Actor Paul Walker and racer Roger Rodas are dead. The cherry-red Porsche Carrera GT they were in on Saturday is now a burned-out carcass.
The link between Walker in The Fast and the Furious series and the manner of his death is of course ironic, thus feeding the news frenzy. His claim to fame was portraying an illegal street racer. He broke the rules and lived on speed.
In real life, he was a 40-year-old dad and car enthusiast. He died in a car driven by Rodas, a racing buddy and personal friend. Rodas was an experienced race car driver, but something went horribly wrong.
Humans seek truth. We want to know why. We want to know how. We investigate and piece together clues in hopes of solving mysteries, allowing ourselves to sleep better at night. In this case, two men paid with their lives and we are wondering whom, or what, we can blame.
Joy-riding and Human Error?
Some articles on the fiery crash are suggesting that the existence of rubber around the crash scene indicates that Rodas and Walker were doing doughnuts and that goofing off might have led to the crash. The local sheriffs have also stated that they believe “high speeds” were also a factor.
I am uneasy with the quick assumption that idiocy was to blame (especially since the existence of rubber in figure 8 patterns still seems unconfirmed). We don’t know the cause yet. The car may have failed! Something snaps, something else bursts, and there go the brakes. Even the best drivers are sometimes no match for velocity + a stationary object.
Legendary driver Ayrton Senna was probably one of the best F1 drivers to live and he was killed in his race car. It is believed that his car’s suspension failed and pieces hit his helmet. His visor was also punctured—possibly by a tie rod. Even thought he was one of the greatest drivers, there was nothing he could do to save himself. In the end, he died doing what he loved.
One of the things I love about aimless wandering (both on foot and behind the steering wheel) is that you never know what you might see. In my case, I’m always on the lookout for cool cars. Maybe it’s a candy-apple red Alfa Romeo Spider, slumbering quietly on the street. Tucked in among the autumn leaves, most pedestrians pass it not even knowing what it is. You wonder who owns it. Perhaps it’s an old-school Ferrari on the freeway, breaking the speed limit, or an ancient Land Rover Defender that you frequently spot chugging around town. You might be unable to distinguish between the cracks giving away its age and the scrapes broadcasting its adventures, but nonetheless, it definitely has a few tales to tell.
Cars are great storytellers as well as the subjects of great stories. Car enthusiasts and gear heads love a good car sighting or find—in a barn, in a garage, on the street… They remind one of simpler times when feeling the wind through your hair was all that was required to live. You never know what is lurking in the garage of the most unassuming house…
It seems that yet another great tale of an unknown, history-laden car has just been revealed in Chicago, IL.
A lot of marketing slogans state that “bigger is better” and to most national fraternity/sorority headquarters, bigger is better because it indicates a healthy chapter with enthusiastic members. My sorority chapter was quite large for the relatively small size of our school but we didn’t always think bigger was better.
Yes, having an increasing number of members was necessary for chapter survival but it wasn’t so awesome when it came to decision making, planning, and leading. How does one plan anything when there are 100+ opinions to take into account? How does a chapter president and her small council lead such a gregarious group of women?
In a chapter everyone is equal, thus, you can’t just “pull rank” and make a decision. Leading a unique, opinionated group of intelligent women through the hurdles of college life is hard and you learn a lot about working with others and yourself.
Some of these lessons were as basic as learning when to say you were sorry and actually doing it. Others forced you to smile in the face of tragedy, put on a brave face, and lead a community in mourning. Many of these lessons can be learned in a multitude of organizations—girl/boy scouts, 4-H, and internships (as many of you, readers, have pointed out)—but sororities challenged you even further by forcing you to work and live with hundreds of women that were different from you. Sororities and fraternities are fiefdoms of a great empire—and they are small businesses. The men and women who took the process of running one seriously came out of the experience different people—more mature, more balanced, and better-equipped leaders. Here are some of the lessons we learned from a few years in Greek Life.
