An exploration of things to do in Arlington

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Heads Up: Where You Vote May be Changing

From the Sun Gazette:

County Board members on July 7 are slated to adjust the boundaries of four polling precincts and create the county's 50th precinct, in time for the Nov. 6 general election.
According to the Sun Gazette, the precincts affected will be Clarendon, Virginia Square, Aurora Hills, and Crystal City. A new precinct will also be created, called Crystal Plaza.

The rapid growth of the Wilson Boulevard corridor has already changed my polling place once. Right now I vote at Arlington Arts Center, but we'll see if these changes affect me. I'll just have to make sure I look out for my voting card before the election.

While there are no national races on the ballot this fall, every seat in the Virginia General Assembly is up for grabs, so it's a critical election for Virginia's future. Not only that, the chance to re-draw Congressional boundaries comes around again soon. The party wins control of the House of Delegates and Senate will have the upper hand in gerrymandering Congressional districts.

To learn more about registering to vote, visit the Arlington Voter Registration site!

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Thursday: Get New Details on Ballston Mini-Golf Plans

Big Ballston news from Steve over at the Buckingham Herald Trib:

A miniature golf course planned for the park at the corner of N. Glebe Road and N. Randolph Street, adjacent to the Ballston Common Mall parking garage, will be shown at this month’s Arlington County Sports Commission meeting Thursday, June 28, 7:00 p.m. at the Langston-Brown Community Center located at 2121 N. Culpepper Street.
Here's the Sports Commission's website, but it doesn't show any way to see the plans, contact commission members or register your opinion without actually showing up to the meeting.

I snapped the above photo of the proposed mini-golf site on my way home from dinner last night at Sangam, which I didn't realize has won the Taste of Arlington Grand Prize two years running! Congrats to Sangam.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Should Arlington Ban Smoking in Bars and Restaurants?

From the Washington Post:

After a heated and raucous public meeting, the Alexandria City Council voted unanimously yesterday to use its zoning powers to ban smoking in restaurants, an unusual tactic opponents said would lead to costly lawsuits.

Many states and cities, including Maryland and the District, have banned smoking in public places, but the Virginia legislature severely limits local authority in such issues. Alexandria has opted to use the power it does have -- in this case, control over land-use regulation -- to force restaurant owners to go smoke-free or lose their operating permits. It is the first jurisdiction in Virginia to
take such action.

Should the Arlington County Board take a similar approach to ban smoking here in Arlington? After all, President Bush's own surgeon general has declared, "The debate is over. [Secondhand smoke] causes disease and kills people."

While many Arlington restaurants have gone smoke-free -- the Arlington Civic Federation maintains a great list -- few popular bars are smoke-free. Arlington's most popular happy hour spots -- Rock Bottom, Carpool, Whitlow's, Front Page, Dr. Dremo's, Mister Days -- all allow smoking.

Should Arlington use its zoning powers to ban smoking in bars and restaurants, even at the risk of a lawsuit?

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Think Condo-Dwellers Can't Have Green Homes? Think Again.

UPDATE: Diana has a review over at Fresh AIRE.

While I'm taking care of What's Up Arlington in Eric's absence, you might notice some of my posts here bear striking similarities to posts from The Green Miles. I assure you this is not a cunning attempt at trickery, rather it is an attempt to keep me from going crazy trying to keep both blogs fresh. Don't think of it as duplication, think of it as recycling! It's practically environmentally friendly! Right? Right.

Anyway, here's a perfect event for all those condo-dwellers lining Wilson Boulevard. Find out how you can reduce the environmental footprint of your condo building!

Greening Your Condo Association
Monday, June 25, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Arlington County Central Library

Have you been looking for ways to make your condominium building more environmentally friendly? Thinking about upgrading your unit? There are many opportunities for condo associations to reduce their impact on the planet, make resident units more livable—and save money!

Come to this workshop and find out what you can do—from reducing energy use and carbon emissions to improving recycling participation, creating eco-friendly landscapes, and retrofitting for solar panels or green roofs. Learn about the benefits of conducting an energy audit. Consider the advantages of starting a community Eco Team. Information on County support programs will be provided.

* Location - Arlington County Central Library, 1015 North Quincy Street, Arlington, VA. Ballston and Virginia Square Orange line Metro stops

* This event is cosponsored by
Arlington County Fresh AIRE, Arlington County Green Home Choice Program, and Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment.

