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Transcript

John Kelly's Washington Live

John Kelly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 14, 2005; 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

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

Readers Are Talking About...

This week's columns:
A Serious Case of Dress Distress (Post, Jan. 14)
A Tough Girl Takes on Trouble (Post, Jan. 13)
Cutting Away to Save a Young Life (Post, Jan. 12)
From Bad to Worse to the Operating Room (Post, Jan. 11)
Answer Man: An Ad of Your Own (Post, Dec. 13)

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: How much do you think a sump pump costs? Go on, guess. I'm not talking about the big ones that you sink into a hole in the corner of your basement. I'm talking about the smaller portable kind that you screw a garden hose into and move around to pump away standing water. I had to buy one this morning after last night's deluge threatened to flood the garage and then the basement. At the back of the garage is a door to the backyard. The door, and the tiny landing beyond it, is well below ground level and four inches of water were pooled there, seeping over the threshold.

So I mobilized. Throwing caution to the wind, I braved the elements and went to the hardware store. Where I discovered that a little submersible sump pump the size of a 12-cup coffee pot costs...100 bucks! Well, there was nothing for it. I had to have it. And it sure was satisfying watching the water shoot out of the garden hose and into my neighbor's yard. (Just kidding! I kept it on my property.)

I think a lot of people will be sump-pump shopping today. Feel free to share your weather thoughts during our chat this today, or anything else that's on your mind. Columns this week were on assorted Metroiana, a Chevy Chase teen who had an honest-to-goodness case of flesh-eating bacteria, an Annapolis girl my assistant Julie met who hasn't let an ailment slow her down, and today's tale of a missing wedding dress.

Take it away...

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Rockville, Md.: John, here I am hanging on to a tree on Beach Drive. Darn those wrong turns!;

It looks like it will be a dismal weekend -weatherwise. What movies will you likely take in? Does Electra spark your interest????
Or that Clint Eastwood movie?
Are you a movie goer or movie renter? Cheaper to rent now that late fees are a thing of the past.....

John Kelly: I don't much like the sound of any of the movies that opened this weekend. A friend loaned me the DVD of "Bottle Rocket," so maybe I'll watch that. We also have the documentary "Standing in the Shadows of Motown," which I want to watch with my budding musician daughters. I did have a dream last night that I saw "The Life Aquatic." It wasn't very good, but then it was just a dream.

But you know where I'll be, don't you? The Andre Chreky Salon-a-Thon, getting my hair styled for a good cause.

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washingtonpost.com: Salon-A-ThonJohn Kelly: Click for details. All the money that's raised from haircuts, manicures, facials, massages, etc., goes to Children's Hospital.

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Chevy Chase, Md.: Hi, John. You seem like an approachable sort, so I wonder if you'd mind a somewhat personal question. (If so, you are of course free to ignore it.) When you and Your Lovely Wife were expecting your children, did you have any problems agreeing on what to name them? Husband and I always knew we wanted children, are expecting our first, but are (almost) ready to divorce over the name. I know this sounds stupid and immature, but they will have these names for life and neither one of us can agree with the other's preferences ("gender neutral" vs. frilly for girls, manly for boys). Should we flip a coin? He names boys, I name girls? I know this is somewhat outside your usual area of expertise, but you seem very grounded and I hope you can help. Thanks!

John Kelly: Hmmm. That's a tough one and I'll throw it open to the chatting classes. Our thinking was this: We wanted names that sounded good with "Kelly." (Nothing that rhymed, for example: Shelly Kelly.) We wanted names that could be abbreviated in pleasing ways. We didn't really like the idea of honoring any relatives. (What'd they ever do for US?) It was easier to come up with girls' names than boys'. I never did like any of the boys' ones we came up with. Nathaniel is the only one that sticks in my head. (My Lovely Wife forbade "John," which is also my father's name.) We ended up with Gwyneth (before we'd ever heard of Ms. Paltrow) and Beatrice.

It sounds, though, like you guys can't even agree on the parameters. Maybe you should have three lists: Ones you like, ones he likes and ones neither of you like but could live with. Or one of you gets to pick the first name and the other the middle name. And you can each call the child by that name. That's what some people we run into the dog park seem to have done. The husband is always shouting for "Bear" to obey him. His wife calls the dog "Ballou."

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Fairfax, Va.: Help, Answer Man! I'm on the "do not call" list and need to know how to report an offender.