The Washington Post is all about maps this week. First it was the “Eleven American Nations,” and now we have been introduced to “super zips,” the wealthiest and most educated zip codes in the United States—many of which are crowded around the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
This article seems to be moderately concerned with the future of Washington, D.C.—that the super-zips surrounding the nation’s capitol have created a “buffer” zone, insulating their wealthy, highly-educated residents from socioeconomic classes lower down the totem pole.
“Zip codes are large swaths of territory, and people from many different walks of life live in them. But many Washington neighborhoods are becoming more economically homogenous as longtime homeowners move out and increasing housing prices prevent the less affluent from moving in. The eventual result, in many cases, is a Super Zip. And because the contiguous Super Zips are surrounded by areas that are almost as well-off, it’s possible to live in a Super Zip and rarely encounter others without college degrees or professional jobs.”
William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institute referred to Washington as a “megalopolis of eggheads”–
“Washington is an example of how the country is compartmentalizing itself into clusters of people with different backgrounds and world views. It’s a magnet for people who grew up elsewhere and came here because they want to be in a place that has an atmosphere of intellectual curiosity. But it means we’re somewhat isolated. A lot of people here may study and advocate for what’s going on in the rest of the country, but they can’t feel what’s going on if it doesn’t touch them.”
I don’t pretend to defend the idea that parts of Washington, D.C. are disconnected with the outside world and I understand that the contents of this study and article could be the cherry on top of the “Washington disconnect” narrative. However, a very broad generalization has been made about the people living and working around Washington, D.C. I don’t think it’s fair to paint D.C. professionals with such a broad stroke–especially one that is based solely on zip code or number of graduate degrees.
Millionaire pop stars, professional athletes, and reality TV darlings may show off their exotic luxury vehicles and souped-up SUVs in tabloids and on TV but America’s richest aren’t interested in those types of cars. The Wall Street Journal posted an article on MarketWatch identifying some of the most popular cars in the wealthiest U.S. neighborhoods. Clue: it’s not what you think.
Some of the top cars that America’s richest are purchasing are sure to surprise you–they definitely surprised me…
They’re buying WHAT?
The American Classic: Jeep Grand Cherokee
Why it’s surprising:
According to MarketWatch, the Cherokee is extremely popular in posh beach communities. This is an American classic, yet not what you would expect the 1% to be driving into their heated 4-car garages. With a price tag starting at $28k, this is an extremely conservative car purchase for the uber-rich. (The Wrangler was also popular in these communities.)
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Why it’s surprising:
This is the new kid on the luxury block–and it starts at only $36k. (It’s okay if you did a double take between the name “Mercedes-Benz” and price tag “$36,000.” Most people do–at the TV commercials, billboards…) This sedan was created in order to lure younger buyers into becoming Mercedes-Benz-buying lifers. However, this vehicle isn’t just attracting the younger demographic of uber-rich. The C-Class also seems to be the “IT” “Sweet 16″ birthday vehicle. In this case, I’m not sure Mercedes will hook life-time brand buyers, but the swarms of birthday C-classes are, at least, sure to cultivate a taste for luxury in the spoiled teen population.
Attitudes about sororities and fraternities are quite polarized—something akin to Congress 2013. As a member of Greek life, I find this disheartening. However, I am not surprised.
I went to a small, farm town high school and although I found the thought of being part of a sorority interesting I never actually thought I would join one. My only experience with these organizations came from TV shows and movies (which weren’t positive). For example, Legally Blonde showed out-of-touch, Barbie doll Elle Woods leaving her sunny, Californian college in her Porsche to attend Harvard Law School. The purpose wasn’t to study law but to get her bonehead boyfriend back. She had a good LSAT score but she conned her way into Harvard Law with a pink, perfumed resume and an application tape that showed her wearing a bikini. She loved sparkly things, had a Chihuahua that wore clothes, and talked really fast in a high-pitched voice. She was Greek.
John Belushi starred in the “classic” film Animal House as a member of the struggling fraternity Delta Tau Chi. The Delta Tau Chis were a band of misfits. They were in danger of being kicked off campus due to poor grades and overall bad behavior. They wore togas and made out with any female available. After a party, they took the mayor’s 13-year old daughter home in a shopping cart. They were rowdy and stupid. They were Greek.
