Archive for the ‘Falls Church’ Category

DeMolay Car Wash Fundraiser on Saturday

The Edwin Albert Mroz Chapter of the Order of DeMolay is having a car wash fundraiser on Saturday, April 21st from 8am-12pm. The car wash will be at the Kemper-Macon Ware Masonic Lodge at 411 Little Falls St. in Falls Church.

All donations will be accepted.

I am not sure of the weather forecast for that day but am sure the young people out there will be using lots of elbow grease to get the job done. I know one of the advisors and have every confidence that he will ensure a good job from his kids he leads!

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!

Get on your bikes and ride! Vol. 1 – W&OD

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As we enter our first spring like week of the year I am starting a series of profiles of area bike trails. I begin with my personal favorite, the Washington & Old Dominion Regional Park trail. In 2005 I rode the length of the trail from west to east in one afternoon.

An early example of the “rail-to-trail” phenomenon, W&OD was simply known as the “bike trail” to me and my friends when I was growing up. Now forty-five miles long, the flat, straight trail starts in Arlington, near Shirlington, and extends all the way past Leesburg to Purcellville. In actuality, the trail is part of W&OD Regional Park, which is the old railroad and current Virginia Power right-of-way (hence the high tension power lines), giving it dimensions of about 45 miles by 100 feet. Those 100 feet provide a buffer of nature through the most populated region of the commonwealth. Much of the Arlington portion traverses Four Mile Run Park while it parallels the windier Four Mile Run trail. Think of W&OD as I-95 to Four Mile’s US 1 and you get the idea of how the two trails exist together.
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What took you so long, Artie?

You may have heard it yesterday but it’s in all the print media today: Almost a year overdue, Art Buchwald has finally succumbed to his cancer kidney failure. He may not have been the only person ever booted out of a hospice for failure to die in a timely fashion but he’s certainly the first one I ever heard of it happening to. Okay, they didn’t ask him to leave but I think that’s the kind of hyperbole he’d be okay with. After all, he said “Since I hadn’t had any practice dying, I had to learn the hard way.

I wasn’t a huge fan of his columns but I appreciated his wit and self-deprication. His NYT obit is filled with little gems, like his reaction to having one of his columns called “Unadulterated rot” by Eisenhower press secretary James C. Hagerty: He said that he had “been known to write adulterated rot” but never “unadulterated rot.” Wayan would probably appreciate his comments about bicycling. “Americans are broad-minded people. They’ll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater, and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn’t drive, there is something wrong with him.”

As far as why I feel compelled to add my voice to the thousands talking about his passing, it’s not because he was a real Washingtonian: someone who wasn’t born here, but came and found it difficult to leave. Art Buchwald really came onto my radar for the simple reason that he talked openly and calmly about death, without prevarication. I think he’d be tickled to know that there was at least one person who he had to get a terminal disease to attract as a fan.

Death eventually comes to us all, at least so far, but we are mostly reluctant to talk about it or face it. It’s as sure as sundown, but without the certainty of that sunrise coming afterwards we’re not as willing to accept it. When a Buchwald or a Tim Leary or a Warren Zevon comes along and speaks plainly about the unknown I think they enrich us all. Buchwald took an hour out to talk to Diane Rehm on WAMU almost a year ago when he decided to enter hospice care, another hour from the hospice when he was about 3 months overdue on his projected three weeks to live and most recently in November after he’d finished another book. I heard the November show and I’ll go back and give the other two a listen. He’s not someone who will drive you to side-splitting laughter but I don’t think I’ve ever read his column without cracking at least one smile. Thanks, Art, for bringing some smiles to us while heading for the undiscovered country – it makes me a little calmer about my eventual departure as well, and reminds us all that we’ve got no control over that eventual destination but we can choose the route we take along the way.

Avedon Carol said it well: So thanks, Art – for that, and for refusing to go glumly into that good night.

Get Ready for a Fare Hike

Metromap.png With Metro’s giant budget gap looming, and the budget meeting to discuss new fare and service options this evening, commuters and other Metro riders ought to get ready for some pain in the wallet. Metro’s fares have remained constaint since 2003, and are now facing a significant increase.

