a gathering place for the words, images and momentos of the world of adventures i've adventured, the stories i've wandered through. curriculum bella vita...a resume, of sorts, of the good life.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

One Cassette Tape at a Time

Katie liked my christmas card. A lot.

If you didn't get one, it's only a matter that you're further down the list. Luckily, though, yours will come from India! Or, of you'd like to beat me to the punch and ensure that you're headed to the top of my list, put normal U.S. postage on a envelope or package and mail to: J.R.J. six-two-three-zero Hyderabad Place, Dulles, VA 20189-6230. Diplomatic pouch takes care of it from there.

Expected arrival in Hyderabad: Friday, January 7th, 2011.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

how to hyderabad

(work in progress)

How do I get a tourist visa to India?

What shots to do need to visit India?

What's the best way to fly to India? What's a good price?

When's the best time of year to visit India?

What else can i see in Southern India?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

second half stats

After I canceled on Andrew this morning -- it's not so much that it was cold, but the wind brought the conditions to an unplayable level -- i figure the year's tennis season is over...and the calculations proved tremendous growth in the second-half of the summer since i crunched the numbers last!

Playing only after the calendar hit November means the numbers average to almost three matches a month through October. Of 14 matches, I won two, MY FIRST VICTORIES EVER!!

I still lost 25 of 30 sets, but that happens. More importantly, my game total surged. In the second half of the summer, I won 37.3% of the games i played - a pretty sizable jump over the spring's 30%. Must be I was inspired by Nalbandian...

The growth, and the rivarly, to continue in Hyderabad!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful in Lexington

Thanksgiving in Lexington as a surrogate member of the Rymer family.

West Virginia’s a beautiful drive.

Lexington has a tall building!

Bourbon Trail’s a fun way to enjoy the bluegrass countryside.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Goin’ to Kansas City, Kansas City Here I Come

Wilbert Harrison might well be a liar, but Kansas City’s not a shabby place to reunion with Ashley and Gina for the latter’s late fall wedding.

All told, a weekend of firsts. Laser tag on Friday, although as a rookie I never cracked the top-half of performers in any of the four games. And the highlight Saturday, as much fun as a Pony Express stop wedding can be, was a BBQ-fueled afternoon with new friends tackling notable firsts.

All visitors are required to enjoy Oklahoma Joe’s Barbeque (ironic, no?), a tasty gas station/restaurant. So delicious, in fact, that the line stretches outside of the gas station/restaurant at all hours of the day. Over delicious BBQ, the three Kansans and I decided we should continue the theme of the day, and crossed the street to a largely latino grocery store and each picked out one new item. Between the four of us:





There's only one of the bunch that I'd return to, time and time again, but I'm still holding out hope that mangoes taste much better in their land of origin... And regardless of other firsts, any time you wind up with the weddings keg in your hotel bathroom it was a success, no?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bull Run Fun

Best part of mid-November camping in Northern Virginia? Not a briefcase of PBR, strangely enough, but rather the campground's commitment to take history seriously.

To lend an authentic experience to camping at Bull Run, the play reenactments of the Battle of Bull Run (first or second, your choice) while you camp.

Oh wait. Never mind. It's just that there's a shooting range right next to the campground...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Old Rag Time

Day hike/scramble to the top of Old Rag, Shenandoah N.P., the mid-Atlantic's most well-known summit. Lots of people do it each spring/summer/fall weekend day. Get there early to beat the crowds, but it's popular for good reason! Beautiful views, easy-to-follow trails, neat rock terrain, fun scrambling, etc. A great way to spend a Columbus Day!

7.4 mile loop, -2,400' elevation gain, 5-6 hour hike

90 minutes Southwest of Washington, D.C.

K. Holtje, rookie adventuress
J. Jewett, under-estimator of amount of water required for hike

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pack It In

FedEx Field is just a metro ride and a stroll from my front door step, so I knew there were no excuses when the Packers came to town to battle the Redskins. Great to cheer alongside Bargey. We both felt unwelcome enough, strangely enough, to move seats.

Less great to lose to first-time fans Gloria and Ken. In overtime. After the last-second game-winning field goal clanked. Ouch.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Learning not to bike to places that start with “Mount”

What better gift for my parents’ anniversary than treating them to the same wondrous adventure that they raised me on: biking to the top of high places.

After two days of DC touring, we hopped onto two rented bikes (~$45 each at the local bike rental joint) and my rusty, squeaky early-summer purchase. Biking to Mount Vernon’s a nice little 15 mile adventure south of the city, almost entirely on paved bike trail. We invited Josh, Amy and little Elena, and set off after the morning rain stopped.

An hour in, about halfway, Amy popped a tire. The mini-adventure of getting it fixed was a nice break on the legs. Moving my heavy, inefficient bike was proving more difficult than I’d anticipated. Josh and I celebrated the crest of the hill, right before Mount Vernon, with a short walk – all the better to enjoy the views.

Luckily, the tour of George Washington’s manor was well worth the trek. You can see, with a view like that, why the man was content to give up public life in DC and return to the country. I wouldn’t mind the same someday.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

South Cornerstone Galore

Word Masteress Emily gave me all the invitation I needed. We can go wherever you’d like, she volunteered, anywhere we go in the city will be new to me, so why don’t we tour around the places you’d like to see?

The South Cornerstone.

Whitney, Katie and I picked the North Cornerstone, back in April, as the most accessible/adventurous cornerstone to target first. With three to go, and knowing full well that East will be tricky and West threatens to be not that interesting, I suggested that Emily and I combine a tour of Old Town Alexandria with a second installment of the Cornerstone Chase. The only problem was that I wasn’t even sure that the South Cornerstone even exists anymore, the maps are a bit ambiguous. But the lady was game enough to agree.

