Archive for the ‘Washington DC’ Category

Watermain Break in Bullet Points

  • If you have to have a huge underground pipe break in your neighborhood, a warm spring morning is not the worst day for it.  If you live below grade, it’s still pretty traumatic.
  • I didn’t know pavement could do that.
  • The overall response from the City workers was great; the sad thing is that they’ve done this so often that they have it all down pat.   I wanted to kiss them for working through the 4-hour downpour that evening that I’m sure kept it from getting any worse.
  • The contractors were out in force; we had 3 business cards for specialists in water damage in our mail slot within 8 hours. 
  • Now I know what rush hour sounds like without traffic on Florida Avenue.   And that articulated Metro buses can back up very, very long distances.   
  • Life goes back to normal pretty quickly, all things considered.   Until the next one breaks…

Daily DC Item: Embassy Opens Doors At Passport DC

"Embassy Row" courtesy of Flickr user joseph_a

"Embassy Row" courtesy of Flickr user joseph_a

It’s no secret that Washington, DC is the hub of foreign diplomacy where within the city limits there are 174 or so embassies. Now you’ll be able to take a step inside and look around some of these foreign posts as Passport DC kicks off it’s annual Embassy Open House.

30 embassies located around the city will be opening their doors and welcoming visitors. These diplomatic posts will be offering music, food, and tours of their facilities. Visit the Embassy of Sri Lanka and try some Ceylon Tea; observe a Taekwondo demonstration at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea; listen to traditional African music at the Embassy of Botswana. Did I mention that it’s all free?

The Embassy Open House is going on from 10 AM – 4 PM tomorrow, Saturday May 2nd. There will be shuttles leaving from 1900 Massachusetts Avenue, NW (Dupont Circle) and will loop Massachusetts Avenue, Connecticut Avenue, and lower New Hampshire Avenue. The open house is truly city wide- not just Embassy Row, so take advantage of the transportation and the chance to get a little cultured.

Aveda A Cut Above The Rest

Photo courtesy Aveda Institute DC

Photo courtesy Aveda Institute DC

Class Photo Day when I was in 1st grade was quite the experience.

I made the bold decision to go with a “mad scientist” hairstyle that was the result of seeing how long I could go without getting a haircut. It goes without saying that after that class photo I made it a mission to get regular haircuts. Trust me it’s good for the world that my hair doesn’t reach those levels ever again.

When I moved down to these parts I experimented with different chains before settling on a couple of Hair Cuttery locations that I usually visit at the top of every month. The results would range from good to bleh. So when my roommate recommended a visit to the Aveda Institute DC over at Gallery Place I was open to try out the school of cosmetology for a high risk/reward experience.

Even though the thought of actually making an appointment to get a haircut seem somewhat daunting and metrosexual like, my roommate reassured me that many males interested in well grooming do it. I made the call and scheduled an appointment for Saturday morning. The time slot worked well since I wanted to get up early to shop at H&M nearby. Maybe I’m more metrosexual than I thought.

0404090830I arrived early at Gallery Place promptly at 8:30, the storefront that sat between The Loft and City Sports already had a line going out the door. I thought I was lucky that I made an appointment til I realized that the entire line had appointments for the same timeslot and were all being pushed upstairs to the salon/studio area.

The upstairs portion of the institute appeared to take up the entire second floor of the commercial building. The sight look like it was pulled straight of a Bravo network reality show. Bright lights, modern style, and the low drone of techno music filled the space. Rows upon rows of styling stations were homes to an army of cosmetology students. They all donned black clothes and aprons but each had appropriate pieces of flair that told me that they were creative, ambitious and ready to win Project Runway cut my hair.

0404090837As we went upstairs we lined up at a reception desk where each of us confirmed our appointments for a second time while signing legal waivers. I was getting my haircut by a student, not a master- so they probably didn’t want me suing them if I were to lose all my friends, my job, and any chance of meeting ladies because of a bad haircut. I eagerly signed- anxious to become somebody’s guinea pig.

They lined us up against the wall as I checked out the soldiers of style gulping down coffee and gossiping before getting their assignments from a teacher. I took a look at the group and realized I was one of two guys that were getting haircuts. So much for not feeling emasculated. Each of the stylists were handed slips of paper and proceeded to call out names. I heard my name called over the music of my iPod and I walked over to a girl who looked like MIA. Her name was Isabel and she had long dark hair and wasn’t wearing pants- she was donning that leggings and a really long sweater look that told me she was trendy and “with it.” She wore a black scarf around her neck and had a pair of brown leather boots then stopped at her kneecaps.  Yes I was checking my stylist out and I have to say it was the first time I’ve done that. Usually the nice Asian ladies at the Hair Cuttery don’t get that kind of reaction from me.

0404090838She walked me across the room and sat me down. We then had a short discussion about my hair that was more in-depth than the usual two sentences I give my usual stylist. She was took notes of what I said and tossed a couple ideas out that she shared with a supervisor. It was funny being a visual aid for the student who opened with, “Patrick likes to wear his hair short. He usually doesn’t do a lot to his hair on a daily basis so today we’re going to…” Now I definitely felt like I was on a reality show.

