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Sunday, February 28, 2010

I've realized what frustrates me so much about politicians: Talking Points

"A talking point is a neologism for an idea which may or may not be factual, usually compiled in a short list with summaries of a speaker's agenda for public or private engagements. Public relations professionals, for example, sometimes prepare "talking points memos" for their clients to help them more effectively conform public presentations with this advice.
A political think tank will strategize the most effective informational attack on a target topic and launch talking points from media personalities to saturate discourse in order to frame a debate in their favor, standardizing the responses of sympathizers to their unique cause while simultaneously co-opting the language used by those discussing the specific subject. When used politically in this way, the typical purpose of a talking point is to propagandize, specifically using the technique of argumentum ad nauseam, i.e. continuous repetition within media outlets until accepted as fact. "

Highlighted comments scare me. 

Got this definition from, where else, Wikipedia. I was wondering why politicians and news outlets all get caught on these phrases and sayings, "death- panels", "weapons of mass destruction", and "the bridge to nowhere" to name a few. I always feel smothered with a facade of what a politician wants me to think is really happening with an issue when I hear these talking points. Every time I hear a politician sticking to his/her talking points I feel like a child being misguided by my parent because they think I can't understand the issue myself and their synthesis is in my best interest. I would love to be able to formulate my own opinion about all these issues but the fact that everyone uses these talking points makes it very difficult to get truthful information. On Thursday's The Daily Show, Jon Stewart talks to Democratic Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina about this very topic. He asks an amazing question, 'At lunch do the talking points stop and people talk normally? After the cameras are off and the doors are closed do the talking points stop?'
Why don't we the people get a glimpse of the real opinions of our representatives and the real facts on the issues? Healthcare for example. All I know for sure, is that I don't have it and I need it. I'm ready for politicians to figure something out, and so far, I don't want to scrap it and start all over again. 

Lots of people, young and old, know this is happening and it is likely the cause for all the apathy towards just about everything political. In my opinion right now, the only political show worth watching is The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I know what category this puts me in. But I appreciate his sense of humor, his disapproval of the contradictions and idiocy, and his general clear headedness. I think he presents a balanced perspective, but yes, leans way left. If Obama, or another democrat, really botched something up he would let you know. 

Back to Talking Points, I use them too. In fact, if I hear a fact that I find particularly interesting I have been known to repeat it again, even if I can't remember the details. Lots of folks will make sure they get things right with Talking Points, but not me. I go for the gist. So, I can understand why they are used. I feel like sitting down in a room and talking freely is more what I want to see of my elected representatives. Also I do read the Talking Points Memo blog. I feel like TPM is generally on to something. If there is a happening, they will generally have a good take in it. 

So politicians, have another one of those summits. And please, leave behind the Talking Points. 

Image of the day: Erosion

@ the opening of filter! place is hoppin. come on down. 20th & S st. NW, Dupont.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The number of Athletes to number of Medals ratio, Vancouver 2010

I was making a connection between the book, "You can't be president" by MacArthur and the Olympic phenomenon, "you can't be a medal winner." Basically my hypothesis is that the higher the number of athletes (which plays into a whole host of factors about a countries wealth, opportunity, and potential favoritism) directly indicates how many medals you will win. Now, if I am on to something here, which perhaps I'm not, this would lead one to believe that the Olympics are not in fact, The Worlds Games, the place where anyone from any country can be a champion.  

My initial interest in this topic stemmed from the fact that the coverage of the Olympics in the US is entirely skewed towards American events, athletes, and interests. I understand this from a marketing perspective but are the Olympic Games just one more place for the US to flex it's super-power muscle? Are these games some puffed chest, intimidation tactic played out a winter battle-ground? lets look at the numbers...