The Old Town’s as delightfully bourgeoisie as a couple of young professionals could hope for. Blocks and blocks of old brick rowhouses gentrified into either charming restaurants, pricey shops or pretty nice places to live. At the river’s edge, we turned south, following a bike trail underneath a sketchy freeway bridge. Strange abandoned vans, mystery stinky trashy bags. Just because we were making jokes doesn’t mean that we didn’t pick up our pace.

The trail led to an underutilized, overgrown park. We walked, optimistically, as far as the park would allow. At the far corner, a historic lighthouse of sorts, trending towards dilapidated. A hunch and a hop over a fence. Emily looked confused.

And there she was, easing into the encroaching Potomac, a cornerstone, framed behind a not-often-used peephole in the seawall ten feet in front of the lighthouse. The South Cornerstone, the very first to be laid down in 1791. (Maybe. The authenticity of the present cornerstone is under dispute.)


Monday, September 6, 2010

Three Ridges Aplenty

My "Hiking Virginia" book is dogearred with great Shenandoah and Blue Ridge hikes, but only one trail earns the title of Virginia’s newest wilderness area: Three Ridges and The Priest in the George Washington National Forest. Jon, Libby and I set out to hike the hills on a perfect Labor Day weekend. Libby and I escorted Jon half of the way to training in Georgia, then rode Amtrak back from Charlottesville on the flip side. Hip hip horray for three-day weekends well spent!

Two-night loop along Appalachian Trail and Mau-Har Trail
13.8 miles, ~4,000’ elevation gains

Southwest of Lovinston, VA, site of Bargey’s 2006 wedding!

ALPs alumni extravaganza:
L.R. Strait
J.D. Mungen
J.R. Jewett

Day 1

2.5 miles
1,000 ft elevation gain

VA56 trailhead north on AT to Harpers Creek shelter

Stead climb led to nice area with lots of campsites and tent pads, very small creek

Day 2

8.0 miles
2,000 ft elevation gain

Up and across ridgeline, down creek valley to Campbell Falls campsite. Long 3 mile, 2,000 foot gain to start the day. First great view at Chimney Rock. Unfortunately no view from peak of Three Ridges at 3,970’. While there are some campsites in the area, you’d have to haul all your water up the mountain. Hanging Rock (below) at 6.8 miles is as good as it gets.

Nice shelter, outhouse, campsites at Maupin Shelter, would make a decent resting spot instead of Campell Falls. Even smaller creek for water purposes.

Campbell Falls is rugged in and out in both directions. The area's neat, but there's not much room for tents. Two was a squeeze, there wouldn't be room for more than one hiking party...and no good back-up areas around. Swimming hole atop a 20 foot waterfall was a treat! Would be great in hot weather, a bit brisk in early September.

Day 3
3.3 miles to trailhead
1,000 ft elevation gain

Quick uphill, then gentle return to river, parking lot. :-)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Caught in a Wolftrap

One of the best mid-summer DC activities? Wolftrap. An outdoor theatre managed by the National Park Service.

You’ve got your choice, caching a $5 roundtrip shuttle from the far end of the orange line, or a short drive down 267 toward Dulles.

August brought two shows: A Monday night with Counting Crows and Gloria, her sister and Thanksgiving Elli and two weeks later another Monday date complete with Train.

The better show? Train. Not only was Hey Soul Sister – Drops of Jupiter as good a one-two punch as I’ve ever seen in a concert, but you get Meet Virginia as a bonus. They even managed to keep the rain-dropped crowd happy1 While Long December and Mr. Jones were pretty fantastic, Counting Crows deemed it necessary to give too much of their stage time to their rap-aholic friend who wasn’t quite as easy on the ears.

How To: Tickets are reasonable. Gates open at 6:30. For the better shows, you’ve gotta be there ahead of time in order to be one of the first to get through the gate and stake a claim to a good lawn spot. Show up late, and you risk sitting on concrete or a seat at one of the far edges.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Legg Mason

Andrew and I treated the quarterfinals of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic as a costumed activity. Surely hob-nobbing amongst the DC tennis-playing elites requires sweater vests, no?

As for the tennis action? Pretty cool to watch. I don't claim to know a whole lottabout tennis, but i think i'd heard one of the four names before, so i suppose that's a good sign. Wikipedia filled in the rest.

Nalbandian (ARG) > Simon (FRA)

3-6, 6-2, 6-3

Cilic (CRO) > Tipsarenic (SRB)

7-6(4), 6-4

Nalbandian went on to win the whole darn thing, the first time he's done that in a while. I figure it was at least half due to my cheering efforts. Viva la argentine.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

how to backpack from DC via public transportation

Appalachian Trail

Out-and-Back South of Harper’s Ferry
July 30 - Aug 1

Harper’s Ferry – David Lesser Shelter/Cooper Spring – Harper’s Ferry
approx 18.8 miles

FRIDAY: Union Station → Harpers Ferry

4:05PM – 5:16PM AMTRAK
4:55PM – 6:16PM MARC
5:40PM – 7:15PM MARC
7:15PM – 8:42PM MARC

SUNDAY: Harpers Ferry → Union Station

11:25AM – 1:10PM AMTRAK


After Gloria had to back out of a weekend trip, raced to Union Station, desperate to get outta town. Bought ticket on train, $14. Commuter train stopped at about a dozen little towns along the way, some barely more than crossroads. Pleasant scenery, train wasn’t all that crowded.

Hopped out at Harper’s Ferry with an hour and a half of daylight to spare. Such a cool little spot. No stores seemed open on a Friday evening, don’t count on finding anything there. Followed Shenandoah Street through National Park buildings, rather than hiking Appalachian Trail up the hill into town. Rejoined the trail at 370, crossed Shenandoah River and hiked a mile so up the bluff towering over the river. 1000 foot elevation gain in the first mile after the river. Didn’t make it all the way up before dark, set up tent with headlamp and bivouacing at a quasi-site still inside Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park – no camping allowed – and not quite to the Appalachian Trail N.P. – camping allowed.