* To RSVP and for more information, contact Stella Tarnay at or 703-228-4792.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Miles Taking Care of the Homefront

I'm heading out to California - yippee! -- for a few weeks. Miles is going to be tending the blog for a few weeks. So stay tuned still for tips of things do in Arlington, stories, and perhaps Miles will even share some of his environmental tips and insights.

See you in a few weeks!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Saturday: Defending CRM's Trees

For Earth Day 2007, Community Role Models volunteers planted native trees in Arlington's Potomac Overlook Regional Park. But invasive plants grow much faster than saplings and for CRM's trees to have a good chance of survival, they need our help.

Join CRM volunteers as we remove invasive plants from a key ecological spot in Potomac Overlook from 10am-noon. Park in the lot, then walk to the nature center. Look for volunteers wearing CRM t-shirts.

Register now at the CRM website! Be sure to enter your phone number so we can give you a call in case we're rained out.

Once the cleanup is finished, we'll get brunch at Clarendon Grill, home of Arlington's best omelets as well as $2 bloody marys and mimosas.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Upton Hill Upgrades: Big New Waterslides and a Big Question

I went to Upton Hill Regional Park on Saturday night with The Green Girlfriend for a round of mini-golf and a few swings in the batting cages. Upton Hill is advertised as the world's longest mini-golf course. For the record, she beat me at golf and took better swings in the cages.

We bought a mini-golf 10-game season pass, which will give us ten rounds for the price of six ($38). We noticed a picture of big waterslides on the scorecard, prompting The Green Girlfriend to ask, "I wonder what park has those?"

Then we got to the 5th hole and realized we were less than 100 yards from them. The mini golf course is built around a big hill, and we got a nice view of the new waterslides, apparently installed over the winter.

Admission to the pool and slides is $7.50, but only $4.50 if you want to slip over for a quick dip after work. But you'd have to do it early in the evening as they close at 7pm.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you much more about the new waterslides. Even though they've apparently been open since Memorial Day, you can't find much information about them or any pictures of them on the Upton Hill's website. The waterpark's page still says "Information Coming Soon!"

Much as I enjoyed seeing the new additions, the more I thought about them, the more they raised a big question:

If I haven't heard about the park's renovations, who has?

I go to Upton Hill often, buying a mini-golf season pass every year and using the batting cages regularly. I've also paid my way into the pool. I write at two different Arlington blogs. I'm also chair of Arlington County's Community Role Models program, designed to strengthen the bond between Arlington young professionals and their community.

Yet if I hadn't had a hankering for mini-golf, I would have no idea this new offering was right down the street.

Was there any kind of kick-off event? A Google News search turns up nothing on the waterslides.

Look, I'm not saying I should get a phone call from the County Board Chair and Governor every day to get debriefed on the latest Arlington happenings. But are the county and the regional park authority missing a golden opportunity to tell Arlington residents, "We have more to offer than just the bars of Ballston and Clarendon"?

UPDATE: Here's a Washington Post article on the renovations! Thanks to reader Daniel for catching this, I was out of town this weekend and missed it!


Monday, June 18, 2007

All the Arlington News You Care About - 6/18

Best Cities for Young Singles

Kiplinger's cites Arlington as one of the best cities for young singles.

Cherrydale Fire Station Relocation Takes Yet Another Turn

Probably not originally an interesting story, but there's been a lot of drama behind this fire station.

Crispy Pork Belly With Chili-Basil

A good recommendation from the Post regarding one of my favorite restaurants in Arlington - Bangkok 54

UK gov't promotes dumb terminals to cut global warming

OK, this isn't about Arlington, but given Arlington's interest in being "green", I thought this was an interesting story.

D.C. Hears Our Cries, Plans for Bicycle Rental Program
Again, not technically about Arlington, but I've heard some buzz about something like this potentially in Arlington, so I found this interesting.

To Boldly Go Beyond Vanilla

An article about Arlington trying to get more interesting architecture. I'm particularly found of some of the quotes from the County's chief architect, including this one: "Look at this one. It looks like something out of the Soviet Union"

Fit: By Land and Sea

Did anybody check out the bike racing action at Crystal City this weekend?


Friday, June 15, 2007

7 Things to Get You Through the Weekend

  1. Sing the blues at the Columbia Pike Blues Festival - as featured in What's Up Arlington! - check out some great blues, Sunday, June 17, Noon - 6 PM.