John Kelly: Here's a link. Remember that anyone with a pre-existing relationship is allowed to call you, as are politicians and charities.

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washingtonpost.com: National Do Not Call Registry

John Kelly: Check this out.

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Arlington, Va.: Isn't about time we outlawed stupidity?

Case in point, this morning some fellow commuters and I were waiting for the street elevator at Courthouse. Given the weather, we were trying to huddle under the awning. We made room for those to get out, but we were packed in pretty tight.

Then, the first THREE people exiting the elevator just stuck their umbrellas out without looking and opened them. To quote mothers everywhere: they could have put somebody's eye out. I know some would say the solution would be Metro placing a sign asking people to look before opening their umbrellas. I say just arrest 'em.

John Kelly: But if we outlawed stupidity, only criminals would have guns. Or something like that.

I think you should have feigned injury, grabbed your head and wailed "My eye! My eye!"

I have written before about the gigantism I've noticed with umbrellas, part of the supersizing of America. Every other person seems to carry a golf umbrella, carving a huge swath down the sidewalk. We Americans have gotten so fat that a regular umbrella will no longer cover our corpulence.

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John Kelly: Here's more info on making a Do Not Call complaint: Your number needs to have been on the registry for 31 days. You'll need the date of the offending call as well as the number or name of the company that called you.

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Bethesda, Md.: What are you Posties thinking about the possible competion you may get from this new newspaper that is coming to town?
I saw in the Washingtonian that it hits stands next month sometime.
What do you know? I haven't heard much about it outside that article....?

John Kelly: Annys Shin had a story in The Post last week. What do we think? We're curious, of course. I don't think we're worried. The Post has a brand name quality that will be hard for an upstart to match. And the Express is phenomenally popular, too. But the people behind the Examiner, as the new paper is called, are on to something. They promise a tabloid with lots of short stories delivered free to households in selected Zip codes. They're trying to capitalize on the fact that many people claim to be too busy to read a newspaper. We'll see what happens. A newspaper war could be fun. It'll be satisfying to beat the Examiner on stories, and getting beat could help us sharpen our game. I tell you, though, anytime I see the words "reclusive billionaire" (which is what the Examiner's owner, Philip Anschutz is), I get a little worried.

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washingtonpost.com: Local Chain Rolling Out D.C. Tabloid (Post, Jan. 4, 2005) John Kelly: The competition...

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Fairfax, Va.: I'm sorry for the bride whose wedding dress was lost in preservation. The dress from my October 2004 wedding is hanging in a closet unpreserved. I don't forsee ever needing it again in the future. Do you or your readers have any suggestions on what I can do with it? Are there places I can donate my dress to someone needy?

John Kelly: Anyone? I have seen wedding dresses at the larger thrift shops I frequent. Dressforsuccess.org helps low-income women get work clothes, but I don't think they need wedding gowns.

I wonder how many brides are in your shoes. I mean, should you have a daughter and should she get married, she'd probably look at your dress and say, "Ugh, it's so...Oughties." (Or whatever we end up calling this decade.)

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Silver Spring, Md.: Maybe Mom shouldn't have waited "several months" before going back to claim the dress?

John Kelly: She told me that the dry cleaner told her not to rush back, that since the dress was being sent away it would take a while. She was a bit vague on this and when I spoke with the dry cleaner he hinted that perhaps she shouldn't have waited so long. But I think he also truly feels awful about the whole thing. And anyway, if the dress had had the proper tag on it, he should have been able to find it, no matter how long it had been left. Or if he'd been getting antsy, he could have called her. These preservation deals aren't cheap. I think it's a couple hundred bucks.

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Anonymous: You encourage people to subscribe to the Post, but I wonder if the Post really wants subscribers. I subscribed as part of the deal that included 7-day delivery for the price of Sunday delivery. As I approach the end of that deal, I wanted to change my subscription to just M-F because I do not have time to read the paper on the weekends. I called the subscription office and was told I could switch to M-Sat (paying for Sat, of course), but not M-F. Why? The paper delivery woman comes to my building every day to deliver to my neighbors, so the marginal cost of delivering to me M-F is small (and less than delivering M-Sat). Because the Post will not provide the service I want, I canceled my subscription. I wrote to customer service and have not received any response (after more than 10 days). So the Post lost a customer and it is clear to my that the Post does not value customers. If I decide I want to read the paper Post occasionally, I will purchase it from a vending maching one block from my house. That will be cheaper since I probably won't buy the paper every weekday and when I do get it, I won't have to pay taxes. And I can always read the Post on-line.

