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Big, bad window replacement saga is over.

Jan. 15th, 2018 | 09:23 pm

But no Mafia involvement that I'm aware of!

Last Wednesday's work retreat was at least worthwhile, unlike some of the ones I've ranted about in the past. I popped into McDonald's for breakfast on the way, then sat awkwardly in the parking lot drinking my coffee since the librarians rightly won't allow it indoors. We had about two hours of feverish writing of our priorities for the year on big easel pads and rearranging them on the walls, then broke for lunch at a Peruvian chicken place in Eckington I'd not previously known about. It was a very good and not nap-inducing lunch! Then in the afternoon we continued to write about how to implement this stuff but there was more opportunity to remark on what hasn't gotten well and just to generally vent. The easel pages are neatly rolled up on Nicole's desk where there is a ~25% chance they remain that way forever. We shall see, anyway. Then we were out of there by 4:15 and I stopped into Trickbox to get new underwear since I'm never in that neighborhood, and back on home.

Since I've whined about our aging apartment so much in the past, I'm pleased that we just got all of our windows replaced. The super in our building did the yeoman's work of aligning the schedules of the contractors and the residents so that we could all get the installation done, but it was still a bit of a rushed mess. They tried to come in on Friday morning when B had been asleep all of two hours, so he shooed them away and they came back at 1 pm. By the time I got home from the retreat, they were well underway but not done yet, so we decamped to Stoney's for happy hour to wait them out. Finally at about 8:15 we returned and they had finished, and we also got new blinds out of the deal! The furniture was still all moved out of place, though, so we had to vacuum and get that back in place. Very glad it's over.

Otherwise we've been in near-hibernation mode. I picked up my most recent library hold on Sunday, and even found a parking space relatively close by so I wouldn't freeze walking there. So far it's a good fiction palate cleanser from my usual wonky picks plus the neverending stream of DC news.

With the ice madness over, we got to Shoppers and did the monthly shop tonight. Now that we have groceries: ribeye, mashed potatoes, and French onion soup for late dinner! Take that, winter.

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The whole world is a skating rink.

Jan. 9th, 2018 | 01:33 pm

And I'm going to break a hip.

Winter continues to have its way with us! I'm glad I made my Target run on Sunday before it all happened, so as to avoid skidding off the 14th Street Bridge and having to be fished out. Yesterday a freezing rainish sort of precipitation was going for most of the afternoon, and the temps stayed low enough that every sidewalk just turned into a sheet of ice. Especially those made of brick and sett pavers.

I was just finishing a 31-day step challenge that evening and was concerned I'd have to walk back and forth in my hallway a hundred times to get the step count* done, but I managed anyway! After tottling home from the bus stop, I changed and got an Uber to meet B at DC9 because there was no way I'd have successfully walked there without falling on my face. I even had to ask the poor driver to move up by like eighteen inches in my driveway so that I didn't have to clutch on to the side of his car to get in. He did a great job, though, and the streets were adequately salted/sanded.

Going out of order a bit, I was watching the Golden Globes and shitposting about them on Twitter Sunday night when a higher-than-usual** commotion of fire trucks made me look out the window, and the bodega on the next block (a two-story building which had an apartment above) was very clearly On Fire. For the next several hours, our entire block was closed as they strung fire hoses all the way from the far side of 13th Street and busted windows and generally tried to put the thing out. Very heroic effort from them, and they even summoned and parked the "canteen truck" because they were clearly not going anywhere for a while. I had to text B to say he was unlikely to get dropped off near our front door after work, and according to my emergency alerts the street didn't reopen until after 5 am. So. That was depressing and humbling.

Work will be a little irregular for the rest of the week. Sooner rather than later we absolutely have to get some long-delayed payment issues resolved, which were folded over from the prior year. But that won't be tomorrow, because my sub-team is having a retreat at the library branch that had an open conference room for the day. I will bring pretty detailed notes of my gripes and grievances, and we either will or won't come up with solutions to them. Given that it is six hours plus lunch, we better gd resolve something.

*The equivalent of walking from the Santa Monica Pier to the base of the Palm Springs Tramway. Love an app that makes these challenges into something creative. And that summons warm thoughts.

**The closest fire station is about four blocks from our apartment and we are used to them flying by if they are en route to calls in our direction.

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Damn, Jonathan.

Dec. 27th, 2017 | 10:15 pm

Back at it with the window shopping.

