Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Given that this is Memorial Day, I'd like to take a little bit of time today to highlight the sacrifice of those we're supposed to be remembering.  There was an article in the now defunct Rocky Mountain Times from 2008 that won the Pulitzer.  It's called "Final Salute, written by Jim Sheeler, and details the story of a Marine Corps Casualty Assistance Officer.  This is the position that is the liaison between the deceased's family and the military.

Click here for the article. 

Here is the pulitzer prize winning photo set. 

I know nobody reads newspapers anymore, but articles like this think that maybe we should.

Have a happy and safe day, everybody.

Photo courtesy of Todd Heisler

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Capitol Limited: West Virginia

Greetings from Martinsville, West Virginia.  Of course, the town is actually rolling by me right now.  I'm sitting in a Sleeper car with my girlfriend Allyson and it's a little tight.  We're essentially in two seats facing each other with a big picture window and some hooks for clothing. It's called a Roomette, which you can tell by the suffix means its pretty small.  

The Lounge car is pretty cool.  It has panoramic seats.  We have 7 PM reservations in the dining car, which I'm looking forward to.  So far most of the passengers seem to be tourists from the UK and seniors.  I'll write more in a bit.  It's rude to type on the computer when you're 2 feet from another person who's looking right at you. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Best Week for Kids with Aspergers

I think the only person who might know what week this is would be my friend Nicole, who is a child psychologist who works with autistic kids.  It's National Transportation Week.  Even the President says so. So I have some transportation posts this week, and by week I mean Thursday through Sunday.  I've been playing LA Noire nonstop since I got it and it's essentially taken over my life. 

So most people know about Zipcar.  It's a car sharing program that allows you to basically borrow a car for an hourly fee to run errands to see people.  Zipcar takes care of the insurance and the gas.  They'll even pay you if you wash the car.  And they're parked all over the place.  Well, last fall DC got this concept for bikes.  It's called Capital Bikeshare and it has changed my life.

Allow me to be honest.  I think the last time I rode my bike was in high school.  I'm pretty sure I haven't ridden a bicycle since then.  As a New Yorker, you pretty much walk or take mass transit.  And as a cop and then a Masshole, I ended up driving most places.  But when these bright red bikes started appearing all over DC, and they had a yearly rate of $50 for a limited time, I jumped on it.  I thought, even if I don't ride it, I'll support it.
They give you this cool little RFID fob that you place inside a bike dock, which looks like this: 
And then you hear a little bike bell ring, the light turns green and you remove the bike from the dock.  The first 30 minutes are free.  And then it's $1.50 for the next 30 minutes and like $3 for the next 30 minutes, steadily increasing as the time goes on.  They tell you flat out that this is not meant for bike tours.  This system is designed to run down to the grocery store, or to ride 6 minutes to your girlfriend's apartment.  In my 8 months of using the system, I've gone over 30 minutes once.  Some people are compulsive about it and end up docking and undocking their bikes mid-journey to restart the clock, but I don't really mind giving to a good cause.  Besides, my out of shape ass can't tolerate more than 60 minutes on a bicycle.

My first time riding to work, I remember pedaling down this hill towards Dupont Circle and I had this huge grin on my face and I think I actually screamed out "Wheee" which I'm sure got some looks.  But it just brought me right back to that joy of speed that you reveled in as a child.

The system has become wildly popular, which has it's ups and downs.  On the upside, more people are biking which is good for the roads because it increases awareness and drivers get more accustomed to seeing bikes and sharing space.  It also proves that this concept works , which wasn't a foregone conclusion given the last experiment in the district. And the downside is that it can be harder to find a bike when you want one, especially because all the traffic flows south in the mornings to the government buidings and then north in the evenings to the residential areas.  Also, there's a bunch of rubes pedaling around without helmets on their cellphones, so they could use some socialization as well.

I think that Capital Bikeshare is a definite perk of living in DC and it has changed the way I look at traveling short distances, because biking is always more fun and always faster.  It's coming to Boston this summer, and I hope my former neighbors have as much fun with it as I do.  Shout out to all the hard working people at Alta who actually operate the system and fix and move the bikes.  They are like the unseen gnomes of this entire process.  Though I'm sure some of them are quite tall. 