John Kelly: We do want subscribers! Honestly we do! And while Monday-Friday makes sense to me (I mean, who needs the paper on the days that my column isn't in it?), there must be reasons why The Post doesn't offer it. I know that some papers have experimented with a la carte kind of deals. The result has been a reducting in subscriptions rather than an increase. People go from seven days a week to four, rather that from one to four. Our circulation folks do have the occasional glitch--and it's one reason people cancel their subscriptions, as you did--but on balance I think they do a pretty good job.

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Anonymous: Glad that you and Metro cleared up the issue of what constitutes a "delay." How about tackling this next -- Is it necessary for drivers to insult the intelligence of passengers by telling them, when they're boarding full trains at rush hour, that there's another train "right behind this one." What's the definition of "right behind"? Several times, I've waited to see, and while they lead you to believe that, say, there's another orange line train ready to move into the station, that's never the case. Just stop the lies!;!; It's stuff like that that makes people dislike Metro, and causes us to assume that they're less than truthful with us (which would be bad in an emergency).

Also, I could do without the scoldings issued by drivers (the orange line, DC-bound, driver that stopped at Courthouse at 8:40AM this morning, for one) about not overcrowding "his" train or he'll disable it. It's not "his" train, and by the time we're on board (my car was not crowded at all), it's too late to warn us about crowding on, we're already on!;

John Kelly: Maybe they should say "There's another train SOMEWHERE behind this one." I mean, another train is gonna show up eventually.

On WTOP this morning they were saying that Metro said there was a 10-minute delay on the Orange line, which, if true, refutes what Metro had told me about no longer using a time element when describing delays.

I'm trying to put Metro out of my mind, though, since I had an ugly error in Monday's column that I'll correct this Monday. I had the thing about the red door-closing lights exactly backwards.

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John Kelly: Anyone find it interesting that after last week's chat included musings on WHFS and how bad it had gotten, the station flipped its format this week? Totally coincidental, I'm sure, but interesting nonetheless.

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washingtonpost.com: WHFS Changes Its Tune to Spanish (Post, Jan.13, 2005) John Kelly: Ay carumba!

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Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: Was Arlington standing directly in front of the elevator doors? I'll bet Arlington tries to get on the Metro before everyone has gotten off of it, too.

John Kelly: Arlington? Please explain yourself.

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Silver Spring, Md.: A google search turns up lots of places to donate wedding gowns, e.g.,

http://www.makingmemories.org/babc.html

John Kelly: Thank you. Now the requisite "something borrowed" can include the wedding dress.

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Anonymous: Re. Baby naming: My wife told me the next time I carry the fetus for 9 months, I get to name it. Until then, it is the mom's decision.

John Kelly: Isn't that sort of like "Who will help me bake the bread"? What if she wanted to name your son after an old boyfriend?

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Rockville, Md.: John,
I saw you mentioned pediatric surgeon Kurt Newman in your Tuesday column. I just need to say that he operated on my 2-year-old son last year for a hernia and he is a hell of a nice guy.
Truly first class. Glad you found him and he got a nod. He really deserves it.

John Kelly: He's a very impressive fellow. Allie Lewin's case could have ended really badly. Dr. Newman and his colleagues basically saved her life. I hope nothing like that ever befalls my kids, but if it does, I'd feel confident if Dr. Newman was treating them. He was also one of the Children's surgeons involved in separating those conjoined twins last year.

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Arlington, Va.: I guess I'm a bad, bad bride. I got married nearly 11 years ago and have yet to preserve the dress. Honestly, I just found the veil and I think the shoes may be in the basement. I did put the dress in a very nice "dress bag" after the wedding and look at it once in a while. Now, however, I'm glad I haven't bothered. If only I could find the proofs from the wedding. . .

John Kelly: One reason to save the dress is to provide your kids with a good Halloween costume. In that case it's better NOT to preserve it. You want it kind of moth-eaten, the silk shot, the train stained. Perfect for some kind of Horror Bride.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: On Inaugaration Day, there sure is a lot of balls: Constitution Ball, Patriot Ball, Liberty Ball, etc. Why are there so many balls?

