Archive for September, 2006

Digital Hart


The Hart senate building has gone digital. Now when you enter the huge box of a building there are two huge, flatbed screens that scroll and interact with visitors. They direct you to the office you need with all the details. They are big enough for those with visual limitations to read. They are totally cool. Totally necessary. Finally technology as struck the Hart. I bet we start seeing them on the Mall in the next five years.

Magical Montgomery

But wait, I’m not done yet! After catching the train home from the National Book Festival and Garden, on arriving back in Silver Spring I had to check out the Magical Montgomery art festival.

With over a 100 booths featuring local and regional artists, photographers, crafts and organizations representing local theater, film, dance and community interests, I was surprised at how much there was to take in.

Two stages of music and other performances offered entertainment to the large crowd (I showed up just in time for the Ziva Spanish Dance Ensemble, olé!). There was plenty of street food to choose from, and kids had their pick of activities—face painting, belly dancing lessons, you name it.

The wackiest thing I saw was this guy’s (he might as well have been straight out of a Grateful Dead concert) display of “artcars,” the most elaborate was a truck and it almost induced a flashback. I didn’t catch many details or get any good pics because kids had the thing surrounded.

Phew! What a day. Peace…

New National Garden

As long as I was down on the Mall for the National Book Festival, I decided to stroll over to have a look at the brand new National Garden, which is located between the Botanical Garden conservatory (map) and the National Museum of the American Indian.

A rare privately funded project, some 20 years elapsed from conception until yesterday’s ribbon cutting ceremony which was hosted by the First Lady.

The centerpiece of the three-acre site is the Rose Garden (the rose was selected by Congress as the national flower in 1986). Other featured areas include the Water Garden, a Regional Garden of native Mid-Atlantic flora, the Butterfly Garden, a canopied Lawn Terrace for special events, and an exhibit of winning children’s depictions of state flowers. Today was Family Fun Day with lots of activities for kids and live music on the Lawn Terrace. More information about the history and development of the National Garden can found at the Washington Post article National Garden Blooms at Last.

Before returning to the Book Festival, I needed some energy so I stopped across the street at the NMAI Mitsitam (Let’s eat!) Café. Although overpriced, the food there is outstanding and you can select from daily specials that represent the cuisine of native peoples from South, Central and North America.

National Book Festival


Although somewhat chilly temperatures and light rain may have dampened attendance at this year’s National Book Festival, by mid-afternoon the rain was gone and the sun began peeking through. By the time I left, the Smithsonian Metro station was packed.

The festival is held on the National Mall between 7th Street and 14th. This was my first visit and I arrived just in time to catch George Palelcanos’ presentation at the Mysteries and Thrillers pavilion. Among other topics, he discussed some of his more famous characters including Derek Strange and Terry Quinn, how writing for TV and film differs from novels, and the recent upswing in violent crime in DC. Genres at other pavilions included Fiction and Fantasy, History and Biography, Home and Family, and Poetry.

Children and teens were well represented including the Let’s Read America pavilion, sponsored by PBS. On the 7th Street side of the event you could purchase books from any of the authors, and if you wanted your copy autographed, 16 Book Signing tents were located right next door.

I didn’t stick around for what I suspected would be the biggest draw of the day—Bob Woodward. A legendary Washington Post reporter and editor, co-author of All the President’s Men, and the author of the latest in a series of books about the Bush administration, State of Denial, which is stirring up plenty of reaction from the White House.

CSPAN and BookTV were on hand to provide live broadcasts of selected presentations. Check your local cable/satellite listings for rebroadcasts that begin this evening.

Saturday at Meze

So while Meze is great on Tuesday’s half priced wine nights, it ain’t bad on Saturday nights either.

This would be tonight’s supermodel contingent: Amy and Eve. Both are clock stopping hot and both just gave me a kiss.

Both would also be the reason that I had National tickets to give away. Don’t you agree?

Massive Disappointment


OK, maybe not massive, but the Massive Attack concert last night at the 9:30 Club was a bit of a let down. Don’t get me wrong, I really do like the band, but after about 5 or 6 songs my friend and I decided to leave. Their performance seemed very monotone, and if it weren’t for the impressive light show that looked as if it had been engineered by Clark Griswald, you would have been left with some dudes (and a tiny soft voiced lady) jamming with very little chord progression and creativity. I guess they thought that having a lead vocalist in a sailor’s jacket with a British accent would make them more enticing – uh, I don’t think so. What made it even more of a let down was the $40 ticket price which is what I’d expect to pay for a big name band. If you compare this concert to the last one I saw there (Zero 7), it’s like comparing a 7 Eleven hot dog to a filet at The Palm….or something like that.

