Yikes: Pilots forced to blindly land at National Airport and other district news

Hi beloved reader(s). My apologies for abandoning you. As some know, I am currently in law school and stupidly signed up for “moot court,” a sublimely nerdy competition which consists of reading a 150 page case packet, writing a brief and arguing before a panel of your overly critical peers for nothing save marginal satisfaction and your name on some engraved cup. I am now officially eliminated. My Achilles Heel? Making “eye contact with my eyes and not my body.” What? Exactly. Time to file that in the “regret I put in the effort” bin.

My life in an image

However, now that this foray into law school overachieving has imploded, I can get back to the light of my life – DC news. And I can’t think of a more appropriate and terrifying place to start than airplane miscommunication.

According to the Washington Post, in stupendous DC fashion, two pilots were forced to land blindly at National Airport at midnight yesterday because they contacted the control tower and nobody answered. They called, other controllers in other places called, they used the “shout line,” which is loudspeaker in the tower – radio silence. Through talking to one another and nearby controllers, and a bit of luck, the two pilots safely landed minutes from each other and hit nobody on the runway.

Image that entered everyone's mind

So how did this happen you ask? How did two planes carrying 165 people simply call the control tower and have nobody answer? Well, the FAA won’t say exactly, but this is what the nearby TRACON controller wagered:

Well, I’m going to take a guess, and say that the controller got locked out. I’ve heard of it happening before

Locked out?!?!?! Yes. This is because the Washington National control tower from midnight to 6am is staffed by ONE GUY. And apparently a year ago pilots had to land blindly another time because the guy left his key card in the control room before leaving and found he couldn’t get back in. The FAA in their infinite wisdom has now suggested that more than one person would be better.

Maybe National could stand an upgrade?

If this terrifies you from flying out of DC because you will eventually have to fly back in (understandable), here are some other district headlines:

  • Overly obvious study says that Burleith neighborhood hates Georgetown students. And they’ve got numbers. Of the 500 homes in the region, 100 they say have the potential to be ANIMAL HOUSES. Toga! (City Paper)
  • D.C. suing Orbitz, Travelocity, Priceline et al.  for charging customers full hotel taxes rates, while paying D.C. discounted rates. Priceline negotiator! (Examiner)
  • Leo DiCaprio shooting Clint Eastwood Hoover flick in downtown DC this weekend. Catch him if you can! (see what I did there? With the movies? Wit.) (WaPo)
  • Oh yeah, and there is the Cherry Blossom Festival. That also exists this weekend
  • Spring has sprung and the farmers markets are reopening. Add Penn Quarter to the open list (WeLove DC)

Mourning DC’s brackets

After watching Georgetown and George Mason “perform” this past weekend, the spies are in stunned silence.

IronCityspy's bracket being mourned.

I mean, Georgetowns third straight 1st round exit (and second straight demolition) has given Spy such an eye twitch that I am unsure when she’ll be blogging again. As for me, I went from the euphoria of this:

To, well, this.

God, adding insult to injury, my bracket looks like a stillborn pterodactyl (when it’s early my analogies become entirely Jurassic Park inspired).  You should have seen the confidence I had in my own brilliance just one week ago: “Louisville making some noise in the Big East tournament will obviously translate into success!” “Notre Dame has impressed me all year!” “You know who I love? Washington and UCLA!” Yikes.

How are the rest of you doing this morning. Hopefully some of your brackets are slightly more promising?

-IronCityspy

P.S. Sorry about last week — Spy will be back this week with ACTUAL DC news.

Embracing Anglo-Irishism

This is always a strange day for me, as I imagine it is for many of my non-Irish brethren. As I watch the throngs of DC’s Irish American community stumble from pub to pub, I feel small pangs of envy washed away by annoyance. As much as I abhor nationalism, there is something nice about a group of people getting together to celebrate their common history and culture. Granted if I were to judge the Irish culture purely on today’s events, let’s just say it wouldn’t go very far in disproving any stereotypes.

