Profile

Here it is, Part I of our multi-part refresher on online dating.  You can read his intro and his Part I: The Profile
(which is exactly the same as below, but you can read it to verify that if you have the time…and if you have the time you should let me know so you can come to my house and help me paint instead.)

I steer clear of profiles that say…

She said: Any thing lewd, disgusting or overtly sexual (ewww).  I don’t like the boring, uncreative profiles that sound like all the others, either.  (Yeah, we get it, you travel and like to read.  Next!) If they love the suburbs or sound “suburban”, I steer clear.  (I’m such a city snob.) I’m not a huge fan of “LOL” or 😉 faces, and if used to excess, I’m out (use your words!).  I can hear my mother’s voice in my head telling me I’m too picky!  Oh, well!  I know what I want.

He said: Years ago I had a list of things I was looking for.  Eventually I realized I don’t need or want a list.  These are more guidelines than hard and fast rules.  So…

Rescue me!  Dude, nothing turns me off faster than a woman who says she wants a man to take care of her.  There’s an element of that in any relationship.  It’s a 2 way street.  I’ve had a couple of relationships where the woman expected me to plan nights out, do ‘man things’ around the house, put oil in her car, etc.  I’m more than willing to do all that but not exclusively while she sits on the couch and watches TV.  People need to help themselves too.

Nothing about physical activity.  Many people check the box that they like to do outdoor things or say they like being outside.  I’ll call bullshit.  This is where you gotta read between the lines.  My experience is that if she doesn’t mention it in her personal write-up, it’s not a big thing.  I’m looking for someone who likes to be outside of their own accord and on a regular basis.

Sentences in all CAPS, a list of things she doesn’t want, talks about how guys are dicks, or exudes hate…  Doesn’t matter how hot she is or great the other qualities are.  These are surefire signs that someone is too negative, controlling or wants to be a victim.  We’ve all experienced landmines in the dating game, if you want to feel victimized, jaded, and are negative about life, thanks for letting me know I should stay away.

“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” or “I never thought I’d be on here.” I’m guessing none of us on a dating website thought we’d be here.  But we’re all here in the same boat.   Embrace it.

Start with, “insert witty phrase here.” Take a chance at being creative.  Everyone is creative in their own unique way.  That’s what makes us all snowflakes.

Hardcore religion.  If you’re profile mentions God is the most important person in your life, we’re not meant to be.  I am spiritual, believe in God, don’t go to church.  I follow pieces of many religions.

Someone who is separated or has kids.  Too complicated for my simple life.  An exception is made for Blake Lively.

If she lives more than 10 miles away.  There are hundreds of women fitting what I’m looking for living in the immediate area so no need to go further.  I’ve dated some amazing women in say Philly or Richmond but the juice was just not worth the squeeze.  I try long distance dating about once a year. Guess I think something will change.  It hasn’t yet.

She replied: Wow.  That’s quite a non-list, Mike!  And I thought I had a huge list of qualifiers!  (To be exact, my list is 22 items long, but I lost it in the move so I’ve been unable to reference it.  No worries though because I’ve since realized it is all about chemistry and how someone makes me feel).  I pretty much assume the religion, separation, and long distance thing is unspoken.  Same for college degrees and smoking.  All this intel is making want to go back and read my profile!

He replied: Don’t think I mentioned it before…my profile contains about 5 general qualities I’d like to find in a woman.  I stayed away from listing things I’m NOT looking for.  I tend to be direct and that doesn’t always translate well so instead of saying “I’m looking for these 5 things,” I said something along the lines of, “I enjoy spending time outside with friends and family” or “I prefer to get my drama from episodes of the Jersey Shore.”.  No matter how I did it, the idea was to always stay positive.

Profiles that catch my eye…

She said: Show some bit of creativity.  And I’m a huge fan of proofreading!  The profile does not need to be brilliantly written or entertaining; it just has to show some unique characteristic or passion that separates them from the pack.  And if the guy is excessively tall, that catches my eye.  There, I said it.  Is it so wrong to want to feel like a lady?  But don’t get me started on the tiny girls that want tall guys.   Grrrrr.

He said:

Honesty.

Cleavage or skin.  I’m a guy.  I notice.  Of course if you don’t have pictures of cleavage that doesn’t exclude you.  If all your pics are of you lounging by the pool in a bikini, that’s great to look at, but tells me you’re probably not what I’m looking for.  I want someone who is active, likes to go out on the weekends, playing and watching sports so I look for pics that show a range of activities.

People who talk about doing outdoor things in their personal narrative.  I like getting dressed up as much as the next guy, but I also like going out and playing in nature on the weekends.  Someone I’ll end up with will probably own at least one piece of fleece clothing.  One time I was talking to a really hot friend of a friend at a bar.  Conversation was going really well and out of the blue she mentioned she could never go anywhere without a hair dryer. Totally deflated the conversation and within 30 seconds I was out of there.  I’ve learned that it is just not what I’m looking for.

Creativity, funny picture, witty write-up, humor.  If you make me laugh out loud I’m hooked.  I sent a message to a woman yesterday because she mentioned Hot Dog the Movie!.  If you’ve never seen this fine piece of 80’s cinema…you’re missing out.  It’s a hilarious movie.

She replied: Cleavage?!?  Who knew?  Seriously, this was news to me.  I think I have winter coats on in my profile photos!  Which, I guess if you know me you know that’s pretty much my style….maybe that explains the singleness?  I thought putting cleavage in photos attracted the wrong guy or sent some messages I did not want to send.  This is definitely helpful.  I’m money on the funny photos and creativity, so I’m all good there.

