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Free First Night for Active Military

If you’re a military family man or woman home for New Year’s and looking for an event outside the home, First Night is offering free admission for you and reduced entry for your family.[pdf] Just bring appropriate identification to the Embassy Suites Hotel at 1900 Diagonal Road. If you’ve got a Forecast magazine hanging about there’s supposed to be coupons in it as well.

With admission $15 for adults and free for kids under 12 I don’t know just how cheap “reduced” is – they don’t specify – but a buck’s a buck. If you think you might be interested, the map of the First Night options is here and the program is here.

Thanks to James from Atlanta for the heads-up on the Alexandria First Night website.

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A Bad Sign at the Bling Bling Giant

Walking into the Bling Bling Giant for last minute New Years Eve shopping, this empty cart rack is a bad sign.

A sign of a packed grocery store that shocks me. Why are so many folks shopping today. Are you?

I am here because my fridge is empty after two weeks vacation in Puerto Rico. But why is everyone else here?

Don’t they have Monday and maybe Tuesday to shop too?

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Stuck inside Toronto with the Arlington blues again

It’s snowing here in Toronto. Not bad, mind you, but any snow at all means it’s colder than I like. I just looked at the Arlington weather predictions and saw a high of 55 for today. Only two more days before I get back to decent weather and grits for breakfast.

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Right Place, Right Time

While browsing through photos of DC using one of my favorite Flickr tools, I did a double take when I saw this shot. Maybe I’m the only one who hasn’t seen a ginormous chopper landing on the White House lawn, but it’s a scene straight from the movies. It’s as if they were filming the next Tom Clancy film and Jack Ryan was being airlifted to Andrews to catch the next plane to North Korea. Or maybe Iran? You know, one of those “Axis of Evil” countries.

Seriously, kudos to Martin Brossman for being at the right place at the right time…with his camera!

On a side note, I just received a new ND filter in the mail from B&H today that I can’t wait to play with. Neutral Density filters allow less light into your lens allowing for longer exposures. This particular filter will let me take an incredibly long exposure during in the middle of the day, for the effect….well you’ll just have to wait and see. Stay tuned!

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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great moments in bad decisions

The story about the guy who got drunk on last night’s United Flight 1295 from DC to Fort Myers and then threw a tantrum is amusing, but by itself not particularly newsworthy. Even the fact that he hit another passenger during his alcohol-fueled hissy-fit isn’t that notable.

Why am I writing about it?

The passenger this moron hit is a federal air marshal. Genius, pure genius.

Even better? The passenger, Andrew Kowalczyk, leaned over to the OTHER marshal on the flight right before he did it and said, “I don’t know who this guy in front of me thinks he is, but I’m going to whoop his ass.”

Mr. Kowalczyk was arrested when the plane landed after having been “isolated in first class” for the remainder of the flight. First class?! That’s not much of a punishment. Shove his belligerent ass into coach between the smelly guy and the gaggle of screaming children.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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My DC Holiday Pit Stop

Today is my DC Holiday Pit Stop, a relaxing one-day respite. This year we decided to do the Dreaded Double, the Equitable Split – two Christmases, one with my family, one with his. We just returned last night from Phase One: Florida, and tomorrow depart for Phase Two: Pennsylvania. I know I’m not alone in doing this kind of holiday, and I certainly am happy I’m not traveling with kids or cats or dogs (we saw at least one cat, six dogs, and countless babies in the airports – I don’t know how people do it).

So we’re spending a decadent day lolling around, sleeping the morning away (yes, I slept til a slothful 1pm!), breaking for a sushi lunch at Thai Chef, stopping in for hair products at VSL, writing on my laptop while listening to drum-n-bass, the usual ridiculous urban cliches. All necessary antidotes, and a preparation to leave again.

It’s always fascinating to leave DC for completely different environments. The return feels like a re-entry from outer space or deep sea diving. Neither of which I’ve actually ever done, so as usual I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. But indulge me here in a few comparisons.

The difference between the airport security lines of DCA vs. RSW, for one. At DCA, people go through the security lines with a jaded resignation. Everyone looks slightly tense as they remove their shoes and coats and hand grenades, grumbling at the newbie travelers who whine to the TSA reps about why they have to take off their hoodies and flip-flops. It’s a slow shuffle, a cattle call, a death march.