Crested the bluff after twenty minutes of morning hiking, and crossed into national forest not long after. Largely level terrain once you get to the top, but unfortunately there aren’t any views, at least during summer. Long stretches of leafcovered rockfields. Several nice established camping options (no water, though) in the ~2 mile level stretch between park boundary and powerline cut.

A mile after powerline cut, trail crosses VA7. A pleasant 3 miles south of the highway, a side trail leads to the left (west) toward David Lesser cabin. Complete with nice shelter, covered kitchen, and five camp sites. The real treat’s the spring. Clear and cool, a little hike below the campsites. After filling up (had to boil, don’t have a filter yet...) started the return trip. Crossed VA7 and stopped at the first campsite after the powerline cut.


Hiked downhill back to Harper’s Ferry to catch morning train. Made quick time, with ice cream and stroll through the historic district as a reward. AMTRAK train apparently isn’t time-reliable. Train an hour late, but comfortable when on-board. Tried to buy a ticket onboard, but conductor let me off with a “Happy Birthday” and a wave. A few fellow Midwestern hikers suggested a three-day trip, north to south, starting at a commuter bus stop along the train 30 miles south of Harper’s Ferry. Would be a good way to do it.

See also:

Map 7 Appalachian Trail in WV and NOVA

Hiking Virginia (Falcon Guide) p. 318

Friday, July 30, 2010

Thoughts on Home as a Professional Wanderer

It seems as though I'm a year late to the party, but I've got a new favorite song du jour aswirl in my head, and pretty often on my lips. Maybe it resonates so much because diplomats, ala frolicking hippies, might need to settle on home not as a place, but as an idea. Hopefully one, of course, shared with someone else.

A long string of "home" themed songs that have been quick to mean more than most. Old:

And new alike:

Cheers to that.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

german class five-year reunion

Aww, how nice is it to get a blogged shout-out from a former student? Thanks Ana. Good luck with the new job. :-)

They're slowly but surely moving into the real world. I couldn't be more proud. Their status by the numbers?

children: 3

fond du lac county's most wanted: 1

german majors: 0

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dog Days

The dog days of summer are here. DC's hot and a bit stagnant. Guess that's what you get for building a capitol city on a swamp...

Even worse, though, an entirely predictable problem: All my diplomatesque friends are leaving for exotic adventures. The photo albums streaming through my facebook newsfeed are dishearteningly more exotic than my day-after-day plodding progression through Telugu verb tenses. Friends, once a bountiful commodity, are dwindling as departure dates come and go; as we say farewell to even goodbye parties.

The most telling moment was birthday week. In one moment, Kaitlin, Richa and Barrett, three fantastic friends -- all within walking distance -- checked out of Foggy Bottom for South America and China. All within two days of each other.

I'm trying a few different strategies to cope. Chief among them, strangely enough, is utilizing my newfound purchasing power.

an iPod Touch, ostentatiously for Telugu flashcard purposes. But it also allows neat features...like checking out the forecast in Hyderabad. A year from now it'll be monsoon season. A welcome reprieve from the heat of April, May and June. But awfully wet:

And another splurge? A trip to REI...to become a big boy! Finally getting my own membership -- and requisite backcountry gear -- after years of mooching off my dad. A new backpack, super light under 3 pounds, stove, cookset, etc. All the little things you need to dash off into the woods, which is what i desperately need after being couped up in this sweltering city too long.

Look out trails. Here i come! With or without friends...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bastille Day Birthday Bonanza XXX

it started as a wednesday night trip to the french-maid-dress-race, but it devolved instead into just a wonderful evening with the perfect kalaidoscope of friends.

rj the father-to-be from the hometown, from the freshman year of college.

childhood friend amy and her bridesmaid demetra

Thanksgiving Elli, still alive after Hungarian/Romanian adventures

Four Winds Amelia, a Washington Stater turned Washington Districter

Lilly, Melanie and Lara, Wisconsin Law ladies

diplomats Richa, Alison, and Anne dropped by, not an unreasonable turnout as our numbers slowly dwindle

and of course Andhra Andrew and Goppadi Gloria

Thanks friends. :-)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


turning 30’ss kind of a big deal. As proof, see, for example, these arguments:

1. it’s a round number.
2. it starts with a 3.
3. in telugu it’s pronounced “muppai,” which is way sweater than “irravaithommidi.”
4. your free-wheeling twenties are over.
5. I’m eligible to run for the United States Senate.

Maybe that number four is the most important. A number as some sort of transition point between a decade of wandering/growing/exploring/learning/developing/discovering/experimenting/etc toward a decade better steered toward

In that spirit, a few years back, a young lady by the name of Rachel threw down a gauntlet. She thought it was funny, as a bright eyed undergraduate, to be living with a man just a few years from 30. So she set forth a challenge. By my 30th birthday, she expected at least one big-boy accomplishment. Something to prove I was headed in the right direction. Something to suggest that the best darn decade of my life hadn’t been a solely self-indulgent sojourn. She was kind enough, though, to give me a choice in the matter. Achieve ONE of the FIVE following:

1. Own a home.
2. Get married and/or propose the same.
3. Have a child.
4. In lieu of a child, have a pet with four legs and fur.
5. Get a real career.
At first I was a bit intimidated by the abrupt reality of the challenge. Just a few years to do something big. I tried my darndest to expand the list, to sneak something easily achievable for a guy with my inclinations on the list. Something like: 6. Earn a professional degree or 7. Publish a book or 8. Buy a shiny car or even 9. Sign my own two-year cellphone contract. No dice. Rachel held firm.

So I’m proud to report, on the eve of my 30th birthday, success. Huge wild success. I have accomplished one of the five.

