Friday, February 13, 2009

The Narrows: Go.

To be honest I wasn't that thrilled about going to The Narrows (3023 Kent Narrows Way S, Kent Narrows, MD), but we were going to meet a friend who was driving from Delaware and we wanted to meet somewhere good that was still equidistant from both DC and DE.  We settled on The Narrows, which he recommended, and that suited me fairly well as it was just a bit over the Bay Bridge.

The Narrows is your typical waterfront 'fancy' restaurant, and I put fancy in quotes because most waterfront fancy restaurants just aren't really that fancy.  There is something about the waterfront that causes a restaurant to loose 'class' (although never price); I'm not really sure of the phenomena, but in my endless travels up and down the Eastern seaboard I have noticed this, albeit with a few exceptions.  Basically the prices and the food would indicate that you could not wear jeans to this place, but you could totally pull it off - especially in the winter when business is down a bit.

I don't think I have ever been more impressed with a restaurant that did not seem like it would over the top.  Although the server was delayed in getting to our table, once she had come she was extremely attentive.  The only thing bad were the drinks - they were just not very good at all.  Anyway... Soup.  French Onion = amazing.  Clam Chowder = apparently amazing.  Caesar Salad = amazing (also comes included with the entree).  As my entree, I got the braised pork ... I forget what my other two guests got.

All in all this meal was amazing ... so if you happen to be crossing the Bay Bridge towards the Ocean and get a craving - stop at The Narrows.  Or plan your trip around it, you won't be disappointed.

Tim Shea: 4/5 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness

While checking the Adams Morgan Yahoo message board (usually overrun with nonsense and rude comments), I was pleased to find something pleasant, and much to odd/hilarious to keep to myself ...

Apparently, we are in the midst of "Random Acts of Kindness Week!" Who puts this on, you might ask ... well none other than the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation! Can you imagine getting a business card from someone in this organization?! Unreal!

To support this en masse , Adams Morgan is encouraging folks to utilize the 18th and Columbia kiosk (as they did for Festivus) to post ideas for the week. You can also log into the above website and send kindness e-cards. What random acts of kindness have you done this week??

So how this is funded and who runs it? ... this is the information on the "About Us" page on their website:

The Foundation is privately held and funded. We accept no donations, grants, or membership dues. We do not provide financial assistance to individuals or organizations. The Foundation has no religious or organizational affiliations; we encourage the practice of kindness in all sectors of society.

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is the United States delegate to the World Kindness Movement, an organization that includes various nations. People in these countries promote kindness within their countries' borders and are creating a global network of kindness and compassion.

As people from different cultures and from all walks of life are joining to spread kindness, they are creating a powerful, synergistic action throughout the world. Please join us in bringing kindness and compassion to our local and global communities!

Looking past the absurdity that is this organization, I must say that this is a great idea. Go forth and commit random acts of kindness this week ... and stay tuned for World Kindness Day and World Kindness week in November!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Facebook Friends ... returned

If you recall I made a post (here) about Facebook friends back on January 15th.  Well it seems Doug Quenqua over at The Paper of Record is an avid reader of Connetiquette, because on January 28th, he published an article about Facebook friends as well (here).

BTW ... I promised to check on my friends everyday, but I forgot.  On the 15th I had 1, 325 friends, as of February 9th, I have 1, 331 friends.

It seems that Mr. Quenqua decided to write his article after the whole Burger King friendship scandal ... he just really talked about facebook and the different qualities of friendship.  He mentioned an idea that I have always thought about (and mentioned) - different categories of friendship.  Because clearly all your facebook friends do not share the equal standing as "friend."

Though I did take note with the fact that he said "While some people prefer the term “defriending,” a quick survey of user-created groups on Facebook shows “unfriending” to be the more popular choice." ... I personally use the term defriending, I think that unfriending is weird.  

What do you think?  Please comment with your feelings.  Defriending, or unfriending?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

DC Fire and EMS ... disaster

I caught wind of this from Eric Wemple over at the City Desk (his quick post is here), but Washingtonian has a 14-page (yea ... it is looooooooooong) article about DC Fire and EMS.  They are mainly discussing the EMS component of why DC FEMS sucks.  Props go to John Pakkanen for writing a great article - and one that is indeed quite thought-provoking.  Pakkanen makes note that during his campaign, Adrian Fenty had promised that he was going to break up DC FEMS into two separate departments - because things clearly were not working.

We all know that FEMS sucks ... you hear of long response times, horrible care - just absolute disaster.  Remember over the summer those two ambulance companies that were found to be sitting in a radio dead spot up in NW to avoid calls ... and that occurring in a city that is already short-ambulanced.  GREATTTT.  That is after the whole thing back in 2006 where a reporter for The Paper of Record, David Rosenbaum, suffered a head trauma and FEMS treated him as if he was intoxicated.  They took hours to get him to the hospital - stopping at one of the EMT's house to pick up something.  Unreal.  

