Saturday, October 13, 2007

Thoughts about DC

I've been living here for about a month, and I have a few observations about Washington DC:

  • The weather. It's terribly swampy here. The air feels thick, heavy, almost like your swimming through it. Forget about hair and makeup - it must be a quite a site, actually, to see a city's entire female population arrive at work in the morning with their hair mussed, dampened and pressed against their sweaty, make-up smeared faces. DC's fever finally broke this week, though, and we went from 95F on Monday to about 55F last night.

  • The skyline. There aren't too many tall buildings here. It's actually quite nice, to walk to work in the morning and have a clear view of the Washington monument. It's a large city, but unlike New York or Chicago, you can see the sky from downtown. The tallest buildings are Marriotts.

  • The traffic. Who in the world thought that traffic circles would be an efficient way to direct traffic?! Without a doubt, traffic circles are the worst conception in the entire history of city planning.

  • The kids. Or the complete lack of them. There are a few small children, but I've only seen one teenager in my four weeks here. I think young people are rare enough in the middle of the city that I haven't been carded anywhere I've gone. If you've always wanted to live in a place without punk-teenagers, DC is the place for you.

  • The local economy. Like a good little economist-in-training, I've thought a lot about this. I can't figure out how it works. I have a suspicion that DC's infrastructure - the Metro, the city workers, the free museums - is financed by federal (not local) tax dollars, though I haven't asked anybody. I just can't see how this city could sustain itself. The sales tax rate is lower than in Minnesota.

    Additionally, I can't determine what the big industry is here, aside from government, of course. A lecturer I saw my first week here warned that the only thing DC manufactures is power, and that people who are drawn to power tend to flock to this city like moths to a lamp (rather, two lamps - a blue light and a red one). I tend to agree with that. Not often in Minnesota have I overheard a group of people discussing politics in public, but you can't escape it here. I saw a sign in the window of one of the congressional office buildings. It was a stop sign that read "Stop Privatization." Vague, but I'll assume the person meant "-of social security and medicare," although they could have meant "-entirely" for all I know. Is there really a philosophical war going on between the social-engineering paternalistic left and the behavior-policing theocratic right? I miss the real world, the world where people do productive work.

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Kasey said...

"I can't determine what the big industry is here, aside from government, of course."

Prostitutes and Drugs. I'm seriously not even kidding.

Sapphire Eyes said...

Yes, I read in the local newspaper that there is a prostitution "problem" in the alley outside of a bowling alley about four blocks from my house. The employees show up in the morning and have to pick up condoms all over the property. Nasty.

JPB said...

the buildings are small because of a statute that says no building in DC can be taller than the height of the statue on top of the capitol.

similarly, the circles were intentionally designed to be inefficient to deter ground invasion in a time of war.

And there is only one lamp. it is the moths who are different colors...the light is completely green.