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John Kelly's Washington Live

Free-for-all Discussion

John Kelly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 10, 2004; 1:00 PM

John Kelly writes five times a week about the joys and annoyances of living in Washington. He aims to show readers the Washington (and Silver Spring, Alexandria, Manassas, Bowie ...) that they know and take them places they don't know. He wants to make them see familiar things in unfamiliar ways and unfamiliar things in familiar ways. ("We may occasionally end up seeing unfamiliar things in unfamiliar ways," John says, "but such are the risks of the job.") His columns take a cockeyed view of the place the rest of the planet knows as the Capital of the Free World but that we all call home. John rides the Metro for fun and once kidnapped an Irishman to see what made him tick.

Fridays at 1 p.m. ET John is online to chat about his columns and mull over anything that's on your mind.

Post columnist John Kelly (The Washington Post)


Wednesday's Sessions
World: Greece's second bailout, 11 ET
Food: Free Range on Food, 12 ET
Entertainment: Reliable Source Live, 12 ET
Style: 30 Lessons for Living, 12 ET
Weekly Schedule

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Weigh in with your opinion on the latest news and analysis 24-hours a day.

Readers Are Talking About...

This week's columns:
Name and a Sense of Place (Post, Dec. 10, 2004)
Reading Between the Pages (Post, Dec. 9, 2004)
Plenty of Answers for Plenty of Money (Post, Dec. 8, 2004)
At Children's, the Sound of Healing (Post, Dec. 7, 2004)
Answer Man: Wary of Heights (Post, Dec. 6, 2004)

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

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John Kelly: The frozen yogurt machine in The Post cafeteria is broken. This has repercussions. Because the frozen yogurt machine is broken, they didn't put out the little bowl of granola that you can spoon on your frozen yogurt. That means there's no granola for me to put into my low-fat yogurt, which is what I like to do of an afternoon. And so I'm bummed.

But I'm also bummed because I've been sick. Nothing serious, just a cold, but it saps a man's strength, you know? That woolly-headed feeling, the fatigue. And as I was getting the cold, I thought to myself "I think I'm getting a cold." So I said to My Lovely Wife: "I think I'm getting a cold." Then I thought: I wonder if by the time you say "I think I'm getting a cold" you ALREADY HAVE a cold. Are there any doctors out there who can answer this? And also get me a flu shot? And some Oxycontin?

Looking back on the week:
Monday: Why are DC's buildings so short?
Tuesday: Eugene Davis gets his heart fixed at Children's Hospital.
Wednesday: Everything you need to know about donating to Children's.
Thursday: I can't quite remember what this one was about. Something about widescreen TVs and teenagers who don't read.
Friday: Why "the Nationals" is an appropriate name for our new baseball team. And why I hate it.
Special bonus: Did anyone besides my mother notice that I had a story in The Post Magazine two Sundays ago? It was on one of those guys who goes overboard with Christmas decorations.

Now it's your turn....

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Arlington, Va.: Today's article on your continuing theme of what is a Washingtonian reminds me of something else we need to address. There have been columns (maybe yours?) about lack of politeness, or people not saying hello, or people being bad drivers, whatever the topic, in this area. So, as a born and raised local (who has lived in DC, Alex, and Arl for 40+ years) may I remind us all that when we characterize people in this area, we are largely characterizing people from... other areas.

washingtonpost.com: Name and a Sense of Place (Post, Dec. 10, 2004)

John Kelly: But other places attract other people too. I can't think of anywhere where the drivers are worse than Boston. One person--a foreigner who had lived in a dozen different US cities--explained DC to me this way: He said working for the Federal government trains you to cover your butt. You have arcane, stupid rules that you have to follow in your job--everything has a form or a schedule--and this slops over into your everyday life, where you are rude and unyielding. I'm not saying he's right, but it's an interesting theory. Thoughts?

As for people from other places: I've always found it amusing that politicians rail against Washington, vow to "clean up" Washington then as soon as they're defeated or leave office, choose to live in ... Washington. Hey, do us a favor: Take your trash talk back to the heartland.