  2. Picnic and live outdoor dance performance (this is a great date!). Check out Bowen McCauly Dance at Lubber Run Amphitheatre. Grab some food from Cassat's at the amphitheatre before the show, make your picnic and enjoy the evening.

  3. Get yourself some culture! Check out Mongolian-born pianist Nasanbayr Shuree Ayurgina for an evening of both Mongolian music and Western classical music. Here's a bit from the press release that sounds interesting:
    In addition to Shuree’s artistry on the piano, audiences also will be captivated by the Mongolian tradition of guttural “overtone singing” or Khoomij. A common feature of Siberian peoples as well as the Kazakhs, and various tribes from central Asia, these songs are commonly performed during social events. The Mongols call their overtone singing hoomij (throat, pharynx). The singer creates a constant pitch base note (a kind of ‘drone’), at the same time modulates selected overtones to create a second harmonic stream of notes. The two techniques represented in this concert will be kharkhira (lung) and tovonkhiin (throat) singing. Vocalists use their mouth, teeth, tongue, throat, nose and lips to vary sound and timbre, always maintaining two distinct tones simultaneously.

  4. Warm up that softball swing and get that team together. Registration for Arlington Athletic and Social League softball ends Thursday, June 21.

  5. Ride your bike or ride a tike at Crystal City Classic. Join one of the amateur races or watch some well-known Arlingtonians make fools of themselves in the tricycle race. Saturday, June 16.

  6. Lend a hand. Meet cool people with the CRM Community Residences Clean-Up.

  7. Be the art. Feel the art. Save the Planet.
    CO2LED is a temporary public art project commissioned by Arlington Cultural Affairs as part of the 2007 Planet Arlington World Music Festival. Developed by artists Butch Anthony, Robert Gay and Jack Sanders, the project will be comprised of special plantings ad solar powered LED atop nearly 1,000 poles. This swarm of color and light will be visible night and day at the traffic island just north of Meade Street Bridge and adjacent to Dark Star Park in Rosslyn, and at various satellite locations around the County, beginning in mid-June and continuing through Labor Day. Installation will begin June 6 and will take about 10 days.

Don't' forget, if you're not getting the What's Up Arlington! e-newsletter, you're missing out. Delivered straight to your inbox every two weeks, this FREE e-newsletter will give you four highlights of things to do in Arlington. View a sample and SUBSCRIBE here.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Saturday: CRM Community Residences Cleanup

On Saturday (June 16th) Community Role Models is helping to clean up and spruce up one of the houses run by Community Residences. This non-profit provides services to people with a wide range of disabilities, working to promote independent community living.

Each spring these houses need the usual annual maintenance, and CRM is stepping up and helping out. Volunteers should meet at the house at 5947 N. 8th Road between 9 and 10 am. CRM and Community Residences will provide all the materials you need to help get this house and yard looking good, so just bring yourself, your friends, and a little elbow grease!

The attached photo is from the Community Residences cleanup last year and was one of the first times Eric & I hung out. He's on the right in the red hat (I'm behind the camera). (UPDATE: Read Eric's review of the 2006 event here.)

After the work is done, CRM has arranged to have lunch catered by Lebanese Taverna. If you're interested, please sign up now. CRM still needs more volunteers, so please consider signing up on your own or with a group of friends!

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Arlington = Hook Up Heaven?

So, Kiplinger's says Arlington is one of the best cities for young singles. Citing the large number of people age 20-34 (approximately 25%) Kiplinger's states:
The suburbs around D.C. are growing more like the city. Just across the Potomac River from D.C., Arlington is creating "urban villages" that are drawing young singles to the area.

Props to Kiplinger's for also citing one of the great places in Arlington, Lost Dog Cafe,

Try the "Cowgirl," one of 50 specialty sandwiches at Lost Dog Cafe, in Arlington, Va., where the menu boasts more than 200 beers from 18 countries.

The City Paper has also recently noted the Post's proclivity to tout Arlington as a place for singles. From the post, but as quoted in the City Paper:

“Mike Evans and his friends…had plenty of other activities to choose from—all within walking distance. There was open-mic night at Iota Club & Cafe, cooking lessons at Fresh Fields, a singles mixer at Whitlow’s on Wilson, movies, even shopping for used records and vintage clothes at shops open until 11 p.m.
All of that available on a Wednesday night in what Evans calls ‘the Research Triangle’ (read: great place to check out other singles), a five-block, fun-packed area around Wilson Boulevard.”
—“For Singles, Living It Up in the Suburbs,” by Emily Wax, June 28, 2001

So, I want to know what you think? Is Arlington a great places for singles? Does it compare to DC? Where's your favorite places to go for the singles scene?

