Sanity, Signs, and So On

We were at today’s rally in DC. I didn’t see, and barely heard, anyone on stage, but I can catch up with the show via video later.

I did see a lot of signs, including these.

The Guardian reports that there were over quarter of a million people there. I can believe it, especially since most of them seemed to be on the same Red Line trains as we were. That said, I’m glad that we went.

WordCamp Mid-Atlantic

I spent Saturday at WordCamp Mid-Atlantic in Baltimore. It was my first WordCamp, the one in Boston having taken place just after I moved down to Maryland.

I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to make it to the event, was on the waitlist, but managed to leapfrog the list by responding to a call for volunteers. I spent some time at reception (but most of the checking-in was done by others), directed people to sources of coffee, listened to complaints about the directions, etc., but was mainly free to roam.

Most of the online discussion of the event is to be found at Twitter (#wcma), rather than on WordPress blogs. A micro-sign of the times, perhaps.

It won’t be my last WordCamp. I hope to be at (and have offered to help with) WCMA next year.

Planning a PTA Website

I just got back from the first PTA meeting of the school year at Highland Elementary School, where my daughter Maddie has just started first grade (and where my son Max is likely to start kindergarten next year). I wasn’t able to make any PTA meetings last school year.

One of priorities for the Highland PTA is getting more parents involved. I see a website as a means toward this end, in that it would be available all the time, while real-world PTA meetings can never be. The site would also make involvement easier for some parents able to be involved anyway, but who might want to get or provide updates between meetings.

Were I to set up the site right now, my priorities would be as follows.

  • Provide updates on PTA activity. Some updates might be meeting-based (reminder of meeting, here’s what was discussed, etc.), some between meetings (we’re weeks away from the next meeting, but what do you think of this?).
  • Solicit input, especially from parents and teachers who are not able to attend meetings at the school. No time is good for everyone: this morning’s 9am meeting was well attended, but still must have excluded many families.
  • Be multilingual, or at least bilingual. The Highland community speaks many languages, with Spanish and English being particularly prominent.

I’ve done some searches on terms such as PTA website. There’s a lot of stuff out there, including:

  • PTA sites at the national (US) and state (MD) level.
  • A PTA website builder site. First reaction: the nonprofit side of my brain says that it seems expensive; the for-profit side sees an opportunity in the PTA website builder business, if my pro-bono efforts at Highland go well.

Now,to solicit input on PTA websites. I’ll send out a few emails. But if you, dear reader, have thoughts on PTA sites, please share them here, especially if they include links to successful PTA sites.

Appreciating Electricity

Like a couple of thousand other people in Montgomery County, Maryland, we lost power on Sunday afternoon, following thunderstorms with winds exceeding 60 miles-per-hour (to quote Pepco, the power company). Our power came back at about midnight Tuesday/Wednesday.

For most of those 50-plus hours, we didn’t have dialtone on our landline. On Monday morning, I was getting no cellphone signal from T-Mobile, and no web access on my Android.

In fact, we had no web access at all during the power outage, even for a laptop running on battery power. We have FiOS, but only when we have electricity.

I think I missed the web more than I missed air conditioning, and that’s saying something in July in Maryland. It’s good to be back online.

Corporations are people too

If corporations have rights, such as free speech, where do these rights stop? Can a corporation, for example, run for congress? My fellow Silver Spring resident Murray Hill wants to find out. Murray Hill is a PR firm, rather than a person. Or is a firm a person?

So, Murray Hill Inc. for Congress, as we say on Facebook: and Reddit, and NPR. And Youtube as well, but I’ll embed the video here to save you the trip.

Month in Montgomery County, MD

Warm Winter WayIt was one month ago today that we closed on the house in Silver Spring, or, to be more specific, Wheaton. It’s been a good month, because we all like the house, those of us with jobs or schools like them, and there’s a lot of fun to be had locally.

For example, we’ve enjoyed Wheaton Regional Park. The conservatories have been provided particularly welcome refuge from the cold, and the model train exhibit has made the conservatories even more fun, especially for Max, our 3yo. By the way, both the train exhibit and the Garden of Lights have been extended until Jan 10 to make up for the days lost in the snowstorm.

There seem to be a lot of places to eat cheaply and well round here. Yelp has led us to several of them, most recently to New Kam Fong, where we had dim sum yesterday lunchtime.

