Archive for the ‘Alexandria’ Category

Haunting Up A Good Time With Alexandria Ghost Tours

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Photo courtesy of Flickr user dave_7

This past weekend I was invited out to join some of my friends on a Ghost and Graveyard Tour of Old Town Alexandria. Run by Alexandria Colonial Tours, the one-hour walk is guided by a costumed guide (complete with candle-lit lantern) and covers six-blocks around historic Old Town around King Street. Just as advertised, “your guide will abandon you in a graveyard!” My friends joked that the walk was pretty much a tourist trap but even as locals we learned a thing or two about some of the culture and traditions of 18th century America. I was intrigued that hand fans used back in the day actually conveyed more than a cool breeze. Some of the more notable stops along our South route tour included Gadsby’s Tavern and the historic Christ Church, who’s graveyard served as the final point in our tour.

Besides our tour guide, we ran into quite a few costumed actors along the route which added to the atmosphere of the story-telling whether they were placed on purpose or by coincidence. Our group did have a laugh when we saw one of the actor’s answer his cell phone and give directions to the tavern.

If you are interested in ghosts, history, or people dressed up in 18th century garb, then Old Town Alexandria should be your next stop.

Tours run through November 28th with tickets priced at $10 for adults, $5 for children 7-17. Check out their website for complete times and details.

Making Science Fair

Props to DrBacchus on flickr

Props to DrBacchus on flickr

Do you remember your first science fair project?   All that research in the library, carefully printing your experimental procedure, plotting your results, and the nail-biting presentation for the judges — it’s all coming back, isn’t it?   Well, thousands of students are going through that same thing right now in preparation for the 2009 District of Columbia Mathematics, Science & Technology (DC MST) Fair on Saturday, March 14 at the McKinley Technology High School from 8:30 until noon.

One piece of this is still needed, and that’s judges.  For the senior projects that means very knowledgeable folks; trust me, these kids are sharp!  For the junior projects, more a more general background is needed.  And really, it’s not all robots!  Expertise is needed in animal sciences, behavioral and social sciences, biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, chemistry, computer science. earth and planetary science, engineering, environmental sciences, mathematical sciences, medicine and health sciences, microbiology, physics and astronomy, and plant sciences. The two top winners here will go on to compete with students from all over the world at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

To be honest, the DC fair has been pretty dismal in the past, owing primarily to a lack of staff support.  I’ve judged science fairs across the region for several years and I can tell you that the DC fair has come a long way.  It was still worth going to even when you were lucky to get a printed list of projects, let alone the catered breakfast and lunch, packet and clipboard, and staff support that’s provided today (by the very generous and competent Walter Reed Army Institute of Research).  The reason it’s worth it is simple: the kids.  These are the ones who have the drive to make a career in science and technology and a difference in the world.  Many have had little or no exposure to the S&T community, so the 5 or 10 minutes you spend with them is priceless.

The deadline to register in DC is March 2, 2009.  See you there?

And on the theme of fairness, here are links to other 2009 area fairs and the hours they are open for judging: 

Northern Virginia Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the Wakefield High School, Saturday, March 7th, 9:30 AM until 1:00 PM

Montgomery Area Science Fair at the Reckord Armory Building at the University of Maryland, Saturday, March 21, 8AM until 5:30 PM

Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the Robinson Secondary School, Saturday, March 28th, 7:30 AM until noon

Prince George’s Area Science Fair at the Howard B. Owens Science Center at the PG Community College, Saturday, March 28th, 7:45AM until 1:00PM.

One Day I’ll Fly Away

Taken, on Iphone, between Crystal City and the Airport.  Yellow Line to Huntington, Doors Closing.

I hope you’ll forgive the Moulin Rouge inspired title, but it fits.

How do I know tomorrow is a holiday?  I mean other than getting the day off and, you know, being passingly familiar with a calendar?  Well-

Most workday mornings involve me getting on Metro at the Crystal City stop and “reverse commuting” to Old Town.  This ensures not only an empty seat, but usually enough room to lay down and play scrabble against someone else on the floor.  Not that I would. 

This morning?   The height of travel frenzy (at almost 10am by the way!) as those using the Ronald Reagan/Washington National Airport were making their way (bags and all) to stand in line to get on a plane and fly home. 

I actually had to stand on the way to work.  If I wanted to do that, I would work in the District!  :-P

All of this by way of saying-safe travels and happy holidays from me (and probably all of the DC Metblog crew).

Alexandria doesn’t "heart" Norfolk Southern

Road-TrainIf you, like me, are a resident of the City of Alexandria City, you may have noticed a terse letter from Mayor Euille in the Alexandria news bulletin that arrived in your mailbox last week.  The Norfolk Southern Railroad has established an ethanol transloading facility at its yard in the West End neighborhood.  Now, apparently they own the facility and have gotten the National Surface Transportation Board to override at least some local ordinances.  The City Manager and City Attorney have admitted that communication (internal and external) was badly handled and the City Council has opened up their records and documents for public inspection.

In short, the City folks are displeased about this facility!  It is apparently located thisclose to an elementary school, and is also near the Beltway and the Blue line.

NSRR has bought some fire equipment for the City, including providing a quantity of the special foam that would be needed in the event of a fire, and conducted some training for Alexandria FD.  They’ve also agreed to certain time restrictions on the number of trucks coming and going from the facility.  I’m not sure what to think, myself.  I wonder how much of this issue stems from NIMBY-ism?  Did the railroad really just unilaterally plop an ethanol facility 600 feet from an elementary school and think no one would notice?   How real is the security concern? (IMO, not very, but then I am quite jaded about “security” these days.)  How real is the risk of fire or explosion?  We have all seen enough news reports of chemical factory or fuel dump explosions – with horrific effects – to worry about it, even though the probability may be incredibly low.