Progress Report:

1. No. Headed down the diplomacy path, there’s at least a marginal chance that I might never own a home in my life. A bit of a strangely sad thought.

2. No. And not really all that close, either.

3. No. (Applause.)

4. No. (Thank you.)

5. Check.

Monday, July 12, 2010

one book two book blue book red book!

Ron Dayne's got it exactly right. It's hard to be humble when you're from Wisconsin. So maybe I'll just settle for appreciative. :-)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

what does a telugu student want for his birthday?

What does a telugu student want for his birthay? nothing more or less than a brand new telugu-english english-telugu dictionary! the grand prize of a friday field trip to the indian book store out in the suburbs. a measly thirty-five bucks to learn such juicy tidbits as "ఉడుం, uDuM n. iguana; a lizard-like animal known for its strong grip; this animal is reported to have been used to help scale the fortifications in medieval India." Bonus.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

eyes in the cupboard

It has taken me 29.98 years to learn that you CANNOT store potatoes in a cabinet longterm... Maybe this time the lesson will stick?

Temperature today? Rumors of 102.

Number of pool visits in the past five days: 3.

Currently Reading: In Light of India, Octavio Paz. What happens when you cross a Nobel Prize-winning poet with Mexico’s mid-1960’s ambassador to India? Hopefully a good read.

Five most recently completed homework assignments:

నా ప్రియమైన భోజనం (My Favorite Food)

నా ప్రియమైన నాయకుడు (My Favorite Leader)

నాలుగువ జులై (The Fourth of July)

నా హోమేతౌన్ (My Hometown)

నా ప్రియమైన సినిమా (My Favorite Movie)

Most recently learned awesome thing: Transliteration in gmail!

Gmail offers an automatic transliteration option that converts Roman characters to the characters used in...Telugu... This feature lets you type these languages phonetically in English letters, but they'll appear in their correct alphabet. Keep in mind that transliteration is different from translation; the sound of the words is converted from one alphabet to the other, not the meaning.

To enable transliteration, follow these steps:

1. Click the Settings link in Gmail.

2. On the General tab, select the checkbox next to 'Enable Transliteration.' If you don't see this option, click the Show all language options link first.

3. Select the language you'd like your messages to be written in from the drop-down menu.

4. Click Save Changes.

Now, when you compose a message, you should see a new button on the left side of your Gmail toolbar, and you'll be ready to start typing your message.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

What good does an old bike do

For the first time ever, I just bought a bike.

Sure, I got a bright orange bike for my 13th birthday, but that doesn’t really count. It was an awkward half-kid, half-adult brute, although 8th graders deserve little better. Every other bike that I’ve owned has been a parental hand-me-down. The latest, two-wheeling the last few years of law school in Madison, was my mom’s 1960s gitan. About three parts on it worked after all these years. Two wheels and one brake.

Kickball league with the law ladies is a difficult distance away. It’s walkable, but it takes 12 phone calls on the return trip to get from the park home, just a bit longer than my attention span. There’s no subway between here and there, so I turned to the bus system. It shaved a few minutes off, but wasn’t too reliable, and cost $3 bucks a round. So I set out, as I tend to do when I set out, to look on Craigslist.

Turns out Craigslist is good for a ride. I found ‘er on my first try. $50, all mine. I had to ride out to Silver Spring, Maryland to take a look at the White Whisper, but I bought her on the spot. I rode 15 miles down the Rock Creek Parkway, smiling the whole way, to get her back home. She’s got a bit of a squeak, but she rolls just fine on nearly bald tires.

Finally, it felt like summer. A new way to transport and recreate. But turns out its good for more than that. As I was locking (new kryptonite u-lock? $55.) her up after one kickball game (a loss), a saw an unfamiliar face, opening the upstairs door, eyeing my bike enviously. We took to chatting, and he admitted he’d considered Craigslisting a bike, too, during his two weeks in DC to visit his wife, my upstairs neighbor. I offered my key, with a warning that I didn’t have a helmet yet, but he gladly accepted the offer.

The next day, he came back down to my seldom-used door and invited me to dinner, to join his wife and him Saturday. I was quick to accept.

Five and a half hours later, I was aglow with the warmth of meeting new interesting people. They’d invited another couple – I was the fifth wheel – and way enjoyed bottle after bottle of wine and topic after topic of conversation. A Fiji-raised Indian. A Trinidad-born P.O.I. American. A Vietnamese-American. A small town Illinois girl. And me, content to be labeled "interesting...really really good type of interesting." As diplomaticesque an evening as can be, practice of sorts for evenings ahead.

I smiled all evening long. I particularly liked one moment in time, late in the evening, smiling to be surrounded by two contented couples. Both ladies, sundressed and barefooted, had kicked their barefeet onto their respective manfolk’s lap. Laying a claim of peaceful ownership, comfortable in the contentment of belly and self and another, just enough subtle contact to heighten the savoring of a conversation and an evening delightful.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


శుక్రవారము త్వరగ రాగలదా?!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ride's Here

Uhh, maybe it's a bit hard to make out from my MacBook-held-in-reverse picture, but there's a gigantic limo in front of my house right now. My guess is that it's either for me or for Dmitri Medvedev. He's in town, you know.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

my stats

You've probably been staying up late at night what, exactly, it is that draws people to my humble blog. Okay, even if neither of us actually suffer from such an ailment, the kind people at statcounter.com make it ridiculously easy to see what google searches lead viewers to my blog. Of the last 36 search hits, all but one fell into one of these categories:

1. "american collegiate adventure reviews." folks, probably all parents, trying to find out a bit more about about the program i worked at last summer before sending their kids off. (yesterday, for example, i fielded a call from orange county...)

2. "how does a pirate say goodbye." apparently, a lot of people punch this into google. they're directed to some typewriter art and, no doubt, go away uncontented.

3. "how did the states get their shapes." these cybertourists, on the other hand, gets a really good treatment of 19th century state politics re: state boundaries.

