A Tourist’s Guide to the Annoying Cherry Blossom Trees on Washington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin

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This year, peak bloom of the cherry blossom trees is expected to occur around April 3rd. Despite the alienation, frustration, and annoyance to D.C. residents, thousands of tourists will flood our Nation’s Capital to take in the natural beauty of these overrated pink and white blossoming trees. To discourage out-of-towner’s from coming, here are some facts you may not know about these dastardly trees.

The first cherry trees were gifted to Helen Taft, the First Lady of the United States, by the Mayor of Tokyo in 1910. Due to disease and insect infestation, President Howard Taft ordered that they be burned to the ground. The trees were said to be quite annoyed at making the long journey to America only to be ravaged by disease and eventually destroyed.

Japan, failing to leave well enough alone, sent additional cherry trees in 1912. These trees successfully took root, and some are still standing today, unlike Helen Taft, who died in 1943, while America was at war with Japan.

In 1915, the United States reciprocated by sending forty native Dogwood trees to Japan. Also, in 1915, people in America didn’t know what the word “reciprocation,” meant. Dogwood trees? Seriously?

Some of the cherry trees were mysteriously cut down after Japanese aggression during World War II. In order to hide the trees’ identity, officials began calling them “Oriental Cherries.” This inevitably led to a lawsuit filed by the trees, accusing the United States of defamation. Yoshino Trees v. Washington D.C. became a landmark case, in which the trees won the right to again be called Japanese Cherry Trees. The current Supreme Court is looking to overturn the ruling.

The Cherry Blossom festival, which had been held annually since 1934, was suspended from 1942 – 1946 because America didn’t really like Japan after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. But by 1947, nearly half a million people turned out when the festival returned. These individuals were probably not Japanese because Japan didn’t really like America after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Japan gave Lady Bird Johnson, also a First Lady, 3,800 more cherry blossom trees in 1965. Rumors swirled that President Lyndon B. Johnson was upset at the Japanese for displaying such a lack of creativity in the gift-giving department, and also because he hoped to receive a lifetime supply of Sapporo instead.

In the 1970’s, clones of the cherry blossom trees were created and sent back to Japan. The intention was to reciprocate Mayor Ozaki’s 1910 gift, because nothing says “thank you” like giving an inferior version of a gift to the people who are known for giving the superior version of the same gift.

In 1999, two beavers gnawed down four blooming trees, which led to an international manhunt. A week later, the beavers were caught in a hideout dam on the Potomac River. Both were taken into custody and are serving life sentences at the National Zoo.

Parking during peak bloom is extremely limited, so tourists are advised not to come.

Cherry blossom flower petals are edible. You can put them in tea or wrap them around sushi.  It’s illegal to pick cherry blossom pedals though, and since vegans don’t break the law, the edibility is beside the point.

Picnicking underneath cherry blossom trees is a Japanese tradition. Picnicking underneath the cherry blossom trees on the tidal basin is a fool’s errand, unless you enjoy getting trampled to death by thousands of distracted tourists who only look up.

Some cherry trees can live to be 100 years old, and in fact, there are some in Japan that are over 1,000 years old! Due to the poor western diet and sedentary lifestyle, however, most of the cherry trees on the tidal basin become morbidly obese and die of preventable causes at around 60 years of age.

Neither Japan nor D.C. can be considered the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World. That distinction belongs to Macon, Georgia, which is home to nearly 300,000 Yoshino cherry blossom trees. Tourists should probably go there instead.

2018-2019 Mid-Atlantic Winter Outlook for Cynical Snow Lovers who have been Slighted Too Many Times by the Empty Promises of Mother Nature

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Looks beautiful, right?  Well, don’t get used to it.

