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John Kelly's Washington

Stopping By for a Nice Chat

By John Kelly
Friday, April 22, 2005; Page C09

Every Friday at 1 p.m. finds me sitting at my desk, staring at my computer screen. There's nothing unusual about this. I spend a lot of time sitting at my desk, staring at my computer screen. What's different about Fridays is that people are staring back.

At least figuratively. Fridays are when I do my weekly online chat, a chance for readers to comment on the week's columns or anything else that's on their minds -- and I mean anything, from the best way to pick a baby's name to what we had for lunch, from how Metro can improve its service to where to find the most scenic hiking trails.

_____By John Kelly_____
Bridges Carry Bits of History Along With the Traffic (The Washington Post, Apr 21, 2005)
A Ticket for Trouble at Home (The Washington Post, Apr 21, 2005)
Old Friends and Familiar Strangers (The Washington Post, Apr 20, 2005)
Meeting the Microscopic Enemy (The Washington Post, Apr 19, 2005)
More Columns
_____Live Discussions_____
John Kelly's Washington Live (Live Online, Apr 22, 2005)
John Kelly's Washington Live (Live Online, Apr 15, 2005)
John Kelly's Washington Live (Live Online, Apr 8, 2005)

We correspond in real time, and if the whole affair has a rather off-the-cuff feel, well, I like to think that's part of its shaggy appeal.

If you're curious, join us today at 1 p.m. at www.washingtonpost.com/
liveonline. To give you a taste of what you'll find, here are a few excerpts from some recent chats:

There was, until fairly recently, a statue on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda, next to the post office, called the "Madonna of the Prairie." I loved it -- it was so incongruous. Now she's gone, replaced by orange traffic cones. Where did she go? For that matter, where did she come from in the first place?

That's called "Madonna of the Trail," and was put there by the DAR back in the 1930s or so. A water pipe ruptured underneath it 3 or 4 months ago and it started to list dangerously toward Wisconsin Ave. The DAR had it moved for its own safety. It's now at the police academy in Gaithersburg. David Dabney of the Bethesda Urban Partnership says it will be 3 or 4 months before it's reinstalled. By the way, it commemorates women who went across our country in Conestoga wagons.

Having now learned more about gypsy moths from you, I'm wondering if you could help us all learn how to deal with another spring blight: Tourists. They walk around like all of the people trying to rush past them are also on vacation. They stand on both sides of escalators, and seem not to understand when someone says, "Excuse me." They generally clog up our metro area and make it more difficult to get around. Is there anything we can do about them? Can we stomp on their egg sacs, as we can with the moths? Is their some way we could wrap duct tape around the Beltway and Metro stations to keep them out? Please, enlighten us.

There's nothing you can do. And don't forget that as with certain types of fungus, tourists are symbiotic. We rely on them. Yes, they clog the Metro and walk around with that sort of bovine look, but we need their cash.

My lunch: Beef tips and noodles, but the beef was in quotes -- "Beef" -- and had a little trademark sign next to it, so it may be to beef like Krabmeat is to actual crab. Shrug. Thanks.

I think having the beef in quotes is better than having the tips in quotes. Beef "tips" would really scare me.

I thought of you this afternoon because I was sitting outside on a bench eating lunch. I had finished and had to head back to the office in a few seconds. But this woman came by and asked if anyone was sitting on the other side and I said no, so she sat down and then I felt like I couldn't just get up and leave or she would feel like I was leaving because of her, so I sat there for a few extra minutes and was late back from lunch! Ugh -- see what you've started? I read too much into your earlier Metro seating chats!

This is why you should always carry a fake pager that you can activate surreptitiously. You could have beeped yourself, looked at your pager, then shouted "Mrs. Omelmihay's kidney is ready!" And then leapt up and dashed away.

What's the best place to sit on a Metro train to avoid mild motion sickness? Avoiding sitting above the wheel seems to be one rule . . .

What I hear from people is that you should be sitting facing forward, beyond that I don't have any advice.

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