Of course, the games are not over. As of right now the medal count is as follows:
Country, Medal count, number of athlete, percentage of athletes winning medals

USA 32    215    14.88372093

Germany 26    153    16.99346405

Norway 19    99     19.19191919

Canada 17    206    8.252427184

Russia 13     177    7.344632768

Austria  12    81     14.81481481

South Korea  11    46     23.91304348

China 10     90     11.11111111

France  10 108       9.259259259

Switzerland  8     146     5.479452055

Sweden  8106          7.547169811

Netherlands  6    34      17.64705882

Czech Republic  5    92      5.434782609

Poland 4    50       8

Japan 4     94       4.255319149

Italy 4      109      3.669724771

Turns out there is basically no strong correlation between these things, at least I can't see one (i'm not a scholar) I just had a lot of time on my hands today because Filter Coffeehouse & Espresso bar isn't open yet. But wow, props to countries like Netherlands and South Korea for really grabbing a lot of Medals even though they don't have a ton of folks in the games. Netherlands I might assume, since it is the winter Olympics, but S. Korea good for you! 

Dupont's new community Coffeehouse & Espresso Bar: Filter

Rasheed Jabr, owner of Filter Coffeehouse & Espresso Bar is getting ready to open early March on 20th Street NW in the heart of Dupont. Some may say the heart of Dupont lies around that heinous circle, I disagree and those of us who actually live in Dupont find ourselves mostly North and West and Northwest of that circle and mostly headed to other neighborhoods to get a bangin' cup of coffee. This should no longer be a problem thanks to Filter!

Filter's Machine is a custom La Marzocco machine with the new mechanical paddles. This is what La Marzocco has to say about this new technology:

CONTROL» Gives the barista direct control over soft pre-infusion, allowing the barista to bring out the best character of the espresso.
ADVANCED» Enables Advanced Soft Pre-infusion, allowing pressure profiling from zero to boiler pressure.
TASTE» Brings out lively acidity, brightness, and delicate nuances in the espresso that otherwise would be hidden or toned down.

You can see the mechanical paddles in this picture, basically it streamlines the machine and its operation. This does not have the effect of dumbing down the Barista's skills, in fact just the opposite, it allows them to experiment with infusion techniques and have a better control over how each shot pours. Not to mention all those silly  buttons are down right ugly. There is only one "button" on the front of this machine, its for the water, you're welcome Americano lovers.

If not actually overdue, the time has definitely come for Dupont's locally owned, quality driven, friendly, community coffeehouse. Luckily the Real Worlders are gone and all that remains is a self-guided tour of where that guy got pushed off the porch, and throngs of 16-22 year olds peeping, pointing, and replaying all the riveting tales of love, lust, deceit, and betrayal in the lives of this years cast. Fun. Hopefully they like good coffee. But rumor does have it that the house is being turned into a restaurant of some sort.

Anyhow, if Cosi coffee leaves you wanting more at 5 min. to 4, if Starbucks' coffee ash gives you never ending workplace gas, and if you can't stomach lame posers who don't even offer fresh ground pour-overs go to Filter. You will be delighted.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Desert; a place to live when you get old

Just thought I would try out this email to the blog feature. Hello to all you new readers out there, you know who you are. Enjoy this picture of the desert, a place I'd like to live when I get older. 

D.C. Start for the Giro d'Italia Confirmed - DCist

D.C. Start for the Giro d'Italia Confirmed - DCist

All my cycling friends, check this out!! I know you have to wait for two whole years but this should be worth it. Plan ahead.

Jayne and some friends caught the end of this on the outskirts of Bologna Italy last year. They have rave reviews. They did however say it was hard to make out which one was Lance Armstrong at the speeds they were traveling.

Heres a tip: If you want to get a good view of the racers, position yourself @ an uphill section.