John Kelly: The winners have a lot of people to thank. And the people who supported the winners want to show that they'll KEEP supporting them. Finally, you might as well ask why does New Orleans have so many krewes. People like to party. Even Republicans.

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Anonymous: Re. Baby names: I think each parent has to have veto power over names. It may take all 9 months to come up with something they both agree with, but they all (parents + baby) have to live with the name for the rest of their lives.

John Kelly: It could be like choosing a jury, you know the peremptory strikes during voir dire.

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Rosslyn, Va.: Why doesn't Metro or the police do anything about the panhandlers sitting outside metro stations? It's so bad at Rosslyn that by the rear entrance the one guy has a chair set up and his spot claimed by milk crates and other things of his. Why doesn't Metro do anything? These people are a nuisance and PANHANDLERS. I am sick and tired of being bothered on my way to work. On a sidenote- loved it the other day when the train was full in the evening, yet there's a metro employee taking up 2 seats.

John Kelly: Here's what Metro's Media Relations Office had to say: "Panhandling is illegal in the Metrorail system. If someone is experiencing a problem at a specific station(s) with this type of behavior, please alert Metro Transit Police at 202-962-2121. It helps if you can provide specifics, such as, 'I see this happening frequently at station X at about X time of day.' They will be very responsive to the problem if you let them know there is a problem."

I see a couple guys doing it at Silver Spring, too. They're not very aggressive, in wheelchairs, obviously not well off. They aren't in the station itself but it appears they're on Metro property. I'm hoping to do a column on panhandling in the future. Stay tuned.

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Reston, Va.: I say good for WHFS. They surveyed the market and decided to take advantage of the fact that the Spanish speaking population in this area is underserved. I'm tired of reading lots of posts on various chats this week that just whine about the change (often in at least somewhat racist ways) and then end by saying that they never listened to WHFS much anymore anyway because the station had declined. I won't be surprised if this new station becomes very popular.

John Kelly: I know that for me the switchover was just the most final symbol of the once-great station's decline. I had 99.1 programmed into my presets, but I rarely liked what I heard when I went there. I didn't always like what I heard in 1983 either, but I usually did. And I appreciated that the DJs seemed to be enthusiastic about music and loved it. I never got that feeling from the more recent 'HFS. But of course I've gotten older and maybe I'm just lamenting that fact.

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Ballston, Va: How come eight years ago, when President Clinton was re-elected, there was a fuss made about how much money was being spent on a second inaugural, how it should have been a low-keyed affair since the guy was already president? Now that President Bush is planning to do the same thing, we don't hear any criticism as all, from either party. Wouldn't some of the money earmarked for parades and inaugural balls be better spent on Asian tsunami relief efforts?

John Kelly: I think they should spend it on building a new baseball stadium in D.C. They could call it Bush Field.

I have seen some criticism of the inauguration's expense, though not as much as you might expect. I'm glad that the Homeland Security backpedaled on making DC foot the bill for all the extra security, though. That was appalling.

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Arlington, Va.: No More Journal Papers: Several neighborhoods in Arlington are now covered with free and unwanted Northern Virginia Journals thrown into our yards, driveways, and sidewalks.

The Journal should be prosecuted as a litter-bug.

Are they planning the same thing for the DC Examiner?

John Kelly: My understanding is that it will be in street boxes but also delivered gratis to certain Zip codes. I don't know if you can opt out of such delivery. I imagine you can. (Please don't criticize the Gazettes. We own those, too.)

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Washington, D.C.: To the anonymous poster about the Post's circulation policies: the same thing happened to me a couple of years ago when I lived in Ballston. I was incredulous and I cancelled my subscription. Annoying!

BTW, John, love the chats!

John Kelly: Thanks! Sorry about your circulation problem. Won't you give us another try? Perhaps you'll be moved by the new Post TV ads. They just started this week. Anyone seen them yet?

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Anonymous: I hear the person who is frustrated with the Post's delivery options. We have the opposite problem -- we only have time to read the paper on the weekends. But, the Post only offers Sunday delivery, not Saturday-Sunday. I can't tell you how many times we've wished for a paper on Saturday (going out to get it doesn't work -- by the time we get back home and get finished with our errands, whatever is in the the paper feels like old news).

Personally, I think that the Post should offer a "weekends and federal holidays" package, but short of that, a whole weekend subscription would be lovely.

