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DC Drivel

 
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My girlfriend and I just returned from 5 days in downtown Washington, DC. I didn't expect to be so impressed by all the monuments and memorials, but seeing these things in person is an awesome experience! Here are a few random (mostly trivial) observations in comparison to Minneapolis.
  • Birds (including what I think are pigeons) are commonly underfoot on the sidewalks, hardly intimidated by pedestrians.
  • Homeless people are more visible, sleeping on benches, sidewalks, etc.
  • Drivers honk incessantly, against a backdrop of sirens and whistles.
  • The Metro subway rocks! (We have nothing like that in Minneapolis.)
  • Everything seems to shut down around 5:00. It's hard to find anything open in the evening -- especially on weekends.
  • Free hotspots are hard to find . (This really surprised me. I'm used to free wi-fi at virtually any coffee shop.)
  • A good cup of coffee is also hard to find. They have Starbucks (ugh) and Caribou, but apparently nothing like Dunn Bros. The best I found was a place called Corner Bakery (which does have free wi-fi, although the signal is so weak it's almost unusable).
  • A lot of people wear shorts while running outside at 30-degrees F. This is especially curious because most locals seemed to regard 30 as cold.
  • People are generally thinner.
  • Everything is expensive (except the subway).

  • [ January 18, 2008: Message edited by: marc weber ]
     
    Rancher
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    The birds are flying rats. They own the city.

    The drivers are insane. Perhaps Boston drivers are worse, but otherwise, DC are special.

    There are only parts of the city that live after 6PM. Georgetown, Adams Morgan, parts of Capitol Hill. A lot of the action is out in the near suburbs.

    Coffee? Good tasting coffee? what's that?
     
    Ranch Hand
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    There are only parts of the city that live after 6PM. Georgetown, Adams Morgan, parts of Capitol Hill



    Also add DuPont Cir to the list.

    Never heard of Dunn Bros, is that something like "$tealbucks" or dunkindonuts or in between.
     
    pie sneak
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    Originally posted by Pat Farrell:
    Perhaps Boston drivers are worse,


    When I took my trip to Maine, we swung by Peabody, Mass. first. My Maine buddies warned me about "Masshole" drivers. The first three stop lights I came to had someone honk immediately when the light turned green - as if the guy at the front was supposed to have ridiculously rapid reflexes.

    I'm surprised about the DC folks in shorts at 30 degrees. I would think only extreme Northerners would ever try that!
     
    marc weber
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    Originally posted by Marc Peabody:
    ...I'm surprised about the DC folks in shorts at 30 degrees. I would think only extreme Northerners would ever try that!


    Yeah, I can see that happening here in Minneapolis, where 30 degrees in January would be a heat wave. (At this moment, it's 10 below zero.)
     
    marc weber
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    Originally posted by Harsha Jay:
    ...Never heard of Dunn Bros, is that something like "$tealbucks" or dunkindonuts or in between.


    Dunn Bros is a Minnesota-based coffee shop chain that currently has stores in 9 states. Almost all Dunn Bros stores roast their own beans daily. Really good stuff.
     
    marc weber
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    Originally posted by Pat Farrell:
    ...There are only parts of the city that live after 6PM. Georgetown, Adams Morgan, parts of Capitol Hill. A lot of the action is out in the near suburbs...


    We really wanted to get to Georgetown, but ran out of time. There was a lot we missed, and I'm anxious to go back.
     
    author and iconoclast
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    Originally posted by marc weber:
    A lot of people wear shorts while running outside at 30-degrees F. This is especially curious because most locals seemed to regard 30 as



    People are funny about clothes here. You didn't point out that they're not just shorts, they're expensive European high-tech running shorts. I'm a country boy at heart and spend most of my time in jeans, but the vast majority of men my age here are lawyers (I think the ratio is something like four lawyers for every human) and most of these guys are physically uncomfortable in anything that isn't an Italian suit. It's laughable to see them at kid's soccer games and such, dressed the same way on the weekend; they just leave the jacket in the car.
     
    lowercase baba
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    Originally posted by marc weber:
    A lot of people wear shorts while running outside at 30-degrees F. This is especially curious because most locals seemed to regard 30 as cold.


    When we were at DisneyWorld a few years ago, we went in December. It was very interesting watching people from all over the world dress so differently. I remember commenting to my wife how the people in front of us were wearing shorts and t-shirts, and the people behind us were wearing zipped-up winter coats.
    [ January 19, 2008: Message edited by: Fred Rosenberger ]
     
    marc weber
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    Originally posted by Ernest Friedman-Hill:
    ... You didn't point out that they're not just shorts, they're expensive European high-tech running shorts...


    Interesting. I didn't notice that.

    We did notice that people tended to dress at either end of the spectrum, and there wasn't much in between. I'm sure the camera around my neck labeled me as a tourist, but my jeans and Chuck Taylor high-tops didn't exactly fit in either.

    (PS: I liked the birds on the sidewalks.)
     
