Tuesday, July 31, 2007

we don't drink, we don't smoke, norfolk, norfolk!

i learned the cheer that became the title of this post from elizabeth, with whom i work. she went to a conservative christian high school where apparently that cheer was quite popular.

but we went to norfolk, ct instead of the virgina one and i think we made a good choice.

when dianna was in baghdad she made friends with anne garrels. dianna was anne's producer and somehow managed to convince her that we (lindsay, dianna, and i) should be invited to her house in connecticut. anne extended the offer, and we accepted, immediately. we had the MOST delightful time hanging out with annie and vint. i am really hoping that we are invited back. i tried to be on my best behaviour, but even that sometimes is still rough.

here are some photos of what we did...

this is us driving across the george washington bridge into manhattan on our way to norfolk.
the sunset was really gorgeous, though this doesn't totally capture it.

we arrived around 11:pm. annie had done up the guest house with at least a dozen beautiful bouquets of flowers sprinkled all around the house.
most definitely the hostess with the mostess

the next morning we headed over to their house for some breakfast. here is lindsay enjoying vint's famous cereal mix with greek yogurt and fresh-picked raspberries.

vint took us on a tour of his amazing garden.
i thought i was clever to bring some tomatoes, basil, and other goodies from my garden
it was totally unnecessary (though his tomatoes weren't ripe yet)
this is a masterpiece in gardening.
this is an action shot--vint is giving us a lesson in setting up good cages for tomato plants.

annie and vint's house was once a garage in the vast lawrence estate.
now its full of vint's art and all the cooking supplies you could ever want.

check out all of the life on this echinacea -- moths, bees, and flowers everywhere!

in norfolk you always have time to stop and smell the flowers

and feed the birds
the biodiversity is astounding
we saw a myriad of hummingbirds and other fowl

we decided that the best housewarming gift of 2007 was definitely worm poop
annie seemed to agree.

this will give you an idea of how well we ate.
everything was super fresh and in season, if not picked seconds before being served.
and SUPER delicious

there is a pond nearby named toby.
we swam and skinny dipped across it a couple of times.
we gave a young french teenage boy quite a thrill (more like a scare)
we thought we were alone and had left our clothes up on the dock
as i got out to get my stuff, there he was walking up
hopefully he's not too traumatized, being french and all.

the road to the pond

annie gave us a guided tour of the place
she even walks cool

this was once a chicken coop

this is the carriage that carried annie and vint to their wedding.
she is showing us all the names of the couples who had been married
with that carriage

they make maple syrup during the long winter--we took home a few samples
(though i think this is actually a butter churn)

this is part of the backyard of the guest house.
the guest house has a "sleeping porch"--a new england thing for enjoying the cool summer nights, we learned.

this is truffle. during one lunch he decided that the best place to sleep was on or under my feet.
i wasn't so thrilled, but he wasn't about to move, no matter how much kicking or jabbing i inflicted upon him

anne garrels, the voice of npr in baghdad. she had to leave early to go to amman, jordan. so we spent the last day keeping vint busy.

the sunset on our last full day

this is the same bridge we started out this post with.
it really felt like an omen, going from beauty and perfection to dark and dreary.

all three of us brought our bikes on my bike rack.
they almost came off my trunk on the new jersey turnpike.
i got seriously stressed
it was so scary
thankfully we were spared the horrors of watching three bikes fly off my trunk and crash into another car.

a poop revolution

a few months ago i saw "big ideas for a small planet", a sundance channel show that featured terracycle. you may remember a previous post encouraging you to join the bottle brigade. i have a bad habit of bugging dianna with story ideas for morning edition. i have at least one a day. and i get salty when they don't end up on the air. terracycle seemed like the perfect NPR story. poop, worms, david and goliath, etc. and it just seemed so cool. so she decided that we would stop in trenton, nj our way to annie and vint's...

we stopped in philly for lunch, see the previous post. i was excited to "be the press" so i tried to park in this spot. it was awesome.
my enthusiasm for becoming a reporter for a day worried dianna. she repeatedly reminded me that she was the reporter and she was asking all the questions.
she asked me to be the official photographer (i think to keep me busy).
so now i am a photojournalist. be on the look out.

we arrived at terracycle and were welcomed by a office space filled with reused office equipment. i loved that they practice this zero foot-print concept in everything they do.
all of these vats, all of the office cubicles, all the computers, all of the everything you see is reused.