Tanglewood Nature Center

I recommend a trip, in any season, to Tanglewood Nature center in located in Elmira NY. It's a hidden gem, tucked way up in the hill country of Coleman ave. There is an amazing facility there which houses and interpretive center, a gift shop, space for parties or conferences, library, and a stunning vantage point at which to view the birds and scenery of the woods.
Here's a note from my niece, who attends the kids camp, and had just gotten back from a class on tracks, scat, and survival:
"dear liz did you know that I went to tanglewood and when I went there I met a new friend and her name is Alexzandara and she is really cool and do you want to know what else I got to hang out with 6 different animals #1 iggwana #2 ferret #3 guinea pig #4 snake #5 bunny rabbit and #6 turtle and I had my own turtle and her name was Raggie and Alexzandara had her own turtle to and his name was Paddles so I had a female turtle and Alexzandara had a male turtle I had alot of fun playing with the animals and after we gpt done playing with the animals we went on a 1 mile hike and we found different tracks and after that we ate lunch in the aditorium and while we were eating lunch we watched the movie bloto and after lunch we went outside I HAD A LOT OF FUN ATTANGLEWOOD I HOPE I CAN GO BACK SOON!!!!"
Here are some photos I took on a lovely in between winter and spring season walk.

Project Indoor Grow, is a go!

A peek into the grow table after all had been planted and foil was assembled

Spacing and planting with Organic Mechanics potting soil, there are rice hulls in there!

From the peet pods, to the big sea of potting soil, carry on little ones, mama is proud!

The family chillin post project time, Dulce naps, Jayne resumes studying. Liz marvels in the beauty of it all.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I work for a private outdoor program called Elements. Elements looks to get kids outdoors in winter, loving and embracing the challenges and the beauty that winter provides. It was founded three years ago by Margaret Reitano. Margaret started this program after she had four kids and put aside a budding career in landscape architecture. She seems to always have been an entrepreneur and has always had an expansive social network. She used those qualities and her love for children and the outdoors and formulated it all into Elements.

This year is the biggest year yet with two separate programs running one Tuesday, one Thursday. The same kids do not attend each section, except Margaret's kids, they attend both. But there are two parks and two weekday after noons the families can choose from. Many of the kids know each other but not all of them. We have roughly 15-19 kids in each session and 4-5 instructors. Its also the biggest year due to record snowfalls and something people have called the "snowpocalypse". Its a bit much.

Coming from an Outward Bound background it is a real relief to see kids for about an hour of fun then sweep them back into their cars to go home with their parents. But it is limiting. There is a part of me that wishes for more time to chat with individuals and go a bit deeper with the understanding of the lessons. With that said I am also now exposed to the idea of just having a ton of fun!! And thats what we do...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lettuce is consuming me, not the other way around.

For Christmas this year Jayne got me this book, The Urban Homestead by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen. This apparent couple lives in LA and live a very self-sufficient lifestyle that they outline in the book. Things like stealing fruit from your neighbors' trees and planting potatoes in old tires are some of the "projects" that they guide you on in this book. They also provide "10 essential projects" that, in order to claim self-sufficiency, you must attempt. This book got me thinking about all the natural things that I could do right here in my row-house in the middle of DC.

I started looking at local gardening blogs and found a bunch of good ones, here, here, and here. This University of Maryland site has just about everything you would ever need. It's on this UMD site that I saw the Grow Table idea, and I thought, that is awesome! So I took a trip to Home Depot and this is what I came up with.

Its a 2 ft. by 4ft. space that sits roughly 3 ft. off the ground. I constructed it here in my basement bedroom. It was nice having the carpet to kneel on, and not too much of a hassle to clean up, I used a old shower curtain for a drop-cloth.

Now, I will finish the bottom of the grow area with some super-fine mesh, so the dirt can't escape but the whole thing is super aerated. I have a 4 ft. florescent shop light that has one cool white bulb and one warm white bulb. I am pretty sure that will provide the entire spectrum they need. cover the whole thing up with an emergency blanket to keep the light from reflecting away and jahzah! we've got lettuce year round. Also, some kale and herbs. Here they little seedlings, sprouting after only three days in the dirt!

testing the mobile blog situation out -Liz