It’s that time of year again in the District-Maryland-Virginia (DMV); when hope for a cold and snowy winter springs eternal!  After taking a look at a variety of meteorological factors, including the overall amount of fallen acorns in my backyard, how hairy the caterpillars have been this fall, and the arrival time of Starbucks holiday cups, it’s time to release my 2018-2019 Mid-Atlantic Winter Outlook for Cynical Snow Lovers who have been Slighted Too Many Times by the Empty Promises of Mother Nature.  If you think it was a mouthful to read, imagine having to type it. Continue reading “2018-2019 Mid-Atlantic Winter Outlook for Cynical Snow Lovers who have been Slighted Too Many Times by the Empty Promises of Mother Nature”

Neighbor-Resistant Plants for your new Fall Garden

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Are you sick of neighbors intruding on your idyllic backyard fall gatherings?  Annoyed at these encroachers for coming over, uninvited, to critique your poor design choices and to pilfer your beer?  Fear not, good citizens.  New fall landscaping can help prevent these unwanted visitors from ruining your favorite season.  No invading neighbors will intrude on your autumnal fire pits any longer!

*Authors Note: This piece is not in any way inspired by my actual neighbors.* Continue reading “Neighbor-Resistant Plants for your new Fall Garden”

Mosquitoes: A Field Guide to Understanding Mosquitoes on World Mosquito Day

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Mosquitoes.  Rightly feared, yet generally misunderstood, these jerks have been wreaking havoc on human beings since the dawn of man.  Yet, a simple understanding of their intentions and desires, can make co-existing with them, a far more manageable experience. 

Mosquito Fun Facts:

There are over 3,500 known species of mosquitoes around the world.  In scientific terms, that’s a lot!  Unfortunately, there are many unknown species as well.  As our civilization continues to deforest their natural habitats and as both global temperatures and water levels continue to increase around the world, we will eventually be feasted upon by an even wider array of species over time.  How exciting?!

Mosquitoes have been around since the Jurassic period and have been mentioned by many reputable people throughout history, such as in the philosophical musings of Aristotle and in the thought-provoking lyrics of pop sensation, Shakira.

Mosquitoes are often responsible for some of the most severe diseases (Malaria, Zika, and Dengue Fever) impacting human beings.  Also, no other insect can ruin a backyard party quite like they can.

Only female mosquitoes take blood meals from human beings.  They do this simply to lay their eggs, not to bother human beings, which is obviously just an unintended consequence.

Depending on your perspective, male mosquitoes are either totally useless or sort of respected for their narrow mindedness.  A female mosquito can beat her wings up to 500 times per second and the male selects the female with the highest frequency of beats to mate with.  Mating is basically all the male mosquito intends to do with his life.

Mosquito is Spanish for “little fly.”  In places such as Africa and Australia, mosquitoes are referred to as “Mozzies.”  Uninformed backyard party-goers refer to mosquitoes as “little biting dimwits.”  As usual, uninformed backyard party-goers are wrong because…

…mosquitoes don’t actually bite.  They don’t have teeth.  No, their method of extracting a blood meal from an unsuspecting human is far more creative.  Female mosquitoes numb the area and inject a serrated proboscis into human flesh, thereby drawing blood through a tube, leaving their victims angry and itchy as they fly off to make babies.

Mosquito species have impressive scientific names like Aedes aegypti and Culex pipens.  When referring to the various species by their scientific names, please use the correct naming structure, including the use of italics and the capitalization of the first word.  Knowing this will allow you to impress uninformed backyard party-goers at your next gathering.

In the United States, West Virginia has the fewest species of mosquitoes; Texas and Florida the most.  This information will never be useful to you.

Removing standing water in your yard, or paving over all remaining greenery, can decrease their populations.

Mosquitoes prefer teleworking and don’t fly more than a few miles, at most, for blood meals.

Don’t sweat the small stuff!  Mosquitoes are attracted to octenol (a chemical found in human sweat).  In the hot summer, avoiding rigorous outdoor activities such as moving and breathing, will greatly decrease your chances of being victimized.

The best way to avoid being attacked by mosquitoes is to stay inside until the first freeze or wear an insect repellent containing DEET.  You’ll smell terrible but at least you won’t get Dengue Fever.