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Archive for October, 2006

Great Falls Park

This Saturday Mel and I went hiking in Great Falls Park. It was such a refreshing change to be able to get out of the city and actually see the seasons changing, and to at least feel a tiny bit of what I miss so much about New England fall. Great Falls Park, while not a hardcore hiking destination per se, does offer long rambling walks along the Potomac River and views of Mather Gorge, a spectular set of waterfalls and canals. The C&O Canal was actually used to float longboats from Pittsburgh to Washington and they had to build locks to get around Mather Gorge. There are also the ruins of the town of Matildaville which thrived in the 1920s and 30s but was abandoned once the railroads replaced the longboat canals.

Mel and I hiked down the River Trail first, where you can see people rockclimbing on the sides of the Gorge and brave people actually kayaking UP the rapids! We meandered down the river and eventually turned around and went back up a combination of the Matildaville Trail and the Old Carriage Road. I think the walk ended up being around 2 miles round trip, nothing too strenuous but very enjoyable!

It was great to spend some time away from the concrete and congestion, it made me homesick for fall days in New England.

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Well folks, I decided that the weekly themed post’s name was corny, so I’m thinking about a different title, but I didn’t want this week to go by, especially when the following story really gives you something to tease me about!

This week’s as-yet-unamed thing is key duplication, plus a story about why it is wonderful.

You see I was trying to be a good roommate on Saturday, Mel and Jay were both taking naps and it was a rainy afternoon with not much to do. I decided that I was going to clean the apartment, now we don’t have much furniture so it isn’t hard to clean, but still. I scrubbed the shower, did some dishes, tidied the living room (while trying not to wake Jay!) and then thought that I should take out some of our mounting recycling and empty the trash can.

In my apartment we do not have a trash room, but rather a “refuse chute”, which consists of a small closet with a hatch that is connected to a seven-story tunnel down to the trash compactor. I like our refuse chute, it makes me feel very British for some reason, it must be the word refuse. Anyways, I grabbed a bag of trash, some glass bottles and cans and headed towards the door. Melanie, being the responsible one, leaves her keys on a hook on our bulletin board that is by the front door. I of course misplace mine frequently, something that results in many early morning searches of the apartment while I stress about being late to work! The point is, I grabbed Melanie’s keys to go down the hall to the refuse chute, because I didn’t want to have to knock and wake up Mel or Jay when I came back down the hall.

So there I was, taking the trash out without incident, when I reach into the hatch to prod the garbage bag into falling down the chute, my fingers loosened their grip on both the bag AND Melanie’s keys. *Clink, clink, thwack, clink* And silence. My roommate’s keys were now at the bottom of my seven-story refuse chute. I was both locked out and doomed.

I knock on the apartment door and wake my brother up and tell him what has happened, this elicits little more than a grunt, he is definitely still asleep.

Feeling very irritated with myself, I locate my keys and rush down to the front lobby of my building, where Trudi (one of the resident old ladies who watch the door) and a friend are chatting. I confess my error, and Trudi’s friend erupts in laughter, although she assures me, “I’m not laughing at you dear, it’s just that I did the same thing myself!” I find myself beginning to smile, just a little, in the face of their amusement, and luckily Trudi’s friend tells me she thinks the UPS story down the street does key duplication. So of course I sprint down the street, run inside about 15 mins before closing, and am able to get at least our apartment keys for Melanie.

The story ended well, Melanie told me that if it had been her car keys, “I really would have been mad!” But as it stands, she gets points for being a saint, I had to pay approximately 17.86 to get three keys replaced.

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This weekend I attended my first show at the 9:30 Club. A friend from work told me that Jamie Cullum was going to be in DC this weekend and I jumped at the chance to see him. He reminds me a lot of Ben Folds and my co-worker said he was an entertaning performer.

Well, entertaining doesn’t even cover the half of it! The show on Saturday night was the best live show I’ve ever seen, which although is not saying a huge amount, many future concerts will be measured against this one. Josh Ritter opened for Jamie Cullum and he was good as well, but he was definitely more in the normal concert vein. But Jamie burst out on the stage and took over the whole performance.

For starters, Jamie’s albums do not give you any clues about what to expect. On his CDs he alternates between mellow jazz and creative Sinatra covers, and even one Radiohead cover. His own songs are the best on the album but do not demonstrate his sheer talent or his rockstar personality. His voice also does not betray the fact that he is British, drinks Guinness on stage, and has the weirdest hair I’ve seen in awhile. He is a consummate hipster, just tragic enough to wear obscure graphic tees and a skinny tie but also full of this manic energy that is not commonly seen in hipster rockers.

Jamie stands on and jumps off the piano, takes his fluglehorn player out into the audience to do an improvised solo, plays every instrument on stage, and talks to the audience about how much he loves the venue. While these things might make him sound a little crazy, don’t worry he is, but in a good way. He didn’t resent playing the crowd pleasers or appear bored on stage, he was truly engaged for every minute of his 2 hour and 15 minute set!!

One of the more amazing moments was when, as you can see in the title, he and the band burst into the Brazilian Carnevale, with the whistles and Jamie on the bongo drums and everything, it was both random and captivating, he later confessed to the crowd that he had a Brazilian girlfriend, and that’s the kind of performer he is, he draws on aspects of his musical and personal life and creates a unique show for his fans. Jamie Cullum is one of those artists who is on the cusp of being very famous and so he still has enough perspective to know that the people at his concerts know him and his music well and therefore won’t be fooled by arrogance, but he also seems to sense that a concert is more than just playing music, it is a show, and he is a star performer. It was the best live show I have ever seen and it will take something incredible to top him.

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New look

While I know a lot of you read my blog through Bloglines or some other feed website, I was wondering if you could do me a favor and go to the actual page in order to see my new layout!

My last layout had a custom header of the island I go to in Maine, and while I love it, I like this layout for the blog better. I can put in a custom header in this one as well, but then I saw the default which are these lovely old books and I thought it was appropriate for this blog. BUT if my tiny readership has a strong opinion I will put the custom header back up.

Let me know!

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To start the week off right, I have decided to do a weekly post series called “Small Wonders,” a corny title that is meant to celebrate the mundane things in life that often make us happy but go unnoticed. I am going to be trying out a few weekly post ideas, and this may or may not stick around, so let me know if you think it is a)utterly stupid or b)slightly interesting and worth another try.

Today’s small wonder is….Trader Joe’s!

I did my first full grocery shop at Trader Joe’s today, and I can’t even tell you how great it was. I must admit that Melanie, my roommate, had been trying to tell me how great Trader Joe’s was for a few weeks now, but I didn’t believe her. See in Connecticut, Trader Joe’s is not a very big thing, and in fact the only Trader Joe’s I knew of was out by the mall, pretty small, and lacking a produce section. I didn’t see how one could do all their grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, because I like fruits and veggies and don’t feel like cutting them out of my diet! But I met up with Melanie at the Trader Joe’s in Washington, DC and we definitely hit the jackpot.

Although I know that this has the potential to devolve into Trader Joe’s commercial, it is important to remember why this is being written about in the first place. As most of you recent college graduates know, quality food for little money is the holy grail of city living. So be it in restaurant or grocery form, good cheap food is something that is always worth writing about. Personally I would recommend stocking up on Trader Joe’s sauces (until you have the time/energy to make your own), the crispy orange chicken in the frozen section is a great “lazy night” meal, and I would also urge you to try their veggies which are so much cheaper than a normal grocery store!

Go forth to Trader Joe’s, and that’s your small wonder for this week!

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