The supervisor listened, agreed, and signed her sheet. She then asked if I wanted  scalp massage. “It’s part of the Aveda experience,” she replied when she saw my quizzical reaction. Of course I agreed and she presented a sample of oils and got to work. Scissors have yet to touch my hair and I was already liking what I saw.

After the rub down she shampooed my hair with some kind of exfoliating shampoo that she was excited to try, “I haven’t gotten to use this one yet so I’m excited to see how it works.”

We then got to business of actual hair cutting. She opened a black case that looked suitable for a fine cigar or a 9mm. It held a pair of scissors that she used to attack my hair.

Unlike my usual haircuts which are often a mindless speed through of chopping different lengths of hair, Isabel’s work resembled an artist attacking a canvas. Her cuts were calculated as I saw her work on my hair carefully and delicately. “We are all perfectionists here,” she told me while pulling strands of hair and measuring them up, “some people think they can come here and get a cut in an hour but we want to do a good job and we pay attention to detail.”

The cut lasted two hours but it feel like two hours. I was fascinated to see the transformation of my hair that was occurring at a slower pace than my past cuts. It gave me lots of chances to give feedback and hear my stylist arrive at all the same conclusions I usually hear when I get my haircut. “Wow your hair grows in fast,” she replied while trying to navigate my scalp.

After the cut was done a supervisor came over to inspect the results and answer a couple of questions she had about approaching different parts of my head. The supervisor showed her a couple of tips while finishing up the back of my head. Isabel and I then proceeded downstairs where I paid and parted ways. The cost of the cut wasn’t too much more than what I would pay at Hair Cuttery- and I felt it had higher upside to have an aspiring student get all creative with my head. Of course I did risk getting a bad cut from a beauty school dropout, but that was kind of adventure I was up for this month.

I was pretty happy with my cut and I would definitely recommend Aveda for anyone looking for a Salon experience at a discount- and is willing to gamble a little bit.


Aveda Institute
713 7th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 824-1690

Smithsonian Offers Extended Summer Hours

SS-20 on display at NASM*

SS-20 at NASM*

The three most popular museums on the Mall are now open from 10:00 AM through 7:30 PM daily (except when there’s a special event scheduled).  Hours apply at the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of American History, and the National Museum of Natural History until Labor day!  If you, like me, have still not been to visit the newfangled Star-Spangled Banner exhibit, or the Einstein Planetarium, or the new Ocean Hall, because you’re just too tired after a hard week’s work to fight the crowds on the weekend – now is your chance!

I have taken full advantage of the later hours (11:30 AM – 7:00 PM daily) at the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum on 8th Street.  It’s thisclose to my Metro stop, Gallery Place, so I visit quite often in the winter when I commute on the bus and train.  In the summer, I bike commute, and my ride takes me down the Mall past the three biggies each workday.  Now, when I’m overcome by the urge to visit the SS20 missile at the Air and Space Museum, I’ll be able to stop in on the way home.

So, DC, take advantage of your free museums, and if you’ve got any touristy visitors coming this summer, be sure to let them know!

*photo by flickr user ptufts, used under a Creative Commons license

DC Video: Cherry Blossom Madness In Metro

I couldn’t avoid the crowds as I tried to make my way to a Heat/Wizards game over at the Verizon Center. These were the crowds I had to put up with at Metro Center.


Now this is why I stay away from the Cherry Blossoms.

Daily DC Item: Explosions On Wendesday? I’m In!

"Glow In The Dark After Your Visit Kids!" courtesy of Flickr user krossbow

"Glow In The Dark After Your Visit Kids!" courtesy of Flickr user krossbow

Two television happenings for your perusal today.

First a number of my friends have forwarded an e-mail from the city about a fake explosion that is going to happen Wednesday morning, here’s the text of what I was sent:

Dear System Administrators:

For the filming of a TV pilot, there will be a simulated explosion on Wednesday, March 25 between 9:30 a.m. and noon near Key Bridge in the District. The explosion will produce a 20 to 30′ fireball that will last for approximately 2 minutes.
Please pass along this information to others as appropriate. The Department of Homeland Security and D.C. Police and Fire departments have been notified, along with the Washington Airports Authority. The Virginia State Patrol and Arlington Police Department will be contacted. If you have additional questions, contact Kathy Hollinger or Burt Warner with the DC Film Office at 202-727-6608.

The explosion will take place on the Potomac River just north of the Key Bridge and Jack’s Boathouse (K / Water Street, NW under the Whitehurst Freeway). In the scene to be filmed, there will be six (6) sculling boats on the Potomac River and one of them blows up.

CBS Paramount television is filming a pilot titled “Washington Field.” This is a new television series about the elite Washington field office of the FBI and a team of agents with exceptional and diverse skills who are called together for only the most critical cases.