At RSW (that’s Fort Myers, FL) it’s like a game. Everyone’s cheerful, from the teens joking with the laughing guards, to the TSA rep standing in front of a table of samples of what not to bring in your carry-on, smiling and gesturing like an aged Vanna White. People are practically skipping through the lines. Maybe they really do put soma in the water down there.

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Gerald Ford, 38th POTUS – Dead at 93

My first president (being born in ’75), died on Tuesday. Albeit he took over in a time of crisis, both during a war and the defiling of an office, he rose above his station and led the country forward. I’m sure there will be a number of obits regarding his life over the next few days, but somebody who wasn’t necessarily remembered as “great” during his term, should be remembered fondly today. Someone so connected to this city, someone who changed this city so much.

LA Times – AP Obituary

CNN Coverage

WaPo Obituary

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Why you should support alternative energy sources

shakerscollection.jpgIt’s that time of year again. The annual rite of passage of getting “toasted” on New Years, with yourself and/or your significant other. It seems the WaPo likes to publish the fun stories late in the evening, like this one about the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (Minnesota) who, besides making that gasoline additive we all know and love, as a byproduct, with some cajoling of new equipment, hi-test Vodka!

Now that’s some pretty, hiccup, cool ingenuity, burp! I wonder what other flavors they’ll come up with. Just hopefully you’ll get out of the party without having gasoline breath!

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Holiday Travel at National Airport: A Welcome Relief

I have to say that flying out of DCA is a breeze, at least in my experience. I am working with a skewed set of comparisons, though, so this may not be a fair assessment. Even during the holiday rush a few days ago, the security personnel were very friendly, wishing me and my million or so traveling companions that day a good flight and hustling us through in a speedy manor. My basis of comparison may not be fair. I have flown extensively out of airports in Boston, Providence and Hartford in the last several years and up there the security people seem about as willing to do a cavity search as scan your carry-on bags. It’s like they are itching for a fight sometimes.

At any rate, it’s good to be someplace where the security folks are good to people and the general feeling is positive, or at least neutral. Usually neutral is about as good as it gets but this time I was delighted to meet such friendly folks.

I just hope that when I return home to DC in a few days that things go even half as smoothly and that I am eventually reunited with my bags at the end of this long trip I am on!

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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How Stupid Do You Have To Be

Okay, so this is last Friday news… and to those of you who read Attrition.org, it’s even older news… but it seems the news outlets finally discovered it and put a name with the nom-de-plume… although it wasn’t that hard…

You see, with the election season coming full-steam ahead, it seems a certain Congressional staffer wanted to change his grades at his higher-education institution so his resume would seem even more perfect (I never saw the original, but if it was paired with a stint at 7-11, he need all the help he could get). The soon to be communications director for Representative Denny Rehberg (R-Montana), Todd Shriber, contacted the caustic staff of Attrition to help him hack into the university computers of his alma-mater. Maybe because he didn’t read close enough (it’s official title is Attrition On-Line, not to be confused with America On-Line… which enough do)… but he got led along for months, including a request for photos of pigeons and squirrels

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Watch those roads

Heard it on the radio earlier today – VDOT’s going to have a fair number of lane closures on I-395 between now and the weekend, when they’ll pause again for holiday traffic. Hopefully you’re taking some much-deserved time off and don’t need to be anywhere in a hurry, but if you do – plan ahead.

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Hello All!

Well, Hello everybody, and namely those regular Metblog readers. I figured I’d slip in my “hello” under the radar of the “holidays” (and aren’t there so many of them) to all those dilligent readers who don’t have the local “use or loose” and are stuck at work this week.

As a slight introduction, I’ve been a DC area resident off and on since the early 1990s (enough to see the changes), and have firmly ensconced myself in the various roles of the area (single/married, non-profit/government/private-sector, scene-ster/old-guy) and have come to love all that was, is, and can be DC. I hope the folks here will tolerate the new/old blood. I’m not sure I’m the regular mold folks may be expecting, more of a lurker than a pontificator but definitely somebody who has something to say now and again.

I accept Tom’s and the rest of the DC Metroblog’s staff challenge to come up with those pithy three articles a week and hope my perspective on the area, it’s life, culture, and of course, politics, may be fun and entertaining. Glad to join the team, and hope to see you all in the “bitsphere” in the coming weeks.

