Lets get the Councilmember involved

I wrote to Jim Graham today.  I’m looking for a little help on my parking ticket problems.  I figure that taking up Graham’s time is more efficient than taking up the time of a clerk in the DC traffic courts – Graham’s time is billed at a much higher rate, and it will take less time to reach the $60 they’re trying to take from me.

When I hear back, I’ll let you all know.  And then I’ll contest my tickets.

My wife, my accountant

And I thought I was just getting a lawyer when I got married.  Turns out my wife is an accountant, too.  When we were (Well, she was) doing our taxes, she discovered that I had failed to report some mortgage interest paid on my 2005 return.  So, she insisted that I re-file.  Or, rather, she re-filed, and made me sign it.

Today, I get a check from the IRS for $328.46.  $300 in taxes I paid and didn’t owe, and $28.46 in interest.

So, what should I do with it?  I figure it should be something nice for both of us.

Why I complain

I may have posted about this once before, so if you’ve heard it, you can just skip to the next paragraph.  A friend at work a few years ago, defending me to someone else, said that, while I complain a lot, it isn’t quite complaining.  It’s really just making conversation.

I’ve always been a big talker.  A perfect example is last Christmas, the first one I didn’t spend at home with my family.  I was with my in-laws instead.  My two younger siblings told me later that we had never realized that I started most of the family dinner conversations.  Apparently Christmas dinner was rather quiet without me.

Anyway, the thing I’m really bad at, and I think the reason that I complain a lot, is that I’m just awful at making small talk with people I don’t really know.  It’s hit home recently in my interactions with the people who live in my building, and the people who live next door.

Just this afternoon, I was sitting on the front steps after I went running, which I often do to kind of cool off gradually before I sit in the air conditioning.  A girl next door, who I’ve never met, came up the steps with her bike.  She said hello, and I said hello.  She asked, “How’s it going?”.  And I had absolutely no response.  Luckily for me, her bike had a flat tire, which I noticed, so I could ask about that.  Otherwise, I really have no idea what I would have said.

And I fear that people will think me unfriendly, or that I don’t want to get to know them.  I would like to get to know my neighbors.  I’ve met the people in my building, some more than others, and I’ve met a few people next door.  They all seem very nice.  But I can just never think of anything to say to people I don’t really know.

I’ve never really understood why.  I love to talk.  I talk at great length when I’m comfortable.  But when I’m not, I’m nearly mute.

Maybe there’s a class or something I could take.

We got the house

Our front doorThe wife and I are now proud owners (Pending closing in a few weeks) of a new condo in Columbia Heights.  We have the first floor.  It’s absolutely gorgeous.  I’ll have more pictures next time we’re able to get inside.  We’re obviously very excited.  Columbia Heights is a late-transitional neighborhood, new stuff going in all the time.  It’s walking distance (If you really want to) to Dupont Circle and the zoo.  We can walk to the trendy U Street Corridor.  It’s going to be awesome.

Restaurant week in DC

Wife and I are off to a fancy dinner tonight at Mendocino, booked through OpenTable. Can’t wait for some nice fish, maybe some organic wine . . .

I know you all are jealous.

Edit: Totally worth it. I’d highly recommend Mendocino. Dinner was great. Nice, small restaurant, good service, right in the heart of super-trendy Georgetown. Georgetown is actually so trendy that I don’t think it’s trendy anymore – it’s gone totally back around to only semi-cool.  The wife says, “Great company.  But I guess I can get that anywhere.  I would recommend the goat cheese cheesecake”.

Id like a new layout

I’m tired of the way Complaint Hub looks.  I’ve just been over at Candy Blog, run by Nanowrimo big shot Cybele, and I really like the design.  It’s not what I’m looking for, but it fits her site really well.  And that’s what I want here – a design that fits my site.  Then the question becomes, what sort of a design is right for a blog about complaining?  I don’t know.  I’d like to do something myself, but WordPress uses PHP, and I have pretty limited PHP experience.  I suppose it would be good to learn.

Happy New Year!

I know, it’s early for almost all of my usual readers, who tend to be in the United States.  But I won’t be near a computer at midnight.  Actually, I might be, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be sitting down to post something about it.  The wife and I are running late for a party at a friend’s house.  We were planning to leave ten minutes ago, and we are not walking out the door yet.  But that’s okay.

Anyway, it’s been a good year.  I’m not going to summarize now.  Maybe tomorrow.

All done

Golfing Benjamin While I was at my father-in-law’s over Christmas, I got a chance to hang out with my new nephews (New to me – they’re the sons of my brother- and sister-in-law). The older one, not pictured here, I’d met before. Benjamin, above, I’d met before, but he’s still pretty young. This is the first time I’ve hung out with him since he could really communicate. Two days ago, he was asking to play golf. There’s a nerf golf set in the basement, and the kids like to go down and play, but Benjamin is a little small to do it himself. I happened to walk by the kitchen as people were cooking dinner and Benjamin was looking for an escort into the basement. My wife told him to ask me, since I wasn’t busy cooking. So he did, and he and I went downstairs. He carefully set up all the little plastic holes. I put the flags on the sticks for him, and he put them in the slots where they belong. Then he hit the ball around a bit (His short game needs work, but he’s got the “put the ball in the hole” part down). Then he looked at me and said, “All done.”

And then, to my amazement, he started putting everything away. He gathered the holes (I had to help him remove the flags) and put everything back in the box. I only prompted him for one or two pieces that he forgot, and only after he had started cleaning on his own. When everything was put away, he said, “Go see mommy.” And we went back upstairs.

Watching little kids like that has always fascinated me.  I wonder about the thought process that goes on in his head.  Sometimes I think they couldn’t possibly be comprehending what it seems like they are.

I guess it’s good practice for when I have my own kids.

Almost out

I’m at work until lunchtime today, and then home to finish packing and head off to the in-laws’.  It still sounds weird to talk about going to my father-in-law’s house.  This is my first Christmas away from home, so it should be an experience.  I’m a little sad to be away from my family, but this was inevitable at some point, and I’m excited to experience my wife’s family Christmas.  It promises to be more hectic than mine.

That said, don’t expect much posting until I get back next week.  I’ll have computer access there, but I don’t expect to use it very often.  And without my stored passwords, I may forget how to login here to post anything.  But I imagine most of you will be similarly busy with family and holiday celebrations and just not being at work.

So, happy holidays, whichever holidays it may be that you do or don’t celebrate.