Archive for the ‘Rockin’ the Suburbs’ Category

Got Wine?

CVS ghetto wine

Today on my lunch break, I swam through the Reston humidity over to the closest CVS to pick up some Corn Flakes, Q Tips, and light bulbs. As I rounded the first aid isle, I couldn’t believe my eyes: a wine section! How could this be? Were my eyes playing tricks on me? Was this some sort of Virginia hillbilly law that’s been around since the civil war? Was this some sort of joke? Had the heat and humidity finally given me slight brain damage?

No, no, no, and no. It was as real as a stripper’s breasts are fake. I decided to take advantage of this oddity so I asked the cashier up front, “Excuse me dear sir. Could I please speak to your sommelier? I’m interested in picking out a fine wine to go with my turkey sandwich.” It turns out that CVS doesn’t employ sommeliers, but the cashier assured me that the 2006 vintage of the Turning Leaf table wine was exquisite. He also recommended the 2007 Yellow Tail Merlot.

Needless to say, I opted for a chilled Hawaiian Punch instead.

New Nuclear?

Constellation Power has applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to put a new nuclear reactor in Calvert county, the fourth to be applied for, nationwide, this year. There hasn’t been a new nuclear reactor built in the US since the Three Mile Island disaster, but with new tax incentives for power providers who get their applications complete before the end of next year, companies are positioning themselves to be able to take advantage of the new situation.

Are we ready for nuclear again? The US kinda freaked out after the Three Mile Island near-meltdown and the Chernobyl disaster, but with power needs proving insatiable, and with fossil fuels being subject to significant negative public attention due to global warming concerns, the timing could be ripe for an expansion of nuclear power.

Will it do anything to lower your power build? Almost certainly not. But, it might decrease dependence on fossil fuels, which can be considered a positive.

Escape From D.C.

escape_from_dc.jpg No, this isn’t really the next John Carpenter film with Snake Plissken taking aim at the White House and Congress (although, I wished it was). But it’s about mid-season for all the D.C. natives to head out of town just to catch a breather from the madness that is life in the Capitol Region.

While typically, some of these “escapes” are not traditionally vacations in the usual sense (usually only a few days), there are plenty of places both near and far to get away from it all, even if it is only for a short bit. Some folks head internally, staying at home, or spending entire days at the movie theater. Others head out past the potential “blast zone“, to places like Shenandoah, Ocean City, and even Philly (which has King Tut right now, BTW). Others will head further afield…

Tom and Tiff head to Pittsburgh, but have been heard to hit the Eastern Shore. Carl’s on leave of mind to head to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, while Doug slips off to the local mountains of the Shenandoah. Paulo has yet to have a real honeymoon, and feels a strong pull to Harpers Ferry and the John Brown Wax Museum. Jenn loves Cape May in New Jersey, even though another city such as Philly or New York could also top the bill for rapid exit from our fair city. I’m heading to Beantown (to visit the Samuel Adams Brewery as well) and Cape Cod. Even Stacey escapes… at home in Vienna… Virginia, not Austria… just by having moved there. And we all know, DC is good enough for Wayan!

Jenn did bring up a good observation about coming back from these “breathers” from DC; How do you feel about the city when you return? Better or worse than when you ‘escaped’? Have you noticed anything interesting upon your return that you may have not observed or felt being here 24/7?

Creative use of a stop light

Now, I’ve seen a lot of things during my time on the road and across this country… however, this evening while riding home, at the light at Randolph Road and Georgia Avenue, a cute Welsh gal in a pickup truck (bumper sticker flag gave it away), put on the emergency brake, and whipped out a pennywhistle and began to improvise something akin to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic“. I wished I had a camera to take in the event, but was barely able to make out the music with my engine humming and the helmet and earplugs in (see Tom, some of us wear them). If everybody took their spare wasted time and exercised it in such a non-violent and creative fashion, I truly do believe the world could be a better place.

Illegal Immigration Debate is Xenophobia Disguised

Reading about the illegal immigration laws passed in Price William and Loudoun counties, I am struck by the foaming-mouthed obstinacy of those who stop at the word “illegal”.

The upstanding citizens of both counties that refuse to debate any aspect of the multi-faceted relationship we have with immigration in America if the word “illegal” is present. It really defies all rational thought. Until you replace the word “illegal” with the word “foreigners”.

And in this context, I mean the definition of “foreigners” as people who are different in language, culture, and maybe physical appearance, and almost importantly, who are perceived as having a lower socio-economic status.

To test out my proposition, let’s take a few quotes as an example, and substitute “foreigners” for “illegal” and you’ll see what I mean.

Sue Flemining of Help Save Manasas

“If we turn our heads and permit illegal foreigners entry into our county without making any effort or identification, we are saying our language, our culture, our Constitution, our neighborhoods and our flag are inconsequential.”

Eugene A. Delgaudio (R-Sterling>

“We need help in Loudoun. We are struggling. We are a small county, and we can’t handle the hordes that are coming here and using up our services. Illegal Foreign immigration is taking a greater and greater toll on our community.”

