Archive for the ‘Alexandria’ Category

It’s Free Scoop Day – Get Some Ice Cream!

Sure, it’s chilly out today, and maybe it feels more like late March than it does late April, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a little chilly in exchange for some free ice cream, does it? Ben & Jerry’s is giving out a free scoop of ice cream, for as long as their supply holds, in the greater world today. There are five B&J’s Scoop Shops in the District. Click on the pretty map for all the details.


There are a few outliers as well, including Old Town, Bethesda, and Fairfax, so zoom back if you’re out a bit further so you can get the ice cream love, too. Scooping starts at noon, be prepared to wait in a bit of a line.

We’ve All Got Something to Say

Photo courtesy of mj*laflaca

So you just finished reading the latest Grisham thriller, or stayed up all night because you couldn’t put down Amy Tan’s newest, and now you’re just itching to tell everyone about how awesome it was. Or what a terrible read it was, so don’t even bother. What options do you have?

Well, a lot, actually. You can find a forum or review site pretty much all over the web these days….except at the library.

Those days are over, at least in Alexandria.

The Alexandria Library now offers patrons and residents a chance to put down their own reviews and thoughts on nearly all of the library’s holdings, which includes books, movies, music, and other material found on the online catalog. The Library has included this functionality as another resource for people to get recommendations and reviews from other patrons on materials to check out.

“Our Library now has a truly interactive mechanism, completely integrated into our catalog,” said Rose Dawson, Director of Libraries. “We know that our patrons are already used to such interaction on many commercial Web sites, but our Library affords its patrons the ability to reserve materials online—and to get those materials at no charge.”

Accessing the catalog is easy. Go to the website and click on “Library Catalog” and start browsing. When you find something you’d like to offer a review on, just type it in. Keep in mind that you’ll need to register to the website in order to do so.

The interactivity of the online catalog is just one more step in building the community, and one that is appreciated from its patrons.

I love libraries, courtesy of mj*laflaca


Not cool.

Theft in and of itself isn’t cool at all, obviously. It just sucks moreso when it happens to organizations like ALIVE who are out to help the less fortunate.

Hopefully they’ll be able to replace everything they lost, and then some. If you’re interested in donating, you can go here for more information.

Clang Clang! Clang Clang!

Photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk

Attention, all you Ye Old Towne Alexandria tourists: the King Street Trolley is coming. Announced on the city’s website, the trolley will be running in 15 minute intervals from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the weekends, motoring between the King Street Metrorail and the waterfront. It will stop at all signed stops along King Street, which are about 2 blocks apart.

Oh, and it will ring a very annoying brass bell for as many times as the driver sees fit.

Here’s the rub, though: it’s not on rails (thank heaven). It’s not tied to an electric wire above. So…is it really a “trolley”? According to the press release, “the trolley sports a black and red exterior, rubber tires for a smooth ride, and adjustable paned windows.”

Don’t know about you folks, but from where I come from, that’s called a BUS.

Which is quite appropriate, actually, as the trolley will replace the DASH bus service that ran free on the weekends. The last DASH run will be discontinued after this Sunday’s service.

So let me get this straight….the city council approved and funded a trolley service for a route that’s sort of covered by an existing bus service, but with more frequent runs in a vehicle that isn’t really a trolley but more like a bus?

The service was approved as part of the city’s National Harbor Initiative and will complement the water taxi service offered from the National Harbor Development across the Mighty P. (That service, incidentally, also begins on April 1.) The City Council is hoping / expecting hundreds of new tourists visiting Old Town from these services and, I suspect, try to make it easier for DC residents to cross the river and dine on the Virginia side of the river. Which isn’t a bad thing, really. The shops and restaurants along King Street and the harbor are actually very nice and present excellent food (if a tad pricey).

We’re taking some friends from NYC down there over the next weekend (they’re here for the obvious DC event, the blossoms), so hopefully I can not only get a few photos of these beasties but maybe see if they do indeed alleviate traffic and cart more people down, as the Council hopes.

As long as that clanging bell doesn’t annoy me, that is…

Ode to Cartier Bresson, courtesy of Thomas Hawk

Foray Into Foreclosures, Part II

Photo courtesy of

Ok, so it’s been a couple of weeks since my last entry on house-hunting. I’d mentioned then we’d be scouring the I-95 corridor…

Well, nix that idea. Every time I think of commuting up that nightmare stretch of road, I get the shakes and want to vomit. Spending nearly a quarter of my day stuck in a metal cocoon (even if it is a SUV) with other hapless souls just sucks a bit more life out of me.

So I put my foot down. We’re gonna pass. Even the allure of half-price housing just doesn’t do it for me. The fuel cost alone would even out the mortgage savings.

That issue settled, we instead spent some time looking along the Fairfax County Parkway corridor (aka “Rt 7100” for you locals who think it’s a speedway).

Yes, yes, we’ll look at DC at some point, it’s on the list (looks at Wayan).

We’ve found nothing but depressing sites (save one corner lot). My question is to these faceless foreclosed souls is a simple one, really. Were you THAT greedy a few years back that you bought well above your means to the point that you had to play landlord for a bit? And did you ever hear about “tenant screening”? Using Craigslist doesn’t count, period. My God, these homes looked so abused and malformed… If they were children, I would’ve sworn we were in a Third World country.

I know that if you are trying to short sale, you think it excuses you from cleaning up the place. It doesn’t. It only makes me want to smack you and dissuades me from even considering your house as a viable purchase to save you from the bank. My sympathy turns from your hard-luck case to the sad state of your former home.