This is the widespread perception of Greek life. Not only is it inaccurate but it is embarrassing. Most members of the Greek community grimace when the association is mentioned and the executives at national fraternity headquarters shake their heads.
I honestly didn’t think that my piece last week would stir up such a maelstrom—a simple piece on how some of my generation are lacking in some basic skills, how sorority recruitment can be useful in teaching them, and how this experience can help in a job interview. I cannot pretend to have any perspective other than the one I have; which is that I went to a little college in a rural town and I joined a sorority because it banished every preconceived notion I had about Greek Life. I also learned some things.
This article wasn’t crazy stuff but it garnered a lot of comments. However, most of these were the stuff of Greek life stereotypes—spawned from fictional situations and people in movies. Things that I also used to believe about sororities and fraternities. However, in my college sorority, I didn’t drive a Porsche or have a Gucci-wearing dog. I never wore a toga. Most of us paid our own dues (which covered the mortgage on our house, utilities, and food for the chapter). Most of us graduated with a job, went on to law school, medical school, or teaching. Nobody joined just to get her “MRS.” Our sorority wasn’t the most popular or the one that everyone wanted to “get in to.” Our members weren’t all Vogue-model thin, beauty queens, rich, or fit into the made-up “sorority mold.”
What is this “sorority/fraternity mold” anyhow?
It is Elle Woods from Legally Blonde. Someone who is stick thin, rich, and a little annoying. It is hard-partying John “Bluto” Blutarsky from Animal House. It is scantily-clad girls wearing glitter headbands, forcing younger girls to drink, and subsequently ending up in hospitals with alcohol poisoning. It is fraternity brothers bullying younger members. This is what Hollywood thinks all sororities and fraternities are like–and this is what most of the public believes.
Sororities and Fraternities are fake, full of superficial people, and are useless money-sucks.
I hear you.
Honestly, some are, but, not all.
At a recent convening of the “female minds” during a birthday party celebration, I was reminded of the challenges posed by the D.C. dating scene. A fellow friend at this birthday dinner was regaling the group with her predicament: she had to leave the birthday party early for a date.
Normally, this topic is the launching pad for well-wishes, compliments, and giggles. In this case, the poor girl was dreading her impending date. Subsequent conversations with the male in question after agreeing to the date had made her a little wary. He was cocky and pushy–which made her question if he was interested in anything more than a quick hook-up. However, she didn’t want to back out of the date 40 minutes before they were supposed to meet up.
We tried to psyche her up. It’s great to meet new people! A night on the town will be fun!
No go. She was all frowns and pessimism as she slid off her stool and collected her coat and purse.
“Why is dating in D.C. so hard?” she asked as she turned for the door.
We all knew from personal experience what she meant, but none of us had an answer…
Washington D.C. is always a nominee for those lists with titles like “worst city for singles” or “worst city for dating.” It’s not surprising, really. Washington, D.C. is not a normal city. Although the representatives of the nation live and work here, The Capital is in a fantasy land of its own, shielded from the real-world by a thick bubble. It makes sense that this removal from reality in the workplace would also translate to the playground. I do know good people who have met, dated, and married people that they met while living in D.C. However, these people seem to be either part of the lucky minority or are D.C.-dating-warriors who persevered after several harrowing attempts.
Here are three reasons why dating in D.C. is particularly difficult:
Washington, D.C. is ready for Halloween! Row houses have been covered with giant cobwebs, yards scattered with pop-up ghouls, and porches decorated with cleverly carved pumpkins. Our neighbor has a giant arachnid perched above the front door–and when I say “giant,” I mean the spider is half the size of a car. Eek! Traditional yard and house decorations aside, every once in awhile I see a decorated car (a few pumpkin stickers or a fake bat)– but that’s child’s play compared to some of the die-hard Halloween decorators out there. These die-hard Halloween fans have graduated from the spooky house and yard decorations to the drivable canvases parked in their garages. Their cars.
I would like to honor these die-hard decorators with an awards ceremony that I’ve created just for them.