    Marshal
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    Well, heck, it's snowing here in Vancouver but I'll probably go out for a run this afternoon. In my shorts. Like Washington DC, it rarely gets much colder than zero here (that's 32 F to you Americans), so there really isn't a requirement for serious cold protection when you're running.

    And I've even seen people at symphony concerts wearing shorts on snowy days here.
     
    author & internet detective
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    Originally posted by marc weber:
    The Metro subway rocks! (We have nothing like that in Minneapolis.)


    I'll second that! DC has one of the best subway (err Metro) systems of anyplace I've been. I particularly like how it goes right to one of the airports.
     
    marc weber
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    Originally posted by Paul Clapham:
    ...it rarely gets much colder than zero here (that's 32 F to you Americans)...


    That would be nice. It's -5 F (-21 C) here now. I'm driving to the gym to use a treadmill.
     
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    Funny about the DC Metro...Prices just went up...costs an extra 30-60 cents each way and it is normally late and breaks down. That increase does not seem a lot, but for the people that ride it 5 days a week for work adds up. Thank goodness I work at home.

    I missed the first inning of the Nationals home opener because the train we were on broke down in the middle of the tunnel. Was going to ask if I could help push it.

    I still want to go see the spy mesuem in DC [http://www.spymuseum.org/], I still have not found the time and someone as geeky as me to go there.

    Eric
     
    marc weber
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    Originally posted by Eric Pascarello:
    ...I still want to go see the spy mesuem in DC...


    I spent about 3 hours there. It was okay, but for an $18 admission fee...

    If you're really a geek, the 11-foot Enterprise model used in the original Star Trek is on display in the lower level of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, where admission is free.
     
    Pat Farrell
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    Originally posted by Eric Pascarello:

    I still want to go see the spy museum in DC [http://www.spymuseum.org/], I still have not found the time and someone as geeky as me to go there.



    Actually, the serious spy museum is out by NSA (Ft Meade). They have enigmas, super computers and all sorts of stuff.

    I've heard that the Brits have taken all the cool stuff out of Bletchly Park.
     
    Pat Farrell
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    Originally posted by Marc Peabody:
    My Maine buddies warned me about "Masshole" drivers. The first three stop lights I came to had someone honk immediately when the light turned green - as if the guy at the front was supposed to have ridiculously rapid reflexes.



    In Boston, if they look at you, they give up right of way. So no one ever looks.

    In DC, you have to be ready for a stream of cop cars, limos and black Suburbans. Do not even think of messing with the Suburbans, there are always four fully armed Secret Service dudes ready to step out of the four doors.


    I'm surprised about the DC folks in shorts at 30 degrees. I would think only extreme Northerners would ever try that!



    Try driving near the Pentagon at lunch hour. You'll see hundreds of guys in running gear, 365 days a year.
     
    Pat Farrell
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    Originally posted by Ernest Friedman-Hill:
    (I think the ratio is something like four lawyers for every human)



    At my daughter's high school, most of the kids had two lawyers as parents.

    Other cities might have two Doctor families, but two lawyer families are common.

    The town is lousy with lawyers.
     
    Jeanne Boyarsky
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    Originally posted by Eric Pascarello:
    Funny about the DC Metro...Prices just went up...costs an extra 30-60 cents each way and it is normally late and breaks down.


    I guess I've been lucky missing breakdowns. I don't go often enough that I care how much it costs. It's still cheaper and faster than a cab!


    it is normally late


    This is an interesting one. Late from the schedule or late from the sign in the Metro saying when the next one comes? I really like those signs (we don't have them in New York). It's nice to know that a train is coming and about how far it is from the station. We don't really have a schedule in our subways either. We do have a bus schedule, but I've only taken the bus once in DC - not enough to compare.
     
    marc weber
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    Originally posted by Pat Farrell:
    ...Actually, the serious spy museum is out by NSA (Ft Meade). They have enigmas, super computers and all sorts of stuff.

    I've heard that the Brits have taken all the cool stuff out of Bletchly Park.


    There was one Enigma at the Spy Museum. It was a 3-rotor Luftwaffe version without the wooden case. Does Bletchly still have their Enigmas? They are kind of the Enigma capital of the world.

    (PS: I'm working on a Java Enigma emulator. I know... There are already plenty of them out there. But I've never seen one that's fully configurable, down to the ring settings. Also, a lot of emulators are inaccurate because they fail to account for the "double stepping" of the middle rotor.)
    [ January 20, 2008: Message edited by: marc weber ]
     
    marc weber
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    Originally posted by Pat Farrell:
    In Boston, if they look at you, they give up right of way. So no one ever looks...


    Great, that sounds safe. :roll: In Minnesota, we have the opposite problem. Too many people want to yield the right of way. "You go first." "No, you go." "No, I insist." "No, you first." Finally, they both decide to go at the same time.

    Originally posted by Pat Farrell:
    ...In DC, you have to be ready for a stream of cop cars, limos and black Suburbans. Do not even think of messing with the Suburbans...


    Yeah, I snapped a picture of one of those black Suburbans inside the White House fence. But that was another thing we noticed. There were very few "civilian" SUVs compared to Minneapolis. We only saw 2 Hummers over 5 days. It was quite refreshing.
     