Anyway, the annoyance comes from far more insidious roots.  It is not uncommon for me to see blatantly anti-English posts on acquaintance’s facebook walls or even posted on those very same jovial pubs. While it is definitely not unwarranted (massive understatement), it did always irk me a bit. England has been, by and large, a force for good in this world — and I don’t want whole swaths of my friends to discount it.

So I had a typically very mature and respectful reaction on most St. Patrick’s days — I wore orange.

But recently I’ve been doing some family digging, and found that like most people from Northern England, there seems to be some unspoken immigration from Ireland on my grandfather’s side (strangely coinciding with Spy finding out about her own Anglo-Irish heritage). This has certainly caused me to reevaluate everything — but it has led me to an epiphany. When Ireland and England can forget their petty differences, spectacular things can happen. Don’t believe me?

Oscar Wilde

The Beatles

Olivia Wilde

God, how did I not come to this conclusion before? I mean seriously, it doesn’t get better than that. So I guess for the first time ever, sincerely have a great St. Patrick’s day and don’t completely hate on the English. Without them, none of the above would be possible.

-IronCityspy

P.S. I would be remiss not to inform you all the Anglo-Irish marriage did cause perhaps the most unholy abomination to ever be released:

“]

shudder

Great Gatsby video game: Perfect for the DC intern that has given up on life

Morning Intern!

How’s your spring internship in the big city?! Since it’s March, I assume you have now ceased bragging to all your little friends back home about how you  won this important assignment interning for the House of Representatives to finally realize, despite your oversized suit and stupid name badge, that all you do for 6 hours a day is print documents, arrange someone’s outlook calendar and stare at the wall (assuming you even have access to an outlook calender.) Only 2 more months to go!

But fear not.  I have found something that will take up 4 hours of your mind-numbingly boring day while simultaneously appealing to your now regrettable liberal arts major. It’s the Great Gatsby video game for NES (circa 1980s), and it looks like this:

Well done sport!

Click here to play the game

It’s wonderfully retro, free and available online. The game’s protagonist is Nick Carraway. Armed only with a fedora, you battle waiters, drunks, flappers and gangsters as you follow the green light to find Gatsby. It’s the Great Gatsby that F. Scott Fitzgerald would have never wanted ever. It’s perfect. So play it, before the hipsters kill it for all of us.

But now, it looks like someone needs to get back to work. That pile of constituent mail isn’t going to read itself.

Cheerio!

DCspy

People need to stop posting Charlie Sheen references

I know, I know. This post has absolutely NOTHING to do with Washington, DC. But after the 14th straight day of having to sift through “funny” Facebook and Twitter status messages that reference one of Sheen’s drug and prostitute -fueled quotes, I am ready to quit reading.

As a blogger (even a conscripted one, such as myself), a common strategy is to see what is trending on Twitter. It’s a pretty consistent way of gauging which topics will have the most traction. That being said, admitting anything I have ever written was at all influenced by twitter is grounds for my own euthanasia. Anyway, much to my dismay, “#winning” and “#tigerblood” were at the very top of the list. Want an example of what one such person thought was pressing enough to share with the rest of the world?

Despite all logic and decency saying otherwise, thanks to Charlie Sheen, Twitter has actually become more stupid.

Look, I get that us white folks love quoting things more than we even love camping or Michel Gondry, but how have you people not learned the lessons of Dave Chappelle, those awful Budweiser “Wassup?” guys, or the countless other catchphrases that we killed before it? I hate to be the one to tell you this, but reposting “funny quotes” does not have some sort of transitive property – you won’t suddenly become funny because of it. If anything, it will have the opposite effect:

Yesterday an acquaintance posted a legitimately funny picture, with the caption “Winning”. I informed him that Charlie Sheen quotes have jumped the shark and his caption detracted from the post. He responded by saying “the phrase ‘jumping the shark’ had jumped the shark and should be retired.” I rebutted with this:

God, it’s absurd how much I owned him there.