Another neat feature? You guessed it. The map shows me where folks are reading my blog from. Wow!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

homework assignment

today in the middle of class, our lovely teacher handed us sheet of paper, said "Do this," then excused herself for five minutes. At first we were confused. Then all of a sudden we were no longer confused.

In fact, I bet even you'd be able to tackle this 7th week of Telugu assignment if you tried hard enough!

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Woah! I take a glance at some shiny new pennies, and all of a sudden i realize the world is out of control, they changed the back of the penny! i'm gonna have to head down to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving and see what's up!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

DC Urban Adventure: Tubing the Potomac

I've been in the city too long. I hadn't left DC since I got here in February, excepting an overnight to West Virginia for a bit of the 'ole teambuilding. So i figured it was time to break out for back to back weekends. Last weekend it was a bluegrass weekend at BPV's in-laws horse ranch up the Shenandoah. This weekend? Tubing down the Potomac.

Harper's Ferry as quaint as it gets in these parts, an easy one-hour drive or Amtrak ride from DC. Rivers, hills and history converge at a picture confluence.

For $30, Butts Tubing will give you a tube (some with coasters!), haul you two miles upstream and pick you up when you've had your fill. Double meaning, of course, floating coolers are allowed. We were unable to confirm the rumor that the buses will take you back to the starting line as many times as you'd like...instead we squated on some exposed rocks and sunned ourselves for hours.

Note: It is important not to miss your exit. We did. After you pass under two bridges, the river will curve and you'll enter a boulder field. Take that opportunity to get to the right bank. Sooner rather than later. This is not bushwhacking country.

Friday, June 4, 2010


ps. I can now say "I like to play tennis" in Telugu.

నాకు టెన్నిస్ ఆడను ఇష్టం.

game set match

One year ago, I learned how to play tennis. In some ways, it's just another sport, but I've take to the game. Maybe not as a way of life, perhaps, but certainly something more interesting than just a passing hobby.

Mallory taught the game to me from scratch last summer at the ripe ole age of 28, approximately 27 years after a Madden would learn the sport. She beat me repeatedly, as you'd expect a former high school number one single to do. But every once in a while I took pride in taking her to Deuce or even stealing a game. I got so good at losing with grace that my first victory -- Mallory and I wore her parents out -- came as a surprise.

This year, Hyderabadi Andrew is my most frequent cross-court opponent. He claims some genetic proclivity to tennis, so he regularly beats me, too, but i'm getting way more competitive. Seems like half our games go to Deuce, sometimes repeatedly.

In commemoration of a year of tennis, here's a statistical analysis of my performance:

2009 (approximately 4 months of game play)

11 "matches"
19 sets (2 wins, 17 loses)
46-107 game score

2010 (approximately 2 months of game play so far, 5 months remaining)

9 "matches"
19 sets (2 wins, 17 loses)
47-107 game score

So I know what you're saying. "Jeremy," as you roll your eyes,"that's not very impressive improvement. You've improved your game win percentage from 30.07% to 30.52% over the course of a year. That's not even half-a-percentage better. Did you, in fact, get an better?"

Three impressive statistics, though, lay buried in the numbers, as I suppose all good statistics do:

A. Stamina. I play more sets per match this go-round. Last year's "matches" averaged 1.73 sets. This year, I average 2.11 sets before going home. That's a 22% increase in the length of play once I step on a court.

B. Gettin'-on-the-Board. In 2009, I was shut-out 4 times. That's right, Mallory held me without a game in 4 of our sets. This year, though? Andrew's managed the feat only once.

C. Frequency. Last year, I played tennis approximately 2.75 times per month. This year, though, I'm averaging 4.5 - almost double the old rate of play!

But the tennis lessons aren't limited to on-the-court. Some nuggets of tennis wisdom are applicable in the world at large. Among them, a tennis adage I learned playing a random Spanish-only speaking gentleman (probably Nadal's cousin) in Fond du Lac last fall: Broke at love...a bad way to go in tennis and life.

Friday, May 28, 2010

the loser: found

Update: the loser speaks! Just barely making the one-week mark, the loser has written to request that I mail her purse. Good samarianated.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

the loser

Last Friday night, I found a purse on the sidewalk in front of my apartment. Being a good Samaritan, I safeguarded the purse and vowed to do my darndest to get it back to whatever unlucky Loser lost it. I opened it up, I had to figure out how to get it back to the losing lady. This is what I found:

The Inventory:

one (1) Couch purse, gray speckled with black infinity signs (dubious authenticity)

one (1) Maryland Class C Provisional Driver’s License (birthdated 1990)

$1.33 in change (4 quarters, 3 dimes, 3 pennies)

$35 in cash (one $20, one $10 and five $1 bills)

one (1) pack Extra Peppermint gum (approximately 2/3rds full)

one (1) Metro Farecard (remaining value $2.55, which means that Loser spent $2.45 on her trip into the city)

one (1) eyeliner pen (blue)

one (1) key (house, if I had a guess)

My only clue was the name on the driver’s license. It’s a unique one, so I punched it into Facebook later that night. Boom, there she was, a student at a local university. Her privacy settings didn’t allow a stranger to send her a message, so instead I friended her, and included in the request a message that I’d found her purse. I offered my telephone number, so she could tell me what she wanted me to do with the purse.

By Sunday, on my return from the Cassique horse ranch, she still hadn’t called. I logged into Facebook. She had accepted my friend request...but hadn’t messaged back! Undeterred, I checked her profile for a telephone number. I called...and got her voicemail. I re-explained the situation and asked her to let me know what I should do.

It’s Thursday, and I’m still waiting to hear back from her...

