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John Kelly's Washington: Rosslyn nightlife, Cabin John Bridge, Great Ash Cloud of 2010

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John Kelly
Friday, April 23, 2010; 12:00 PM

Post Metro columnist John Kelly chats about the people and stories that don't make the front pages, plus his latest columns.<br><br>Today: Chat with John about sampling Rosslyn nightlife, crossing the Cabin John Bridge and playing host to a Brit stranded by the Great Ash Cloud of 2010.<br><br>

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John Kelly: I countenance no criticism of Washington on a day like today. Sunny, blue-skied, enough of a breeze to keep the flags snapping jauntily at their poles. I can think of few places that are more pleasant.d taken in a refugee from the Blitz.t really do that. ? Are Clarendon and Ballston better bets for Manhattan-style diversion? s credited to Montgomery Meigs, but two Ohio historians say that Alfred Rives did most of the heavy lifting, design-wise. They say the fact that Rives was a Southerner who joined the Confederacy is what kept him from getting his due. Who cares, I hear some of you saying. If you bought a lawnmower since 1994 you may be eligible to get your due: money from a class-action settlement that I wrote about yesterday. I was amazed when I read about the case, which alleges that lawn mower engine manufacturers have been cooking the books when it comes to horsepower claims. Perhaps not in the same league as Watergate or Iran-Contra, but fascinating nonetheless. t seen incontrovertible proof yet.s go.....

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TAP...TAP... Is this thing on??: Are you sure you're here today? You weren't here last time. We were asking the most interesting questions, and probably would have been come up with a solution to poverty, hunger, world peace, and Icelandic volcanos. But, this week we've forgotten it all. Eyjafjallajokull!

John Kelly: Last week at this time I was standing on the 30th floor of a building at 3 Times Square, New York, New York. Out the window was the ball that they drop. You know: that ball they drop on New Year's? I didn't know they kept the ball up there all year long. I thought they'd take it off the spire on Jan. 2 or so, then put it back in December. If they were clever, they'd start inching it up 1/365h of the length of the pole each day until it finally reached the top at midnight Dec. 31.Where were we? Oh, right, solving poverty, hunger nad world peace. I was at a seminar last Friday called "The Future of Journalism." Guess what: We didn't solve it!

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Chicken coop in DC?: Asking early; not sure if this question is fit for this discussion. But I figure, it won't make the front page. ;-)Alright, so I desperately want to set up a chicken coop, with a 4 or 5 chickens. In my backyard, Capitol Hill detached house. Hens, no rooster. Legal or illegal? I can't seem to find coherently clear answers on that.

John Kelly: I believe that as the law currently stands, illegal--unless you have a ridiculously large lot. Here's a story by Adrian Higgins from January. The law may have changed since then--the push was on to legalize the birds--but I'm not sure where things stand now. I sort of see urban chicken-wrangling as a yuppie extravagance for people who think Whole Foods is insufficiently green. What's your reasoning?

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Noise Pollution: I've been reading your columns about neighborhoods plagued with dog waste. May I bring up another form of pollution? Noise pollution. I know that this is going to make me sound like the grumpy old man of the neighborhood, but every evening the kids in my townhouse development gather outside my back yard. The noise is deafening. Some of them scream as if they are being murdered; if I had done that as a child, my parents would've come running. But here, the parents are nowhere to be seen. The din (we're talking at least 10 kids here, screaming and kicking their ball into my fence and those green electrical boxes in most neighborhoods) is so loud that I can't open my windows on nice days. They drown out the TV and even reading is impossible. I can't turn off the AC and let fresh air in. I have a very nice garden with a fountain that I can't enjoy at night. It's not as if my house is next to a playground -- we have a nice one around the corner that I support with HOA fees -- but for some reason the kids congregate in this small common area. They strip the limbs off the trees in the common area and wear the grass to bare ground. In comparison, dog poop is a momentary nuisance. I've even thought about throwing my own dog's waste over the fence to discourage their playing there. OK, now I sound nuts, but really, how would you handle it?