Here are the winners of the first annual Automo-BOO-le Awards:
I was what every freshman girl in college was: new, bright-eyed, and looking for friends. Although my campus was small (2,100 people total), I wanted to find my niche. I decided to go through the sorority-recruitment process in order to meet other girls on campus and, hopefully, find a home away from home. Although recruitment season usually indicates long days, sleepless nights, and over-caffeinated, stressed-out girls, this process does teach life lessons–such as how to be strong in an interview or a good conversationalist.
I know this last sentence sounds preposterous. How could going through the process of recruitment or “rush” to join a “house” of women on a college campus prepare anyone for life? Or a job interview? Or how to carry on a conversation?
Hear me out.
Do you like beer? Are you excited for the release of the next part of The Hobbit? Do you like spending evenings in cozy bars? If you said yes to any of these questions, then I suggest you head to Middle Earth-incarnate in Alexandria, VA.
Bilbo Baggins and the Green Dragon Pub. Yes, that is the name of the restaurant and its in-house bar.
Located in Old Town Alexandria, Bilbo Baggins Restaurant is the perfect mix of small-town charm and big city beer selection.
Bilbo Baggins prides itself on its tasty food and unique atmosphere, but its claim to fame is its extensive drink menu in its main-floor bar, the Green Dragon Pub. (The drink menu is 4 pages long in tiny, single-spaced font.) With over 150 bottles of wine (32 offered by the glass), and 90 or so labels of beer available, The Green Dragon Pub holds up to its beer-soaked, fantasy namesake. Bottom line, Pippin would feel very comfortable here.
After you settle on a beer, peruse the menu. There’s enough meat to satisfy Gimli, salads for Legolas, and a pizza named after Gandalf. In more food-specific jargon, choices range from pasta to salmon and yellow-fin tuna, to salads and steak. I also recommend the pizzas–Smaug’s Delight is a personal favorite. (Yes, several of the menu items are named after characters from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.) Very “Hobbity,” I’d say!
I got a text from a friend last week regarding her Volkswagen Jetta: “Why is my oil change going to cost me $98?!”
My reply: “Look it up.”
I never did find out why my friend’s Jetta was quoted for a $98 oil change, but her surprise at the high quote did remind me of an article I read in The Atlantic a few months ago. This article touched on a study that showed women are sometimes overcharged by auto repair shops. Apparently, most repair shops believe women know less about cars and repairs and, if they are not proven wrong (by the female customer), they will charge the lady more.
Was my friend getting ripped off because she was female? Perhaps–but also, maybe not.
Obviously, not all repair shops overcharge (women OR men), so don’t get me wrong that I’m hating on my buddies at Pennzoil. However, it doesn’t hurt to make sure you’re being treated fairly whenever you’re out and about—and especially when you’re taking care of an expensive purchase like a car. It pays to be informed and to be bold — literally.
Here are some tips:
Own that Auto Shop
Women who defy stereotype come out ahead. — The Atlantic
You’re the customer and you’re in charge of the transaction. If you don’t like what Business X is telling you, you have the option of leaving and trying your luck someplace else. When you walk into that waiting room or pull into that garage bay, own it. You’re here because you want to tune up your car. Don’t act meek. You’re in charge. Be friendly and strike up a conversation with your attendant. It doesn’t hurt to make the transaction personal. If you’re relaxed and friendly, they’re more likely to like you—and probably less likely to tack on an additional $15 to your bill because of your gender or lack of know-how.
Case in point: Whenever I go to into a Jiffy Lube or Pennzoil, I always like to hang out in the garage while they do the tune-up or oil change. (Not only do I get to see exactly what they are doing–I find it interesting–but I also like chatting.) The workers don’t usually mind–and I think they like giving me the blow-by-blow account of my car’s tune-up. By being engaged, I come off as informed and less likely to fall for any suggested, unnecessary repairs/parts replacement.