At the end of the day, the same cretins that make these posts are to blame for them even existing in the first place. At best, Charlie Sheen is a sad drug addict that clearly has some very serious mental health problems and should be treated. At worst, he is a woman-beating sociopath that should be in jail. But, for some reason, the majority of Americans are so serially unfunny they’ve made the abnormally retarded “Two and Half Men” the most popular show of the past decade, causing Charlie Sheen to make $2,000,000.00 an episode to fund his own private whore island.

The best thing to do is to stop reposting his rants, stop watching his stupid shows and move on to something a bit more challenging. It will force him to get the help he needs, save me from wanting to annihilate everything and just maybe it will make you a little funnier.  Who knows, maybe pretty soon we’ll go back to intelligent commentary like this:

-IronCityspy

Happy International Women’s Day

We’re equals, aren’t we 007?

In one of the best videos honoring International Women’s Day, Dame Judi Dench and Daniel Craig deliver a poignant assessment of challenges facing women’s equality. You should watch:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkp4t5NYzVM&feature=player_embedded#at=103]

There are few things I care more about in this world than women’s rights. We have come far in the fight for women’s equality. However, despite our exceptional progress, challenges persist. Women continue to be vulnerable to domestic violence, rape and sexual harassment both in the United States and abroad. Honor killings are real. Women seek asylum. Caregivers are not given the support and recognition they deserve. In the workforce, women are  paid less and hold fewer executive positions. Single mothers fear losing their job in order to take time for their child, while new mothers fear the same for having theirs.

In recognition of International Women’s Day, take the time to honor of the women who inspire you. It is the least we can do.

-DCspy

Kotobuki: The best little sushi house you’ve never been to

How do I know you haven’t been there? Because it’s in the Palisades. Where is the Palisades? Um. Nobody knows. As far as I can tell, the Palisades is a DC neighborhood that occupies that amorphous space between the Foxhall Road Entrance to Georgetown University to the DC Reservoir. However, I have no idea what the exact borders are, nor do I know whether buses run its labyrinthine streets. All I can say is if you pass the German Embassy on the road to Kotobuki, you are on the right track.

The Road to Kotobuki

And the journey will be worth it. Trust. I am a native Californian, and Kotobuki reminds me of our little sushi houses out west. It is tiny, with only a small sushi bar, about 9 tables, (get there early!), and minimal decoration. Ironcityspy and I have been countless times and each time they are playing Beatles music in the background. It’s also always early Beatles, 1963-65ish, which is the perfect time period for happy, soft background noise.

Kotobuki (no not the one with the awning - the one above it)

And the sushi. The sushi is cheap, fresh and good. There is no “Rollin’ in the District” with crab, Old Bay soy reduction and crushed potato chips (or whatever designer rolls are these days), but just standard fare done right. They have all the expected offerings as well as a few interesting fish choices thrown in, such as sea scallop and fatty tuna, both of which aren’t easy to find. Nigiri sushi starts at $1.25 a piece and the standard 6-piece rolls, eel, yellowtail, salmon avocado, spicy tuna et al, are $3.95-$4.95. The fancier ones will run you a bit more, an $8.95 rainbow roll at the most, but I mean COME ON. Those prices are amazing! And it is good. It really is.

Yelper’s Norry H. and Frank H. photograph better than I ever could

If you don’t like sushi, they have shumai and other appetizers, as well as  kamameshi and unadon sets, which have gotten great reviews. They also have additional offerings in Japanese that I do not recognize, which I obviously take as a sign of authenticity.

So how did Palisades manage such an awesomely random little haunt? Well, it turns out it’s not that random after all. Kotobuki is owned by the same people that run Makoto, the restaurant below it. Makoto is very expensive and known to be one of the best, if not THE best, Japanese restaurant in DC. It has been in operation for close to 20 years with Japanese Embassy folks routinely taking their guests there. So yes, Makoto is the real deal and, unsurprisingly, so is their little Kotobuki stepsister.