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Team Name: Why not just the Washington Ians? And of course it would be better if we could get actual ballplayers named Ian. Although Washington Johns might work just as well, on a number of levels.

John Kelly: I like that. Much better than the Washington "Janis" Ians.

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Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: John -

I believe it was several weeks ago that you mentioned the old club The Gentry, and suggested (or was it bragged?) that you were the only person who probably remembered it. Not only do I remember The Gentry (saw some great shows by Young Caucasians, Beatnik Flies, and others there), but I can probably do you one better as far as old clubs are concerned. Do you remember Reeks On the Hill? It was located below Kelly's Irish Times.

I bring up Reeks because one of the bands I saw there long ago, the Original Fetish, is apparently getting back together. I ran into lead singer Oxie Scrubb at Joe's Record Paradise last weekend (Oxie was chatting with Joe; as I realized who he was I had to introduce myself and let him know I was a fan of the band). Oxie said that the band planned on doing a reunion show sometime in the Spring of 2005. He also handed me a copy of a CD containing eight tracks recorded between 1978-80 (including both sides from their 45: "(I'm Glad That) Elvis Is Dead" and "Standing In Line At Studio 54.")

John Kelly: Reeks on the Hill? Oh yeah, I used to go there. And the Chancery (just around the corner from Reeks). And let's not forget Friendship Station and, my favorite club, the PsycheDelly. My band, the Item, played at a lot of those places, around the same time as the Beatnik Flies and the Young Caucasians and the Insect Surfers and Tru Fax and the Insaniacs. I'm glad to hear Original Fetish is regrouping. Maybe it's finally time for an Item reunion tour.

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Woodley Park, Washington, D.C.: I'm a newish transplant here from New York, where there are people selling Xmas trees on -- literally -- every corner around this time. I haven't seen any yet here! AND, I don't have a car and don't really feel comfortable renting one to get it covered with pine needles. Is there someone who sells Xmas trees within walking distance of Woodley Park? Thanks!

John Kelly: Oh man, come to Silver Spring. It's wall to wall trees out there. Take the Red Line, then a Z bus up Colesville Road. I'm sure they won't mind you wrestling a big scotch pine on board for the ride home. But seriously, two points:
1. You should never feel guilty about befouling a rental car. That's what they're there for.
2. There's GOT to be a place in Woodley Park. Anyone out there have a recommendation?

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Wheaton, Md.: It's hardly the day's most vital issue, but it still bothers me to see how people looking for pets so often look only at kittens and puppies (who don't stay kittens and puppies, of course), and overlook the older cats (who are thus in more desperate need of homes and who, on the definite plus side, are also more likely to be housebroken). Saw this in Petco the other day (they have a section for animals needing adoption), and I've seen it at numerous animal shelters where I've volunteered. Sure, kittens and puppies are fun and cute, but they need a lot of time and attention. One can save a life by adopting an older animal; it's not their fault they ended up needing a home after being young. We adopted a 7 1/2 year old cat recently, and he's as playful as many kittens but doesn't need any training on the use of a litter box.

John Kelly: Please don't think ill of me, but I don't like cats. I think it stems from "Lady and the Tramp" and how those evil Siamese tried to kill that baby. If I'd seen "The Aristocats" before I'd seen "Lady and the Tramp," things might be different.

Still, I respect the rights of others to own cats and applaud your suggestion. We got our dog through Lab Rescue. He was about a year and a half, out of puppyhood, but still a lot of fun.

Now here's something interesting: I got an e-mail the other day from someone who wanted to give away his daughter's horse for free. The horse was like 15 year old, I think, and his daughter was now too skilled a rider for him. What I heard when talking to a horse expert is that this is a real problem: These older horses live for years and eat a lot of food. What are you gonna do?

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Concerned, Metro, Washington, D.C.: John:
Indecency in cars! I was behind a SUV in the evening. Couldn't help but notice the video screen and the moving pictures on it. The driver had some movie, which had nude scenes. I was relieved that I didn't have any youngsters with me. It could have been even worse -the driver could have been playing "explicit" video. What can a driver stuck behind such a vehicle in traffic do? Is there any rule/law that limits such exercise of the "freedom"?

John Kelly: It was only a matter of time. They sell those in-car DVD players as a way to keep kids from asking "Arewethereyet arewethereyet arewethereyet?????" but that doesn't stop them from being used for more adult fare.

This reminds me of something that happened when I worked at an association in Dupont Circle. From my office I could see the TV of an apartment across the street. Let's just say the guy in there wasn't watching "Oprah" in the afternoons.

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Silver Spring, Md. and NW, Washington, D.C.: There used to be one on Wisconsin Ave in MD, and I'm told there is one in VA. Are there any dinner movie theatres in DC or MD? A movie theatre I can go watch a movie and order dinner at the same time? Thanks

John Kelly: I posed your question to Matt Slovick, the man at washingtonpost.com who knows everything about everything. And he said:

I did a quick search on our site and came up with:

Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?node=entertainment/profile&id=795201&typeId=1&type=movielocation

Alexandria Old Town

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?node=entertainment/profile&id=1069719&typeId=1&type=movielocation

AMC Mazza Gallerie has the Club Cinema, that has a full bar. It also
used to sell sandwiches

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?node=entertainment/profile&id=1025560&typeId=1&type=movielocation

Annapolis Cinema Grill

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?node=entertainment/profile&id=1027091&typeId=1&type=movielocation

Cinema Arts Theatre

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?node=entertainment/profile&id=794589&typeId=1&type=movielocation

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John Kelly: I wonder what movie that's out now is the best to see at a place where you can eat? "The Green Butchers," the Danish cannibal film?

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sick?: Get thee to a pharmacy and get thee some airborne.
Around here it is at publix and at walgreen's. The best
stuff ever to lessen the severity and length of a cold. I'm
in Atlanta GA and have no affiliation with the company.
My husband swears by it...

John Kelly: "Airborne"? That's what it's called? It sounds kind of suspect. Is it a Southern thing? I know they take weird things down there, like Goody's Headache Powder.

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Southern Maryland: I have lived and/or worked in the District since 1965. Very few people actually born in the District live their entires lives here. It's a very transient city--administrations bring in their own brown nosers, then leave in 4 or 8 years. Embassy, foreign service people and military stay for a tour of duty. I've witnessed race riots, peace demonstrations, Hannafi takeovers, attempted Presidential assassinations, the birth of the Metro system, and the rebuilding of the entire downtown area, so I guess I can say I'm a Washingtonian; I prefer to be called a Marylander.

If you drove from upper northwest (west of the Park) to Anacostia, you'd think you were in two different cities. This is a city for the extremely wealthy and the extremely poor -- middle class working stiffs find it hard to survive. We are the commuters who have to buy "affordable" housing in the burbs and commute to pay for it. Even those burbs are getting pricey. I know a rather stupid couple who paid $400,000 for a handyman special fixer-upper in Howard County! It's getting so the County employees in Howard can't afford to live there anymore.

John Kelly: I talked with the Census about that. As a region, we are no more transient than other large areas. Now, that region extends from DC almost to West Virginia. Within DC itself there may be more movement. But there are "locals" and the point of today's column was that it bugs us when the "transients" say there aren't. I do wonder where people who want to live and work in or near DC are going to live. Those houses that just burned down in Charles County were half a million bucks. That would have sounded insane to me 10 or 15 years ago.

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Arlington, Va.: I was thinking as I exited the unpronounceable L'Enfant Plaza station this morning that Metro might pick up some money by selling the naming rights to various stations to commercial interests. It should be easy to have Old Navy Yard and Western Union Station and no trouble at all to create MCI Gallery Place-Chinatown. We already have Dupont Circle.

This could be real money for Metro. They can thank me later.