When I was in middle school (early 2000s) my 6th grade math teacher was asked to stop grading assignments using a red marker because the resulting red, massacred papers were too much for students to bear. Imagine angry calls from parents because their children were sobbing about being failures. Come on, you’re eleven years old! (Only a few years later, teachers were asked to grade using green pens because they were less upsetting to students…)
The way children are raised has shifted from “love + small, measured doses of reality” to “love – exposure to the real world.” Many children today receive stickers on each assignment (even if they failed the spelling test), trophies for being a part of a soccer team (that they never played on), and award ribbons for participating in required activities. They also probably have their homework marked in either green or pastel blue. Their graded assignments meet the “sticker quota.” Parents give them candy because they are sad they failed a test (because they didn’t study). I understand kids are sensitive, impressionable, and don’t take well to failure, but kids shouldn’t be coddled forever.
The Millennial generation has been raised to believe that everyone is special. Barney told me I was special. So did my mom, dad, and Elmo. Nobody’s feelings are allowed to be hurt or any stress inflicted. There isn’t much competition and little incentive to work hard. In short, there are no losers. But are there really any winners?
This is the paradox: in order to make everyone feel “special,” everyone must be treated the same–no matter what. What a contradiction.
This mentality is ruining society.
Ahh, Washington, D.C. in the fall. Crisp monuments framed by changing leaves, fewer tourists, and local beer festivals. It’s great; but hoping for something better? How about Ireland in the fall? After marauding across the countryside, a tired traveler can duck into a lively pub for a pint and good company… Yes, please take me there!
One of my good friends was fortunate enough to leave for a vacation to the Emerald Isle last week and I was left here in D.C., wishing I could join her. She was kind enough to email me gorgeous pictures of her adventures and travels—and give me a blow-by-blow account of her Guinness Factory Tour– I was left dreaming of Guinness, fantastic scenery, and cozy pubs.
But dreams are just dreams. I needed more.
I went in search of my own piece of Ireland here in the capital and was reminded of an old favorite: The Dubliner.
Autonomous cars have been creating some buzz in the news lately. From coverage on their capabilities and advantages to warnings about their limitations and security issues, everyone seems to be curious about the autonomous car. Something else is brewing within this new-age driving hoopla: a battle for control of the stick shift. Computer-operated driving systems are quickly infiltrating our beloved cars, crossing the line from “human driver” to “automated chauffeur.” Are you ready?
A lot of the talk surrounding these systems is acronym-heavy and the names change depending on the car manufacturer. (I see they are already creating aliases to confuse the human competition!) Here’s an easy-to-read, short guide to the systems that are bringing us closer to autonomous cars.
This is the system that allows drivers who dislike parallel parking to sit back, relax, and let the car do it for them. The existence of this system does not indicate an fully autonomous car—the driver still needs to help the car out with shifting.
How does it work? Although the computer takes over to maneuver the car into the parking spot, most systems still allow the driver to press the brake, controlling the speed of the system’s parking throughout the entire maneuver. To begin, the car will indicate to the driver when to stop alongside the car it intends to parallel park behind. The driver will need to shift into Reverse to allow the system to back the car into the space. When the car determines it has finished this procedure, it will notify the driver to shift into Drive. The car will then pull forward, evening out the spacing. Finally, the car will notify the driver to put it into park.
Available in: Ford Focus Titanium, Toyota Prius V, Land Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz GL350 (just to name a few)
Alexandra Petri of The Washington Post wrote a snarky blog a few weeks ago on the Millennials titled, “Please Stop Having Dumb Opinions About Millennials.”
While I think my generation is guilty of some of the stereotypes that are mentioned, like over-sharing and being very into technology, I have to laugh and agree with some of Petri’s points on our views of Millennials.
Essentially, we all need to get a grip.
Every piece about Millennials goes one of the following ways:
1) I am Not a Millennial, and GOSH they really need to get JOBS and stop thinking they’re so SPECIAL and INSTAGRAMMING THEIR DANG SALADS!
2) I am a Millennial and NOTHING IS OUR FAULT because BOOMERS RUINED EVERYTHING.
3) I am a Millennial, BUT I am NOT LIKE OTHER MILLENNIALS, WHO MUST STOP THIS.
