Weed trees

Weed trees are those trees and saplings that grow in between the fences that it seems no one wants. When I moved into my house I made it a goal to get rid of them as they blocked light and endangered part of the house.
The problem I notice is because the trees grow right on the property line, neither neighbor really wants to take responsibility for it. This scene was played out a few weekends ago when one large tree, growing between two yards had gotten so big that the branches reached across the alley and was invading another guy’s yard. The guy, let’s call Black Lawyer Guy, hired a crew to cut the branches that overflowed into the alley. The ruckus of tree cutting and crew yelling attracted the notice of Old Timer Guy on one side of the tree and New Neighbor Lady two houses down where the tree was hitting the side of her house. Yes, this is an F’ing large tree. So Black Lawyer Guy, Old Timer Guy and New Neighbor Lady were all having a nice loud cross alley conversation over the sounds of sawing about who’s tree was it that was getting trimmed.
Old Timer Guy insisted that the tree belonged to the other house and was not his. Then the conversation got into talking about a female neighbor (not present)who was mean and ill tempered. Was this the “owner” of the tree? Unknown, as there was only so much I did hear while trying to enjoy my own back yard.
Then as the crew was finishing up Bike Guy, neighbor of Old Timer Guy, came out and saw what was going on. Blah, blah between the neighbors,(can’t really hear that well) something about trimming the tree and Bike Guy said he’d do it later. New Neighbor Lady pointed out where the tree branches were damaging her house. And later Bike Guy (or a paid minion) did trim the tree, about a week later.
Unchecked the branches weed trees can invade other yards and considering how thin our plots are, that isn’t too hard. It is best to manage the problem early get rid of them while they are saplings. When they get bigger you may need a permit to chop them down.

Will the owners of a brown Chevy VA tag JFL 2906…

please refrain from buying drugs in my hood.
Yeah, I called the cops but the blue flashing lights ventured elsewhere after I guess they grabbed the make and model, as I didn’t see anybody get out the car to check it out.
Sorry that whomever you thought you bought from robbed you of $1300. Wait. No I’m not sorry. Go back to Virginia and buy your crack there.

What’s going on with Giant

Well Giant is open. Shopping at 8am there is the way to go as there aren’t any crowds and it is okay provided you don’t need any seafood or fresh baked goods. Over in the $1 section are some throw away paint brushes. I usually grab a bunch of those when I know I’m going to tackle a paint job where I know I’m going to be too lazy to clean them and dry them out. They also have putty knives in the $1 section.
Across the aisle from the $1 items are the seasonal items. Among them, PINK FLAMINGOS!!! For less than $20 a pair of tacky, tacky pink flamingos can be yours. I think I may set a whole flock out in the yard. But I resisted. Besides I have a pair in the basement, they just need legs. They have the citronella candles. So far I’ve been keeping the mosquitoes at bay with lots of incense burning around me.
When I checked out the cashier, an older fellow who has been at the store for years, asked of I lived over on 14th. He asked because the Giant over at the Tivoli Theater in Columbia Heights will be opening soon and he’ll be working over there. He says it is the most modern Giant in the area, even more modern than the Giants out in the suburbs.

Research woes: Where TF is that?

Well I’ve now committed to something where I will speak about what I’ve been doing off and on with researching the neighborhood demographics, so I need to clean up my work. I have figured I will focus on the street by street and house by house makeup of my area with 1880 and 1910 and possibly 1900. I’ve finished 1880, I just need to map it all out. I started 1910 because I cannot find the rolls I had for 1900. The Historic Society has 1900, I think, and that’s ok.
The problem I now have is there are streets on the 1880 and 1910 Census that don’t exist now. Second Street is one. Within the confines of what is Census tract 46 aka Truxton, there is no 2nd Street. But there is a 2nd street in the area claimed by the Census. There is also what looks like a Baltimore St. I say looks like, because apparently good legible handwriting was not important for some census workers. So I’m dealing with either a “Baltimore” or a “Biltmore”. Don’t even get me started on surnames.
Difference between 1880 and 1910, so far I’ve done the Mt. Vernon part of Truxton (N St, NY Ave, North Cap and NJ) and I can say there are fewer immigrants. But I’m sure they’ll pop up elsewhere. I am starting to see Russians and Chinese in Truxton in 1910. There were no Russians or Chinese in 1880.

Market slowdown?

I decided to look back at some of the houses I reviewed back in January of this year and compare them with the DC Government’s Real Estate sales database, which covers things sold up to mid March, and what I found makes me question the hot market. Of 6 houses that had open houses in early to mid January, 1 sold. The one house that did sell sold for $30K less than it’s listing price, for $430,000.
Of course the market is kinda slow in Winter. Then there were houses that were just plain overpriced. I mean I like Truxton and the surrounding areas but anything over 1/2 a mill has got to be one hell of a house. The neighborhood is still lacking in some areas. The things people want like a choice of restaurants, good parks, street corners without drug dealers, will come in time, but are not here now. So the prices should reflect that those things are currently lacking.
Of course, the houses that haven’t been listed as selling could be under contract. Possible. It would be interesting to see what price is the selling price. Are houses selling below the asking price? Are any above the asking price and by how much? What is the market saying? I guess I’ll have to wait to find out.

In Shaw 2005 Summer reading list

Yesterday’s comments got me thinking about stuff to read…. not like I don’t have enough to read, but there are books that would look good for some of us living here.

