March 2011 Archives

Oakland sucks

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Well when it comes to urban farming. I read Novella Carpenter's Farm City, I thought she was a little over doing it with the pig raising, but fresh veggies in the 'hood, all good. Well not so according to the city of Oakland.

LAYC section 8 looking for support

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See the BACA blog's report here. It just won't die! I like my charter schools to be in the education business not the housing business. I don't mind a model like SEED, where there are student only dorms, but what was proposed was a completely different thing.

Peas and Salad

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I should try to measure how much food I actually grow, but that won't happen because I do have the habit of grazing in the yard. When I say grazing, I mean looking at a plant, ripping off something, and eating it. I've done that with strawberries, peas, arugula, purslane, string beans, and some salad greens.

Strawberries never make it into the house, they are eaten on sight.

This week I was able to make a decent salad for us from what's in the front and rear yards. In the front is a window box of semi-forgotten baby-sized salad greens. I threw those seeds in sometime around fall and have been cutting back a little here and there. I need to cut back more so the survivors (did I cover them during the snow and the ice? No!) can get bigger. In the rear there are a bunch of little mache plants and I cut back on some and just took leaves from others. And then there is this one small head of lettuce (forgot name) that I could just chop but instead I grabbed two leaves and threw it in with the mache.

My biggest problem with growing the mache is the f'ing squirrels. They dig in the pots. I have to have some mesh over the pot to protect them.

In all I think I got a little less than 1/4 of a lb of lettuce.

I'm also growing peas. I didn't cover them for the cold snap. I'm letting them fend for themselves. My gardening philosophy is getting Nietzschen.  Supposidly the thinings are edible.

Lot on 1st and P


Just fooling around on Redfin I noticed a lot, that the Redfin map has it downtown near Union Station. But reading the directions it says it is at 1st and P NW near the corner store on Square 615. I take it this is for the spot where someone parks near Steve's Market.

What attracted me to this was the price $39,900.

Misc Tuesday

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The Giant is supposed to be goin' down in late Summer according to the City Market at O Street blog. We'll see.

We passed by the proposed Shaw's Tavern at 6th and Florida NW last night. According to Left for LeDriot, they are to open in June. Peering inside the windows they still have a ways to go with the building. Also do they have a ABC (ABRA) liscense? (Also see PoP's post about it here)

Also while we were walking noticed that Zee's Restaurant was not open. It was about 8PM on a Monday. Are they not open on Mondays?

And some other thing I noticed on Florida, at Florida and 3rd, there is a bit of clean up and hammer swinging going on. I also spotted once the fellow whose name I can not pronounce or spell (but I do remember he has one of the best behaved kids I've ever met) who I and another neighbor fought regarding a pop-up at 1721 4th St NW. Anyways he (Mr. Hosseinkhani) looked like he was supervising. Hopefully he'll be able to attract a commerical tenant, maybe a restaurant as there is some excellent open space within the fence. I have no clue what his plans are, but I wish him the best and hope that his rents will be reasonable.

I write 'reasonable' because of something I heard in party discussions at the Bloomingdale Wine Social, which was fun and excellent. There was discussion about development in and around Bloomindale/ Eckington and one of the topics was landlords. I've heard it before but there are some crazy unreasonable commerical landlords around, and that's why some areas probably won't get developed or improved anytime soon. Some landlords want Downtown DC rents for what are essentially shells.

