Thursday, May 31, 2007

Soccer at Summers

On Saturday night (5-26) I wanted to watch the DC United v Houston Dynamo match. It was a home match at RFK but for a few reasons, I didn't want to go to see it live (cost, weather, convenience). At any rate, that shouldn't matter.

Now, just because a DCU match is being played at home doesn't mean that it won't be shown on ComcastSportsNet. At least not usually. I was able to watch almost every match last season on either CSN or ESPN2. No problems.

Saturday night's match was ONLY scheduled to be shown on something called HDNET. I don't know what that is, but I definitely don't get it at home. Luckily, Summers Grill and Sports Bar is within walking distance and is always showing soccer matches. In fact, from their website,
"Welcome to Summers Restaurant... the "Best Sports Pub in America for Soccer" according to Matchday Magazine."
Consider this the beginning of an informal campaign against Summers. The short version of my adventure in trying to get into Summers to watch the match was that they were not showing the DCU match, they were showing, in fact, NO SOCCER that night and there was a $10 cover for people to come in to watch some bullshit Ultimate Fighting Championship. huh?

I ended up going to Kitty O'Shea's to see if I could watch it there, but I think it was actually blacked out for some reason.

It turns out that listening to it on the radio would have been my best option.

I may have to plan to go to the home matches for the month of June because according to the schedule, I will only be able to see 2 out of 5 matches in June on TV at home.
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Thursday, May 10, 2007

May 10th - Vonnegut
from Bluebeard (1987)

I was obviously born to draw better than most people, just as the widow Berman and Paul Slazinger were obviously born to tell stories better than most people can. Other people are obviously born to sing and dance or explain the stars in the sky or do magic tricks or be great leaders or athletes, and so on.

I think that could go back to the time when people had to live in small groups of relatives – maybe fifty or a hundred people at the most. And evolution or god or whatever arranged things genetically, to keep the little families going, to cheer them up, so that they could all have somebody to tell stories around the campfire at night, and somebody else to paint pictures on the walls of the caves and somebody who wasn’t afraid of anything and so on.

That’s what I think. And of course a scheme like that doesn’t make sense anymore, because simply moderate giftedness has been made worthless by the printing press and radio and television and satellites and all that. A moderately gifted person who would have been a community treasure a thousand years ago has to give up, has to go into some other line of work, since modern communications put him or her into daily competition with nothing but world’s champions.

The entire planet can get along nicely with maybe a dozen champion performers in each area of human giftedness. A moderately gifted person has to keep his or her gifts all bottled up until, in a manner of speaking, he or she gets drunk at a wedding and tap dances on the coffee table like Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers. We have a name for him or her. We call him or her an “exhibitionist.”

How do we reward such an exhibitionist? We say to him or her the next morning, “Wow! Were you ever drunk last night!”

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Friday, May 04, 2007


My father is a hobbyist beekeeper. He currently has 3 hives of honeybees in his backyard in Chesapeake, VA (southeast). He has kept bees for a few years now (3 or 4) and he became interested both as a gardener and as an environmentalist. Bees are an endangered insect for reasons that are not fully understood but honeybees as pollinators are vital to agricultural cycles.

<Source, p. 5/13, right column>

Several scientists have estimated the value of insect-pollinated crops that are dependent on honey bees (Robinson et al. 1989,Morse and Calderone 2000), or the financial loss to society that could be expected if managed honey bees were removed from cropping systems (Southwick and Southwick 1992).These authors make a variety of assumptions and take different approaches to calculating a value for honey bees. For example, Southwick and Southwick (1992) take into account the reduced crop output stemming from a lack of managed honey bees, adjusting their figures for the changes in value of each commodity as demand increases because of reduced supply. They also present a range of possible values based on assumptions of the pollination redundancy of managed honey bees and other bee pollinators, including feral honey bees and other native and nonnative bees. Taking all of this into account, they give a range of $1.6 billion ($2.1 billion when adjusted for inflation to represent 2003 dollars) to $5.2 billion ($6.8 billion in 2003 dollars) for the value of honey-bee pollinators

As a result of being the son of a beekeeper (possibly my new expletive of choice), I have learned a lot about honeybees and why they are important and how to act around them. Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation and fear about bees. Just this week I've come across two instances of this and I've been frustrated in my efforts to educate people and to change attitudes.

