Friday, March 6, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Did it? Done it? Do it!

I signed up for this site - I am not quite sure how useful it is, or if it will be another fad.  I guess we will just have to wait and see what becomes of it.

You can get to the site by visiting them here:

Anyway - the concept is kind of interesting, you check off things you have done (basically anything) and denote things you might want to do.  It is a place to share your life experiences, and discover new experiences to partake in.  I guess its the newest form of social networking - trying to meet people who like to do things that you do.

I have to confess I have not actually checked off anything that I've done, but maybe I'll go do that now.

The site is currently in Alpha, so there is hopefully more to come ... but certainly check it out

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sir Edward and Dr. Dean

Once again it has been some time since I've written. I'm seriously going to work on that.

But today there are a few stories about American Heroes that simply could not be overlooked

That's SIR Ted

Today, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown addressed a joint session of Congress (a rare honor afforded only to our closest friends... though he's the 5th UK PM to do so). In his speech, he announced that American hero, and long-time Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy would be granted an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II, saying:
"I hope that you will allow me to single out for special mention today one of your most distinguished senators, known in every continent and a great friend.

"Northern Ireland is today at peace, more Americans have health care, more children around the world are going to school and for all those things we owe a great debt to the life and courage of Senator Edward Kennedy.

"And so today, having talked to him last night, I want to announce that Her Majesty the Queen has awarded an honorary knighthood for Sir Edward Kennedy."

Specifically, Kennedy is being made an honorary Knight Commander in the Order of the British Empire for his contributions to U.S.-U.K. relations and for his work on the peace process in Northern Ireland. Because a non-honorary appointment requires an oath to the Queen, all those who are not citizens in a realm where the Queen is head of state are made honorary Knights. As such, technically Kennedy will not be able to use the "Sir" as a title before his name, but may use the post-nominal "KBE".

I say, if Gordon Brown can call him Sir Edward, the same goes for everyone. I look forward to him being addressed as such upon his return to the Senate.

Speaking of Sir Edward

Have I ranted yet about the Serve America Act? It's a major piece of legislation that is jointly sponsored by Senator Sir Edward Kennedy (or is it Sir Senator?) and Republican Orrin Hatch. The bill has almost 2-dozen sponsors and has gained momentum in recent weeks. It is notable that while it wasn't passed in the last session, Senators Obama, McCain, Clinton, and Majority Leader Reid were all among the major cosponsors.

The bill has been reintroduced and President Obama mentioned it in his speech to Congress last week as a national priority. The bill would create and expand national service projects like AmeriCorps, Vista, Teach For America, and other programs, while also creating/funding innovative new metrics for the impact of these projects. Specifically, it would nationalize America's Civic Health Index (a topic I've written about before) and provide a more clear year-by-year snapshot of civic engagement by making it part of the annual census. The National Conference on Citizenship has produced the CHI for the last several years, but this funding would allow for a greatly expanded version.

You can find more information on the Serve America Act here, at the Voices for National Service website, or here with ServiceNation.

Get involved, join the cause, pressure your elected officials. Sir Edward needs you!


Sir Edward aside, Howard Dean is clearly one of my greatest political influences. As a young turk in high school I eagerly joined the Deaniacs' 2003 Endless Summer Tour and I've been part of the movement to take my country back ever since.

In all seriousness, Howard Dean led a generational shift in American politics. He by no means did it alone, and he certainly is receiving little credit for his efforts, but I firmly believe in years to come his influence will begin to be fully appreciated. In 2002/2003, at a time when Democrats were cowering to Republicans on all issues in the wake of 9/11 and the bully-boy tactics being employed by Bush & Co, Dean was an unapologetic anti-war Democrat. He was ridiculed as a fringe element at first, until his campaign made unprecedented use of the internet and surged in the pre-primary hooplah. While his campaign eventually fizzled out (that scream...), his message of 'taking the country back', saying that he was representing the "Democratic wing of the Democratic party", revolutionizing the use of internet fundraising and social networking in campaigns -- all laid the groundwork for the Democratic resurgance we're enjoying now.

