Friday, March 25, 2011

Not-So-Fine Dining

I love the news. And I hate the news. I like to know what's going on in the world, from politics to world news to celebrity garbage, I want to know it all -- even though it alternately makes me laugh and despair for society.  So imagine my surprise when I was sent this story by my friend the Policy Lawyer earlier today.  Something ridiculous that I had not seen!  And on one of my favorite topics, too, public transportation!  Complete with video!



I especially like the part where the Spaghetti Eater gets up to fight, but doesn't stop eating her spaghetti (I'd like to know where she got it, that it was so good she just couldn't wait till the fight was over for her victory meal.  And while we're at it, I also wonder where they were going that there was a full three minutes and 52 seconds between stops).  The article goes on to discuss etiquette on the subway . . . which is something I know all too well. My favorite part of the article is the description of the video:
"What kind of animals eat on the train like that?" says the woman across the aisle.
The diner snaps back with an epithet, and the exchange quickly degenerates into a fistfight.
"Chill out!" shouts a man as he tries to pull apart the two combatants.
Apparently the kind of "animal" who eats on the train is in the same class as the kind who starts a fistfight on the train.  And the poor "chill out" man. He was probably just trying to get home from work, maybe to a spaghetti dinner of his own, cooked by his long-suffering wife.  I know just how he feels, having witnessed a full-on picnic on the bus not too long ago.   But what I don't understand is how someone could even want to eat on the train or bus. I mean, think about it . . . it's hardly the dining room at Citronelle.  Bumpy, jerky, smelly.  It does not make for a dining experience (or at least a positive dining experience, anyway).  Even on its best smelling days, transit still mostly smells like a barn.  And I don't know about you, but I've been to a barn or two in my day (hard to believe, I know), and they also are not someplace where I want to enjoy home cookin'.

Maybe that's the real reason Metro doesn't allow eating and drinking on the train . . . they're trying to save us from ourselves.  Because who wants to get deep into a meal, then get a whiff of feet, urine, or unidentified excrement of some sort and spontaneously become The Sick Passenger?  Or worse, publicly berated and then socked in the head?  And besides, as the article puts it, you get a free "dose of weird" with every fare -- because what else would entertain us during our daily commutes?

What's your take on the Subway Spaghetti video?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Really Stepped In It

Last week my mom sent me an email with the subject line "Poop."  This isn't particularly odd, considering the sense of humor in our family.  I opened the email to see this video:



Sure, it was funny, but the point was, as my mother pointed out later when she posted the video to her Facebook page, that it was a "WashingTina moment."   I had forgotten about it until yesterday when I saw this article in The Washington Post.  And that got me thinking about poop and something that happened to me in elementary school.

I was in the third grade and it was a spring afternoon.  The weather had gotten nice, and I was wearing a pair of white sandals that went with my outfit.  We were having story time (or whatever it was called) in the afternoon, sitting in a circle, listening to our teacher read us a story.  And I had to go.  I asked the teacher, got the pass, and slipped out the door.  The girl's bathroom was maybe three or four doors down the hall.  As I pushed open the door and walked into the bathroom, I stepped in something.  Something that shouldn't have been there.  Poop.  I slipped out of my shoe, leaving my cute sandal stuck in the mystery poop, and hopped down the hall to my classroom.

I don't remember the exact details of what happened next, but I will never forget the conversation that followed.  My teacher, Miss Massey, looked at me and knew something was up.

Miss Massey:  What happened to your shoe?
WashingTina:  It's in the bathroom. 
MM:  Why?
WT:  Because I stepped in poop. 
MM:  Where?
WT:  In the bathroom. 
MM:  What was it doing there?  
WT:  I don't know.  
MM:  Was it yours?
WT:  No. 
MM:  Who's poop was it?
WT:  I don't know.
MM:  How did it get there?
WT:  I don't know.  
I can't remember what happened next, but I'm guessing a janitor was summoned to clean up the mess and retrieve my shoe.  We never did find out the owner of the mystery poop, either.  But one thing's for certain, I never wore those shoes again.  I guess my mom was right, it was a WashingTina moment . . . so where are my royalties?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Let's Be Reasonable

This week's spring weather prompted us to open the windows in our condo.  Yesterday, WH was in the kitchen opening the windows when he asked me if I had read the warning on our screen.  I hadn't -- in fact, I hadn't even noticed that there was a warning. This is what it said:
 
WARNING: SCREEN WILL NOT STOP OBJECTS/PERSONS FROM FALLING THRU WINDOW.
SCREENS ARE DESIGNED FOR REASONABLE INSECT CONTROL.
DO NOT REMOVE THIS LABEL.

 He wasn't so concerned with the poor bastard falling from the window (who, incidentally, looks like he's had a run in with Batman -- POW!). 

It was the "reasonable insect" that got him.  He was really incensed about it.

WH: What is an unreasonable insect? Is it judged by size? Or is judged by aggression? Either way, it seems like whatever they expect it to be, it can go through the metal screen. 

WT:  I guess so.

