Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I never thought I'd be able to say "Yeah, I know what an earthquake feels like, I lived in Illinois."

Soon after it hit (and Rebecca and I verified the other was ok), Oscar and I headed off to Whole Foods to pick up some seafood for Paella. We also hung out on the Whole Foods terrace so Oscar could have a snack.

Seafood in hand, we headed home. Within a block, at 14th St., it was apparent something was up. Traffic was backed up in the southbound lanes as far as I could see.

No matter, we were taking side streets. Some of the major streets were difficult to cross because the traffic lights were broken. In some cases, the sensors were broken, so they just stayed green for one direction of traffic. Or (and this is common here), one direction was blinking red (=stop sign) and the other direction was blinking yellow (=yield sign). This is extremely confusing, everywhere else I've been, it blinks red in both directions when there is a malfunction. The people who see a blinking red, assume the other direction is also seeing blinking red, and lots of honking and near misses ensue. To add to the confusion, the direction with the blinking yellow is often the lesser of the two streets.

By the time we reached 1st and P st NW, even the side streets were clogged. A drive behind me helpfully offered "Use the sidewalk, you shouldn't be riding with a baby in this shit." So, I did. And combined with a few alleyways, was able to get home quickly.

Most buildings downtown were evacuated, and it was little surreal for Rebecca watching so many people in business dress just standing around.

The Metro was still running, but only at 15 mph while they did inspections and the buses were stuck in the traffic snarl. So what did people do to get home? Ride a bike. Here's a snapshot of the Capital Bikeshare system 2 hours after the quake (taken from TheWashCycle).

All the gray markers near downtown are empty bikeshare stations.
Apparently, many of the people who left work early chose to take bikes instead of the metro or buses. Rebecca could see a near-constant stream of them out her window after her building was un-evacuated.

By the time Rebecca took the bus home a few hours after the quake, the buses were running in a timely manner again.

This morning, lots of government offices were closed, but we didn't know that. She went to work early (so she could leave early) and the office was locked. After coming home and making a few calls, it turned out that employees had the option of taking a leave day (she hasn't accrued any yet) or telecommuting (she doesn't have the right software on her computer yet). So she ended going back to the office where there were a handful of people working.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

One ride

The baby bike outfitted for an afternoon downtown, stroller and raincover strapped to the side. Diaper bag pannier on the left and misc pannier on the right.

We went on a downtown shopping trip yesterday and decided to take Oscar along. He expressed interested in the children's department of Zara. The clothes are a little big for him now, but he wants something to look forward to when he's outgrown some of his second-hand 80's era clothes.

It was sunny and 83 degrees, so Oscar got in his Car Seat of Adventure outfitted with appropriate sun blocking gear: a hat to keep the sun out of his eyes when the cover doesn't cut it, and a towel over his legs.

We ride a few blocks and hop onto the R street bike lane.

Our first stop is The Bike Rack at 14th and Q NW, which is one the few bike shops that still has DC Bike Maps. Yeah! A few people out front and one of the mechanics admired the baby toting bike, but were really just checking out Oscar's unstoppable cuteness.

Then we're off to downtown for some shopping. While Rebecca is trying on some clothes Oscar checks out the surround mirrors at one of the clothing stores.

Once he starts getting a little cranky, Jefe and Oscar head over to a Starbucks two blocks away so Oscar can get swaddled and take a nap.

Once he wakes up, it's off to Zara. Oscar does a quick tour of the children's department and then heads up the street to Cowgirl Creamery to try and find some fancy cheese for mom and dad. Oscar forgot his wallet and wasn't able to get any cheese. Luckily, we've still got some in the fridge from our last trip to the DuPont Circle farmer's market.

Next, it's dinner at McCormick & Schmick's. Oscar starts getting cranky again. So he's gets swaddled on the bench of a nearby booth and rocked to sleep by Jefe while he (Jefe) gets fed his calamari appetizer by Rebecca. Oscar sleeps through the rest of the meal, and wakes in time go back in the Car Seat of Adventure for the ride home.

We take E street to Capitol to First street NE, to L street back to the Met Branch trail. We get home just in time to Skype with Bob and Kristi. Another eventful day in the District.

The Met Branch Trail just south of R street.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

We're back

A lot has happened in recent months, but if you're reading this, you probably know that. So I'll just stick to the most recent stuff.

We're pretty settled in our new apartment. There are still a few things laying around on the floor waiting for a nice place to be put. But all the boxes are unpacked and we've got a sort-of routine going.

You really just want to hear about Oscar...

Now that he's 3 months old he's started sleeping a little more regularly, with a little help from his parents. In the past few weeks his daytime naps have usually only lasted 45 minutes, which is one REM/non-REM sleep cycle. Now, instead of letting him wake up, we're trying to immediately put him back to sleep for a second cycle. Since this practice is only a day or two old, he's needs a little help to extend the sleep to the second cycle (rocking, pacifier, etc.).

We're trying to do something similar for his nighttime sleeps, extending them from two hours to four hours by immediately putting him back to sleep instead of feeding him. We know he doesn't have a problem sleeping for four hours because he often does it during his first sleep at night and when we have fed him after a 2 hour sleep he doesn't eat very much and generally falls asleep mid-feed.

Since this is called "A ride a day"

Yes, we've been riding our bikes. Oscar's baby transport bike is working out well. He's seems to like it most of the time and will even fall asleep will riding if he's tired. I put extra fat tires (Schwalbe Big Apples) at low pressure (15 psi) to help smooth out the bumps.

The bike is giving me (Jefe) a serious workout, my legs have been sore for the past few days. When pedaling a 90 lb bike, even moderate hills and bike-path on-ramps get the heart going. And carrying a car seat, baby, pannier, and diaper bag up two flights of stairs in 90+ degree weather is nice cool-down after riding for 20 minutes.

We've visited the Dupont Circle farmer's market, where we picked up aged sheep and goat cheese along with some vegetables.

And the reason we're all here...

Rebecca's job at the Dept. of Labor Office of Communications started on Monday. Everyone is nice to work with and she has already been given some interesting projects that will allow her to use her skills in interesting ways. I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to write about. Getting almost any job requires security clearance, and every building downtown has metal detectors and sometimes surly security ("Put your belt back on here...'cause I said so.") But the whole goal of the Rebecca's department is to tell people about all the workplace hazards that can be easily avoided, so more publicity should be welcome (and compensated...).