Congressman Michael Grimm is an insane person

Congressman Michael Grimm (R-NY/Staten Island) felt a little tense after the State of the Union. After giving a terses statement to an NY1 reporter, he was asked about the ongoing issue of his campaign finance. He declined to discuss the matter and stormed off, then returned a moment later, apparently unaware that the camera was still rolling, and threatened to “throw [the reporter] off this [expletive deleted] balcony.” Grimm followed this with “you’re not man enough, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”


So, yeah, I’m glad that’s how elected officials speak to members of the press. To members of the human race, really.

It’s amazing that an elected official, in the course of doing his job, can threaten the life of a reporter, then make a non-apology, and people seem to be okay with that.

Mr. Grimm issued a statement late Tuesday evening: “I was extremely annoyed because I was doing NY1 a favor by rushing to do their interview first in lieu of several other requests. The reporter knew that I was in a hurry and was only there to comment on the State of the Union, but insisted on taking a disrespectful and cheap shot at the end of the interview, because I did not have time to speak off-topic. I verbally took the reporter to task and told him off, because I expect a certain level of professionalism and respect, especially when I go out of my way to do that reporter a favor. I doubt that I am the first member of Congress to tell off a reporter, and I am sure I won’t be the last.”


I expect a certain level of not threatening to throw people off of balconies from my elected officials. I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy.

Freezing Saddles

Since January 1st, I’ve been taking part in the Bike Arlington Freezing Saddles challenge. It’s a friendly contest that members of the Bike Arlington forum have organized (this is the second year of the challenge).

The rules are simple. Everyone is broken up into teams. You get 10 points for every day you ride at least a mile, and a point for every mile. Most team points wins. There are also a bunch of other prizes for random things to keep it interesting for those teams that don’t really have a shot at winning.

As I type this we have 11 riders with over 500 miles in January and two with over 1,000. I’m pretty happy with my total – I’ve ridden every day this month, a total of 253 miles. And yes, every day includes the -5 wind chill and every day of the snow.

It’s a cool competition. My team is doing well, but we’re not going to win. We’re currently pretty solidly in 5th place out of ten teams. But it’s a great excuse not only to get out and ride, but also to get to know some fellow forum members a bit better. And the competion finishes with the end of winter at a big happy hour where prizes are given and merriment is had.

It’s defintely good to have an understanding wife who stays with the kids while I go ride on the weekends. Not that she had it so bad today – when I got back she was dozing on the couch while the kids played. Today I rode around Brookland, one of the neighborhoods we’re considering when we finally buy a bigger place. I’m not sure I love it – it feels really suburban. Not unpleasant, but there’s defintely not as much you can walk to as there is here in Columbia Heights. Good hill workout, though, if you’re looking for that.

Wearable fitness trackers have jumped the shark

Sweet, a wearable fitness tracker for your pet. And as I write this it’s about to get funded.

I hope one of their cloud services is to text you when your pet is exercising and you aren’t. “Hey lazy the dog is going for a walk and you haven’t moved in an hour, maybe you should get off the couch and join her”.

You suck, Comcast

If you are in DC and online, you are likely paying a premium for the privilege.

The most recent figures from the WhiteFence Index, a monthly survey of utilities and home services in major cities, >reveals that DC residents pay the highest rate in the country when it comes to high speed internet.

Why is this? Could it be because Comcast had a monopoly over most of the city for years, with RCN covering a small portion, and Verizon Fios only coming to town after years of waiting and, more importantly, after Verizon has made it clear that it doesn’t much like providing Fios and could stop doing it at any time?

My new favorite food

The kids got me into hot sauce. It started with Taco Night. The Wife and I wanted to do more family dinners, where we all sat down and ate the same thing at the same time, as a family. Those of you with small children know this is sometimes no easy task. So The Wife started Taco Night. Lots of beans, some cheese, a bit of protein, and the kids are happy. But the kids like bland. A little cumin, maybe some salt and a pinch of pepper, and they’re good. The Wife and I, not so much.

Enter Cholula Original Hot Sauce. With Cholula, the kids could have their bland tacos, and The Wife and I could have something with a little kick, but she didn’t have to cook a second meal. It was a hit.

But hot sauce is like heroin or tattoos. You don’t just do a little bit and then stop. You want more. Soon I was dreaming of hot sauce. I was buying chipotle potato chips. Drenching my eggs in sriracha. Asking for my chicken over rice extra spicy from the multitude of kabob food trucks that descended on L’Enfant Plaza every day at lunch until DCRA folded under pressure from the restaurants and invented all sorts of silly regulations. And then I started making my own.

It’s surprisingly easy to make hot sauce. I highly recommend Hot Sauce! by Jennifer Trainer Thompson if you’re looking to start making your own. And also Freund Container for the bottles you’ll inevitably need.

So I made some sauces. Some were better than others. I tried a Carribean hot sauce from the book and didn’t like it at first, but it really, really grew on me. Now I want to put it on everything. But I wanted to make something that was my own, not just a recipe from the book. Here is my latest creation. It needs a name.