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Happy Holidays from Metroblogging DC

Happy Holidays from the Authors of Metroblogging DC. May your season be one of joy, peace, good will and good friends and family. The photos here are from various flickrstreams of our authors, and some that you have posted to our Flickr Group. Thanks especially to Max Cook, Maria K., bossa67 and Doug Clifton.

The music is Sufjan Stevens’ Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming, and is my favorite version of my favorite Christmas carol.

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Did the WB have a fire sale?

I’ll have a writeup about our experience seeing She Loves Me later today, I hope (executive summary: very good, you should go, it’s the last week) but for the moment I’ll just comment on Arena Stage’s odd advertising.

Uh, what? Did they pick this up at a white elephant sale when the now-defunct WB network dumped their old collateral before becoming the CW? From a 2004 (when this sucked the first time) writeup: “During tonight’s shows, the WB had the words “Fresh Episode” in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Hmm… Is that just fresh as in new or fresh as in “funky fresh”?”

Seriously Arena: ditch this phrase. It was lame when it was original, ie, not now that you’re using it.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

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Rastafarian Corporation

Thievery Corporation

If you’re an electronica music fan like I am, and you know your DC bands, then of course you love Thievery Corporation. Even if you don’t live in DC and you’ve seen such movies as Garden State, you’ve heard their music and chances are you liked it.

I attended their concert at the 9:30 Club last night, part of an unprecedented four night, sold out performance that rocked the club down to its timbers (should have brought my ear plugs). Part of the draw to TC for me is that they appeal to so many different audiences due to the fact that they incorporate so many different sounds in their music. In attendance last night were hip hop dudes, yuppie suburbanites, and even people over the age of 50. Tell me, what concert are you going to see a mix like that? Jay Z? Kenny G? Neil D? I think not.

While the energy of last night’s performance was amazing, it slowly turned into a reggae festival. Don’t get me wrong, I like reggae as much as the next freedom fighter, but I can only take so much of it. My friend and I decided to cut it short after the 18th ear drum pounding, dreadlock flinging, reggae-esque song. Overall, there were some amazing guest singer performances and for those of you who were lucky enough to see one of their shows, how about that belly dancer, huh?

PS – Sorry for the low quality photo. Camera phones are not cut out for concert photography (or much else for that matter).

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Reason #496 to Love Maryland: Everclear

everclear.jpg You can get a lot of things in Virginia and in DC, but one thing you can’t get is Everclear. It’s 190 proof, highly flammable, and only available in Maryland. So, as I was out on a client visit anyhow, I stopped by a liquor store on the way home and picked up a full handle of the stuff. Now, before you call out for an intervention, or send the Alcoholics’ Anonymous SWAT team to my house, I’ve got good reason to need the stuff: Limoncello. We’re making a big batch for New Years’ this year, and that’s the primary ingredient, beside the 15 lemons.

It may force you to head outside the district, Wayan, but getting the good liquors requires a trip outside the District, as VA and DC tend not to sell the really good stuff in their state-run operations.

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Feast of Seven Fishes

My grandmother’s grandfather got off the boat from Italy, settled in Pittsburgh, and pretty much never went anywhere else. Neither did most of his descendants. So even though “Baxendell” is about the least Italian name you’ll hear, and even though I look less Italian than almost anyone you know, it’s the Italian part of my family that I grew up around, and it’s their traditions I associate most with holidays.

So I was delighted to see in my Daily Candy email this morning that Dino in Cleveland Park will be offering a traditional, family-style Feast of Seven Fishes this weekend.

Christmas Eve used to be a day of fasting in the Catholic tradition, and no meat could be eaten. With Italy being a big ol’ peninsula with lots of coast, fish was easy to get, so families started making it the centerpiece of their celebratory meal, of course winding up in time for Midnight Mass. The menu varied from village to village and family to family, and of course the tradition carried over to Italian Americans as well. The fasting requirement has been lifted from Christmas Eve, but the feast tradition remains.

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Taxi Mafia Worse Than DC

This would be a taxi in Old San Juan, the capitol of Puerto Rico. Guess how much it is for a ride around their “Zone 1″?

$10. And then it jumps up by $5 at the mystery “zone” lines like in DC.

Its pretty much at least $20 for a Old San Juan to anywhere local trip each way.

The only bonus? Like in DC, longer rides are somewhat cheaper. Across the island is $80 which you can share with as many people that can fit into the van.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs