by Borderstan.com October 24, 2011 at 10:00 am 1,139 0

17th Street NW, Cobalt, Luis Gomez Photos

17th and R Streets NW: COBALT celebrated its 10-year anniversary Saturday with a plethora of entertainment and a very-big spotlight truck. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Mike Kohn. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter @mike_kohn.

You Can’t Beat the Price!

In case you missed the official announcement, the Dunkin’ Donuts at 14th and U Streets NW is open! And according to DCist, they’re giving out free medium coffee to everyone who visits through October 30, so get it while you can.

Good News for Drivers!

Amidst some things that nobody likes about our local government, the District has finally moved to a system that allows you to pay for parking from your phone! Greater Greater Washington reveals that there are now apps that you can use on your smartphone to pay, using the posted sign to give you the important number that identifies your particular spot.

Good News for Immigrants!

And speaking of the government taking a stand, according to Washington City Paper, Mayor Gray signed an executive order saying that DC Police won’t share information about arrestees’ immigration status with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. WCP points out that the FBI could still forward information over, but it’s still something for immigrant rights.

by Borderstan.com October 24, 2011 at 8:00 am 2,103 5 Comments

She probably works REALLY hard for the money. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Mike Kohn. Have some news Mike missed? Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter @mike_kohn.

As an HR guy, I write a good number of job ads, so I’ve done my research to know what I want to put up for applicants and what I would probably leave it. Here’s a moderately horrifying one about opportunities in the neighborhood, courtesy of that endless source of entertainment, Craigslist. In case the link is pulled down by the time you get to this, here’s the full text:

We are a bar on U Street seeking women of color to bartend in lingerie for our weekly swingers party. You do not need to be a swinger, but must be comfortable with the lifestyle. We currently have a great staff and are looking to add a couple more. On average, our women make 5-700 per 6 hour shift. If interested, email us a face picture, a body picture (nude/lingerie preferrable), a bartending resume, and a little about you. These parties take place on Friday and Saturday nights, so must be available from 9-3. Looking to hire ASAP for this week’s party.

Yes, we realize the photo above doesn’t quite match the description, but we felt it might help start your Monday off with a smile.

And please, leave a comment and let us know if you apply. The promised nightly compensation should get some takers in today’s economy.

by Borderstan.com October 11, 2011 at 11:00 am 1,890 13 Comments

"Borderstan""14th Street NW""14th Street Bikers"

The 1500 block of 14th Street NW in Logan Circle. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Urban Etiquette runs biweekly with Borderstan contributor Mike Kohn writing about some common-sense rules of etiquette with an urban twist. We welcome your ideas for future columns.

From Mike Kohn. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter @mike_kohn.

One of the best parts about living in Borderstan is that it’s so easy to walk everywhere. Don’t want to walk, or think it’ll be too far? Hope on a bike and ride. With Capital Bikeshare setups all around the ‘hood, you don’t even have to own a bike to do that. The city went out of it’s way to create bike lanes for all of the people who want to ride, which makes it so much safer for bikes to get around places.

So why the hell are all of these bikers nearly running me over on the sidewalk?*

Let me just pause for a second to say this: cyclists get a bad rep. There are a whole lot of people who ride bicycles well, observing traffic laws, being courteous to both car drivers and pedestrians and not interfering with anyone else trying to get places.

That being said, there are a few cyclists who really ruin it for the rest of them by being general pains in the ass. So keep in mind that this article is directed at those people on bicycles, not the large majority, who I do think do a great job (read: don’t attack me by telling me that you’re a good bicyclist — I get it).