Stay tuned for my next entry as I take my first long distance train ride in a sleeper car this weekend. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Eating cottage cheese makes me want to vomit.  I woke up too late to make eggs and so I'm trying to get down this stuff.  I can tolerate it, but it's not pleasant.  They should make some bib that goes from the bottom of your nose to the top of a dish or a container, to prevent you from looking at what you're eating.  Because cottage cheese looks like something you eject and not ingest.  It also looks like the beginning stage for all of those things you love, but don't want to know how it's made, like Cheese Doodles. 

This is still better than that greek plain fat-free yogurt.  I need to wash my mouth out now.  Excuse me.  .

Monday, May 16, 2011

I'm on South Beach

Not in Miami, but in my kitchen 

I'm on the second week of the acclaimed South Beach Diet, which is a 3-phase test.  The first phase lasts two weeks and denies me:
  • Carbs
  • Fruit
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
This, I'll admit sounds terrible.  But when you're able to eat a bacon and cheese omelet in the morning, it's okay.  I will admit it's weird eating deli meats out of the container and not in a sandwich.  I feel like a kid in Lord of the Flies as ham falls off my chin.  Salads are my friend.  Especially when you can have chef's salads and buffalo chicken salads.  Feels wrong, but it is sooo right. 

And the drinking thing isn't too tough.  Except for this past Saturday when I attended a wedding.  Now at the risk of sounding like a member of a 12-step program,  let me say that weddings without booze aren't much fun.  Everyone is drinking, hell the toasts require a drink.  I relied on the old AA standby of club soda with a lime.  Looks like a gin and tonic, but in no way does it smell or taste like a gin and tonic. 

And to top it all off, my bathroom scale is broken.  Well, that's somewhat inaccurate.  It works, but it just gives about 2-3 different amounts for your weight when you step on it.  But I have stepped on the scale a week into the diet and averaged the results from both weeks and it looks like I'm losing weight, even though I don't feel like it. 

I will clear Phase 1 just in time for a trip to Chicago, so I can have pizza and a hot dog in a bun at Wrigley, so I don't look like some freak. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Clubs are like work....

So I promised to write about why I hate clubs and one of my few fans even said she was looking forward to it, so here gors.  I went to this club in AC called Mur Mur,  Yes, it's a dumb name.  I actually had to buy shoes to go in there because I was wearing sneakers.  I tried to explain that they were casual hiking boots, but that didn't fly with the woman with lots of cleavage.  So the group of guys and I went to the store at the Bellagio, where my old partner (who felt bad I had to buy shoes) bought me a pair of Calvin Klein slippers for $100.  Actually these shoes, which Zappos is selling for $98, so it's not as terrible a deal as I thought.  However I did end up looking like some sort of Italian jabroni.  For those not Italian or from Hawaii or the Pacific Northwest, the definition for that word is here. So I go into the club and there's a sign saying that men pay $25 and women pay $20.  I ask if it matters if I'm a pre-op tranny who may look like a woman but feels like a man.  This girl gives me a look like I went to her house, punched her mother in the stomach and told her Nonnie that she couldn't cook.  I paid the $25.

And now I'm in the club and there's lots of girls wearing not a lot of clothing.  And lots of guys with enough product in their hair to straighten Weird Al's hair.  And it's dark and loud and the fog machine is on overdrive. 

The guys I'm with wanted to get bottle service.  If you don't know what that is, because you're normal, it's when the club will sell you a bottle of liquor and allow you to sit at a table.  Let's say you like Grey Goose, and can buy the bottle for $40 at any store.  At a club, that bottle will run you $400, without tax and tip (which is mandatory 20%).  I should mention that they throw in the mixers for free, so they're practically giving it away.  The allureof bottle service is that you get to sit and look cool.  And many times girls will come over to drink your bottle and pretend to talk to you.  And you get to feel like a baller for one night before you go back to your job as an Asst Branch Manager for Enterprise or something.  The club wanted us to get 3 bottles which we declined. 