4) (This category is sadly underrepresented.) Things are not actually that bad. Although the Internet has shaped our lives and the way we interact in ways that seem FRIGHTENING and DIFFERENT to people accustomed to land-lines and snail mail, and although, yes, we are in our 20s so we are in many cases self-centered because statistically people in their 20s tend to be a little more self-centered than people who are, well, older, we Millennials are mostly doing the best we can in a difficult economy that is not entirely our fault and that we did not expect to have to tackle instantly upon leaving the college bubble.
I think a fair amount of Millennials are part of the #3 category. I know I’m part of this crowd; “PLEASE don’t think I’m an entitled jerk!” Some of us are embarrassed by our peers that fit some of the horrible stereotypes–and hope that nobody lumps us into that category.
Petri argues that some of the stereotypes surrounding the Millennials are a little exaggerated–and she’s right. Not all Millennials are pathetic saps and not all pathetic saps are Millennials. Also, it isn’t just Millennials that are guilty of some of these stereotypical “Millennial sins” that people allege are ruining society.
Ahh Tequila… both a curse and a blessing to stomaches everywhere. This infamous liquor has a history as colorful as the stories that accompany nights of drinking it. Ha! Whether you’re new to tequila, or have a terrible history with it, I suggest that you give it another chance.
This week I am going to highlight a secret in D.C.–it’s not a secret that people don’t know about this restaurant/bar–but that many don’t bother to walk down into their Tequila-heaven basement. If you like adventure, good Mexican food, or broadening your liquour knowledge, I have just the place for you: El Centro D.F. in Washington, D.C.
But, before we launch into the details of this jewel, here is a brief history lesson on tequila:
- Tequila was one of the first indigenous, distilled beverages in North America. After the Spanish conquistadors ran out of their own brandy they tried their hand at distilling the agave plant which grew plentifully in the blue volcanic soil of Mexico.
- The name “tequila” actually comes from a town in western Mexico–where most of the blue agave plants grow.
- By law, tequila is only allowed to be produced in certain parts of Mexico.
- What’s with that worm in the bottle? Actually, only a few tequila come with the worm–a marketing gimmick that started in the 1940s.
Washington, D.C. is notorious for traffic jams, road closures (oh, hey Mr. President), and commutes worthy of their own epic fairytale. D.C. has an underground metro, several bus lines, Amtrak, the MARC train, zipcars, and a bike share system. There are a million ways to get around this little city–which also means there are a lot of ways to get held up.
However, there are commuters out there who love their commute–even if it’s really long and involves a delay. Some people use the time in the car (aka traffic) to conduct business calls, catch up with the news, or relax to some classic music. The bus and train crowd usually list one of the positives of “riding” as being able to read or do work. However, despite being able to make the best of their commuting situation, sometimes, the commute just goes bad… That minivan hit that sedan where 395 merges after the bridge and now they’re blocking traffic instead of getting out of the way. The metro decides to “unload” passengers and now you have to walk 2 miles to work or locate a cab. The metro is on fire. The metro is malfunctioning. There aren’t any available bikes at the bike-share. The road is shut down for a parade of circus animals.
This is the day-to-day in D.C.
Yes, it is extremely frustrating sometimes, but we should be thankful for our situation. Here are a few pictures of hellish commutes from cities around the world. Thank your lucky stars.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
and you thought the Nats game crowd was bad…
Can you imagine seeing this as the metro crosses the Potomac?
One of my duties at my 9 to 5 job is to screen/hire interns and field applicants for job openings. People have come and gone in the past few years and I have had thousands (literally, thousands) of job applications come through my email inbox. I am required to read every single one.
It really isn’t as bad as it sounds—physically reading pages upon pages doesn’t make you completely blind—but I do tend to come out of my “application binges” feeling depressed. Why? The surface reason is that I hate having to go through 1,000 applications, knowing that 999 people are not going to get the job. The deeper reason is that reading ridiculous cover letters and resumes makes me feel very sad for my generation. If you really want to know how horrific the job market is, just read a stack of resumes. I just had to slog through 15 applications—and my gut reaction to each one was to write each applicant a personalized critique on what they did wrong and why I eliminated them.