this is where they make the worm tea
that they sell

here is mr. tom szaky explaining his company and product to listeners worldwide

here is where the bottles from the bottle brigade are collected.
if you want to join, you should.

they like to have fun making the worm poop.
as if making worm poop wasn't fun enough, they do it to music

the tomato fertilizer. i want all of that!

tom is explaining the origins of the company and
how they are being sued by scotts (the makers of miracle grow)
they're basically a huge bully, but our little david is willing to fight goliath, even tho the stakes are super high and terracycle could end up bankrupt if the case goes to trial.

terracycle got most of its funding in the early days by entering and winning business-plan contests. the biggest purse that they ever won was $1 million, but they turned it down b/c the organizers didn't like the "garbage into worm poop" part of the idea.

i was not only the official photographer but also the driver.
we drove over to a landfill and greenhouse to see some of the science projects going on
and to meet jim, the official scientist.

the most advanced landfill in the eastern united states.
we're here to see terracycle's research at
rutgers university's ecocomplex

testing it to see if they can make the perfect blend for perfect plants.
and doing some comparisons

tom standing in front of his worm poop contraption. Garbage goes in that big barrel behind him, then runs up a conveyor belt into this gin.

the original pooperie, or worm gin. worms live in all these shelves, and poop comes out the bottom.
this contraption sent these princeton students back $20k

the poop makers -- or as jim calls them, "terracycle employees. non union."

dr. jim explaining why terracycle works better, and then showing us the difference. the one closest to dianna is the one with terracycle. the other one i think was grown in all scotts products or grown with no fertilizer. i can't remember, which is why i'm the official photographer, not journalist.
it is kinda hard to see the difference, but the one is super thick and green, and the other is flimsy and pathetic.

there is of course more to this story, but you are just going to have to listen to morning edition to hear the rest. i'll post a warning when its coming up. dianna takes forever on these things.


Scotts Sues Startup over Worm-Dropping Claims

Listen to this story... by

Morning Edition, September 4, 2007 · Fertilizer giant Scotts sues TerraCycle, a small company in New Jersey, for false advertising that sells fertilizers made from worm droppings. Farmers and gardeners have long used worm droppings but now they're sold by mass marketers alongside chemical fertilizers.

egypt in philly

on our recent road trip to annie and vint's (norfolk, ct) we stopped for lunch in egypt...uhh i mean philly

king tut came to lunch with us. he is so freakin stiff
and, unfortunately, made of sand

us in egypt. please note dianna's shoes

how did they do that? and why?

Friday, July 27, 2007

struggling for lanes

proximity to a pool is something i consider when i move. and so the last time i moved, i moved blocks from a decent public pool. it has been a serious disappointment and frustration. crazy pool hours, messed up lanes, etc. so i have finally decided to take matters into my own hands. if you are here in the dc area and feel so inclined, please join me in my letter writing campaign.

24 July 2007

Mayor Adrian Fenty

1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington , DC 20004

Dear Mayor Fenty:

I am a fledgling triathlete and frequent user of the city's public pools, and write to urge you to dedicate more lap lanes and longer operating hours at our cities beautiful pools. The Banneker Pool is a beautiful Olympic-length pool—a rare find—and not a single lane is set up for Olympic-length lap swimming!? Only one-third of the East Potomac pool at Hain's Point is used for lap swimming during inconvenient hours. Sometimes 18 swimmers are pack into those few lanes while the rest of the pool stands empty. I regularly ask the pool manager to add one more lane for lap swimming. The answer is a firm no with absurd rationale: the pool needs to be available in case someone comes; the pool is for the public and so lap swimmers can't have it all; non-lap swimmers are tax payers. Some people, exasperated at the over-crowded lanes, try to swim laps in the large open area of the pool, pausing mid-stroke to push the rope out of the way. Additionally, the Eastern Market pool has very limited lap swim times when the lanes are set for 25 yards. Most of the time the pool is arranged to accommodate those who come to frolic rather than exercise, with lanes crossing the short length of the pool (making it 18 yards). In the mornings when the lanes are arranged for lap swimming, only 75% of the pool is roped. From 6 - 9 am the lanes are full of lap swimmers, swimming with 4 - 6 people in each lane. Clearly, the public wants more lap lanes!