John Kelly: I feel the same way about the birds who sing so godamm happily every morning. Don't they know I want a few more minutes' sleep?In other words, I think you're out of luck. I suppose you may have some leverage when it comes to the kids' destructive behavior, such as ripping the limbs off the trees. But general juvenile rambuctiousness in a neighborhood of families is gonna be hard to stop. Do you know whether any of the other residents share your opinion?

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Your nephew: (submitting early this week, might not be back in time) John, It was well known, that the Giant Panda, Tai Shan, considered you to be his uncle. Tai left us before the SNOPOCALYPSE in Feb, but recently China expierenced an earthquake and I ( as well as others) are wondering if you heard from your nephew. Is he okay? Does he like China? Does he wanna come back to DC?

John Kelly: He is doing fine but he does not want to come back to D.C. Why? Well he was shaken by the story of another National Zoo resident, one Answer Man will be writing about thus Sunday. Who is it? I'll give you a clue: "Only you can...."

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Since our dogs are getting fatter, doesn't that mean there's more poop?: Chow Hounds. I fear we are doomed.

John Kelly: I was listening to "Car Talk" the other day and one of the brothers (Click? Clack?) said his dog pooped more material than he ate. He claimed to have weighed the dog, weighed his food and, I guess, weighed his poop and was adamant that some process was going on by which the hound was creating matter. I think he should get the dog to the Argonne National Laboratory. Maybe the pooch can solve the energy crisis.

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Rosslyn: So, what exactly was the mag's support for the Manhattan claim?

John Kelly: To be fair, I believe it was thinking more in terms of office space and skyline. But office space does not a neighborhood make. And while Rosslyn has Washington's only Manhattan-esque skyline, the place reminded me of "The Omega Man" or "28 Days Later"--minus the flesheating zombies.

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Silver Spring Dining + Tailor Recommendation: so I have two questions that I haven't managed to get answered in any of the chats this week, so I'm throwing them to you and other chatters. Where to eat dinner in Silver Spring tonight and where is a good but affordable place to get a bridesmaid dress altered (not in Silver Spring, I'm just in Silver Spring for the night)?

John Kelly: Places I like in Silver Spring: Jackie's, Mandalay (Burmese food; ate there last night; you can have it really hot, but even medium the spices are great), 8407 (brand new, across from the Metro), Rays the Classics (if you're in a meat mood). Sadly, the Little Tavern is gone.Don't most dry cleaners do alterations?

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Iceland volcano: Bet you can't pronounce Eyjafjallajokull.

John Kelly: I-oughta-get-LO-jack.

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Newspapers and puzzle: Are puzzle people on group still buying papers? Many papers have increased the number and type of puzzles. I'm not complaining. I like puzzles.

John Kelly: I think that puzzle people are probably pretty loyal. And they are opinionated. They appreciate new puzzles, but not at the expense of old puzzles that they like. Any time we make a change, they rise up. Just like comics fans in that regard.

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Chicken Coop Part 2--: Ah, so the question I submitted last night worked (thought it didn't get sent), sorry for the repeat this morning. I don't think Whole Foods is particularly green -- they can be greener. But that's for another discussion. Simple reasons really: Eggs from my backyard, fantastic. Plus, I have an opportunity to keep chicken of different species. Animal husbandry appeals to me, and to be able to show folks that chickens come in many colors and ... feathers... appeal to me as well. Plus, I can trade eggs with friends for favors? :-)

John Kelly: than the shrink-wrapped Perdue stuff. But we have a tough enough time getting someone to watch the dog when we go away for the weekend. What will you do when you go on vacation? Are there chicken sitters? And do they make enough noise to bother the neighbors? Especially if your neighbor is that person who already has the feral children kicking balls against the fence?

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Rosslyn: I believe Rosslyn, like lots of places in Virginia, is a "Census-designated place".