Here’s some advice for millennial job applicants:
Although it doesn’t currently feel like fall here in Washington, D.C. (it’s been in the high 80s the past few weeks), the calendar keeps reminding me that it is “beer season.” I hail from Beer Capital, U.S.A aka Wisconsin and while I do like a crisp Miller Lite, I also like to walk on the “wild side” of beer. If you’re looking for a good beer list and an authentic, German atmosphere, Café Berlin on Capitol Hill is the place for you. This restaurant has been serving up authentic, German fare since 1985 and has both amazing food and beer menus.
Beware: it might be crowded now since nobody in D.C. has anything to do. Wink.
I’ve been getting a lot of emails from family and friends who live in other parts of the country: “How is D.C. now that everything is shut down?”
Well, to me, who walks to work and stays primarily around the neighborhood, it all seems pretty normal. However, this can’t be said for the bike and car commuters. (I feel ya, guys.)
I played the road-warrior role for a year, driving from my home in Alexandria, VA, to Washington, D.C. (and back) each day. The commute can be brutal. Everyone is mad, the roads are clogged, vacationers are frantically changing lanes (sometimes into your car), and horns are constantly honking. In a nutshell, it’s bad even on a “good day.”
The government shutdown has managed to make the trek in/out of D.C. even worse than usual—and I extend my sincerest condolences to you road-warriors out there.
**Note: I think all D.C. drivers should read this WikiHow article on how to stay calm during road rage. Hey, it can’t hurt…
Americans love reality TV. There are a few shows that give viewers a glimpse of the “inside” life of prisons but I doubt the majority of Americans watch these shows or would even choose it when given a choice with CSPAN. Who wants to see the gory behind-the-scenes details of our toughest prisons? That’s too real. Instead, viewers prefer the sugar-coated entertainment of shows like Orange is the New Black and don’t realize how real the pain and terror can be inside America’s prisons. However, despite its script and watered-down representation of prison life, fictional Orange is able to give audiences a dose of real life, gritty America.
Our society puts great stock in authenticity these days; from organic foods, to “less is more,” to the glorification of “being yourself” as the perpetual best policy we delude ourselves with thinking we just naturally pursue truth. However, when we enter our little worlds of entertainment and dream, we sometimes allow the fiction to mask the biting reality that surrounds us. We, as Americans, wish we could fix our country’s social problems — inequality, crime, and poverty. Yet, we don’t like studying these issues in order to better understand and fix them. We like to pretend that they don’t exist and allow their softer, fictional representations to rock us to sleep at night. Why? These problems aren’t pretty. In fact, they are ugly, depressing, and, bottom line, they scare us.
Orange is the New Black is “edgy,” it has some funny writing, decent actors, and offers a unique premise compared to the myriad of crime shows and comedies on today. The setting is a women’s prison? Unique. Audiences are allowed to enjoy the warm moments of Orange, but we should never forget their real-life basis, the “reality” behind the fiction. (There really is a Piper who went to prison!)
The premise of the show (women surviving in prison) and the issues that Orange unearths in some of its episodes (acceptance, class and racial inequality) are ideas that we as individuals need to recognize and face head on. The first step is for some of us to admit they exist.
The looming “Government Shutdown of 2013” would affect more than just D.C. residents. Sorry park users and tourists! CNN came out with a detailed list of who would be affected and how—but here is a quick cheat sheet by the numbers:
0: The number of people from the Federal maritime Commission that are expected to work. All 120 employees will probably be put on furlough.
1: Number of employees from the Office of Government Ethics who are expected to come to work. The remaining 62 workers will be furloughed. (I feel like we really should keep this office open…)
10: The number of days the U.S. Courts would remain open on available funds.
36: The number of workers on furlough from two armed forces retirement homes. These homes in Gulfport, MS and Washington, D.C. would remain open for their residents but 36 employees out of the 285 total would be put on furlough.
15: The number of days the overseas Peace Corps operations will continue until they are “wrapped up.” How many are impacted? The Peace Corps has 1055 employees, 627 are on furlough and 428 are expected to work.
19: The number of employees at the US Postal Service Inspector General who are expected to work. 1,117 people will probably be on furlough.
