Archive for June, 2007

DHL 2nd Day beats UPS 2nd Day Air

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

(… or When UPS Says 2nd Day Air, they really mean it.)

I ordered a few items from Amazon.com — same item but different colors.  Apparently, Amazon didn’t keep stock of the same item in one workshop, since one package shipped from Tulsa, OK and another shipped from Coffeyville, KS. According to Google Maps, they’re just 73 miles from each other. Since I have an Amazon Prime membership, both packages were shipped using 2-day shipping. The one from Tulsa used UPS, while the one from Coffeyville, KS used DHL.  Both shipped out on Friday, so both were scheduled to be delivered today (06/26/2007).

The UPS package was already in Philadelphia, PA by 11:51 AM on Sunday, 6/24/2007.  On the other hand, the DHL package scanned in Allentown, PA by 11:42 PM on the same day. I would think that it would be more likely that UPS could deliver the following day, ahead of the Tuesday schedule. The destination is Elmsford, NY

But, as the title of this post implies, only DHL delivered yesterday. UPS takes the name of its 2-day service too literally, as I’ve posted here before.

D.C. Food Trip: Ethiopian Food from Dukem

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

So here I am on my last night in D.C. before I head back to New York. I’ve tried a few cheap eats that are popular in D.C. I’ve tried burgers Five Guys, chili dog and chili from Ben’s Chili Bowl, cheesesteaks from Philadelphia Cheesesteak Factory, and deep dish pizza from Armand’s. So for dinner tonight, I set out to try another cuisine that D.C. is apparently famous for: Ethiopian food.

I didn’t know about the large Ethiopian presence in Washington until my Eritrean friend told me about it. I decided that I had to try it out before I go back to New York. I browsed around Chowhound to look for restaurant recommendations, particularly restaurants that offer take-out food to bring back to the hotel, since I would just be by myself. I read favorable posts about Dukem, and that it has a separate market and carryout section aside from the main restaurant. I first saw Dukem and other Ethiopian restaurants when I went to Ben’s Chili Bowl on U St NW.

I guess the most distinctive feature of their cuisine is the injera. It is some sort of pancake-like bread, with a slight sour taste. One side of the injera has a tripe-like appearance because of the air bubbles that form on its surface when it is being prepared.

I had the Dukem kitfo

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and a combination meal of lamb wot and alitcha fitfit.

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I had the kitfo done medium-rare (I heard the lady said lebleb.) since I wasn’t brave enough to have my first taste of Ethiopian food include something totally raw. The yellowish stuff on the kitfo tray seemed like mashed potatoes or something similar. The whitish stuff on the kitfo was Dukem’s own cottage cheese.

The lamb wot of course had lamb meat, and tripe — not sure which animal the tripe comes from. The fitfit is hard to describe, but it was equally tasty. Both dishes were spicy, but not hot enough to make me perspire the way Thai green curry makes me sweat.

All in all, I find my adventure into Ethiopian food satisfying, and I’m open to try it again.

Five Guys Cheeseburger

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

I had another burger from Five Guys for lunch today. This one had green pepper, fried onions, and sauteed mushrooms.

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Missed the Mark (Pun intended)

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Missed the Mark

I stayed in Room 667. I imagine the AC in the other room must be totally busted.

Hotel Hopping across New Jersey Avenue

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

I moved into the Holiday Inn on the Hill yesterday. It’s just across the street from the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill on New Jersey Avenue NW. I had to jump hotels since I booked the Hyatt on Priceline. I booked the trip way back in early May, and at that time, it was difficult to get a good price for hotels in my preferred neighborhoods for this particular week. I tried a number of combinations and tried to split my stay until I got the Hyatt within my maximum bid (which actually slowly crept up).  Trying to extend it further wasn’t successful so I had to find another hotel for the rest of my stay. I found a good price for the Holiday Inn on Venere.com, and had that price matched on the Holiday Inn’s website by availing of their Lowest Rate Guarantee. It was just my luck that the two hotels were just across the street from each other.

So how do the two hotels compare?