John Kelly: Ah, so not a real place, a "Census-designated place." I'd go back to Continental. And while I don't think I saw the best show at Synetic, I hear their stuff is usually good. Also, what's not to like about an observation deck? Of course, it won't open for three years.

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Night Hawks: I always preferred bands like Claude Jones to the basic boogie of the Night Hawks, and in those days favored other, less damaging "stimulants" to booze (we "herb heads" looked down on "booze heads, as expressed in Zappa's "America Drinks and Goes Home"), so my crowd didn't spend much time in bars.But the longevity of the Hawks speaks to their ability to do what they do very well.

John Kelly: Yeah. There can't be many local bands that have as long an uninterrupted streak as the Nighthawks. Can anybody name one?

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Fork etiquette: While eating dinner last night with my family, I absentmindedly scratched my hand with my fork. My wife suggested I stop it. Is it OK to scratch my hand under the table, where nobody can see? Miss Manners hasn't got back to me on this.

John Kelly: So you scratched your scrofulous hand with your fork and then you plunged the utensil into your mashed potatoes? That's just gross. Hand scratches hand. Above the table. Before my daughter and her classmates took their exchange trip to France last month they were told in no uncertain terms to put their hands under the table. You must keep them in sight at all times, lest they be getting up to mischief.

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Alphabet: John, Did you ever complete your alphabet made up of photos of letters from around the D.C. area? If yes, where can we see it? If not, where can we sent submissions? Thanks

John Kelly: Alas, I only received a few letters. Not enough to spell "Iceland," let alone "Ejallflatlyjuluhrapny."

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Don't most dry cleaners do alterations?: You want a professional tailor for anything other than simple hemming.

John Kelly: Shouldn't you have learned in home ec how to do it? I'm lucky. My Lovely Wife does most of my tailoring. I came back from New York with three new suits that need hemming. I know what you're thinking: Three suits?! Is that guy made of money? On sale on 7th Avenue. Three suits, one jacket, two ties, all for 300 bucks. I'm sure the first time I wear them in the rain they will dissolve off my body, but at that price, who cares?

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What's the limit?: On the number of attached sidecars these 20 and 30 something types are pushing down the streets with progeny attached? Should we make them take a driver's test and get licenses? Some of these are almost motorized and air conditioned! The funniest thing is to see one of these Rainbow Generation types try to wheel one into a coffee shop or florist when typical business doors are sized for humans. What a laugh.

John Kelly: They are a hazard. What was wrong with those tiny little deathtraps we all rode around in, a flimsy metal skeleton swathed in umbrella fabric? Now that Hummer's gone out of business it seems to be making prams.

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Cemetary: John, I can't remember the name of the pretty cemetery I came across while wandering around just east of Wisconsin and just north of M street. I want to take a visitor there. Do you or any of the other readers know the one I'm referring to? It's sort of terraced.

John Kelly: You're probably thinking of Oak Hill Cemetery.

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Studies show..: .. brain teasers don't improve the mind. They only pass the time. Like walking down the street checking the sidewalk near parking meters for fallen change.But so far as I know, there isn't a support group for those afflicted with the latter condition. Which probably doesn't have a scientific name! Here's your shot at fame, John. Come up with a name for either of these tragic behavior patterns.Trying to not to emulate the Chinese just because they make great sheet rock..Hootie No Blowfish

John Kelly: Twistophrenia? Because you have to twist the parking meter knob? Oh, except you don't anymore. You just stick the quarter in. And soon you won't even do that. What I'm saying is this: Looking for change under parking meters will soon be like scouring railroad tracks looking for coal that fell out so you can go home and heat your hovel. We're in the iPad Times, man.

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"Bet you can't pronounce Eyjafjallajokull. ": Come now, people. Just divide it by syllables. Eye-ya fyalla yokel. What's so hard about that, once you know about the Icelandic J?

John Kelly: I thought it had a "T" in it somewhere. Here's one way to learn how to say it: "Iceland volcano song aids pronunciation of Eyjafjallajokull."

