Archive for the ‘Business and Money’ Category

New, Tamer Quarter Designs Shown Off


You can see the full designs via the Washington Post, but they feature Frederick Douglas, Benjamin Banneker and Duke Ellington, each in turn. They also feature the more pedestrian DC motto, “Justice for All” instead of the more appropriate “Taxation Without Representation.”

Keep eating

Photo courtesy of Rakka

On the heels of Free Ice Cream Day comes Baskin Robbins’ $0.31 scoop night, so you have no excuse not to continue your sucro-lacto overload. I don’t have a snazzy Google Map mashup to share with you but their online store locator will turn up one reasonably close to you, often inside a Dunkin Donuts location.

Maybe only interesting to me, but about ten years ago I did a little looking into Dunkin Donuts franchises. You had your choice at the time to purchase just the DD franchise or you could get a combined franchise with Baskin Robbins and/or TOGO, what they were then calling their sandwich shop. If you went with just the DD franchise you only had to have half a million cash on hand, for the trifecta it was close to a million. Entrepreneur magazine seems to think they’re worth it, though, with rankings consistently in the top 20.

Perhaps it’ll be interesting to the pro-localization set – According to the magazine’s profile not a single one of those Baskin Robbins’ is company owned, so any one you patronize is either owned by an individual or a group with a few stores. If you’re one of those people who gets their dainties in a wad over corporate coffee that might matter to you.
big ole ice cream cake, courtesy of Rakka

The Irony, She is a Fierce Mistress

A group of truckers was supposed to drive very slowly through DC during morning rush today in order to protest gas prices (by wasting it? I don’t get it.) and then go over to the Capitol to raise heck with the Congresscritters and Senators and demand a gas price cap.

Sadly, they got stuck in traffic on I-270, and missed morning rush.

I’m seriously laughing at my keyboard right now that they got screwed by the very force they intended to screw us all with. Surely, they’re going to be present today, messing with our street traffic for a bit, but at least they had the common decency to get stuck like the rest of us…

laugh in the face of recession

Perennial promoter of the art as well as the business of standup comedy, the DC Improv is announcing a monthly “Pay What You Can” night, in which tickets at the door cost… what you can pay for them. The first “Pay What You Can” night is one week from tonight, April 30th, and will feature Marc Maron. Tickets purchased in advance will still be regular price, but you can show up the night of and score a deal if there are any seats left. Additionally, the Improv will not be enforcing its usual 2-item minimum, making it an excellent opportunity to see professional standup in a great club on a budget. It’s a nice break from the $70 including fees you can expect to pay to see Lewis Black at the Warner next month. (Though, who am I kidding, I bought tickets to that too.)

Of course, while the Improv is a high-quality venue with professional, touring comics, that’s certainly not the only way to see great comedy on the cheap in DC. The Improv rents out its smaller lounge area to local comics and improv troupes, and you can check out the lineup right from the Improv’s ticketing system. And need I remind you of the many fine opportunities to see comedy in and around DC, ranging from free for most open mics to $10 for some of the locally-booked shows. Tonight, for example, you can catch some of my favorite local comics at The Awesome Room at McGinty’s in Silver Spring ($4 cover), and tomorrow head over to the Hotel Topaz on N Street for the no-cover open mic night there.

Metered Response

Photo courtesy of drewsaunders

D.C. Mayor Fenty put the kibosh on any further extensions for cabbies working in the District to install meters. Bottom line? Those cabdrivers have to have meters installed by May 1 or face a $1,000 fine each time they pick up a fare.

Now, I know what you’re all thinking – “All those cabbies are going to have meters installed in a week? But there’s like, a ton of them and only a few installation garages!”

You’d be correct.

So there’s an extension – but it’s not called an extension. I call it “a bone” that’s been thrown to the cabdrivers. Basically, if they’re caught without a meter between May 1 and May 31, then they’ll get a warning. If no meter by June 1, all those warnings will convert to the monetary fine. After June 1, the fines are enforced. This gives them an extra four weeks to get metering devices installed.

All this because Fenty won the court ruling yesterday that upheld the city’s plan to require time-and-distance meters, as opposed to the eons-old zone-fare-customer-ripoff system.

Hey, it’s a good thing.

Although I really suspect cab customers are going to be out of luck snagging a metered cab in May; with the constant temper-tantrums the cabbies have been throwing over this changeover, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to find many of them riding with dozens of warnings until June 1, in order to soak as many customers as possible.

Meantimes, the drivers are sending their lawyer to the D.C. Court of Appeals, in order to prevent scrapping the zone-ripoff system while the appeal is pending. We’ll see.

Cabs will be spot-checked in May and warnings handed out. Citizens can also report unmetered cabs. According to the press release put out by the mayor’s office, “Passengers who wish to file a complaint against an unmetered cab should obtain the taxicab driver’s name, company and license number and report it to the DC Taxicab Commission at (202) 645-6018 or”

I’ll stick to Metro and my own two feet until this mess is all over.

Cab stand at downtown Hyatt, courtesy of drewsaunders

Be a Hero: Give DC a Dollar.