Express yourself in the comments below.

BTW - If you're single and looking for great date ideas, get great date ideas from the free What's Up Arlington! e-newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox every two weeks with ideas for 4 great things to do in Arlington.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Arlington Alert: Keeping My Socks Dry

Last Friday night, some friends and I were getting ready to leave Eleventh in Clarendon, wondering if it was going to rain. Just then, I got this email from Arlington Alert:

Update / National Weather forecast reports a Severe Thunder Storm Warning for the District and surrounding Jurisdiction until 9:45 PM.
Before I worked in TV news, I didn't know the difference between a storm watch and a storm warning.

Basically, a watch means conditions are right for you to eventually get that type of storm (thunderstorm, tornado, even a hurricane), but that doesn't necessarily mean you will get the storm (or even anything at all). A warning means if it ain't there already, it's gonna be soon, so seek shelter.

So the warning meant we might not have time to get to our cars before getting drenched. Sure enough, within minutes there was wind, lightning, and pouring rain. We took our time finishing our beers, let the storm pass, and were on our way.

And that's the beauty of Arlington Alert -- it gives me the simple, clear information I need to help me avoid major pains in the butt.

Just in the last month, I've gotten these useful alerts:

- That there were emergency drills planned at the Pentagon and not to freak out
- That there was a bike race in Clarendon and to avoid driving there
- I got one while I was at work that power was out in my neighborhood (it was restored by the time I got home, but still, nice to be in the loop)
When you sign up, you can tailor your alerts to your needs:

* How you get them (text message, email, etc.)
* What kind of information you get (lots of advisories or only the critical stuff)
* What locations impact you (if you work downtown, you can even get DC alerts)
Of course Arlington Alert will also be critical if there's a major disaster. But if I told you to sign up based on that, I'd be selling the system short. Major disasters may only come once a decade, but Arlington Alert is useful practically every week.

Sign up now!

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Monday, June 11, 2007

All the Arlington News You Care About - June 1 - June 11

Washington City Paper
This is as much a beast on the Washington Post's obsessive coverage of Clarendon as anything else, but all the same the story's a decent snapshot of Clarendon.

Washington Post
I can't say an article about a local Treasurer's race would normally interest me, but this one just sounds like good old fashioned hard nosed local politics, and I found that interesting.

Sun Gazette
And the environmental movement marches on!

Washington Post
The Post Going out Gurus (always a worthwhile read), recommend Eat Bar for a night out in Arlington.

Sun Gazette
Quick review of the recent Community Bike Ride (as highlighted in the What's Up Arlington! e-newsletter)

Article about an Arlingtonian who recently ran the Frederick marathon while pushing a stroller! I'm impressed. This guy has also qualified for the Olympic Trails - interesting article.

What do you think? Do you like the classical format better than the all news one?

Good review of Cafe Pizzaiolo.

Sowing a Different Tomorrow
Washington Post
Article about Arlington's trees, including it's free tree give away.

Washingtonian's Annual 100 Best Bargain Restaurants

I can't find an online link for this (anyone out there, got one?), but someone sent this info along to me:

Arlington restaurants claimed 13 listings in Washingtonian’s annual 100 Best Bargain Restaurants.

A “cheap eat” is defined by the Washingtonian as a meal for two under $55, including tax and tip…and “at some places, staying within the Cheap Eats budget means abandoning the notation that three courses make a meal.” (Personally, I'm not sure I would claim under $55 as necessarily cheap!)

Arlington winners include: 1. Bangkok 54 – also winner of best tofu dish 2. Bebo Trattoria – also winner of best doughnuts for their bomboloni 3. Costa Verde 4. Delhi Club 5. EatBar 6. El Pike (Pike Pizza) 7. El Pollo Rico 8. Guajillo 9. Minh’s – also winner of best Vietnamese pork dish 10. Moby Dick House of Kabob 11. Pho 75 12. Ravi Kabob House 13. Thai Square

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Planet Arlington Presents "In Focus: Mongolians in Arlington"

Want to impress your friends? Ask them this little bit of Arlington trivia:

Fill in the blank: Arlington has one of the largest populations of ____-Americans in the entire country.