First day back to work today was not very serious. I was set to get there around 10:45, but stopped for a burrito bowl on the way in, so let’s call it an 11 am arrival. Emails were responded to, not that I had all that many, and I made some tracker updates I’d been putting off. But I did not particularly need to be there. On the way home, I stopped into Papyrus to get heavily discounted Christmas cards, to finish my second batch tomorrow and then the rest to have for next year. Slowly I am turning into a well-oiled discount hunting machine.

There was more such discount shopping yesterday! With the weather being decent, Andrew and I agreed to pop into a few places on 14th Street. We met up and first went to Danielle’s apartment to drop off a bag she left in his car. While waiting and then walking around, he regaled me with the story of their Christmas, capped by getting a flat tire that resisted refilling and had to drive all the way back to DC stopping every few miles to check on it. Wouldn’t you know that Christmas Day is the hardest day to find any auto repair folks?

Anyhow, we started at Lululemon so he could exchange gifts for some more desirable stuff, then we went across the way to Room and Board to check out their after-Christmas sale with every other human in DC. The weather was nice, and we were admittedly enjoying a good sale so it was understandable. Lots of fun furniture, but we didn’t buy anything, just had a good conversation while moving from floor to floor browsing. In the end we just got coffee from Wydown and then I came home. But it was lovely and relaxed!

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God is a Japanese broth.

Dec. 26th, 2017 | 09:11 pm

With apologies to Ariana Grande.

We really didn't get up to much on Christmas or the days leading up to it. Since my last entry, really all we've done is catch up on life. While B was at work on Thursday, I availed myself of finishing my first handful of holiday cards (the only ones that got to people on time, oh well!) and took them to the Post Office on L Street that I never see because it closes promptly at 5 pm, then went off to the gym. I also popped into Whole Foods in Foggy Bottom just for a tea and it was more than a bit hellish. My cashier was in reasonably good spirits considering the hordes, but I really should just gone to a corner store.

Friday was devoted solely to getting my hair cut, for which I was glad Rusty was actually still in town to do. On Saturday we had no choice but to get our Christmas pork, so once B had slept enough to recover from the previous night's shift, we steeled ourselves and drove to Shoppers in the late afternoon. Things were a little dicey in the baking aisle, but everything we needed was in stock and I considered myself lucky we didn't have to buy anything in a gallon can. Seriously, the woman queuing in front of us had multiple vegetable cans of that size; how many people was she feeding?! Then in the evening I finished wrapping all the gifts, not that there were too many not already sent to their recipients. On Sunday we resumed our traditional Popeye's fried chicken feast at Looking Glass. I got there around 7:15 and a good crowd had already gathered. It was not out of control, but also better attended than anyone really expected and we ran out of everything. Note for next year if we're in town: buy an extra family meal!

The actual day was blissfully quiet, though the scads of social media posts are a little bittersweet when you can't get to a house full of family members. Anyhow, we watched basic movies on TV, exchanged gifts over coffee (pretty much all of my gifts were emblazoned with polar bears!), and then had miso soup and katsudon for dinner. Non-traditional Christmas menus two years in a row now. Other than bargain shopping with Andrew (which I'll get to eventually) all I did today was curse at the Jeopardy! contestants and check the bowl game scores (Duke lost another one, are we surprised?), and I'd consider that a pretty good day. Back to work tomorrow!

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Being Santa’s dutiful servant now that capitalist work requirements are done.

Dec. 20th, 2017 | 09:44 pm

Schnapps consumption is not optional in late December.

“Staycation” is kind of a lame term, but I am in fact starting a good and productive jag of time off work while staying in DC. Call that whatever you’d like!

Sunday was pretty lazy, but I did stop at the liquor store while driving B to work so he could buy the requisite coworker gifts. We went to the one on 11th Street that has angle parking along the side, and while he went in to shop I had the privilege of watching multiple people go in and out, also in a harried state and likely buying gifts and libations for holiday parties. It took a bit for the traffic to clear enough for us to even get out of there; bully for District Liquors on what is probably their busiest week of the year. On the way back from dropoff, I stopped at Harris Teeter for some survival groceries.

On Monday I’d committed to work from home but it was pretty nice. I opened the day at the Starbucks by my old internship, which is oddly shaped and thus had a perfect nook for me to hide in while taking calls, and I wrote a batch of Christmas cards during our staff meeting. Then I dropped those at the Post Office, got some lunch at Trader Joe’s, and grazed while on my check-in call with Manager. That was a tad depressing because this is supposed to be our “slow” season but the to-do lists are still unrealistically long, but whatever. Then I came home and did some followups, and was able to go to the gym around 4:45. Tuesday was my last day in the office until the 27th, for which I was magically there at 9*, and had Shake Shack lunch to celebrate the occasion.