  • Five habaneros
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of vinegar
  • a small onion
  • 20 ounce can of pineapple chunks, drained
  • turmeric, to taste
  • two cloves of garlic
  • a pinch of salt

Throw it all in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Then simmer, uncovered, for about ten minutes. This should make about a cup and a half of deliciousness. The sweet, Jennifer Thompson tells me, delays the burn from the habaneros. I just ate a sweet potato burger that The Wife made with a generous glob of this hot sauce on it, and it was glorious. With a little planning, I could see myself bottling this stuff and selling it. It’s that good. Hot enough so you know you’re alive, but not so hot you wish you weren’t.

What the heck is a sneckdown?

“The snow is almost like nature’s tracing paper,” says Clarence Eckerson Jr, the director of StreetFilms, which documents pedestrian- and cycle-friendly streets across the globe. He says that snow can be helpful in pointing out traffic patterns and changing street composition for the better.

“When you dump some snow on this giant grid of streets, now you can see, visually, how people can better use the streets,” he says.


I love this idea, and it’s especially relevant today, as we’ve had a sizeable snow and then a lot of cold, so nothing is melting. So, a “sneckdown” is a spot on the road that is still covered in snow after the plows have gone through and cars have been using the streets. It’s a ridiculous name, I know, but it’s a cool concept. If you go out in DC right now you’ll see a ton of them. They’re places that we’ve reserved for cars that cars don’t really need. They’re places that can be given back to pedestrians. We can take these spaces and make them sidewalks so it’s easier and safer to cross the street. Or we can make them into bike lanes, or parks, or anything else that people might need.

There is one caveat – especially when it’s cold, much of the non-car traffic just isn’t big enough and hot enough to melt the snow. We have a lot of bike lanes in the city that DDOT has ingored and cyclists can’t use, so they remain covered in snow. This isn’t because there’s no demand. I was out biking today and nearly every other cyclist I saw was doing what I had to do – taking the lane right next to the bike lane because the bike lane was covered in a treacherous mix of ice and slush. The presence of a sneckdown is not incontrovertible proof that the space isn’t needed for its intended purpose. It’s just a good indication that we’re not allocating space efficiently.

It’s not the DRM, it’s the inconvenience

There’s not one word about digital rights management that keeps readers from moving their purchases to another hardware platform. Why would people forego their main e-book vendor if they lose everything they bought when they switch? What does DBW think those “walls” are built out of, papier-mâché?

Teleread: Surprise! Most consumers buy e-books from a single retailer

I don’t quite agree with this. It is unsuprising that most people who buy ebooks buy them from one retailer. I buy all my ebooks from Kobo. And while I think DRM is a bad idea for numerous reasons, for both the buyer and the seller, it’s not the whole story here.

I am technically competent enough to get DRM-free ebooks of whatever I want. I could either download them for free from any number of sites, or purchase them and strip the DRM. I choose not to, mostly because I want to support content creators, and I would rather forgo the content than take it for free.

The reason I buy all my books from Kobo is that I have a Kobo ebook reader, and they store all my purchases so I don’t have to think about it. Could I get better prices and a bigger selection at Amazon? Probably. But when it comes to digital content, I just don’t trust Amazon, and I’m willing to pay a small premium to avoid them.

But to the point above – it’s not exactly the DRM that builds these walls. If I buy a book from Kobo, it just shows up on my reader. If I buy a book from Amazon, I’m not even sure what I have to do. I probably have to download the book then transfer it the reader. I might need special software from Amazon that likely doesn’t work on my Linux laptop. It’s a big hassle. Now, you could make the argument that, in the absence of DRM, this process could be just as easy for books bought anywhere as it is for books bought from Kobo, but I really doubt it would work out that way. Music has been DRM free for the most part for a while now, and as far as I know you can’t do one-click buys from your music player from other vendors.

Snow Day

The kids are super excited for the snow today. They’re calling for 4-8 inches. These kids have really never had a good snow. They were either too young or not yet born for Snowmaggeddon and we’ve been setting records in the DC area over the last couple years for our lack of snow.

Unfortunately, The Wife and I both have work we have to do, even though OPM closed the federal government. And I have to get a bike ride in for Freezing Saddles.

Also, for the record, it is nearly 9AM and The Wife is still in bed. I’ve already been to the gym, made coffee, done some work, and fed the kids breakfast.

Google Glass Disconnect

Surely you’ve seen stuff written about “Glassholes”, early Google Glass users who don’t deal well with those who are upset by Glass and the feeling that they’re always being watched. I’m sure there are people being ridiculous on both sides – some Glass users who should be more sensitive to those around them, and some non-users who immediately jump to the worst possible conclusions.

What people have to understand is that, first, stuff like Google Glass isn’t going away, no matter how many coffee shops ban them with snarky notes. And, more importantly, none of us have any idea what is going to come out of projects like this. In some cases, it’s going to be saved lives.

Patrick Jordan isn’t just a Google Glass Explorer; he’s a firefighter and a developer based in North Carolina. That combination is making for an impressive idea: Jordan is working on a Glass app that could help him and fellow firefighters save more lives. The software would provide instant heads-up information such as floor plans, locations of nearby hydrants and vehicle data.

Yes, the always-on cameras can be dangerous to privacy, and people need to keep that in mind and remember that being polite and respecting others doesn’t depend on the technology one is or isn’t using. But we’re still in the earliest stages of this technology, and we’re already getting glimpses of what it can do for society. There will be growing pains, but you can’t think any sort of bans are going to do anything meaningful in the long run. We have to figure out how things like Google Glass are going to fit into society.