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Silver Spring dining: Olazzo (Italian) on Georgia Ave.

John Kelly: I've heard good things. Haven't been there yet.

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Great article: Your article about the history of Cabin John Bridge was fascinating. Your columns about local history are great....please keep up the great work!

John Kelly: Thank you. I love that aspect of my job. I love pretty much all the aspects. Oh, except I have to empty the newsroom trash on Thursdays. That sucks.

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man i do not have kids: but how many times are you going to refer to people as generational "types"? Be nice. What was the radical civility thing?

John Kelly: Was I not being nice? Now you've hurt my feelings.

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Dining in Silver Spring: Definitely second Manderlay. Also good are the Thai place above all the chain restaurants on Ellsworth, Cubanos, and the Indian Nepalese place where in the olden timey days Montgomery Donuts used to be (Gar something?)

John Kelly: Right. Gar-e-kebob, I think.

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About that Volcanic Ash...: I was in Oxford at a Computer software conference when the volcanoes closed all the airports. I had made a reservation to return from London to Dulles back in January for this past Wednesday, so I was good to go after Willie Walsh brought in his British Airways Armada to Heathrow to take the British version of the FAA (NATS) to the brink. I had also taken Eurostar to Brussels and back this past Tuesday. Two things I noticed which surprised me greatly: The Eurostar stations were not at all crowded and everything was on time and organized. And my flight from London on BA was only 2/3 full, and the airport was not at all crowded. I checked in and went through security in 20 minutes! It seems no Americans were paying attention when the airports reopened to re-book their flights back home. To British Airwways's great credit, their phone line in England was easily available for updated flight information and their Internet site gave accurate updates any time that I looked at it. And finally, no one in the London area ever saw any ash anywhere; the sky, if not 100 percent blue, was better looking than a sunny day in Los Angeles.

John Kelly: Our guest was on Virgin Atlantic and changing her ticket just necessitated a lot of hanging on hold with the Oxford University travel agent. So, not the nightmare it could have been, plus she got to stay in the Kelly Bed and Breakfast.

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Bridesmaid Dress Tailor Recommendation: If you search the GOGs chat archives, you get the following: Farragut West: Hi Gurus, It's almost wedding season and I want to alter a few of my bridesmaid dresses so I can wear them again. I'm very cost-conscious and I'm willing to go anywhere in the D.C. area. Thanks! Julia Beizer: Do's Custom Tailor has been recommended to me, as has London Tailor. I just go to the Mount Pleasant dry cleaner, because I'm lazy like that and like to stay in my hood.

John Kelly: Thanks for the tip.

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REAL cause of Ash Cloud: Sure the government wants us to think that this was just a volcano blowing up and spewing ash into the sky. The real story is that an alien spaceship broke up in our atmosphere. The main engines crashed into Iceland and melted through the earth's crust, causing the volcano to go off. Another part of it crashed in Iowa a few hrs later (remember that story last week about the bright flash of light people said was a meteor?). Anyway, I found parts of this spaceship out in a field near bull run. Its for real, I have proof..... your thoughts?

John Kelly: I think you found Parliament Funkadelic's Mothership.

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Thanks for the shout out to Spring Mill!: Nice memories for another alumnus. And re: the tux, just be glad you didn't have to wear one of those awful pastel ones!

John Kelly: I was talking to a guy the other day who said he had a flashback when his son walked in with a powder blue vest and tie he was going to wear with his black tuxedo. Of course, in our day, the whole tuxedo would have been powder blue. I can still remember the rack of sample tuxes that was rolled into the cafeteria at Rockville High in spring of 1980. It was like a rainbow. I don't think you could have gotten black if you wanted.

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Dehumidifiers: Have you found any brand that works?

John Kelly: I bought an Italian brand last time. Can't remember the name. So far, so good, though the automatic pump occasionally gets balky. I heard from someone that for proper dehumidification you need to spend big bucks, like thousands of dollars.(Here's my column from a few years back on my dehumidifier woes.)