Today was a bang up start to the time off! I was able to sleep in but still work out, then drop off my last library book before B and I went to Atlantic Plumbing to see The Last Jedi! I recommend 2 pm movies with beers. Sadly, when we were exactly 7 minutes into the movie the fire alarm went off and we were ushered outside, blinking at the sudden return to daylight. About 15 minutes later it was off and we got back to our seats to finish the movie. I liked it a whole bunch, and better than the last one as the characters got a chance to have more backstory and development (and I ship Frose). On the way out, a staff member was ready with free movie passes for each of us to apologize for the fire-alarm-but-no-fire. Good on them for that gesture.

We decided to head to DC9 to see what this “popup” bar situation was all about. Sheena was there and had a surprising amount of customers for 4:30 on a Wednesday, so I suppose it’s working. Basically, they were making fun of the bars earnestly doing this, but I’m not sure most people got the joke? So we had variations on vodka sodas for a while, and she was kind enough to serve me one forbidden bourbon, then we came home. Now we have Chinese food on the way, and I would pretty much call this a perfect day.

*My usual report time is 10. Thank you, East Coast dayjobbers, for normalizing that.

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How did I get through this December with only two holiday parties?

Dec. 16th, 2017 | 03:34 pm

By being antisocial, mostly.

Blake’s holiday party last night was a smashing good time! It’s also his last in that apartment (more on that below) so a bit of a bittersweet occasion. Based on his texts all week it sounded like the preparations were a bit behind schedule but he and Jack (and the housekeepers that actually cleaned in advance) pulled everything together, including the real Christmas tree that you can get mailed to you! The future is amazing.

His church runs a very good closet for homeless and recently housed folks to use, so instead of gifts he encouraged clothing donations to help them out. I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t have the time to sort through my closets and drawers to find suitable stuff, but after work on Thursday I did manage to cull through and get a Target bag full of stuff.

I mostly talked to Joe, Jen, and Nasser while there, but cycled through much else of the crowd while I could. He got maybe 35 people in the apartment which felt very full especially with a tree in the living room and the second bedroom full of clothing donations. The snacks were ample and much appreciated since I came straight from the gym, too.

It’s hard to believe I have no other holiday parties with this one and the work party already done, but I’ll take it! Still need to finish up my shopping/wrapping and work Monday and Tuesday before I’m in the clear. And I should put up our own tree, even if it’s only staying up for a week.

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Last wedding of the year!

Dec. 11th, 2017 | 08:17 pm

Though I offer mad respect if you tell Santa to suck it and have your wedding in late December.

Elliott and Stu’s wedding was a smashing success! A very long day, as weddings tend to be, but worth it. B had arranged to take the day off well in advance, and we spent the morning ironing and obsessing over the right ties and accessories.

The couple of the moment, desperate to have a sip between thousands of photo requests.

The plan was to meet the group at Sara’s apartment at 12:10, then head over to the venue together. We Uber’d there and she was still out dropping off flowers and assorted other errands, so we stood outside on the sidewalk and got in the way of dog walkers while catching up. By the time she arrived, we had Brett, Jesse, Chris T., Patrick, and Kevin assembled. We caught up with Chris some on life in Orlando, then finally Sara arrived and we trooped inside to have mimosas and play with her new cat.

Finally we walked over to Darlington House, got drinks, and yakked with more of the assembled guests. The ceremony started basically on time and Drew was a super efficient officiant. That was only about a 25-minute ceremony and then we were able to enjoy passed hors d’oeuvres (note: mini-pizzas are as popular as you might think!).

Chris V., Stu, Sara, Kevin, and Patrick. Too much fun to capture in a still image!

It was lovely to catch up with everyone, notably Rich and his gorgeous J. Crew navy suit that I covet, and Chris V., who now travels frequently to northern Florida of all places for work. With that part of the day done but not yet time for the next, we fetched our coats and went to Larry’s for a couple of rounds while being the most overdressed of anyone in the Sunday crowd. Then it was back to Sara's place to change into marginally more comfortable garb; while turning on to her street, a car with a very flat front tire pulled over and Chris T. helped them change their tire in his tux! A very good person, he is. Eventually we made our way to Duplex for the afterparty, and got to talk to the grooms’ siblings some as well. Jesse got a giant burger and sat at the bar to eat it, a very appropriate muse for our levels of tired/hungry/calories don’t count on special occasion days.

