May 24, 2012
the tulip tree
posted by soe 2:07 am
Just last night, Karen and I were talking about how confusing it is when two different things go by the same name. We started the conversation with the chigger, which refers both to a mite (which takes a bite out of you) and to a flea (which burrows in you), and moved on to daddy long legs, which can be an arachnid (what I grew up with), a spider, or a fly.
And today I found a third, although this one is admittedly closer than the previous two examples.
I grew up calling this a tulip tree:
That would be a Magnolia Soulangiana. Living in the south, you come to know this is a magnolia, because it rivals the cherry for earliest flowering tree in the spring.
Come to find out, there’s another tree that’s also called the tulip tree. That would be this:
It’s also called the yellow poplar, but it’s not actually a poplar. Instead it’s a Liriodendron tulipifera.
It’s in the Magnolia family, but not in the Magnolioideae genus (where all the magnolias are classified). Instead it’s in the Liriodendron genus.
These particular trees are growing in Rock Creek Park near Woodley Park.
Pretty cool, huh?
May 21, 2012
but what was the first line?
posted by soe 3:30 am
I wrote this down in the statement the policeman asked me to complete:
I emerged from my building to see three police officers running across the street. They were chasing a young man. They caught him and got him on his stomach. [This first part was the first few seconds after walking out my door. I didn't know yet I was supposed to be paying attention to the tableau, so I don't know how he ended up lying on the ground -- tripped? pushed? jumped upon? Regardless, I didn't see that part, so it didn't go into my statement.] One officer was yelling at the young man to stop, but he was already on the ground with an officer on top of him. The young man kept shouting something indistinguishable, except for “in my pocket!” Six more officers arrived on the scene, surrounding the young man. He was then allowed up to his feet.
It was at this point that I decided that I was going to sit myself down on our building’s stoop. It wasn’t out of fascination for what was happening. It was out of fear for the young man. Because nine police officers seemed like an awful lot for one young man. One young man who was really a boy, probably no more than twenty years old, for whom English was not his first language. Either he’d done something terrible, like murder someone or he was a terrorist threat. Except that he was standing up — without handcuffs on.
I’ve seen D.C. cops singly or in pairs take down wrongdoers who seemed far more threatening and belligerent than did this one boy, who had now taken his wallet out of his pocket [I'm guessing that's what he was shouting earlier]. This seemed excessive.
The boy took off his hoodie and let it fall to the ground. I thought perhaps the cops wanted to see it, but they left it at his feet. His sunglasses and his wallet soon followed from his trembling hands.
My neighbor crossed the road to explain that the boy was helping to paint his house and to ask what was going on, but the lead police officer ordered him to back off and chased him back across the street. I don’t know if he went inside then or later because I couldn’t see his building from where I was sitting, but I know when I got up later he was gone.
Some officers retreated to their vehicles, one obviously to check the boy’s id. His back to a waist-high property fence, the boy wept, still hemmed in by five officers who clearly seemed to suspect he was going to bolt. I don’t know what he was saying, but I know he was talking because one of the women officers sharply told him several times to stop and to listen to her.
The paddywagon left, as did the police car that arrived at the same time.
I don’t know if they gave him a ticket, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they cited him for failure to comply with an order (or whatever that charge actually is), because the lead officer then came over to me and asked me if I’d seen what had transpired. I gave him those first three sentences above, and then he asked me if I’d heard him say anything to the young man. “I did,” I replied. “But not until he was already on the ground.” He then asked me to write that down in a statement, the approximation of which I’ve already given you, and not to steal his gold pen.
As I was writing, another cop showed up, but he was dressed in a white shirt rather than blue like everyone else’s. I don’t know if police supervisor uniforms have white shirts, but that would be my guess. Because I was writing, I don’t know why he was there or what he did.
A young officer was sent over for my statement and the primary officer’s pen. They all left.
And then the poor boy gathered his things and continued down the street in the direction he’d been heading when I’d happened upon the scene.
That’s as much as I can tell you. Whatever prompted nine officers to respond to the scene ended up with the suspect walking free.
But that’s clearly not the whole story. I gave you a middle of a story and an ending (mostly). But what was the beginning? Because I have to think that the story feels vastly different depending on whether someone in Dupont Circle accused him to his face of a crime, sending him fleeing into the neighborhood, or whether he suddenly saw the time, realized he was late for dinner at home, and began to run, raising suspicions of officers who happened to be driving past and saw a fully clothed, brown-skinned young man sprinting through a well-off area. Did he have headphones on and not realize he was being asked to stop? Was he, in fact, asked to stop before he was already on the ground?
What was the first line?
May 19, 2012
five minutes of sound
posted by soe 1:26 pm
I thought I’d try something new today and offer you the noises of my neighborhood. Listening to five minutes of audio might be a bit tedious, so I thought I’d try giving you a more wordy version. If you find this interesting, I invite you to play along in the comments or on your own piece of the internet. If you do take part, consider telling us your town, your location (work, home, cafe), and the day and time:
D.C., The Burrow, Saturday, 2:15-2:20 p.m.
