Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Common Cause wants me to write to Eleanor Holmes Norton, the Delegate to Congress from Washington, D.C. who can't vote on legislation, to urge her to vote for a bill that would give her the right to vote on legislation:

From: Ed Davis, Common Cause [mailto:CauseNet@commoncause.org]
Sent: Tuesday, December 05, 2006 1:29 PM
To: The Absurdist

Subject: Give DC a Vote!

Dear Absurdist,

"Without Further Delay." That's the headline of an editorial this morning in the Washington Post.1

Here's more:
"The people of the District of Columbia shouldn't have to wait another minute, let alone another month, to get the full voting representation in government that is their due as Americans."

We can make this happen in the next few days. The DC Voting Rights Act is headed for a vote in the last few days of the 109th Congress. The Act will give DC a vote in the US House of Representatives for the first time.

Tell Del. Eleanor Norton to vote for the DC Voting Rights Act.


Nearly 600,000 Americans living in the District of Columbia have no voting representation in Congress. It's the only national capital among the world's democracies that lacks a vote. Even citizens in Baghdad have the right to representation in Iraq's legislature.

The DC Voting Rights Act recognizes that partisan political considerations have always entered into issues that are fundamentally about fairness and justice. This proposal puts those considerations aside by adding two new seats to the House, one for the District and another that will go to Utah, which barely missed gaining another seat after the last census. It's a practical, fair solution to a problem that has been a stain on our democracy for over 200 years.

Even in the bitterly divided partisan atmosphere in Congress, this historic bill can pass in the next few days. But we need your help now!

Tell Del. Eleanor Norton to vote for the DC Voting Rights Act.


Thank you for your help.

Ed Davis and Sarah DufendachDC Voting Rights team

1: Washington Post editorial, December 5, 2006.

Forward this email

Seriously, if you don't live in Washington, D.C., then write to your member of Congress right now to urge him or her to vote for the D.C. Voting Rights Act: http://www.commoncause.org/demandDCvote .

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Your Special Gift

Jaleo is one of my favorite restaurants. I enjoy the food. I like that servings are small so that I can try several dishes at one meal and I like that I can order dishes as I go to suit my appetite. So I was excited to receive an e-mail from Jaleo a few weeks ago telling me that if I were to come in the restaurant would give me a "special gift" for my birthday. I must have given them my e-mail address and birthday on an earlier visit.

The Sassy Girlfriend and I went out to dinner at Jaleo the week after my birthday. I handed the waiter a printout of the e-mail about the special gift when we placed our order. He said he would talk to the manager and be right back. As we waited, The Sassy Girlfriend and I speculated as to what the free gift would be. Maybe it would a pitcher of Sangria, or a free dessert? Maybe it was flan?

The waiter returned with a clay jug of extra virgin olive oil.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bizarre Bazaars

Fall in Washington is church bazaar and festival season. I went to four church bazaars last year. I learned of them when I passed each of the churches while riding the bus and saw their signs announcing the festivals. I enjoy these bazaars because they allow me to explore two different interests of mine at once: exotic food and the diversity of the church. The format for these events seems to be the same at each church; there is cafeteria food service, vendors selling jewelry and icons, and tours of the church nave. I’ve spent a little time researching bazaars in the area this fall and these are the ones I’m going to try to make it to:

St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church Come-In-Unity Festival
(featuring hot priest on priest basketball action)
11911 Braddock Road
Fairfax, VA 22030
Sat., Sept. 16

Saints Constantine & Helen Church Greek Festival
4115 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC, (202) 829-2910
Fri., Sept. 15, 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Sat. Sept. 16, Noon to 10:00 p.m
Sun., Sept. 17, Noon to 8:00 p.m.

St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of Washington DC
15100 New Hampshire Ave.
Silver Spring MD 20905
Sat. and Sun. Sept. 16-17

Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Church Annual Parish Bazaar
7164 Alaska Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20012
Sept. 23

Bazaar of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
4001 17th St. NW, Washington, D.C.
(the corner of 17th and Shepherd Streets, NW)
Sat., September 30, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sun., October 1, noon – 6:00 pm

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Spiritual Discipline of Public Transportation

1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (RSV)

I have been blessed with a long commute.

I ride the bus every morning for thirty minutes to a Metro station and then I ride the Metro for another twenty or twenty-five minutes before arriving at Farragut North and walking the couple blocks to my office.

It might sound strange to hear me describe my long commute as a blessing, and, indeed, for many months I thought of it as a curse. I’m going to share with you the story of why I changed my attitude about commuting.

When I first moved to the Washington, D.C. area, I lived in an apartment close enough to work that I could walk there in about thirty minutes. Walking to work was a nice way to start the day. Later, I moved to a house further away, but near a Metro station within thirty minute ride from work. Three years ago I moved again, this time into a house in the middle of suburban nowhere, well beyond walking distance and not near a Metro station. However, I am on several bus lines. For more than a year, I rode the bus every workday morning, sometimes reading, sometimes just looking out the window, but usually resenting that I couldn’t have slept in just a little longer.

Then sometime last year I decided that I would make better use of the time and start doing daily devotional readings. I began using The Upper Room magazine that Foundry provides in the narthex. So for several months my morning routine became get on the bus, read a bit of scripture and a brief inspiring message, and then dig out a book or magazine to read for the rest of the ride.

