Free Topographical Maps

Posted on March 21, 2017. Filed under: Uncategorized |

National Geographic has built an easy to use web interface that allows anyone to quickly find any 7.5 minute topo map in the continental U.S.A. for downloading and printing. Each topo map has been pre-processed to print on a standard home, letter size printer. These are the same topo maps that were printed by USGS for decades on giant sized presses but are now available in multi-page PDFs that can be printed just about anywhere.
Click the link to the website below that contains the instructions:


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Anacostia River Trail

Posted on August 21, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized |

This extension of the trail is not yet officially open, but there were many people riding it.  We started just north of Benning Road and turned around at the Blandensburg Waterfron Park.  The trail passes the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and some very lovely sections of river and wetlands.  It looks like it could be completed in the next 4-8 weeks. In the meantime, ride the section that goes from RFK to the Nationals Stadium: https://wlerik.wordpress.com/2013/09/08/anacostia-river-trail-loop/


Access trail 100 yards north of Benning Road from Anacostia Ave (see green marking on photo below).

Google_Maps AR trail

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AFI Documentary Film Festival 2016

Posted on June 26, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized |

As always, there were many great films and short at the festival. My two favorites were Following Seas and Gleason.

Following Seas

1960, Bob Griffith sailed into Honolulu Harbor and met Nancy. Together on the 53 foot cutter Awhanee they spent their lives trying to balance the love of sailing and adventure with the responsibility of raising a family.


Steve Gleason was not your typical NFL football player. After leaving the NFL, he was diagnosed with ALS. At the same time, his wife revealed that she was pregnant. The confluence of these two events and the realization that he might die before his child is even born spurred him to create a video blog, which he initially used to pass along fatherly advice to his yet unborn child. The blog then morphed into this astounding film, which captures not only a father son relationship, but also the unrivaled tenacity of a man confronting a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. 

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Radio Ambulate

Posted on October 25, 2015. Filed under: media that matters, politics, Social Media, technology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Radio Ambulate logo

I recently discovered a great podcast in Spanish called Radio Ambulate. Its episodes are very interesting. It’s creators also do some podcasts in English. There was a recent episode about Guatemala called “Rununcia Ya” (Resign Now). In 22 minutes, it tells the story about how the Guatemalan people forced its President to resign. The Renuncia Ya movement started off as a Facebook post and grew into a series of mass popular protests.

Renuncia Ya episode (Radio Ambulate website)

Renuncia Ya episode (iTunes)

A follow up piece in English with Francisco Goldman is also worth listening to.  He wrote a recent New Yorker Magazine story about the events and the back-story entitled ”

From President to Prison: Otto Pérez Molina and a Day for Hope in Guatemala

Francisco Goldman Episode (Radio Ambulante website)

Francisco Goldman Episode on iTunes

When I lived in Guatemala (in the late-1980s), speaking out publicly against the government would get you killed.  It is heartening that, although corruption, violence, and political killings are still rampant in Guatemala, its people are now able to engage in political dissent in a public way.  Perhaps not always safely, but it appears that there is now more space to voice concerns .

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Short Film: Paraiso (Paradise)

Posted on March 22, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

A very well composed short film about immigrants, as seen from a very unusual perspective.



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Peace Corps History and the Peace Corps Archive

Posted on March 2, 2014. Filed under: learning, media that matters, politics, Uncategorized, video | Tags: , , |

Were you a Peace Corps Volunteer?  If so, please consider donating letters, diaries, and/or other items to the Peace Corps Archive at American University.

I made the video above about the Peace Corps Archive at a recent history event organized by Jesse Bailey who is the Historian of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington (RPCV/W).  He moderated a panel discussion about the history of RPCV/W.  The participants were all former board members of RPCV/W.  There were even many audience members who were very steeped in the history of the Peace Corps.  The event lasted more than 2 hours.  Here is a teaser:

Part one of the panel discussion can be found here:

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A Fast Food Company That Cares for the Environment

Posted on October 19, 2013. Filed under: Art, food, interesting, learning, media that matters, music, politics, Social Media, technology, Uncategorized, video | Tags: , , |

Here is an example of a fast food company that sources sustainably raised agricultural products, including Niman Ranch pork.  It has hired small media company to produce a video and an iphone application to tell the story of how industrialized agriculture is destroying the planet.  Watch the video they created (soundtrack by Fiona Apple):

and then what the behind the scenes video:

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Posted on June 22, 2013. Filed under: interesting, media that matters, Uncategorized, video | Tags: , , , , |

Documented is a new film by Jose Antonio Vargas

The film had its world premier at the AFI Docs Festival last night to a sold out crowd at the National Portrait Gallery.

