DID YOU HEAR? . . .

"It's more fun this time because I have more of an idea what's going on. This time it's more exhilarating than terrifying."

-- Marc Andreessen, former chief technology officer of America Online Inc., on launching software company Loudcloud Inc.

The Power of Self-Expression

Potomac Electric Power Co.'s chief executive, John M. Derrick, grew up in the Tenleytown area of Northwest Washington and attended Wilson High School. And though he has moved to Spring Valley (also in Northwest), he stays tuned in to issues in his boyhood neighborhood.

And isn't afraid to offer his opinion on those issues, especially when he thinks his life as an executive gives him a special perspective.

He wrote a letter to the editor of the Northwest Current, responding to a story about the unhappiness of students at Wilson over a requirement to wear identification badges. "I was hardly moved by the view of a student at Wilson High School (my alma mater) that `The badges deny us the freedom of personal expression' and `The ID's don't really have a function.'

"High school students will enter a world of work where such badges are ubiquitous and long proven as effective means of improving security and safety," he wrote. "It's time students learn that `freedom of personal expression' is not a license to do anything and to act as they please, regardless of place and time."

-- Martha Hamilton (hamiltonm@washpost.com)

Warming Up to Eskimo Pie

A credible potential buyer for Richmond's troubled Eskimo Pie Corp. has come in from the cold.

Shamrock Farms Co., which already owns about 15 percent of Eskimo Pie, revealed in a filing Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it was "engaged in discussions with Eskimo Pie regarding the possibility of acquiring additional shares or possibly the entire company."

Shamrock, a food company based in Phoenix, disclosed that it was talking to other major shareholders about buying them out.

No comment from Eskimo Pie, the Richmond-based maker of frozen treats that has been beset by poor performance and heckled in a proxy fight by minority stockholder Yogen Fruz World-Wide Inc. all year. The company has said, however, that it's looking for a buyer.

-- T.O.

$51,675,000

That's how much 400,000 shares of America Online Inc.'s stock would fetch at Friday's close. AOL chief executive Steve Case told the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday he intended to sell exactly that, giving him the latest multimillion-dollar windfall from his ever-expanding fortune. Of course, much has been written about the wealth that has been created out at AOL for Case and his employees.

Even so, the numbers are staggering. When Case sells his 400,000, it won't make much of a dent in his overall holdings. He owns more than 4 million shares and has options to buy another 4.5 million at prices considered bargain-basement, compared with the stock's lofty heights these days, closing at $129.31 a share Friday.

Case isn't the only one dipping into an ocean of paper wealth. Director James Barksdale registered last Monday to sell 225,000 shares. Those share numbers, by the way, are before the company's 2-for-1 stock split later this month.

-- Terence O'Hara (oharat@washpost.com)