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Presenting Your Survival Guide to DC

23 Apr

cover of -ebook

I’m so excited to announce the So You’re New to DC e-book!

The e-book has updated, expanded and new information, including 27 ways to meet people in DC (with tons of links), transportation essentials, a neighborhoods chart where I asked friends to give their insights, annual events and more.

The e-book is targeted toward people in their twenties and thirties (since that’s the age range that I’ve lived in DC). That’s not to say that people outside of that age range wouldn’t get anything out of the e-book, but I want to be clear that it doesn’t include advice on topics like buying a house (I focus on renting), school districts, etc. I also decided not to include topics that could be easily found elsewhere, like the region’s restaurants. I wanted to focus on things that either wouldn’t be easy to find info on or that you wouldn’t even know you should Google.

It’s been a labor of love, and I hope you like it!

I’m back!

30 Jun

Kangaroo on beach

So it’s been a couple years now since I’ve updated this blog. I got busy and then moved to Perth, Australia, for a year to coach synchronized swimming (as you do). But I’ve been surprised by the amount of feedback I continue to get from people who find the blog useful. I’ve just recently returned to the area and have decided to start things up again. First off, I’ve noticed some changes since I’ve been gone:

  • 495 Express Lanes. These had just opened up as I was leaving but I never used them and, I confess, they kind of scare me. My first day back driving on 495 I accidentally got in one of the express lanes and, I swear to you, I could not figure out how to escape. I kept waiting for an exit I knew … turns out they have different names (whoops).
  • The Mall. It’s so green! When I left they were in the process of sectioning off areas, giving the grass time to recover, and it’s clearly worked. Hooray!
  • Silver Line. Well, okay, it’s not quite ready, but almost! I’m really curious to see if/how it changes Tyson’s Corner area, which is already unbearably crowded.
  • National Gallery of Art, East Wing. I was pretty devastated to learn that the East Wing exhibits are closed for three years, but I’m assuming 99.9% of you don’t find this to be as catastrophic as I do, so I’ll resist transcribing the long diatribe that’s in my head.
  • Nando’s. So it turns out that this chain was actually in D.C. before I left, but I didn’t know about it, so I’m going to consider this a change. In Perth, the only chain restaurant I liked/could afford was Nando’s (which started in South Africa), and it turns out that the D.C. area is the only place in the U.S. where you can find it. I was driving with my friend when we passed the one on Wisconsin and I scared the crap out of her with my scream of joy.

And then there are some things that are exactly the same:

  • Tourists. Still annoying. Though I begrudgingly admit that they’ve been good about standing on the right of Metro escalators. Was there a public awareness campaign or something?
  • The City. Still beautiful, especially at night. I’ve never lost that feeling of awe when seeing  the monuments lit up … It’s good to be back.

Bumper Sticker Back Story: Save the Bay

7 Jan

© Chesapeake Bay Foundation/

The Chesapeake Bay is about 200 miles long and stretches from Havre de Grace, Maryland, to Virginia Beach, Virginia. It’s the largest estuary in the U.S. and is depended on by local fisherman, mainly because of its blue crabs, oysters and clams. It’s also widely used for recreation (boating, swimming, etc.). Unfortunately, the bay is a mess.

The bad news
In the 1970s tests showed the world’s first known marine dead zones on the planet—aka they were so polluted that they could no longer support life. You can guess what followed: wildlife of all types suffered and so did fishermen.

What caused the bay to become so polluted? Well, the watershed includes parts of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, as well as the entire District of Columbia. So all the cars we drive, fertilizers we use, electricity we consume ends up affecting the bay. The bay also suffered from being over harvesting and invasive species.

The not as bad news
Luckily, not all hope is lost—the recently released 2010 State of the Bay Report showed signs of improvement. And the water is no longer giving swimmers rashes(!), which it did in the late 1990s thanks to harmful algal blooms (which also killed massive amounts of fish). Clearly, restoring the bay is an uphill battle. Just recently, The Chesapeake Clean Water Act was blocked in the Senate.

Be a Helpy Helperton
This is a huge issue and I’ve only just scratched the surface. If you’re interested in learning more, I suggest checking out the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. (They are the ones that send out the ‘Save the Bay’ bumper stickers that you see so often in this area. Each new member receives one.) Another great resource is the Chesapeake Bay Program. And you can even volunteer.

Where We Rank

3 Jan

The new Capital Bikeshare program is changing the way we move around the city. © Mariordo Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz on Creative Commons

When a Top 10 U.S. cities list is published—whether it’s about something good or bad—DC is almost always on it. So I thought I’d round up some recent lists the DC area has made:

Most bed bugs: DC #9
The good news is we’re not number one! (NYC claimed that honor.) The bad news is that we made the list at all. (Might make you think twice about buying that used bed on craigslist, no?)

Size of bike sharing program: DC #1
Woohoo! We won! Thanks to the recently launched Capital Bikeshare, DC has over 1,000 bikes and over 100 docking stations.

Where super rich people live: DC #1, Maryland #4, Virginia #7
This explains why I have two roommates yet half my income goes to rent.

Smartest: DC #1
Damn straight.

Least attractive residents: DC#6
Um, squeeze me? Whoever did this survey must just be jealous of our smarts.

Best tap water: Fairfax #8
If you don’t live in Fairfax you should probably get a Brita. For real.

Best restaurants: DC #8
I understand finishing behind New York and New Orleans, but Houston?

Happiest: DC area #8
And people don’t think DCers can let their hair down and have fun.

Most dog friendly: Northern Virginia #4
I guess this makes sense. I mean, you can’t throw a dead cat without hitting a dog park in Arlington.

Gayest: DC area #15
I’m really surprised we didn’t rank higher. Fun Fact: Springfield, Massachusetts is considered the “lesbian capital of the Easter Seaboard.” Who knew?

Most literate: DC #2
This is great news for a blogger like myself.

Fittest: DC #1
I bet a lot of other cities were surprised we won but they need to remember: We are overachievers.