What’s good? SmarTrip users won’t pay quite as much an increase as those who use paper tickets, with paper ticket fares going up by $0.65 to $1.75, while SmarTrip fares will go up only $0.15 to $0.45.

What’s a little weird? That the downtown core stations will get an extra $0.35 tacked on to the fare. From Courthouse to L’Enfant Plaza on the Orange Line, Pentagon to L’Enfant Plaza on the Blue Line, Pentagon to Mt. Vernon Square on the Yellow, Mt. Vernon Square to Waterfront on the Green Line and from Dupont Circle to Union Station, is the new zone (see also the graphic here) that will receive an additional $0.35 congestion charge.

The new “max fares” under the new fare regime would be $4.75 for SmarTrip customers and $6 for paper ticket customers. Also on the block are some of the weekend and holiday services, so you may end up waiting longer and longer for trains on the weekends and on certain holidays. Metro won’t be changing service for holidays like Independence Day because they’re not completely mental. As many as twelve bus-lines may also face service cutbacks or outright route cancellations. Fares for the bus may go up by $0.05 if WMATA’s plan goes into effect.

So, fares are on the rise, and services are going to be cutback. Is this too much of a fare hike? Too much of a service cutback for too much a service cut? What say you?

graphic shamelessly cropped and borrowed from this Washington Post Story, with kudos to the graphics team there and apologies because any graphic I’d have done would’ve involved stick figures or badly drawn metro maps.

myLHBS: Keeping NoVA Safe for Homebrewing

After posting my original frustrated missive about how there did not seem to be any homebrew shops in the area (see Is the DC Area Anti-Home Brew?), I got lots of suggestions on where to go. One store appeared to be only a few miles from my home. How could I have missed it, I wondered.

myLHBS is tucked away in the offices of a language school in the building next to Sears on Route 7, at the intersection with Patrick Henry Drive. When I entered the building I quickly found Languages Incorporated on the directory and went to their office, past the doctors and dentists and icky medical specimen containers. Those things always freak me out a little.

Owner Derek Terrell greeted me and had the few things I was looking for and much more. For being in the back of someone else’s office, myLHBS sure does have quite a selection of inventory packed into a relatively small room. What’s more is that it doesn’t appear cluttered at all. He may not have twenty of anything but he has anything you might want or need, including some nice items on sale.

This is more than beer making supplies. The store also has a good selection of wine kits, honey to make mead and even a hard cider kit. In my day we made hard cider in a glass jug with bread yeast and an improvised prophylactic-based air lock. I am sure it was much cruder than the kit at the store and I might just go back and get that kit to try it out.

More than a simple store clerk, Derek is a seasoned brewer and has run a shop like this before. He knows the equipment and processes and can make expert suggestions without sounding highfaluting.

myLHBS certainly has my business for the future. Any home brewers in the area should definitely go check this place out.

Hot Pads

Perhaps if Wayan’s couch guest is still looking for a place to stay, he should take a gander at HotPads.com. HotPads appears to be a mash-up between google maps and wikipedia, offering a user-friendly at-a-glance look at available housing options inside the beltway.

Users can customize their search requirements by zip code, city, county or state, using a variety of variables. A quick Georgetown search turned up not a whole lot, whereas a quick search of my home zip code turned up two rental possibilities.

Looking for a roommate? You apparently can use that feature too, although it turned up zilch for me. This appears to be a great tool for relocation professionals who know naught about the new city they’ll call home. Doing a quick search of cities such as Seattle and Boston turned up a whole lot of useful information.

These three Notre Dame former college roommates moved to the D.C. area and created HotPads in early ’05, relaunching the site last month. The best thing about HotPads? It’s totally free.

Between HotPads and The D.C. Crime Map newcomers to D.C. can learn much more about prospective neighbours before they even put down a deposit. Say ‘sayonara’ to moving in sight unseen, suckers.

Bangkok Blues – Great Food, Great Music, Horrible for Conversations

My wife and I took a friend to Bangkok Blues in Falls Church last night. Since arriving in the area, this has been one of my favorite restaurants and bars. Everything is low-key, they have music every night (see their calendar here)and the price is right for getting some excellent Thai food.

