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Posted at 8:53 AM ET, 02/24/2011

Pick of the Day: On solar flares and iPod thieves

By Annys Shin

Wednesday brought the sad news that a good portion of the staff at is being let go as the site's owners, Allbritton Communications, rejiggers things.

Much has been made of the rivalry between our two media organizations, but if it exists, it does not emanate from this cubicle. In fact, I had become addicted to a few of their blogs, and thought I'd pay a brief, if somewhat tardy, homage.

We don't often pick blogs here because they don't present the sort of narrative that we at Story Lab are so stubbornly old-school about promoting. But blogs, obviously, (hello 2011), tell stories too.

The two blogs I became most addicted were ostensibly about mundane topics such as the weather and commuting. But in the hands of their authors -- (full disclosure: both of them were briefly City Paper colleagues of mine.) -- they took on a quirkiness and storytelling quality that you don't get from the usual outlets.

Here's a sampling, from weather blogger John Metcalfe:

The sun has just burped out a medium-sized M-class solar flare, not quite as huge as the Jupiter-sized X-class eruption earlier this week but still a clear sign that the star is ramping up its explosive 11-year cycle. All these tears in the sun’s atmospheric fabric are showering earth with billions of tons of charged particles.
What have been the consequences? Millions without power? Computer crashes causing stock market panic?
Not quite. The National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., reports one radio down. But it appears to be a land issue, not a space one, and Verizon is on the way.

If you're wondering what this had to do with the weather, I say stop being such a purist.

The On Foot blog, written by Dave Jamieson, obligingly took note of hit-and-runs, Metro delays caused by weekend track work, and snow blocked bike paths. In between those routine posts, you got to read an entry like the one below, about a string of IPod robberies on Metro:

The three men walked through the Red Line train car as it rolled north toward Takoma Park, their eyes darting from one passenger to the next. The trio looked so shifty that one rider, later a crucial witness in a criminal case, made note of them. One of the three men, now seated, was staring at the iPod in the rider’s hand.
The would-be witness stared back at the man for a moment, trying to flesh out his intentions. Their eyes met. Apparently uncomfortable with the attention, the shady man got up and moved down the train car.
The witness watched the three men regroup together further down the car. A moment later, just as the train pulled into the Takoma Park station and the doors opened, he heard a woman scream. The three men barreled out of the train car door just as it closed.

Lisa Baden, eat your heart out.

By Annys Shin  | February 24, 2011; 8:53 AM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  
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Next: Pick of the Day: The People V. Football

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