As a Washingtonian and taxpayer, I believe that accommodating this very simple request will add immeasurably to our quality of life and public health of many residents. Surely I don't need to rehearse the health benefits of swimming. More people will use the public pools if there's a place dedicated to exercise, adding to our overall health and well-being. Those people will feel more invested in the pools, and feel more ownership of this public resource.

As a fellow triathlete, I'm sure you can appreciate that training for a long swim is hard enough without having to fight for space in lanes, or cross under ropes, or irritate the lifeguards, or worry about running into swimmers. The city has built beautiful pools with our taxpayer money, and athletes, such as I, can't use them.

Please add more lap lanes to public pools, specifically Eastern Market, East Potomac and Banneker. Please leave lanes open for lap swimming throughout the day at Eastern Market. And PLEASE do not close the pools so early. Keep these pools open past 7 pm to accommodate working and recreational schedules of Washington residents. Working out and cooling off at the pool during DC's infamous summer shouldn't be limited to just six hours in the afternoons, five days a week.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter,


here are some other people you can mail your letters to:

Mike Walker, Pool Manager
Department of Parks and Recreation
3149 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20010

Loretta Jones, Program Manager
Department of Parks and Recreation
3149 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20010

Wanda S. Durden
Director, Department of Parks and Recreation
3149 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20010

regan's marine corps head sends bush to the hague?

i have lots of blogging to get done, but i need an external hard drive because my computer is totally ladened with photos. i should get the hard drive today. so we should be back in business. in the meantime...this amazing article appeared in the washington post today...please check it out. the marine commandant under reagan and a reagan white house lawyer, seem to have caught Bush Embitterment Syndrome. it's even catchier than obesity these days.

War Crimes and the White House

The Dishonor in a Tortured New 'Interpretation' of the Geneva Conventions

By P.X. Kelley and Robert F. Turner
Thursday, July 26, 2007; Page A21

One of us was appointed commandant of the Marine Corps by President Ronald Reagan; the other served as a lawyer in the Reagan White House and has vigorously defended the constitutionality of warrantless National Security Agency wiretaps, presidential signing statements and many other controversial aspects of the war on terrorism. But we cannot in good conscience defend a decision that we believe has compromised our national honor and that may well promote the commission of war crimes by Americans and place at risk the welfare of captured American military forces for generations to come.

The Supreme Court held in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld last summer that all detainees captured in the war on terrorism are protected by Common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which prescribes minimum standards of treatment for all persons who are no longer taking an active part in an armed conflict not of an international character. It provides that "in all circumstances" detainees are to be "treated humanely."

This is not just about avoiding "torture." The article expressly prohibits "at any time and in any place whatsoever" any acts of "violence to life and person" or "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment."

Last Friday, the White House issued an executive order attempting to "interpret" Common Article 3 with respect to a controversial CIA interrogation program. The order declares that the CIA program "fully complies with the obligations of the United States under Common Article 3," provided that its interrogation techniques do not violate existing federal statutes (prohibiting such things as torture, mutilation or maiming) and do not constitute "willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual in a manner so serious that any reasonable person, considering the circumstances, would deem the acts to be beyond the bounds of human decency."

In other words, as long as the intent of the abuse is to gather intelligence or to prevent future attacks, and the abuse is not "done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual" -- even if that is an inevitable consequence -- the president has given the CIA carte blanche to engage in "willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse."

It is firmly established in international law that treaties are to be interpreted in "good faith" in accordance with the ordinary meaning of their words and in light of their purpose. It is clear to us that the language in the executive order cannot even arguably be reconciled with America's clear duty under Common Article 3 to treat all detainees humanely and to avoid any acts of violence against their person.

In April of 1793, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson wrote to President George Washington that nations were to interpret treaty obligations for themselves but that "the tribunal of our consciences remains, and that also of the opinion of the world." He added that "as we respect these, we must see that in judging ourselves we have honestly done the part of impartial and rigorous judges."

To date in the war on terrorism, including the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and all U.S. military personnel killed in action in Afghanistan and Iraq, America's losses total about 2 percent of the forces we lost in World War II and less than 7 percent of those killed in Vietnam. Yet we did not find it necessary to compromise our honor or abandon our commitment to the rule of law to defeat Nazi Germany or imperial Japan, or to resist communist aggression in Indochina. On the contrary, in Vietnam -- where we both proudly served twice -- America voluntarily extended the protections of the full Geneva Convention on prisoners of war to Viet Cong guerrillas who, like al-Qaeda, did not even arguably qualify for such protections.