I went through my huge tax planner this past week, delinquent as I always am about getting these things done on time. There’s a page toward the end with about a million different causes that I could choose to support with extra money on top of my taxes. Usually, I give during the year, not at tax time, so I just run my pen down the No column. However, if you live in the District, think about giving a buck or two to the DC Vote folks who got their name on the tax forms in DC this year:


Especially when Heroes star (and Save the Whales spokeswoman) Hayden Panettiere’s part of the pitch…

Nationals Open New Stadium in Dramatic Fashion

I couldn’t help but think, as Ryan Zimmerman rounded first, his fist triumphantly thrust in the air, that I would not have written the ending quite as well as it had come out. With the remaining crowd on their feet and cheering, despite the bitter cold and wind, the new ballpark became the Nationals new Home.

Left Field Crowd (Tight)

I arrived at the Stadium in 40 minutes today, some hour and twenty minutes more quickly than our Saturday debacle, and after making it through a thorough, yet friendly, search of my person and camera bag, it was onward into the stadium. The Braves were taking batting practice. The concourse was full of Nats Pack handing out game booklets and stadium information, as well as a number of photographers taking fan photos and capturing the new ballpark.

I settled into Section 108 to watch the Braves put on a hitting show. The ball was carrying well into the outfield, and several lucky fans got souvenirs to take home. Around 6, I headed up to get a Kielbasa and a Coke from the stand at the top of our section. There was a bit of a line, but 15 minutes later I had dinner and was a happy guy again. Tiff went for sodas around 6:30 and had a bit of a wait, but everything was happy for the most part. My frustration came at 7:15 when I waited 40 minutes for a Half-smoke All-the-way from the Nats Dogs concession. While the Ben’s Chili Bowl line was horrendous, the other hotdog stands still carry the signature half-smoke with Ben’s Chili, but the line was bad. It moved, sure, but sporadically, and it seemed that concession workers were still getting a feel for their roles, as I saw many people bumping into each other. The only thing they seemed to be short on was popcorn. Tasty as the half-smoke was, it wasn’t worth a 40 minute wait.

I hear the other lines were pretty long as well, but I suspect much will get better as we get further into the season.

The Nationals, despite a solid first inning of offense, went 24 batters out in a row, between their last hit in the 1st and Zimmerman’s homer with 2 outs in the 9th. I was hoping for a bit more offense out of the club. But, the pitching held true, and kept the Braves from doing little to catch up to the 2-0 lead. Lo Duca’s passed ball in the 9th was a real heartbreaker, and at least one guy in our row wondered what Rauch was doing on the mound instead of the Chief. But in the end, it didn’t matter. Part of me wondered, as my friend Ben said to me later, if we weren’t all in some shared hallucination, seeing what our minds wanted to happen, instead of some sadder truth. I’m thankful it was real.

Row of Seats Asking for a Ball Beer Man Darryl Waiting for a Ball

Let Teddy Win! Nats Pack Girl Warehouse Bunting Left Field Concessions

Read on for a status report on the ballpark

Kaine Signs Tax Refunds

If you paid a tax to have your car inspected, or for a rental car, or for selling your house, you’re getting it all back. The Supreme Court of Virginia decided that those taxes were unconstitutionally assessed and collected and should be returned to those who paid them. Here’s the skinny on what you’re getting back, when:

– If it was DMV-related, the DMV will be writing you a check (isn’t that a nice turn of events?) some time soon, but the schedule won’t be out until the first of April. This includes the 1% initial registration fee, as well as the $10 regional registration fee.

– If it was related to your house, the Clerks of the Circuit Courts will settle with the settlement agents within 60 days, who will then in turn refund anyone who paid the “congestion relief fee.”

– If it was a 2% vehicle rental tax, a 2% “transient occupancy tax” (I think that’s a hotel tax, it might be also applicable if you put up a hobo at any point and were taxed thereupon.) or a 5% sales tax on motor vehicle repair, or a $10 safety inspection fee, then your money is going to the Unclaimed Property Division of the Department of the Treasury. You can request refunds from them, but there’s a set of guidelines forthcoming on how that’s all going to work.

Sounds complicated? It’s probably intended to be that way, so that the State can keep your money because you won’t go through the hoops.

XM-Sirius Merger Approved by DOJ

This just in, DC-based XM and New York-based Sirius’s planned merger has been approved by the Department of Justice, meaning that only the FCC can step in to stop the merger between the two satellite radio companies. I’m not sure if it’s been said yet where the new company will be based, but I suspect that XM’s Florida Avenue facility will remain in place as part of the new network’s planned operations center.


Photo courtesy of mac_vegetarian

The day after the Washington Post reports that the Amsterdam Falafel Shop in Adams Morgan will accept Euros for payment there’s a story linked in BoingBoing about how money changers in Amsterdam will not accept dollars.

Happily you can still exchange your dollars for the delicious food at the Amsterdam Falafel Shop. Yum.

Homemade Falafel & Pita Bread, courtesy of mac_vegetarian

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