John Kelly: That exact notion was the subject of a column of mine in September, which I believe will be linked to shortly. I liked the idea of Forest Glen Fiddich.

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Anonymous: Hello...my name is Inigo Montoya...you killed my father....prepare to die (please read and say with ridiculously thick Spanish accent)

John Kelly: First a cold, then no granola, and now this.

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Anonymous: From a previous post: One person--a foreigner who had lived in a dozen different US cities--explained DC to me this way: He said working for the Federal government trains you to cover your butt. You have arcane, stupid rules that you have to follow in your job--everything has a form or a schedule--and this slops over into your everyday life, where you are rude and unyielding.

Au contraire. A senior British military officer who spoke at my organization this week described Washington as a lovely city with, dare I say it, many fewer traffic problems than London. He also said that he found Americans amazingly hardworking (this after many months of working with senior American military officers in Iraq) and, in general, as nice as pie. I guess that would include Washingtonians, too.

John Kelly: It's nice to hear that. This is why we have a special relationship with the Brits.

A few years ago a friend of ours from Rome came to visit and he loved Washington. He loved the atmosphere, the architecture, the museums. I think Rome to him was an old and broken city, whereas Washington was nice and new and, compared to Rome, seemed to function.

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washingtonpost.com: For Metro, Time to Ride the Gravy Train (Post, Sept. 30)

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Arlington, Va.: You're from Arlington? The cemetery? I get either a look or that comment when I say I'm from Arlington to people in other parts of the country. If I'm in another country I just say Washington because they know where it is. Of course, during the one visit I've made to Washington state the more common response was a sort of sneering look and then "Oh. That other one." in a tone that left no doubt as to which one was better.

John Kelly: I only had room in today's column for a very few comments on this subject, but I'll flesh them out a bit here: Most of the responses I received were along the lines of yours, that is from people who lived in the suburbs but said they were from Washington when out of town. They did it for the reasons you mention: No one's heard of Burke. Many non-Washington-city-limiters and claimed Washingtonianness by virtue of living their whole lives turned toward DC, either because they work here or shop here or party here. And as one reader I quoted today said, we all of us--from Gaithersburg to Oxon Hill--are steeped in the stew of shared experiences and shared media.

Now these were the opinions of people who lived outside of Washington. Those who live in Washington cried foul. You can be a Washingtonian unless you're in Washington, they say.

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Herndon, Va.: The reference to L'Enfant Plaza brings up the memory of a long-ago Post column (perhaps by your predecessor) which relayed the story of overhearing one street person say to another "I'll see you tonight at Elephant Plaza" (not a bad name, come to think of it)

John Kelly: And then there's the Elephant and Castle tube stop in London. There are several versions of how it got its name. One is that it's a corruption of "Infanta of Castile," the wife of Edward I. Instead, it appears to be from a pub sign that had an elephant with a castle on its back. (Actually not a castle at all but one of those big, enclosed saddles you see in India.) And that pub sign was left over from an earlier tenant who made knives. And knife handles were made of ivory, which came from Pierre L'Enfant. I mean elephants.

They don't call me Answer Man for nothing.

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Washington, D.C.: It's not quite Woodley Park, but there's a place selling trees just a couple of blocks south of the Cathedral on Wisconsin.

John Kelly: Thank you. If you wait till Dec. 25 I bet you can get a really good deal.

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washingtonpost.com: Dreaming of a Megawatt Christmas (Post, Nov. 28) John Kelly: Oh, here's my story on extreme xmas decorating. Don't all go off and read it now. It's loooong, compared to my pithy weekday persona.

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Washington, D.C.: OK, I'm from N.C. and the Goody's headache powder reference cracked me up, cause it really is a regional thing. And for those who don't know, Tylenol, Advil, etc. ain't got nothin' on Goody's headache powder. Those are like pez candy next to Goody's. If you take a Goody's your head is a-hurtin' fo' sho.

John Kelly: Isn't Goody's just ground up aspirin with some caffiene in it? Does it really work, or is it just a placebo that everyone south of Roanoke believes in? And what do you do with it? Eat it? Drink it? Snort it? Rub it on your cerebral cortex?