The answer? Mongolian-Americans. Or, to be more specific I guess, Arlingtonian-Mongolian-Americans.

Which makes these event worth checking out (and it doesn't hurt that all the events are free):

In Focus: Mongolians in Arlington
All events FREE
More info: 703-228-1850

Mongolian Children's Festival
Sunday, June 10, Noon - 6 p.m.
Rosslyn Spectrum

Featuring young performers, art competitions, language demonstrations and other activities by and for children of all ages, the Mongolian Children's Festival is a celebration of culture and a look into the future of the Mongolian community in America.
Photo by Chris Williams

In Recital: Shuree
Saturday, June 16, 8 p.m.
Rosslyn Spectrum

Celebrated pianist and Arlington resident Shuree presents an evening of western classical and Mongolian piano music in this program co-sponsored by the Embassy of Mongolia and Arlington Cultural Affairs. The program will include music by Beethoven, Chopin and Bartok, and Mongolian composer Birvaa Munkhbold, and classical and Mongolian folk songs by Saran and Natasha. Special guests Zulsar and Demitbaatar will be perform the traditional Mongolian throat and lung songs.

Naadam Festival
Sunday, July 15, Noon - 6 p.m.
Barcroft Park, 4100 S. Four Mile Run Drive, Arlington

An event with an 800 year old history, making it one of the longest running cultural celebrations on earth. Mongolians gather each summer to celebrate their cultural traditions, music, dance and sport. Join us for Mongolian wrestling, acrobatics, throat singing and much more.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Saturday: Opening Day of 2007 Ballston Arts and Crafts Market

Got this from Kristina at the Ballston-Virginia Square Partnership:

The Ballston-Virginia Square Partnership is pleased to announce plans for the opening day of the 2007 Ballston Arts + Crafts Market on Saturday, June 9th, 2007 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The Ballston Arts + Crafts Market runs Second Saturdays from June to October in Welburn Square, at 9th and N. Stuart Streets, across from the Ballston Metro station. It is conveniently located near the Ballston Common Mall, the Ellipse Arts Center, and a wide array of restaurants, cafes, shops and condominiums. In its three years of operation, the juried Market has gained a reputation for quality works at affordable prices.

This fourth year of the market will prove to be the best yet with more vendors than ever, a variety of musical performances, and a campaign to make Ballston a destination point for visitors from surrounding areas.

The market's opening day line-up includes 30+ vendors with a wide range of traditional and not-so-traditional handmade goods. Visitors this year can expect to see familiar work by long-time exhibitors such as Nancy Sween pottery and the award winning photography by Steve Miller, but will also be surprised by a new array of edgy artists from Washington, DC, Baltimore and beyond such as the DC Craft Mafia, Squidfire and Toxic Shock Printing. Shoppers can expect to find artwork, functional pieces for their homes, affordable gifts for friends and loved ones and a new array of "indie" designer clothing and accessories.

To round out the event, market visitors will be treated to free live music between noon and 3pm. On opening day the market will host two-DC based bands: Omegaband and the Lucky Bastards - both touting an impressive fan base and funky ska-influenced sound. ( / )

As an added feature this year, the market has approached local businesses and asked them to donate coupons and gifts for goody bags that will be distributed to the first 100 people who visit Ballston-Virginia Square Partnership booth. On opening day our bags will feature coupons for special deals at nearby restaurants such as Willow and I Love Thai as well as gifts and discounts to other nearby businesses and shops.

All of these elements add up to a huge day of fun in the center of Ballston, VA - making it THE destination for both Local and DC-area residents on Saturday, June 9th!

For a more details including the complete roster of vendors, bands, supporting business and market sponsors visit our blog at:

Hope to see you there!

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7 Things to Get You Through The Weekend

Looking for things to do this weekend?

Of course, your first option is to review your latest edition of the What's Up Arlington! e-newsletter for great ideas. Which, if you're not getting your free subscription, let me pause for a minute, while I beat you over the head with a baseball bat ... only in the virtual sense of the phrase that is.

Still need more to do, or can't find something that suits your fancy? Here are some more ideas.

  1. Prepare to get dirty in the sand. Register for the Arlington Athletic and Social League summer sand volleyball league. Register as an individual or a team; cost is $60 per person or $525 a team. The season will consist of 7 games, all played in Crystal City.

