The year in review, 2015

The first sentence (more or less) of the first post of each month from this blog:

  • 4 January: Definitely an oldie but a goodie: in a 1990 paper for Journal of Political Economy, Hugh Rockoff put together a marvelous reading of L. Frank Baum’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) as an allegory of the pros and cons of bimetallism as a progressive-era monetary policy (caveat lector: there are some scannos in this copy of the paper).
  • 1 February: It was quite a pleasure to see a full evening’s program from Company E, after having seen this young modern-dance organization at the VelocityDC Dance Festival showcase.
  • 1 March: The team faced down the sleety weather this morning to start the rounds of checking nest boxes.
  • 1 April: Bob Neidt takes a quick photo tour of retro motel properties in northern Virginia.
  • 3 May: A strong production of this audience favorite, certainly a standard against which other productions can be judged.
  • 2 June: Ed Yong watches John Hutchinson and his team dissect a Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis), our 3-meter long monitor lizard.
  • 5 July: Dave Taft offers a splendid 24-hours sampler of the wildlife to be found within New York City, be it animal, vegetable, or fungal; native or alien invasive.
  • 1 August: Juicy views of the model board at NYC’s West Fourth Street control tower.
  • 1 September: From time to time I would remember a TV series from my childhood with a fairly simple premise: whatever the problem at hand might be, it could be solved by hopping into an airboat and zipping through the bayous to the other end of the county.
  • 4 October: Sheila Callaghan’s new play, a satire of gender roles and social expectations about mental and physical fitness, features some high-energy set pieces: white girls rapping about how to satisfy them, a dance club that morphs into a Paris boîte in the 1920s, a food fight with heads of lettuce.
  • 1 November: Andy Goldsworthy talks to Terry Gross.
  • 4 December: A couple of quick snaps from a short trip to Boston for training and meetings, with a visit to our Digital Services unit.

The year in review:

The year in review, 2014

Last roundup post of the year. The first sentence (more or less) of the first post of each month from this blog:

  • 2 January: My WATCH assignments for 2014.
  • 4 February: Leta is very special to me: here’s why.
  • 3 March: For the past 24 months, Matt Johnson has logged the car number for every Metro ride he’s taken.
  • 6 April: Margaret Chatham led a wildflower walk at the Nature Conservancy’s Fraser Preserve for VNPS.
  • 5 May: Two powerful solo shows played in the area over the past weekend, both of them responses to violence.
  • 1 June: A rose-colored scrim drapes the stage before each act of Act One, a dramatized version of Moss Hart’s memoir of becoming a playwright.
  • 1 July: We wrapped up the nesting season two weekends ago.
  • 2 August: The very first service alert that I’ve received from Metro pertaining to the Silver Line.
  • 1 September: For my Labor Day hike, I pushed a little longer and harder than I have done of late.
  • 2 October: I like poetry that rhymes and doesn’t rhyme, like today’s offering, Rebecca Foust’s “Dream of the Rood.”
  • 3 November: You say you’re designing a set for Romeo and Juliet and you can’t make a balcony work?
  • 8 December: The collisions of ideas and recriminations that highlight the first two acts of Tony Kushner’s Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide, multiple conversations/arguments taking place in the Brooklyn brownstone of Gus Marcantonio, are by turns invigorating and exhausting.

The year in review, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007.

The year in review, 2013

You know the drill. The first sentence (more or less) of the first post of each month from this blog:

  • 5 January: WATCH assignments for 2013 are out.
  • 3 February: David Lindsay-Abaire puts aside the wacky characters and situations of some of his earlier work (Wonder of the World, Fuddy Meers) and plays it straighter in his new Good People.
  • 2 March: Julian Elijah Martinez delivers a masterful performance as Daniel Reeves in Bill Cain’s 9 Circles.
  • 6 April: I’m back with NPR for a short gig, working on- and off-site.
  • 6 May: Seeking drama and humor in the living rooms of the privileged class, Jon Robin Baitz introduces us to Lyman and Polly Wyeth, retirees from 1960s-era Hollywood and old guard conservatives.
  • 2 June: Five last vocabulary builders from Robbe-Grillet’s La Jalousie.
  • 3 July: Sand Box John keeps us up to date.
  • 1 August: Last Saturday’s field trips took us to two freshwater wetlands in southern P.G. County, one well-known among naturalists, the other decidedly off the beaten path.
  • 1 September: Big data collector/distributor Acxiom is proffering a measure of transparency and consumer opt-out. is set to launch on Wednesday.
  • 5 October: One of my favorite underrepresented photographic subjects, the porcelain convenience at Shorpy.
  • 3 November: Round House Theatre marks its return to more engaging, contemporary material with a balanced ensemble performance of Melissa James Gibson’s This, a romantic comedy-drama for grieving grownups.
  • 1 December: Scott Weidensaul gives us a nudge to remember to look for bird-friendly certified shade-grown coffee.

The year in review, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007.

