Skip to main content

Hello Washington

A little over a year ago I moved to Arlington, Virginia. My job was in Arlington and I was lucky to find a good house with good people. I appreciated having a relatively short commute to my job without being overly far away from the city. In the past year I've switched jobs, and effectively doubled my commute. When you throw in the fact that I've always wanted to live in the city, you'll understand that it was hard not to grab an opportunity that presented itself. I'll soon be a resident of the ever-changing U Street neighborhood.

(from M.V. Jantzen on Flickr)

I really think that Arlington has done a tremendous job creating walkable, bikeable and livable areas. It's a progressive town where the people and the leadership seem to really understand the value of good urbanism. Yet, at the same time, Arlington doesn't always feel very urban from a design sense; and I think that no matter how well-intentioned Arlington is, it will always feel like retro-fitted suburbia, rather than a city that developed organically.

Take my neighborhood, Ballston, for example. It has plenty of towering office and residential buildings. But peppered in between are a few short and seemingly out-of-place buildings with swaths of surface parking lots on prime real-estate.

I imagine that these buildings are holdovers from before the area was redeveloped around the Orange Line into what it is today. Perhaps one day they will get torn down or move to the ground floor of denser developments. But for now, they just seem out of place.

Then there's the Ballston Mall, which is certainly leftover from suburbia's glory days; and like many American shopping malls, it's really struggling to find and keep good tenants. In the year since I moved to Ballston, I think the only store I ever shopped at in the mall was CVS (though I did visit some of the mall's restaurants).

(from timkelley on Flickr)

I don't want this post to turn into a criticism, so I'll end by saying that I completely understand why Arlington is so popular. It's relatively safe, the government seems fairly competent, the police act respectable and professional, and many of the public services are top-notch. Those are the things that I'll surely miss. At the same time, Arlington is something of a victim of its own success, and I've found that rents are just as high as they are in Washington. In any case, thinking about all the places I've lived, I know I'm yet to find one single perfect place, and no matter where I go, I know there will always be trade-offs. This time, I think it will be worth it.


Popular posts from this blog

In Praise of Southwest's 'C' Boarding Group

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet from someone complaining that their Southwest Airlines boarding pass had been assigned A20 (meaning they would be at least one of the first twenty passengers to board the plane). Apparently this person though they should have been assigned a higher number, less their flight experience be considerably spoiled.

Despite the complaints, Southwest has resisted demands to assign seats on its flights, a decision which I personally applaud. I'll admit that I was skeptical when they rolled out the newest boarding procedure, assigning both boarding groups and a line number; but in hindsight it seems like one of the best operational decisions they've ever made. If nothing else, it effectively eliminated the infamous "cattle call" whereby fliers were getting to airports hours in advance and sitting in line on the floor as if they were waiting for the midnight showing of the new Star Wars movie.

When I was an intern at Southwest Airlines last winter, I…

So You Want to be a Southwest Airlines Intern?

My personal website must have pretty decent SEO - because in the past year, I've received about two dozen emails from aspiring Southwest Airlines interns looking to draw on my experience in search of their own dream internship. In the past two weeks alone a few new emails have already started rolling in...

(from flickr user San Diego Shooter)

If you've found your way here, you might be hoping for the silver bullet; a secret tip that will propel you above the competition. Unfortunately, I do not know any inside secrets. I can only share my experience as an internship candidate about two years ago and, rather than responding individually to future emails I anticipate to receive, I hope that potential interns will find the information posted here valuable.

Understand: Southwest Airlines is a very unique company. The corporate culture at Southwest is truly unlike that of nearly every other company. But you probably already knew that, since it now seems mandatory for every management,…

Commuting Meets Technology

I'm finally out of the dark ages. I got an Android smartphone over the weekend and have since been in the process of exploring the Android apps market.  One thing I've immediately noticed is the really wide range of usefulness in the apps. For example, the WeatherBug app is fantastic. It automatically determines your location and gives you exact conditions for that location. On the other end of the spectrum, Google's Goggles app is supposed to be a type of 'visual search' where you snap of photo of something and Google searches for it. In each of my attempts to use it, the app hasn't returned any search results. I even took a photo of a bottle of Pepsi (figuring it as a common houseful item) and got nothing.

Somewhere in the middle is this app called Waze. Have a look at their 'guided tour':

Some people might look at it and comment on the amazing evolution of technology or on the incredible value of social networks. To me, Waze says something important ab…