WH:  And what is a reasonable insect?  Is it reasonable because you can reason with it?  "Sorry, we don't like your kind around here . . ." and they leave?  Is it because they're cute and you don't mind them around your house?  Whatever the reasonable one is, it seems like I don't mind having the reasonable insect around.  It's the unreasonable insect that I don't want around, so what's the point of the screen?

WT:  You're probably right.

WH:  I can just see the cockroach sitting on the windowsill, looking in.  What happens, I offer him a sugar cube and say, "I'm sorry, you're not welcome here. Please leave," and he says, in an Irish accent, "Righty-o!" and leaves?  What's an unreasonable insect? He just gives you the finger and comes in anyway?

WT:  The cockroach has an Irish accent?

WH: Sure, why not. 
WT: Okay.
WH:  Are we living in the Amazon?  Rude, ugly, dangerous, dirty . . . that's unreasonable?  Seriously, let's look at this.  When all those lawyers sit around in a confernece room to write the liability sticker, what did they think is a reasonable insect? I'm not joking now.  Maybe they thought a ladybug is a reasonable insect, it's cute.  Maybe a butterfly is a reasonable insect, it's pretty, you get happy when you see it.  Now, same way, let's think about what they consider unreasaonable.  Tarantula? A very large hissing Madagascar cockroach? Again, I want the unreasonable insects to stay out.  If something can chew through the metal screen and come in, I guess it's a good thing the screen cannot stop a person jumping through, because I will jump out. They come in, I go out. In fact, what would be your reaction if you're sitting and enjoying a warm sunny day and all of the sudden you see an unidentified being sitting on your screen chewing the metal to come in?  What would you do? You can see some hair, long antennae, but if it's up here [we live on the fourth floor] you know it can fly, because it's up here out of nowhere, and it can chew through metal.  If lawyers came up with that warning, they must know something we don't know.  It has to exist.  I live in Washington, D.C., not the Amazon rainforest.
He's got a point.  Who writes these things?  And what is it that they actually mean?  They're sitting in a conference room somewhere that probably doesn't even have windows, coming up with this very poorly worded warning.  It really isn't clear.  Sure, we get it from the graphic that the screen won't keep a human in, but it might've been more helpful to have a graphic showing what exactly the screen might keep out.  It must be clear to them, but not so clear to us.  At any rate, I'm going to think twice before opening the windows from now on. I don't want to have to reason with any insects. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

To Tweet, Or Not To Tweet

I have a lot of friends who don't use Twitter, let alone understand what it is or how to use it.  I even have a few Facebook holdouts that have yet to buddy up.  And that's okay . . . it's simly not for them -- and maybe it's not for you.  For those not in the know, Twitter has been used for all kinds of cool stuff, including online discussions, networking, self promotion (hello, Charlie Sheen), and even organizing protests (human rights blogger and online activist Wael Abbas used it to communicate about conditions in Egypt during the recent protests).  It can also be used for charity.  Wondering how?  Read on. 

Next week marks the D.C. Twestival . . . a Twitter festival (get it?!?).  My friend Ms. Rasberry is on the planning committee, and asked if I'd do a little publicity for it.  Here's how it works, in her words:

It’s an event that is designed to utilize social media in order to raise awareness and funds for charitable organizations. This year’s DC Twestival benefits FAIR Fund, an organization committed to ending human trafficking, particularly of youth. As the mother of two daughters, this issue speaks to my heart. People tend to think of human trafficking as an “elsewhere” problem, but it’s very much a problem in the United States as well. All too often we hear of young girls going missing and many of them have been taken by pimps and abusers and forced into prostitution and servitude. The majority of human trafficking is for the purpose of sex. We must do something to stop this! After a lengthy process, FAIR Fund was selected as the DC Twestival beneficiary. I’m glad to be a part of it because it is most definitely a much needed organization.
This year’s event takes place on March 24 at DC venue, Shadowroom. If you’re in the DC area, come out and help support a worthy cause. It’ll be fun and, as if you needed anymore prompting, I’ll be there! Tickets on sale here.
It's a FUNdraiser -- for a really good cause.  So even if you aren't Twitterly-inclined, you can still participate, because who doesn't love socializing and supporting charity?  It's the perfect combo.  Will I see you there?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's A Small World

I've said before how D.C. is a bit of a small town.  It's a fact that I'm reminded of on a regular basis.  I run into people I know all the time -- at least once a week.  It's not often, though, that it's someone I haven't seen in nearly 20 years.  Certainly the advent of Facebook has made chance encounters after years of seperation a thing of the past, but there are always those people who aren't on Facebook or you can't seem to find online. 

A couple of weeks ago, I was leaving the ladies room at my office (my organization shares its space with another larger organization) and saw a strangely familiar face.  But it couldn't be could it?  It quickly left my mind until later the next day when I was looking up an email address for one of the folks with whom we share our office.  A name on the list was the name of the person I thought I had seen.  Still, there's no way, was there?  A quick look online at LinkedIn, and I was certain it had to be her. 