Freakonomics by Steven Leavitt and Stephen Dubner
Soley for the chapter titled “Why crack dealers live with their mothers“. Yeah there is other stuff in there about Real Estate agents not working in the best interest of their clients, but really, you want to read up on your local crack dealer. Investigating this chapter (ie randomly looking around on the net until book order comes through) I found, but can’t seem to find now, a comment that in addition to a 1 in 4 chance of getting shot and low pay, you have to deal with crackheads. That would be such a negative. Day in and out you gotta deal with the dumbest messed up folks on the planet. Anyway, apparently this chapter is based on the work done by Stephen Levitt and sociologist Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh in their article “An Economic Analysis of a Drug Selling Gang’s Finances” (warning PDF file), which I am 1/2 way through, it is a good read.

And ’cause the Fantasia song Baby Momma was stuck in my head I remembered Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage by Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas, which was featured on WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi Show. You can read chapter 2 “WHEN I GOT PREGNANT . . .Mahkiya AND Mike”. I wonder if the book does what the authors did so well on the show, which was explain the motivations of the poor women to a middle and upper middle class audience.

Lastly, a fun book Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones, who won a Pulitzer for The Known World. It is a collection of 14 short stories all taking place in DC, many of them in Shaw. I was partway through the book when I got distracted by my current read of The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less by Barry Schwartz. There is a story about a guy who works for a corner store over by 5th and O NW, another starting at Cardozo High School wandering up to Columbia Heights and down to 9th & P, then Anacostia. It is a joy for those who like to play where in DC is that? Because you think about what those sections of the city look like today, as most of this takes place in the 60s and 70s, and imagine the Shaw or the Columbia Heights or the Dupont Circle of the author’s mind.

Dark humor

Catching a ride back home with a slightly inner beltway suburban friend (sibsf) one late Thursday night I noticed two neighborhood drug dealers out in the drizzling rain. One was sitting in the usual hangout spot, the other was on the other side of the street standing out in the elements.

Me: And there are our friendly neighborhood drug dealers, working hard, weathering the cold, damp and dark to get their customers the products they desire.
SIBSF: (without missing a beat)And bringing hard currency to the area.

Dudes. It is such a shame that they can’t direct that willingness to be cold wet and miserable into a real job that doesn’t involve crack. Unfortunately, the problem (as pointed out by one local official) is drug dealers don’t interview well. Apparently, they can’t stop smoking the weed (failing drug tests) and they dress poorly (pants should not hang off your butt).

2 Truxton houses for sale

1406 3rd St NW
Asking price: $419,000
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 1.5
Basement: Yes
Fireplace: 1

The picture is not of 1406 3rd Street, it is the lovely view from the rear deck of said building. There is no back yard. There really isn’t an alley. There is an undefined portion of land running behind the houses that seems unclaimed by the city and residents, as it is unpaved, worn and green.
The house is being sold as is. From my absolutely unprofessional opinion, and really my professional opinion wouldn’t do you any good ’cause I’m a librarian, but my unprofessional opinion is this house is a bad, bad renovation. Coming up the stairs to the 2nd floor I noticed the back bedroom had a very noticeable tilt. Oh, like 20 degrees. If you set a ball down, it would roll. That is so not good. There was a smaller tilt on the first floor, I noticed coming from the basement. Settling? Ah, maybe, but if you are going to do any sort of rehab work on a house like that, the floors should be leveled. But whadda I know, I’m just a librarian.
The basement really needed a dehumidifier. Really. It smelled of damp and a slight hint of bleach. It was a finished basement with exterior & interior access and the only thing I see it being is a guest bedroom for people you don’t like, a really cold office, or storage space with a window.
Another problem with the house is where it is. From the main bath and the master bedroom, you have an excellent view of Dunbar High School which is just across the street. You can wake to the sound of raging hormones.

1549 4th St NW
Asking price: $524,500
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2.5
Basement: Yes
Fireplaces: 3

Location wise the bad thing about this property is that it is close to the mosque. Which isn’t as bad as it used to be now that they no longer do the 5:30ish AM call to prayer over the loudspeakers. Otherwise it is fine.
I wandered over to this one with B&IT and got their impressions of the place. We liked the master bedroom with the incredibly high ceilings and exposed beams. B liked the skylight, but IT pointed out the open structure that allowed the skylight to shine on the hallway and bathroom, taking away aural privacy. Looked nice anyways.
According to the agents at the house, the place was renovated 3 years ago and rented out. The place seemed to be in pretty good shape. The renters did nothing with the backyard, which was part concrete and part weeds in dirt. Small but usable. The light colored carpet also seemed to hold up fairly well considering.
The basement was also carpeted and could have been made into a guest bedroom area. Maybe 2 bedrooms, but the current residents have made the area storage. It wasn’t particularly cold or anything and we didn’t see any sort of water damage. The funny thing I noticed was there was a fireplace in the basement/storage room. There are fireplaces on all 3 levels, but the bikes and stuff leaning against this fireplace was just funny.

Tag your own can

Well the experiment to put bumper stickers on my trash and recycle bins failed. The sticker won’t stay stuck.
Black or any colored marker doesn’t help with the lid. Markings I’ve made with the Sharpie have long faded and washed away.
The paint is slowly peeling off. On some parts of the can the latex paint is just not sticking. Spray paint is an option and it is very durable, but without a decent template, it can make for unclear markings.
But I have discovered some other fun way to identify my recycle and trash bins. Colored chalk. Not very permanent, but extremely easy.
I have a wall I turned into a big chalk board. I typically write notes to remind myself of stuff, like laundry. Anyway, so I had a piece of chalk and tested out how long it would stay on the can. So far, things on the side of the can have survived a good 2 weeks. Things written on top of the can, go away after the first rain.
The temporary nature of the chalk allows for the fun. I can write other things besides my house and street number on the bins. On the recycle bin I’ve written little slogans. On the trash can, on the top, I decided to write “trashier than a soap opera.” Yup, I wouldn’t have painted that on.