Wednesday, May 12, 2010

30 Tiny Truths - 14

14. People in the DC area cannot drive in the elements.

Traffic here is bad. It's really bad. That is a given. But if the sky so much as considers a rain (or God forbid, a snow) shower, suddenly there are 3 car pileups every 100 meters and traffic is backed up for days. And as soon as the precipitation lets up, it's like it never happened. The sun shines and people once again drive like sane human beings who at one time stepped inside a driving school.
I have several theories as to why this is true:

There is something in the air.
That's not humidity, that's the vengeful spirits of slaves who were killed while first building our fair city[ies]. As they drowned in the swampy muck that would eventually become our congested, potholed street system they each shouted out, "One day there will be horseless carriages on these roads, and when that day comes, we will seek our revenge!" And it was so.

There is something in the water.
Decades of lead poisoning and simply existing near the poor deceased Anacostia River and/or Chesapeake Bay has altered our brains in such a way that, whenever we are near moisture we FREAK OUT and cease to be able to make logical choices while operating heavy machinery.

There is something in our demographic makeup.
As a swirling mass of federal cops, Virginians, college-age New Jerseyans, beltway drivers and foreign diplomats, we are the perfect storm for Mass Traffic Hysteria, or MTH as it is known in medical circles.

And then there's the good old-fashioned DC favorite:
It's a conspiracy.
Those damned conservatives/liberals/foreigners/senators/gay people and women are at it again!!!

Any of these could be true. I tend to think all of them are.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Mash Note for 'Arry

I realize sports are a tougher sell on this fine blog, but given the rough times of the Caps and United plus the perennial false optimism around DC for the Redskins, an actual happy sports story is much needed.

On Wednesday Tottenham Hotspur finally (finally!) snagged a spot in Champions League*, something that has been long overdue for a team of our stature (you'll notice me slipping into "we" at points during this post, but that's sports fandom for ya). And the man who got us there is the congenial, ever ruddy faced Harry Redknapp, who for good measure just snagged coach of the year as well.

When Redknapp took over early last season, Spurs were literally a national laughing stock and were headed toward relegation (one of many jokes from the time: "What's the difference between Tottenham and a triangle?" "A triangle has three points").

Harry turned things around literally from the second he arrived. The team won their first game under their change, and having actually been at that game, I can speak to one improvement I noticed right from the start. Tottenham had signed Luka Modric as our playmaker at the beginning of that season, but he had underperformed under the previous manager. That first game under 'Arry he looked like a completely different player, covering the whole pitch and creating all sorts of chances. I don't know what did it, but I would bet Redknapp probably just told him to play his game, and let him cover wide swaths of turf.

And that was just the first of many players he seems to have gotten the best out of. In the game on Wednesday, there were six English players. After the game all six had a better than even chance of being on the plane to South Africa for the World Cup. And that includes our captain Ledley King, who can only play one game a week due to perpetual knee issues. But those are just the Englishman. Our keeper has gone from joke to game saver. Two of our main offensive weapons were in the doghouse for the better part of the year, but when they came on the pitch, they started producing like crazy. Gareth Bale (to the right) has the making of being a top class midfielder, and he's only 20! And Palacios, what a signing! The list goes on and on. People can argue about the quality of 'Arry's tactics, but he's for most part one of the classiest leaders in the game. When reporters praise one defender after the game he'll be quick to compliment the unit, or he'll also heap praise on his midfield. When he won coach of the year he thanked his team by name and emphasized their role. There's a fetish in
England with having English managers doing well, but for me, it's just nice to have a manager who on the whole I can just be proud of. He has made this a better team from top to bottom, and he's done it with a lot of class.

By the end of the season we didn't just look like a team that could beat just about anybody, we actually were beating damn near everyone. In a span of five days Tottenham beat their bitterest rival Arsenal, and the top team on the table Chelsea, in games where I would have been content with a draw. Next season will not be a cakewalk, but for the rest of the summer I will be coasting on the glory of Tottenham Hotspur.

* Champions League is like a super-playoffs that takes the top few teams from each European league and puts them in a season-long tournament that is played concurrently with the normal club season. It sounds weird,
but soccer is weird.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Quandries of the No-Longer-Unemployed

If you read here, you may recall that I was unemployed since August. Well, now that it's been nearly a full nine months (my unemployment has come to term? -sorry) I have finally acquired a job! Never fear, dear reader, who has undoubtedly been biting thy nails in agony for my plight!

Of course, since I'm a human being and the leafy growth on the ground is perpetually more viridian on the other side, this kinda sucks.

No longer is the majority of my day mine own to dispense with as I please. I have been totally not a slouch with it (at least, after an initial period last September in which I spent every day wallowing in self-pity, in a little inflatable pool in the backyard); rather I have been all kinds of self-improvey, gettin' on with reading and exercising and writing and other worthy projects. But since these self-improvments have taken up most of my day each day, and no longer will I have most of my day to call mine own, I expect that I will no longer be doing much exercising and writing and so forth. (Reading I will be, since I now will have approximately 90 minutes of Metro riding each day to work.)

No longer do I live as master Gentleman of my daily fate. Now the weekday and weekend are my king and queen (or queen and king, I ain't tryin' to be sexist in my anthropomorphization). Weekdays are for repetitive nothingness - my time Monday-Friday to be divided up such that approximately half is used giving my attention to projects which Have Nothing To Do With Me Except That I Get Paid To Make Them Happen. (It's a nonprofit, a cool workplace, don't get me wrong, but they still aren't my projects.) The other half of those five days are spent traveling, eating, and sleeping in preparation for enacting those projects which HNTDWMETIGPTMTH. I may as well be renting my body and mind to another person during those days, so much the usefulness they have for my personal goals. (Writing, learning via books, getting in better shape, learning via travel.) Only the weekend remains.

Of course I'm being a bit doomsday. I've been employed before (shock!) and have managed to do some things of my own in those evenings after work. But considering how much I have left uncompleted - scripts unwritten, books unread - in the nine months since losing my previous job, it seems, at this moment, like I have no free time to look forward to in comparison. Strange, it seems, to me, in my spoiled state of mind, that we have created a society in which we must sacrifice half our waking hours in order to half the official wherewithal to do as we please in the remainder. Course, it's better than having to work sunup to sundown just to raise your food like a medieval serf, and of course having everyone be on state-funded unemployment like I shamefully/shamelessly was would be untenable, but. Still. I wasn't slotful; I was gainfully unemployed, writing and taking care of myself and even occasionally volunteering to help others out. It's just society does not deem these things to be worth monetary or temporal compensation.

You know, sometimes I think this is why people so much feel the need to start a family. It seems awfully silly to spend 5 days a week working just to be able to have 2 days all to yourself. But if you add a family to take care of - at the very least a house with a dog in it - suddenly you've multiplied the produce of your labors; those 5 days of work now support not just your royal weekend, but also your hearth, home and puppy dish.

But that's a navel-gazing tract to be written some other day. Right now I've got 6 days of freedom, and should be using them far less productively than contributing an article to the Internet. I'm thinking spontaneous road trip.