When I was in high school, I spent the time when I wasn't playing sports or participating in afterschool activities babysitting for the Little Girl and the Little Boy.  She was five and he was a baby.  I had been sitting for them off and on since the Little Girl was two.  Through their parents, I met several other families for whom I babysat, but the Little family was always first on my list.  I became a bit of a babysitting mogul . . . because I had a car and my parents didn't mind if I stayed out late if I was watching kids. In fact, I didn't have to get a "real" job waiting tables or at the mall like most of my friends, because I was able to finance my lifestyle with babysitting.  I think the Little family and their cohorts fully funded my recreational activities my freshman year of college.  Anyway, when I left for school, I left the kids behind, though I would occasionally come back for a visit.  As is the way these things happen, I lost touch with the Little family and went on with life.  I've often wondered what became of the Little Girl and the Little Boy who were two of the brightest and most well-behaved kids I've ever met.

And then . . . there the Little Girl was in the office bathroom.  I sent an email to the address on our office list, thinking that maybe she wouldn't remember me (after all, we hadn't seen each other since she was about seven-years-old).  But of course she did and we caught up later that day.  Yesterday we had lunch together, which was slightly mind-blowing, as having an adult conversation with someone with whom I used to discuss the finer points of The Little Mermaid seemed strangely out of context.  I quickly got over it though, and it was such a delight to see that she had turned into a poised young lady (yeah, I know, I sound like an 87-year-old grandma). She told me that I hadn't changed a bit . . . since I was 17!  We chatted like old friends . . . or new friends.  And isn't that the beauty of the small world?  Running into someone, years hence, and realizing that you have made a new friend of an old friend?

Has anything like this ever happened to you?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Search and Recovery

It's been awhile since I've blogged.  This is a great disappointment to me.  Part of this stems from good old fashioned Catholic Guilt, and another part stems from the fact that I always got "that speech" when I didn't do my homework.  You know the one -- "We're so disappointed in you.  We know you can do better. Why would you wait until the last minute?"  And so on.  I can hear it every day that I don't blog and I flash back to elementary school. 

When I was in third grade, after having to miss recess who-knows-how-many times for not getting my work done, I was diagnosed with a learning disability.  When told I would have to go to special classes, I vowed to my parents that I was quitting school.  Fortunately my parents decided not to indulge an eight-year-old drop-out, and I went to the classes in the afternoons a few times a week to work on my motor skills.  This consisted of stringing beads -- in fact, we often would "race" to see who could string more beads in some specific increment of time.  It was highly stressful.  (Yeah, go ahead and laugh. But thanks to Ms. Bradley's techniques, I can now type 120 wpm.)  I'm sure we did other stuff in that class, but all I really remember is stringing beads.  Whatever else we did, it worked. 

I was released from special ed classes and sent back to regular classes relatively stigma-free.  Unfortunately, though, nobody ever worked on my lack of organizational skills (or at least, I never went to special classes for it).  This problem still rears its ugly head periodically in my life.  This week, in fact, I've been trying to organize some video interviews for a conference at work and for the life of me couldn't get my shit together.  I spent the better part of the afternoon today wrestling with an Excel spreadsheet.  My desk looked like a bomb exploded on it.  It was not good for my self esteem. 

This reminded me of another time, in the fourth grade, when I had let my desk get to a biohazard level of disgusting.  I literally could not find a pencil, my lunch, or the kid who sat next to me because the desk was so full of junk.  Apparently my teacher had noticed, because after lunch, just before we started math lessons, as she waited -- and waited -- for me to hunt down my homework (or worksheet, or eraser, or my Safety Patrol Belt), she came around and watched me root through the junk.  That's when she snapped.  I mean, teaching 30 nine-year-olds all day long would get to anyone, but throw in a packrat/hoarder/Fred Sanford-clone and it was enough to send her over the edge.  And then . . . it happened.  She took my desk, tipped it over, gave it a little shake, and dumped the contents all over the floor.  I'm pretty sure we found the Lindburgh baby in there.  I definitely found an old lunch.  I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the floor rooting through the papers and culling the herd for stuff that wasn't necessary. 

If a teacher did this to a kid today, she'd probably be sent to Siberia to mine for quartz or something and the kid would have to go through grief counseling, but I'm pretty sure I deserved it.  Besides that, when your mother is a very active PTA parent and spends 24-7 at the school, you can't get away with anything.  (In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if my mother told her to do it.  I really was a mess.)  You might feel bad for me, but don't.  Mrs. Williams was a great teacher, and one of my favorites.  And I got to miss math that day.  I'm pretty sure it was the day we learned how to balance checkbooks, because I still don't really have that skill.  But what I do have is that little angel hovering over my shoulder telling me what I should do all.the.time.  And today it told me that I should blog.  So I am.  And I'm going to tell you the same thing I used to tell my parents every Sunday night before the diorama that I had two weeks to complete was due . . . "I promise I'll do better.  I did read the book. And math is boring!" But you know what, I always did well with writing . . . so, yeah, I'll do better.  Really.