The first instance was in a magazine that I receive (a gift subscription from my father-in-law) called The Family Handyman. In a segment called AskTFH, a reader asked about "yellow jackets and bees". The beginning of the answer says, "The magic bullet for getting rid of wasps and bees is to destroy their nest." YIKES!

I alerted my father to this and he was also concerned. He immediately shot off an e-mail to both the author of the column as well as the editor of the magazine. I feel it is worth including here:

Dear Ask Handyman,

In the latest issue of Handyman magazine, in "Ask TFH", you recommended exterminating wasps, yellow jackets and bees. I hope you know there are different types of bees and you are doing your readers a disservice by lumping all bees into the same category. Honey bees are a protected insect by the US Government. They (the honey bees) have enough problems surviving without homeowners hitting them with insecticide. The proper thing for the homeowner to do is call a professional exterminator to determine what kind of insects they have.

If an exterminator is too expensive then there are hobbyist beekeepers in every town USA that would be glad to help identify the insects. If they are honey bees, the beekeepers will remove them if they are accessible.

The plight (decline) of the honeybee is a serious problem for agriculture. Please clarify the information in your next issue.

As my dad points out, honeybees are much different than other buzzing, stinging insects. And that difference is a critical one.

One of my favorite blogs, DCist, had this picture and post yesterday afternoon. I was horrified when I read it early this morning because I've come to think of DCist as a progressive group of urban bloggers who would do better than say, "Where's the Raid?"

Luckily, the commenters got it right fairly quickly, but even after my comment (Bob), someone had to get cranky and so I commented again to tell him or her to "shut it" as eloquently as I could.

Here are the basics that I think you should know.

1. Do not be afraid of honeybees unless you are allergic to them - a random sting can be deadly. However, bees will not sting you if you leave them alone. They are doing their own thing and will most likely ignore you as long as you leave them alone. But once you start swatting at them or moving quickly, then you may risk getting stung.

2. Honeybees should not be killed. They are at risk already and aggressively exterminating them just makes things worse. An exterminator can identify any pests, but a cheaper and less aggressive option would be to contact a local beekeeper. They will most likely come to your house and remove the hive/swarm for you at no charge.

3. In the DC area, you can contact the Beekeepers Association of Northern Virginia to try to get help.

Thank you for reading this.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Realigning my priorities

I'm sure that this is going to come across as whiny and uninteresting to the reader, but I have to get this out.

The Washington Wizards lost Game 4 (of 7) to the Cleveland Cavaliers last night, thus ending their 2007 playoff run. After leading their division for most of the season, late season injuries to Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler really took their toll and despite every effort from players like Antawn Jamison and Antonio Daniels, they lost a lot of late regular season games and finally got swept by the Cavs. So what, right?

Well, I invested a lot of time and energy (and money, actually) in this team this season and I'm so depressed and frankly, I'm pissed.

It just seems like a waste to me. My wife wants to impress on me the enjoyment that we got out of all of those hours and the quality time she and I spent together. I understand. But we could have been doing lots of different things with that time and it would have been just as well spent. We could have been working out or watching classic movies or visiting with friends or working on some sort of art or writing project together.

DC United, my other favorite sports team, is off to a 0-3 start. The team this year was predicted to be huge, with tons of offensive talent. Instead, they have been getting embarrassed by average teams. I'm seeing a repeat of my Wizards' season, except now it is the summer coming and I REALLY could be doing something productive. I could garden instead, I could hang out at the pool instead, I could ride my bike instead. I think I probably should, or I'm just going to end up frustrated and, ultimately dissappointed because I invest too much hoping for too much return and I get none.
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