The year in review, 2012

Posts were a bit sparser this year.

The first sentence (more or less) of the first post of each month from this blog:

  • 1 January: Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) is emerging from the wet spots along the Glade in Reston.
  • 4 February: I’ve been intending to do a more thorough job of documenting the various bus stop signs around the area from the numerous jurisdictions and authorities.
  • 4 March: Both of the new boxes that we mounted in mid-February are home to clutches of Hooded Merganser eggs.
  • 1 April: I do expect that this will be the only series of posts with three colons in the title.
  • 1 May: Genie Baskir gives the thumbs-up for August: Osage County at ShowBizRadio.
  • 7 June: What is this? we ask ourselves ten minutes into Mr. Burns, a post-electric play.
  • 4 July: Hey, Leta, you’re on the TV!
  • 6 August: “Above all, the student should cultivate the scientific attitude of mind, and he should never believe in his infallibility.”
  • 3 September: Kathleen Akerley premieres another of her enjoyable head-scratchers.
  • 3 October: Almost ideal weather conditions (Friday’s passing cold front with storms, Saturday’s northwest winds) set up a great weekend birding in Cape May with a group led by Mark Garland.
  • 6 November: Leta and I took a quick road trip to Ohio last week.
  • 1 December: Sonja Ahlers <3 Heart.

The year in review, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007.

The year in review, 2011

Getting a bit of an early start on this post. Hey, Christmas is coming!

The first sentence (more or less) of the first post of each month from this blog:

  • 2 January: Bands of showers, clouds, and a little sunshine passed over us on Sugarloaf Mountain, on an ANS hike led by Cathy Stragar.
  • 2 February: Passive clauses are explained, defended by Geoffrey K. Pullum.
  • 1 March: “There was a certain coherency in [John Maynard] Keynes’s (the intellectual godfather of the IMF) conception of the [International Monetary] Fund and its role. “
  • 2 April: My term project, an analysis of the Comprehensive Plan for Fairfax County’s Area II, has been submitted for my class.
  • 1 May: When I hear on the radio the voice of an artist that I haven’t heard in a long time, it’s rarely happy news.
  • 4 June: Benjamin R. Freed covers Capital Talent Agency, Roger Yoerges and Jeremy Skidmore’s nascent representation outfit for local professional actors.
  • 1 July: Director Michael Kahn and his cast give a cool, clean, faithful reading of Harold Pinter’s enigmatic exploration of memory and friendship.
  • 1 August: Plays at this year’s CATF are dominated by grim themes of black-white race relations, with the concomitant issues of money, power, and social class.
  • 6 September: Metro map designers are floating the possibility that the line won’t be silver after all.
  • 2 October: My first of two walks under the auspices of WalkingTown DC was a quick spin through Fort Totten led by Mary Pat Rowan, with an emphasis on the woody plants of this semi-preserved area.
  • 2 November: Two treasuries of Washington photography…
  • 4 December: This ratty old building, window glazing missing from the upper stories, most recently was put to temporary uses like political campaign offices.

The year in review, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007.

The year in review, 2010

The first sentence (more or less) of the first post of each month from this blog:

  • 1 January: 11D points to a round-up of recommendations on the whats and the hows of purging books from your library.
  • 6 February: The Birding Community E-Bulletin points to two reports: first, a recent summary by Robert Rice of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center on the supply of and market for the SMBC’s branded Bird Friendly® Coffee.
  • 2 March: Language Log contributor Geoff Nunberg explores new crannies of curmudgeonliness.
  • 1 April: Not to be outdone by The Flibbertigibbet in documentary comprehensiveness (although I yield in the area of single-minded devotion to the craft), herewith my theater viewing statistics for the past twelvemonth.
  • 1 May: A local nonprofit company works to bring together two (seemingly incompatible) interests of mine: theater and nature.
  • 5 June: We might be forgiven for wondering why Woolly Mammoth, having built its fabulous proscenium-styled performance space, enables its directors and designers to reconfigure it variously, as in the recent Full Circle and Clybourne Park.
  • 2 July: Just a quick snap to mark my completion of the Fairfax Cross County Trail.
  • 6 August: WordPress 3 and it’s time for a theme change.
  • 2 September: Sweet profile by Lydia DePillis of Greater Greater Washington’s David Alpert.
  • 2 October: The concrete and support columns are beginning to resemble a station platform; conveniently, it’s right where the Wiehle Avenue stop will be.
  • 2 November: My term project for my meteorology class is fairly simple: photograph and identify as many cloud types as possible.
  • 2 December: Wikipedia’s Silver Line entry recently achieved good article status.

The year in review, 2009, 2008, and 2007.

The first order meme

Via Apt. 11D, the first order that I can find in my history at was placed on 8 March 1997: Pogue and Schorr, Macworld Macintosh Secrets, 4/e; Sterrit, The Films of Alfred Hitchcock; and Steinbach, The Birth of the World as We Know It: Or Teiresias. The Steinbach has gone to the great library sale in the sky, and the Mac book is buried in a box somewhere with old COBOL manuals, but the Sterritt is still around.