The story’s best, though, when you interject her recent status updates into the equation:

Friday 5/21/9:19pm “Some ones getting lost tonight”

Sunday 5/23/3:34pm “I am the laziest person ever”

Monday 5/23/7:34pm “I hope the beach is excited to see me as I am it”


Friday, May 21, 2010

five forks

Emily Post has got nothing on us now!

Gloria and I decided with Kaitlin and Barrett, many moons ago, that we needed some sort of coitillion to hone our skills in the fine art of statesmanship. So we signed up for the department's day-long protocol and etiquette class.

We didn't know ahead of time, of course, that our selected saturday would be the ONE sunny day in an entire two-week period of time... Nor did we know that we'd be starting class regularly at 7:30 on monday through friday... Nor did we know that at least two of us were headed to a land of finger food...

The morning focused on the finer points of offering or accepting a business card in foreign cultures and the nitty-picky nature of introducing someone to an ambassador, rather than the other way around. The afternoon, though, is when the real refining began.

We sat through an awesome two-hour presentation on formal dining. No man sits until every woman is seated. Seats alternate male and female. Napkins folded, from a center point, and placed on the edge of the seat if you have to excuse yourself. Soup scooped away from your body. American style versus continental. The toastee does not drink. Etc.

These, folks, are important life lessons. Although I might not get much of a chance to practice for at least two years. The only other consulate in town is Iran...

Monday, May 17, 2010

uncle sam

What's more amazing? That amazon.com actually sells a Telugu tote bag, or that i can now translate the phrase "I want you to speak Telugu or get out!" into the world's 15th most widely spoken language?*

తెలుగు చెప్పు లేదా గది నుండి వెళ్ళు!

--Telugu cheppu leda gadi nundi vellu!

* All accountings provided by Wikipedia.

Monday, May 10, 2010

telugu telesu

huge breakthrough. for the first time, i made it through an entire Telugu morning without leaving at 12:30 in pain. this is either a good sign...or an indicator that they take it easy on us on Mondays...

baby-steps in telugu:

my name is jeremy.
na peru jeremy.
న పేరు జేరేమి.

i am a telugu student.
nenu telugu vidyarthi.
నేను తెలుగు విద్యార్ధి.

that pen is under this table.
adi kalam idi pustakam kinda undi.
అది కలం ఇది పుస్తకం కింద ఉంది.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

He/She's Just a Friend

First day of Telugu goes roughly like this: Three hours into the initial four-hour bombardment, Andrew, Glor and I learn the word for "friend." And here by "learn" i mean "hear it spoken in a rapid-fire succession of Telugu words."

There's a male version: snehithudu. Or if you prefer the Telugu script?

స్నేహితుడు *

And of course there is also a female version: snehithuralu. In Telugu?

స్నేహితురాలు *

(You may or may not need to download stuff in order to view the font on your browser.)

So Andrew starts wondering aloud what we all wanted to know, "Well, if that's how you say 'a friend who is a girl' how do you say 'girlfriend' in Telugu?"

Our instructor (wonderful) didn't skip a beat. "There is no word for boyfriend or girlfriend in Telugu. There is no dating where I come from. You are either friends with someone or you are married."

Oh, we three singles thought in unison. We had been warned that the proposition of dating in South India was daunting, but we were sad to learn that it is, in fact, LINGUISTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE.


* Disclaimer: Until I get good, all Telugu comes via google:transliteration and carries no warranty, express or implied, of accuracy.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Ballad of Victor T.



Recently certified as the greatest moment of my parents' life:

Jeremy gets a health insurance card.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tradition and Goals

Fiddler on the Roof @ National Theatre > D.C. United @ R.F.K. Stadium.

Oh, and Wednesdays? Farmers Market days at Foggy Bottom/GWU.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Green Tea Party

Turns out Bryan Adams in Heroes Square > Sting on the National Mall, even if the later was supporting a good cause...

North Corner

Okay, so Whitney tells it better, but nice little adventure by Team Whitney Katie and Jeremy after Sara and Rachel took the early flight Easter Sunday morning.

Our goal? Avoid the Cherry Blossom crowds.

Literally get as far away from the throngs of fanny-packed masses trampling the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin...

So we dreamed a dream. A very W-K-J dream. Touch the four corners of the square that makes up (err, made up) the 10-mile-square District of Columbia. North and East abutting Maryland. West and South afronting Virginia, ten miles apart at the cardinal directions.

Well, a quick glance at the map proved that dream a bit unrealistic. Pragmatism set in. So we set out to touch not all four, but just one of the corners, and north seemed as good a destination as any.

In case you'd ever like to recreate the adventure: Take the Red Line north to Silver Spring. Out of the station, head toward Starbucks. Stop for a bagel if necessary. Take a right onto East West Highway. No worries, there’s a nice sidewalk. Cross 16th Street and wind yourself down a hill. Expect crowds as you cross to the left (south) sidewalk and spot closer to the magic spot.

Oh, and when you get there? Look for a little Easter egg surprise...if some other treasure hunter hasn’t found it first.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Makeshift M & a B

Josh and Amy roll into town for a Brewers game.
Brewers roll out an eight-oh egg. Ouch.

(But the next day? Ten runs in the first inning.)

What to do when you can't buy a Brewers shirt?
Roll out the masking tape.

Monday, April 12, 2010


In Wisconsin I sneeze three times.

Here, I sneeze twice.

Scientific analysis, please?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

up and down

how many diplomats fit in an elevator?

(at least 13, it turns out. but that doesn't guarantee the elevator won't get stuck...)

we selected option 5.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Red, Windsor & Blue

Whitney asked me a simple question the other day. “What percentage of your ties...” he wondered.

I own 38 ties here in Washington DC. As my closet space is limited to a single wardrobe, all thirty-eight are on varying levels of display. Patriotic clumps of blues and reds, for example, hang from a pair of wooden braces holding up a glass shelf.

Here’s the breakdown Whitney inspired:

47% of my ties come from a thrift store.