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Chickens: God - chickens STINK - they are crappy little birds, in the literal sense. Where does this D.C. person live, so I won't move in next door? (My parents raised chickens on a LARGE rural lot when I was growing up, and the coops were far, far away from the house, so I know whereof I speak.)

John Kelly: Are owners expected to bag up their poop in little bags, like with dogs?

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Re: Noisy Kids: -- it emits a high-pitched irratating sound that only young people can hear. They use them to discourage loitering where it is a problem.

John Kelly: Or just pump music by Air Supply through some outdoor speakers.

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Powder Blue Tux: I still have my After Six powder blue shawl-collar pin-striped dinner jacket I wore in the big band I played in back in the late 70s. I can't say it fits, alas. But it's close!

John Kelly: Why dont you do a reverse Scarlett O'Hara and turn it into some curtains?

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iPads and RR tracks: John, does that mean someone will soon YouTube their iPad sitting on a RR track awaiting the "train a-coming, it's comin' round the bend, I ain't been sober, since I don't know when.." Please. Send us the link. For those of us not giddy with excitement about everything APPLE.

John Kelly: I'm sure it's already out there. Everything else is on YouTube. And if it isn't I have seen an iPad in a blender on Will It Blend? The sound you hear when he cracks it in half to get it in the blender is the sound of a million mock-turtleneck-wearing fanboys crying.

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Idiots on "Smart Phones": Look, being able to make calls, check your e-mail and surf the Web is good SOMETIMES. Why in god's name do people have to talk, surf, waste time all the freaking time? Put the stupid thing down and pay attention to the little things in life like: red lights, the crosswalk, the fact that you just walked right into me! Get a life!

John Kelly: Billie Joe Armstrong said the same thing at Verizon at last year's Green Day concert after he looked out at the sea of people looking at him through the screens of their phones and cameras....

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Prince George PD and UMD: Should I be suprised that the tape was erased that documented the beatings, or considering this is a force who killed someone in custody as payback, is this just business as usual. Who can actually hold the force accountable? The governor, the FBI, the justice department? This PD doesn't seem to have much respect for the law.

John Kelly: Was it erased or was it not copied on the version given to the students' lawyers? That one video shot by the student that everyone has seen is pretty damning. The kid obviously did not punch a horse before being set upon by the riot police.

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Speaking of dog poop--: I have an issue with dog owners who let their dogs run in areas fenced in by the National Park Services for turf-restoration (or however they call it) at Stanton Park on Capitol Hill. The fences have been erected for a reason, why would they knowingly let the dogs ruin the good effort?

John Kelly: They're clueless. Are there any signs? Maybe the fences are too subtle for those dog owners.

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For pandas...and the people who track them: I signed up through the National Zoo for free panda updates periodically on the web. They have mentioned our beloved former panda as doing well. I recommend their e-mails. Right now it's possible that our mother panda COULD be pregnant. But we'll gone through that before, haven't we? It's almost impossible to tell. They are taking precautions anyway.

John Kelly: At my urging our visitor Kate went to the zoo on Wednesday. She'd never seen a panda. Well, she still hasn't seen one. The panda exhibit was closed so as not to stress the potential mother.

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Dehumidifier: I've got a Frigidaire that's going strong after three years.

John Kelly: a dehumidifer. Same as a hamster.

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A cheap dehumidifier: Wear camo, hang mosquito netting everywhere, carry binoculars around your neck, squat on the floor around a smoky fire.. and pretend you're in New Guines on vacation.Hey! There are travel agents that would charge you thousands for that dream getaway.

John Kelly: Speaking of jungles, I recommend the book, "The Lost City of Z." A cracking good read, as they say.

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Where can I buy..: a big jar of that fungus on NPR's Morning Edition this morning. I have annoying neighbors and they need a dose.The good thing about is it's name is pronounceable. I guess the scientists were sober that morning. Or it wasn't discovered in Iceland.And say what you will about human destroying fungi, they're not AAA rated investment vehicles.