The Geneva Conventions provide important protections to our own military forces when we send them into harm's way. Our troops deserve those protections, and we betray their interests when we gratuitously "interpret" key provisions of the conventions in a manner likely to undermine their effectiveness. Policymakers should also keep in mind that violations of Common Article 3 are "war crimes" for which everyone involved -- potentially up to and including the president of the United States -- may be tried in any of the other 193 countries that are parties to the conventions.

In a letter to President James Madison in March 1809, Jefferson observed: "It has a great effect on the opinion of our people and the world to have the moral right on our side." Our leaders must never lose sight of that wisdom.

Retired Gen. P.X. Kelley served as commandant of the Marine Corps from 1983 to 1987. Robert F. Turner is co-founder of the University of Virginia's Center for National Security Law and a former chair of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Law and National Security.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

bad news

so i was planning on going to buenos aries for my birthday (sept. 29) and i even have tickets (so does dianna and lindsay is on the fence). then last night i decided to get more serious about planning and learned that the average temperature that time of year is 60 degrees Fahrenheit. so now i have to refund the tickets and figure out a new place to go.

i just hate being cold and i don't want to go and be cold before i need to. so...some options are (in no particular order):
  1. paris
  2. rome
  3. syria and jordan (i have friends i can stay with there)
  4. croatia
buenos aries was perfect because it is developed and a beautiful city. it is near spectacular natural wonders (iguazu falls) and it is in the same time zone. i would love to find something as awesome. awesome means: warm, beautiful, delicious food, fun out door stuff to do, cool shopping (but not too much just a couple of part days), etc. you get the picture. i am not opposed to high adventure, but i have to leave straight from this holiday on a work trip to africa. so chillaxing and playing are HIGH priorities.

so, if you have any suggestions or would like to help me make this pressing decision, please send me your words via "comments"

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

protesters on the way to work

all the time when i walk to work i am surrounded by protesters. yesterday i decided to take some photos...i didn't get anything great.

these are little kids walking with parents with t-shirts that say "born in the USA, please don't take my mommy and daddy away". it was pretty compelling.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

off we go to owasco

last weekend lindsay and i drove to ny to visit amy, her son ian, and the rest of the clay clan. it was awesome as always.

amy moved away a year ago and you would think i would be used to it, but i still feel sad when i drive by their old apartment.

lindsay read a book for most of the trip so i took my own side trips to take photos...

on our way to oswego, we drove through scranton, pa. for those of you who watch the office, you will appreciate this.

lakawana county statue

this is downtown scranton sideways.
i am not sure what happened here

i think this might be creed's
or maybe dwight's

we finally made it and it was so so so much fun
mark and amy (and part of dave) on an evening boat ride

my new dream house

just in case you thought i had any fashion sense...let this prove you wrong

scenes from the boat.

on saturday while most people were doing what amy is doing here: chillaxing i decided to go on a bike ride around the lake. ended up being 34 miles of pretty crazy rolling hills. some of them have a 12% grade. i thought i might die. i got up to 42 mph (going down a hill). i road with some folks in a time trial. and nearly bonked towards the end...but i made it and it felt good.

ian and his bruised noggin

the following is a photo essay of daniel eating an oreo

he wanted to give everyone kisses after this...

this is a photo essay of 18 month olds at work

be assured that he ate his fair share of the seaweed and rocks...

i bought the "sundays at the moosewood" cook book when i was in college. it was a huge investment but it seemed worth it. it was. i love it. i have always wanted to go to the restaurant and i finally got to go. it was fun. here are lindsay and amy pretending to be moose.

here they are pretending to be serious and seductively pregnant

window shopping in ithaca, ny

more window shopping
please note the mens briefs and the photo of a couple on the beach for sale
only $1.25

lindsay approaches her dream man

amy's brother david made this amazing german pancake. we devoured it. it was delish. i am hoping he will send us the recipe.

here we are saying good-bye.
lindsay and i decided to embrace our nerdiness and where our matching
moosewood shirts

i decided we should kiss amy good-bye.
it didn't really work

we will miss you clay family!!!!!
thanks a million. i want to come back right now.