Hotel Rating (on Priceline): The Hyatt’s a 4-star hotel on Priceline, while the Holiday Inn’s a 3-star hotel.
Internet Acces: I consider this the most important amenity. Holiday Inn wins this round as it offers FREE high-speed Internet access. Although it’s a wired connection, it’s much better than Hyatt’s dependence on the T-Mobile Hotspot service, which is NOT FREE.
Room Size: I think they’re about the same. I got a a 2-Queen Bed room at the Holiday Inn, and a 1-King Bed room at the Hyatt.  The work desk at the Hyatt is a little bigger.
Bathroom: The one at the Hyatt’s bigger, but it only had a shower enclosure, while the Holiday Inn had a tub.
Bottled Water Price: The Hyatt had a 500 ml  bottle of Poland Spring for $3.75. The Holiday Inn had a $3 710 ml bottle of Dasani. Needless to say I didn’t drink either.
Laundry. The Holiday Inn has a self-service laundry room on the 3rd floor, and, lucky me, my room’s on that floor. Since I decided to extend my stay in D.C. to do more sightseeing (I’ll have to switch hotels again.), I got to use it to wash some clothes since I only packed enough for a 5-night stay.

My Verdict: I’m leaning towards the Holiday Inn because of it’s free Internet access and laundry facility.

Overheard in D.C.

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

Right by the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan Metro station, a woman apparently being interviewed on video by The Politico said:

“… so who do I want to punch in the face? Hillary Clinton! …”

Day 2 in D.C.

Monday, June 11th, 2007

So the second day of my D.C. trip is close to over. There were a lot of interesting presentations at the conference, and some others that are beyond my area of research.

We had lunch at Lebanese Taverna on Connecticut Avenue. I ordered their Shawarma and unlike the typical shawarma I’ve eaten in the Philippines, their version replaces the pita bread with rice. It has onions on the side, and some kind of (I think) tomato sauce. It also has the usual white garlic sauce. It wasn’t too bad, since I’m a rice eater, and eating the regular shawarma pita bread sandwich can get messy.

Yesterday, I finally got to try the burger at Five Guys. I first heard about it from a post on Gothamist about their branch in Queens. Since I’m too lazy to hike to their Queens location, I wasn’t able to try it out. I learned from their website that they had a few branches in Washington, so I made it a point to try it out yesterday. I had the cheeseburger (with tomato, fried onions, and fried mushrooms) and their regular fries. I liked the burger, but what they call as their regular fries was not regular at all. All orders came out in paper bags. And one order of their regular fries fills up a small styro cup AND much of the paper bag as well. Pretty filling.

After the conference wrapped up for the day before 7 p.m., I went back to the hotel to drop off my bag, and pick up my camera and tripod, as I’ve decided to do a quick stroll around the National Mall before it gets completely dark just to take some pictures. Here’s a pic of the Capitol:

The Capitol

Tomorrow, I’ll move across the street to the Holiday Inn on the Hill.

Just arrived here in Washington, D.C.

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

I’m writing this from my hotel room at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. A few minutes ago, a small rally passed by the hotel. I had to look out the window to find out what the noise was about. I wasn’t sure what the rally was about but they had signs with “Apartheid” and “DIVE$T” on them. I wasn’t sure if that was the entire group, or it was just another group that was marching to join a bigger rally, because I can still hear some chanting coming from somewhere after they passed by. A quick search on Google (Google is my friend.) brought me to this site. Apparently, the rally is part of a campaign to end “Israeli occupation”.

Small rally from my hotel window

I got to the hotel around 2:15 p.m., after I took the Metro Red Line from Bethesda Station to Union Station. Bethesda is one of the two new stops of Vamoose, after they were displaced from their previous stops at Tenleytown and at McPherson Square. More on that in another post.

Tickets

It was also my first time to use the SmarTrip card offered by the WMATA. I ordered it online in advance and had it mailed to New York.

And, by the way, I’m here to attend ISEC 2007.

When UPS says 3 Day Select, they really mean it.

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

So I ordered something that gets shipped out of Seattle on Tuesday. I chose to have it shipped by UPS 3 Day Select so I would receive it by Friday. So when I checked the tracking last night, I was pleasantly surprised that it was already in Newark, NJ as of 5:38 p.m on Wednesday. I was expecting UPS to outperform their promised scheduled delivery date by 1 day, since the destination (Elmsford, NY) is less than 40 miles from Newark.

But when I checked the tracking information this morning, not only was the package not yet marked Out for delivery as I hoping it would be, UPS also had the package moved to Philadelphia, 120 miles from the delivery destination. Here’s part of the tracking information:

Philadelphia, PA, US 06/07/2007 12:30 A.M. ARRIVAL SCAN
Newark, NJ, US 06/06/2007 10:23 P.M. DEPARTURE SCAN
Newark, NJ, US 06/06/2007 5:38 P.M. ARRIVAL SCAN

Not that I’m complaining since the scheduled delivery day is Friday, 06/08/2007. Since the service was UPS 3 Day Select, UPS must have decided to let my package take the scenic route before finally delivering it, as promised, tomorrow.

(A quick search on Google yielded this similar experience.)