Modern Census Fun and Gentrification

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The Washington Post has an article today written by Du Lac and Schwartzman that I don't hate. I was worried when I saw the byline, as previous articles by Paul Schwartzman years back would go on the tired narrative of 'new whites bad, old blacks good'. But what is best about "On Barry's old block, a changing landscape" is the census map. Online there is a map you can play with at and I've been playing with it for hours, mainly because it seems Firefox has issues with it.
Looking at my own block, which I believe is census tract 46, there have been some changes, and the most dramatic going by race happened between the 2000 and 2010 census. or the heyday of this blog. African Americans still make up the majority of Truxton and the other parts of Shaw east of 7th St. in 2010, but not as much as when it was 1990 and 2000. In the TC (Truxton Circle part of Shaw) the neighborhood was over 90% black. Now it is about over 60%, the latino, white and asian population over here exploded. But really the most interesting thing I found happened with numbers between 1990 and 2000. In census tract 46(?) group 1 went from 1270 people in 1990 down to 1144 in 2000; group 2 2353 to 1853. So between 1990 and 2000 a whole bunch of people left prior to the wave of gentrification between 2000 and 2010. So black folks were trending out of the neighborhood, making me wonder if there was no influx of non-blacks into the neighborhood would Shaw have continued to lose people, like some parts of Ward 8.
And speaking of Wards, I'm sure you've played with Greater Greater Washington's Redistricting Game. Because of the demographic changes in the District documented by the 2010 Census the political boundaries are going to change. Ward 8 needs more people and Ward 2 has too many. Question is will parts of Shaw join Ward 5? What will this mean for parking and policing (note how the police districts closely align with ward boundaries)? Will Jack Evans dump the chronically poor (Shaw) and keep the temporarily poor (college students in G'town and Foggy Bottom)?
Yesterday I was remarking to a friend that yes, I don't post as much as I used to because a) being newly married is distracting and b) most of the dramatic stories of gentrification, as you can tell with the census numbers, has already occurred. That great turnover in the early and mid aughts pretty much done. The great gentrification stories are now in Bloomingdale/Eckington. Not that there isn't any change going on in Shaw, it is still going on, but slowly, like O Street Market slow. Yeah, yeah, any day now.....

Falling apart

Langston School
Take a look at the top floor and that window. This building is slowly rotting away. You can see it with the windows as the paint peels and the frames slowly give and buckle.

Excellent Article on Gentrification and DC

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If you haven't seen it you need to. "Confessions of a Black Gentrifier" by Shani O. Hilton that appeared in the City Paper is one of the better articles on demographic change called gentrification looking at black and some white newcomers. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

On jobs-"Simply put, for some of us, the Washington metro area is one of the best places to move to in the country. For the rest, not so much. Newcomers to D.C. of any race tend to arrive for the same kind of high-powered jobs, the kind of jobs you can't get without education and social capital. The people who are already struggling to find work when newcomers get here, though, are likely to be black."

On people of any race taking advantage of opportunities- "It's funny that he says "anybody," since the story that gets told most often is about an influx of whites taking advantage of low rents and high wages, displacing solid black communities that have occupied territory for generations. Yet black people of means--who certainly fit the category of "anybody"--do the same."

But my favorite statements in the whole piece quotes Decker Ngongang and Chris Wallace:

"I'm a black male in D.C. and I have never been to jail and I have a job. I can't help but be present to that," Ngongang says. He describes a recent outing when he took the day off from work: "I walked to the Starbucks at 14th and Irving and there may have been 100 black males that I passed who were doing nothing in the middle of the day." It's frustrating, he adds. "A lot of my black male peers are lost sometimes. What the hell do we do?"

Wallace doesn't have an answer, either. "I feel like a lot of the rampant unemployment is not due to lack of opportunities, it's due to lack of education."

The bolding and underlining is mine. There are jobs and opportunities in this city (compared to central Florida), that's why I moved to this area in the first place. However, you have to skills and education to take advantage of them.

One commenter gives Ms. Hilton some grief over this bit:

While D.C.'s black majority has never controlled the city's wealth, a strong black middle class developed during the middle of the last century thanks to federal government hiring. Although these positions were rarely high-level ones, they were dependable jobs with benefits--something hard to come by for people who were often the children of sharecroppers--and they're what some of us still laughingly refer to as "good gub'mint jobs."

One could question the metrics by which she measures and determines "the city's wealth". My aunts are the kids of the sharecroppers, and they've retired (though it's called the "R" word 'cause somebody doesn't want to be reminded she's old), one from a good non-profitish job and the other from teaching. My great uncle escaped the farms of NC to be a postal carrier in DC. My uncle started somewhere in an agency and wound up in the end being one of those overpaid contractors I like to complain about. The goodness of the guv'mint/ gub'mint was its stablity while you use that 1st one as a step on your way up. It is a pity when too many of us linger at the bottom of the stairwell.

I'm watching a corner. It is normally where the screaming teenagers hangout. At least one of the screaming teenagers lives on my street, close enough so the adult unit who cares for said screamer can walk out the door and scream the teen screamer back home. But recently I've noticed a crowd, of at least 4 men, ranging from late 20s to late 40s hanging out, displacing the screaming teens.

Now early on I want to squash the notion that hanging out on the corner is some cultural activity that should be respected. No. It is fine and dandy to hang out in front of your own house. Or on your own street. Unlike the teens, none of the adults look familiar, nor do they look like the homeless stopping for a break. No they look like men trying to set up a corner. I don't believe they live around here. If they did then they'd be close enough to walk back home to use their own bathrooms.