    Marc Peabody
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    Originally posted by marc weber:
    In Minnesota, we have the opposite problem. Too many people want to yield the right of way. "You go first." "No, you go." "No, I insist." "No, you first." Finally, they both decide to go at the same time.


    Ugghhh! I hate that. I don't remember such an issue ever in Michigan or Illinois but here in Ohio... at first I thought everyone was trying too hard to be nice (ironically these people are incredibly inconsiderate to the half dozen drivers waiting behind them during the "After you! No, I insist. No, after you..." charade) and then I got to thinking that I don't remember there being any questions about right of way on the stupid exam they give for OH licenses. I'm convinced that right of way and driving in snow are not taught in the drivers' training here.
     
    marc weber
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    Originally posted by Marc Peabody:
    ...I'm convinced that right of way and driving in snow are not taught in the drivers' training here.


    It's like comma usage. It's still taught, but people people promptly forget the rules and resort to improvisation.
     
    Marc Peabody
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    Originally posted by marc weber:
    It's like comma usage. It's still taught, but people people promptly forget the rules and resort to improvisation.


    Nice. I like this example very very very much marc although, now that I think of it I don,t recall ever learning proper comma usage, in school.

    I agree that most of us (myself included) just put them wherever it kinda feels right, like at breath points in speech, and simply hope that no one faults us for it. We wanna be comma, comma, comma, comma, comma chameleons.
     
    Paul Clapham
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    Originally posted by Marc Peabody:
    I agree that most of us (myself included) just put them wherever it kinda feels right, like at breath points in speech, and simply hope that no one faults us for it.

    Well, that's what commas are supposed to represent anyway, so most of the time you're going to get it right. It's the semi-colons and the colons you're going to miss, but those are for advanced students.

    And isn't it the same for driving? I know I went to driving school all those years ago, but now I pretty much drive as best I can. If you consider the theory that everybody else drives like that and look around, you'll find that almost every driver you see is confirming that theory. Until you start driving behind the driving-school car...
     
    Sheriff
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    Originally posted by marc weber:

  • The Metro subway rocks! (We have nothing like that in Minneapolis.)



  • Cool! WMATA, the transit authority that runs the Metro, is a customer of the company I work for. When you praise the Metro, I assume that's because the ticket vending machines, gates, and especially the software running them made it a pleasant experience. Actually, Minneapolis is our customer too.



  • A lot of people wear shorts while running outside at 30-degrees F. This is especially curious because most locals seemed to regard 30 as cold.


  • I know you're joking here. I live in San Diego, and I know that 30 F is too close to absolute zero to be accurately measured. Clearly life as we know it would cease to exist at such extreme temperatures, whether said life was wearing jogging shorts or not.
     
    marc weber
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    Originally posted by Greg Charles:
    ...When you praise the Metro, I assume that's because the ticket vending machines, gates, and especially the software running them made it a pleasant experience...


    I did have to wonder how that all works. One thing we found is that "day passes" often stop working after the first trip, and you need to get someone inside the Metro booth to let you through manually. They said something goes wrong with the magnetic strip. ( ) The vending machines were pretty cool once we figured out the limitations (for example, you can't get credit for the unused portion of more than one ticket per transaction; and if you do this, then you can't pay the balance by credit card).

    The light rail we have in Minneapolis is so limited I haven't had an opportunity to use it, but I hope it keeps expanding!
    [ January 22, 2008: Message edited by: marc weber ]
     
    marc weber
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    According to Essentials of English Grammar by L. Sue Baugh...

    The comma is the most commonly used and abused punctuation mark. People often insert commas between subject and verb or when they reach the end of a thought, without regard for the rules of comma usage.


    Unfortunately, the "pause" interpretation can lead to problems, like separating two phrases or subordinate clauses joined by a conjunction. Essentials of English Grammar offers the following as an example of such misuse: "Howard painted the steps, but not the porch." Whoops, there should be no comma in that sentence.

    Personally, I'm more bothered by a missing comma between two independent clauses joined by a conjunction.

    Oh, well... These things happen.
     
    Sheriff
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    Originally posted by Eric Pascarello:
    I still want to go see the spy mesuem in DC [http://www.spymuseum.org/], I still have not found the time and someone as geeky as me to go there.



    That one's on my to-do list as well. You might also want to check out the National Cryptologic Museum at NSA. Also while you're there you might as well stop by National Vigilance Park to see the three reconnaissance aircraft displays.
     
    Ranch Hand
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    Originally posted by marc weber:
    According to Essentials of English Grammar by L. Sue Baugh...

    Unfortunately, the "pause" interpretation can lead to problems, like separating two phrases or subordinate clauses joined by a conjunction. Essentials of English Grammar offers the following as an example of such misuse: "Howard painted the steps, but not the porch." Whoops, there should be no comma in that sentence.

    Personally, I'm more bothered by a missing comma between two independent clauses joined by a conjunction.

    Oh, well... These things happen.

    I prefer using braces, or BEGIN/END blocks.

     
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