I think that I placed an online order or two with CDnow before I bought anything from, but those records are long gone.

Okay, here’s something silly: the order history page for those 13-year-old purchases offers a Return Items button. (But if you click through the next page says that the items are not eligible for return.)

The year in review, 2009

The first sentence (more or less) of the first post of each month from this blog:

  • 2 January: WATCH assignments for the calendar year were distributed over the holiday break.
  • 2 February: wood s lot reminds us that it is James Joyce’s birthday.
  • 1 March: Only a light frosting of snow this morning on the still-sleeping woods (the bigger dump is expected this evening).
  • 3 April: “Midmost of the black-soiled Iowa plain, watered only by a shallow and insignificant creek, the city of Nautilus bakes and rattles and glistens.”
  • 1 May: Via Arts & Letters Daily, Stuart Jeffries explores the recent population explosion of bangs…
  • 2 June: Lawrence M. Hanks et al. have captured on video a Common Raven (Corvus corax) in Death Valley NP that has learned how to turn on a campground water spigot to get a drink.
  • 2 July: The last play in August Wilson’s cycle of Pittsburgh plays, Radio Golf, is set in 1997, at a time when the city’s black upper-middle class is enjoying both economic good fortune and the prospect of genuine political power.
  • 2 August: Michael Weller’s Fifty Words heads up the list of five plays (featuring two pianos!) presented at another fine festival in Shepherdstown.
  • 6 September: Some tidbits from the most recent newsletter from Friends of Huntley Meadows Park…
  • 3 October: “At the heart of the Park idea is this notion…”
  • 1 November: George Plimpton’s hockey book is back in print…
  • 2 December: I came across the following turn of phrase in Chapter 13 of So Big.

The year in review, 2008 and 2007.

The year in review, 2008

Meme via Pondering Pikaia: the first sentence of the first post of each month from this blog:

  • 1 January: I really don’t spend as much time out in the field actively birding as I would like to, but I like to make time for Cornell’s Great Backyard Bird Count, which is held each February over the Presidents’ Day weekend.
  • 3 February: There’s a lovely passage in Mark Morris’s Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes (1988) where something happens that you don’t often see: the dancers look down at their feet.
  • 2 March: The WB brings us seven sketches on the theme of love, some of them duets, others with more complex groupings.
  • 1 April: Bobolinks and other migratory songbirds are getting clobbered by pesticide use outside of the United States, beyond the protections offered (such as they are) by federal regulations, as Bridget Stutchbury notes in an op-ed piece for the Times.
  • 1 May: Try out a new movie download service.
  • 1 June: Joe Queenan gives me another megabook to strive to complete: Robert Musil’s The Man without Qualities.
  • 1 July: But not a big surprise: following the recent closure of its Penn Quarter store, local independent bookseller Olsson’s has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, reports DCist and Anita Huslin.
  • 1 August: Neil LaBute breaks his pattern of writing for younger characters with Wrecks, a monologue for a businessman of late middle age, executed with skill by Kurt Zischke.
  • 1 September: Last holiday weekend of the summer and it’s time for the mountains!
  • 1 October: Expect to read more of this bad news in the future: DCist reports that Olsson’s Books and Records has converted its bankruptcy filing to Chapter 7 and closed all of its remaining stores, while Washington City Paper’s parent company has also sought bankruptcy protection.
  • 1 November: Steve Offutt road-tests the “invisible tunnel” connection between Farragut West and Farragut North.
  • 1 December: Via The Economist, recent research published by Evan Preisser and Joseph Elkinton yields an interesting result to those concerned with the conservation of Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) trees.

The year in review, 2007.

The only trouble with this meme is that for several months after I’m self-conscious about my first-of-the-month post.

I really don’t spend that much space worrying about local bankruptcies. It’s just that the Olsson’s news would break at the end of each fiscal quarter.

First past the post

So the reblogging game is to name your favorite films by these indie auteurs of the 30 years or so: the Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson, Hal Ashby, Kevin Smith, and Quentin Tarantino. adds Stanley Kubrick, P.T. Anderson, and Errol Morris to the list. All well and good, but a few of of these guys worked only one seam, and if this is to be a revealing personality test we need some directors with a wider range of material. Offhand, I can think of Woody Allen, Robert Altman, and Steven Soderbergh. So here’s my list:

  • Coens: Blood Simple
  • W. Anderson: Bottle Rocket
  • Ashby: none (Harold and Maude is for adolescents)
  • Smith: Dogma edges out Clerks
  • Tarantino: Reservoir Dogs, also by a slight margin
  • Kubrick: 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • P.T. Anderson: Magnolia
  • Morris: Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control
  • Allen: Hannah and Her Sisters
  • Altman: Nashville
  • Soderbergh: sex, lies, and videotape