Things I don't like:
  • Douchebags
  • Expensive drinks
  • Noisy ass places
  • Cool, hip places
And I don't dance.  I dance the hell out of weddings, but I don't dance in the way that's supposed to attract the opposite sex.  Which is fine because I have a lovely girlfriend.  But I fully believe in dancing like no one is watching. And when drunk, I use moves like rubbing my nipples and biting the collar of my shirt.  Very hot, I assure you.

So I spent the night drinking $9 rum and diet cokes, and standing up against a wall with my arms folded and one foot propped agaist the wall, bent at the knee. Just like old times as a cop.  I look totally unapproachable, which is okay, because I'd have to yell at the top of my lungs to talk to anyone.  So I just sit there and marvel at the show, and how people can be having so much fun.

Fatburger at 5AM made up for it though......Faaattbuuuurgeeer (Said in affect of a zombie)  

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Vegas of the Mid-Atlantic

This Sunday, I had the wonderful opportunity to go to Atlantic City, New Jersey for a good friend's bachelor party.  This was probably only my second time in AC where I actually spent any time there.  When I was in high school, I had a friend who lived in Ocean City, NJ and I'd travel down there on the bus.  The buses would leave from the bus terminal in NYC and cost about $20 and then they would give you $18 in chips or quarters for the slots.  So if you're not going to play in AC, its essentially a $2-3 bus ride.

So we stayed at the Bellagio which was pretty nice.  I don't gamble as a general rule, but I'll dabble in the slots.  Atlantic City is a pretty interesting place.  It's hey day was back in the early 1900's where there were tons of huge hotels on the boardwalk and the city was an actual destination place where families would come from Philly and New York to spend a few weeks to recuperate and soak in the sun and the water.  There wasn't legalized gambling back then.  If you've seen Boardwalk Empire on HBO, it's set in this period.

The city then saw tourism drop off, until casino gambling was legalized.  Of course now, it's under attack from Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun for gamblers.  The actual city itself is pretty sad.  Apart from the casinos, the city is a pretty poor place. It still doesn't have a supermarket.  Seriously.  And I know that Vegas isn't all glitz either, but the transition in AC is so stark, it makes it depressing to go there.  Asides from some of the ugliest people you've ever seen. 

Coming up next....I'll talk about why I hate nightclubs so much.  Stay tuned. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

We Had to Defrost this Revenge on Setting 2

Good Evening.  I'm sitting in my hotel in Burlington, VT listening to Styx streaming on my computer and I have promised to be better at blogging, so I thought I'd knock out a post before I turned in.

As everyone knows, Osama Bin Laden was killed last night.  And I, like many Americans, was happy to hear that he's not on this earth anymore.  I think being a born and raised New Yorker and working for the NYPD on September 11th, his death was extra sweet.  I harbor no illusions that this means we've turned the corner on the war on terror.  I think we are still very much at risk and have spent huge amounts of money on security theater to prevent what really is unpreventable.  We should have been spending more time planning for what happens after something does happen, but that's not as sexy as toys.  I mean, look at this thing.  It's called a Bear.  It's fricken cool looking.  Who wouldn't want that over a paper plan?  I get it.

So I am glad he is dead.  It was odd how many students gathered in front of the White House last night to chant U-S-A.  Given that they were probably 8 when the Towers fell, it's been most of their lives that we've been looking for this guy.  So maybe this feels to them like how it felt for me when the Berlin Wall fell.  But even I understood in 89 (I was 13) that this was a game changer and things like communism don't end every day.

I lost some colleagues in the Towers.  None from my precinct, thank God, but a couple of guys from ESU Truck 2, which was located about 6 blocks from us.  So I used to see them around for jobs a fair amount.  I have however lost 2 men I worked closely with in the almost 10 years following the attack due to illnesses sustained while down there.  There were 23 MOS (Members of the Service) from the NYPD killed on 9/11/01.  There have been 29 killed since due to illness or disease.  Their badges are displayed at the top of the post.  Breathing the air we all breathed down there.  And the Republicans didn't want to fund the health fund.  And now, they have to make sure that you're not on the terrorist watch list before they give you benefits?  Seriously?   I get madder than Anthony Weiner about this stuff.  I personally think that only members of the NY/NJ/CT delegations should be able to vote on any 9/11 related bills.  What does Cliff Stearns know about what those men and women did?  Nada.