We finally came home about 9, which felt much later after a day in formal shoes. Lots of weddings coming up in 2018, starting with Lajuan and Xavier on June 2! I may invest in a new suit for these, following the example of Rich.

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Guest visits of a NC nature.

Dec. 7th, 2017 | 06:47 pm

They always end with 3,000 extra calories.

Mario had been inquiring of B when would be a good time to visit and stay with us, as he has the free time of late. We finally settled on this week, because Thanksgiving madness was behind us and B’s days off are in the middle of the week anyway.

He arrived midday Monday and got settled while I was at work. As an aside, I managed to be early to work that morning even with a breakfast sammich stop at Au Bon Pain. Plus I made it to the gym by 6 and fit in a quick workout. Then I got home, change and dropped off my junk, then drove to AdMo for our planned dinner. Mario’s favorite DC restaurant was always Zenebech Injera, so we met there. One huge magic platter of food later, we were stuffed and I drove us home, then popped out quickly to get ginger ale for him. There isn’t a ton in Adams Morgan that I want to try, but that was on the short list so very glad that happened!

I had to be in the Suburbs Office on Tuesday, so another early morning and I spent the day mostly in meetings with scant time in between to be productive. Whatever, face time has value, at least for the people I saw there. I made it back home a little before 8, then B, Mario, and I promptly walked over to Da Hong Pao for dinner. It was much less crazy than our prior visit for brunch, and they still had some availability of dim sum upon request! We ordered an insane amount of stuff, ate extensively, and took home leftovers. During that I learned how they spent their day, primarily playing on Mario’s Switch (which we hooked up to our TV despite thinking we were out of ports) and visiting Eric’s bar at Logan for lunch. I would much rather have been doing those things than toiling in the suburbs, clearly.

Mario flew back to NC sometime during the next day, but I didn’t see him again as I was in the Suburbs once more. The occasion for that was the train-the-trainers portion of launching Year 2 of Big Project. Having been through this part of the pre-launch before, I felt a little more comfortable with what was going on but also a bit resigned to the fact that the next chapter would be rough. Unlike Year 1, users of Big Project will be in eleven of our offices so it’s hard to predict how troubleshooting will go with a handful of people each in all these remote places. At least they gave us free food for most of the training duration.

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Does Vanna have permanent tinnitus from the decades of DING!s?

Dec. 4th, 2017 | 09:33 pm

Or are the sound effects only added for TV? Deep thoughts.

The men’s locker room* here at LGay Fitness recently added a television at the far end, and there are speakers throughout to broadcast audio. I am not a fan of this feature.

Unlike in the office gym, there is no way to mute or lower the volume on the TV itself, even though it is within reach for me. So I just have to live with it. Most stuff can be easily tuned out, but the noise when letters come up on Wheel of Fortune is high enough to hear even from inside the sauna. I don’t know how I endured a whole childhood of having that on at 6:30 pm six days a week.

Other content is highly variable in the annoyance factor. Jeopardy!, the other weeknight staple, is actually kind of fun because you can tune in to try to mentally guess a handful of questions without knowing or caring how the contestants are doing overall. Local news is just as alarm-inducing and fake-objective as ever. Infomercials on Saturdays and old church dudes delivering sermons on Sundays are exactly as mind-numbing as ever.

Given the spotty maintenance record of the gym, I sorta hope it’ll just stop working at some point in the near future.

*I assume the same setup exists in the women’s locker room but cannot confirm.

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Retail holidays are for buying clothing worthy of being seen in public.

Nov. 25th, 2017 | 07:25 pm

And saving an arbitrary amount in the process.

After much excuse-making and procrastination, I finally went to Target around 3 pm today to stock up on pants.

The weather was fantastically warm and I didn’t even need my coat, making it a tad more justifiable to shake off the turkey coma and leave the house. First stop was to gas up the car, then I went to face my retail maker.

Target was crowded, as expected, but 1 of every 6 American workers was also on shift so everything went swimmingly. When have you ever seen three people staffing the fitting room area? Anyhow, I did find a pair of dark green jean-ish pants and a pair of chinos that will be ideal for work, so those were scores. Also picked up various other junk I needed, checked out, and got a 20% off coupon for the next visit. B had texted to ask for an Italian sandwich while I was there, so I piloted ably toward Bozelli’s which was of course closed. The internet magically steered me toward another comparable deli, I ordered two subs for a pittance, then I returned home. Pretty swell day off!

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