It chronicles the struggles and efforts of the Pulitzer Prize-winning former journalist, both before and after he outed himself as an undocumented immigrant in the New York Times Magazine. “Documented” chronicles his decision to transform his life. At some point, he could no longer keep his secret. He had become a successful journalist covering political campaigns and appearing on television. He had all the trappings of the American success story, but he lacked permission to be in the United States. He had been brought to the U.S. as a child and had no way to obtain a valid immigration status. And after seeing and speaking with thousands of immigrants in the same situation, he decided to “let the world in” to his secret and decided to become an immigration reform activist/provocateur.


Mr. Vargas has made a compelling film that brings into focus what it really means to be an American. It is not a piece of paper, a birth certificate, a passport, or the luck of being born here. It is a love of country, which Mr. Vargas has in abundance. It is also about hard work and struggle. My Vargas’ grandparents were U.S. citizens and brought him to the USA when he was 12. He became an outstanding student and with the help of dozens of friends, mentors, and surrogate parents, he achieved the American dream. However, the cost of this dream were high, and not being able to be open about his status exacted a toll on his psyche. Seeing other young immigrants struggling to keep their families together and lobby Congress to pass the Dream Act., made him realize that he could use his talents as a writer to help America to peel back the layers and understand the complicated issue of immigration reform. The complexity of the topic has been lost in the political bickering and punditry that characterizes our political system and our society. Sound-bites are particularly inappropriate to understand this complex topic. The film sheds a bright and focused light, like very few other films on this topic. It also highlights his struggle to repair his relationship with his mother, who for twenty years had been trapped half way across the world (in the Philippines) with no way to see her son. The film shows that there are thousands of young adults from all over the world who face the same situation. At one moment towards the end of the film, Mr. Vargas is invited to testify before the Senate. His words are profound and he leaves the Senators with the following question that I think we all must consider thoroughly: “What are you going to do with people like me?” There is not one person who does not recognize how dysfunctional our current immigration system has become. Almost as dysfunctional as our political system. It cannot be acceptable in 21st Century America to have some individuals relegated to the back of the bus, or thrown off the bus after having established such strong roots and allegiances to this country. As Mr. Vargas stated, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinions, “but not their own facts.” Before making a decision, one should see this film and lean the facts.

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DOJ Educational Videos I Created

Posted on February 10, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Here is a link to a PDF containing links to all of the the videos I created: http://go.usa.gov/2P6m

Published on Feb 4, 2013

This is a PSA from the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. Many employers erroneously believe that if they have an employee whose Permanent Resident Card (also known as a “Green Card”) is expiring, they must see a new one. This is false. If a Permanent Resident presents an unexpired Permanent Resident Card at the time of hire (or an unexpired identify document together with an unrestricted Social Security card), then that employees From I-9 never needs to be reverified, even if or when the Permanent Resident Card expires.


Spanish Language VIdeo

Published on Jun 13, 2012

This is a PSA from the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. We are the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices, or “OSC,” and we want you to be informed about the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) by signing up for a free webinar. Whoever you may be, employer or employee, sign up for a free webinar with OSC. http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc/…


Image 2-10-13 at 9.15 AM

Published on Dec 12, 2012

USCIS has automatically extended the validity of employment authorization documents issued under the last extension/designation of TPS Haiti for an additional 6 months, through July 22, 2013. If you have a TPS Haiti EAD with an original expiration date of January 22, 2012, you are covered by this automatic extension and may continue to work. For more information on TPS eligibility requirements, what to file, and step by step instructions go to http://www.uscis.gov/tps


Image 2-10-13 at 9.03 AM

Published on Jun 13, 2012

At the time of hire, all employees have a choice of what document(s) to present to establish their identity and authorization to work, when completing the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9. Employees can choose to present one List A document or instead they can present a List B & List C document. Employer’s should not restrict this choice and could be committing document abuse if they do restrict a worker’s choice of documents. Employers also need to give the employee a choice of document(s) to produce during any reverification (if reverification is warranted).

For more information about the From I-9, please refer to http://www.uscis.gov/I-9Central and for more information about immigration related unfair employment practices, see http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc/


Image 2-10-13 at 9.12 AM

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In Memory of Peter Bis

Posted on August 20, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Peter Bis was a very kind man, who for many years lived on Mass Ave.  He enjoyed greeting people from his spot by the gas station, usually under a tree.  He would be there all day, everyday.  He helped out around the station and also helped customers who needed air in their tires.  He had an abundance of personality.  In a town where almost nobody seems to have the time to say hello to a stranger, Peter was an anomaly.  He always had something kind to say, and frequently caused people to smile.  He will be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.  Below is a revised rough-cut of what will we hope in the future will be a more refined video of the community’s reaction to Peter and his passing.

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