32% of my ties are hand-me-downs from my dad.

16% of my ties are store bought.

5% of my ties were gifts.

* Despite rounding, the percentages add up to 100%. Which makes me happy.

Friday, March 12, 2010


In the days leading up to flag day, I thought it was likely that I was headed to Bogota, Caracas or Guadalajara. Any would have been a chance to learn Spanish in a cool setting.

But as cities and classmates' names were called off in a long list, my heart skipped a beat as our mentor raised the Indian flag. I've been fascinated with India since senior year of high school. A land of extremes. A land alive. More official languages than I have fingers. Gandhi and Mother Teresa. Call centers and nuclear tests.



Game on. I'm headed to Hyderabad...a life-long dream fulfilled, working for the State Dept in India. Awesome. For 8 months I'll learn Telugu, which seems even more daunting at the moment than India did many years ago. So, so jazzed.

The early verdict?

Hyderabad's about the 5th largest city in India. It's home to 4.5 million people and a burgeoning hi-tech sector. The consulate is new, it opened last year as the fifth in India. The city is peacefully split between Hindus and Muslims high atop the Deccan Plateau. Temperatures are expected to be hot. Way hot. Visits are recommended between October and February.

Hyderabad's in the state of Andra Pradesh. The state's a hotbed of Telugu speakers. The 50-odd million speakers make it the 17th most widely spoken language in the world. H-Bad's known as the "City of Pearls," thanks to a famous pearl industry. Part of the reason for the proclivity toward pearls is that Hyderabad was the traditional capital city of the Nizam, always one of the richest people on the planet through independence and Partition.

And the cherry on the top? Two friends are headed to Hyderabad to man the visa windows alongside me. Egeszsegedre! Big Al tells the tale better, check out his blog. Keen eyes will even catch a shoutout.

Jai ho!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In Training

Best adventure of late? Ghost-touring old town Alexandria with 40 Wisconsin 8th graders. A cloaked tour guide with a lisp, though, made it slightly more difficult to believe the tales of haunting. Needless to say, 10K's any time Katie's in town.

Highlight of the "Diplomatic Culture and Representation" curriculum? Learning to eat and drink like a diplomat. The morals? 1. You've gotta eat whatever's in front of you. Villages, it seems, sometimes think it flattering to offer visiting officials yak brains, snake blood, usw. Perfect... 2. "America will not make you drink for your country."

Highlight of "Compure under Fire?" I roleplayed a US official in Columbia during a particular intense question and answer session with Columbian and American demonstrators. Classmates fired questions at me, I did my best to defend the American position or deflect the question. A classmate accused U.S. military forces of participating in violence alongside Columbian troops, He tried pinning me into a corder by claiming that he saw a "blond haired soldier" alongside Columbian soldiers. I thought for a moment. "Well, Shakira has blond hair. Next question, please?"

Sunday, March 7, 2010

selection fundays

next friday's kind of a big day, the day we learn where we're headed for out first two-year assignment! "worldwide availability" was narrowed down for us to a list of 95 postings in 80-odd cities across 5 continents and a handful of islands. we ranked our interest in each city/job as high, medium or low. Lome and Manama required more background research than Moscow or Buenos Aires. Some of the highs on my list? Abidjan, Bogota, Caracas, Hyderabad, Manila and Ulaanbaatar. Awesome.

i recently, though, had my very first flag day nightmare. i woke up in a sweat at 6:03 am, my mind racing. in my dream, we had all been handed a sheet of paper informing us of our assignment. my eyes darted over the sheet, but i couldn't find the check mark indicating my first post. finally, i saw a note on the bottom of the page: "please see reverse for new assignments that were not on your bid list."

so I flipped the sheet over, and find my little check mark, right next to a sort of purgatory. instead of heading off to a land exotic, i would be manning a 16-month assignment here in Washington DC...in the Division of the Library. Someone, you see, donated 450 books to the government. the books were pretty crappy, but the donor was a big whig, so they couldn't just be tossed out. so my job, for more than a year, was to plan out what to do with those 450 books...

i balled up in the hallway, the sheet in my hands, in tears. one of our training coordinators, a very nice lady, walked past. Jeremy, she snapped, be professional!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

clickity clack down the track

Today I sat on the subway and typewritered short messages to friends. i would rip it off the typewriter and pass it down to them. it was like texting. With a reciept.

Strangely enough, i was not even the strangest person in the subway car. across the aisle, a man holding a clipboard was doing somersaults in his seat. awesome.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Getting to Know DC

I've never spent time in WashDC as an adult, so i figure 2-12 months of orientation and training makes a darn good excuse to explore the city.

Needless to say, it's only gotten better since night one: a Valentine's evening spent wandering Foggy Bottom in a desperate hunt for food. I had to settle on a messy gyro in a cramped basement cafe.

Early favorites? U-Street is a fantastic zone of hipness. Adams-Morgan is like a big long Brady Street. Russia House is delightfully familiar. Chinatown is a fun faux-urban area. Eastern Market's got a great vibe to it. La Tasca's tapas are worth tasting two days in a row. The best view in town is from atop the Kennedy Center.

If you'll humor me, though, I do have the littlest of pet peeves: multi-name metro stops. Yowsers, it makes it hard for visitors when metro stops have a ridiculous number of names. Just one example? U St/African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo. WTF. Let's do it, DC, let's just settle on one name per stop. I suppose, of course, it's all politics. Everyone wants a piece of the pie, the glamour and name recognition that comes with a spot on the subway map.

The bad news? The trend is getting worse. Three metro lines were built in the 1970s. 7% of Blue Line stops have two or three hyphenated or slashed names. The Orange and Red Lines stand at 29% and 30%, respectively.

That's bad, but both of the lines built more recently have even more hypens and dashes! The Yellow Line opened in 1983 with 35% double or triple nameage. Even worse, the Green Line opened in 1991 with a full 40% uber-verbiage.