Oh well, you live, you learn.

Death in the House

Or, death in my house. We thought, at first, that the smell was that of a rouge mouse my cat had snagged. She’s 17, so that wasn’t much of a possibility. After two days of searching under every dresser, rug, cat box, closet, chest, bookcase and radiator we found zero mouses. Nada. We did find two cockroaches from my last attempt to de-bugafy my house. I figure that so far I’d paid about $1.15 per cockroach since the fogger cost me $10.35.

Our failure could only mean one thing. The 85 year-old man in our basement apartment was slowly making his presence, or lack of it, known through the wooden floor that separates us.

Hill Salaries, do they make more than you?

As we all know, the easiest way to tell if a person is better than you or not is by seeing who makes more money. That’s what makes Legistorm such a nice tool for comparing your self-worth to those who work on the Hill. According to the Washington Post this information has always been available publicly under the law, albeit in books that require schlepping down to the Hill. But now with Legistorm, you can look up everyone’s salary information online pretty easily by the person’s last name, the Representative or Senator who they work for, committee, leadership office, administrative office, or state. The salary numbers are reported quarterly so you have to do a little adding to find the annual salary, plus the Washington Post article reports that some staffers say they may include bonus figures that don’t accurately reflect the base annual salary. It also doesn’t factor in any bribes or under-the-table goodies provided by lobbyists.

Since Hill salaries are at the sole discretion of individual Congressmen, this is a great way to tell if your personal Representative is cheap. Is he saving the taxpayers money by paying his LAs slave wages, or is he bloating the government budget by paying a living wage? Now you can find out. The only thing that this database is really lacking is the salary information on all the lobbyists, lawyers, contractors, consultants, PR people, ad agencies, special interest group flacks, and all the other DC residents who help our Legislature come up will new bills. That info would be quite illuminating…

No Love for the Nationals?

Wow. So I post a “Get Free Nationals Tickets” caption contest yesteray and get not a single entry.

What gives DC? Was the contest too hard? Might you have difficulty laughing at me? My supermodels sure don’t.

It can’t be the mental challenge, this is a town of lawyers and government wonks. It must be a lack of love for the prize: four tickets to tonight’s Nationals vs. NY Mets 7pm game at RFK.

Does the next to last game of the season not call to you? Might the Section 445 and enjoying $6.50 Miller Lites be too overwhelming for you?

Step up, DC, the photo is just calling out for heckling…

Dominion Power, ever helpful…..

storm.jpg Remember that severe storm we had Thursday night? Well look what greeted me when I arrived home around eight o’clock that evening. I pulled into my driveway completely unaware of the downed tree and luckily stopped short of driving straight into the heart of it. According to local sources, i.e. my housemates, Dominion Power was contacted shortly after six o’clock and informed of the downed tree precariously perching on the power lines that feed into our house. We left the driveway clear in hopes that eventually, someone would come to remove the tree.

We were extremely luck not to be one of the 30,000 customers without power due to the high winds that swept through Thursday night. After hearing absolutely nought from Dominion Power by ten o’clock, we again called and informed customer service of the lingering problem. The frustrated, yet nice customer service representative informed us that someone would be out to remove the bothersome limb within 2-4 hours.

When I awoke Friday morning, I could still see the limb obstructing the driveway, and once again called Dominion Power to inquire as to the arrival time of the phantom employees who were scheduled to remove the giant limb from cutting off our power supply. The irked customer service representative, who apparently had been up all evening with a sick child and was in serious need of a coffee IV put me on hold for about twenty minutes before “dropping” my call. Well thank you most helpful Dominion Power, we greatly appreciate your assistance. Would it not be more costly for them to fix a downed line than to remove the offensive limb before it did any serious damage?

By five o’clock yesterday evening, we’d still heard no word from Dominion Power and the tree was still dangerously close to downing the power lines completely. Although the new television ads tell us not to touch downed power lines, nor anything in contact with said downed power lines, my housemates, with some help were able to remove the tree and heave it onto the front lawn.

Take that mister heavy-duty-rubber-gloved Dominion Power man.

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