  2. Come, worship at the feet of Al Gore ... I mean watch the documentary An Inconvenient Truth and join a group discussion about global warming. Gulf Branch Nature Center, June 10, 2:30 PM. 703-228-4304 for more info. FREE

  3. A good excuse to just hang out - Rock the Row Conert Series. Every Thursday night at Pentagon Row.

  4. Avoid the drama in your life. See it on stage. Lots of good shows in Arlington - The Witches of Eastwick, Nest, The Importance of Being Earnest. See the Arlington Arts Calendar for a full listing.

  5. Feel Rich. Listen to Music. Buy Art - all the Ballston Crafts Market. (Look for more details from Miles right here tomorrow)

  6. Iota. You oughta. Iota Poetry Series: Readings by Nathalie F. Anderson and Maria Terrone, followed by an open reading. Iota Club and Cafe, 2832 Wilson Boulevard. 6 p.m. Free. 703-522-8340.

  7. Put in your two cents, or three, or four, at the Envisioning a Healthy Arlington Public Health Cafe, June 9, 9 AM.
Photo by Flickr User: brookenovak

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I have the rhythm of a rock, but I love modern dance ...

Let me tell a story...

As an undergrad at William and Mary (Go Tribe!), there was this girl I was interested in (Ok, there were a few girls I was interested in, but this story only pertains to one). She was a dancer and she invited me to come with her to see this modern dance performance, Orchesis. Well, of course, I acted very interested and said yes.

Truth - this sounded very boring to me. But I went, and it wasn't long before I was completely enthralled. I loved it and was totally hooked. In future years, after that relationship didn't work out, I found other people to go with, and one time (don't tell anyone) I even went by myself.

So, why do I tell you this?

I tell you to supplement a piece I have in the What's Up Arlington! e-newsletter about the upcoming Bowen McCauly Dance performance on June 16 at Lubber Run Amphitheatre. When I say I love modern dance, I mean it (by the way, to me, modern dance is anything that isn't the Waltz, so if I'm mis-characterizing here, forgive me)

And speaking of the newsletter, if you're not a subscribing, get a life! OK, maybe that's a little harsh, but seriously you're missing out; 4 of the best and greatest things to do in Arlington delivered straight to your email inbox every two weeks, and it's free -- you should be paying me for this! To get it, just follow this link, and then follow the subscribe link at the top - it's real simple. Sign-up today (Tuesday) in time to get tomorrow's edition which includes, among other things, the dance performance I reference above.

Photo by: Raymond Gniewek

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Review: ACE Hike & Happy Hour

It was 90 and humid on for the Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment Hike & Happy Hour on Saturday, but the hike around Roosevelt Island was the coolest part of my day.

Why? Unlike the steamy walk to Metro and walk from Rosslyn to Roosevelt, the hike around the island was mostly in the shade.

I say mostly because the tree canopy is being slowly destroyed by invasive plants. As Arlington County Invasive Plant Program Manager Jan Ferrigan explained, invasive vines like English Ivy choke native trees. Once they die and fall, invasives like Japanese Honeysuckle cover the ground and prevent new trees from being able to push skyward. And new research shows another invasive, Garlic Mustard, releases a chemical into the soil that discourages new tree growth.

Ironically, a native species may be helping Garlic Mustard take hold. We spotted several deer during the hike, some right on the trail (in the photo to the right, the deer is in the center, click the picture for a larger image). Jan told us there are at least 20 on the island. The deer eat native plants but not Garlic Mustard, giving the invasive a leg up.

Once the hike wrapped up, we headed over to Continental in Rosslyn for the happy hour end of the event. It was great to hear how much environmentalism has become a part of people's lives, with discussions of everything from organic beer to President Bush's lack of leadership on global warming to compact fluorescent light bulbs.

We had a good time despite some surprisingly hostile treatment from the staff of Continental. The bar had donated pool table time for each of the previous three ACE Hike & Happy Hours, but this year the event manager told us, and I am not making this up, that there is no profit to be made by giving things away. Even though the bar was nearly empty when we arrived, the manager yelled at us for setting out some green products on our table. The bartender refused our request to put the Red Sox-Yankees game on TV because he was watching ultimate fighting. And the waitress refused our request for a refill of our basket of tortilla chips, informing us that even though we ran up a $200 tab, "they're not bottomless chips."