It seems to me after reading this article - in which Pakkanen outlines failure, after failure - you are better off stealing a car and attempting to drive yourself to the hospital in most cases.  That is pretty sad, and quite dangerous.  Actually after reading this article I fear having to call 911.  

But the article did answer some very interesting questions for me - like why does a fire engine ALWAYS show up, even when it is just a routine medical/EMS call.  It always seemed to me like an incredible waste of resources, since the engine could not transport people - and more often than not it seemed like the firefighters were just standing around.  It would make sense if they were all trained EMTs, which I did think for a while - but this article completely debunked that theory.  While DC FEMS doesn't seem to have an official reason for doing so, fire calls have dropped by one-third in the past 20-ish years and yet budgets and staffing levels have stayed the same.  It seems that sending the engine just justifies reasons to keep staffing levels and keep up with the newest and best equipment in the fire houses.

Firefighters hate EMS personnel and vice versa ... its a bad situation.  And instead of fulfilling his campaign promise to rectify the situation and break the two departments up - he is doing exactly the opposite.  He is going along with the plan to fully integrate the two departments - basically truly making it FEMS, eliminating the separate arm of EMS.  All firefighters would be trained as first-responders, and all EMTs as firefighters.  Sounds like the worst idea ever ... clearly he has never watched Third Watch.  Firefighters and EMTs are completely different personalities; you have firefighters who are macho and love to jump into burning buildings to save people, and conversely you have EMTs are do love to save people - but aren't that keen on jumping into burning buildings.  I hate to generalize, but it seems that basically firefighters are not into it if there isn't something on fire.

I'm sure EMTs and paramedics can be jerks too ... but it seems to me from the my understanding of the situation (and everyone's accounts - including the firefighters), that firefighters think they are better than EMTs.  Hmmm ... I'm not quite sure about that.  Not to really rag on firefighters - but their jobs were made close to obsolete with a little invention called the sprinkler system.  And while we do have first-responder aids, such as AEDs, we still rely on EMTs to transport us safely in the event of a medical emergency.

Both units obviously perform very important functions, but I personally think they really need to be separate entities.  How do you feel about it?  What did you think of the article?  Did you think my portrayal of the situation is accurate, or do you feel that the services should remain under one umbrella?

I've babbled on enough - here is the actual article.

Morning Zen

I just thought the entire world might like to see this ... doesn't it give you a warm-fuzzy feeling on the inside?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday Stock Pick: X

Okay ... trading has stopped for the day, so here is your Monday stock pick ... US Steel.

Yea - I know ... China makes cheaper steel and what not - but we are the United States (and since we make most of the steel abroad), so we will always have the more superior product.

Seriously though ... USX is trading extremely close to its 52-week low of 20.71 - the stock closed today at 35.05 (up .89, probably on news that this blog post would be published).  On the opposite side of the spectrum, the stock has a 52-week high of 196 (how the mighty have fallen).

Why do I think you should buy this stock?  Well, let me start with why I think you shouldn't buy this stock - there are two reasons.  The first is that the company is headquartered in Pittsburgh, any company stupid enough to base their operators out of Pittsburgh has a few screws loose.  Heinz does it - and they make good ketchup - so I guess there must be some redeeming qualities about Pittsburgh (cue a deluge of posts from Corrupt).  The second is that they like unions ... you know how I feel about this one, but we have seen what unions and Nancy Pelosi have done to this country - and it's not pretty.

That said ... what is good?  USX is undervalued - that is a fact.  The company took a hard hit due to the downturn in car manufacturing and the end of the building boom, but people have failed to realize that Obama and his team of magicians have dreamed up a huge infrastructure investment ... and you can't rebuild this country without steel.  Steel is all over the structural backbone of this country and will continue to be ... additionally one of these days people are going to start buying cars again (and yes, even hybrids use steel), and people are going to be building office buildings again.  Steel is here to stay, there is no question about it.

Also of a sidenote - it seems that the company pays a dividend, which is a nice little bonus.  I don't personally believe that a company whose stock has been sliced from 196 to 35 should be paying anything, but that is their choice ... I guess the board wants to keep people invested, but I would not be hurt or shocked if they decided to eliminate the dividend.  They also had really good 4th quarter earnings - which has been helping their stock work its way back up.

You can check out all the good deets at Google Finance: here, but save yourself that step and just head to whatever online brokerage system you use and buy the X.  P/E is 1.94. EPS is 18.08.

Disclosure: If I can find some cash I am planning to buy some US Steel, probably no more than 100 shares though.  I believe what I write.