Also the screaming teenagers rarely if ever approached any passing cars or trucks stopped at the corner. Neither did the homeless have such a keen interest in vehicular traffic. I watched the group on the corner approach one car where the occupants were friendly and parked nearby to get out and socialize. But later one of the men also made a motion towards the truck of a neighbor who stopped for on coming traffic, then realizing something (like maybe this wasn't a customer, I'm just guessing), moved back.

Yes, I'm watching the corner. I don't want a re-establishment of the drug dealing that plagued this neighborhood years ago. There aren't as many safe houses for dealers to wander over and hang out in front of as there were years back. There aren't as many vacant houses. There is more pedestrian traffic. More owner occupied housing. Fewer crackheads. Residental parking enforcement now works, so there are things in place that would make re-establishing the dealing harder, but we still need to be vigilant.

Parking, it's not the businesses

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Regarding that whole "community meeting" thing singling out Big Bear, when you think about it businesses and even churches aren't the biggest problem, it's our neighbors, it's now me. We know that on Saturday (7th Day Adventists) near noon and Sunday between 9AM and 1PM, if the car is moved we shouldn't bother coming back until after 1, because parking is at a premium. We also know that people who visit the neighborhood, in this case for worship, eventually leave the neighborhood, freeing up parking. Our neighbors, stay and compete with us for spots. Their cars sometimes don't move from spots we've been eying for days. And everyone's preferred spot is the one right in front of their house.

The Help, who initally owned the car, noticed that on our street there are fewer parking spaces available. I suppose because the people on the other side of the street can park their cars in their backyards if they so chose. Could we park the car in our back yard? Yes, but then we couldn't have anything else back there. No patio furniture. No container gardening. No composter. Nothin' but car. I like my backyard as it is now and so we'd rather hunt for parking on the street or park when the spaces are plentiful.

Also there are more people with cars now. One household can have 3 cars. Mom's car, dad's car, and the teenagers'/adult children's living in the basement car. Then there is roommate #1's car, roommate #2's car and roommate #2's boyfriend's car. Yet it seems most households do take advantage of the walkabilty of the area and their situation and have just 1 car or no cars. But that's just my observation for my small area.

Getting back to the Big Bear and the Bloomingdale Farmer's Market, a topic not too far behind when Big Bear is paired with parking, as I remember there was a survey finding that most people walked or biked to the market. I suspect there are a bunch of people who live in the Bloomingdale/ Shaw area who walk or bike to the Big Bear, same with Rustik, I gather. These businesses make the neighborhood more attractive, which attracts people with cars to live here.

Jobs and expectations of city government

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I got a press release from an ANC, who isn't mine or even of ANC 5C, about Wal-Mart, Statehood and a march for jobs. Jobs. Jobs, decent ones like mine, seem to be much harder to come by than what a angry gathering can muster.
I must credit Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton for her efforts to keep as many Federal agencies in the District borders. But as one who works in a Federal agency, most of my co-workers from GS-5s to 13s live in the burbs. So though there are DC jobs, they aren't necessarily filled with DC people. With the company (Feds) of this company town gathering talent from all over the country and world (we call them contractors), what can realistically be expected from the municipal government in getting the locals employed?
According to the Dept of Labor's Career One Stop the top 10 jobs in DC are:
  1. Lawyers
  2. General and operations managers
  3. Management analysts
  4. Janitors and cleaners (except maids and house cleaners)
  5. Executive secretaries and administrative assistants
  6. Post-secondary teachers
  7. Security guards
  8. Office clerks, general
  9. Accountants and auditors
  10. Secretaries, except legal, medical and executive
The top 10 fastest jobs in DC proper are mostly IT jobs with some medical aides and specialist teachers thrown in. The jobs with the most openings run close to the list for top jobs with wait service with PR and customer service displacing Administrative Assistants, office clerks, and secretaries.
Those jobs where the barriers to entry are low, there is the added bonus of competing against younger versions of me from other parts of the nation, people happy to swipe up the entry level office and government job. Where the barriers are higher (lawyers, accountants, etc), I don't expect anything from DC except the opportunity for self motivated residents to go through UDC.
I would hope that the city not make its agencies a series jobs programs. Among all the script about the Brown, Gray, Green crazy crayola jobs for political favors fiasco there was an op-ed from a former head with the health agency Mr, Brown was temporarily at. As I remember the thrust of the article was that the duty of the health agency to DC residents was too important to go to unqualified persons. I say take that further, the duties of any agency that serves the residents of the District are too important to be handed over to the unqualified or the unwilling to get qualified.