Despite the deer and the dopes, we had a great time celebrating National Trails Day with hiking and happy houring. Hope to see you on the trail and at the bar next year!

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Jedi Master Alert - Courthouse

Young Skywalker,
Just ran across this and thought some of you might be interested - I'm not a huge Star Wars geek myself - I like them, but not to that level - but I now plenty of people who are (and no offense to the word "geek" here - it's just a descriptor.

Anyway, straight from the pages of DCIst:

D.C.-area Star Wars geeks will want to check out Olsson's Arlington/Courthouse, where science-fiction author Karen Traviss will be talking about her new novel Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice. We love Han, Chewie and the gang as much as the next guy, but these novels always lack the excitement and fun of the original trilogy. Not that we've read them or anything. 7 p.m.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Five Grocery Shopping Tips for Bachelors (and Bachelorettes)

According to Reuters, here we are in the year 2007 and men still don't know their way around a grocery store:

CHICAGO (Reuters) - So, this guy walked into a grocery store ... and got completely overwhelmed.

U.S. men are doing more and more grocery shopping, both for themselves and their families, but retailers are still not doing much to make the trip any more enticing, retail consultants and industry experts said.


In 2002, 41 percent of men said they did at least some grocery shopping, a figure that jumped to 61 percent in 2004, according to marketing consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail.

The 2006 survey showed 71 percent of men said they had shopped in a grocery store in the past three months, with 56 percent saying they shopped there in the past week, though WSL changed its method for conducting the survey, so 2006 and 2004 figures are not directly comparable.

My dad was always determined not to raise me to be as domestically inept as he'd been early in life. When my dad got out of the military, he didn't know how to cook anything, so he ate nothing but macaroni & cheese.

He taught me to cook a few basic things and took me to the grocery store regularly. We made a game of it -- how much could we save on coupons every week?

It's worked out pretty well. I know my way around the grocery store and can cook better than most girls I know.

Now, much like Christopher Walken giving young Bruce Willis his dad's watch in Pulp Fiction, I pass along my grocery shopping tips to you:

1. Shop Socially

Go grocery shopping with your roommate(s), significant other, or whatever friend is handy. You can carpool to save on gas and help the environment. It's a good way to catch up with a friend, and it'll make an otherwise tedious trip go by much faster. And you'll double your product knowledge base. What new cereal is worth trying? Which organic product tastes just as good as its standard equivalent? What expensive coffee tastes like burned cardboard?

2. Shop Small and Shop Often

When I first got out of college, I'd go grocery shopping once a month, get $150 worth of stuff, then lament that most of the fruits and vegetables had gone bad before I could eat them. Well, duh -- I was buying a month's worth of fruits and vegetables, then acting surprised they only lasted a week. Now I try to get to the store once a week or so to get about $50 worth of stuff. Not only do I eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer frozen meals, it helps save money -- instead of only catching one round of sale items per month, I catch three or four.

3. The Card is Your Friend

You can save around 25% a week on specials with the Harris Teeter VIC card, Giant Bonus card, or whatever your store uses. Stay flexible on brands and varieties -- at the deli, I just get a half pound of whatever turkey is on sale that week, I really don't notice if it's the oven-roasted or honey-smoked or whatever. Two-for-ones are far and away the biggest savers. Keep in mind if the special is "2 for $4" or "10 for $10" you don't have to buy 2 or 10 -- you can buy just one at the same discounted rate.

My personal record: I once paid just $60 for groceries that would've cost $100 without the card & coupons. How do I know this? I saved the receipt as a trophy. Yes, I'm a dork.

4. Don't Fall for the Fake Sale

Ever wonder why grocery stores have those little hanging stickers that say "EVERYDAY LOW PRICES" or "GREAT BARGAIN"? Because they draw your attention to an item and make you think it's on sale when it's really not. Harris Teeter will even put stuff on sale ... for ten cents off. Read the fine print.

5. Coupons: Not Just for Porcelain Figure Collectors

I'm a coupon clipper. It doesn't save me much money -- around $5 a trip -- but it does help me find new products I wouldn't ordinarily spot. I remember first spotting Uncrustables in the coupons ... "Wait, peanut butter AND jelly, already made in a sandwich? And they don't go bad? How many will they let me buy at once? A hundred? A thousand?"

Oh, and did I mention you should use a reusable grocery bag?

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