I see that there are several interesting-looking local blogs, including Good Eatin’ in Wheaton (overdue for a visit to NKF) and Just Up the Pike. Dan Reed, author of the latter, provided a review of 2009 round here, which I read although/because I wasn’t here for most of the year.

To celebrate my birthday my new state gave to me…

… five driving years… or rather, a Maryland driving license that expires on Dec 22, 2014, on which day I will turn … five years old than I am today. That means I’ve stopped aging, because infinty + 5 = infinity, right? I had to get the license today, since my Massachusetts license expired today, and I haven’t had time before, with all the moving and the living.

So my present from my new state of residence was a new license. My present from my new county, Montgomery, was the company of my daughter Maddie, since schools were closed again. The Tuesday closing seemed rather silly, since the snow stopped falling early Sunday morning. But it did set the stage for the closing tomorrow, Wednesday, which would have been the last day before winter break.

Much though I love my daughter, I wasn’t delighted to have her almost-6-yo company as well as her brother’s 3yo company on the license errand. But I set off with them and a backpack full of documents for the nearest MVA location that does Out-of-State License Exchanges.

I’ll spare you most of the details of the day. Suffice it to say that: not one, but two, proofs of MD residence are required; a letter from Verizon thanking you for your business does not serve as such proof, although a bill from the same company would (I think) serve; a bill from a plumbing company does not serve, although an agreement for ongoing service would.

As you know from the opening paragraph, mission was accomplished, and the new license obtained. The kids weren’t bad. I’d like to think that’s due to the good behavior genes they get from me, but it might have more to do with chocolate and other purchases from Trader Joe’s. So thank you, Joe, and thank you, Maryland.

More thanks to Montgomery County. The trash was collected today – a day late is understandable given the weather, and much better than no collection this week.

And yet more: the street was also plowed. In fact, when we were almost home, and about to turn into our street, we were confronted with a large digger truck, followed by a smaller truck with a plow on front, coming toward us. I decided to yield to them, even though I was going the legal way down our one-way street.

Did I celebrate my new drivers license, and my birthday, by going round the block, ignoring the No Entry sign, and returning home the wrong way along the street? (The alternative was to tell my kids that they had to spend yet more time in the car.) I’m not saying, and I’m not sure whether to invoke forgetfulness, senility, or constitutional protection against compulsory self-incrimination.

Snow in Silver Spring

Steps or Steppes?If we moved south because we didn’t like Boston winters, we picked the wrong year, or we didn’t move far enough, or… Anyway, the Washington Post reports that the DC region begins to dig out after record storm.

Saturday’s storm broke all records for a December snowfall and buried the Washington area, forcing authorities to suspend public transportation, declare a state of emergency and plead with residents to stay home…

The storm began in the Gulf of Mexico and continued northeast along a track meteorologists call an “I-95 special,” growing most intense over the Washington area. New York and Boston also had heavy snowfall, but by the time the storm reached that area, its heart was over the ocean so those cities received less snow…

Some areas, particularly in Southern Maryland, experienced wind gusts up to 40 mph. The total measured snowfall at Reagan Airport at 8:58 p.m. was 16.3 inches, but it was as high as 23 inches elsewhere in the region. That would be more snow in a 24-hour period than the region typically gets in an entire winter.

Meanwhile Boston braces for a great white wave, and Universal Adam features the Snowmageddon tweets.

I took the photo yesterday morning, less than halfway through the storm. It’s part of the rather good Flickr group Sprung from Silver Spring.

Settling in to Silver Spring

Running to the playgroundWe completed the purchase of our new house last Thursday, December 3. We moved in on Monday of this week. Since then we’ve been opening boxes, hanging pictures, getting to know our way around, etc.

The kids like the new place, and already feel at home here. Here they are running toward the nearest playground. As you can see, it looks like a castle in the woods, with a color scheme very similar to that of Max’s winter coat.

Maddie is looking forward to starting at Highland Elementary School on Monday. We went there this morning to do paperwork and to visit. Max smelled and saw the pizza that was for school lunch today, and was very upset that he couldn’t have any.

We’re in the Wheaton-Glenmont area of Silver Spring, in Montgomery County Maryland. That puts us near the Red line of the DC Metro. I think that the Metro will make a welcome change from the Boston T.