Reading these two quotes in their new form, do you see what I mean? The upstanding citizens of Price William and Loudoun counties really don’t care about legal or illegal, that is a red herring. They are really scared about “those people” the different ones who do not conform to the accepted norms of sterile suburban life. Or as Woodbridge resident Chris King said:

“I’m tired of pressing ‘1’ for English” on the phone.

And I am tired of obscene hypocrisy of people like Ms. Fleming and Misters Delgaudio and King. The hypocrisy of their desire to discriminate against the very foreigners who built the houses those very upstanding citizens sleep in, pick the fruit they eat, wash the dishes they eat off, mow the lawns they take pride in, and pretty much do every menial minimum-wage-at-best job none of those very same upstanding citizens would ever demean themselves with.

Especially since we are all immigrants in the end.

Fundraiser Car Wash on Saturday

The Alexandria-Washington chapter of DeMolay International is having a car wash to raise money for the group. This is a good group of kids and an organization worthy of support, in my opinion.

When: Saturday, July 14th, 2007, 9-2
Where: Springfield Lodge #217 7001 Backlick Road, Springfield, VA
Cost: Donations accepted – you choose how much to give.

Here is some information on what DeMolay is, for those of you who are curious:

DeMolay is an organization dedicated to preparing young men to lead successful, happy, and productive lives. Basing its approach on timeless principles and practical, hands-on experience, DeMolay opens doors for young men aged 12 to 21 by developing the civic awareness, personal responsibility and leadership skills so vitally needed in society today. DeMolay combines this serious mission with a fun approach that builds important bonds of friendship among members in more than 1,000 chapters worldwide.

Come check it out, help the young folks there with their organization and get your car sudsied up. Everyone is a winner!

HOA, HOA, HOA… And Now The Rest of Story

As if this blog is becoming the CNN of Homeowners Associations (aka HOAs), I felt a little more compelled to add my two cents since it arrives from a different perspective, and, unfortunately, a different outcome. This one involved boisterous altercations, parking stickers, and the police, as well as one restraining order to be issued sometime within the next 24-48 hours.

I’m the HOA president of our community in Silver Spring (yes, boo hiss, I’m a suburbanite), and arrived at that designation by attrition, and, somewhat, by lack of interest by other board members. I ran for the board at the edging of my wife, but also a heartfelt desire to help improve the community, and give the perspective of a new resident on the board (at the time, I had been a resident for less than 6 months). I ran, which included a personal statement, as well as going door to door to try and talk to the residents in our mixed housing community of single-family homes and townhomes.


Busted by the HOA!

Tuesday afternoon I went to play tennis with my friend who, sadly, lives in suburban Virginia. His neighborhood has tennis courts but we decided to play on some courts a few neighborhoods down Rt. 7 so I’d have a shorter trip from DC. I do not want to give the name away, but this is a neighborhood I’ve had friends in for over 20 years and that has courts that are seldom used and would certainly be empty on a hot weekday afternoon.

On the drive I get a call from my friend, telling me that he had just been kicked out by the homeowners association president. “Well, stay there,” I say, “Let me come talk to him and ask if we can play as guests of my friends who live there.”

My friend said, “I’m just leaving. He’s a complete ***hole and I don’t want to deal with him anymore.”

I should have been smart and taken that as a warning to stay away, but living in the city has made me soft and forgetful that dealing with a homeowners association board member is in no way like dealing with a regular human.

forget the headliner, I’m here to see the opening act

The Silver BeatsTom and I went to see The Killers at the Patriot Center last night. They were awesome- glitzed up stage show, great performance, blah-blah-blah they were the headliners and of course they were great. That’s not what I’m here to talk about, and I’m sure Tom will tell you all about it later.

What you NEED TO KNOW is that the middle act (not the lackluster Red Romance) was a Japanese Beatles cover band. The Silver Beats have clearly been working on their impressions of the Beatles for a long, long time, but it paid off- they sound uncannily like John, Paul, George, and Ringo, and got more love than any unknown opening act I’ve ever seen. The best part was that they looked like they were having as much fun as the Beatles themselves were on their first US tour. And of course, it’s always nice when the opening act is playing songs you can sing along to.

I’d pay just to see these guys. You should too. I think they’re headed straight back to Tokyo when they get done with The Killers, so if you find yourself there, be sure to hit the Cavern Club and check them out.

(photo courtesy The Silver Beats)

Get on your bikes and ride! Vol. 2 – I-66 Custis Trail


Following Interstate 66 in Arlington, the I-66 Custis Trail is a challenging course between East Falls Church and Rosslyn. Since I-66 is mostly built below street level, the trail has varying gradients to accommodate the bridges over the highway with the trail tending to rise into the overpass. This easily creates the best short workout available along area trails, which can be good or bad, depending on why you ride. The westbound approach to Glebe Road is a nasty climb.

While the trail is well landscaped, you may not care for the scenery if you are not fond of highways (and for that matter commuter rail) and the noise that they bring. Still, it serves many Arlington neighborhoods and contributes to the mutlimodal nature of the corridor. Since trucks are prohibited on I-66, the aural sensation is mostly white noise (granted, loud white noise), unless a Metro train is passing through. Near the eastern terminus in Rosslyn, it connects to the Mount Vernon trail via the Rosslyn connector, while the western terminus is on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, linking it to the rest of the Northern Virginia trail network.

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