John Kelly: I will pass on your suggestion. I think many people feel that the Saturday paper is the weakest paper of the week. The new ad campaign, by the way, is called "Read what you need," an attempt to make people not feel so guilty about not reading EVERY SINGLE FRICKIN' PAGE.

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Washington, D.C.: You've written a lot about Children's Hospital's good works (I've made my contribution, thank you) but on a lighter note, what do you think of their new commercial?

John Kelly: You know, I've seen that Children's Hospital ad but I can't remember it now. I have a good feeling about it, though. It's animated, right? Sort of like "Yellow Submarine"?

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washingtonpost.com: Make A DonationJohn Kelly: And speaking of which, I need to raise a quick $200,000 by next Friday. Salon-a-Thon is probably good for $100K. That means I need another $100K from you guys. Click here please.

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John Kelly: Hello? Where'd everybody go?

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Severna Park, Md.: Regarding baby names, my office mate told me he and his wife were expecting a baby boy. He wouldn't tell me the name they had picked. I just started guessing. There is a building outside our window with the words "Jackson and Tull" on it. So I just guessed Jackson. He told me I was correct. I thought he was kidding but he was not. He claims it is a family name but I think it was due to subliminal influence. Good thing his name wasn't Jethro Tull.

John Kelly: That's great. Good thing you aren't across from an Exxon station.

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Alexandria, Va.: I agree with you about HFS. I listened to it almost exclusively from 1974, when I was in high school, until 1990 or so. I didn't go cold turkey, it just sort of gradually fell out of my car-radio rotation -- news, weather and sports began to have more importance in my daily life, and eventually I guess I realized that the old DJs were gone and I had other things on my mind than the latest R.E.M. album or whatever.

John Kelly: You've changed, man. You used to be cool, but now....

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Anonymous: Sump pumps can be rented. Even the little ones.

John Kelly: But it's like a tuxedo: If you think you're gonna need it more than, say, three times, you might as well buy one.

Besides, every man needs a sump pump.

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Anonymous: The Government is apparently throwing out the Food Pyramid and replacing it with some 21st-century dietary plan. In introducing the new plan, the HHS secretary had the following odd comment in the Kansas City Star:

"This is probably the best diet plan out there," said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, who quipped that those who followed the recommendations would improve their looks.

"If you lose weight, it takes less time to shave in the morning," he added, saying that he was speaking from experience.

One has to ask: What parts of his body does the Secretary typically shave?

John Kelly: Remember that before he became Secretary of HHS and long before his diet, Tommy Thompson appeared in the Monty Python film "The Meaning of Life" in the role of Mr. Creosote.

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Waldport, Ore.: Wasn't it Einstein who said that the two most common elements are hydrogen and stupidity? Golf umbrellas are a menace where I live, if one turns inside out you'd be up and over the Coast Range in about 30 seconds! Anyway, were you in the Gilman Summer Theater at one point?

John Kelly: Two parts hydrogen plus one part oxygen equals water. And water plus Washington, D.C., equals stupidity. Whether it falls as rain, ice or snow, we freak out. No, I was never in Gilman Summer Theater. I am an ex-thespian, however.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey, Answer Man-- what is that shack covering the steps of the Wilson Building? Something inauguration-related? Security-related? Or new council chambers?

John Kelly: Covering the steps? I don't know. There are a bunch of bleachers there for the inauguration parade. And they've cleared the area where they're going to put Boss Shepherd's statue. It could be either one of those things.

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Anonymous: Hiya John,
Your dream was all wrong! The Life Aquatic was awesome. Any movie with "Space Oddity" sung in Portuguese is alright with me. Bill Murray may not have the muscle tone of Jennifer Garner in Electra, but he was fun to watch, anyway.

John Kelly: Okay, I'll go see it. Now if only "The Aviator" had David Essex's "Rock On" sung in Serbo-Croation.

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Alexandria, Va.: "Bottle Rocket" is GREAT! Sadly, your dream about "Life Aquatic" was quite accurate. Not a disaster, just not very good.

John Kelly: "Not a disaster, just not very good." I wonder if we'll see that showing up in the "Life Aquatic" ads.

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Arlington, VA: The joys of old home ownership!; As we have now experience our first torrential rain since we moved, we have now discovered the leak in the basement. The previous owners had directed the downspout extension (e.g., the hose you get from Home Depot to prevent stuff like this from happenening) away from the house, but the water just pours right over the walkway to the OTHER side of the house, straight to the basement. We've got our downspout work cut out for us.