There’s just one problem with Bangkok Blues. The music is so loud that it’s often hard to hear the wait staff and each other. I am a big fan of blues, jazz, rock – well, almost any type of music – but the mixture of great food and loud music is a little over stimulating for me. Just when the peppers are doing a number on my tongue and I am trying to chase it away with a swig of their Bangkok Blues Lager, a trumpet blares a high note that would scare even Mariah Carey.

Definitely go check this place out, but if you want an intimate atmosphere it’s the wrong place. Go either before a show starts or else just go for the music and booze. The guitar-shaped bar is really something to see and I bet it could hold a beer as well as any other, so I plan on testing this theory soon, returning just for drinks and tunes.

virginia candidates for senate face-off tonight

Virginia Senator George Allen (R) and challenger James "Jim" Webb (D) will face-off in Richmond tonight. The 8 p.m. debate will be moderated be moderated by Russ Mitchell, an anchor on The Early Show and Sunday Evening News on CBS. Viewers in Northern Virginia will be able to watch the debate live on WETA (local channel 26).

So far, both candidates have spent a considerable amount of time issuing and responding to personal questions or attacks. For Allen, the central issues have revolved around his (supposedly hidden) Jewish heritage, his use of the word "macaca," and his office’s showcase of a Confederate flag and rope tied into a noose. Webb has been questioned about a 1979 article on women in combat. Although I am hoping the debate will provide a showcase for both of these candidates to present clearly distinguishable platforms – I’m afraid that most of the debate will end up focused on questions of character…

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Allen is predicted to say "Well shucks, you know that I was a bit of a rebel in my younger days, so I’ve always liked having a Confederate flag and noose ready for when the South will rise again."

Webb will think "…jackass," while stretching his hands in anticipation of the vicious pimp slap he is about to lay down.

 

Best Vietnamese Anything in the DC Area

For those who have not visited the Eden Center shopping plaza at Seven Corners in Falls Church, you are missing out. The shopping center, at the corner of Wilson Blvd. and Route 7, boasts restaurants, gift shops, video stores, jewelers, a tofu shop and more. People who live near various ethnic neighborhoods may be thinking, “So what? I have my choice of 50 authentic restaurants within walking distance. What’s the big deal?”

The big deal is that the Eden Center is not just another marketplace but has the best of everything with one parking lot and easy access to all. The fact of having one good restaurant, like the award-winning Huong Que (Four Sisters), requires all the others to step up and provide the same level of quality. This is evident as you stroll by the windows and see one after another displaying write-ups in various newspapers and different awards they have won.

A real gem of the shopping center, though, is the Eden Market, which is one of the largest Vietnamese markets I have seen in the area. My test for which Asian market to shop at has to do with availability of ingredients. I look for one particular type of fruit that is particularly tasty and fragrant to those of us who have acquired the taste but disgusting and stinky to those who have not. This market passed the test, having both fresh and frozen durian – the king of fruits. Eden Market is the real deal.

If you have not been there, definitely go check it out. The shopping center is just a mile from the East Falls Church metro and is on a few bus lines as well, so ease of access is not a problem. You will find a treasure trove of super shopping and delightful dining for any taste.

How Dangerous is Scarfing in Virginia?

This is the question I wonder this afternoon as I read the Richmond Times-Dispatch article about Benjamin Fawley. He is charged with murder in the death of Taylor Behl, last October’s missing college co-ed of the month.

I ask this as scarfing is what Ms. Behl died of. See, she and Mr. Fawley were into scarfing, or erotic asphyxiation, consentual scarfing that is. To quote the Times-Dispatch:

He told police Behl died accidentally Sept. 6 during a consensual sexual encounter when he restricted her breathing.

Tomorrow we’ll learn if the plea agreement for Mr. Fawley to plead guilty to second-degree murder will be about scarfing, their consensual sex act, or his post-choke cover-up.

If scarfing, which I expect, Virginia will be on its usual pseudo-religious crusade to ban anything but straight vanilla sex. Kinky people, time to flee. Gays already have.

If the post-choke cover-up, which included burying her body in duct tape and plastic, then there might just be some sanity left in the Commonwealth after all. He should’ve called 911 when she stopped responding, not dumped her body in the woods.

More Times-Dispatch coverage of the Taylor Marie Behl case

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