This is all even before his very successful stint as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (a position he won controversially and without the tradiational backing of the party stalwarts). He used his 50 state strategy to lay the organizational groundwork for the party in coming elections -- a very controversial move at the time, especially with then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel. But no one can argue that those investments didn't pay off when looking at the vast gains in Congressional races or the unexpected states that turned Blue in the 2008 Presidential Election. Certainly Obama had a lot to do with it, but you can't give him sole credit for winning redder than red states like North Carolina.

I'm not the first person to gush for Dean, and I hope I'm not that last. In fact, there's a great must-read piece you can find here about Howard Dean being a latter-day Democratic Barry Goldwater; setting the stage for a resurchange in their party. But the point of this all is: Give Dean his due. He's not politically loved in insider Democratic circles, but the guy has done a heck of a job. And that's not even counting his stellar record as governor of Vermont...


I've got some more coming up later, but tis all for now. Feel free to comment or discuss any of the above named Heroes of the Republic.

Circulator Spotted in Adams Morgan!

AHHH -- it's here!!

Working from home today, I noticed that there was a Circulator bus crossing 16th Street at the 16th/Harvard/Columbia intersection. The front of the bus said "Training Bus" ... does this mean Adams Morgan/Columbia Heights is getting its new Circulator bus asap?!

UPDATE: The Circulator training bus came back around about 20-30min later and was full of metro employees in reflective yellow vests. It was following the 42/43/H4 route around the 16/Harvard/Columbia park. Here is a photo of the bus across from the Embassy Apts. It went up Mount Pleasant Street after this, and I don't know where after that.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

West End Bistro: Amazing.

Eric Ripert.  Eric Ripert.  Eric Ripert.

I was hoping that maybe if I said his name 3 times fast he would show up, and my life would be complete ... but he isn't here and I'm hungry :(

Lucky for me I happen to work just three blocks from Eric's DC restaurant - West End Bistro - and I have had the pleasure of going there twice, and hopefully will get to go many more times in the future.  My last occasion - and the prompting for this review was on Christmas Eve (yea I know, I planned on writing this a while ago ... but time just flies away).  I had the occasion of bringing my lovely friend Lauren with me for a great candle-lit, pre-mass dinner - at which we had an amazing time.

You'll have to forgive me, because I don't remember what we had on this occasion and I might be thinking of the other time I went -- but either way I have tried the food and it is absolutely amazing.  I will say it right now, West End Bistro is one of the best restaurants in DC.

I will start with the most important course of any meal I am at - drinks ... we both ordered margaritas.  When I say these margs were perfection, I'm not kidding - they were amazing (and also $12 each, so you clearly got what you paid for).  I can't speak for the rest of their drink menu, but something tells me that if you are bothering to make a margarita that good (and your speciality isn't margs), your other drinks will be amazing as well.

For appetizers we got the Calamari - which I didn't not try - but Lauren said it was absolutely amazing.  And I am fairly certain I had the Pan Roasted Quail - which was amazing.  Perfectly cooked and just generally amazing.

For the main course I got the Classic Burger - with Cheese.  Now, it would seem kind of odd that I would get a burger at such a 'fancy' restaurant - or that Ripert would even bother putting it on the menu ... but trust me on this one - try it.  I had read somewhere (I think maybe in Washingtonian) that Ripert claimed to have perfected the burger.  He apparently tooled around with different recipes, sizes of buns, silces of vegetables, etc ... and eventaully found something he thought was perfect.  I am fairly certain he figured it out.  While I am a fan of messy burgers with all kinds of different toppings, and generally will order burgers - I rarely find one that I really say WOW, I want that (aside from Five Guys).  Ripert has done that, and I'm not really sure how, but I was quite impressed.

Lauren got the Shrimp and Grits - an interesting combination in my mind, but one she really enjoyed.  I honestly didn't try them - but I'll take her word on it that they were good.

We also shared some helpings of the Mac & Cheese and the Green Beans as side dishes - both of which were cooked fairly well.  I was not overly impressed with the Mac & Cheese, I generally prefer mine to be cheesier, but it was very well cooked - and flavorful.  I would be pleased if I served that to any guest in my home, so once again good job Chef Ripert.  And the Green Beans were lovely as well.

West End Bistro is truly one of the best restaurants in DC ... pony up the cash and go.

Tim Shea: 5/5

Sidebar: Apparently Eric Ripert is getting his own show on PBS this fall - read about it here.