John Kelly: I felt like such a farmer out there this morning, in my barn coat and mud shoes, wrestling hose around and wiping the rain from my brow. I wish it had been a little windier. That would have completed the illusion that I am actually handy and can fight the elements.

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Anonymous: You got hosed. (Pun intended.) My last townhome was susceptible to flooding (remember that string of 3 hurricanes in a row last summer?!), so we went out and got a sump pump at the Home Despot for a measley $60. Worked great.

John Kelly: D'oh! I was in too much of a hurry to shop around. But does your cheapy, $60 sump pump also make cappuccino? Mine does.

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Arlington, Va.: O.K. different take on wedding dress. My 13 year old daughter wanted to try on my wedding dress. So I took it out of it's protective shell and she put it on.

1. I WAS that small once!
2. She loved the lace. Not much like it now-a-days.
3. It's a very special dress.

I'll keep it.

John Kelly: I wonder if the whole thing is a scam, a "protection" racket, so to speak. It's not like the gown is bathed in argon gas in a zero-pressure bathysphere. It's in a box. And what are you going to do anyway if you open it in 25 years and there's a whole or it's turned yellow. Go back to that dry cleaner?

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Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.: If you (and anyone else on this chat) want to go see a movie, my suggestion is Hotel Rwanda. It's very powerful and very amazing. I've even volunteered to babysit for all my married w/kids friends so they can go see it.

John Kelly: Great, I'll see you at 7 tonight. The kids will have eaten but you might want to bring dinner.

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Anonymous: John, have you witnessed a decrease in donations to Children's since the tsunami? I recall back in 2001 that many nonprofits struggled because the only thing people wanted to donate to were Sept. 11-esque things.

John Kelly: It's hard to tie it to the tsunami. We've definitely experienced a dip but the Children's fundraisers tell me it's because most people want to donate before Dec. 31 so tehy can get the tax deduction this year. I thought tsunami might be a cause, but they said Children's is so well known that it's immune to that sort of thing. They weren't hurt by 9/11, they said.

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Silver Spring, Md.: At least you have a garage -- AND a basement. I live on a slab and park in the street (and God is out to get me).

John Kelly: You slab has a roof over it, though, right?

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Arlington, Va.: "Was Arlington standing directly in front of the elevator doors? I'll bet Arlington tries to get on the Metro before everyone has gotten off of it, too."

If Cleveland Park had read my original post, he would have seen that we did make space for people to get out. It might have been tighter than on a normal day, but we were, after all, trying to stay out of the rain.

John Kelly: Fellas, don't make me separate you.

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Springfield, Va.: Welcome to the portable sump-pump club! We bought one last year when our window well overflowed into our basement. Not fun. We have since had a drainage system installed in our backyard and most of the run-off is now rerouted to the curb but the pump comes in handy with storms like last night - we can sleep in peace (assuming the rain doesn't wake us up!).

have a wonderful holiday weekend!

John Kelly: I need to find something else to pump. Maybe I should install a swimming pool or fish pond just to get more use out of my new purchase.

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McLean, Va.: Hi John
The Journal Papers are litter. They are free litter, but they are still litter. The driver/delivery folks appear to put as many papers on top of their cars as possible then do a donut in the middle of the street, and wherever the papers slide off and land, that's where they stay.
Opting out of the free delivery has produced no results. Complaint emails and phone calls to the circulation manager were acknowledged, but the littering continues. They are a nuisance and a distraction. I hope their advertisers are reading your Q and A. The Journal should be prosecuted as a litter-bug--OK, there. Thanks for letting me vent. Now back to your regularly scheduled chat.

John Kelly: Your voice has been heard.

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Vienna, Va.: Yes, you can opt out of the Journal--call their circulation dept. I had to call twice. They stopped my whole street, though, so maybe I was just lucky.

John Kelly: Vienna had more luck than McLean, apparently.

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Anonymous: On naming children: Write to John Buccigross at espn.com. The man often names kids for people who write in, and he has a rather amazing gift ... it's kinda scary. Look for him in ESPN's NHL section.

John Kelly: I like his first name, but who picked out that last name?

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Silver Spring, Md.: I'm here. Re: Childrens Hospital commercial. Animated with the kid with a green face with purple pocks or spots. Grumpy after an exam, but lights up when they leave the doctor and go into what looks like an animated version to the lobby/atrium. My wife and I spent a bit of time there with our daughter so years back, and appreciate there wonderful work.