And I don’t have the extra $$$ to spend on cleaning up and re-fixing the house.

Good thing we have time to be picky. I’d hate to be doing this with only a month or two to find something.

What about you? Are you more inclined to consider a place that’s at least clean (or attempted as such)? Or is there something worse that turns you off a potential home sale?

For Sale, courtesy of

"I guess I would have bathed more often if there were females at Episcopal," – John McCain

Imagine my surprise at browsing the National Post last week while in Toronto and finding an article about a school in Alexandria. Episcopal High School is more fleshed out as an institution in this article, and John McCain’s youth at the school. It turns out, for example, that the school is much more than just the birthplace of McCain’s “Smokes for Kids” program.

From the article:

It was to this same campus, nearly 60 years ago, that a reckless, rootless Navy brat was consigned by his admiral father. You still can see the 14-year-old’s photo on the wall of the gymnasium, wiry and dark-haired and forced to sit still for the camera with the rest of the wrestlers: John S. McCain III, Episcopal High School Class of 1954, known to his friends, faculty, and enemies here as “the Punk.”

Check out the whole thing here.

George’s basement

I was flipping around area websites, looking for possibilities for the weekend (even though it’s supposed to be rather frigid, it’s nothing compared to my winters in Chicago) and stumbled upon this tidbit of info.

Seems that Mount Vernon has been capitalizing on the success of the recent Nicky Cage movie, National Treasure: Book of Secrets. If you’re not familiar with the movie, there’s a scene where our intrepid puzzle-solving hero (Cage) decides he needs to kidnap the President of the United States (played by Bruce Greenwood) and does so at a garden party at Mount Vernon. And it revolves around a ‘hidden passageway’ in one of the estate’s basement rooms.

When I first saw the movie, I do remember commenting to my wife afterwards that in all likelihood, we’ll see several D.C. sites jump on the ‘free’ marketing bandwagon and promote themselves along with the movie. And lo and behold, Mount Vernon did indeed.

This weekend is the last available date you can go visit the site for the scene. There’s no additional cost – it’s included in the regular admission and you can only visit that space on the weekend. General admission to Mount Vernon is around $13 for adults and is well worth the cost – it’s a beautiful estate right on the Potomac.

It’s interesting – as usual – how movies portray things that are out of context with the real world. The room used in the movie, according to the website, was actually “designated as the ‘Cellar Kitchen’ on a plan prepared by George Washington at the time he planned additions to both ends of the building in 1774. This space appears to have been used as a kitchen for the slaves assigned to serve the Washington household.”

No mention of a secret passage, however. And I would suggest if you go check it out, don’t try – I’ve a sneaking suspicion that Hollywood made it all up…

Tanker Fire at I-95 and Eisenhower Avenue

Yep, it’s going to be a mess for a while over there, so try to avoid that area if possible.

From the Arlington Alert system:

VDOT reports tanker fire on I-95 at Eisenhower Ave exit. Inner and outer loops blocked; responders on scene. Expect major delays.

Again, from Arlington Alert:

Traffic has reopened on the Beltway (I-95) near Eisenhower Ave. All Outer Loop lanes open, and 3 lanes of Inner Loop are open. Residual delays are still possible.

The Morning News: Wednesday is for Drinking Early Edition

DC Charter School Closing in a Month, Stranding 250

The Washington Academy, which serves 250 area children, is set to close in 30 days. It’s not clear how those kids are supposed to be absorbed into the schools system, as many neighborhood schools in that region are set to close if the chancellor’s plan is completed.

Georgetown Student/Staff Data Missing

If you’re currently a Georgetown Student, or work there, your identity may have been stolen yesterday, when a disk containing the records of the 38,000 students and staff of the University was taken from an office on campus. Georgetown is offering free credit monitoring for those affected. Give the University a call at 866-740-2458 or visit their identity site for more info.

More Rail News

Here starts the blame game. Rep. Jim Moran comes out swinging like it’s a little black boy near his car. Moran insists that this is clearly a political ploy to thwart democrats in Northern Virginia, and has nothing to do with potential risk. Meanwhile, the Examiner points out it could be about failing to resolve a series of technical problems in the proposal, that would have resulted in the failure to operate the proposed line.

Warm Hearts in the Snow

Alexandria has recently started its “Snow Buddies” program, which helps low-income elderly and disabled people by using volunteers to clear snow from their sidewalks and driveways. Interested in signing up to help? Need help with your shoveling? Please contact the Office of Citizen Assistance at (703) 838-4800.

I think this is a heck of an idea. Battling the elements is enough of a nightmare for those of us who are young, strong and able-bodied. I can’t imagine dealing with the hellish snow without my youthful strength and vigor.

Read on for the full press release:

The City of Alexandria and the Alexandria Volunteer Bureau (AVB) have teamed up on a program called “Snow Buddies,” to provide snow removal assistance for homeowners or occupants with low incomes who are elderly or disabled. The City and AVB will match eligible residents with volunteers who may shovel snow for those needing assistance.

Residents are strongly encouraged to apply for this program in advance to ensure that their sidewalks are cleared in a timely fashion to avoid fines and/or snow removal charges.

The City cannot guarantee that volunteers and/or assistance will be available during a snow emergency; however, during snow emergencies, the Office of Citizen Assistance (703.838.4800 or TTY 703.838.5056) is available to provide guidance to residents in need of snow removal.

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