688: The number of Smithsonian workers who are expected to be at work. (Note: the museum has 4,202 total employees.) The National Gallery of Art and the famous Sculpture Garden will also be closed and all public events cancelled. However, don’t fret too much about the animals or priceless art, the people who protect the collections and feed the animals will still be on hand.
8,752: The number of IRS workers (out of 94,516 employed) that are expected to remain at work. (I won’t blame readers who are quietly celebrating).
58,765: The number of furloughed workers from the Department of Interior. These cutbacks would impact national parks and wildlife refuge systems (all would be closed). Public access would also be restricted. In addition, according to the DoI contingency plan, “the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement would continue to ensure the safety of drilling and production operations and issue drilling and other offshore permits; however, renewable activities and five-year plan work would be terminated.” Thank goodness for small mercies?
1,400,000: Number of Active Duty Military who will still be on duty and receive paychecks on October 1st. However, if the “shutdown” continues until October 7th, these workers might be in danger of delayed payment the next time around.
*The decision to remain open, or close, individual congressional offices will be left up to each Congressional member. They will decide which workers remain on the job and who will go home.
** All sites under the American Battle Monuments Commission would close.
Everybody loves charts. Here’s a very interesting one published by The Wall Street Journal, highlighting the use of electric and hybrid cars in the United States. The data for these charts was collected through the “EV Project,” which was sponsored by the Department of Energy.
Here are some of my take-aways from this handy chart:
Points that will make EV/hybrid manufacturers happy:
-65% of Nissan Leafs (EV), replaced a previous vehicle
The obvious goal of EV/hybrid manufacturers is to entice consumers to put their gas-powered car out to pasture and replace it with an electric car. 65% of Nissan Leaf owners did just this. Only 28% bought an EV as an additional vehicle (probably to supplement a gas-powered car), and a meager 7% bought an EV to replace an older car, but actually kept both vehicles. Yes, this is a small number (we’re only looking at Nissan Leaf owners), but to Nissan, this probably deserves a pat on the back.
-The number of EVs and hybrids sold has spiked since 2010.
Since 2010, the numbers of EV/hybrids sold has increased drastically. The EV sales numbers for year 2013 are only through July. According to the Electric Drive Transportation Association, the numbers for 2013 are expected to double those from 2011. True, the number of EV/hybrids sold in 2013 will probably be lower than those sold in 2012, but for manufacturers, it’s still an impressive number compared to 2011.
Points that will give EV/hybrid manufacturers pause:
-The majority of EV/hybrid owners are middle-aged and older
Remember when I said the baby boomers were the dark horse of the auto and tech markets? Well, it seems they are also holding the strings in the electric car market. EV/hybrid manufacturers are trying desperately to get all Americans into these cars. Unfortunately, they are still too expensive for the younger, less wealthy Americans.
-Almost 4 out of 5 EV/hybrid owners had incomes of $100,000+
I guess this isn’t a huge surprise, since electric cars are usually pricey. The price tag of EVs and hybrids is an ongoing struggle for manufacturers hoping to extend its consumer market. Again, it is going to be difficult for manufacturers to cement EV/hybrid buying-loyalty in younger Americans if they cannot afford the cars…
Are you “typical” for your generation or are you a “freak?” Well, now you can find out.
The Pew Research Center has a quiz, “How Millennial are you?” It surveys your beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors and compares them to other Americans who have taken a national survey. Intriguing.
I took this quiz. Although I was born in the late 1980s, I wasn’t very “Millennial.” The Millennial point spread is from 73-100, with 100 being the “most Millennial” you can be. Below 72 points, you leave the Millennial spread and enter into Gen Xer range.
I received 80 points on my test, putting me on the low end of the Millennial attitude/behavior range. A good friend from college also took this quiz. She received 40 points; putting her in the Gen Xer range (the Gen Xer range is 33-72 points). I know many of my other friends would either be on the low-end of the Millennial scale or a Gen Xer.
Honestly, I’m not surprised. I’ve noticed that there isn’t just a difference between generations, but also within them. Sometimes, I look around at my generational peers and think “who are these people?”