John Kelly: Here's a link to the commercial:
http://cnmc.org/dcchildrens/home_stories/adcampaign.aspx

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Washington, D.C.: What is "sump", anyway?

John Kelly: It's a viscous liquid that runs through our bodies. Too much of it and you get logy and depressed, ie "senior sump."

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Anonymous: Re. Elevator and Umbrella: Arlington already explained that they were standing in front of the door because it was raining and they wanted to be under the awning. Nonetheless, I know of no etiquette rule that allows people on an elevator to get free hits against someone standing too close to the door when it opens. One can't just thrust one's umbrella point out there at eye level, thinking that anyone who gets stabbed must have had it coming.

John Kelly: Yes, I think Miss Manners would NOT approve.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hope it's not too late but wanted to say thanks for the great two part article on that young lady who had the surgery for her big infection at Children's. That was a fascinating two columns and even better that it had a happy ending so that's again.

John Kelly: That was an incredible story. The most incredible thing is that Allie is doing fine. She's back to being the leading scorer on her soccer team.

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Anonymous: Wedding dress? E-bay! My wife made some woman's day when she sold her wedding dress over the Internet. They even sent us photos of the wedding!

John Kelly: Did you send a gift?

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Washington, D.C.: The problem with baby names is not when your wife tells you that she wants to name the baby after her old boyfriend. The problem is when she tells you that she's naming it after the father, and it's not your name.

John Kelly: Ouch! I would also rule out the name "Stem Cell."

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Anonymous: I got married 16 years ago. Marriage lasted 8 years. Been divorced for 8. (Got the math so far?) My former husband and I remain good friends (we were better friends than spouses), so I held onto it for all of this time--until recently. I just gave the dress to Goodwill in November. I've dragged it around for years and years from house to apartment to another apartment to another house. I had it drycleaned after the wedding, but not "preserved". I finally realized there was no reason to keep it.

John Kelly: If you hadn't have been such good friends would you have barbecued the dress after the divorce came through?

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Anonymous: Re. baby names...: The first time, we were convinced it was a girl, we had a
ton of girl names, and then it was a boy - and we only had
one boy name, so it worked out.
This time, we know it is a boy, and we have a boy name
we LOVE - so we'll probably go with that...
What we actually did both times was put together a list SO
early in the process, then we got a little sick of it and
focused on other stuff - then at the end of the pregnancy,
we got it out and it worked out. Don't try to obsess about
it, really, is the only advice I guess I have.

John Kelly: Obsession: bad.

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

I hadn't heard that the administration backed off having DC pay for the inauguration. I know they said we could use our homeland security appropriation, but I don't think that's the same thing.

What the mayor should have done, the minute he was told that DC wouldn't be reimbursed, is ordered the bleachers taken down.

John Kelly: I may have my details scrambled. I like your idea, though. Bush could have his parade through the streets of Oakton.

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Arlington, Va.: I love kids. I hate my hair. I'd love to go to the Salon-a-thon, but I worry that the people cutting hair at 4am will be a little jittery or worn out. Please tell me they get breaks!

John Kelly: I'm sure they do, just like long-distance truckers do. Plus, they'll have lots of caffeine.

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Bethesda, Md.: Am I missing something on the subscription issue? I don't subscribe because I read the Post on-line. Why subscribe? Is it the junior jumble, the inordinate ads for Hecht's sales? I don't get it. I'm a 25 year old dude, what do I know.

John Kelly: Why subscribe? You might as well ask, Why vote? Or why give blood? Or why shovel the snow off the sidewalk in front of your house. BECAUSE IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO! Because there is nothing so seductive as the feel of a sheaf of newsprint in your hands. Because it makes you a better person. Because, well, because...

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John Kelly: Thanks for all the great questions and comments, many of which I didn't have a chance to get to. Stay dry. Stay warm. I'll be popping in and out of Salon-a-Thon tomorrow; maybe I'll see you there. If not, please consider making a donation to Children's Hospital in some other manner. As always, e-mail me with any ideas or thoughts: kellyj@washpost.com.

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Anonymous: Why subscribe to the Post? Because, even with wireless, try using your laptop in the bathroom. . .

John Kelly: I was too polite to bring that up, but, yes, thank you.

Bye.

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