Per Scott Robert's Bloomingdale Blog:

To: a bunch of people
Subject: Community Meeting Tonight March 14, 2011 at 7pm-- Harry Thomas Center, 1743 Lincoln Rd., NE

This is the follow-up to the meeting that was held on December 21st to discuss community concerns. This session is being conducted so the community can come to together and create solutions for the problems that have been identified, such as the parking issues due the Big Bear Cafe's extended hours and the closure of the 100 block of R St NW for the Bloomingdale Farmers Market.

Please attend, voice your concerns, and help to create and/or support solutions to resolve the issues that currently plague our community.

At tonight`s meeting, we will focus on residential issues. During a later meeting in the series, we will address commercial issues.

Date: Monday, March 14, 2011
Time: 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Place: Harry Thomas Recreation Center
1743 Lincoln Rd., NE
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: 2/ 576- 5642




What, that's the biggest problem over near the border of the TC and Bloomingdale, parking? I sense a rehash of old issues. Bloomy defenders of coffee and the farmers market, consider wandering over across N.Cap to voice your concern.

Thank You DCist for linking to the Girl Scout webpage pointing out where those little sweethearts are selling the goods. According to the site cookies will be available at or near Ben's Chili and Ben's Chile Bowl Saturday March 19th between 12 and 3pm. The worry I have is that they have Ben's listed at 1213 11th St NW, which is several blocks off from it's 1213 U St NW location. All I gotta say is save some Thin Mints for me.

Wednesday Morning Musings


Morning Muse

I was waiting for the bus by the Shaw/Howard station, looking across the street at the long line of dump trucks along 7th Street. Well 7th and R. There was one dump truck too many and that one was taking up the turn lane at 7th and R. Just sitting there. Until a guy with a clipboard was going up to each truck, yelling something at the drivers and having them move up, which allowed the truck taking up the turn lane to join the 7th Street conga line.

I was thinking, my dad would like this kind of work. My dad has a dump truck, and dumpy truck, and a backhoe, and a bunch of other heavy equipment. You see how little boys facinated with construction equipment, how their eyes light up, well that's my dad. He loves his work. I can drive a backhoe. Or at least I did once when I was a kid, when dad needed me to move some of his equipment and it was a family business, and I was family, and so thus I worked. Ah, child labor, fond memories. Going back to Florida and operating a backhoe, Plan B if this whole white collar thing doesn't work out.

Traffic passing the trucks was fine until someone in an SUV stopped 1/2 in the bike lane and half in the lane of traffic to drop someone off in front of that Reatig/UHOP building. I'm often looking up at the windows, wondering what's going on on the second floor, in what looks like a conference room. A link on the Reatig site says it's assisted living, but listed as mixed use, multifamily housing. The exterior is uninteresting, and thankfully so are the residents, unlike across the street at Lincoln-Westmoreland. Same goes for the S Street UHOP/Reatig housing, the residents are quiet. Which give hope that the next ugly building they'll plop down on Rhode Island will be filled with the same sort of people.

Voting Moved From Shiloh to Kennedy Rec

Hopefully you've heard. Councilman Jack Evans said, "The Board of Elections informed me that the requested polling place relocation has been completed and is effective beginning with the upcoming April 26, 2011 Special Elections. I am pleased that the voters will be able to travel to the Kennedy Recreation Center and cast their first votes in the April Special Election. In past elections, Shiloh served the community well and I would be amiss to not extend my appreciation to Shiloh for permitting voting there for many years." Please remember that a decent rec center was needed first.

If We Could Rent This Place For $2500, We'd be Landlords

PoP has a TC 2 bedroom condo featured going for $2400. I'm always looking for a 2nd income option and yes, there is a certain price I'm willing to relocate for, as much as I love my neighbors, financial security is a prority. Okay, $2500 really isn't it, but it does get my attention.

O Street Alley

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Regarding the Census project, I have all the censuses, censi, in one big honking Excel file, now I'm doing data clean up which means chucking out data like O Street Alley. Why is O Street Alley in my stash of data? Mainly because it is one of several alleys that I'm not to sure about the location of. There are a few things that have changed over the years. There is no Reeves Alley, currently what is there is the NorthWest Co-op. There isn't a 2nd Street in the TC area, what is there is Kirby. So when I got data for the 300-400 block of an O Street Alley, I guessed it was on my side of New Jersey Avenue.