So find a friend with a car and go. It will be worth it.

Kotobuki
4822 MacArthur Blvd NW, 2nd Floor
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 625-9080

Yikes: A month of DC metro headlines

Convenience - brought to you by WMATA

So in my mind, I felt that DC metro has become a hotter topic of late. It seems like everyday the news reports that Metro escalators are slingshotting people, ipods are getting stolen, or politicians are trying to ignore the malfunctioning elephant in the room, which is easy to do since they don’t actually ride the metro. But then I wanted to proof. I wanted to see whether Metro was really that newsworthy, or I was just surrounded by people that constantly complain. After taking 30 minutes to search February headlines, the results are in. And, well, Jesus WMATA:

Feb 8 – DC Metro escalators just cleverly disguised “surprise stairs”

Feb 10 – Metro Board Floats Idea of Ending Weekend Late-Night Service

Feb 11 – House Republicans propose deep cuts to Metro budgets

Feb 14 – Metro equipment found at worker’s home

Feb 18 – Metro Grade: How dirty is Metro, and does it matter?

Feb 19 - Escalator falls apart at Foggy Bottom Station

Feb 22 – McDonnell treads carefully on Metro funding

Feb 23 – Metro Explores Corporate Sponsorships

Feb 23 – Electronic Device Theft Problem On Metro

Feb 24 - Serious crime on Metro hits 5-year high

Mar 3 – D.C. ACLU Preparing to Sue Over Metro Bag Searches

Mar 4 – Congress could cut Millions from Metro and MARC budgets

Yeah. So in one month Metro has succeeded to be broken, broke, dirty, dangerous and discriminatory (allegedly). It’s customers and employees both steal things. Republicans and Democrats, both local and national, are united in not wanting to give it more money. It’s broken escalators terrify old people, it’s new proposed service cuts terrify the young. I doubt corporate america will touch it. And, lest we forget, last November this happened:

Video: L’Enfant Plaza Escalator Malfunction: MyFoxDC.com

The Los Angeles times reported on this accident last week. Yes beloved reader(s), WMATA dysfunction has gone Hollywood. I am not sure what will happen in the coming months, but from one SPY, in one google search, conducted in one hour, it doesn’t look good.

Oh, and the metro will be awful this weekend. From 10 p.m. Friday through midnight Sunday, the Orange Line between Stadium-Armory and New Carrollton will be closed. There will also be no Blue Line service between Stadium-Armory and Benning Road. The Washington Post reports that there are no good bus or train alternative to the free shuttles. Details here.

Happy Weekend!

The Mormons are killing college basketball

I love this time of year. The days are starting to get longer, the weather grows increasingly warm and the beautiful people are finally running outside again. Moreover, we are entering the conference tournament season for college basketball — which means March Madness is just around the corner. Locally, both the Hoyas and Mason are locks to join the big dance and (hopefully) make some noise. But while DC is euphoric, the disciples of Joseph Smith are considerably less so. Let me explain:

"Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb"

Continue reading

IHOP National Pancake Day! Today from 7am-10pm!!

Such wonderful news!

Today is National Pancake Day at IHOP, which means you get a free short stack from 7am to 10pm. IHOP is asking people to considering donating to the Children’s Miracle Network and other charities after their meal. IHOP’s goal is to raise $2.3 million, last year they raised $2.1 million for different causes. The IHOPs in Arlington, Columbia Heights and Takoma Park are participating. AND in honor of the day, here are some pancake photos!

If you dislike pancakes, you are missing out on a national treasure and I have nothing to say. If you contaminate pancakes by using IHOP’s flavored syrups, you must  switch immediately to original maple syrup in order to protect the integrity of pancakes everywhere.

Happy snacking!!!