When I took my current position working for a Washington, D.C. based public-interest law firm, part of the deal was occasional trips out to company headquarters. With the upcoming Kelo Day campaign, coupled with the fact that I hadn't been out since February, it seemed like a good time to take another trip out to meet and coordinate with the team. January had a break in her high-stress, wedding photography filled June this weekend, so she joined me on this trip out so we could relax a little and see the city.
The downside to this travel is the necessity of "corporate attire." It's not a big inconvenience, and it's actually kind of nice to get a bit dressed up every now and then, but factor that in with a full day of recycled air conditioned offices, ubiquitous fluorescent lighting, and the hum of office equipment everywhere, and by the end of the day I just feel completely wiped out. Here's a picture, for illustration.
As a result, our first evening in the city was uneventful; January did some photo editing while I sat on the bed and watched hotel TV. Without TiVo.
I haven't watched TV without some sort of TiVo-like device since 2002, when Jay first got me hooked on Windows Media Center software. Only one hour of TV per day translates to over 120 hours of commercials every year; I would guess I've watched 120 total hours of commercials in the past 5 years combined, thanks to this technology. The downside of my dependence on these magical boxes is that when I'm in a position where I don't have this filter, such as a Washington, D.C. hotel room, I revert to a mindless TV-watching drone who will watch pretty much anything. The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. My Boys. Two and a Half Men. It's shameful.
We actually went through this same thing when we first moved into our house and decided to get cable. For two days, before the TiVo arrived, I watched nothing but a My House is Worth What? marathon on HGTV. I lost an entire weekend and my sense of pride in my new home. It certainly did renew my appreciation for the ability to watch the shows I want to watch, on my own schedule.
With the rest of our trip ahead of us, we're going to try to spend a little less time in front of the hotel TV and do a little sightseeing; Stay tuned for some pictures .
Last year, in a combined effort to get a better variety of vegetables in our diet, save money, and support local farmers, Janaury and I joined a local farming co-op. For something like $300 for the season, we could stop down at the North Market and pick up our weekly supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. To be honest, it started off kind of disappointing; Generally a handful of green beans, some beets and a bundle of lettuce. As the season went on, though, it was really cool to see all the neat stuff we got. Beans, peppers, leeks, fresh herbs, strawberries. And always with a little bundle of lettuce and a half-dozen eggs. Occasionally they would pack in something completely foreign to me, like swiss chard. What is a chard? I still don't know. But I do know that it came with a nice little letter from the farmer explaining how one might prepare it, if one were inclined to do so.
This year we decided to take advantage of the fact that we have a backyard that is all ours and do a little gardening of our own. If you've been following January's blog at all you've probably seen pictures of our progress to this point. If you haven't been following her account, I'll get you up to speed; This type of gardening, typically referred to as square foot gardening, basically allows one to grow plants that typically require a lot of ground space in individual square foot sized areas through the magic of expensive dirt. Actually, it wasn't that expensive. Just complicated. 3 parts peat moss, 3 parts vermiculite, 1 part cow manure, 1 part chicken manure, 1 part bat guano.
Bat guano. That's bat shit. We bought bat shit.
After mixing all that together (I'll fess up -- January did most of the hard labor) we threw it into these 2' x 4' raised boxes (so Gus can't get involved), planted our crops, and watered them daily. It's been surprisingly easy to keep them growing. So far we've only lost one plant -- a cucumber. And, quite frankly, I don't consider that much of a loss.
Being the big dork that I am, I had to complicate things up. Standing outside with a hose to water these guys every day isn't nearly as fun as setting up an automatic watering system. One misting hose, an automatic timer, and a bunch of nails later and I can completely soak the entire yard, plus half of our neighbors yard, and barely have to spend any time outside at all.
So the garden is coming along well so far. I'm looking forward to late summer when we can start enjoying our peppers. In the meantime, I'll have to figure out a way to harvest them remotely as well. Something involving pulleys and fiber optics. And bat guano.
Every now and then I find a blog post from a random person that really resonates. I swear, I've had this exact conversation with my friend Jay at least half a dozen times in the past two years.
My moment of revelation on this topic came the day I heard myself say "I hope this is a sit-down concert."
So I haven't written much about my employment situation since last summer, when I ranted and raved about the joys of self employment. In the time since that song-inspiring post I have recanted my words and taken on a full-time developer position with a former client of mine. Without getting into all the potentially boring legal details, the Institute for Justice is a non-profit, public interest law firm headquartered in our nation's capital. They basically sue the government at the local, state, and federal level on behalf of individuals in need of protection, primarily in the areas of property rights, first amendment, school choice, and economic liberty issues. They're probably most well known for arguing the historic Kelo v. New London case in front of the Supreme Court.
At this point I'm sure I've lost half of my audience who didn't make it much past "boring legal details." To the other two readers, I wanted to share the latest project I've been working on at IJ. Less than two weeks from now, June 23, is the three-year anniversary of that Supreme Court decision, which came back in favor of the city of New London government. That decision basically laid the groundwork got what today allows the government to take any private property it wishes and transfer ownership to another private party for their own profit. People are generally aware of the term eminent domain, which most people understand to mean that the government can take your property to build roads, bridges, etc. But this Supreme Court decision basically expanded that governmental power to include the right to take private property if it is believed the land could be "better used" by another party. And "better used" can simply mean a business that will generate more taxes. I hope you agree that this is clear violation of the intent of the constitution and, frankly, just isn't right.
To get to the point, IJ has declared Monday, June 23 Kelo Day and is asking for help in raising awareness for this issue. We are hoping to get 10,000 individuals, representing each of the 10,000 documented abuses of eminent domain that have occurred during the five-year period surrounding the Kelo case, to made any contribution to the Institute for Justice's property rights campaign. We're going for volume of donations here, not necessarily big-buck donations. Even a $1 donation gets us one voice closer to our 10,000-participant goal.
If you're up for it, head over to http://www.ij.org/KeloDay and pledge your support.
Oh, and I built that pledge form, by the way. Pretty great, huh?