John Kelly: Ho-kay. (I missed Morning Edition this morning, as I was on Capitol Hill interviewing a wacky guy from Arkansas.)

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British election: Who's your pick, guv'nor?

John Kelly: a referendum on the leader. But does that mean you vote for a crappy Member of Parliament just because you like the leader of his or her party? In other words: I have no idea.

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dehumidifier: We got our Delonghi at Costco and it works as well as any freestanding one is going to in our 50+ -year-old house that was built with no insulation. (we're in Silver Spring, too)

John Kelly:

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More on Dog Poop: Sitting a light on the way to work and a woman has this big fuzzy dog (some version of poodle I think). Anyway, after the dog does its business the woman does the old plastic bag trick. Fine. But then pulls out a paper towel and wipes the dog's butt. No joke, perhaps one of the more disturbing things I've seen in this town. Come on people.

John Kelly: Ahhhhhh! Thanks for planting that disturbing image right before lunch.

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Tai Shan: (made it back). . . can prevent Forest Firesand for dining in Silver Spring, I know its an aquired taste, but there is THE TASTEE DINER, open 24hours.

John Kelly: You are correct.

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Nats: A post columinist estimated the Nats drew a little over a hundred people (walk-ups) on one of the more pleasant evenings last week. Do you think he was inflating the figure? Is Boswell on their payroll? The way he keeps glossing over their situation (..."They're attendance is up over last year..." Yeah, thanks to the fans in Philly!) makes one suspicious.

John Kelly: We saw Saturday's game. Windy, but a Nats blowout. I guess everyone's waiting on Strasburg to show up. And Boz on the payroll? Bite your tongue. The man is a saint.

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Fences, signs, and dogs: Maybe it'd be cheaper to teach the dogs to read. Hey, maybe they could get jobs and get the economy moving!!

John Kelly: YEah, but if I could teach my dog anything, it'd be to pick up his own poop. Either that or make an Old Fashioned.

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To the Guy Who Hates The Kid Noise: Classical Music. Just play it on your back porch every evening at pretty high levels. They'll go away. Try it and report back. It worked at my house.

John Kelly: That's positively Clockwork Orangian.

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noise pollution: Hey, at least they're outside playing instead of playing videogames all day indoors.

John Kelly: That's true. And I heard the other day that doctors are seeing more Vitamin D deficiencies because we spend less time outdoors. I think this person doesn't mind them outdoors, just LOUDLY outdoors. Senior community?

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Low Standards?: Whatever happened to all the rich women with low standards who used to live in this area?

John Kelly: I got the last one. Sorry.

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Chicken Coop Part 3--: Feral children I will send to that "park" close to where Noise Pollution resides. :-)Just for the sake of discussion, there are species of chicken who make less noise than others. I could get those. In any case, I won't be keeping a coop until it's absolutely allowed.Hey, we can trade sitting duties. I can dog sit for you, and you can chicken sit for me? ;-)

John Kelly: Try saying that three times quickly: chicken sit, chicken sit, chicken sit....

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Yes, but..: bridge? If you're afraid, they (for a slight fee) will drive your vehicle over for you. Have you crossed the Juneau-Douglas Island bridge? One stop light at the Juneau side, an eagle on a tall pier on each side, no one will drive it for you. The traffic moves faster on the Michigan bridge (in my experience). Cheers. Thanks much. HLB, Mt. Lebanon, Pa.

John Kelly: They do the same thing at the Bay Bridge--for free. But they don't like to publicize the fact. So don't tell anyone.

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For Fun: Have we heard anything from Pants Guy lately? Is he still kicking around his $54 million suit against the dry cleaner? Thought this would be good to end the day on.

John Kelly: That's as good an ending as any. I haven't heard anything about him lately.Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy this lovely day and this (rainy) weekend. I should be back here next week, magma allowing.


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