Okay, now that that’s out there, here’s what I’m recommending for bikers:

  • Bike in the street. There are bike lanes all over the city (including 15th Street NW, among other places) that you can use. When you can’t use a dedicated lane, stick to the road — just don’t be in the sidewalk interfering with the pedestrian pathways, if you can help it.
  • Obey the traffic signals. That includes lights and stop signs. True story from a reader of mine: “I’ve been hit by a bike in the crosswalk. Bike zoomed through the cars, stopped at the red light and nailed me.” Come on! Don’t be running people down!
  • OK, so that one’s impractical for you? If you’re in so much of a hurry that you really can’t wait 25 seconds for the light to change, be sure you actually look both ways and into the crosswalk ahead when you cross against the signal so you’re not crashing into people because you’re so unobservant.
  • Stop or lock your bikes in a way that doesn’t block everyone else’s path. For example, don’t lock your bike at a staircase so no one can climb the stairs. And don’t stop in front of a building entrance where people have to wait for you to move before getting in and out. Annoying.
  • Use common sense when riding metro and elevators. That sounds dumb, but it would be really helpful. Sense whether it’s too crowded and you should wait for the next one. Don’t knock everyone over to squeeze your bike on. Things like that would be nice.
  • This isn’t etiquette so much as safety, but wear a helmet. Don’t care if you’re riding for 5 seconds or 5 hours, but be safe and put it on.

What else would be helpful for our two-wheeled friends? And any cyclists out there have any comments about some of this stuff?

As always, if you have any other tips, feel free to shoot them to me in an email at [email protected] or find me on Twitter @mike_kohn.

* DC law allows for bicycles on sidewalks in our neighborhood. The cutoff is Massachusetts Avenue NW, with bikes allowed on sidewalks north of Massachusetts.

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by Borderstan.com September 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm 1,985 5 Comments

"Borderstan" "Smartphones" "Corcoran Street NW"

How smart are you with your smartphone? (Luis Gomez Photos)

Urban Etiquette runs biweekly with Borderstan contributor Mike Kohn writing about some common-sense rules of etiquette with an urban twist. We welcome your ideas for future columns.

From Mike Kohn. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter @mike_kohn.

Back in May, I finally gave in to temptation and retired my old flip phone (that I swear I got in 2009, even though walking around DC made me feel like it was as antiquated as the typewriter) and traded in for an iPhone. Yes, I’m obsessed with it. Who doesn’t love their smartphone?

In response, I can safely say that there isn’t a single person who doesn’t love their phone. Every person who owns a smartphone is so obsessed, in fact, that they cannot bear to put it down, no matter what they’re doing. Driving was hazardous enough as it was, but talking while driving caused accident rates to go up, and then texting and using apps while on the road just made it a whole lot worse. A slew of states have taken it upon themselves to pass laws about the use of phones while in the driver’s side.

Bringing it close to home, I’ve watched phone usage interfere with so many things in my day-to-day life. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of annoying times that I’ve noticed people who are consumed by the non-calling features of their phone:

  • Walking in the middle of the sidewalk without paying attention to other pedestrians. We’ve already gone over my feelings about this.
  • Stopping in the middle of the sidewalk or even the road (!) in order to make their Words with Friends move. I’m waiting for someone to get run over.
  • Texting at Safeway and not realizing that the next self-service checkout line is available even though everyone is telling them to go.
  • Taking up space on the escalator and not letting anyone else by. I’ve set it before and I’ll say it again — get out of my way or I will run you over.

Many of these things aren’t limited to smartphones, but because of their versatility, they present more opportunities to get lost in their amazingness. I’ll fully admit that I’m guilty of it — my punishment was running into a tree on 15th Street NW while responding to a text. So I will a little be that pot to you kettles out there and ask that you do a better job of noticing what else is going on.

If you have to stop to use your phone (and good for you for realizing you can’t type and walk straight!), pull over to the side of the sidewalk or at least finish crossing the street. It’s unrealistic to ask you to put your phone away (I know I can’t), but at least watch your surroundings and be ready to react.