I finally hiked over to the Washingtonia room at the MLK Library in Gallery Place and looked at a 1887 map to see if my chance an O Street Alley was listed. No. However looking at at Square 554, where O Street Alley would have been if it were east of NJ Ave, I didn't see enough structures that would indicate there being residences in the alley. But Sq. 512 seemed to say there were houses, even if the numbers don't line up nicely.

Sq 512 1887 

Friday Miscellany

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Suzane Reatig to Design More $%#@ in Shaw- DC Mud has some information about what this firm is going to throw up on Rhode Island Avenue is going to look like.  

O St Market- Martin has some information on the CCCA blog. Personally, I'm not going to get excited until I see a bunch of guys in hard hats and workboots standing around watching another guy in a hard hat doing something. There has been talk for over 7 years about this project.

Public Safety Walkthough for North Truxton Circle (BACA) this weekend- Meet up with ANC 5C01 Commish Bradley Thomas at 3rd & Q at 10AM this Saturday(3/5/11). For more infor call the Commish at 202/six seventy-zero one fifty-one. The idea is to look for trouble.... spots.

Timor- Yes, the odd little store, part speakeasy, part doggy lounge. Kim (or whomever is manning or womanning the counter) no longer takes credit cards. Checks, cash or some system of credit for regulars. There is also a website to track what produce is in or not. Timor, like everyone else (except me) has a Facebook page.

Gardening- Well it has begun. I've bought a boat load of seeds and threw some peas in the ground this week. I'll probably start moving things around in the rear yard, maybe this weekend. I am telling myself that I'm going to plant fewer tomatoes. Last year there was a blight problem and also I got more than enough tomatoes from the Bloomingdale Farmer Market. This year is all about the beans. Also I'm going to try to limit where the arugula grows this year. Last year the plants reseeded themselves and grew all over. They were fine for harvesting until I got engaged to someone who doesn't like raw arugula and when the Pest Control people decided to spray the yard, against my instructions.

If you're considering gardening and it is your first time doing so in your yard, remember it's all about the soil. We've got a lot of clayfilled yards so amend it with topsoil, compost, and sand. Don't worry too much about lead. If you drink the tap water around here you already take chances. You can get your soil tested by UMASS for $10, or you can have raised beds.

Preserving- I keep thinking I should do another canning party. Right now I have a bunch of oranges I bought from the 7th Day Adventists and well those citrus fruits need to do something other than make the room smell nice. I've been looking at preserving them with a hot water canning bath in some light syrup. Then again. I have been meaning to do something with that dehydrator we got and I hear dried oranges make for a nice snack on hiking trips.

I can say that this year I did can enough tomatoes. Last year it was too many. Because of Mr. InShaw's (The Help) love of Italian dishes, I've been reaching for the jars of Bloomingdale Farmer's Market tomatoes more often. Also The Help has just learned how to make a basic pasta sauce (heat steel pan, add olive oil, throw in 1/2 of a chopped onion, saute, throw in 1/2 pint of tomatoes, cook for about 5-10 mins then throw in to Magic Bullet, pulse and lopp onto pasta), so I have an idea of how much I'm going to need to can this year.

I canned too much marmalade. I still have several 1/2 pints of meyer lemon and blood orange marmalade from last year. So if any y'all who know me want any, you can have my stash.

 I preserved enough cherries. I need to play with the drunken cherries ratios.  Yes, who doesn't love cherries soaked in lotsa vodka. I notice some cherries are more leathery than others. I like the leather, not so much the round burstin with booze ones, but they're good too. I also preserved the plain sober cherries with the hot water method in sugar syrup and those are good as an ice cream topping or in yogurt. The Help doesn't like cherries. Well, more for me.

ABC License for Beau Thai

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I noticed in the window of Beau Thai one of those orange announcement posters. Looks like she's pursuing an ABC license. Didn't stop long enough to read what type. That would be great because then certain persons who like a beer or other such thing will join the Help and I for some noodles and curry.

Of course I was in a rush and didn't read the sign carefully, so I don't know what class and other fun details, and the DC ABRA website is not too helpful. The calendar is only for the day of, nor can I look up particular cases like the BZA (Board of Zoning Adjustment) site. While I'm on the topic of DC government sites, some parts of the DC government are open transparent than others. And then there are agencies big enough to be both transparent and clear and proactive on one side and completely unhelpful, uninformative and cryptic in other parts, I'm thinking DCRA.

I saw the sign

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Just to say I do notice even the slightest change at the O Street Market. There is now a sign.

That is all.