Jeanne Saddler
Director, Office of Public Affairs
Metropolitan Washington

Sounds kinda rad- I might have to check it out if I have time…

but if explosions aren’t your thing then I ‘d like to turn your attention to the Craigslist posting that Frank shared with me. It’s for what sounds like another terrible dating show- but you can be in it!

DC Science Fair – Wow!


The fair was (appropriately) held on Pi day. Pixprops to pauladamsmith on Flickr.

Enrollment in the DC public school system may be down, but participation at the 63rd Annual DC Mathematics, Science, and Technology Fair was clearly up.  As I said last month, I’ve been going to this fair for more than 10 years, and I found this year to be one of the best (if not the best) turnouts I’ve seen.  

The staff was great, getting the projects in the right slots and coordinating the judges.  Even the food was tasty!  The kids were enthusiastic and many were well-versed on some sophisticated topics. Several presented their projects in more than one language, which really impressed me.  I was particularly pleased to see the parents taking an interest in the fair and their kids.  Okay, they did need to get off the floor so the judges could, you know, talk to their kids, but we’ll take interest over obedience any day.

Kudos to the folks from WRAIR who organized it all, the folks from McKinley Tech (which looked great), and especially all the judges who took time to come talk to our best and brightest.  Oh, and check out this bit from the Post for some great pictures!

Daily DC Item: Not Everybody Knows The Washington Monument


"Washington Monument" courtesy of Flickr user "CrimsonMage"

Can you believe there are some people out there that don’t know what The Washington Monument looks like?

In fact there are, albeit they are probably tourists from outside the United States and tourists that also don’t know who The President is.

I read an article in The Washington Post about plans for a new signage system on The Mall that would help identify the many attractions, everything from the Lincoln Memorial to the Jefferson. While the National Park Service sees the need to help direct and point out these places, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and local residents disagree.

The article goes through both arguments of the planned improvements, the Park Service would like to make The Mall more accessible for those that visit it, and others feel it may detract and that the landmarks are so famous that identification marks are not needed.

Isn’t it a tad presumptuous to think that everybody knows The DC monuments? Sure if anybody that lived in the city didn’t know these places we’d ask if they have been living in a cave. However we do need to consider that while word of these places have reached many countries and the tourists from these countries that visit, they may not know exactly the location of them or what they look like.

We have to come to terms that those outside the U.S. just aren’t as smart as us when it comes to knowing U.S Landmarks. What do you think?

Amtrak Revises Photo Policy

Union Station Interior

Union Station Interior*

In recent months, you may have read about photographers who have reported being harassed by Amtrak police/personnel, and sometimes even having their photos destroyed, while trying to work inside picturesque Union Station in DC.  Well, Photo District News just tweeted that Amtrak (in cooperation with the National Press Photographers’ Association [NPPA]) has finally revamped their photography policy and published new guidelines for everyone to follow, nationwide.  Hooray!

Best of all in my book, is the news that “[a]n important aspect of the new photo guideline says that while nothing in the new photo policy limits or expands the authority of Amtrak police to investigate what a photographer is doing, ‘the taking of photographs and/or video may not, in and of itself, rise to the level of reasonable suspicion or probable cause.'”  Many of us have seen innocent tourists get harassed around town, and it is nice to see someone acknowledge that tourists like to, you know, take pictures.

Now, Union Station (as well as many other stations and rights-of-way around the country) is operated, in part, by a private management company….which has been the source of much of the confusion inside Union Station.    And while Amtrak is trying to help us out, it looks like that confusion might continue.   Though Jones Lang LaSalle, the management company for the commercial section of the station, does have a published form to request Union Station as a film or photo production site (for movies or professional photo shoots), there’s still no stated policy about amateur photography inside the managed portion of the building….though the JLL website does contain a photo gallery.   Confusing!

As the NPPA’s counsel stated, “My only caution is that while Amtrak operates nationwide many of its stations and right-of-ways throughout the country are operated by an array of property management companies…Those companies may or may not adopt these guidelines. Unfortunately the public has no way of knowing that when all they see is the familiar Amtrak logo. I still strongly believe that regardless of the ownership public areas are considered a public forum where first amendment protections for photography would apply.”

So, shutterbugs, be on the lookout for zealous JLL security personnel when trying to shoot inside and around the station…and let us know if you notice any changes with the implementation of the new policy!

* Photo used under a Creative Commons License by flickr user morning_rumtea

Didn’t It Snow This Week?

dsc01940 Remember Monday? You know that day we were either happy to not have school, or somewhat cranky that we only had a two-hour delay at work. Ya that day it snowed… a lot. Now all of a sudden it’s 70 and wonderful outside. I went out to the Natural History Museum with friends and I just walked all over downtown without a coat on. That was only a week after I was bundled up trying to scrap ice off my car.

While it may have been nice this weekend, it looks like the weather is going to get cooler as we get back to work tomorrow. It won’t get back up to 70’s but it will stay above freezing at least.

That’s what I love about DC, we get a winter but it doesn’t stay too long for us to hate it.

Anybody else do anything interesting with the warm weather out?

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