Be smarter than your smartphone. I know you’ve got it in you.

by Borderstan.com September 16, 2011 at 2:24 pm 1,189 0

BorderstanAre there things people do in the public space that are rude, bothersome, thoughtless? Make sure you read Mike Kohn’s biweekly, column, “Urban Etiqutte.” It appears every other Tuesday and he welcomes your ideas for future columns — email him at [email protected]

by Borderstan.com September 13, 2011 at 10:00 am 4,900 4 Comments

"Umbrellas" "Borderstan" "17th Street NW"

Umbrellas on 17th Street NW. How is your umbrella etiquette? (Luis Gomez Photos)

Urban Etiquette runs biweekly with Borderstan contributor Mike Kohn writing about some common-sense rules of etiquette with an urban twist. We welcome your ideas for future columns.

From Mike Kohn. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter @mike_kohn.

Hopefully all of you Borderstan residents are staying nice and dry. With all of the rain that’s been coming down lately, I know the sump pump in my basement apartment has been working overtime (and thank goodness for that — I might have drowned otherwise).

Speaking of staying dry, I’ve noticed that many of you have been carrying umbrellas to ensure that you don’t get drenched as you’re walking on the streets. Great idea, right? What’s not a great idea is carrying the umbrella that is the size of a small SUV and barreling through people like they’re pins on the lane at a bowling alley. Having suffered through more than one of those over the past few weeks, I’m getting tired of them. And judging from comments on previous posts, it seems like I’m not the only one.

  • Your umbrella should not be trying to take over the world. It really only needs to cover you. When you can comfortably fit a family of four underneath it, you know you’ve gone too big.
  • Let’s say you need that golf umbrella because your $5,000 outfit will be ruined when it gets wet. When you’re carrying the largest umbrella of life, you be the one to get out of the way. The fact that you have the giant umbrella doesn’t mean you can be the most obnoxious person out there. Instead, move to the sides to get around people without pushing them around and be considerate of people who are not as well endowed, umbrella-wise.
  • Something polite to do would be to make the first move and be the one to raise your umbrella above the crowd when swimming in a sea of them. It lets people know that you’re trying to be polite and it will prevent massive collisions. Try it sometime, won’t you?
  • Getting on the metro? Don’t shake your umbrella out or push it into people. Yes, everyone is already wet, but don’t make things worse than they already are. Avoid poking the bear — not a good idea. Keep it close to you, especially during those busy times. It sucks, but it’s better than annoying a drenched post-work crowd.
  • Along the same lines, whenever you open your umbrella, don’t point it at people. Aside from the obvious poking, you might be spraying everyone else with water without realizing it. As it gets colder, this will be even less impressive.

It’s been raining non-stop, so think about these things next time you see the gray skies outside. Your fellow residents will thank you, I promise.

Have you noticed some other obnoxious things that people do with their umbrellas? Are you as sick and tired of the massive ones that people seem to be flocking to? Give us some feedback in the comments about umbrella irritation or about other things that make you mad in the city.

by Borderstan.com March 2, 2011 at 5:30 am 1,582 0

Ballroom Dancing, Borderstan, Luis Gomez Photos

Borderstan editor Mike Kohn and partner Sara at Sunday’s competition. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cecile Oreste. Check out Cecile’s site, danceDC and follow her on Twitter @dance_DC.

Borderstan contributors-editors Michelle Bradbury and Mike Kohn competed Sunday at USA Dance’s 2011 Mid-Atlantic Championships in Bethesda. Several Borderstan team members were on hand to cheer them on at the ballroom dance competition (they do not dance together). Mike and partner, Sara, took 5th place in the Adult Novice Latin category.

Here’s what Michelle and Mike have to say about ballroom dancing — and what it takes in terms of time and skills.

Borderstan: How long have you been ballroom dancing?

Michelle: I have been dancing ballroom for the last two-and-a-half years. I got started through school my freshman year. But I did ballet and jazz for seven years before college.

Mike: I’ve been ballroom dancing for seven years now. I started when I was a freshman in college and I got hooked — I’ve been dancing ever since. At the beginning it was more about social dancing and having fun with my friends, but I slowly got more and more into competing, which I do about once every two months or so in a full year.

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