Earlier this year I began praying after I had done the devotional reading. Now, the devotional reading does end with a brief prayer, but I don’t think reading the one or two sentence prayer really counts. I wasn’t getting into the spirit of prayer within those couple of lines.

Up until that time, I had been the kind of person who prayed only when led to do so. That means that for the most part I prayed during church on Sunday mornings. I had been thinking for some time of taking up daily prayer. I figured that it would do me some good. You see, I have been carrying around a lot of hurt and unresolved anger. I have also had anxieties that need to be relieved. I knew, instinctively, that I needed to spend some time every day in the company of God. I needed to pray, but I did not have the praying habit. Developing new habits isn’t easy. Distractions and old ways of doing things get in the way.

My commute has created the perfect opportunity for me to read scripture and pray every day. I have now built into my day plenty of time free from distractions. Indeed, there is little else that I could do with the time.

When I pray, I do a bit of talking: I thank God for my son, for my friends and family, I ask to be transformed, I recount my sins and ask forgiveness, and I ask God to intercede in other people’s lives. But I don’t do all the talking; I also make a point of spending a few minutes sitting silently listening to God. So far God hasn’t had anything to say, but I do enjoy the silent time we spend together.

Occasionally I put off reading the Bible and I don’t get around to praying before my commute is over. Now when I skip my devotional reading or praying it seems like I haven’t really started the day right. I haven’t cleared my mind. I’m anxious and distracted. Starting my day with the Bible and with prayer helps me get through the day, and I’m praying because I’m riding the bus.

Now if I could just find something to do on the ride home.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Desktop Office Defense System

Yes, it really works.

It lobs the yellow clay ball up to about 20 feet. I built it from a kit that I bought.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Going Home

The Boy and I spent the long Independence Day weekend in my hometown, Montpelier, Vermont. On the drive up Interstate 89 we stopped to visit my father's grave at the Vermont Veterans Cemetary, where I shot the above picture of the view from his headstone and the one below of the state seal on a granite post at the cemetary's entrance.

Montpelier is Vermont's state capital and, while not an otherwise industrial place, it also is home to the country's last plant manufacturing wooden clothes pins.

The Boy and I took in a ball game. We watched the Vermont Mountaineers defeat the Concord (NH) Quarry Dogs (what's a quarry dog?). Both teams are in the New England College Baseball League. Fittingly, the Mountaineers mascot is a woodchuck, the local vernacular for a Vermonter.

Montpelier's Independence Day parade has become a large affair lasting over an hour and featuring politicians, performers, and community groups.

The victorious Mountaineers riding on an historic firetruck.

The sailor's of the Mighty Monty came all the way from their home port of Norfolk, Virginia. One of these days I'm going to look up the story of how the capital of a landlocked state came to have an attack submarine named after it.

The Shriners were there driving their little cars. The Boy remembered them from last year's parade and he was eager to see them again. I remember them from parades when I was his age.

Vermont's Bread and Puppet Theater performed political street theater and had their trademeark washer women and giant flying bird. I also remember Bread and Puppet from parades when I was The Boy's age.

The Boy and I also visited nearby Barre, Vermont to take in a matinee of the new animated movie Cars. We had a few minutes to kill, so I took these pictures of the old Socialist Labor Party Hall. Notice the arm and hammer over the door in the picture above.

Barre is home to the world's largest granite quarry (but no quarry dogs that I've ever seen). It has over the year's attracted and turned out many very talented stonecutters. There are several excellent examples of stonecutting to be found in Barre like the statue pictured below.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

I took a date yesterday to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. We had a picnic lunch and then strolled through the ponds of water lillies and lotuses before walking out onto the boardwalk through Kenilworth Marsh.

The aquatic gardens are one of D.C.'s hidden gems. It's a national park on the edge of the district where the park service grows flowering water lillies and lotuses in man made ponds. I've been a few times now. Each time there has been only a few other people there. On past visits I've seen a variety of birds, turtles, salamanders, and butterflies. On this visit my date and I saw just one small turtle, sitting on a lilly pad, and three muskrats (I wonder whether the park service considers muskrats pests or just part of the ecosystem). Going to the aquatic gardens makes me forget that I'm in D.C. and I feel like I'm in on a well kept secret.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Irreverent Humor

This is one of my favorite jokes:

A crowd was preparing to stone a woman who had been caught committing adultery.

Jesus tried to stop them by saying, “let whoever is without sin among you, cast the first stone.”

Just then a stone came flying from the back of the crowd and struck the woman.

Jesus blurted out, “Mother, I’m trying to make a point here.”

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Conway Scenic Railroad

The Boy and I drove to North Conway last Saturday just to take a short ride on this historic train.

We purchased tickets to ride in the dome on top of the car pictured above.

The Boy has a book about the Conway Scenic Railroad so he recognized the rail cars and called them by name. When he saw the one in the picture above, he said "there's the Gertrude Stein."

I corrected him, "it's the Gertrude Emma."

Then I asked him "where did you ever hear of Gertrude Stein?"

"I don't know."

I wonder what his mother has been reading to him, or maybe it's his public radio habit.

It rained all day. The rain got heavier as the day wore on. By the end of the weekend a state of emergency had been declared across the region. Roads and bridges were washed out. Low-lying areas were evacuated due to the threat of flooding. On a rainy Saturday in May riding a train with The Boy was the perfect place to be.