The apartment is quiet. The cats must be asleep. The only noises inside are the humming of my computer and the typing on my keyboard. Outside is another story:
Two car doors.
Children talking. An adult woman is with them.
Muffled laughter in the distance.
Woman explaining something to a young child.
A siren in the distance.
A single toot of a horn. The light must have changed.
Motorcycle accelerating and then fading into the distance.
A car idling at the light.
A deep rumbling truck in the distance.
An airplane heading in to land at National.
A woman’s voice, then the child again.
Traffic, including a bus.
A car passes.
A car horn toots.
A loud bird cheeps repeatedly.
Brakes — probably a taxi.
The bird is angry.
Probably the part you’d notice if this were audio, rather than narration is that the cars passing by are pretty nonstop, although not necessarily heavy. And, actually, for my neighborhood on a Saturday, this was pretty quiet.
An interesting study. I think I’d like to try it again sometime.
April 29, 2012
just another saturday in d.c.
posted by soe 2:33 am
Three random shots from my afternoon:
1) The Lutheran church in Georgetown clearly has someone who loves flowers in their parish:
2) Le Pierrot at the Georgetown French Market. There was also a fantastically talented balloon animal maker:
3) The alleys of D.C. are full of surprises. Here is one from over in Shaw:
April 19, 2012
posted by soe 12:21 am
I meant to post yesterday, but our internet was giving us fits, so walking away from the computer seemed a far saner idea.
A quick update on things:
- I finished a book on Friday. It’s the first book I’ve finished since February. Pathetic? Yes.
- I planted potatoes at the garden this weekend. Fifteen starts each got chopped into at least two pieces, often more. I’m hoping that makes for a generous crop.
- We went to our first baseball game of the season. Rick Ankiel, the center fielder, had the most impressive throw home I may have ever witnessed in person. It was like he and home plate were having a game of catch. A throw to be remembered. Plus, the Nats won.
- Sock Madness round 3 has begun. That means I knit everywhere. As opposed to when it’s not Sock Madness time and I merely knit nearly everywhere.
- I watched the space shuttle fly past D.C. yesterday. A post about that is forthcoming. Truly and surprisingly moving.
- I wrote a blog post for work that I was really proud of. (I love having written something well, which, sadly, is why you get a lot of lists like this right now, because I don’t want to spend the time and energy required to write good posts. This is a reflection on me, and not on you.)
- My volleyball team won all four games last night. We found a groove and communicated well, and it just felt right. It was nice.
That is all for now.
April 4, 2012
posted by soe 2:33 am
March 27, 2012
conjunction junction, what’s my function?
posted by soe 1:09 am
In case you haven’t found yourself outside in the early night hours recently, you’ve been missing this:
The moon, of course, you probably recognize without introduction. (Although you might not know that it’s called Earthshine when you can see the whole disk of the moon showing behind the crescent. It’s caused by sunlight reflecting off earth, and conditions are only right for it to happen once a month.)
The bright light “next to” the moon is Venus. And below them both is Jupiter. They were in conjunction tonight, which means that, from our perspective, they seem to line up.
And their function, I’d say, is just to look cool.
March 26, 2012
posted by soe 3:20 am
Last week, due to unusual circumstances, I was up and outdoors at both sunset and sunrise within the same 24 hours. Really. I have proof:
Sunset over I Street on Thursday:
(I couldn’t decide which shot I liked best, so you got all three.)
Sunrise over R Street on Friday:
Crazy, but beautiful!
January 31, 2012
posted by soe 10:16 pm
I thought I’d share some of the photos I took earlier this month when I walked over to the Georgetown waterfront and then back home via the West End.
January 3, 2012
posted by soe 11:45 am
It is bitterly disappointing to this Dupont Circle resident to learn that my local record shop, Melody, is closing its doors. I know we’ve largely moved into a digital world musically, but I felt there was still a place for a quality brick-and-mortar music shop. However, dollars talk and when people don’t buy cds or records or videos — or they buy them at a loss on Amazon — we lose local institutions.
Yes, I understand there is an argument to be made for switching away from a resource-intensive physical product. And, yes, I know that everyone’s budget is tight and that in order to make dollars stretch you have to look for deals. However, Melody employed local music lovers, alerted you to upcoming concerts, offered a default location for those who wanted to “talk shop,” and allowed you to browse an extensive and well-rounded collection of current releases. There are still several used music shops around, and I can recommend a few of them quite highly. But Melody was the only local shop in town to get new releases (other than the couple dozen discs stocked at Politics and Prose), and their week-of-release prices were reasonably competitive with online mega-complexes.
This is a blow to music lovers and to the Dupont community and to me. Watch for their space soon to be filled by some national conglomerate. I’m sure what Dupont really needs is a Quiznos or another mobile phone store or a fifth Starbucks.