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Silver Spring, Md.: Re: "Nats"
Am I the only one that sees the story here?
The team needed a placeholder name until the new owner emerges. The name can't be too goofy ("The Pandas") but not something we get too attached to. You see, if we call them The Grays, which a lot of people love, then you can't let the new owner change it because it would make people upset.

The Nationals, a good, disposable name destined to be a trivia question in about 20 years and we know how baseball loves trivia.

John Kelly: I think you're exactly right. It will also force fans to buy two sets of merchandise--two hats, two shirts, two Waterford crystal Christmas tree ornaments--once the name has changed. And that Nationals logo. I saw where someone compared it to the of logo you'd see on a fake team in a movie. What are the nine stars for? The nine original US colonies? The 9 players on a baseball team? The 9 Supreme Court justices?

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Washington, D.C.: When I get back to DC from visiting other countries, including France and Brazil, I'm thankful for the lack of dog poop on the sidewalks. In some places, the thought of picking up after one's pets is incomprehensible. Maybe THOSE people should all have cats (assuming they'd scoop out the litter boxes,of course). Also, newspapers cost less here than they do in many foreign countries. And many countries don't have peanut butter!!!!

John Kelly: Now, is this the poop of older dogs?

Yes, travel broadens the mind.

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Herndon, Va.: Re: "washington dc/washington state" It can get even more confusing. I work for the Dept of State, and when visiting relatives in Oregon, have to watch my phrasing when introduced to strangers. If I say I work for the "State Dept," the response is "Oh, you're from Salem." If I then, say "No, in Washington," the response is "So you're from Olympia."

John Kelly: I think you should just tell them the truth: You work for the CIA, don't you?

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Anonymous: RE: working for the Federal government. This is an interesting perspective (answer to first post). Does he think everyone here works for, or has at some time worked for, the Fed govt? I worked on the Hill for a year, worked for the DOT for less than a year, and that is the sum total of my govt work experience in almost 20 years. There are plenty of Washingtonians who have never worked for the government.

John Kelly: I think he would argue that this government mindset infects everyone here, that even if you don't work for the government, you work for someone who works with the government. I don't know that I agree with him--I think I don't--but it's an area for study. I'll be getting my research grant proposal off to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as soon as this chat ends.

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Atlanta, Ga.: Silly you... Airborne's a national product, started by a teacher, who's
running the business out of her home.

My husband freaks when people say they're from 'Atlanta'
in quite the same way, if they're from the suburbs. He
always says: no, you don't live in Atlanta - you don't pay
taxes, you live an hour outside the city. -I- live in atlanta.
Of course, when I met him, he was living out in the
suburbs. And his parents don't like to venture to where
we live because we live in the scary city.

John Kelly: Well that's what I want to put up my nose: Something made by an ex-teacher in her basement.

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Silver Spring, Md.: John, you will recall that my leaves fell the day AFTER the first county leaf pickup. And you may also recall your explanation was that God hates me. Well, I just wanted to let you know that I got them raked to the street just in time for the final pickup last week.

John Kelly: I do recall, and I was wondering how things turned out. So God's changed his mind, huh? Or, he might just have been too busy to smite you.

Our second leaf pickup came yesterday. We can finally park in front of our house again, now that the humongous leaf berm is gone.

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Logan Circle, Washington, D.C.: Do Washingtonians all refer to the city as Washington? I have lived in the city or surounding area for most of my life and always say DC. If someone asks me where I live, I say "DC". I don't say "Washington", or "Washington DC". Is this normal?

John Kelly: No, there are a variety of ways to refer to it, depending on your connection to the city. "DC" is for those who've lived here the longest. "The District" is okay, but a little formal. "Washington" is for relative newcomers. Visitors have to say "Washington, D.C."

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Anonymous: Re: Washington State snobbery. The correct reply to "Oh, that other one" is a smile and "Yes! the FIRST one." (Or if you're a purist, the "earlier" one. But "first" is snappier.)

John Kelly: I like "the first one." Or: "yeah, the one YOU'RE named after." (Not technically true, but satisfying nonetheless.) Or: "the one where it doesn't rain all the time." Which isn't really true these last few days.

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Germantown, Md.: We have two dogs. The first, who is now 3, joined our household as a 12 week-old pee-machine. The second was adopted last month when he was about 1 year old, housebroken, and his foster home had started him on basic training, so he was well-mannered (at least in some things, he is still a dog, after all!). But as the one who had to do the housebreaking, I don't want to do it again. Say, is it possible to adopt children who are out of college and have good jobs, so their new parents can retire?

John Kelly: If you have a good job you can adopt ME.

That was one of the nicest things about our dog, Charlie. He came pre-housetrained. And he's really very good about it.

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Denver, Colo.: You still have leaves in Washington? Ours have been covered by mounds of snow for a while (although it will be sunny and 65 tomorrow yippee).

I'll never forget when I was in high school I think I was in Florida and someone asked me where I was from. I said Maryland and was then asked what state that was in!

John Kelly: Speaking of transient places: nobody really comes from Florida, right? There are a few people who work here who say they grew up in Florida. I don't quite believe them.

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Southern Maryland: Yes, those half-million dollar McMansions. So. MD is full of them, and there are no jobs there to support the mortgages. That's why we have to commute to pay for them; we leave home in the dark and get home in the dark. I bought my house 11 years ago and couldn't afford it if it went on the market today.

John Kelly: Do you enjoy your house when you're there? When I saw the houses I was a little jealous: big, two- and three-car garages, on the edge of some sort of forest. I just paid a lot of money for a 3-bedroom with a one-car garage and I can hear the Beltway in the morning. But I just don't think I could spend so much time in the car each day. I'd be even more exhausted when I got home than I am now.

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Anonymous: Here are some more suggestions to add to the list of Metro names:

Rolling Rockville
Waterford Crystal City
Dodge Caravan Dorn St
Wheat Thins
Joe Montanacostia
Georgia Ave/Petsmart
Sofa King St
Titleist Golf Ballston
Subway (Eat Fresh)
Silver Poland Springs

John Kelly: Farragut North Dallas Forty?

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Anonymous: Re: Nats logo. Yes, the nine stars represent the number of baseball players on the field. I wondered if that was coincidental myself when I first saw it, but I found the official press release where it is made clear.

When the Wizards changed their name and came up with their logo, I also saw something written that explained each of the design elements of that... it was actually pretty funny, and amazing that someone took the time to think all that up. I don't know if it's on their website, but I'll try to find it for next time.

John Kelly: That's so stupid. I'm sure they felt they needed some stars because stars look patriotic. But they didn't have room for something that made sense (13 or 50) so they did 9. Which is just dumb, like doing a logo that's a baseball player. That'd be a great uniform: a picture of a baseball player on each baseball player, like some exercise in meta-design.

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Arlington, Va.: I was born and grew up in Washington and in fact lived in the city until I was 34. Now I live in Northern VA. I say I am a native Washingtonian and still live in the Washington Area.

On another side of this, my husband, who is from Annandale, found that when he went to UVA for Grad school that people from other parts of VA said what town they were from, but people from this area just said "Northern Virginia".

John Kelly: And did that set him up for ridicule? Don't people in the rest of Virginia hate Northern Virginia, considering it a Sodom-like enclave of tax and spend liberals who wouldn't know Goody's Headache Powder if it slapped them in the face?

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Washington, D.C.: So what do people who aren't even from the suburbs of a big city tell people? "I'm from a town 26.3 miles southwest of Cleveland"? Who cares if no one's heard of Burke? Use it as an opportunity to expand someone's geography a little bit!

John Kelly: There ya go. And what is 26.3 miles from Cleveland? Marathon? No, that's 26.3 miles from Athens.

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Bethesda, Md.: Beltway Insider, that's what I tell people. Live inside the beltway, born inside the beltway. Nobody outside of this area gets it.

John Kelly: Do you know that in Raleigh, N.C., they have something called the "Beltline"? Those crazy Southerners.

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Washington, D.C.: Ahem.

The 'first one', as far as cities named Washington go, was Washington, North Carolina. It was incorporated in 1782, before George was elected President.

I may live in the District now, but I'll always be from North Carolina.

John Kelly: Were you a Beltline Insider?

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Washington, D.C.: I don't think it is fair to compare DC traffic to London since DC has such a smaller population. The visiting Brit needs to head up to NYC. Maybe he can drop off some London cabbies. They couldn't be any worse than the cabbies who have worked in NYC for a while.

John Kelly: I like what the British have done with the City of London, that densely packed business area. You have to pay to drive into it every day. It has really reduced traffic there. If our subway was better I would say we should do the same thing here.

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Arlington, Va.: The old Orioles' caps had such a meta-design. The smiling bird was wearing a cap with the smiling bird logo, which was...and so on.

John Kelly: It's like a snake swallowing its tail.

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Southern Maryland: I adore my little house. It was a fixer upper (all I could afford). I've made some major improvements, updated the kitchen and bathroom, have a screened front porch that overlooks the Bay but not close enough to get washed away in a storm. A parking pad so I can park free; fireplace; but only one bathroom so I have an excuse for living alone, which I love. It is my retirement home; when I retire I'll stay there. I wouldn't want a McMansion; my bungalow is fine with me. Drop by for coffee sometime.

John Kelly: Thanks for the invite. Keep an eye out for someone walking around with a can of gasoline down there.

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Anonymous: To address both the Christmas tree issue and the supposed unfriendliness of Washingtonians, I recommend the poster in search of a tree go to the place by the Cathedral and carry the tree home. I can almost guarantee (s)he'll be amazed at the experience. I had to schlep my tree home last year and was stopped by no less than six people in as many bocks--including one driving a bus--who offered me help. 'Twas lovely for my Christmas spirit!

John Kelly: A great idea. God bless us everyone. (Except that guy in Silver Spring with the leaves...)

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Anonymous: For your cold: VITAMIN C, VITAMIN C, VITAMIN C!!! Three 500 milligram tablets per day with a large glass of water. Have the Lovely Wife prepare a large pot of boiling water; put your face over it, cover your head with a dish towel so the steam doesn't escape. Careful, don't burn your nose. Sip a cup of hot lemonade (yes hot!) with honey, not sugar, and go to bed. Hope you feel better soon.

John Kelly: Thank you.

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Washington, D.C.: For your cold, try Zicam. A miracle drug. Will shorten a cold, and if you take it regularly, will prevent a cold. A colleague regularly takes it before flying.

John Kelly: I just Googled Zicam and among the first web sites were zicam.com and zicamsideeffects.com. The latter says Zicam has been linked with loss of smell and taste. How does your colleague taste? No, don't tell me.

Or, alternately, How does your colleague taste? With his tongue!

I think I'll treat my cold the old-fashioned way: I'll endure and complain.

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Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: John:

Any idea of free New Years Eve. Events in the city (DC)?

Thanks,

Pandora

John Kelly: The Weekend section had a list of holiday events, including New Years stuff, on Dec. 3, I believe. It should be available online, too. I don't know the URL, I'm afraid.

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John Kelly: Oh, and please keep your box closed.

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Germantown, Md.: "Who wouldn't know Goody's Headache Powder if it slapped them in the face?"

That's easy to tell, though. It's the only powder that does not cause your head to ache when it slaps you in the face.

John Kelly: Speaking of headaches, mine is gone. That was fun. I should chat in an altered state more often.

Don't forget that we're in the thick of our fundraising campaign for Children's Hospital and I could really use your help. Go to www.washingtonpost.com/childrenshospital for information on how to donate.

Enjoy your weekend(s). I'll see you in the paper on Monday.

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