Makes me wonder if there's any hope at all for understanding the Silver Line when it opens toward Dulles in 2013...

Monday, February 22, 2010


I've never actually gotten around to taking the Myers-Briggs before...

According to 90-odd questions answered, I'm inclined toward:


Only 3.2% of the U.S. population's an ENTP, but it was the most common category in our orientation group. We're likely to be labeled an "inventor." MBTI describes our "type" as creative, imaginative, clever, enterprising, resourceful; theoretical, conceptual and curious; good at seeing opportunities and possibilities in the outer world; adept at generating possibilities and then analyzing them strategically; stimulated by difficulties; quickly devise creative responses and trust ability to improvise; likely to value competence, intelligence, precision and efficiency; usually seen by others as independent, outspoken, enthusiastic, assertive and outspoken.

Boom, now you know how to deal with me.

Monday, February 15, 2010


FYI - AirTran allows manual typewriters as personal items. Expect, though, cat-calls from security staff, especially re: the availability of ribbons.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Eagle Summit Tribute: What Will Fit In The Rust Holes?

The Eagle Summit's final photo shoot

I figured the best way to demonstrate the impressive dimensions of the Eagle Summit's rust holes de jour would be to showcase a variety of objects, some that were small enough to fit into the rust holes and some that were too big to fit in.

Unfortunately, every single object was able to fit into the rust holes...

An entire fleet of pirate legos and cannon? Check.

A Trevor Hoffman bobblehead doll? Check.

And a 16 ounce - biiiiig - Miller Lite can commemorating Super Bowl XXXI? Check.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Eagle Summit Tribute: Memories

Eagle Summit Casette-Based Theme Song:

(tie) Here I Go Again - Whitesnake

(tie) Back in the High Life Again - Steve Winwood

Most Valuable Passenger:

N.J. Ruys most likely logged the most passenger miles in the beaut. One trip to Colorado, 2.5 years of roommatesmanship during the Eagle Summit years? That kind of longevity is tough to beat.

Last Passenger:

R.M. Jones. Fitting.

Most Bittersweet Taxi-Runs:

(tie) N.V. Csabay and ORD.

(tie) M.L. Madden and MSN.

Worst Commute:

2004-05. 5:30 to morning teacher basketball league.

Top Five Eagle Summit Moments:

Spring 2004 Beach Party Shuttle with D.S. Lund.

Driving to/through/from North Carolina with a faded yellow mattress in the backseat, and Brian/Emmaline/Aaryn/et al riding shotgun.

Barreling through the 100-Year Floods in Fond du Lac on June 12th, 2008.

Driving my worldly possessions from Madison to Fond du Lac, one last time, in the summer of 2009...with my right-hand turn signal going off the whole damn way.

Sleeping inside the Eagle Summit, bathing in Lake Mendota and brushing my teeth in the public library - Fall 2009.

Trips Where the Eagle Summit was Vetoed as a Mode of Transportation:

Outer Banks 2004
Alabama 2004
Iowa 2006
Virginia 2007
Arkansas 2009
Colorado 2009
Virginia 2009
Lakewood 2009
Minnesota 2009
Washington DC 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Eagle Summit Tribute: Crunching the Numbers

I bought my first car, a 1995 Eagle Summit, on Nov. 10th, 2003, for $1,800. Soon - this weekend, to be exact - that sweet, sweet ride will come to an end. Here’s a numeric breakdown of the Eagle Summit’s goodness:

2,287 days of ownership. (Although that mark is punctuated by two long stays in Hungary totaling just more than 365 days.)

And over the course of those more than six years? 56,569 miles driven. To put that income-esque figure into perspective, 56,569 miles is equal to:

= 350 round-trips between home and Madison’s capital square.
= 18 one-way drives across the breadth of America on U.S. Route 50.
= more than 2 trips around the world at the equator.
= more than 1/4th of the way to the moon.

(Do NOT doubt the Eagle Summit, yo!)

Doing some math, that’s 24.7 miles per day. The equivalent is one round-trip drive to the St. Vinnie’s on Fond du Lac’s southwest side each and every day. It also equals just about one mile per hour of ownership. Surprising.

At a purchase price of $1,800, minus the sales price of $1, I paid $1,799 for my 2,287 days of membership in the Eagle Summit club. The breakdown? 78 cents a day. 3 cents a mile.

Where’d the Eagle Summit go? 13 States. Not the original colonies, but WI + CO, IA, IL, IN, KY, MN, NC, NE, SD, TN, VA, WY.

And the null set? Zero is the number of Eagle Summit-related:
Speeding tickets.
Border crossings.
Animals hit.
CDs played.
Cigarettes lit.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Eagle Summit Tribute

Goodbye my friend!

A multimedia tribute to a beloved ride, to come in parts.

(NOTE: Even seven years later, the Eagle Summit is still a little ambiguous. Puzzle-ingly androgynous. To this day, I have never really determined if the Eagle Summit is a man-car or a lady-car. Therefore, I’m uncomfortable using the gender-based pronouns “he” and “she,” and the inanimate pronoun "it" would detract far too much from the Eagle Summit’s obvious humanity, so instead I use no pronouns to describe THE Eagle Summit.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

How does a pirate say goodbye?

ALPs invited B. Johnson and I back - as legends - to run the winter retreat extravaganza. Desperate for a mid-winter reprieve, we opted for pirates.

A highlight? A new initiative centered on dowels: the Human Ladder. Give a large group ten 1.25 inch dowels and see what happens. Jump an electric Fence. Pass through a spider web. Or try see how high a vertical ladder the group can create.

And number of ALPs facilitators converted to typewriterism over the course of the evening? Four. Four good ones... It's been fun watching these kids grow up over the past four years. It's nice to hear the pleasure - and benefit - was mutual.