He replied: Good points Megan.  I don’t use LOL but occasionally used 😉 or !.  I’m secretly a 10 year old girl that’s into Miley Cyrus, rainbows and hosting tea parties.

How did you write your profile?

She said: One night I was feeling kind of lazy, so I did this verb thing.  For example, the questions were “On a typical Friday night you are…” and I just listed a bunch of verbs without descriptions (aka, lazy).  I said they could ask me for the rest of the sentence or send me some interesting choices of their own.  Turns out, that was a pretty good trick and I’ve gotten some creative replies!  Yet another example of how I’ve been able to work laziness to my advantage.  Score.

He said: On  a keyboard.

Honesty is so key to writing the profile.  There’s no sense in stretching the truth to the rest of the online dating community.  I don’t want to waste my time attracting someone who is attracted to a fake me.  Truth always comes out eventually.  On another note, writing a profile is like fishing.  Gotta know the right bait to use to catch the fish you’re after.  Use the incorrect bait and you’ll keep catching catfish instead of trout.

I’m a peacock.  For example, these are my last 2 dating profile pics:  These pictures really describe me.  I’m more comfortable outside in shorts and flip flops.   If someone thinks I look like an idiot dressed like that, totally cool and I don’t want to be with them.


Humor is important to me so I weave a little bit in.  I like to make people laugh so for me it’s honest.  At least make it interesting.

Leave threads for the woman to pull by picking a few things to drop in your profile that are interesting and leave room for her to ask questions.   For example, if you’ve traveled the world, leave it at that.  Then she has room to ask where, favorite place visited…

Ask open-ended questions.  Can you see us together?  Do you like long walks in the park, a man that can cook, dogs, flowers and sunny days in the park, Miley Cyrus, tea parties?

End with an invitation.  “If this sounds interesting drop me a line.”

She replied: Laziness is honesty, right?  Ha!  The humor thing is tough because everyone thinks they are funny.  No one writes “I have a bad sense of humor” or “I find sadness in everyday experiences”.  And I like the idea of leaving bits for people to ask you about.  That’s how you know they read it and understood your profile.

He replied: I prefer to think of it as efficient instead of lazy.  I’m going to steal your verb idea and see how it works.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

 

And there you have it folks.  Got any questions about what to say or post in your profile?  Leave a note in the comments section and we’ll answer them.  Next part: the communication.  Thanks for reading!

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He Said, She Said: Online Dating

You guys remember Hawaii Mike of backwards hat and top-down-on-the-jeep fame, right?  (That statement was so Kickette of me and I’m proud of it).  We are improv buds and his troupe Just Moxie and my troupe have been performing together on the same circuit.  Our troupes, along with Hot & Sweaty, had two great shows on Saturday night and thanks to all of you who went all the way to Ballston to support us!

Well, exactly two months ago, HiM (henceforth short for Hawaii Mike) posted this blog article on his Embassy of Aloha Press Releases about his reluctant and curious foray into online dating world.  As a veteran of the online and very real dating world, I was curious of his thoughts and I suggested doing a joint “He Said, She Said” article about online dating preferences.  (I’m always looking for guest bloggers, so hit me up if you want to contribute.)  Since both of us are enjoying some dating adventures I thought that would be entertaining for you, dear readers.

HiM and me hiking last spring

HiM and me hiking last spring

Fast forward two months to last Friday when I posted my rules for not putting boy talk on my blog, and of course the next day Mike tells me he’s writing the shared article.  So here I am, conflicted about posting information about my dating life!  In the name of research I’m taking one for the team and putting the Boy Talk Rule on hold for this post (and technically, the zen two word title rule, too).  I am sacrificing for a.) the boys who have to deal with me or people like me online and b.) the boys who have to deal with online dating on their own and they just don’t get it.  Umm, you’re welcome?  Online dating is a lot about marketing, so you either get it or you don’t.  Hopefully the “she said” part of this blog is helpful to all the young lads who want to learn how to snag a fabulous, if picky, lady like myself.

And, as human nature has it, I also have a motive.  Uh, let’s see, a fine guy like HiM is offering to give me the readers some male perspective on the online dating world.  Sign me up.  I mean, that’s for all the ladies out there hoping to catch a fine man like HiM.  You’d be so lucky.  Plus, I’ve had a few requests from friends asking if I could help them with their profile.  Maybe HiM’s insights will be helpful to them, too.

That’s the background information.  The post got really long, so we’re breaking it into a few posts.  So stay tuned for our brain child of “He Said, She Said” of online dating….it’s gonna be a doozie!!

 

 

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Fleeting Questions

Sometimes I feel like I have ADD.  My focus is all over the place.  One reason I really enjoy writing this blog is to help me focus and organize my thoughts.  Here are some of the questions that went through my head today…

  • When is the best time to paint steps that are your only way into and out of the house?
  • What exactly does an urban designer do that a planner or architect with similar skills cannot do?
  • Will my right rear car tire explode on the way to a business meeting tomorrow morning?
  • Where does one get new tires anyway?
  • Can I get my to-do list done before next weekend?
  • Who sings this song?
  • Should I leave the office if the fire alarm is going off upstairs?
  • What are the decorating rules for lamp purchases?
  • Will my colleague get fleeced in this side business deal for a letter that I am editing?
  • Can I get some feed back in class?
  • What food and drinks are best (easiest) for baby BK’s shower and does it all have to be organic?
  • How long is too long for a blog post?
  • What am I going to say to this guy at our lunch meeting?
  • How much painting can I get done in a weekend?
  • What is the best way to clean fan blades?
  • Who would be there to give me a hug if I were surfacing from being trapped in a mine for two months?
  • What would I be doing in a mine?

If you know any answers to the above questions, please let me know.  I would appreciate it.

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