In any event — Alexandria has put together a website where you can read documents and correspondence, or look at a map of the facility and its neighborhood.  What’s your opinion — should we be concerned?

Breakin’ Out the Wings

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A scant six months ago, I joined the wild and crazy crew here on MBDC; I was branching out in my blogscapades and wanted to try my hand at writing about the area that I’ve come to love.

Everyone here has been extremely good to me, one of the new kids on the block. The experience has been inspiring and has driven my creativity in approaching this area to new heights. I’ve been driven to explore this town more than I ever have before, in search of new restaurants, new venues, and new entertainment. Much of these experiences I’ve yet to share; sadly, I won’t be doing so on this stage.

Instead, I’m leaving MBDC and moving to We Love DC. My continued excitment over living here remains unabated. With our imminent purchase of a home in northern VA, I look forward to planting our roots deep into the soil and growing old with the District – inside the zone and through the Beltway. And sharing all of this with the great people of the area with more passion and freedom than before.

So thank you, readers, writers, commentors and the MBDC staff for taking a chance on and accepting the missives from one of the small fish in this vast pond. May your futures remain bright and your cameras nearby.

See you on the other side.

Unasked Review: Daniel O’Connell’s

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Last Friday, me and the missus decided to dine in Old Town. We were craving Irish food; after our jaunt up in Maine a few weeks back and hitting several New England pubs we were feeling nostalgic for our Ireland walkabout back in 2005 and wanted to try getting back to that setting. Yes, yes, this is Virginia after all, but no harm in trying, right?

I’d read some reviews on O’Connell’s a while back and since it boasted itself as “a modern Irish restaurant in an ancient Irish setting” (from their website), we decided to give it a whirl.

We arrived right at 5 p.m., before the dinner crush on a typical spring weekend evening on King Street. After doing a quick check of the menu out front, we followed the pleasant and cheery hostess upstairs to the third floor. (As an aside, I love it when restaurants post their menus out front – saves me a heap of time of going in, scanning the menu and then bailing because I can’t find anything on it that waters my mouth.)

Seated in a corner along the long banister “corridor” connecting two of the older bars upstairs, the busboy was prompt in getting us water. So we dove into the menu and after some discussion, decided what to eat.

And then waited for our server. (more…)

Cracks in the Ice…

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Remember this experience?

Well, I received a phone message last week while I was off gallivanting around Maine; the caller was from CSC’s corporate offices. [I had filled out their online customer comment card, pointing to the previous article so they could see for themselves what was going on. Thanks, by the way, for everyone’s comments – hopefully they caught those as well.]

I was assured the matter was being looked into and the franchisee was being notified. Supposedly I should have already received a call from the store (nope) and received a gift certificate notification through the mail (nope).

Now, I’ll state right here and now I didn’t start all this for some form of free anything. I’ve done the retail punishment for over 15 years before I got smart and left; it pains me to see poor customer service, especially in establishments I frequent. I feel it’s my duty to politely let them know when they’re failing the public trust. And yes, also when they’ve gone above and beyond as well. (And yes, I’m an excellent tipper when it’s warranted.)

So while the call back is refreshing, the lack of local follow-up is disappointing. If / when we get those certificates, we’ll head back to the same location, if only to see if anything has changed (and yes, I’ll let everyone here know!). Meantimes, we’ll probably shift to the Hoffman location, unless someone can suggest a great local spot in Alexandria / Kingstowne / Springfield to try. (For the record, not a fan of Kalidescoops or Maggie Moo’s.)

Please, readers, suggest away!

Stone Cold Silence

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So last night me and the missus went to look at a couple of townhomes, one of which we’re considering purchasing. We’d both had a really long mental day at our dayjobs, so I suggested we make the trip out to the Cold Stone Creamery on US 1, near the I-495 interchange. There’s not really a good place for ice cream near our current home and we both like the taste of CSC’s ice cream. So it’s worth the drive for us.

Read the rest of our adventure after the jump. (more…)

Fortune Telling at Taverna Cretekou

My lovely wife and I went to Taverna Cretekou in Alexandria recently. The food was fabulous, as was the service. The highlight of our visit came after the meal, when the waiter read Elise’s fortune in her coffee grounds. Was it simply a ploy for a bigger tip? Probably, and likely it worked.

I highly recommend this restaurant. Fabulous food, great service and reasonable prices for an upscale place.

[revver]http://revver.com/video/877656/elise-getting-her-fortune-told-at-greek-restaurant/[/revver]

A Lunchtime Surprise

We broke for lunch late, and headed over to The Overwood in Alexandria. I do their website in exchange for the occasional free lunch, and I hadn’t seen them in a while. So we went over and sat at the bar for a late lunch. Rami, the chef, came out and said hey, and took our order. He also asked how we liked grits, and wanted to know if he could try something out on us. Generally, when chefs experiment, it’s best to be there. They start thinking outside the box, and then they deliver big.

Rami brought out this delight, which my camera fails to adequately capture. It’s a grits cake, in lobster sauce with veggies, crawfish and shrimp. And it was heaven on earth. The grits were perfectly textured and subtly flavored, the lobster sauce creamy, and the crawfish and shrimp moist and perfectly done.

Sometimes it’s good to know the chef. I understand this is on the menu all weekend, DC-folks.

Overwood
220 North Lee St
Alexandria VA
703.535.3340

Yummy — Originally uploaded by tbridge

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